A family established for a long time at Halberstadt, Germany. It appears to have been originally known by the name of "Gins" or "Ginsmann," by which appellation the first two definitely authenticated members, Mayer and David, are known. R. Akiba Eger of Posen, likewise called himself "Ginsmann" while in Friedland. To the same family probably belongs Jacob Egers, sometimeteacher at the Training-School for Teachers in Berlin.

Biographical sketches of the foregoing and of some of the other important members of the family follow the subjoined pedigree:

  • Auerbach, Gesch. der Israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt, pp. 32, 33, 142, 1866.
J. H. Gut.Akiba Eger (Eiger) the Younger (Akiba ben Moses Guens):

German rabbi and champion of Orthodoxy; born at Eisenstadt, Hungary, Nov. 8, 1761; died at Posen Oct. 12, 1837. Akiba's mother, Gitel, whose family was probably from the Bohemian city of Eger, was the only daughter of Akiba Eger (d. 1758), formerly rabbi of Presburg, whose name was taken by his grandson, Akiba ben Moses Guens. At an early age Akiba showed great proficiency in Talmud, so that his uncle, Wolf Eger, later rabbi of Leipnik, took him under his care at Breslau. Akiba distinguished himself so highly that the wealthy Itzig Margalioth of Lissa gave him his daughter Glueckche and provided for his needs. He refused to accept a rabbinical position, his idealistic nature being repelled by the idea of deriving material benefit from the study of the Law. The great conflagration which destroyed Lissa in 1791 impoverished his father-in-law and forced Eger to accept the rabbinate of Märkisch Friedland in West Prussia. His noble and self-sacrificing character and his great Talmudic learning made him universally beloved, and won for him an international reputation among learned Jews. He repeatedly expressed a desire to resign his charge and to accept a position as teacher, or a small stipend from wealthy patrons of a bet ha-midrash, in order to escape from the religious responsibilities of the rabbinical office, but remained in deference to the entreaties of his congregation and family. When his daughter Sorel married Moses Schreiber in 1813, he allowed his son-in-law to present his name as a candidate to the congregation of Triesch (Münz, "Rabbi Eleasar, Genaunt Schemen Rokeach," p. 143, Treves, 1895). For unknown reasons the change was not made, but a year later he was called to the important rabbinate of Posen. From that time his real public activity began, and lasted till his death twenty-five years later.

Spiritual and Religious Activity.

Eger's Talmudic learning moved altogether in the paths of the dialecticism common among the rabbis of the eighteenth century. An example is given by O. H. Schorr in "He-Ḥaluẓ," ii. 29. His mode of thinking on such subjects may be judged from the following quotation:

(Notes on Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, p. 1, Berlin, 1862).

"I saw an admirable explanation of a Talmudic saying in the "Emeḳ ha-Melek.' 'The Talmud says (Ḥul. 69a): "Because Abraham said, Neither a thread nor a shoe-latchet (Gen. xiv. 23), his descendants were privileged to wear the thread of the ẓiẓit and the strap of the tefillin.' As the strap of the tefillin, wound about the left arm, corresponds to the shoe-latchet, it is proper that we should tie the latchet of the left shoe first"

In casuistry he was of the ultra-rigorous type. In a circular, published both in Hebrew and in German, he appealed in the most solemn terms to his colleagues not to allow the use at Passover of alcohol made from potatoes. He prohibited the writing of a bill of divorce upon parchment originally manufactured for use as a scroll. It should, however, be added that in his decisions he was guided by humanitarian views, and allowed many things, otherwise forbidden, out of consideration for the poor and the widow.

Akiba Eger the Younger.

