||Eulogy on R. Akiva Eger and R. Elijah of Kalisz.
R. Akiva b. Moses Guens Eger (Eiger), (1761–1837), was born in Eisenstadt, and went to Breslau at an early age to study under his uncle, R. Benjamin Wolf Eger, and R. Hayyim Jonah Teomim-Fraenkel. In 1780, he went to live with his father-in-law in Lissa, where for about ten years he engaged in study, free from financial stress. Impoverished as a result of the losses suffered in the fire of 1791, he accepted a position as rabbi in Maerkisch-Friedland, where he established a yeshivah. As his reputation grew, his decisions were sought in many matters. The thought of reaping material benefit from the Torah was repugnant to him, and on several occasions he thought of leaving the rabbinate and devoting himself to teaching. In 1814 he was prevailed upon to accept the position of rabbi in Posen, which was offered to him over the objections of the maskilim and the followers of the Reform movement, who, fearing his great influence, sought the intervention of the secular authorities, on the grounds that he had no command of the German language and was opposed to all innovations. They were eventually obliged to accept R. Eger's appointment, but they nevertheless attempted to minimize his influence by the insertion of certain restrictive clauses in his letter of appointment. R. Eger, as unofficial chief rabbi of the Posen district, labored on behalf of his own and other Jewish communities. He established a large yeshivah, whose students included R. Zevi Hirsch Kalischer, R. Jacob Levy (author of the dictionaries of the Talmud), and Julius Fuerst. He waged a constant struggle against the Reform movement. He received a royal message of thanks from Frederick William III for his services during the cholera epidemic of 1831, during which he framed a number of helpful takkanot and cared for many of the sick. A number of welfare institutions established by him were in existence until World War II.
He was the father-in-law of R. Moses Sofer and the ancestor of many prominent scholars. His son R. Solomon Eger was elected rabbi of Posen on his father's death. Many popular legends surrounded R. Akiva's person. His exemplary humanity and beneficence earned him universal admiration, even among his adversaries. His modesty was proverbial, and he was sternly opposed to the titles of honor common in rabbinical circles. Of his works, the following were published in his lifetime: Hilluka de-Rabbanan (1822); Haggahot to the Mishnah (1825–30); Gilyon ha-Shas, notes to the Prague edition of the Babylonian Talmud (1830–34), and later to the Vilna edition; responsa, together with decisions, etc. (1834). After his death there appeared: responsa, part 2 (1839); Hiddushei R. Akiva Eger (1858); Tosafot (1841–48 in the Altona edition of the Mishnah); Haggahot, glosses to the Shulhan Arukh (1859); responsa (1889); Kitvei R. Akiva Eger (letters; 1929). In addition many of his letters and responsa were printed in talmudic journals and in numerous other works. Much of his work has remained in manuscript and some has been lost (e.g., his glosses to the Palestinian Talmud).