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(18th and 19th Centuries)

ASH, family which during the 18th and 19th centuries produced a number of distinguished rabbis, both in Poland and in Germany. These included:

(1) ABRAHAM ASH (18th century), rabbi and author who was born in Posen and became rabbi at Celle. He wrote Torah Kullah (Berlin, 1796), which comprises (a) Yoreh De'ah, a compendium of ethical essays based on the natural sciences; (b) Yavin Shemu'ah, statements from the Talmud and halakhic authorities opposing early burials; and (c) ?erev la-Shem – against Solomon *Pappenheim and in favor of delaying the interment of the dead. He proposed that "the very earliest rabbinic regulations" be reintroduced, that sepulchral chambers be built in every cemetery, where the deceased be placed and left for three days so that there can be no doubt of death.

(2) Abraham Joseph *Ash (1813–1888), rabbi and halakhic authority. Born at Siemiaticze, in the district of Grodno, he immigrated to New York in 1852 and was among the early founders of what came to be known as the Bet ha-Midrash ha-Gadol, where he was rabbi from 1860 until his death (except for intervals when he tried unsuccessfully to engage in business). He was regarded as an authority and rabbis in Europe paid special attention to him in religious matters. Ash was responsible for several new features relating to a get ("bill of divorce"): its text, the procedure of mailing it, its distinguishing marks, and the accepted spelling of American personal and place names. He was involved in halakhic controversies with Jacob *Ettlinger of Altona (Binyan ?iyyon, no. 63, dated 1858) and Isaac Elhanan *Spektor of Kovno . He wrote a protest against attempts of Reform rabbis to deliver sermons in Orthodox synagogues (1886).

(3) ABRAHAM BEN JOSEPH ASH (late 18th–early 19th century), rabbi and author. Born in Posen, he was rabbi at Zell, near Wuerzburg, in the bet midrash of Isaac Rans. He wrote Mareh Esh ("The Appearance of Fire," "Esh" being a play on his surname), containing novellae on various talmudic themes and glosses on all the tractates of the Talmud (Berlin, 1803). The author's introduction includes his ethical will addressed to his son Moses Jacob who published his book.

(4) JOEL BEN MEIR JOSEPH ASH (1745–1811), rabbi and author. Born in Stargard, he studied in Berlin and Frankfurt on the Oder, and was appointed rabbi of Schoenlanke in 1779. He was the author of pilpulistic homilies on the Torah entitled Yitedot Ohalim (1788). His son Judah "he-?asid" was rabbi at Samter (1814–1831).


(1) ASH, ABRAHAM and (3) ASH, ABRAHAM B. JOSEPH: Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 666, no. 4184 (note), additions 87; Zedner, Cat, 56; Zeitlin, Bibliotheca, 6–7. (2) ASH, ABRAHAM JOSEPH: J.D. Eisenstein, in: AJHSP, 9 (1901), 64–71; 12 (1904), 145–6; I. Goldstein, A Century of Judaism in New York (1930), 145; P. Wiernik, History of the Jews in America (19312), 189–91; H.B. Grinstein, Rise of the Jewish Community of New York (1945), 93, 253, 486, 488, n. 12. (4) ASH, JOEL B. MEIR B. JOSEPH: S. Wiener, Kohelet Moshe, 5 (1904), 629, no. 5134 A; M.L. Bamberger, Geschichte der Juden in Schoenlanke (1912), 16–17; A. Berliner, Zur Familiengeschichte Asch (1913), 7–13.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.