The Jewish Eye
The Mogen Avrohom: Torah Does Grow On Walls - Rav Avrohom Abele Gombiner
Rav Avrohom Abele Gombiner, better known as The Mogen Avrohom, is
famous for his commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim. Rav Zalman
Volozhiner, the Talmid of the Vilna Gaon, said that Mogen Avrohom holds
the same esteem in his eyes as a Rishon.
Rav Elimelech MiLizhensk said that all the Mechabrim up until and
including the Mogen Avrohom had Ruach HaKodesh. The Chavas Yair writes
in the Hakdama to his sefer that he too prepared a commentary on
Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim but declined to publish it after seeing the
work of the Mogen Avrohom and the Taz.
Who was the Mogen Avrohom? He was born in Gombin,
Poland in 5397/1637. He grew up in the turbulent times of he Cossack
massacres of which his own father fell victim in 1655. After his
father was murdered Al Kidush Hashem his family moved to Lissa, where he studied under Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Gombiner and one of the Gedolei HaDor, Rav Yitzchok MiPosen, whose opinion in Halacha he would consult.
A few years later he moved to Kalish and quietly taught in the local Shul. The story is told in the annals of Kalish, that in 1660 when the Shach arrived in Kalish for the wedding of his daughter, he gave a shiur and asked a question which no one in Kalish
could answer. A student of the Mogen Avrohom's who was present related
the question to the Mogen Avrohom. After telling him an answer the talmid
went back to the Shach who was duly impressed. After that the Shach
met with the Mogen Avrohom and spent a long time discussing Torah
together. This incident brought unrequested fame to the Torah giant
who had been learning unnoticed. A short while later the Mogen Avrohom
was appointed Posek in Kalish by Rav Yisroel Shapira the son of Rav Nassan Nata Shapiro. One of the Mogen Avrohom's students was the Elya Rabba, Rav Eliyahu Shapira.
The Mogen Avrohom lived a life of abject poverty. He wrote much of his torah
on scraps that he received for free from the local book binder. When
he couldn't even obtain that, he would write on the walls of his
house. When he didn't have ink he would use coal to write his chidushim on the wall.
The Mogen Avrohom originally sent his commentary with his brother to be
published in Amsterdam in 1673. However his brother died on the way
and the project stalled. He then added on to his commentary, comments
on opinions that he saw in seforim that were published in the interim
including the Olas Tamid and Tzemach Tzedek. He often defended minhagim of Klal Yisroel which are not in accordance with the psak halacha. He also quotes the Zohar and sometime paskens in accordance with it against the mainstream psak.
The Mogen Avrohom was eventually published in 1692 by his son, after his petira. Although Rav Avrohom Abele originally called it Ner Yisroel, his son, with the consent of the Chida, changed the name to Mogen Avrohom. The Pri Megadim and the Machatzis HaShekel are two famous commentaries written on the Mogen Avrohom. He also wrote a number of other seforim including Zayis Ra'ana on Yalkut Shimoni, Shemen Sasson on the first few parshiyos of the Torah, a peirush on Tosefta Nezikin, Chiddushim on Zevachim and Menachos which were never published, and a peirush on Even HaEzer.
He was niftar
in 5443/1682 not having reached the age of fifty but not before having
enriched Klal Yisroel with the most important commentary on Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chaim. Yehi Zichro Boruch!
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