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Freund, Samuel

(1794–1881), rabbi, Torah scholar. Born in Křenice (Krimnitz) near Touškov (Tuschkau) in western Bohemia, Samuel Freund was noted for his keen intellect and unusual memory. He studied at the Triesch (now Ťrešt’) yeshiva under El‘azar Löw (1758–1837), in Leipnik, Moravia under Barukh Fränkl-Te’omim (1760–1828), and in Prague under Betsal’el Ranschburg (1760–1820). While in Prague, he lived in the house of Koppel Frankel, the father of Zacharias Frankel, the latter of whom became the head of the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau, and whom Freund assisted in Talmudic studies.


Freund received his rabbinic ordination from El‘azar Fleckeles and Shemu’el Landau in 1826 and assumed the office of rabbi in the northern Bohemian town of Lovosice (Lobositz), where he married. In 1832, he was called to Prague to be a rabbi and second assessor on the rabbinic court (Oberjurist), alongside Landau. After the latter’s death in 1834, Freund administered the Prague rabbinate, for a while on his own, and later with Shemu’el Leib Kauder (1768–1838) and Efrayim Leib Teweles (1775–1849). After Kauder’s death, he shared this position with Teweles alone.


At the end of the 1830s, Freund unsuccessfully opposed the appointment to the rabbinic court of Shelomoh Yehudah Rapoport, a proponent of the Haskalah and academic Jewish studies; nevertheless Rapoport was appointed first assessor in 1840 and became chief rabbi of Prague from 1860. After Rapoport’s death in 1867, Freund once again served as sole rabbi and held this position until January 1870, when he resigned due to advanced age and because of growing opposition within the pro-Reform camp in the Prague Jewish community. He subsequently devoted himself solely to Talmudic study and maintained a lively correspondence with local and international authorities. In 1879, Freund welcomed the election of Markus Hirsch as chief rabbi of Prague; the two remained close friends for the rest of Freund’s life. Freund died in June 1881, and his funeral in Prague was attended by thousands of people.


Freund was a respected religious authority, teacher, and author of a number of religious works. Despite acquiring considerable knowledge of secular sciences, he remained until the end an uncompromising supporter of Orthodoxy, which (along with his somewhat choleric temperament) caused him a number of difficulties. Still, his public eulogy for the Torah scholar and head of the Prague yeshiva Yehudah Teweles (1807–1869; nephew of Efrayim Leib) on 21 March 1869 provided the impetus for the founding of the Prague-based Afike Yehudah, a society for the advancement of religious consciousness and the study of Judaism.


Freund’s main work consisted of Talmudic commentaries and responsa. He published commentaries to the Mishnaic sedarim (“orders”; sections of the Mishnah) Zera‘im, Mo‘ed, and Tohorot (Zera‘ kodesh, 1827; ‘Et le-ḥonenah, 1850; Amarot Tohorot, 1869), as well as commentaries on the tractate Avot (Ketem paz; 1870), and on the Book of Proverbs (Musar av; 1839). He also wrote an abstract of the book Sefer mitsvot gadol (Semag) by Moses of Coucy (‘Ir ha-tsedek; 1863) and a polemic against the eating of legumes during Passover, Teshuvat keren Shemu’el (1841).

Suggested Reading

Michael Brocke, Julius Carlebach, and Carsten Wilke, eds., “Freund, Samuel,” in Biographisches Handbuch der Rabbiner, pt. 1, Die Rabbiner der Emanzipationszeit in den deutschen, böhmischen und grosspolnischen Ländern, 1781–1871, vol. 1, pp. 337–338 (Munich, 2004); Der Israelit 22 (1881): 609, 636–638, 725; Prager Tagblatt 5 (1881): 169, 170; 20.6 (1881): 1, 3–4.

Author

Translation

Translated from Czech by Stephen Hattersley