The "year" of Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt - Maharam ASCH

The most important grave at the old Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt and probably the most famous of all Jewish cemeteries of today's Burgenland, is that the first rabbi of the community Eisenstadt: Meir ben Isaac, who later took the name of his place of and - in the Hebrew acronym - Maharam ASCH is called.

See also our "Panorama Tour" the older Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt with the Grave of Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt!

Der erste Träger des Namens „Eisenstadt“ bzw. „Asch“ war zugleich die herausragendste rabbinische Persönlichkeit der Judengasse. Über sein Leben ist nur wenig bekannt: Meir ben Isak wurde um 1670 in Polen geboren und verbrachte mehrere Jahre seiner Jugend in Sochaczew, wo er im Haus seines Schwiegervaters, der Vorsteher des Kreises von Posen war, lebte und sich ganz dem Studium widmen konnte. 1693 finden wir den noch jungen Meir im Rabbinatskollegium von Sochaczew, einige Zeit später mußte er beginnen, für sich selbst zu sorgen und nahm eine Rabbinerstelle in Szydlowiec an. Dort jedoch fühlte er sich nicht recht wohl, doch lernte er glücklicherweise Samson Wertheimer kennen, der ihm sehr schnell ein Gönner wurde und ihn nach Worms, seiner Geburtsstadt, brachte. 1702 besorgte Wertheimer seinem Schützling eine Rabbinerstelle in Proßnitz, wo auch der erste Teil seines berühmten Responsenwerkes entstand. Aus unbekannten Gründen verließ Meir nach 10 Jahren Proßnitz und kehrte merkwürdigerweise wieder nach Szydlowiec zurück. Von dort berief ihn Wertheimer im Jahr 1717 nach Eisenstadt, wo er am 3. Dezember eintraf und über 26 Jahre bis zu seinem Tod verblieb. Auch das Grab seiner ersten Gattin, Finkel, die 1730 starb, befand sich in Eisenstadt, ist aber leider nicht erhalten geblieben. Aus der Konskriptionsliste vom 6. Dezember 1735 wissen wir, dass er ein zweites Mal verheiratet war; als Mitglieder seines Hausstandes werden angegeben: Gattin, zwei erwachsene Kinder, zwei Diener, ein Dienstbote, zusammen sieben Personen.

Meir's reputation reached soon far beyond the borders of the city: students from all surrounding countries came to his yeshiva. He was obviously very grateful for his office in the town of Eisenstadt, for ten years after taking office, he dressed in the preface to his age in Eisenstadt "amendments to the treaty Bava Kama" to achieve its goal in life in these words:

I want to thank God and praise Him audibly far that he needy raised me from the lowland, and put under noble, praiseworthy people. He has di worthy our community Eisenstadt put me in a dignified place where learning is encountered. There I found many learned and ingenious men. Also have the making of the community for the preservation of a school in which I held constant lectures to studious young men, taken care. With them, I immersed myself in the depths of the Halakha (religious law) and recorded everything on ...

His most famous work is the response collection "Panim Me'irot"(Shining face), the first part is formed already in Proßnitz and published in Amsterdam 1715th The two remaining parts were printed in Sulzbach 1733 to 1738th A conspicuous feature of all judgments is the strict objectivity of the decisions are taken. Because for him said the sources, however, Meir turned for example, once against the modern guise substances which should replace the prescribed leather shoes on Yom Kippur and on Tisha be-Av, or did not allow prepared by Christians on Shabbat coffee, although this mainly for Christian was intended and, therefore, the work was not done at the instigation of a Jew. On the other hand, he saw in the use of a carriage with cushioned covers that are sewn with cotton thread no offense against the "Shatnez" - (Mix) ban from the third book of Genesis 19:19 "You shall not create stitched for two threads dress"Because any reference to any kind of clothing was missing.

Although Meir, the community Eisenstadt always felt connected and deep gratitude felt towards her (see above), he had to leave the city in 1723 may involuntarily. Then, both the fact that the salary transfers expose a long time, and some passages out in his response work, which stated once:

These are the words of him who prays in the deepest concern with a broken heart that He may protect us from false, mendacious tongue and go to fulfill what was said by the bad guys ...

and in another place it is apparent when he speaks generally of "mendacious tongue" and "detractors and denunciation". The exact incident is still in the dark, but it seems the community to have been to the 20th century, aware of this embarrassing incident: Monday and Thursday was turned on in the synagogue each after the Torah reading its own "Eisenstadt prayer" as "sad souvenirs and not dispassionate memento of those dreadful full time because of the world-famous new founder of the community, Maharam ASCH, had to flee because of vile showing off from Eisenstadt ". The prayer included a request that God would banish the Zwietrachtstifter and malevolent detractors who at the time called Mosserer from the midst of Israel. Curse and destruction should be their lot, endangered the existence of so many community, but the rest of the people, the rebuilding of Jerusalem should be able to look forward to.

