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HEILPRIN, PHINEHAS MENDEL:

Polish Hebraist; born in Lublin Nov., 1801; died in Washington, D.C., Jan. 30, 1863. Trained in the study of the Talmud and its commentaries, his critical mind was attracted by the writings of Maimonides. After mastering the Arabic and the Greek philosophy of the Hebrew sages, he became a diligent student of modern German philosophy. He married early, and established himself as a cloth-manufacturer and wool-merchant in Piotrkow. He removed in 1842 to northern Hungary, but left that country after the failure of the Revolution of 1848, in which his eldest son, Michael, took part. He went to the United States in 1859, finally making Washington his home.

Heilprin was a fine example of the old-style scholarlymerchant. He was the lifelong friend of Isaac Mieses, who resided in Piotrkow in his younger days; and he often visited S. L. Rapoport and other Jewish scholars. Jost knew and honored him "als ein Mann von tüchtiger Gesinnung" ("Orient, Lit." 1845, No. 1). His chief work, which, like almost all his writings, is directed against the Judæo-German reformers, is "Teshubot be-Anshe Awen" (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1845); it is a sane and broad argument against the position of the reformers, especially on the questions of marriage and divorce, and although the author is very personal in his attacks, especially on Holdheim, the work is probably the fairest of that nature written in Hebrew.

This work called forth a protest ("Toḳef ha-Talmud," Ofen, 1848) from an ultra-Orthodox rabbi of Hungary, Isaac Ẓebi Margareten. In the preface he declares that Heilprin, whose work is "well thought of in this vicinity," admitted too much, and weakened the case of the conservatives by his suggested emendations of the text of the Talmud. Phinehas Mendel is not known to have replied. His other works are: "Eben Boḥan," on Maimonides; "Bi'ur Millot ha-Higgayon," on logic; "Sekel Ṭob" (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1846), a criticism on Geiger's edition of the "Ḳobeẓ Wikkuḥim"; "Derek Yesharah," on the proper treatment of the Talmudical text by critics ("Bikkurim," i. 96-103, Vienna, 1864), which is supposed to be the introduction to a large work against irresponsible critics. In "Orient, Lit." 1845, No. 1, an article written by him precedes Jost's review of his "Teshubot be-Anshe Awen."

Bibliography:
  • Morais, Eminent Israelites of the Nineteenth Century, pp. 126-130, Philadelphia, 1880;
  • Zeitlin, Bibl. Post-Mendels. p. 140, Leipsic, 1891;
  • Lippincott, Dictionary of Biography, s.v., 3d ed., Philadelphia, 1901;
  • Günzig, Toledot . . . Fabius Mieses, pp. 11-12, Cracow, 1890 (reprint from Oẓar ha-Sifrut, iii.).
H. R. P. Wi.
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