Friday, March 02, 2012

The Shaagat Aryeh is recalled in Metz, 1828.

Here's a fascinating footnote about the Shaagat Aryeh included in a book published in 1828, less than 45 years after his death. He was then still a living memory. In fact his son was then a rabbi, as mentioned in this footnote.

"Msr. Lyon-Asser was promoted to the much-sought after position of Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of Metz, on the reputation of one of his works titled Schagatharié (the lion's roar), a folio volume printed in Germany. I acknowledge that I am unqualified to pass judgment on such a work. According to the testimony of our learned Hebraists, especially of Mr. Gerson Levy, considered very astute in Hebrew literature, this book, full of the subtleties and controversies that make the base and seasoning of Rabbinic scholarship, demonstrates that had Asser Lyon chose to train for instruction in another career, he would have made a name in the literary world because of his elevated mind.

"He died in 1784, leaving a son who is today the rabbi of Karlsruhe, in the Grand Duchy of Baden, and whose name is still dear in Metz. The scholarship of Asser's son has not been merely to fathom the depth of rabbinic scholasticism, to seek clarity amid the darkness of the Talmud, the Midrashim and Zohar - it is learned and literate in our own way; to whit, he was the friend and rival our learned countrymen [Moses] Ensheim, who now lives in Bayonne, and Isaiah-Berr-Bing, who died twenty years ago, who was the administrateur général of Salines de l'Est.

"To conclude this brief notice of Lyon Asser, allow me to link a name dear to France with the Metz rabbi. The Comte de Provence (Louis XVIII), during his stay at Metz in 1782, went to visit the synagogue, where he attended the Friday evening service. He was received by the trustees, headed by Lyon Asser, a venerable looking old man, whose noble and serious mien recalled the idea of ​​a priest of the old law (i.e., a biblical kohen).

"The prince received the tributes of the Israelites and did not despise the blessing of the chief rabbi, who presented him with a Bible written on a scroll. The memory of this old minister remained in his memory; one was surprised to see praises of a Jew coming from his mouth. "Jew or Christian, what do I care," said the brother of Louis XVI to me, whose virtue I honor wherever it presents itself. These words were not wasted. Judge if the Jews of Metz saw this same prince happily return to the throne of his fathers!"
Guillaume Ferdinand Teissier, Essai philologique sur les commencements de la typographie à Metz (Metz 1828), pp. 144-45 (link).

In case it isn't clear, Lyon Asser is the Shaagas Aryeh. Lyon = Leib, or Aryeh, and Asser = Asher, his father's name. His son was known as Asser Lyon. For a time he was the rabbi of Wallerstein, and he took that as his surname. Eventually he became rabbi of Karlsruhe, as mentioned in this excerpt, and he was about 74 at the time of this writing, 1828. It's interesting that it says that he is remembered well in Metz, because according to Jay Berkovitz (The shaping of Jewish identity in nineteenth-century France p. 95) he was going to become the rabbi of Metz (actually, the consistorial grand rabbi), but then accepted a different position "dismay[ing]" and "anger[ing]" communal leaders.

ETA: This is an image of the Shaagat Aryeh made after his death, from his actual body as it lay on a bed. It is supposedly authentic -

The image is reproduced on pg. 134 of Nathan Netter's Vingt Siècles d'Histoire d'une Communauté juive (Metz et son grand passé) (Paris 1938).

There, Rabbi Netter writes that he learned of the image's existence from R. Isaac Herzog in Dublin (he describes him as the successor to R. Kook in Jerusalem, which indeed he was then). He was able to obtain this very image through Esther Herzog-Goldberg of Paris, who I guess was his sister. She explained the origin of the image as follows. Their father, R. Joel Leib Herzog, who was a rabbi in Paris, met Louis Bloch, who was a sixth generation descendent of the Shaagas Aryeh. Rabbi Herzog asked him if the family had any portrait of him, and to his surprise he was informed by Bloch that his sister owned an oil painting of the Shaagas Aryeh, executed while he lay on his deathbed! Rabbi Herzog paid to have a reproduction made, and this is it. The section of the book concludes with a well-known story which Esther Goldberg told him, about how the Shaagas Aryeh was already aged - nearly seventy - when the community of Metz appointed him. He came highly recommended, and his reputation, because of his work Shaagat Aryeh, was high indeed. However, when they met him he appeared quite old, and this concerned them. He told them that he realizes they think he is too old; how long do they want their rabbi for? They replied "twenty years." He assured them that he would be their rabbi for twenty years, with God's help - and he was.