Eger was naturally a strict opponent of Reform, and declared the slightest change in the order of service inadmissible: "If one disturbed only the one-thousandth part of the words of our Rabbis in theTalmud the whole Torah would collapse" (see "Eleh Dibre ha-Berit," p. 27, Altona, 1819). He was also opposed to secular learning, and one or two hours a day for that purpose was the utmost concession he would make to the government when compulsory secular education of Jewish children was introduced into Prussia. He accordingly rebuked Solomon Plessner, though somewhat mildly, for having advocated secular schools for the Jews in place of the ḥeder (Elias Plessner, "Biblisches und Rabbinisches aus Salomon Plessner's Nachlass," Hebr. part, p. 13, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1897). Though when measured by modern standards Akiba Eger appears extreme in his views, compared with his contemporaries, and especially with his son-in-law Moses Sofer, he presents really one of the mildest types of Orthodoxy. In spite of an extremely delicate constitution he often spent whole nights at the bedside of the sick, and his conduct during the cholera epidemic of 1831 was recognized by Frederick William III. in a special royal order addressed to the chief of the province.

His Works.

Of his works the following have been edited: "Ḥilluka de-Rabbanan," notes on Nissim Gerondi's novellæ to Baba Meẓi'a, Dyhernfurth, 1822; Responsa, Warsaw, 1834, reprinted with additions, ib. 1876; "Derush we-Ḥiddush," novellæ on various Talmudic treatises and homilies, ib. 1839; Glosses on the Talmud, printed in the editions of Prague, 1830-34, and Warsaw, 1860-63; Tosafot, glosses on the Mishnah, in the editions of Altona, 1841-45, and Warsaw, 1862-67; "Ḥiddushe Rabbi Akiba Eger," notes on various Talmudic treatises, Berlin, 1858; Notes on the Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, in the edition of Königsberg, 1859; Notes on Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, edited by Abraham Bleicherode, Berlin, 1862; Notes on Shulḥan 'Aruk, Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ and Eben ha-'Ezer, edited by Nahum Streusand, Thorn, 1869; a further collection of Responsa, edited by Isaac Caro, Vienna, 1889.

  • Kaempf, Biographie des Hochberühmten Hochseligen Herrn Akiba Eger, Oberrabbiner zu Posen, etc., Lissa, 1838;
  • R. I. Fürstenthal, Ebel Yaḥid, Trauergedicht, auf den Tod des R. Jacob Moses Eger, Breslau, 1838;
  • Toledot R. Akiba Eger, by his sons Abraham and Solomon, in the Berlin edition of his notes on Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 1862, reprinted, Warsaw, 1875.
  • From the latter Solomon Sofer's (Schreiber) Ḥuḥ ha-Meshullash (Pacs, 1887) is largely taken.
  • Eger's ethical will has been published, together with that of Jacob Lissa, under the title Ẓawwa'ot ha-Geonim, Warsaw, 1875.
D.Akiba Eger the Elder of Presburg:

German rabbi; born at Halberstadt about 1720; died at Presburg Sept. 17, 1758. When he was twenty years old he had a dispute on Talmudic matters with Meïr, chief rabbi of Eisenstadt. In 1749 he was elected rabbi of Zülz (Silesia), and in 1756 was appointed assistant to Rabbi Moses Ḥarif of Presburg. Eger was the author of "Mishnat de-Rabbi Akiba," novellæ on several treatises of the Talmud, Fürth, 1781; and of several Responsa, published in the "Bene Ahubah" of Jonathan Eybeschütz, Prague, 1819.

  • Steinschneider, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. section i., part 67, p. 345;
  • Fränkel, in Orient, Lit. 1848, col. 15;
  • Neubauer, in Berliner's Magazin, i. 43;
  • Auerbach, Gesch. der Israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt, pp. 33, 71.
L. G. M. Sel.Jacob Egers:

German scholar and educator; born at Halberstadt Jan. 18, 1834; died at Berlin Nov. 17, 1891. He was for more than twenty years a master at the Training-School for Teachers ("Lehrerbildungsanstalt") in Berlin.

He published the diwan of Abraham ibn Ezra together with the latter's secular poetry and allegory, "Ḥai ben Meḳiẓ," Berlin, 1886, some parts of which were translated into German by D. Kaufmann; and two poems of Solomon ibn Gabirol with notes in the "Zunz Jubelschrift," Hebr. part, pp. 192-200.

