R. Yehuda Leib Frankfurter Spira – Intellectual Profile

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R. Yehuda Leib Frankfurter Spira
Name
R. Yehuda Leib Frankfurter Spira
ר' יהודה ליב בן אברהם פרנקפורטר לבית שפירא
Dates1743 – 1836
LocationsAltona, Hamburg
Worksהרכסים לבקעה
Exegetical Characteristics
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Background1

Life

  • Name – ר' יהודה ליב בן אברהם פרנקפורטר לבית שפירא
  • Dates – 1743 – 18362
  • Locations – Altona, Hamburg
  • Occupation – R. Yehuda Leib was a merchant and Torah scholar. He had some education in the natural sciences and geography, and was fluent in German. He was well versed in Talmud and its classic commentaries, and pursued the study of the Bible and Hebrew grammar.
  • Family – R. Yehuda Leib came from a prominent family of Torah scholars who were also merchants. The family originated in Speyer, with some descendants moving to Frankfurt, and then Hamburg. R. Yehuda Leib's brother, R. Menachem Mendel, became chief rabbi and head of the rabbinical court of Altona, while also being a successful merchant.
  • Teachers – 
  • Contemporaries – R. Yehuda Leib was on good terms with many rabbinic leaders of his generation, including R. Yonatan Eybeschutz, R. Yaakov Emden, and R. Raphael ben Yekutiel Susskind Cohen.3 At the same time, he also was on good terms with some of the leading lights of the early Jewish enlightenment, such as Moses Mendelssohn,4 Naftali Herz Wessely, and R. Wolf Heidenheim.
  • Students – his nephew, R. Moshe Frankfurter (Mendelssohn)
  • Time period – R. Yehuda Leib lived through times of great social upheaval, including German Jewish emancipation, and the Haskalah and Reform movements. Hamburg was annexed by Napoleon in 1810, until its liberation in 1814.

Works

  • Biblical commentaries – HaRekhasim Levik'ah,5 a peshat commentary on select Torah passages. This work initially had little impact. However, its influence spread over the years, starting with references in the commentaries of R. Shemuel David Luzzatto (Shadal), R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, and R. Y.Z. Mecklenburg.6
  • Liturgy – A list of corrections and critiques of passages in various piyyutim.7

Torah Commentary

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