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Pinchas Halevi Isch Horowitz

Pinchas Halevi Isch Horowitz was chief rabbi in Frankfurt from 1772 to 1805. His term of office saw the beginnings of emancipation and also of the controversy with Moses Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment.
Pinchas Horowitz was born in Lechwitz, Poland, around 1730. He was a brilliant student and was able to continue his studies after marriage because his wealthy fatherinlaw maintained him. He took up his first religious position in Frankfurt at the end of 1771, after earning a reputation as an authority on the Talmud and a great scholar.
His principal fame was as a campaigner for unalloyed Jewish tradition and religious law during a period of upheaval. He directed his most scathing attacks against Moses Mendelssohn's published translation of the Bible into German. While he did not condemn the German translation, he objected to the glosses added to the text by Mendelssohn. He always favoured German translations of traditional prayers, such as those for feastdays, but resisted plans to establish a secular school in Frankfurt, like the Philanthropin founded in the 19th century, because he saw this as a threat to Jewish values handed down for lish a secular school in Frankfurt, like the Philanthropin founded in the 19th century, because he saw this as a threat to Jewish values handed down for so many generations. He was supported by the community leadership on this issue.
He enjoyed the confidence of the community and was universally loved. His philanthropy was famous beyond the confines of the community, and even Christians turned to him for help. Many people left substantial bequests to him as chief rabbi to be used for charitable purposes. When Löb Elias Reiss died in 1778, he left 70,000 guilders as well as his house Zum Schwan to the chief rabbi, for use as a school and a synagogue.
He was the author of a commentary on the Talmud entitled "Hafla'ah", which has become a standard work of rabbinical literature, exegetical works on the Pentateuch (Five Books of Moses), and several rabbinical opinions on legal disputes.
He suffered frequent illness in his latter years, and became totally blind. He died on 1 July 1805 and was buried in the cemetery in the Battonstraße.


© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources