Yoel of Brisk

Research to establish identity of Yoel of Brisk (Brest)

Chaim Freedman, February, 2008

Enquiry from Nancy Holden (December 2007):

Can you recommend a way to find out more about Joel of Brest who married oneof Yom Tov Lipman Heller's daughters?

“Yahrzeit letter which surfaced in South Africa, Israel and Canada...the originator gives the first mention of the manuscript "Chemdat Yamim" by Eliezer son of Jacov of Slonim, published 1807. And the Dedication page of the manuscript itself. Three editions of this manuscript have been located, one at the British Museum Library, another at the Widener Library at Harvard University and all five of his works at Yeshiva University in New York (four unpublished).

My ancestor, Eliezer Kaler of Amstibava (Mscibow), Belarus, (born 1749) wasmarried to Friedel (born 1759) the daughter of a Moses (lineage unknown) andMiriam (name according to 1784 GDL for Mscibow). Miriam was the daughter of Moses of Copenhagen and the daughter of SolomonZalman (her name unknown). The other daughter of Solomon Zalman was Estherwho was to married Ezekiel Katzenellenpogen (author of "Kenesset Yezekiel".Chief Rabbi of Hamburg, ABD of Altona,Hamburg and Wandsbeck) as listed inRosenstein's "These are the Generations") and Solomon Zalman was the son ofJoel of Brest-Litovsk.The father of Moses of Copenhagen was "Rosh Josef" who was married toDevora, daughter of Moses of Vilna. And he "Rosh Josef" (Josef ben JacobJoshua of Pinchow) was a grandson (most likely great grandson) document says"necad" of Jacob Polak of Krakow (died 1552).These documents say Joel of Brest was descended from Yom Tov. One translatorsays Solomon Zalman was known as "the great traveler" but I have not seenthat anywhere else.Another translator translates from the Dedication paragraph of "ChemdatYamin" "an uncle of Friedel, Jacob son of Benjamin of Grodno, supportedEliezer and Friedel while Eliezer wrote his manuscript "Sha'ar HaDerushimChemdat Yamim."

Sources extracted by Chaim Freedman:

Note contradictions between the sources.

“The Feast and the Fast”
Chaim Uri Lipshitz and Neil Rosenstein (1984)

Chart 1.
Yom Tov Lipman Heller 1579-1654,
Daughter who was the wife of Joel of Brest.

Chart 2.
Joel of Brest d.1709, son of “son/dau Joel Sirkes Bach”

father of:

1) Solomon Zalman of Brest
Father of Esther married Ezekiel Katzenellenpogen b. 1668A.B.D. Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbeck.

2) Jehiel Michal
Father of Zvi Hirsch A.B.D. Charkov
Father of Jehiel Michal Michelson, A.B.D. Minsk and first Rabbi of Kaluszyn
Father of Solomon
Father of Mordecai Mottel Michelson 1800-1872
Father of Abraham Haim d.1857
Father of Zvi Ezekiel Michelson 1853-1942
[I have omitted others who are not relevant]

Rosenstein erred in the sequence of the generations: Abraham Haim’s father was Yaakov Yekhiel Mikhel son of Mordecai Mottel as stated in Zvi Ezekiel Michelson’s books.
Rosenstein also erred in stating that Zvi Hersh was ABD Charkov, it was Tsherkov, Nor was his father Jehiel Michal ABD of Minsk, but of Novominsk.

“The Unbroken Chain”
N. Rosenstein page 841

G.12.1 Chava married R. Michael Klausner (note 60 E.J.Michelson etc) …. His ancestry appeared in Ma’amar Mordechai” …… [see below]

Rosenstein erred in ascribing a surname Klausner – he was referred to as “Kolshiner” since that was the town where he lived. His descendants took the surname Michelson.

“Shem Hagedolim Hekhadash”
Azulai 1874
#38 Yoel son of Moshe Gad, author of “Khidushei Halakhot” Altona 1836.
Grandson of the Taz and the Bakh.

“Toldot Anshei Shem”
Efrati 1875
Page 21 family of the Tosfot Yomtov does not include any daughter married to Yoel of Brisk.

