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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Moses ben Naftali Hertz Rivkes
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Hebrew Name(s): משה רבקש
Other Names: Moshe Rivkes, Moses Rivkes, Moses Ribkes, Moses Ben Ẓebi Naphtali Hirsch Sofer Ribkas, Moses ben Tzvi Naphtali Hirsch Ribkes
Period: Acharonim — 17th Century
Location: b. Vilna, Lithuania, moved to Amsterdam
Dates: c. 1600–c. 1672

Biography:
Moses ben Naftali Hertz Rivkes was born Prague and settled, early in life, in Vilna, Lithuania. He later fled and settled in Amsterdam after escaping the Chmielnicki massacres (1655) and the Polish-Russian war.
 
In the preface of Be'er ha-Golah Moses Rivkes wrote, "And on the fourth day of the week, on the 23d of Tammuz, in 5415 [1655], the whole congregation fled for its life from the city of Vilna, as one man. Those who had provided themselves with conveyances carried their wives, children, and their small belongings in them; but those who had no conveyances traveled on foot and carried their children on their backs."
 
Rivkes later returned to Vilna. While in Amsterdam, Rivkes was given the task of revising the proofs of a new edition of the Shulḥan Arukh. This new edition provided marginal notes of Rivkes which are now known as his work Be'er Ha-Golah which provides cross-references between the Shulḥan Arukh and the Talmud, law codes, commentators and responsa. The Be'er Ha-Golah of Rivkes has always been reprinted in the margins of the Shulḥan Arukh. Rivkes also left a manuscript Kelale ha-Hora'ah which gives final decisions in regard to halakhot, and Keli ha-Golah, a commentary on the Mishnah.

Works:
Be’er haGolah (The Well of the Exile)

Comments:
Be’er haGolah is a commentary on the Shulḥan Arukh (on Oraḥ Ḥayyim, Yoreh Deah, Ḥoshen Mishpat, and Even HaEzer.) The main purpose of the work is to provide cross-references to the Talmud, law codes, commentaries and responsa. Occasionally the author added his own comments (especially in the section on Ḥoshen Mishpat.)

 

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