Shlomo Ganzfried

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried

Shlomo Ganzfried (or Salomo ben Joseph Ganzfried; 1804 in Ungvar 30 July 1886 in Ungvar) was an Orthodox rabbi and posek best known as author of the work of Halakha (Jewish law), the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Hebrew: קיצור שולחן ערוך, "The Abbreviated Shulchan Aruch"), by which title he is also known.


Ganzfried was born in 1804 in Ungvar, in the Ung County of the Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Ukraine). His father Joseph died when he was eight. Ganzfried was considered to be a child prodigy and Ungvar's chief rabbi and Rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Heller assumed legal guardianship; Heller was known as "Hershele the Sharp-witted" for his piercing insights into the Talmud. Heller later moved to the city of Bonyhád, and Ganzfried, then fifteen, followed him. He remained in Heller's yeshiva for almost a decade until his ordination and marriage. After his marriage he worked briefly as a wine merchant.

In 1830, he abandoned commerce and accepted the position of Rabbi of Brezovica (Brezevitz). In 1849, he returned to Ungvar as a dayan, a judge in the religious court. At that time Ungvar's spiritual head, Rabbi Meir Ash, was active in the Orthodox camp, in opposition to the Neologs. Through serving with Ash, Ganzfried realised that in order to remain committed to Orthodoxy, "the average Jew required an underpinning of a knowledge of practical halakha (Jewish law)". It was to this end that Ganzfried composed the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. This work became very popular, and was frequently reprinted in Hebrew and in Yiddish. This work often records more stringent positions.

Rabbi Ganzfried remained in the office of Dayan until his death on July 30, 1886.


Kitzur Shulchan Aruch

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, published in 1874, is a summary of the Shulchan Aruch of Joseph Karo with reference to later commentaries, per the title page of the first edition, "written for God-fearing Jews who are not in a position to study and comprehend the [original, full] Shulchan Aruch and its commentaries, and... composed in a Hebrew that can be easily understood." The Kitzur states what is permitted and what is forbidden without ambiguity. Ganzfried was a Hungarian Jew and the emphasis is on the customs of Jews of Hungary at that time. This work was explicitly written as a popular text and as such is not at the level of detail of the Shulchan Aruch itself, while generally following its structure. Rabbi Ganzfried expressed his intentions in his introduction:[1]

[This book] includes from the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch, those necessary and essential laws for all people in Yisrael in order to know them and are written in a simple language and a correct order. It is a good compilation and effective, B’ezrat Hashem, for businessmen that do not have the time to delve into the Shulchan Aruch and its commentaries. They shall find in [this work] that which they require with ease and also [be able to] educate the youth and plant in their hearts the commandments of Hashem in their youth and [so that] also in their later life they will not leave them…

To counsel a ruling, Ganzfried based his decisions on three Ashkenazi authorities: Rabbi Yaakov Lorberbaum; Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, author of Shulchan Aruch HaRav; and Rabbi Abraham Danzig, author of Chayei Adam and Chochmat Adam. In cases of disagreement he adopted the majority view. (Karo had used a similar method in composing his Shulchan Aruch (1563) where his references were to Rabbi Isaac Alfasi, Maimonides and Rabbi Asher ben Jehiel.)

The Kitzur became immensely popular after its publication due to its simplicity, and is still popular within Orthodox Judaism, as a framework for study. Many other works – Ben Ish Hai, Chayei Adam and others – are also concise, and suitable for laypersons or summaries of the Shulchan Aruch but did not reach the level of the Kitzur's popularity. "The Kitzur" is not a basis for making Halakhic decisions; rather, Rabbis will use the Shulchan Aruch (including the various commentaries), or later works such as Kaf HaChaim[2] or the Mishnah Berurah. Because of this popularity it is often printed with cross-references to other works of halakha, especially the Shulchan Aruch HaRav or the Mishnah Berurah; one popular edition also contains notes by former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu entitled Darkhe Halakhah cross-referring to leading Sephardi authorities. Many editions include as an appendix the laws pertaining to the Land of Israel by the Chazon Ish (Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz). A recent commentary is Shearim Metzuyanim be-Halakhah, by Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Braun, which examines contemporary problems in the light of the work. Ganzfried himself, however, stated that there should be no commentaries on his work, since its point, as indicated by its title, was that it should remain short – and that such commentaries should be appended to the Shulchan Aruch itself, rather than to the Kitzur. However, the Mishnah Berurah has mostly supplanted works like the Chayei Adam and the Aruch HaShulchan as the primary authority on Jewish daily living among Ashkenazi Jews.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi ("Daily Kitzur Shulchan Aruch") is a daily learning program, where the work is completed each year. The schedule does not follow the contents in order, rather it is arranged such that one reviews the laws of the Jewish holidays in the weeks before each. A person can start learning at any time of the year and complete it over the course of the year. The program is increasingly popular as it requires only 5 – 10 minutes per day. There are, correspondingly, numerous online resources; see below.


The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch has been translated into English several times. Hyman E. Goldin's translation was published in 1961 with an attempt to eliminate errors and improve upon previous translations, making it "more comprehensible to scholar and layperson alike."[3] It is thought that Goldin's English title "Code of Jewish Law" has added to the popularity of his work, although it is misleading. The 1980s and 90s saw the publication of two modernized translations, which included cross references similar to those in contemporary Hebrew editions as above: in 1987 Metsudah Publications released a translation by Rabbi Avrohom Davis,[4] and in 1991 Moznaim Publishing released a translation by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger.[5] The recent (2011) translation by Artscroll,[6] under the general editorship of Rabbi Eliyahu Klugman, includes comparisons with the Mishnah Berurah and the Igrot Moshe of Moshe Feinstein. Various other translations are available online; see External links below.

It has been translated also into Spanish in two volumes by Rabbi Nosson Grunblatt and published by Kehot Lubavitch Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Other works

See also

Similar works

Other study cycles


  1. as quoted by
  2. It is thought that the title added to this book's immediate and continuing popularity.
  3. Goldin, Hyman E. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch – Code of Jewish Law, Forward to the New Edition. (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1961)
  4. Metsudah Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (3 Volumes). ISBN 1-931681-99-6
  5. Kitzur Schulchan Oruch - Code of Jewish Law (2 Volumes). ISBN 0-940118-63-7
  6. The Kleinman Edition Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (5 Volumes). ISBN 1-4226-1104-3


External links

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Online full-text versions

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi

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