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Panet, Ezekiel ben Joseph

PANET, EZEKIEL BEN JOSEPH (1783–1845), Transylvanian rabbi. He was born in Bielitz (Bielsko), Silesia. Under the *Familiants Laws, as the second son of his father, he was forbidden to marry in the country and went to Linsk in Poland. He continued his studies in Linsk until 1807, when he was appointed rabbi of Ostrik in Galicia, and in 1813 became rabbi of Tarcal in Hungary. Panet held the hasidic rabbis in high esteem and maintained close contacts with them. While in Tarcal he became particularly intimate with the hasidic rabbi Isaac *Taub, the rabbi of Nagykallo. According to the inscription on his tombstone, Panet also engaged in Kabbalah. After the death of R. Mendel, the rabbi of Alba-Iulia, in 1823, the community asked R. Moses *Sofer to recommend a successor. Panet was one of three candidates recommended by Sofer, and he was elected, serving until his death. From 1754 to 1868 the rabbi of this ancient community was regarded as the chief rabbi of Transylvania, and in fact his seal bore the Latin inscription: Supperabi Transilvaniae-sigil-Ezechiel Panet.

The Jewish population of the district was small at the time, and religious life was at a low ebb. Panet acted energetically in bringing about a religious revival. Since there were practically no other rabbis in the province, he supervised the religious life of the whole area, making regular journeys for this purpose to the smallest and most isolated communities. During his period of office the community of Alba-Iulia gradually transferred from the Sephardi rite, which had hitherto prevailed, to the Ashkenazi. Although according to a family tradition Panet left about 18 bound volumes in manuscript, only one of his works was published (posthumously): the responsa Mareh Yeḥezkel u-She'arei Ẓiyyon (1875). It is the first volume of responsa of a Transylvanian rabbi, and in addition to its halakhic value is important as a source for the contemporary history of the Jews of Transylvania. Panet also collected funds for the Hungarian *kolel in Ereẓ Israel. Panet's descendants (some of whom spelled their name Paneth) were well-known rabbis in the Orthodox communities of Transylvania and Hungary. A genealogical table of his descendants and where they served as rabbis appears in the work of his descendant Philip Paneth (see bibl.). One of his sons, MENAHEM MENDEL (d. 1884), founded the Dej ḥasidic dynasty.


"Toledot Yeḥezkel," in: H.B. Panet, Derekh Yivḥar (1894); M. Eisler, in: IMIT (1901), 241–3; P. Paneth, Rabbenu Jecheskël (Eng., 1927); J.J. Cohen, in: Ha-Ma'yan, 4 no. 2 (1964), 34–45.

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