Myer Joel Wigoder was born in the village of Vigoda, near Vexna, Lithuania in 1855. He had a thorough Yeshiva education and after various trials and tribulations left Lithuania in search of a better place to economically establish his young family. He travelled to Dublin, Ireland, and was eventually joined by his brother, Doctor George “Selig” Wigoder. Both brothers wrote and published books. They were direct descendants of Rabbi Isiah Horowitz (1555-1630), known as the “Sheloh” after his famous work, Shenei Luchos Habris.
I have written before about Dr. Wigoder’s books (click to see them) Beth Avigdor and Keter Torah.
Myer Joel Wigoder wrote a long list of Hebrew books, and also an important autobiography, originally written in Hebrew, which was published in English after his death in 1935.
This volume contains two books, published posthumously by the author’s children. It has no year or place of printing stated, and by the style of printing was printed in Palestine. There was no Hebrew printing press in Dublin, and the two brothers had their books printed in London or Jerusalem.
The book starts with a Haskama – an approbation – by Rabbi Isaac Halevy Herzog, then Chief Rabbi of Palestine, who had previously been Chief Rabbi of the Irish Free State, and knew Myer Wigoder very well.
To understand more about Myer Wigoder, here is an extract from the preface to his autobigraphy, written by Rabbi Isaac Herzog in 1935:
“My dear friend, the late Mr. M. J. Wigoder… exemplified the the type of the lay Talmud Chochom of the merchant scholar and author, which had been a source of incalculable strength to Judaism since time immemorial, but which to our profound regret, is now on the wane…
Unfortunately the tendency in modern Jewry is for Jewish learning to become the special presetic of the professional theologians, the higher clergy, so to speak.
The departure from this life of my late friend Reb Myer Joel Wigoder made me realise … how the historic, time-old type, of which he was one of the best survivors in these countries, was fast disappearing. Where indeed, will you now find in the British Isles a lay member of the community, a Bal Bayis, a hard working business man, sitting at his counter and writing, between one customer and the next, notes and commentaries, on the homilies of our ancient sages, or solving with considerable ingenuity some enigmatic Midrash?”
The first book in this volume consists of interesting halachic discussions. The second, much smaller book had sermons and some Talmudic Novellae that were not included in his earlier publications. Here is a selection:
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