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David (ben Samuel HaLevi) Segal
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David (ben Samuel HaLevi) Segal (ca. 1586-1667), also known as the Taz or the Turei Zahav, was a prominent Polish posek ("authority on Jewish law").


Born in Ludmir, Volhynia, Segal chief instructor was his older brother, Isaac. As he became a reputable talmudic scholar, R. Joel Särkes of Brest (whom Segal frequently quotes in his works) gave him his daughter in marriage. After residing with his father-in-law for several years spent in torah study, Segal and his family moved to Cracow. he was then appointed chief rabbi of Potlitsha, near Rava, where he lived in great poverty. Later he went to Posen, where he remained for several years, and at about 1641 he became rabbi of the old community of Ostrog, or Ostroh, in Volhynia. There David had a famous yeshivah, and was soon recognized as one of the great rabbis of his time. In Ostrog, Segal wrote his commentary on Joseph Caro's Shulhan Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, which he published in Lublin, 1646, and which was accepted as one of the highest authorities on Jewish ceremonial law.

Two years after the publication of his commentary, Segal and his family had to flee the massacres of the Cossack insurrection under Bogdan Chmielnicki in 1648-1649. David went to Steinitz near Ostrau, Moravia, where he remained for some time and probably acted as rabbi. Not happy in Moravia, Segal returned to Poland as soon as order was restored, settling in Lemberg, where he remained for the rest of his life.

David was made chief of the Beis Din (rabbinical court),and when Meïr Sack, the chief rabbi of Lemberg, died (1653), he succeeded him in the rabbinate.

Segal's last days were saddened by the death of his two sons, Mordecai and Solomon, who were killed in the riots which occurred in Lemberg in the spring of 1664. Their mother, the daughter of Joel Särkes, had died long before this, and David married the widow of her brother, Samuel Hirz, rabbi of Pinczow. His third son from his first marriage, Isaiah, and his stepson Aryeh Löb, were the two Polish scholars who were sent – probably by Segal, or at least with his consent – to Turkey in 1666 to investigate the claims of the pseudo-Messiah Shabbethai Zebi. They brought back as a present from Shabbethai Zebi a white silk robe for David, and a letter in which Sbabbetbai Zebi promised to avenge the wrongs of the Jews of Poland.

The descendants of Segal were the Russian rabbinical family Paltrowitch, which produced 33 rabbis over several generations.


Most of Segal's works were published long after his death. The Turei Zahav (טורי זהב -"Rows of Gold"), an indispensable commentary on Shulhan Aruk, Orach Chayim, was published by Shabbethai Bass in Dyhernfurth in 1692, together with the Magen Abraham by Abraham Abele Gumbiner. The title Turei Zahav'is a play on the similar-sounding תורי זהב ("towers of gold") in the Song of Solomon 1:11. It is abbreviated as Taz (ט"ז), and subtitled Magen David ("Shield [of] David", after his name) in many editions. Both commentaries (Taz and Magen Abraham), together with the main text, the Shulhan Aruk, were frequently republished with several other commentaries, and still hold first rank among rabbinical authorities.

Two years before the publication of this work, Judel of Kovli, in Volhynia, a kabalist and rabbinical scholar who wrote a commentary to the Oraḥ Ḥayyim , gave money to have it published together with the ṬaZ, but his wishes were never carried out, and his money was used to publish another work of David's, the Dibre Dawid (The Words of David), a supercommentary on Rashi (Dyhernfurth, 1690). Part of the ṬaZ on Shulḥan 'Aruk, Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ (to ch. ccxcvi.), appeared separately in Hamburg in the same year, with notes by Ẓebi Hirsch Ashkenazi. The other half, in spite of various attempts and of the general demand for it, did not appear till about seventy years later (Berlin, 1761). The ṬaZ on Shulḥan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer, which was utilized in manuscript by Samuel ben Phoebus, the author of Bet Shemuel on the same part of the Shulḥan 'Aruk, was first printed in Zolkiev in 1754.

David was the author of responsa which, though sometimes quoted from the manuscripts, were never published. ṬaZ and his opponent, Shabbethai Kohen (ShaK), are the greatest authorities among the Aḥaronim, and their decisions are of greater importance than those of Joseph Caro or of Moses Isserles. In 1683 the rabbis of the Council of Four Lands declared that the authority of the ṬaZ should be considered greater than that of the ShaK, but later the ShaK gained more and more in authority.


* This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia