The connection between this book and the rest of my Anglo-Judaica collection is a little tenuous. It belonged to Rabbi Elie Munk. No – not Rabbi Munk of Golders Green, but Rabbi Elie Munk of Paris, who was the father of Lady Jakobovits, wife of the Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits (that’s the Anglo-Judaica connection) and who spent his last years in Brooklyn, New York.
Olelot Ephraim (which means Grapes of Ephraim) consists of four volumes of sermons. This edition was printed by the Proops press in Amsterdam in 1779 and is in my collection because I like this book.
Rabbi Ephraim Shlomo Luntschitz is often known as the Keli Yekar (sometimes written Kli Yakar, it means precious vessel), after the title of his commentary on the Pentateuch, still printed and popular today. He was born in 1550 in Leczyca (Luntschitz in Yiddish) in Poland, and died in 1619. In his youth he studied in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Solomon Luria. He was head of a Yeshiva in Lemberg and arrived in Prague in 1604, where he was President of the Beis Din (Rabbinical Court) and Head of the Yeshiva. One of his prominent students was my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Rabbi Yom Tov Lipmann Heller.
Rabbi Ephraim Luntschitz addressed the leaders of the Council of Four Lands when they met in Lublin, and they had recommended that he be appointed head of the Yeshiva in Lemberg. In his sermons he spoke against the wealthy members of the Polish Jewish community whose passion for money and luxury caused them to withhold assistance from their needy brethren and he criticized their claim of spiritual and religious status based on their commercial success. he said that wealth currupts and destroys the character of those who do not appreciate its purpose. But he also complained about the poor who enjoyed the charity of the rich if they did not make an effort to provide for their needs.