Talmudist and author; born in Livonia Nov. 4, 1722; died at Altona Nov. 26, 1803. He was educated at Minsk under Aryeh Löb ben Asher, whose successor as head of the yeshibah of that town he became in 1742. In 1744 he was called to the rabbinate of Rakov, and in 1747 to that of Vilkomir (a town not far from Wilna), where he remained till 1757, when he was called as chief rabbito Minsk. Six years later he became rabbi and head of the yeshibah at Pinsk. In 1771 he went to Berlin for the purpose of publishing there his work "Torat Yekutiel." The scholars of that city received him with enthusiasm and respect, and offered him the rabbinate, which was then vacant, but for some unknown reason he declined the offer. In 1772 he became rabbi of Posen, and four years afterwards he was called to take charge of the "Three Communities" (Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck; see Altona).

For twenty-three years he ministered to these congregations, and then retired from active service, spending the remainder of his life among his former parishioners. How highly his work was esteemed may be inferred from the fact that the King of Denmark, to whose territory these congregations belonged, upon hearing of Raphael's resignation, sent him a letter in which he expressed his appreciation of the service he had rendered to the Jewish community. Raphael was Mendelssohn's bitterest opponent, and intended to utter a ban against the latter's Pentateuch translation while it was still in manuscript. Indeed, he fought against all modern culture, and on one occasion fined a man for wearing his hair in a cue.

Raphael, was the author of the following works: (1) "Torat Yekutiel" (Berlin, 1772), novellæ and comments on the Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah (to the end of paragraph 106), appended to which are some responsa. It was against this work that Sant Berlin wrote his "Miẓpeh Yekutiel" (ib. 1789), (2) "Marpe Lashon" (ib. 1790), lectures on ethics, (3) "We-Shab ha-Kohen" (Altona, 1792), 101 responsa explaining the laws of the four parts of the Shulḥan 'Aruk. (4) "Sha'alat ha-Kohanim Torah" (ib. 1792), novellæ and comments on the Talmudic treatises Zebaḥim, Menaḥot, 'Arakin, Temurah, Keritot, Yoma, and Me'ilah. (5) "Zeker Ẓaddiḳ" (ib. 1805), his last two public lectures.

  • Grätz, Gesch. xi. 540;
  • Lewin, Talpiyyot, p. 8, Berdychev, 1895;
  • Lazarus Riesser, Zeker Ẓaddiḳ, Altona, 1805;
  • Eisenstadt, Rabbane Minsk wa-Ḥakameha, p. 18, Wilna, 1899.
E. C. B. Fr.
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