LöwE, bEn-bezalel

Löwe, ben-Bezalel a rabbi and Jewish teacher of note, was born probably in Posen about 1525. Of his early history but little is authenticated. We find him first occupying a position of influence and prominence at Prague, where he was best known as "the learned Rabbi Lowe," towards the close of the 16th century (1573). Previous to his coming to Prague he had been rabbi over a congregation in Moravia for some twenty years. In 1583 he was elected chief rabbi of the Jews in the Bohemian capital. In 1592 he became chief rabbi of Posen and Poland; he returned, however, in 1593 to Prague, and there died in 1609. He left nineteen different works, of which several are yet in manuscript in the library of the University of Oxford, England. Besides his great Talmudical knowledge, which made him one of the first authorities of his time, he also enjoyed a great reputation as mathematician and philosopher. He seems to have also possessed great knowledge of astronomy and astrology, the favorite studies of the age. He was befriended by the renowned Tycho Brahe, astronomer at the court of the emperor Rudolph II; and the latter also, it is said, honored the rabbi, and at one time admitted him to a prolonged audience; indeed, it is a well- established fact that his extended knowledge and unblemished character secured for himself and the Jews of his time happier days, and, like a sunbeam in the midst of dark clouds, appears the short period in which he officiated as rabbi in the sad history of the Jewish congregation of Prague. He was opposed to the unscientific manner in which the Talmud was studied, by hunting after imaginary contradictions and difficulties (Pilpul), and he called into existence new societies for a more scientific study of the same. In connection with his son-in-law, rabbi Chayim Wahle, he founded a seminary for Talmudical studies. The rabbi's knowledge of natural philosophy caused him frequently to make experiments, which gave birth to many legends, as the ignorant saw in them the supernatural power of the Cabalist. A Christian Bohemian historian claims for the rabbi the honor of inventing the camera-obscura. See Gritz, Gesch. d. Juden, 9:496 sq.; Sekles, Some Jewish Rabbis (5), in the Jewish Messenger (N.Y. 1871); Fürst, Biblioth. Judaica, 2:266 sq. (J.H.W.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.