Rabbi Samuel Eliezer Halevi Edeles was born in Posen about the middle of the sixteenth century. He lived at a time when there were very great Talmud scholars, and he took his place among the greatest. Even among such great lights of the exponents of the Talmud as Rabbi Joel Sirkes (the BaCH), Rabbi Meir (MaHaRaM) of Lublin, Rabbi Mordecai Jaffe (the "Levush"), and others, Rabbi Samuel Edeles shone with a light of his own, for his commentary on the Talmud was unique and brilliant.
Rabbi Samuel Edeles (or Adel's) is better known by the name of MaHaRSHA (Morenu Harav Shmuel Adel's - Our Teacher Rabbi Samuel Adel's), and his famous commentary on the Talmud is so entitled-Hidushei MaHaRSHA (Hidushei meaning "New Explanations by").
He began to show his brilliant scholarship at an early age, and was chosen as a son-in-law by another famous scholar Rabbi Moshe Ashkenazi, author of Zichron Moshe. His mother-in-law Edel was famed for her virtues and charitableness. When the brilliant Rabbi Samuel was about thirty years of age, the parents of his wife founded a large Yeshivah and placed it under the deanship of their sonin-law. Rabbi Samuel conducted this Yeshivah for twenty-four years, while his mother-in-law supported the students out of her own money.
The young Rabbi Samuel became recognized by the greatest Talmudists and Rabbis of his time, and was given an honorable place in their councils and conventions.
In 1600 he published his first Hidushim anonymously. His commentaries at once became popular and were very favorably received. This greatly encouraged him, and he continued his commentaries, publishing the remaining part 11 years later.
In 1610 he received a call to become the Rabbi of the important community of Chelm, where he served for four years. From there he was called to an even greater community, that of Lublin, where he also headed the famous Yeshivah in that city. His next post was in Tictin, and the remainder of his life he spent as Rabbi of Ostrog and head of the Yeshivah there. There he died on the 5th day of Kislev in the year 5392 (1631).
As already mentioned, Rabbi Samuel Edeles became especially famous for his commentaries on the Talmud, both on Halachah (the legal element of the Talmud) and Hagadah (the Ethical part of the Talmud). The latter were published in 1627.
His commentaries reveal his unusual mental brilliance and extensive knowledge of the whole Talmud. They are unique in method and approach which are bent upon a straightforward attempt to grasp he plain and logical meaning of the text of the Talmud, without indulging in hair-splitting juggling of various passages of he Talmud.
In his treatment of the Agadah he addresses the need for full acceptance of the teachings of our Sages, and is opposed to those scholars who treated them as pure parables and ethical fairy-tales. Even though some of the stories of the Agadic part of the Talmud are beyond our comprehension, we must accept them in deep faith, "for their knowledge was greater and deeper than ours."
Not merely for his great learning, but also for his great qualities of character has Rabbi Samuel loved respected by all. He was very modest, as can be seen from the fact that he did not at first disclose that he was the author of his commentaries. His house was always open for the needy, and his door is said to have had the following inscription, taken from job: "No stranger shall stay overnight outside; my door is open for every guest.
Rabbi Samuel's commentary has become so popular, that it is printed in all the standard editions of the Talmud, and is regarded as a "must" for all Talmud scholars.
Rabbi Samuel Eliezer ben Judah Edeles stands out as one of the greatest of out great, who has contributed immensely to the spreading of the knowledge of the Talmud and the preservation of our faith and traditions among our people.