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[Columns 61–62 - Hebrew] [Columns 583–584 - Yiddish]

C. The Wise Men (Scholars) of Dubno

by Ya'acov Netaneli-Rothman

Translated by Selwyn Rose (Hebrew) and Pamela Russ (Yiddish)

A significant part of the Hebrew chapters C, D, E, F and G, columns 61-98, is also found in the Yiddish section on columns 583-603.
This text is a combined work by two translators, translated partly from Hebrew and partly from Yiddish, and merged into one seamless piece.

 

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There were three major spiritual streams flowing throughout Jewish Europe at the end of the 18th Century: the Chassidut, the Haskalah (the Jewish “Enlightenment”) and the Mitnagdut (opposition to Chassidut). The Chassidut brought a lifting of the spirits for the hoi polloi by giving a new content to their lives in driving away the sense of rejection and inferiority that had enveloped them in the face of the “Scholars”. The Haskalah constituted the basis for a revival of Hebrew language literature and formed the cornerstone of a modern investigation of Judaism and was the foundation-stone of the struggle for equality throughout Jewish Europe, while the Mitnagdut was used as a foundation for the normalization of the Jew as a man and a guardian of the purity of the Torah against the spread of both the Haskalah and Chassidut.

Of the heroic personalities who left their mark on European Jewry of that era, the names of two, who brought the city of Dubno to world fame, must be underlined: the meticulous and sharp commentator Rabbi Shlomo Dubno. Born in Dubno, he was one of the first who laid the foundation of the Haskalah, along with the Jewish philosopher Rabbi Shlomo Mendelssohn; Rabbi Ya'acov Krantz, known by the title of the Dubno Maggid (preacher), editor and author of parables (fables), a guest in the house of the Vilna Gaon (genius) Rabbi Eliyahu. His scholarly thoughts on Mitnagdut were brought closer to the hearts of the people.

 

Rabbi Shlomo bar Yoel of Dubno (“Rashad”)

Born in the year 1738 in Dubno, as a youth he was a student and served under the well-known Gaon the Ra'avad (Rabbi Avraham ben David), religious leader of the city, Naphtali Hertz. In the year 1767, as a 19-year-old young man, he left for Amsterdam, Holland, where, for over five years he worked on researching the grammar and traditions and history of the Land of Israel. He also tried to write “Occasional Poetry”[1] as was the custom of that time.

In the year 1772, Rabbi Shlomo continued to travel to places of Torah, and from Amsterdam arrived in Berlin, and there met with the scholar Moshe Mendelssohn. In Berlin, Rabbi Shlomo supported himself by giving lectures on grammar. One of his students was also Mendelssohn's son Yosef, as was expressed in the letter to his friend the scholar Avigdor Levi of Glogow: “And behold, one dear to the Lord has brought the wise grammarian, teacher and Rabbi, Shlomo, may his light shine, to instruct my son Yosef in the laws of grammar for an hour each day.”

Rabbi Shlomo Dubno left a deep impression on Mendelssohn with his overall knowledge, and right away Mendelssohn gave him permission to publish his German translation and commentary of the Torah, as this becomes clear later on in the above-mentioned letter to Avigdor Levi:

“…and when the above-mentioned Rabbi saw the translation in my hand he was most pleased with it and asked permission to print it for the benefit of all Jewish children and Jews generally, who had need of a “commentary of the Holy Writings” other than the incorrect ones generally available, and he nodded his head in agreement…” With the giving of his agreement, Mendelssohn made a stipulation that he would compare the translation and commentary with those of the five greatest Jewish expositors of the Middle Ages: Rash'i, Rambam, Ra'aba (Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra), Ramban, and Rabbi David Kimḥi – and from this he relied on his knowledge and ability.
Rabbi Shlomo was excited by the idea of printing the German Torah with its translation and new commentary, and in 1778 published a pamphlet entitled 'Alim le-Terufah,' “Information with extracts from the publication of the Five Books of Moses with German translation by Mr. Moses Mendelssohn, with commentary and revision by Rabbi Shlomo Dubno, Amsterdam, (1778),” with an additional elegy “'Ask not the way to Zion'” (Jeremiah 50:5) by Rabbi Yehuda Levi, translated into German from the Ramban.

[Columns 63–64]

That year, Rabbi Shlomo began to prepare his commentary on corrections of the traditional scribes, to the Book of Bereshit (Genesis) and the introduction to the Book of Shemot (Exodus) that he dedicated to “Tikunei Sefarim[2] and on which he toiled for ten months.

