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Eva Bacharach


BACHARACH, EVA (Ḥavvah; 1580–1651), a rare example of a learned woman, credited with writing commentary on midrash and targum, although these writings are no longer extant. Born into an illustrious and scholarly family, Eva was the maternal granddaughter of the famous Rabbi *Judah Loew ben Bezalel (the Maharal) of Prague. Her father was Rabbi Isaac ha-Kohen (Katz), also a learned rabbi, and her mother was Vogele Kohen. Eva's two brothers, Ḥayyim and Naphtali, were respected rabbis in Poland. Eva married Rabbi Abraham Samuel Bacharach (see *Bacharach family), a student of both her grandfather and her father, and was the mother of two daughters and a son. Left a widow at 30, Eva spent most of the rest of her life in Prague. Her son Moses Samson *Bacharach became the rabbi of Worms and his son, Rabbi Yair Ḥayyim, is the main source on Eva Bacharach's life and learning. In the introduction to his book of responsa, Rabbi Yair Ḥayyim explains that the title, Ḥavvat Yair, evokes his famous and erudite grandmother Ḥavvah, whom he calls "my elder, the pious woman, Marat Ḥavvah, the mother of my father … who helped me to develop…." His grandmother, he continues, "was unique of her kind in her generation in Torah. She had an original explanation of Midrash Rabbah. She taught … through her comprehension and knowledge … and she explained in such a manner that all who heard her understood that she was correct…. She explained the festival and petitionary prayers and Rashi's commentary on the Torah, and the whole Bible, and the Targum and Apochrypha…. Her writing was superlative and her speech was clear and polished." Rabbi Yair Bacharach relates that Eva never remarried, although she had the opportunity to do so. At the age of 66, she died in Sofia en route to the Land of Israel; there she was honored, as she had been throughout her travels, "because her name was known."


I. Eisenstadt, Da'at Kedoshim (1897–1898), 214–21; E. Taitz, S. Henry, and C. Tallan, The JPS Guide to Jewish Women: 600 B.C.E.1900 C.E. (2003),134.

[Emily Taitz (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.