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Shvadron, Shalom Mordekhai

(1835–1911), rabbi and halakhic authority. Shalom Mordekhai Shvadron was born in Złoczów, Galicia. At the age of 16, he married in Biały Kamień and for two years was supported by his father-in-law. He then returned to Złoczów and for several years engaged in commerce, trading in wine, timber, flax, and cattle.

Shvadron had Hasidic inclinations and maintained connections with various Galician tsadikim, including Shalom Rokeaḥ of Belz, Avraham of Stratin (Stretyn), and Yitsḥak of Zhidachev (Żydaczów). At age 32, Shvadron began serving in the rabbinate, first in Potok Złoty (from 1867), then in Jazłowiec (from 1873), and later in Buczacz (from 1881). In the early 1870s, as rabbi of Potok Złoty, he began answering halakhic questions sent to him from outside his community and published his first volume of responsa, Mishpat Shalom (1871). Shvadron was appointed rabbi of the Brzeżany district in 1882 and continued to serve in that position for 30 years until his death. He established a small local yeshiva, Tushiyah, and was also involved in the ordination of rabbis outside his community.

Shvadron was one of the best-known halakhic authorities in Galicia at the end of the nineteenth century. He composed about 30 volumes, most of which deal with halakhic matters, but only some of them were published during his lifetime, including Da‘at Torah (1891) and Gilui da‘at on the laws of ritual slaughter and disqualified meat. He corresponded on halakhic matters with thousands of people from Galicia and beyond. His responsa are characterized by his comprehensive mastery of source material, clarity of style, and a tendency toward leniency. During his lifetime, he began collecting his responsa in a series of volumes, Sifre Maharsham (Shut Maharsham, or simply Maharsham; 9 vols., 1902–1990), which contain about 3,800 responsa. It was through these books that he became known as the Maharsham (the acronym for Morenu ha-Rav Shalom Mordekhai).

Suggested Reading

Chajim Bloch (Hayim Blokh), Maharsham: Ha-Posek ha-aḥaron (Brooklyn, 1954); Avraham Yitsḥak Bromberg, Mi-Gedole ha-Torah veha-ḥasidut, vol. 21, pp. 112–212 (Jerusalem, 1965); Me’ir Vunder, “R. Sholem Mordekhai Shvadron,” in Me’ore Galitsyah: Entsiklopedyah le-ḥakhme Galitsyah, vol. 5, cols. 14–38 (Jerusalem, 1997).



Translated from Hebrew by David Strauss