It seems that the introduction to the Book of Shemot brought about a disagreement between Rabbi Shlomo and Mr. Moses Mendelssohn, according to a letter the latter wrote to his friend the above-mentioned Avigdor Levi of Glogow: “It seems I have indeed come to a disagreement with our esteemed Rabbi and Teacher Rabbi Shlomo Dubno, may his light shine, and G-d Almighty Himself knows that I am not the guilty party in this….Only time will tell if we can get together again…”

No one knows exactly what the reason was for the argument between Rabbi Shlomo Dubno and Mr. Moses Mendelssohn, and many have been of the opinions as to the cause. It is possible that it was because of a criticism of Mendelssohn by Rabbi Shlomo's Rabbi, the Cabbalist Rabbi Naphtali Hertz, as Rabbi Shlomo wrote in 1789 from Amsterdam to his friend the grammarian Rabbi Benjamin Ze'ev Heidenheim: “In 1778, while I was toiling over the introduction to Shemot, Naphtali Hertz of Dubno passed through Berlin and confronted the author of the work on his commentary – a man, who in the opinion of the great ones of his generation, the author of “Nodah Biyehudoh” Rabbi Yehezkel Landau, Father of the Prague Rabbinical Court and Rabbi Raphael Hacohen, that 'their intention was to uproot at its source the traditional texts of the Holy Chumash…' and Rabbi Naphtali Hertz called to the attention of Rabbi Shlomo the verse “Because thou hast joined thyself with Aḥaziah the Lord hath broken thy works.” (Chronicles 2:20; 37), intimating that the material situation of Rabbi Shlomo will be 'broken down' that same year.[3]

Clearly, between Rabbi Shlomo Dubno and Mr. Moses Mendelssohn, there were differences in interpretations that brought about the separation between them. Rabbi Shlomo left Berlin. He stayed for some time in Frankfurt-am-Main, “...in order to encourage subscribers to fund the publishing of his books and commentaries” … and from there he returned to Amsterdam.

During the years that he was in Amsterdam, Rabbi Shlomo managed to collect a significant number of original writings and books, and he even compiled an inventory of his own library. But in his final years, he was forgotten and lived in loneliness. He died in the year 1813. He was 75 years old.

Rabbi H. Z. Margalit writes, concerning Rabbi Shlomo Dubno's library, in his book “Greater Dubno”: “Most of his books remain in manuscript form and were preserved by the linguist Rabbi Sh. Y. Fein, whence they came to the Aziali (Asiatic) Museum in the royal city of Petersburg, according to the observation of the bibliographer Rabbi Shmuel Wiener, the controller of the Hebrew section of the above-mentioned museum.

 

The Dubno Maggid [4]

The Maggid Rabbi Ya'acov Krantz was born in Zhetl (Zietil), in the district of Vilna, in the year 1741, in his father's house, Rabbi Ze'ev, and his mother, the righteous Hinda, daughter of the Gaon and Kobriner Rabbi.

As a young man of 18, he left to Mezrycz (Międzyrzecz), near Brisk, to study Torah there and without any remuneration he would lecture the congregants of the Beit Midrash (Study House). While in Mezrycz, he married and for some time had room and board in the home of his wealthy father-in-law, and even helped him manage his businesses. But it didn't last long, his father-in-law became impoverished, and the son-in-law Rabbi Ya'acov, had to earn his own living through his preaching and oratory.

Rabbi Ya'acov lived in Mezrycz for two years and from there, he was taken on with great honor as the preacher in Żółkiew (Zhovkwa - east Galicia). From Żółkiew he began to wander from city to city and from country to country, and became increasingly famous as a Tzadik (righteous man) and excellent orator. During those years, he also came to Berlin and encountered Moshe Mendelssohn, who became enlivened through the Maggid's fables and nicknamed him the 'Jewish Æsop', 'the wise man of fables.'

At the age of 32, Rabbi Ya'acov Krantz was invited by the Dubno community leader to become a lecturer and orator there. He remained there for 28 years. His income consisted of six Polish złotys weekly and a secured home in one of the community's houses. A record was found in the community's records concerning Rabbi Ya'acov Krantz, that had been kept in the safe-keeping of the synagogue's manager, Mr. Meir Chomsky (d. 1886): “…and in a meeting it was agreed by the community leaders to add to the salary of the Maggid Rabbi Ya'acov two złotys a week and at the town's expense to repair the stove in his apartment.”

The years when Rabbi Ya'acov lived in Dubno were years of mutual influence: He spread his many creations and beautiful fables across the city and made them world famous, and similarly, the city gave him its name and his timeless preservation among the nations: “the Dubno Maggid.”

