||Only edition of this super-commentary on R. Elijah Mizrahi by R. Isaac ben Joseph Shrem. Pi ha-Be’er was brought to press by R. Shrem’s son, R. Joseph Shrem, who provides an introduction on the verso of the title page. The text, detailed and comprehensive, is in a single column in rabbinic letters.
R. Isaac ben Joseph Shrem (1860-1909), who was born in Aram Zova, was already recognized from his youth for his prodigious learning, both day and night, and his mastery of the depths of Talmud and poskim. After much accomplishment in niglah, R. Shrem turned to Kabbalah. He went up to Jerusalem in 1896 and from them on prayed with the Kahal Hassidim in Bet El. Among the dayyan of the city, R. Shrem was none for his great modesty, work on behalf of the community, and for founding yeshivot.
R. Elijah ben Abraham Mizrahi (Mizrahi, c. 1450B1526) was the author of a classic super-commentary on Rashi, which was, in turn, the subject of many additional commentaries. R. Mizrahi was a great talmudist and halakhic decisor. He succeeded R. Moses Capsali (1420B1496/97) as the leading rabbinic authority of the Ottoman Empire, although he did not have the formal title hakham bashi. R. Mizrahi was a student of R. Elijah ha-Levi and R. Judah Mintz of Padua (c. 1408B1506) and, until the death of R. Capsali, concentrated on rabbinic studies and teaching. It is reported that, like R. Capsali before him, he had a seat, assigned by the sultan, on the divan beside the mufti and above the Christian patriarch. R. Elijah Mizrahi=s scholarship was widely recognized, so that he was accepted as a halakhic authority and as the greatest posek in the Ottoman Empire. A Byzantine (Romaniot) Jew, that is, a descendant of the Greek Jews long resident in the area, rather than a Sephardic Jew, Mizrahi insisted upon the preservation of the customs of the older community, as opposed to their replacement with the culture of the Jewish refugees from Spain. Nevertheless, he worked tirelessly on behalf of the refugees, writing in one responsa that he neglected his duties as a dayyan and rosh yeshiva because of these activities. Although opposed to intermarriage between Karaites and Rabbinic Jews, Mizrahi permitted them to be instructed in Talmud in order to draw them closer to rabbinic Judaism. Mizrahi was also conversant with secular sciences, particularly mathematics and astronomy, which he studied under Mordecai ben Eliezer Comtino, (1420Bd. before 1487).