(ca. 1525-1572) Known also as Rema.
A rabbi who specialized in religious law, which he codified in
Poland. He came from a wealthy Jewish family in Krakow, where his father
Izrael was the leader of the Jewish Community. In 1553, after being
granted royal permission, he had a synagogue built in memory of his
deceased wife. That synagogue, known as the Remuh synagogue, still
stands today. Members of the Isserles family, including Moses - Rema,
are buried in the adjacent cemetery.
The social position of Moses family, its wealth, and Moses own broad
knowledge led him to be regarded as an authority. He studied in Lublin,
and then founded a Talmud school in Krakow that became renowned
throughout Europe. He served as Krakow's chief rabbi until the end of
his life, and was famous for his kindness towards people who had fallen
on hard times.
He wrote numerous commentaries on the Bible
and Talmudic literature. He became especially well known as the result
of his work Darkey Moshe (Moses's Road), a polemical text and also
commentary about Jozef Karo's Beyt Josef, on Jewish law. Isserles
stressed the significance of local customs for the development of Jewish
law. He presented the views and practices of rabbis and Central
European Ashkenazy communities that were not included in Karo's work,
which had concentrated primarily on the traditions of the Sephardic Jews
in Spain. Ten years after Karo published Beyt Josef, he also published
an abbreviated version titled Shulchan Aruch (The Set Table). Isserles
was afraid that Karo's work would become the definitive text among the
Ashkenazy Jews, who as a result would forget about their own traditions.
He wrote yet another polemic work about Jozef Karo's writings titled
Mapa (Tablecloth). The work, comprised of those two works by Karo and
Isserles, became the single most important guide to Jewish traditions.
Isserles also wrote about philosophy, mysticism and natural sciences,
always stressing the supremacy of religious law.