Rabbi Ya'acov merited a separate connection with the Vilna Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu, who was renowned for his secluded meditations and loss of even the minutest amount of time from his Torah studies. In the year 1791, Rabbi Ya'acov was invited to his home, through a letter filled with love and praise:[5]

B”H
Monday 2nd Parshat Va-Yeshev 5551

Much peace, to my soul's beloved, who is none other than the wondrous and famous Rabbi of the Torah, praise and honored is our Teacher and our Rabbi, the Teller of Fables of the Holy Community of Dubno. After these greetings of peace I ask that my soul's beloved will visit me and it is a wonder in my eyes that he has not come to me these thirteen years.

I come to awaken him as a loved and faithful soul, praying for his peace and welfare.

Eliyahu Shlomo Zalman, May his Righteousness be remembered in the world to come.

From this letter it is clear that the first visit of Rabbi Ya'acov to the Vilna Gaon and Rabbi took place in 1778, five years after he arrived in Dubno, and his second visit was the year of the Gaon's letter which was the last year he dwelt in Dubno (1791).

After he left Dubno, Rabbi Ya'acov dwelt in Chelm for two years and then moved to the community in Zamość where he stayed for more than twelve years and where he died on 17 Tevet 5565 (1805).

On the tombstone of the Maggid of Dubno were engraved the following lines:

May peace come upon him - Psalm 141

The great and famous expositor,

[Columns 65–66]
“His fame went out throughout all the provinces” (Megillat Esther 9:4).

“Before him there was not and after him…there will not be a man to whom G-d spoke.”

Our Teacher and our Rabbi Ya'acov the just and honest Maggid and expositor.

The son of Rabbi Ze'ev (Z”L)

Rabbi Ya'acov officiated in the Holy Dubno as Maggid in the days of the Cabbalist Gaon Rabbi Naphtali Hertz and the Gaon Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf. His son, Rabbi Yitzḥak, also occupied himself with the telling of fables to various communities in the surrounding area, and his daughters married in Dubno and continued living there.

The books of the Dubno Maggid were printed after his death, by his son Rabbi Yitzḥak and his disciple Rabbi Avrom Berish Flamm. These books were:

Ohel Ya'acov [The Tent of Ya'acov] – exegeses on the Torah

Kol Ya'acov” [The Voice of Ya'acov] – exegeses on the five Megillot [Scrolls]

Kochav M'Ya'acov” [Star of Ya'acov] – exegeses on the Haftorot [selections from the Prophets read on Sabbath, after the Torah portions of the week]

Emet Le'Ya'acov” [The Truth for Ya'acov] – An explanation of the Hagaddah for Passover

Sefer Hamiddot” [A Book of Behavior] - Eight lessons, commentaries and remarks about correct behavior.0000


D. The Chassidut of the Baal Shem Tov

by Ya'acov Netaneli-Rothman

Translated by Selwyn Rose (Hebrew) and Pamela Russ (Yiddish)

The Chassidut of the Baal Shem Tov never really had a dominant role in Dubno – not in its beginnings, nor in its later years, even after the Chassidut spread and took over in all the provinces in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Lithuania. There were Chassidim in Dubno – and some were Baal Shem Tov followers: absorbed in dveikut (meditative closeness to G-d), people who loved to be friendly and be joyous. But there were also Chassidim of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Chassid, and his followers: self-punishers and strictly observant.

The majority of Jews in Dubno were opponents to Chassidut and its influences. Even when the Baal Shem Tov was still alive, before Chassidut became fortified in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, in the year 1752, one of the great Dubno scholars, Rabbi Moshe Osterer, along with the Gaon and head of the Jewish court Rabbi Yehezkel Landau (the “Nodah Bi-Yehuda”) declared a ban on the amulets of Rabbi Yonatan Eybeschütz. Rabbi Moshe Ostrer had a standing of importance in Dubno not only on his own account but also because he was a descendant of great Rabbis – the son of the Gaon Rabbi Hillel, Father of the Rabbinical Court of Zamość and the grandson of Rabbi Ya'acov Tammerlisch of Worms, nicknamed “Man of G-d,” a Cabbalist, and renowned as a mystic who officiated as preacher in the Holy Community of Brody and was the Rabbi of the famous Rabbi Mordecai 'the Righteous' Margalit.

After Yisrael Baal Shem Tov was taken to the “Heavenly Yeshiva” on the eve of Shavuot 1760, he was followed by his disciple the Maggid Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezrycz and Rabbi Naḥman of Horodenka, Rabbi Ya'acov Yosef Hacohen of Polonne, Rabbi Levi Yitzḥak who later settled in Berdichev and Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk who spread his teachings. At the head of and leading the Chassidut of the BESHT (Baal Shem Tov) stood Rabbi Dov Ber.

