Shabbatai ha-Kohen

Shabbatai Ha-Kohen

Shabbatai ha-Kohen

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"Shach" redirects here. For the 20th century rabbi, see Elazar Shach
Shabbatai ben Meir ha-Kohen () (1621–1662) was a noted 17th Century talmudist and halakhist. He became known as the Shakh, () which is an abbreviation of his most important work, Siftei Kohen () (literally Lips of the Priest), and his rulings were considered authoritative by later halakhists.


Shabbatai ha-Kohen was born either in Amstibovo or in Vilna, Lithuania in 1621 and died at Holleschau, Moravia on the 1st of Adar, 1662. He first studied with his father and in 1633 he entered the yeshivah of Rabbi Joshua Höschel ben Joseph at Tykotzin, moving later to Cracow and Lublin, where he studied under Naphtali ben Isaac ha-Kohen.

Returning to Vilna, he married the daughter of the wealthy Shimon Wolf, a grandson of Moses Isserles, and shortly after was appointed to the Beit Din as one of the assistants of Moses ben Isaac Judah Lima, author of Chelkat Mechokek. In 1655, during fighting between Polish forces and the invading Swedish army in the Northern War, Shabbatai ha-Kohen fled Vilna with the entire Jewish community. After a short stay at Lublin he went to Prague and later to Dřešín in Moravia, from where he was called to the rabbinate of Holešov, where he remained until his death in 1662. While in Holešov, he gained the friendship of Magister Valentino Wiedreich of Leipzig. The Shakh′s grave in the Jewish cemetery of Holešov still exists and is visited by people from all...
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