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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works


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Kalonymus Kalman ha-Levi Epstein
Hebrew Name(s): קלונימוס קלמן הלוי עפשטיין
Other Names: The Maor VaShemesh, Kalonymus Kalman Epstein, Holy Maor Vashemesh, Kalonymus Kalman ben Aharon Epstein, Kalonymus Kalman ha-Levi Epstein
Period: Acharonim — 18th–19th Century
Location: Poland
Dates: 1754–1823

An Ḥassidic commentator, a disciple of R. Elimelech of Liszensk, and son of Aaron Ha-levi Epstein, Epstein expounded the role of the Tzaddik in his great work Maor VaShemesh. One of the major themes of the work is the idea of hamtakas hadinim (sweetening of the severity of the Divine punishment) —this the Tzaddik can accomplish through his personal service, and in influencing people to change their way of life so as to soften the Divine judgment. The Maor VaShemesh has been referred to as the Shulchan Aruch of Ḥassidut.
He is known as the Holy Maor Vashemesh. His contemporaries include Chozeh ("Seer") of Lublin, the Maggid of Koshnitz, Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Rimanov and the Apta Rebbe.

Maor VaShemesh

Maor VaShemesh is an Ḥasidic commentary on the Torah and Moadim (Festivals) in which Epstein describes his own ecstatic experiences as well as those of others. The work provides ḥassidic insights interwoven with kabbalistic thoughts and is arranged according to the parashat hashavuah.


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