Rabbi Dov Ber was born in 1704 in the village of Lokachi (Lokatsh) in his father's house Rabbi Abraham who was a poor scholar. In his youth he “poured water on the hands”[6] of Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi and Father of the Rabbinical Court in Lvov and author of “Penne Yehoshua.” He later moved to the village of Torczyn where he served for a time as teacher and even married the daughter of the Rabbi Shalom Schachne. From Torczyn he was called to serve as preacher in Koretz and later as preacher in Dubno. From Dubno he moved to Mezrycz where he stayed many years and later came to be known as the “Maggid of Mezrycz.”

For the twelve years during which Rabbi Dov Ber officiated as the spiritual heir of the BESHT the Chassidut spread throughout Eastern Europe, and congregations of Chassidim were created in virtually every town and village.

[Columns 67–68]

The spread of the Chassidut awakened resistance among the Rabbis and the “Mitnagdim” and they instituted a crusade of harassment and boycott of the “cult” – as they called it. Ruthless propaganda in the form of speeches, sermons, pamphlets and proclamations of such venom that one of them “Igeret Kanna'ut” – “Zealot's Letter” – written by “a prominent and respected man” in which “details of the crimes of the Chassidim” in the Vilna community are exposed, was delivered to the leaders of the community in Brody early in 1772. The writer of the “Igeret” based himself upon his reading of the boycott against the Chassidim by the “true genius, the Cabbalist Eliyahu Ha-Ḥassid,” who ordered the merciless harassment of the cult.” The “Igeret Hakann'ut” was copied in Brody by the writer Rabbi Yehuda Arieh Leib bar Mordecai and published on 9 Iyar 1772 (12th May). The “call to war” against the Chassidim aroused hordes of the public and in some communities the rioters carried out punitive measures against them, as happened in Vilna where “terrible and harmful deeds were performed” against Rabbi Ḥaim the preacher and Rabbi Isser who were originally close to the Gaon of Vilna and later joined the Chassidut movement; or in Pinsk where the mob broke into the house of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak (one of the BESHT's and Dov Ber of Mezrycz students) and “vandalized the home.”

By chance, during those same days the leaders of the Chassidut, Ha-Maggid Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezrycz and his close friends were convening in Dubno to take counsel with each other on how to counter the harassment. But when Rabbi Levi Yitzḥak read the letter he had received from Pinsk on the damage that had been done to his house, Rabbi Dov Ber remained silent.

The persecution of the Chassidut movement continued for many years and the last inflammatory “Igeret” was published in 1796, a year after the Third Partition of Poland.

During the entire time of the spread of Chassidut and the war opposing it, it was as if Dubno was standing on the sidelines and was careful with its Mitnagdist conservatism.

There is much of interest in the memoirs of the ADMOR[7] Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Yozpov, grandson of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, who settled in Dubno in the middle of the 19th century, who relates, concerning the period:

“As we know, in the years 1815-1825, Rabbi, the Gaon, Ḥaim Mordecai Margalit, author of “Gates of Repentance,” brother of Rabbi the Gaon Ephraim Zalman Margalit of Brody, officiated as Father of the Rabbinical Court and like his older brother was involved in trade and commerce and declined to use his knowledge of the Torah as a basis for his living, even when he was actually the Rabbi of Dubno. Because of that, many of the citizens of the town who were Chassidim of the famous Rabbi in Vohlinia, the Righteous and Holy Rabbi Moshe Ephraim of Sudylkiv (Sidilkev, Sudilkov), the grandson of the BESHT, approached their Rabbi with a complaint against the Rabbi of Dubno that in the conduct of his business he neglected his study of the Torah and that he wasn't a Chassid and not connected with their Rabbi and they demanded that the Rabbi install another Rabbi who will be a Chassid and more learned in the Torah.”

“The Rabbi from Sudylkiv answered them saying he knows the Dubno Rabbi very well and that even when he was busy with his commercial interests he was deep in Torah as well and the Mishnah said of him: “Torah is good together with the way of the world,”[8] meaning that for those who can cope well with both – so be it. And concerning that he was not of the Chassidut – he was a Chassid and was becoming more so… and warned them that they would not have another Rabbi in Dubno and they should respect the one they have for being the great Rabbi and Gaon that he is.

“And from then on strong bonds of love and friendship existed between the Rabbi from Dubno and the Rabbi from Sudilkov, author of “Degel Machaneh Ephraim,” as there was love and friendship between his brother the Gaon from Brody with the Rabbi and righteous Gaon from Opatów (Apt), author of “Love Israel,” in spite of the fact that they had differing opinions concerning each other's work.”