Famous and until recent times known variety, issued by Rabbi Meir Takkanot, so local regulations, which, although not included in any legal code, are mandatory for each municipality:

So Rabbi Meir issued on 17 April 1730 its "regulations to improve morals", the exact wording to be partially reproduced here:

With the help of God. Since we have seen that a divine punishment spread throughout our community, we have decided ... to hold a review of our public affairs. First, the newfangled clothes must be mentioned how there accompanied brazenly drapery, in hoop skirts, a strange costume, which did not know our parents and ancestors. It was therefore decided by the municipal administration and the Rabbinate to announce the spell (!!) against all, also included young and little girls who wear this provocative dress ... Then the card game was banned with the punishment of the ban. In puerperal women but women are allowed to play. During the Chanukkatage and men, the game is allowed, but by no means, if they are not related men with women or young men with girls, even. This prohibition applies for a mile in circumference of our community ...

Selbstverständlich waren schon in talmudischer Zeit Glücksspiele, bei denen es um Geld ging, verpönt und insbesondere in mittelalterlichen Responsen finden wir vielfach Regelungen bezüglich des Kartenspiels. Am diesbezüglich strengsten sind die „Takkanot Mähren“, die zwischen 1658 und 1748 erlassen wurden. Diese dürften denn auch Meir als Vorbild für seine Verordnungen gegolten haben. Auffällig ist jedoch, dass Meir alle Verordnungen unter dem Aspekt der Sittenverbesserung erließ. Äußerer Grund für die Verordnungen scheint die zu dieser Zeit erhöhte Kindersterblichkeit in der Gemeinde gewesen zu sein. Bezüglich der Kleidung darf angemerkt werden, dass die Damen der Gemeinde Eisenstadt ihrer Zeit weit voraus waren, denn die Reifröcke (Krinoline) hatten erst Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts weite Verbreitung gefunden und vor allem in Galizien noch in den 60er Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts die Gemüter orthodoxer Kreise stark erregt. Insbesondere das Verbot des Kartenspielens führte zu paradoxen Situationen und nährte den Erfindungsgeist Einzelner. Vor allem Frumet Frau Chajim Halevi Wolf (Babe Frumet), war als wahrhaft Süchtige verrufen. Sie soll sich von armen Wöchnerinnen oft die Wohnungsschlüssel geben haben lassen, wenn selbige schon längst ihren Geschäften nachgingen. Natürlich revanchierte sie sich durch Mahlzeiten und Geldspenden. An Feiertagen oder Halbfeiertagen, wird mehrfach berichtet, ließ sie es sich nicht nehmen, mit ihren Freundinnen ins nächste Dorf – wo der Bann nicht mehr galt! – zu gehen, um dort den Tag mit Kartenspiel zuzubringen.

Grab von Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt am älteren jüdischen Friedhof in Eisenstadt

Equally of course, but it was also that the decrees repeatedly led to non-compliance and protests in the community. Centuries later the prohibition of gambling cards offered rise to disputes and disagreements among the inhabitants of the district: 1840 a conflict arose between Rabbi Isak Moses Perles and the parish council Leib Wolf in matter of the ban at the time adopted by Rabbi Meir of the card game. For when the rabbi made a proclamation, as usual, in the synagogue after the allowed to play time that playing was banned again, had said parish council, which this notice did not appeal to proclaim publicly by the beadle that the game is still further permits. Loser then, was the rabbi who could not cope with this defeat and left his community.

Nevertheless, it did not work in the community careless with the prohibition order, because with renewed transgression led to the withdrawal of home law. Although you could also in such a case, which is a document often proves to apply for leniency to the board, a provision was however subject to the condition to participate actively next to lead an impeccable conduct. In any case, a violation of the ban took considerable trouble and embarrassment to himself.

With all - especially from today's perspective certainly legitimate - a lack of understanding about such rigorous regulations, it does not seem quite insignificant that even in the years before 1938, those residents of the Jewish Quarter of Eisenstadt, which the otherwise not so accurate with maintaining took bids, the prohibition of gambling cards were well aware and, at least to some degree, held it; because in the synagogue was like centuries ago, proclaimed solemnly few days after the Hanukkah by Rabbi:

Gambling is kivme Osser kedem
(Gambling is prohibited, as in the old days).

Maharam ASCH died on 27 Sivan 5504 in Eisenstadt (07 June 1744; this year is the coming Wednesday, 29 June 2011).

His grave in the old Jewish cemetery is today - especially in these days, to his "year"- the goal of Orthodox Jews around the world that keep the memory of this great teacher.
These days always the phrase often heard is aware that namely the small Eisenstadt became world famous because of two celebrities: though the latter (unfortunately) is known Joseph Haydn and Meir Eisenstadt ... only in the Jewish world ...

PS: And even Facebook Meir is to find Eisenstadt ...