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JUDAH BEN ELIEZER (called YeSOD):

Lithuanian Talmudist and philanthropist; born at Wilna; died there March 18, 1762, having officiated as dayyan, communal secretary, and, for a short time, rabbi. Although so eminent as a Talmudist that he was consulted in the dispute between Jonathan Eybeschütz and Jacob Emden, he was nevertheless revered by the Jews of Wilna not for his learning, but because of his philanthropy. He lived at a time of continuous persecution (see Wilna), but was ever ready to come to the help of his coreligionists with both word and deed. He renovated the half-ruined synagogue, built a new one that still bears his name, contributed to philanthropic societies, and aided widows and orphans.

The Jews showed their gratitude to their benefactor by appointing him temporary rabbi, with the single purpose that he might keep this important office open for his young son-in-law, Samuel b. Abigdor. Judah also rendered important services as communal secretary; for he not only arranged and carefully preserved all the documents relating to the history of the Jews of Wilna, but also, in his last will, made it obligatory upon every succeeding secretary to continue his work.

Bibliography:
  • Fuenn, Ḳiryah Ne'emanah, p. 115.
S. S. A. Pe.
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