“Ir Tehilah”
Arye Leib Feinstein, Warsaw 1885
p.33: Zalmen son of Yoel, father-in-law of the author of Knesset Yekhezkel.
p.103: The Aluf Yoel Segal of Brisk. [none of the sources refer to Yoel of Brisk as a Levi, indicated here by “Segal”, so this Yoel Segal of Brisk must be another person.

“Dagan Shamayim”
Tzvi Yekhezkel Michelson, Piotrykov 1901

Son of Avraham Khaim
Son of Yaakov Yekhiel
Son of Motel of Kolshin
Son of Shlomo
Son of Mikhel
Of the stock of the Bakh and the Tosfot Yomtov.

“Beit Meshulum”
Tzvi Yekhezkel Michelson, Piotrykov 1905
Page 73, Will of Mordekhai Mottel Michelson.

Mordekhai Mottel “Kolushiner”
Tombstone includes “ of the family of the Tosfot Yomtov”.
Son of Shlomo “Yospes” after his mother Yospe.
Son of Yekhiel Mikhel, brother-in-law of Mottel of Praga)
Son of Tzvi Hirsh of Tshorkov
Grandson of Yekhiel Mikhel (his sister was the wife of Yekhezkel Katzenellenbogen …)
Son of Shlomo Zalmen
Son of Yoel of Brisk
son of a son of Yoel Sirkes
[continues with the ancestry of Sirkes via Jaffe]

The wife of Yoel of Brisk was the modest Mrs Khana, daughter of Yomtov Lipman Halevy Helir etc.

“Ma’amar Mordekhai”
Mordekhai Mottel Michelson, edited by Tzvi Yekhezkel Michelson, Piotrykov 1907.

Mordekhai Mottel of Kolshin
Son of Shlomo
Son of Yekhiel Mikhel ABD Novominsk, Shenitza, Kolshin.
Son of Tzvi Hirsh ABD Tsherkov
Grandson of Yekhiel Mikhel (his sister was the wife of the author of “Knesset Yekhezkel, ABD A.H.V.)
Son of Shlomo Zalmen
Son of Yoel of Brisk
Son of a son of Yoel Sirkes ABD Krakow, author of the “Bakh”

The wife of Yoel of Brisk was a daughter of Yomtov Lipman Halevu Helir ABD Krakow, author of “Tosfot Yomtov”.

There is much information in the introduction of this book about this family but nothing further about Yoel of Brisk.

Note that he is designated “son of a son of Yoel Sirkes” while Rosenstein has son of a “son/dau”. It seems this point is not clear, particularly as references to the family of Sirkes do not show such a son of a son.

“Beit Yekhezkel”
Tzvi Yekhezkel Michelson, Piotrykov 1924

Son of Avraham Khaim
Son of Yaakov Yekhiel
Son of Mottel
Son of Shlomo
Son of Yekhiel
Son of Tzvi Hirsh
Grandson of Yekhiel Mikhel (his sister was the wife of the “Knesset Yekhezkel”
Son of Shlomo Zalmen
Son of Yoel of Bikhov
Son-in-law of Shmuel of Brisk who lived in Nemirov
Son of the “Tosfot Yomtov”.

Yoel of Bikhov was a son of Arye Yehudah Leib ABD Krakow, author of Shaagat Arye and Kol Shakhal.
Son of Naftali Hertz ABD Pinczow
Son of Yoel Sirkes the “Bakh”.

Note that the above differs considerable from the above genealogies by the same author, Michelson

“R. Joel Sirkes”
E.J. Schochet, 1971
No mention of Yoel of Brisk among the family of Sirkes.

“Megilat Yukhsin Mishpakhat Heller”
Yekhiel Horowitz-Heller, Tel Aviv 1978
Does not mention Joel of Brisk.

“Sefer Meginei Zahav”
Prague 1720.
Comments on the Taz.
Yoel ABD Szebrezin, edited by his grandson Yoel son of Moshe Gad son of the author Yoel.

The author Yoel of Szebrezin was a grandson of the Taz.

The Taz, David Halevy, was a son-in-law of the Bakh, Yoel Sirkes.


It would appear that Yoel of Brisk, Yoel of Bykhov and Yoel of Szebrezin were three separate individuals, although related via the Bakh and the Taz.

Further research is required to clarify these identities.