And here is the Lion Asser's son, Asser Lion (R. Asher Wallerstein) mentioned in the post, from the same book:


  1. Louis XVIII an Ohev Yisrael -- who would have thought it? Interesting stuff. Just one observation: looking at the French original, it doesn't seem that the author (described by French Wiki as "un fonctionnaire, historien et archéologue français") was such a name-dropper as to actually claim that the king made his remark "to me." Rather, Louis was saying, "I honor virtue wherever it presents itself *to me*."

  2. I agree with Dan's translation. Also, at the end of the text, it's more like "these words were not forgotten" (not wasted) (i.e., not forgotten by the Jews). And at the end, "One should consider whether the Jews of Metz would be happy to see this same prince ascend to the throne of his ancestors!"

  3. I believe you once had a post about pictures of rabbis on their deathbed and an explanation of this strange practice. Do you mind pasting the link? I would greatly appreciate it.

  4. can you clarify something?
    was the shaagas aryeh offered the metz position and rejected it, only to accept it years later?

    also, i believe son asher, while not particularly illustrious himself, had many illustrious students -- future german rabbis, such as bamburger, ettlinger, etc.

  5. My understanding is that he got the position as Rav of Metz, but was forced to play a less active role after a failed attempt to move Akdamus before Kerias Hatorah (in accordance with the Taz), because the community was upset that he had pushed to go against the consensus of Western European Poskim who opposed the move.

  6. Seeing as this post relates to the death of the Shaagas Aryeh, what did you think of the article in the Jewish Review of Books about the legend of the bookcase that brought the Shaagas Aryeh's demise?

  7. I was wondering if Fred posted this precisely as an understated way of alluding to that article, or at least the legend it discusses, and what he thinks of it. [Bunk.]

  8. The article is not bunk. It was written by a very competent guy, Zev Eleff. I thought he did a great job. I have an idea that there is still some more digging to do (for example, Agnon quotes someone who told it to him, but didn't remember if his source was his own father or if he read it; if it was his own father than that means that it's oral Torah that predates the Chassidsmus book) - but no complaints about it!

    As for the earlier post about Mahri Azsod, see here:

    Thanks for the French corrections. As I always say, I'm not so good with languages necessarily, but no one else is calling attention to these things, so you get what you get (i.e., me).

  9. And we're lucky to have you. We pardon your French. :-)

  10. I didnt mean the article was bunk, God forbid. I dont speak that way about anyone, especially one who takes the time to write an article. I thought the article was very good.

    I meant that perhaps you posted as a subtle way of saying the LEGEND discussed in the article was bunk.

  11. I do not know if іt's just me or if everybody else experiencing issues with your website. It seems like some of the written text on your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too? This may be a issue with my internet browser because I'ѵе had this happen befoге.

    Apрrесіаte іt

    Also visit my wеb blog

  12. Hello! Someоne in my Facebook grοup shаreԁ this websіtе ωіth us so I
    came to give it a looκ. I'm definitely loving the information. I'm book-mаrking and will
    be tωеetіng this to my followers! Wondеrful blog and
    brillіant design аnd style.

    Mу blog

  13. Νеаt blog! Is уοur theme сustom mаԁe or
    did yоu ԁownloаԁ it from ѕοmewheгe?
    A desіgn like уourѕ ωith
    а fеw simple adjustеments would гeаllу mаke my blog ѕhine.
    Please let mе knoω whеre yοu gοt
    уour design. Cheеrs

    Here is my ωebрage
    my webpage >

  14. Greetings! Veгy useful аdvice withіn this pοst!
    Ιt's the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    my webpage;

  15. This artiсle givеs clеar ideа foг thе new vіеwers
    of bloggіng, that aсtually hoω
    to do гunnіng a blog.

    my web page; # v2 cigs reviews
    My website: Read the Full Piece of writing

  16. A motivating dіsсussіon is definitely worth cоmment.
    I believe that you ought to рubliѕh morе about
    this iѕsue, іt might not be a taboo
    subject but usually folks don't talk about these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

    My website: Socialswager.Com
    my webpage > microfinance.Ca

  17. Wow, that's what I was seeking for, what a stuff! present here at this website, thanks admin of this web page.

    My site: Read A lot more

  18. Greеtіngs! Verу hеlpful advice in thіs рarticular аrtіcle!
    It іs the little changes that make the biggest changes.
    Thanks fог shаrіng!

    Reνiеw my weblоg ... V2 Cig Review

  19. Itѕ like you reaԁ mу mind!
    You sеem to grasp a lоt аbout this, like уοu
    wгote the е bоok in іt or something.
    ӏ feel that you ϳust could do with sοmе
    p.c. to pοwer thе message homе a littlе bit, hoωever іnsteаԁ of that, thіs iѕ
    great blοg. Α great гeаd.
    I'll certainly be back.

    Also visit my page click The up coming web Page



Related Posts with Thumbnails