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The grave of the holy Shelah, in the Rambam burial compound, Tiberias, Israel

Isaiah Horowitz (Hebrew: ישעיה הלוי הורוביץ; c. 1565 - March 24, 1630 / 11 Nissan 5390 on the Hebrew calendar), was a well-known rabbi and mystic. He is also known as Shelah HaKadosh - "the Holy Shelah" (של"ה) - from the title of his best-known work.



The Shelah Hakadosh was born in Prague and died in Tzfat (Safed), Israel. He studied under Rabbi Meir Lublin (Maharam Lublin), and Rabbi Joshua Falk (Maginei Shlome). He married Chaya Moul, daughter of Abraham Moul of Vienna. During his life the Shelah Hakadosh was a wealthy and active philanthropist, supporting Torah learning especially in Jerusalem. After serving as rabbi in many prominent cities in Europe, he left Frankfurt am Main - following the Fettmilch uprising - and assumed the prestigious position of rabbi of Prague. In 1620, after the death of his wife, he moved to Eretz Yisroel; and remarried there. He was kidnapped in Jerusalem and ransomed by the local Pasha; he then moved to Tzfat (1626), erstwhile home of Kabbalah. The Shelah Hakadosh died in Tiberias and is buried near Maimonides (Rambam).

In his many Kabbalistic, homiletic and halachic works, he stressed the joy in every action, and how one should convert the evil inclination into good, two concepts that impacted on Jewish thought through to the eighteenth-century, and greatly influenced the development of the Chassidic movement.

Famous descendants of the Shelah included the prominent Billiczer Rabbinical family of Szerencs, Hungary.


His most important work is Shnei Luchos HaBris (Hebrew: שני לוחות הברית "Two Tables of the Covenant"; abbreviated Shelah של"ה from its initials). The work is an encyclopedic compilation of ritual, ethics, and mysticism. It was originally intended as an ethical will - written as a compendium of the Jewish religion. The title page of the first edition states that the work is "compiled from both Torahs, Written and Oral, handed down from Sinai". The work has had a profound influence on Jewish life - notably, on the early Hassidic movement, including the Baal Shem Tov; Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi was described as a "Shelah Yid", and Shelah clearly echoes in Tanya. The Shelah has been often reprinted, especially in an abbreviated form. The work was first published in 1648 by his son, Rabbi Shabtai Sheftel Horowitz.

Rabbi Horowitz also wrote the Sha'ar ha-Shamayim siddur (prayer book) which had an influence on the later Ashkenazi Nusach.

External links



  • Download fulltext from this site (Hebrew)
  • "Shney Luchot Habrit", Translator Rabbi Eliyahu Munk, Urim Publications 2000. ISBN 965-7108-07-1
  • "Life and teachings of Isaiah Horowitz", Rabbi Dr. E. Newman, Judaica Press 1972. ISBN 0-9502739-0-2

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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