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FASSEL, HIRSCH BÄR:

Austrian rabbi and author; born at Boskowitz, Moravia, Aug. 21, 1802; died at Nagy-Kanizsa, Hungary, Dec. 27, 1883. After receiving his early training in his native city he continued his studies at the yeshibah of Moses Sofer at Presburg. After his marriage he engaged in business, but finding mercantile life uncongenial, he accepted the rabbinate of Prossnitz (1836) in succession to Löb Schwab. The "Landesrabbiner," Nehemiah Trebitsch, objected to his election, but he was confirmed by the government in spite of the protest (Löw, "Gesammelte Schriften," ii. 207). Like his predecessor, Fassel was one of the pioneers of modern culture in Moravia, preaching in German and introducing some reforms. After the death of Solomon Tiktin the congregation of Breslau elected him (1845) as associate rabbi to Abraham Geiger in order to reconcile the conservative element of the congregation. Fassel, however, declined the call ("Abraham Geiger's Leben in Briefen," p. 113, Berlin, 1878). His competition for the vacant position of Landesrabbiner of Cassel and afterward of Moravia was unsuccessful, Samson Raphael Hirsch being elected. In 1851 he was called to Nagy-Kanizsa to succeed Leopold Löw, and held this position until his death.

Fassel's "Mozene Ẓedeḳ," a manual of the more important practical laws, intended for the use of rabbis, is written entirely in the spirit of Talmudic casuistry, although the author is uniformly inclined to more lenient decisions. In the introduction to his "Ḳol Adonai" (1854) he says: "A reform in Judaism, if it is not to degenerate into mere negation, is only possible on the basis of rabbinism." The rabbinical law, even the portion of it which deals with criminal cases, was regarded by him as authoritative.

Fassel was a voluminous writer. He published a number of sermons and contributed frequently to the Jewish press, as to the "Orient," "Ben Chananja," "Neuzeit," and other periodicals. His presentations of the Jewish law and of rabbinical ethics are of lasting value. His combination of traditional legal dialecticism with homiletic methods, exemplified in his "Neun Derusch-Vorträge" (1868), is quite original. He wrote:

  • Zwei Gottesdienstliche Vorträge, Gehalten in der Synagoge zu Prossnitz. Vienna, 1838.
  • Ḥoreb Beẓayon: Briefe eines Jüdischen Gelehrten und Rabbinen über das Werk "Ḥoreb" von S. R. Hirsch. Leipsic, 1839.
  • Reis- und Hülsenfrüchte am Pesach Erlaubte Speisen. Prague, 1846.
  • Ein Wort zur Zeit beim Dankfeste für die Errungenschaft der Freiheit. Vienna, 1848.
  • Ẓedeḳ u-Mishpaṭ, Tugend- und Rechtslehre, Bearbeitet nach den Principien des Talmuds und nach der Form der Philosophie. Vienna, 1848.
  • Die Epidemie: Trauer- und Gedenkrede. Nagy-Kanizsa, 1848.
  • Mishpeṭe El: das Mosaisch-Rabbinische Civilrecht, Bearbeitet nach Anordnung und Eintheilung der Gerichtsordnungen der Neuzeit und Erläutert mit Angabe der Quellen. Nagy-Kanizsa, 1852-54.
  • Ḳol Adonai: die Zehn Worte des Bundes (sermons). Nagy-Kanizsa, 1854.
  • 'Asot Mishpaṭ: das Mosaisch-Rabbinische Gerichtsverfahren in Civilrechtlichen Sachen, Bearbeitet nach Anordnung und Eintheilung der Gerichtsordnungen der Neuzeit und Erläutert mit Angabe der Quellen. Nagy-Kanizsa, 1859.
  • Dat Mosheh we-Yisrael: die Mosaisch-Rabbinische Religionslehre, Katechetisch für den Unterricht Bearbeitet. Nagy-Kanizsa, 1859; 3d ed., Vienna, 1863.
  • Dibre Elohim Ḥay, Neun Derusch-Vorträge. Nagy-Kanizsa, 1868.
  • We-Shafeṭu we-Hiẓẓilu: das Mosaisch-Rabbinische Strafrecht und Strafrechtliche Gerichtsverfahren, Bearbeitet nach Anordnung und Eintheilung der Gesetzbücher der Neuzeit und Erläutert mit Angabe der Quellen. Nagy-Kanizsa, 1870.

His "Mozene Ẓedeḳ" was never published; only three of its four parts were completed. The manuscript is preserved in the library of the Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati.

Bibliography:
  • Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, xlviii. 45;
  • Jost, Neuere Gesch. der Juden, iii. 137, 182.
D.
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