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Lorbeerbaum, Ya‘akov ben Ya‘akov Mosheh of Lissa

(1760–1832), rabbi and Talmudist. After his first marriage, Ya‘akov ben Ya‘akov Mosheh of Lissa (commonly known as Ḥavat Da‘at) worked in Stanisławów as a partner in a brewery. When the business failed, he supported himself by serving as a rabbi in various communities of Poland and Galicia. Until 1791, he served as rabbi in Monasterzyska, and from there he moved to Kałusz, both in Galicia. It was in Kałusz that Lorbeerbaum wrote his earliest works.

In 1809, Lorbeerbaum moved on to serve as rabbi of the larger community of Lissa, which at the time was part of the Duchy of Warsaw. In 1821, he returned to Kałusz to arrange a divorce from his wife. Over the next four years, he and leaders of the Lissa community unsuccessfully tried to arrange his return to that city. He fought with the community heads about the terms of his employment, and the governmental authorities declared him a foreign citizen, barring his return. In 1828, after a quarrel had erupted with the leaders of the Kałusz community as well, Lorbeerbaum moved to Stryj, Galicia, where he served as rabbi until his death.

Lorbeerbaum’s fame rests primarily on his halakhic works. His most famous books are Ḥavat da‘at on the Yoreh de‘ah section of the Shulḥan ‘arukh (1799), which was republished many times during his lifetime (and from the title of which his epithet derives); and Netivot ha-mishpat (1809) on Shulḥan ‘arukh, Ḥoshen mishpat. The latter work was written as a response to the Ketsot ha-ḥoshen by his colleague Aryeh Leib ha-Kohen Heller.

Heller and Lorbeerbaum engaged in a scholarly debate in an attempt to define the internal logic of the philosophy of Jewish law. It is difficult to define the exact differences between their positions, but in general Lorbeerbaum stood out more as a posek (decider of Jewish law) and halakhic commentator, while Heller dealt with theoretical questions.

Heller responded to Netivot ha-mishpat the same year that it was published, and over the coming years the two continued to issue mutual rejoinders. Both of their books served as basic texts in Polish and Lithuanian yeshivas over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Suggested Reading

Judith Bleich, “The Testament of a Halakhist,” Tradition 20.3 (1982): 235–248; Yitsḥak Levin, Mi-Boker le-‘erev (Jerusalem, 1981), pp. 194–212; Ezekiel Zevi ben Abraham Hayim Michaelson (Zvi Yehezkel Mikhlzohn), Toldot Ya‘akov (Warsaw, 1913); Chaim Tchernowitz, Toldot ha-poskim, vol. 3 (New York, 1947/48), pp. 252–258; Me’ir Vunder, “R. Ya‘akov Lorberboim,” in Me’ore Galitsyah: Entsiklopedyah le-ḥakhme Galitsyah, vol. 3, cols. 431–439 (Jerusalem, 1986).



Translated from Hebrew by David Strauss