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Rabbi Moshe Isserles - The Remo

Rabbi Moshe Isserles - The Remo

(5280 - 5332)


Rabbi Moses Isserles (meaning 'son of Israel'), known by the abbreviation Remo (or Rema), was born in Cracow, Poland in the year 5280 (1520), and died at the age of 52, on Lag-Baomer.

His father Israel was a learned as well as a wealthy man, and one of the elders of the community. When his son the REMO was 33 years old, he built the famous ReMO synagogue in Cracow, which was still in existence when the Nazis occupied that ancient city.

His chief teacher was the celebrated Rabbi Shalom Schechna of Lublin, who later became also his father-in-law.

At the age of 30, the ReMO returned from Lublin to his native city of Cracow, and founded there a great Yeshivah. Being quite wealthy, the ReMO supported the pupils of his Yeshivah at his own expense.

The ReMO was regarded as one of the greatest scholars of his time, and his decision upon a point of Jewish law was unanimously adhered to in all Polish and German communities.

Rabbi Moses Isserles is the author of many important works on Jewish law and philosophy, and he became famous as a codifier, whose decision was the last word in Jewish law. His chief work in the field of Halacha (code) was a commentary on the Turim of Rabenu Yakov ben Asher entitled "Darkhe Moshe", and his Mappah ("Table Cloth") for the Shulchan Aruch ("Prepared Table") written by his contemporary Rabbi Joseph Caro. This work was published in his lifetime.

Another important work is his. Shaaloth Uteshuvoth (responsa), containing 132 questions addressed to him by various Rabbis on points of law, and his answers. This work was published after his death. As most of these questions were of a practical nature concerning everyday-life, many Rabbis found in this work an important and most reliable guide.

Altogether ten of his works were printed, and several others were not printed. His works give proof of the ReMO's many-sided learning and greatness, in Talmud as well as in philosophy, astronomy and history.

The ReMO died on the 18th of Iyar (Lag Baomer) in the year 5332 (1572) in Cracow. The famous Rabbi Shlomo Luria (RaSHaL) who was one of the ReMO's noted pupils said of him: "From Moses (Maimonides) to Moses (Isserles) there was none like Moses (Isserles)," and this was also inscribed upon his tombstone.

On Lag Baomer, his Yahrzeit, many Jews from Cracow and the surrounding towns and villages, would visit his grave in pious reverence.

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Discussion (3)
March 28, 2012
Cracow nowadays
I just visited Cracow last week. The Shul is being restored.

There were hundreds (if not a thousand) Jews at his holy site.
February 10, 2012
Ginzberg & Rema
Hendele Isseles (Rema's daughter) married Leeser (Eliezer?) Guenzberg.
Rehovot, Israel
May 28, 2007
Rabbi Mose Isserles
I am working on my family tree and am a descendent of R. Isserles through his daughter who married a Ginzberg. I can't find her name, but am related through my maternal grandfather Mordechai Leib Ginsberg (English transliteration). I hope I can find out more through Chabad in Houston. I have a picture of a cousin in Israel (whose grandmother was a Ginsberg) visiting Isseles' grave.
Susanna Stern Friedman
Houston, TX/USA