CARO, JOSEPH ḤAYYIM B. ISAAC SELIG:
German-Russian rabbi; born 1800; died in Wloclawek, government of Warsaw, April 21, 1895. He was educated as an Orthodox Talmudist, and married the daughter of R. Ẓebi Hirsch Amsterdam of Konin, government of Kalisz in Russian Poland, whose pupil he became. He afterward established himself as a merchant in Gnesen, near Posen, whence, at about the age of forty, he was called to the rabbinate of Pinne, in the province of Posen. Later he became rabbi of Fordon, in the same province, and twenty years after his first call he became rabbi of the progressive and Germanized communityof Wloclawek, where he remained until his death. He was one of the first truly Orthodox rabbis in Russia to acquire a correct knowledge of German and to deliver sermons in that language.
Caro was famous not only for his extensive rabbinical knowledge, but also as a preacher; and even at the present day his works are popular among old-style "maggidim" and "darshanim." His first work, "Minḥat Shabbat," is a German translation (in Hebrew characters) of Pirḳe Abot, with a short commentary in German and a longer one in Hebrew (Krotoschin, 1847). In the third edition of that work (Wilna, 1894) the German commentary is omitted and that of Maimonides substituted for it. His "Ṭeba we-Haken," containing rules of "sheḥiṭah" and "bediḳah" in the form of a dialogue, was published by his sons Isaac and Jacob (Leipsic, 1859; 2d ed., Wilna, 1894). His chief work, "Ḳol Omer Ḳera," is a collection of sermons in four volumes (Warsaw, 1860-80; 2d ed., Wilna, 1895), arranged after the order of the Pentateuch in the weekly sections, which furnished the texts. The last of his published works, "Yoreh u-Malḳosh" (Wilna, 1894), is also a collection of sermons, mostly funeral orations, some of which were originally delivered in German. Here and there in his works are to be found poetical compositions and other traces of the influence of modern ideas not common among the rabbis of Russian Poland. His inclination toward the "Haskalah" and its Neo-Hebrew literature is shown by the article which he contributed, at a very advanced age, to the year-book "Ha-Asif" (iv. 132-137, Warsaw, 1887), entitled "Birkat ha-Ẓeduḳim." Caro was also a pioneer Zionist and defended the colonization of Palestine against the opponents of that plan. Two of his letters on the subject are printed in "Shibat Ẓion." He attended to his rabbinical duties until past the age of ninety, and retired from active work only a few years before his death.
One of Caro's sons is a professor at the University of Breslau, and two others are the rabbis, respectively, of Lemberg and Thorn.
- Aḥiasaf, 5655.