Jim Bennett <bennett@...>
On Friday, 2005.09.16, Yoni Ben-Ari wrote about the descendants of
the "Smichat Chachamim" - Rabbi Naftali Katz. That reminded me of
a misadventure that illustrates one of the common mistakes we
Many years ago I was mislead [I misled myself] into believing that I
was a descendant of Rav Katz. I discovered, with great excitement,
that one of my rabbinical ancestors, Rav Eliezer Lippmann HaLevi,
ABD of Zuelz, Schlesien, [1740-1810], was married to Gittel, the
daughter of Rav Zvi Hirsch Samosz, ABD Hamburg/Altona, who was a
descendant of Rav Katz.
Wow!, I thought, so I'm also m'besar besaro [flesh and blood] of the
Smichat Chachamim, and also Rav Yehuda Loeb of Prague, the MaHaRaL,
and a pantheon of other famous Rabbanim going back to the Gaonim of
Pampedita in Babel, etc. I then devoted a huge effort in
researching him, his writings, his other descendants, etc. At great
expense and effort I managed to purchase a copy of his Smichat
Chachamim and his Tzva'a [Ethical Will].
While serenely cruising along, deepening my research, I came upon
the Memorbuch of the Jewish Community of Zuelz, Schlesien, at the
archives of the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.
Rav Eliezer and his family were prominently memorialized on its
pages. Even his wife was mentioned: HaRabbanit Malka bat Baruch
[!?!]. But all the literature sources said his wife was Gittel bat
HaRav Zvi Hirsch Samosz. Alas, both were correct. Some further
research confirmed that Rav Eliezer was married no less than three
times, and his last marriage was to Gittel, when both were advanced
in age. All his children were >from his marriage to Malka bat
Baruch, daughter of a simple Jew, Baruch, who didn't even rate a
title like Reb, let alone Moreinu in the Memorbuch.
So here it was, in clear Hebrew words. Malka, not Gittel was my
ancestor, and that severed my patrimony of some thirty generations
from this we learn not to trust information at face value. Oftenthere were prior or later marriages, and it's usually very hard to
assign the children to the right spouse.
I still have all the research, and the two books, which I would be
pleased to sell to genuine descendants of the Smichat Chachamim.
Please contact me privately.