||Selection of accounts and stories about prominent rabbis by R. Moses ben Abraham ha-Kohen. The title page states that the author has searched for, collected, and assembled these narratives about the leading rabbis of their times, in whose light we went in the darkness and from whose waters we drank. Three are mentioned on the title page, namely, R. Samson Ostropoler, R. Jonathan (Eybeschuetz) of Prague, and R. Isaac Horowitz, as well as many others.
R. Samson ben Pesah Ostropoler, (d. 1648) was a kabbalist. No details are known about his life except those few that can be deduced from his own writings. During his lifetime, in the second quarter of the 17th century, he became widely known throughout Poland as the greatest kabbalist in the country, and the tradition about his outstanding rank lived on for several generations after his death. Considered one of the principal proponents of Lurianic Kabbalah in Poland, he corresponded with many kabbalists of his day. While serving as preacher and Maggid in Polonnoye (Volhynia), he died a martyr's death at the head of the Jewish community (July 22, 1648) during the Chmielnicki massacres. None of his writings was published during his lifetime and it is not until the following generation that scattered quotations in his name are found in various kabbalistic books. In 1653 R. Zevi Horowitz (or Hurwitz) ha-Levi copied in Grodno a collection of R. Ostropoler's kabbalistic notes (preserved in Ms. Oxford Neubauer Cat. Bod. no. 1793).
R. Isaac ha-Levi ben Jacob Jokel Horowitz (1715–1767) was a German rabbi. In his youth he was known as a scholar and later married the daughter of R. Jacob Babad, the av bet din at Brody, who supported him in his home for several years. He was rabbi successively at Gorochov (1749), at Glogau, succeeding his father there on the latter's death, and at Brody (from 1754) where he was much beloved and where many stories circulated about his communal activities and his great wisdom. On the death of R. Jonathan Eybeschuetz he was a candidate for the position of chief rabbi of the three communities of Hamburg, Altona, and Wandsbeck. Elected with the sanction of R. Jacob Emden, he arrived at Hamburg in 1765, and served as chief rabbi for two stormy years. There he succeeded in calming the passions engendered by the R. Emden-Eybeschuetz dispute, but in confirming R. Eybeschuetz' decrees he aroused the hostility of R. Jacob Emden. In 1766 he was a central figure in the controversy concerning the Cleves get, declaring it to be valid in opposition to the Frankfort rabbis who had invalidated it. R. Emden sided with R. Horowitz, which finally led to their reconciliation, and subsequently R. Emden wrote to him in terms of great esteem. R. Horowitz' responsa on the laws in Orah Hayyim were published in his Matamei Yizhak (1904–05) Part 1, the second part of which contains his commentary on the Kereti u-Feleti of R. Jonathan Eybeschuetz. The Matamei Yizhak ve-Lehem Mazzah (1911) contains talmudic novellae by him and his son, R. Mordecai Zevi. His novellae are also included in the Berakhah Meshulleshet (1935) published by S. Ehrlich. Other of his responsa are scattered throughout the works of his contemporaries. Of his sons, R. Mordecai Zevi was av bet din of Horochow, R. Samuel av bet din of Amsterdam, and R. Eliezer av bet din of Zalozhtsy and the father of R. Aryeh Leib Horowitz of Stanislav. Another grandson, R. Naphtali Zevi, was the founder of the Hasidic dynasty of Ropczyce.
R. Jonathan Eybeschuetz, (1690/95–1764) was a talmudist and kabbalist. A child prodigy, he studied in Poland, Moravia, and Prague. After traveling for some time he settled in Prague in 1715, and in time became head of the yeshiva and a famous preacher. When he was in Prague he had many contacts with priests and the intelligentsia, debating religious topics and matters of faith with them. He became friendly with Cardinal Hassebauer and also discussed religious questions with him. Through the help of the cardinal, Eybeschuetz received permission to print the Talmud with the omission of all passages contradicting the principles of Christianity. Aroused to anger by this, R. David Oppenheim and the rabbis of Frankfort had the license to print revoked. The people of Prague held Eybeschuetz in high esteem and he was considered second only to R. David Oppenheim. In 1725 he was among the Prague rabbis who excommunicated the Shabbatean sect. After the death of R. Oppenheim (1736), he was appointed dayyan of Prague. Elected rabbi of Metz in 1741, he subsequently became rabbi of the “Three Communities,” Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek (1750). Both in Metz and in Altona he had many disciples and was considered a great preacher. His position in the Three Communities, however, was undermined when the dispute broke out concerning his suspected leanings toward Shabbateans. This controversy accompanied R. Eybeschuetz throughout his life, and the quarrel had repercussions in every community from Holland to Poland. His main opponent was R. Jacob Emden, his rival in the candidature to the rabbinate of the Three Communities. The quarrel developed into a great public dispute which divided the rabbis of the day. R. Eybeschuetz was considered not only one of the greatest preachers of his time but also one of the giants of the Talmud, acclaimed for his acumen and particularly incisive intellect. Thirty of his works in the field of halakhah have been published.