R’ Raphael was born to his father Rabbi Yekusiel Cohen, the rav of Liefland [Livonia, Lithuania].
After serving as rosh yeshiva and rav in a few communities, he was invited to take the position as rav of the triplet communities known as AH”U, which stands for Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek, where he served as rav until his last day.
He fought bitterly against Mendelssohn and his new reform movement, as well as dealing with another opponent of his, R’ Saul Berliner, author of the sefer Kasa d’Harsena.
After R’ Raphael Hamburger published his sefer Toras Yekusiel in 1789, R’ Saul Berliner published, anonymously, the sefer called Mitzpe Yoksal, which is a very harsh critique on Toras Yekusiel.
When R’ Raphael was presented with a Mitzpe Yoksal, he smiled, and with his great modesty didn’t react. This was not the case with the Beis Din of Hamburg, who took this case very seriously, and as a result they put R’ Saul in a cherem.
Source: Iva Lemishav
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