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ISRAEL BEN SAMUEL ASHKENAZI OF SHKLOV:

Talmudic casuist; born at Shklov about 1770; died at Tiberias May 13, 1839. One of a group of Talmudical scholars of Shklov who were attracted to Wilna by Elijah Gaon (see Elijah ben Solomon) (1720-97), Ashkenazi was one of "the last arrivals," and attended upon the gaon as a disciple for less than a year. He gained Elijah's confidence, and was chosen to arrange for publication the gaon's commentary to the first two parts of the Shulḥan 'Aruk. That on the Oraḥ Ḥayyim was published in Shklov in 1803. Ashkenazi also published his master's notes to the tractate Sheḳalim of the Jerusalem Talmud, with a commentary of his own, under the title "Tiḳlin Ḥadtin" (Minsk, 1812). Later he emigrated to Palestine and became the head of the German and Polish congregations of Safed and then of Jerusalem. He was there surnamed "Ashkenazi" (the German), a name applied to all Jews of German extraction, in contradistinction to the Sephardim, who came originally from Spain or Portugal.

After a residence of several years in the Holy Land, Ashkenazi went to Europe as a "sheliaḥ" (emissary of the rabbis), to collect alms for the poor Palestinian Jews; and in that capacity he traveled through Lithuania and other parts of Russia. On his return to Palestine he wrote his chief work, "Pe'at ha-Shulḥan," which is intended as a sort of supplement to the Shulḥan 'Aruk, supplying all the agricultural laws obligatory only in the Holy Land, omitted by Caro in his code. Israel also incorporated in this book the notes of Elijah Wilna to the tractate Zera'im, the first order of the Mishnah, and gave in addition a voluminous commentary of his own which he called "Bet Yisrael." The work was published in Safed in 1836 by the printing-house of Israel ben Abraham Back.

Ashkenazi is also the author of "Naḥalah u-Menuḥah," a collection of responsa mentioned in the work above. An account of his rabbinate of Jerusalem is given in Mendel ben Aaron's "Ḳore ha-'Ittim" (Wilna, 1840).

Bibliography:
  • Heschel Lewin, 'Aliyyat Eliyahu, p. 74, Wilna, 1854, and Stettin, 1862;
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, s.v. Israel ben Samuel;
  • Fürst, Bibl. Jud. i. 63;
  • Eliezer of Botushan, Ḳin'at Soferim, 1892, s.v. Elijah Wilna.
S. S. P. Wi.
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