Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried • “Author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch”

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried was born in Ungvar, Hungary in 1804 (5564). His father, Rabbi Yossef Ganzfried, died during his childhood, and this orphan was brought up by one of the great of his generation, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Heller, better known as Rabbi Hirsch Charif, the Rav of Ungvar. He saw in the boy the potential of becoming one of the great authorities of Israel. During all the years of learning next to his teacher, his soul thirsted to penetrate the depths of Halachah until a clear answer was achieved. It was this objective that was the driving force of his various Halachic books, and which pushed him to give us – us and future generations – books destined for the instruction of practical Halachah. All those that devoted themselves to the Torah and all Talmidei Chachamim received everything that he wrote in the field of Halachah with favor and love. Yet more than with any other book, each of which in itself represented a special blessing, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried acquired great merit for himself with his Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, a work that greatly benefited the general public. Beginning from 1864 (5624), when it was printed for the first time in Ungvar, this book has for more than a century been reprinted dozens of times in hundreds of thousands of copies. This has never been the case with any other author or book of its kind, so much so that Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried’s Kitzur Shulchan Aruch has become one of the most popular works of all time, destined for and worthy of every Jew. It is in complete harmony with Rabbi Yossef Caro’s hope that “young students consult it [the Shulchan Aruch] constantly, studying it by heart and having this study of youth well in their mouths in order to know the Halachah in each specific case, and also so as not to distance themselves from it in their old age.” Kitzur Shulchan Aruch study groups have been formed in hundreds of cities and towns, with the goal of learning and disseminating its teachings to the public at large in synagogues and houses of study.

“Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried was a man aided by Providence,” of the great masters of Lithuanian Jewry once said concerning him. In fact, none of the great men of Israel have ever seen in their lifetime, as did he, their works crowned by Halachic commentaries and new Dinim of other Rabbis. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch was printed 14 times during the lifetime of the author, and at each reprint he himself added numerous new Dinim. During his lifetime, Rav Ishaya Hacohen came and “encircled” his work with a commentary entitled Misgeret HaShulchan (lit. “The Border of the Table”), which was printed, with permission from Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, together with the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. This resulted in a book that was important both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Despite the fact that Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried’s Shulchan was already vast in scope and had all sorts of sub-divisions, he decided to stay with the title Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (“Abridged Shulchan Aruch”). When a close friend asked why he incessantly clung to the name Kitzur, he responded with a smile: “In the book of Psalms, it is written, ‘You prepare [ta’aroch] a table [shulchan] before me’ [Psalms 23:5]. It not written, “You will lengthen [ta’arich] a table [shulchan] before me.’ ” May his merit protect us all. Amen.




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