E. The Haskalah Era and Its Personalities

by Ya'acov Netaneli-Rothman

Translated by Selwyn Rose (Hebrew) and Pamela Russ (Yiddish)

The Haskalah

The circle of Maskilim that existed at the beginning of the 19th century was exceptional for its attributes of brotherliness and friendliness, characteristics for each ideologue who was striving to great and lofty heights. But at the center of this was a group of believers in the light of knowledge and good fortune of progress that primarily believed in the eternity of the People of Israel and that removed themselves from assimilation in all forms – dress, traditions, and copying the non-Jewish people.

Characteristic of the mood that reigned among the Dubno Maskilim is the letter of thanks that they received in the year 1848 from Rabbi Shneur Zaks of Berlin: Rabbi Shneur Zaks was a historian and researcher of antiquity and critic of the Holy Writings, who, on his travels and because of a false accusation was captured and imprisoned in Dubno, and thanks to the efforts of the Maskilim in town and from the surrounding areas, he was freed, and then remained in Dubno for a year, in the warmth of his friends and fellow Maskilim, whose names he mentions with love and emotion in writing “Kanfei Yona” (“The Wings of a Dove”).

He begins the long letter with general words of greetings and then he turns to each of his friends individually about personal issues, disguised and implied, out of fear of the police and censors.

Among the personalities in the Enlightenment era in Dubno, we will mention some of them individually, those who were exceptional in their own and later generations:

[Columns 69–70]

“To my loved ones of Dubno – friends of my soul and the best of sages and Holy writers of scriptures and pure-hearted scholars –--

“Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi – from sturdy and wise roots my father Tzvi Zalman Ashkenazi --

“Rabbi L. Glasberg – Please me, brother, with thy wonderful eloquent speech and my regards to your dynamic brother ---

“Rabbi D. Weisberg and his dear brother Rabbi Yehuda ---

“Rabbi H. Elias, please me by seeing your name at the end of a book of Mehilta[9] of your son-in-law the Rabbi --- please me also, my dear, with your eloquent speeches ---

“To Rabbi N. Margalit – How are you, delight of my eyes? And how is every one of yours? Please know that forever you are implanted in my heart ---

“Please offer my greetings to your dear father and dear brothers in Kremnitz --- and where is our dear friend Yona Margalit? --- Thy mother? ---

“To Z. Marszalkowicz ---

“To R. Y. Kalischer and his dear brother Dr. Reuven Kalisch --- How are you today my dearest, with your wonderful abilities? Please write to me! --- and all that accompany you and your friends in G-d's Camp.

“To Hemlitz Lerner. Where is our industrious clever man Rabbi Z.W. Addas today? ---

“To dear Rabbi Shimshon Bar'az ---

“And to all my beloved scholars there, much love and affection. Peace. A thousand thanks for the past!”

In a letter of thanks from Dr. Yitzhak Arthur of Brody to Rabbi Leibush Glasberg of Dubno for the help given by the scholars of Dubno to Rabbi Shneur Zaks that was published in Berlin in 1857 among other remarks was written: --- “How numerous are my thanks to you dear man! And the other generous donors, the wise and scholarly Rabbis of your town who girded themselves like soldierly heroes to extricate a dear soul from distress, to loosen her fetters, in order that she can complete her skills and qualities and be in the coming days an honor and splendor to us!
“How thankful I am to the famous leader Rabbi Hirsch Ashkenazi – may his light shine forth, who added my friend to his household and entertained him with meals at his table!

The names of these honored people are engraved on my heart and will never be erased from my memory!

“It is a blessing dear man! My soul's happy desire is your friendship ---.”

*

Among the scholars of Dubno of the period a few are indicated here, their legacies especially conspicuous either during their own generation or later.

Rabbi Naḥman Tzvi Hirsh, son of Rabbi Yeshaya Linder, born in Dubno in the year 1791. He belonged to the circle of scholars and writers at the beginning of the 19th century. In his youth, he studied under Rabbi Eliezer of Kolczyn, author of the book of questions and responsa “Turei Even” (“Rows of Stone”). For many years, Rabbi Naḥman Linder was a teacher in the Jewish government school in Zhvil (Nowogrod, Volynski). He died in the year 1851. He was famous as a mathematician and for his three books of research in mathematics, written in Hebrew, which were published after his death.

“The Table of Logarithms” on the natural numbers in “Masechet Trumot[10] and the manner of their usage in calculations, Königsberg 1854 .80 5+49+3 pages.

“The Ingenuity of Numbers” (algebra and arithmetic) the study of mathematics and its application, Warsaw, 1856. 80 144 pages.

“Euclid” – on the ingenuity of calculation, the translation of books 11-12, Part A. Six articles with addenda and diagrams, Zhytomyr 1875. 80 pages.