  • Oester. Wochenschrift, 1891, p. 886.
S. M. Sel.Löb b. Akiba Eger:

German Talmudist; died at Halberstadt 1814. In 1775 Eger was appointed rabbi of the community in succession to his late teacher, Isaac Schwanfeld. He devoted his whole energies to furthering Talmudic studies in his native city, his yeshibah in consequence achieving a high reputation. In collaboration with his brother Wolf he published supplementary notes to his father's work, "Mishnat de-Rabbi Akiba." A funeral oration delivered by Eger on the death of Frederick the Great (1786) gives proof of his oratorical attainments. A few of his sermons have been preserved in manuscript. Some of them denounce the fashions then coming into vogue, especially the wearing of jewelry by women; others warn against buying Christian sacred vessels, even when offered by the clergy.

  • Auerbach, Gesch. der Israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt, p. 105.
L. G. A. Pe.Nathan ben Abraham Eger:

Bohemian Talmudic scholar; lived at Prague in the second half of the seventeenth century. He was the author of "Gan Naṭa'," a commentary on the Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, Prague, 1695, and often reprinted.

  • Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. iii., No. 1723c;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 2035.
L. G. M. Sel.Samuel Levin (Perez Sabel) Egers:

German Talmudist; born in Halberstadt June 9, 1768; died in Brunswick Dec. 3, 1842. He was one of the most brilliant pupils, and afterward an assistant, in his father's yeshibah. In 1809 he was appointed rabbi of Brunswick, and filled this position until his death.

Egers was not adverse to the introduction of reforms; thus he founded in 1828 an "Elementarschule" in Brunswick; and three years later he introduced the confirmation of boys and girls.

In 1836 Egers became blind; but in spite of his severe sufferings he did not relax his labors. In 1842 he gave his assent to a plan to render the synagogue service shorter and more intelligible.

Egers' works include: "Aṭṭeret Paz," novellæ on Beẓah; "Rimmon Pereẓ," novellæ on Ketubot, Altona, 1823; besides several homilies.

  • Herzfeld, in Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1842, pp. 412, 461, 762, Suppl. to 1843;
  • Zunz, Z. G. i. 242;
  • Auerbach, Gesch. der Israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt, p. 103.
S. G. R.Solomon ben Akiba Eger:

German rabbi; born at Lissa 1785; died in Posen Dec. 22, 1852. In 1830he became rabbi of Kalisch, Russian Poland, and on the death of his father (1837) he succeeded him in the rabbinate of Posen, which charge he held till the year of his death.

His published works are: notes on the work of R. Alfasi, Wilna, 1860; a biography of his father, Berlin, 1862; Notes on the Talmud, Wilna, 1880; Notes on the Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, Königsberg.

Solomon ben Akiba Eger.
  • Solomon Lewysohn, Vollständige Biographie des R. Akiba Eger, p. 35, Posen, 1875;
  • S. Jewnin, Naḥlat 'Olamim, p. 11, Warsaw, 1882;
  • S. Sofer, Ḥuṭ ha-Meshullash, p. 51a, Munkacs, 1894.
L. G. B. Fr.Wolf ben Akiba Eger:

German Talmudist; lived in the second half of the eighteenth century. He was born in Halberstadt, and married the daughter of Joseph Teomim, the rabbi of Breslau, whereupon he took up his abode in that city. He conducted a school which attracted great numbers of youth possessed of a desire for Talmudical study. After 1780 he was called as rabbi to Leipnik, which position he held until his death. Together with his brother Löb he edited his father's "Mishnat de-Rabbi Akiba," and added to it a supplement of his own, Fürth, 1781.

  • Auerbach, Gesch. der Israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt, p. 103;
  • Lewysohn, Vollständige Biographie des R. Akiba Eger, pp. 1-16, Posen, 1881;
  • Walden, Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash, i. 29.
L. G. A. Pe.