Eleazar of Worms
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Eleazar of Worms
Eleazar ben Judah ben Kalonymus
Bornc. 1176
SpouseDulcea of Worms

Eleazar of Worms ( ) (c. 1176-1238), or Eleazar ben Judah ben Kalonymus, also sometimes known today as Eleazar Rokeach ("Eleazar the Perfumer" ) from the title of his Book of the Perfumer (Sefer ha rokeah ?)--where the numerical value of "Perfumer" (in Hebrew) is equal to Eleazar, was a leading Talmudist and Kabbalist,[1] and the last major member of the Hasidei Ashkenaz, a group of German Jewish pietists.


Eleazar was most likely born in Mainz. Through his father Judah ben Kalonymus, he was a descendant of the great Kalonymus family of Mainz. Eleazar was also a disciple of Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg (Judah he-Hasid),[1][2] who initiated him into the study of the Kabbalah, at that time little known in Germany. According to Zunz, Eleazar was hazzan at Erfurt before he became rabbi at Worms. In 1233 he took part in the Synod of Mainz which enacted the body of regulations known as "Takkanot Shum" (ShUM = "Speyer, Worms, Mainz"),[1] of which he was a signatory.

Massacre of the Jews of Metz during the First Crusade, by Auguste Migette.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Eleazar underwent great sufferings during the Crusades. The Jewish Encyclopedia states that on the night of 22 Kislev, 1196, he was engaged in his commentary on Genesis (Eleazar relates that he had reached the parashah Vayeshev), when two Crusaders entered his house and killed his wife Dulca (Dolce), his two daughters Belet (Belette) and Hannah, and wounded him and his son Jacob who did not escape. His wife had conducted a business in parchment scrolls in order to support the family and enable him to devote all his time to study.[1] Many of the piyyutim he authored protest at Israel's suffering and hope for redemption and revenge against her tormentors. He also recorded the deaths of his family in a moving and poetic eulogy.

Eleazar developed a vigorous activity in many directions. On the one hand, he was a Talmudist of vast erudition, a liturgist gifted with a clear and easy style, and an astronomer, and was well versed in the sciences open to the Jews of Germany at that time. At the same time, he was an adventurous mystic who experienced visions, seeing legions of angels and demons. He exerted himself to spread mystical systems which went far beyond the conceptions of the classical authors of Jewish esoterica. In his mystical works he developed and gave a new impulse to the mysticism associated with the letters of the alphabet. By the gematria and notarikon systems of interpretation found in the Talmud, Eleazar invented new combinations by which miracles could be performed. The haggadic anthropomorphism which he had combated in his earlier works (Ha-Ro?ea?, Sha'are ha-Sod weha-Yi?ud) occupied later the foremost place in his mystical writings. Eleazar's great merit therefore lies not only in his new mystical system, but also in his ethical works. In these he shows greatness of soul and a piety bordering upon asceticism. Though so severely tried by fate, he inculcates cheerfulness, patience, and love for humanity. He died at Worms in 1238.[1]

Ethical works

  • Ha-Ro?ea?, ("The Perfumer"), a halachic guide to ethics and Jewish Law for the common reader. The title derives from the numerical value of the word , which corresponds to that of . The book is divided into 497 paragraphs containing halachot and ethics; first published at Fano, 1505.[3]
  • Adderet ha-Shem, still extant in manuscript in the Vatican Library.
  • Moreh ?aa'im, or Seder ha-Kapparot, on penitence and confession of sin, first published at Venice, 1543. This work, which is included in the Hilkot Teshubah of the Ha-Ro?ea?, has been reproduced many times under various titles. It appeared under the title Darke Teshubah at the end of the responsa of Meir of Rothenburg in the Prague edition;[4] as Inyane Teshubah, or Seder Teshubah, in the Sephardic ritual of 1584; as Yesod Teshubah, with additions by Isaac ben Moses Elles, first published in 1583; as Yore ?aa'im ba-Derek; and as Sefer ha-Kapparot. The title adopted here is the same as that given in the Kol Bo, in which the work was reproduced.
  • Sefer ha-?ayyim, treating of the unity of God, of the soul and its attributes, and of the three stages (recognized by the ancients as "plant, animal, and intellectual") in man's life.
  • Sha'are ha-Sod ha-Yi?ud weha-Emunah, a treatise on the unity and incorporeality of God, combating the anthropomorphism of the Haggadah (published by Adolf Jellinek in the Kokabe Yia? collection [xxvii.].[1]
  • Kether Shem Tov. The Crown Of The Good Name, by Avraham ben Alexander of Cologne, disciple of Eleazar Ben Yehudah of Worms: Ethical-Kabbalist book.[5]