The scholar Ze'ev Wolf Adelson was born in the year 1798 in Lithuania, and in his younger years he was a student under the renowned Gaon Rabbi Menasha ben Porat from Ilya (1767-1831), author of the books “Alfei Menashe[11] and “Shekel Hakadosh” [“The Holy Shekel”]. He belonged to those who strove to bring improvements to the lives of the younger generation, both in the acquisition of a general education and also through economic reconstruction. As a young man, Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf was a teacher in Brest-Litovsk and then went to Ukraine. In the year 1833, he arrived in Dubno.

He was the type of Maskil who loved knowledge and he alone realized the efforts needed for becoming a perfect person. When he arrived in Dubno, where there were many who strove to learn and to be educated, he taught anyone who was interested, without any compensation. He nourished himself with a piece of bread, the edge of a herring, and a little bit of water, and used to sleep on the floor. Among his best pupils and attendees of the lectures, were the grammarian Ḥaim Tzvi Lerner and Tzvi Hirsh Greenberg of Katerynivka (Katerburg, Katrynburg) near Kremenetz (Krzemieniec), who later converted to Christianity.

Even though he had many friends and followers who would call him “the Jewish Diogenes,” Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf evoked anger and jealousy from the Chassidim and fanatics because of his teachings and critical speech. They made his life miserable with every means possible. He left for Mezrycz...

[Columns 71–72]

...where he supported himself by giving classes to the children of the wealthy businessman and Maskil Rabbi Yehuda Khori. From Mezrycz he went to Odessa and died there in great poverty in the year 1866.

He was buried seven days later when the neighbors discovered his body.

Only a few of the writings of Rabbi Zev Wolf Adelson have been preserved in the hands of Rabbi Joel Ber Flakowicz and L. Chary and among them “Megillot-Esther.” It is assumed that the many manuscripts that he left behind were consumed by the fire during the fumigation of the room in which he died.

Rabbi Ḥaim Tzvi Lerner (Hatzal) was born in Dubno on the eve of Passover of 1815. The likelihood that his origins were in poverty is evident because during his childhood years he studied in the Talmud Torah of Dubno. In his youth he went to Odessa and studied there and worked in researching the Hebrew language and also taught himself Russian, German, Italian, and French. In 1838, he returned to his home town of Dubno and lived there for three years, sustaining himself by giving classes to wealthy students.

 

dub588.jpg

 

At that time, the city of Radziwill developed near Brody, and many wealthier families settled there. Rabbi Ḥaim Tzvi lived there for eight years (1841-1849) as a teacher of wealthy students.

Rabbi Ḥaim Tzvi was renowned for his love of, and deep connection to the Hebrew language and for his expertise with its grammar and literature. When the government Rabbinic seminary opened in Zhytomyr, Rabbi Ḥaim Tzvi was invited there as a teacher of Hebrew language and literature. He taught in the seminary until its closing in the year 1873.

Rabbi Ḥaim Tzvi Lerner was a prolific writer and creator, writing the majority of his books about Hebrew and Aramaic grammar, compilations about the history of grammar, and also about the grammar of the Talmud, and so on. His book “Moreh Halashon” (“Teacher of Language”) had many editions, and his children received 2,000 rubles for the rights of reprinting – a huge sum for those days.

Indeed, a heart full of national feeling beat within the heart of Rabbi Ḥaim Tzvi Lerner and many years before the creation of the “Lovers of Zion” movement he published in “Ha-Maggid” a poem to ḥanukah in which he expressed his concerns for the future of his people:

The Sexton

Verse 1
The light of this noble candle
Stands before his brothers
He is thought a slave; there is none to honor him!
His goodness a traitor betrayed him...

Verse 2
He also threw light of the Land's people
With the light of his faith – an inheritance from heaven,
But they breached it - breach after breach.
Scorned and ridiculed, Ha! Drinking like water…etc.

Rabbi Ḥaim Tzvi Lerner died in Zhytomyr in 1889, after he established a generation of people knowledgeable in the Hebrew language and its grammar.

Tzvi Hirsh Greenberg – the convert Vladimir Fyodorov – was born in the year 1815 in the town of Katerburg, Kremenets region. He was a poor child. When he came to Dubno, he studied in the Talmud Torah and had “days” (daily assigned meals in designated homes). He was drawn to education and, under Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf Adelson, he became close to the youthful Avraham Ber Gotlober, and to the elderly Rabbi Yitzḥak Ber Levinson of Kremenets.

As was the tradition among those who studied Torah at that time, Tzvi Hirsh married young to a butcher's daughter from Dubno – and in about one year's time, they had a baby girl.

