Kli Yakar Biography
Ephraim son of Aaron was born in the city of Luntschitz in what is today central Poland around the year 1550. He studied under the famed Maharshal (Rabbi Shlomo Luriah) and became Rabbi of the city of Lvov where he served for 25 years.
From an early age he was recognized as a star orator and was renowned for his fiery sermons. In 1601, Rabbi Ephraim became deathly ill. During the course of his illness he added the name Shlomo to his name and thereafter signed his name Shlomo Ephraim. He also vowed that if he survived his illness he would compose a commentary to the Pentateuch.
Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim survived his illness and the very next year wrote and published his commentary, named Kli Yakar. The commentary became immediately popular throughout the Jewish world and was his most famous publication, to the point, as with many other great Rabbis, that he is now known simply as the Kli Yakar. More than 400 years later, the Kli Yakar remains popular and is printed alongside the commentary of Rashi and others in many Chumashim.
The year after the Kli Yakar’s publication, he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the great city of Prague, where he also served as Rosh Yeshiva and the Head of the Beit Din. Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim passed away in 1619. His son and other descendents followed in his footsteps, also holding the esteemed position of Chief Rabbi of Prague. Amongst his most famous students was Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, also known as Tosfot Yom Tov.