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MÜNZ (MINZ), MOSES:

Hungarian rabbi; born about 1750 in Podolia; died 1831 at Alt-Ofen. For several years he lived at Brody, Galicia, where he acquired a great reputation as a Talmudical scholar. Highly recommended by Ezekiel Landau, he was called in 1790 to the chief rabbinate of Alt-Ofen, which had been vacant since the death of Nathan Günsburger in 1781. He held this post until his death.

Münz's learning spread "the reputation of the congregation far beyond the confines of Hungary. Numerous religious questions were submitted to him from all parts of the Austrian monarchy" (see Jew. Encyc. i. 472, s.v. Alt-Ofen). He was a brother-in-law of Moses Joshua Heschel, author of "Yam ha-Talmud," and was related by marriage to Moses Sofer, who mentions him in his responsa on Eben ha-'Ezer (No. 122). Ezekiel Landau also refers to him in "Noda' bi-Yehudah." When in 1794 Mordecai Benet warned against the use of phylacteries covered with double leathern straps, Münz charged Benet with ignorance, and proved that the use of such phylacteries was legal. He was supported in this contention by Phinehas Hurwitz of Frankfort-on-the-Main, Hirsch Levin of Berlin, and Meshullam Tysmienitz of Presburg; later it became known that Elijah Wilna had expressed the same opinion. Münz induced Aaron Chorin to write to Benet in defense of this view, but Chorin received no answer.

Page from the Münster Edition of the Hebrew Bible, Basel, 1534.(From the Sulzberger collection in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.)

When Chorin, in 1803, published his "'Emeḳ ha-Shaweh" with a cordial approbation by Moses Münz, Benet denounced it as heretical. Two years later the Arad congregation, after Benet's accusation, asked Münz's opinion upon the book; he declared (Aug. 8, 1805) that the author was to blame for certain statements in the first part, entitled "Rosh Amanah," which were apt to mislead the public, and which centuries ago had aroused serious disputes. He, however, reaffirmed that the book contained no heresies, and showed a draft of this declaration to Chorin. Later on, urged by the Orthodox party, Münz summoned Chorin before a rabbinical tribunal at Alt-Ofen; but on the second day of its session (Sept. 1, 1805) the former failed to appear, and he did not join in the sentence of condemnation of the book pronounced by his two colleagues (see Jew. Encyc. iv. 43, s.v. Chorin).

As Münz had in 1811 allowed the Jewish soldiers to eat pulse on Pesaḥ, Eliezer Liebermann, author of "Or Nogah," considered him a liberal, and applied to him for an indorsement of the Reform temple at Hamburg. Münz did not reply; but he wrote to Chorin an anonymous letter in which he decidedly condemned Reform. Nevertheless Chorin, in his "Ḳin'at ha-Emet" (April 7, 1818), expressed his hearty approval of the movement; but, intimidated by a letter from Münz, who threatened him with deposition, he recanted (Feb. 19, 1819).

Münz wrote: "Derashah" (with German transl. by Mordecai Rechnitz, Alt-Ofen, 1814), delivered on the day of the peace proclamation of Francis I.; responsa (with additions by his son Joseph Isaac, Prague, 1827); annotations to "Peri Ya'aḳob" (Alt-Ofen, 1830), halakic novellæ written by Jacob ben Moses.

Bibliography:
  • Benjacob, Oẓar ha-Sefarim, p. 560;
  • Fürst, Bibl. Jud. ii. 381, s.v. Minz;
  • Löw, Gesammelte Schriften, ii. 185, 259 et seq., 272 et seq., Szegedin, 1890;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. No. 6530;
  • Walden, Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash, i. 55b, Warsaw, 1880.
D. S. Man.
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