Sometime later, Tzvi Hirsh left his wife and child and went to Kamieniec-Podolsk, where he was accepted as a student in the government gymnasium. When he completed the gymnasium, he asked to be taken on as teacher in one of the Jewish schools which were opened in specific locations by Dr. Lilienthal. For an unknown reason, he was not given the position. Then he left the faith of his parents, converted to Christianity, and changed his name to Vladimir Vasilevitch Fyodorov.

As for any Christian, the gates of the universities in Kiev opened to him, and after completing his studies there, he was hired as a high official in the Kiev General Government, with the task of censoring Jewish books.

Here he found a broad field for his task, and he began to spread education among the Jews. In the newspapers, he published many articles and essays about the Jewish schools in the country, and even in the name of the General Government, he opened a platform for Jewish writers so that they could express themselves and openly discuss the problem of spreading education among their nation.

The convert Vladimir Fyodorov did not neglect his family. He divorced his wife, and when his daughter's time to be married had arrived, he came to Dubno and gave her a respectable dowry. The daughter married a cousin, the government-appointed Rabbi Weinryb from Artemivs'k (Bachmut).

During the final years of his life, the convert Vladimir Fyodorov was hired as the censor of all Jewish books in Warsaw, and there befriended the editor of Ha-Tzefira (“the Siren”; Hebrew language newspaper in Poland) – Ḥaz's (Ḥaim Ze'ev Slonimski) and Na's (Naḥum Sokolov) and even got involved with translating the Talmud and with translating German. He died in Warsaw at the end of the year 1870.

[Columns 73–74]

Dr. Reuven ben Moshe Kulisher – a writer, doctor, and all-round community activist, was born in Dubno in the year 1828. At the age of 20, he managed to become a regular student in the University of Petersburg. He was the second Jewish student there. After eight years of studying, in 1856, he completed his medical-surgical studies, and in the years 1869-1876 he specialized in hygiene and military medicine financed by the Russian government.

Dr. Reuven Kulisher published many science studies, originals and translations. One of these concerned skin diseases, according to the Jewish sources (appearing in “East and West” Issue No. 3) and the well-known Professor Munack based his research of leprosy on a paper by Dr. Kulisher. In 1862, he also published a series of articles explaining the theories of natural forces as understood by Helmholtz, and in 1868, a paper on the physiology of “Hunger and Thirst.”

Dr. Kulisher was a community activist and active Jewish writer. In his youth, he was among the admirers and friends of writer Isaac Baer Levinsohn of Kremenets, and their correspondence was published in the year 1896 in a publication of Y. Weinberg. He put a lot of energy into spreading general education among the Jews. As a student, in the year 1849 he wrote a poem in Russian “A Response to the Dictionary,” which was distributed in his own handwriting because of the prohibitions of the censor (in a few years, it was published in print in a journal). He wrote in Ha-Melitz and Ha-Tzefira (Hebrew newspapers), and other Jewish periodicals. He also published a critique of Mandelkern's Russian translation of the Chumash (Five Books of Moses). In the year 1861, his famous song “The Fugitive Jew to His Fugitive Brothers” was published, which was very interesting both from its thematic perspective and from its style.

In distress and joy, in gaiety and in mourning,
I am with thee, with thee in the universe,
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning!
My People I will not abandon you!

In the terror of the tempest and the raging of the storm,
In the pellets of hailstones and the loud voice of rebuke,
In fire and brimstone, in the midst of a flood,
With the death of all creatures and the passing of life,
With beasts and Seraphim, and the Heavenly angels,

In distress and joy, in gaiety and in mourning,
I am with thee, with thee in the universe,
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning!
My People I will not abandon you!
..................................etc.

At the end of the poem the poet observes: “I wrote this poem in 1850 when I was at St. Petersburg University studying medicine,” and the editor of “Ha-Melitz” added: “He wrote this cherished poem in Hebrew and Russian in his memoirs that was presented to the Tsar on his coronation day in the name of the Jewish people.”

Dr. Reuven Kulisher's memoirs, “generally of hope and of the outlooks of the Jews in Russia over a period of 50 years – 1838-1888,” were published in “Wuskhad” in the years 1891-1894.

Dr. Reuven Kulisher died in Kiev in the year 1896.

[Columns 75–76]

Avraham-Ber ben Rabbi Ḥaim Hacohen Gotlober, known for his literary pseudonyms “Mehalelel” and “AB'G,” is considered one of the most prolific writers of the Haskalah period. Although he was not-native born in Dubno, he is considered one of its greatest residents because his fame evolved at the time when he lived in that city.

