1- What writings of the Vilna Gaon do we have that are not commentary or textual emendations?

2- Do we possess any writings of the Vilna Gaon that talk about or reference his contemporaries or students?


2 Answers 2


There are around two dozen works from the Vilna Gaon that are still in manuscripts or destroyed (a work on astronomy, for example). From what has been published, the writings that are not commentary or textual emendations include:

  1. Ayil Meshullash - work on geometry
  2. Tzurat HaAretz - work on the geography of Israel discussed in Joshua, Kings, and Ezekiel
  3. Dikduk Eliyahu - study of Biblical Hebrew grammar and phonology
  4. Ma'aseh Rav - collection of maxims and teachings, published in 1808 by Issachar Ber of Vilna

You will find references to contemporaries in his letters. The most famous are his letters to rabbis in Lithuania and Belorussia instructing them to repudiate Hasidic leaders and their teachings. In addition, there are letters that he sent to his family (Iggeret HaGra) and close associates, such as the letter to his best friend, the Dubno Maggid, urging him to come and visit.

  • And he sends regards to R. Yaakov Emden in a letter to his nephew, not to mention his letter about R. Yonasan Eibeschuetz's amulets
    – wfb
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 13:20
  • are the letters to the public in Iggeret HaGra or Ma'aseh Rav? Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 22:56

Even Shleima: an ethical treatise as well as kabbalistic ideas

Iggeres HaGr"a: this was a letter that the Gaon penned to his family before he left for his journey to Israel (which he ultimatly did not complete)

  • 2
    I was under the impression that the Gr"a did not write Even Shleima, it was his students (or one of them) in his name.
    – Gavriel
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 14:09
  • you could be right...the shaar blatt on my copy says it is a "likut" of the writings of the Gra, and the talmidim put it out Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 14:11

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