Pinchas Hirschprung

Pinchas Hirschprung (Hebrew: פנחס הירשפרונג‎; 13 July 1912, Dukla, Galicia – 25 January 1998, Montreal, Canada)[1] was a Polish-Canadian rabbi, posek, and rosh yeshiva, who served as Chief Rabbi of Montreal from 1969 until his death.

Chief Rabbi

Pinchas Hirschprung
הרב הירשפרונג.jpg
Born(1912-07-13)July 13, 1912
DiedJanuary 25, 1998(1998-01-25) (aged 85)
Alma materYeshivat Ḥakhmei Lublin
Jewish leader
PredecessorSheea Herschorn
SuccessorAvraham David Niznik
PositionChief Rabbi of Montreal
OrganisationVaad Ha‘Ir of Montreal
Began1969 (1969)
EndedJanuary 25, 1998 (1998-01-25)


Early lifeEdit

Pinchas Hirschprung was born in 1912 to Leah (née Zehmin) and Rabbi Chaim Hirschprung in the Galician shtetl Dukla (now located in Poland). His grandfather, Rabbi Dovid Tzvi (Tevli) Zehmin, a Chortkov Ḥasid best known for his work Sefer Minḥat Solet, served as the town's av beit din.[2] Zehmin was the teacher of Rebbes Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam and Yaakov Leiser [he] of the Klausenburg and Pshevorsk Ḥasidic dynasties, respectively.[3] Through his maternal great-grandfather, Yosef Moshe Teicher, Hirschprung was a direct descendent of Solomon Luria and Saul Wahl Katzenellenbogen.[citation needed]

Hirschprung received his early religious education from his grandfather, later becoming a student of Rabbi Meir Shapiro at Yeshivat Ḥakhmei Lublin.[4] He purportedly wrote his first sefer, Pri Pinchas, at the age of 13, and, according to Shapiro, knew all 2,200 folio pages of the Talmud by heart as a youth.[5] He also became proficient in Polish, German, and Latin.[6] Hirschprung began teaching at the Yeshiva after his ordination in 1932, and became the its head of admissions upon Shapiro's death the following October.[7]

At the beginning of World War II, Hirschprung smuggled himself from Nazi-occupied Poland into Lithuania. From there, he escaped to Kobe, Japan, where he remained for nine months. He left for Shanghai in the fall of 1941, and from there for North America,[4] finally arriving in Montreal on 23 October 1941.[8][9]


Not long after his arrival in Canada, Hirschprung accepted the positions of rabbi of the Adath Yeshurun Synagogue on Saint Urbain Street, and of rosh yeshiva at the newly-founded Yeshivas Merkaz HaTorah.[10][11] He also became involved in the affairs of the Va'ad ha-Ir (Jewish Community Council) of Montreal.[2] In 1944, he published an autobiographical memoir of his escape from Europe, serialized from May to August in the Yiddish daily Der Keneder Adler and published in book form later that year.[12][13]

In 1953, Hirschprung re-established Montreal's Bais Yaakov school for girls, which was renamed Bais Yaakov d'Rav Hirschprung in his honour after his death.[10] He was named rosh yeshiva of Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch in 1965, and in 1969 succeeded Sheea Herschorn as Chief Rabbi of Montreal.

Hirschprung died on 25 January 1998.[14] His wife, Alta Chaya Hirschprung, died on 4 March 2012.[15] They are both buried in the Chesed Shel Emes Cemetery in Montreal.


  1. ^ "Pinchas Hirschprung". Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program. Azrieli Foundation. 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred, eds. (2007). "Hirschprung, Pinchas". Encyclopaedia Judaica. 9 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. p. 141.
  3. ^ Wolpo, Shalom Dov (1995). Shemen Sasson MeChavreicha (in Hebrew). Holon. pp. 173–178.
  4. ^ a b Lapidus, Steven (2019). "Memoirs of a Refugee: The Travels and Travails of Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung". Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes. 27: 68–84. doi:10.25071/1916-0925.40103. ISSN 1916-0925.
  5. ^ Sefer Gedulat Pinḥas (PDF) (in Hebrew). Brooklyn: Mekhon Or Yeḥezkel. 1999. p. 14.
  6. ^ Klein, A. M. (13 March 1942). "A Great Talmudist: Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung Interviewed". The Canadian Jewish Chronicle. p. 4.
  7. ^ Gantz, Nesanel (30 December 2010). "Yahrtzeit of the Week: Rav Pinchos Hirschprung ZT"L". Flatbush Jewish Journal. 1 (34). p. 67.
  8. ^ Hirschprung, Pinchas (2016) [1944]. The Vale of Tears. Translated by Felsen, Vivian. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation. ISBN 978-1-988065-21-2. OCLC 1091197091.
  9. ^ Shuchat, Wilfred (October 2000). The Gate of Heaven: The Story of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim of Montreal, 1846-1996. McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-7735-2089-9.
  10. ^ a b Florans, Estie (2015). From Their Daughters' Hearts: Daughters of 18 Gedolim and Leaders Reminisce About Their Fathers. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mesorah Publications. ISBN 978-1-4226-1661-1. OCLC 935399307.
  11. ^ "This Day in History – 27 Teves / January 4". Hamodia. 3 January 2019.
  12. ^ Robinson, Ira (2019). "A Portrait of the Rabbi as a Young Man: Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung's Memoir of His Escape from Europe to Canada". Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes. 27: 37–47. doi:10.25071/1916-0925.40101. ISSN 1916-0925.
  13. ^ Fun Natsishen yomertol: zikhroynes fun a polit [From the Nazi Vale of Tears: Memoirs of a Refugee] (in Yiddish). Montreal: The Eagle Publishing Co. November 1944.
  14. ^ Arnold, Janice. "Bnei Brak rabbi named to new beit din post". The Canadian Jewish News. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  15. ^ "Rebbetzin Hirschsprung, 88 OBM". 4 March 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
Jewish titles
Preceded by
Sheea Herschorn
Chief Rabbi of Montreal
Succeeded by
Avraham David Niznik