Pietistic works

  • Yir'at El, still extant in manuscript in the Vatican Library, containing mystical commentaries on Psalm 67, on the Menorah, and on Sefirat ha-Omer. In 2001 this work was published as part of the book ? ?.[6]
  • Sefer ha-Kabod, mystical explanations of various Biblical passages (Neubauer, Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS. No. 1566, 1).
  • Yayin ha-Re?a?, mystical commentaries on the five Megillot. Those on Book of Ruth and the Song of Songs were published at Lublin, 1608.[7]
  • A commentary on Psalm 145. (MS. De Rossi No. 1138).
  • A commentary on the prayers mentioned by Joseph Solomon Delmedigo in his Ma?ref la-?okmah (p. 14b).[8]Printed by Hirshler.
  • Ta'ame we-Sodot ha-Tefillah (Neubauer, ib. No.1575.)
  • Perush 'al Sefer Ye?irah, a commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, being extracts from Shabbethai Donnolo's commentary. Fragments of this work were first published at Mantua in 1562, later in several other places; a complete edition was printed at Przemysl, 1883.[9]
  • Midrash we-Perush 'al ha-Torah, mystical commentary on the Pentateuch, mentioned by Azulai, recently printed by klugman.
  • Sha'are Binah, in which, interpreting Biblical verses by the system of gema?riyyot, he shows the origin of many haggadot of the Talmud. This work is frequently quoted by Solomon al-?abi?, in his Manot ha-Lewi.
  • Shi'ur Komah, a commentary on the Shi'ur Komah, the Pir?e de-Rabbi Yishma'el, and the Merkabah (MS. Michael).
  • Sefer ha-?okmah, mystical treatise on the various names of God and of angels, and on the seventy-three "Gates of the Torah", ? ?.
  • Sefer ha-Shem, mystical dissertations on the names of twenty-two letters, with a table of permutations (Neubauer, ib. No. 1569, 4).
  • Eser Shemot, commentary on the ten names of God (MS. Michael, No. 175).
  • A commentary on the piyyu? "Ha-O?ez."
  • Six small cabalistic treatises entitled Sod ha-Ziwwug, Sefer ha-Ne'elam, Sefer Mal'akim, Sefer Tagim, Sefer Pesa?, and Sefer ha-?olot, all of which are still extant in manuscript (Neubauer, ib. No. 1566).
  • Liu?im, mystical fragments, mentioned by Menahem Recanati.
  • Sode Raza, a treatise on the mysteries of the "Merkabah." Part of this work was published at Amsterdam in 1701, under the title Sefer Razi'el ha-Gadol. In the introduction[10] the editor says that he decided to publish this book after having seen that the greater part of it had been produced in French under the title Images des Lettres de l'Alphabet.[1]

In addition to these works, Eleazar wrote tosafot to many Talmudical treatises, referred to by Bezalel Ashkenazi in his Shiah Me?ubbe?et; a commentary on "She?alim" in the Jerusalem Talmud, cited by Asheri in his commentary to that treatise in the Babylonian Talmud; thirty-six chapters on the examination of slaughtered animals (MS. Michael No. 307). Zunz enumerates fifty-five liturgical poems and dirges composed by Eleazar and occurring in the Ashkenazic ma?zorim, ?inot, and seli?ot.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901-1906). "Eleazar ben Judah ben Kalonymus of Worms". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. Retrieved 2017.
    Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography:
  2. ^ Trachtenberg, Joshua (2004) [Originally published 1939]. Jewish Magic and Superstition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 17. ISBN 9780812218626.
  3. ^ (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ (PDF) (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Providence University Inc, ULC-ITALIA ISBN 1-897352-02-6
  6. ^ https://www.otzar.org/wotzar/Book.aspx?145028
  7. ^ (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ ? (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ ' "? ? (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ ? (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2017.

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