Avraham-Ber Gotlober was born on December 10, 1810, in Old-Konstantin, Vohlinia. His father was the city's Ḥazan (cantor). As a five-year-old boy, he began to study in a Ḥeder and at the age of nine, he was already reading the “Shirei Tiferes” (“Songs of Glory”) of Rabbi Hertz Wiesel. His father, the Ḥazan, did not oppose the young boy studying Tanaḥ (The Old Testament) with the commentaries of Mendelssohn. The young boy, Avraham-Ber, read Chassidic stories, philosophy, and Haskalah books. At eleven and a half years old, he was matched up with a ten and a half year old girl. He was married as a bar mitzvah boy. At the age of fifteen, he tried his hand at poetry and composed an elegy over the death of Tsar Alexander I and a love song for Nikolai I.

In the year 1828, he and his father stole across the Austrian border and they entered Galicia. They did this in order to avoid his conscription as a Cantonist in the Tsarist army. Avraham-Ber was in Galicia for some time, in Ternopol, and there met Yosef Perl. Later, when he lived in Brody, he became friendly with the young Maskilim in town. These meetings sealed his fate of adherence to the Maskilim for all time.

From Galicia, Avraham-Ber and his father left to go to Moldova, but his father died there. At that time, Avraham-Ber returned to his wife and the three-year-old child that had been born to him when he was 17. They lived with his father-in-law in Czernikhov, near Zhytomyr. Someone told the father-in-law that his son-in-law belonged to the Maskilim. With the decree issued by his Rabbi, Avraham Dov of Obrocz, Avraham-Ber was forced to separate from his wife. The divorce, which he gave his wife whom he loved, leaving her and the child, ended in tragedy; as a Cohen, he was forbidden to court and marry her a second time.

Avraham-Ber later married for a second time. He left Czernikhov and settled in a small village in Podolia. After a short time, he left this wife too, and in the year 1830, he left for Odessa, which was the center of the Jewish Maskilim. He befriended some of them, such as: Bezalel Stern, first director of the Jewish government school; and Rabbi Simḥa Pinsker, a teacher in the school. There, he read Yitzḥak-Baer Levinson's (Ryv'al) book “Teudah b'Yisrael,” and became a great follower of his. In Odessa, Gotlober was a private tutor in a rich Jewish home.

He did not remain in Odessa for long, and he soon began his wanderings. In 1831, a cholera epidemic broke out in the city. He left Odessa and went to Dubãsari (Dubasar), in the Kherson province. Here he also did not remain long, and at the beginning of 1832 he arrived in Dubno for the first time.

dub076.jpg
Lithograph of Avraham bar Gotlober

 

Here he found friends and fellow Maskilim and scholars, Haskalah books, and religious books in Hebrew and in German and most important – an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding. His song collection, “Nitzanim” (buds), was published in Vilna in the year 1851, in which he recalled his time in Dubno with great longing.

In autumn 1834, he left Dubno and went to Mezrycz-Vohlinia, and in Lutsk he visited the Karaites,[12] in whom he became interested when he was in Odessa. Later, he was married for a third time, to a woman from Kremenets and he went to live in the house of Ryv'al. In 1836, he went to Warsaw, and one year later, in 1837 his first book of songs “Pirḥei Aviv” (“Flowers of Spring”) was published in Józefów (Jozifiv). He collected funds for this book; and it was for that reason that he had wandered across the difficult roads of Poland, Vohlinia, and Lithuania.

[Columns 77–78]

Once again, Avraham-Ber Gotlober took to wandering. He came to Mohylev-Podolsk and stayed there until the year 1844. That year, he heard about the establishment of government schools for Jewish children, directed by Dr. Menaḥem Lilienthal under the auspices of the Russian education minister Uvarov. He approached Dr. Lilienthal with a prepared list of recommendations by Jewish Maskilim and their addresses. For this reason, he left Mohylev-Podolsk and once again came to Berdychiv (Berdichev). From time to time, he would visit his family, wife, and three children, who were in Kremenets. Since he did not have a steady job, in the year 1849 he went to the convert Vladimir Fyodorov (Tzvi Hirsh Greenberg) and approached Dr. Leon Mandelstam to take him on as a teacher in the government Rabbinical seminary in Zhytomyr. But he was not hired. He then decided to take the exams in the gymnasium in Zhytomyr, in order to acquire certification as a teacher. He was successful in Jewish and general studies.

Until he took the position as teacher in Kamieniec-Podolsk in the year 1851, he published his second book of songs – “Nitzanim,” that was also subsidized thanks to “funding from before” by 800 subscribers. Because of that, he once again had to continue wandering across Warsaw, Brisk, Brody, Tarnopol, and Odessa.

In Kamieniec-Podolsk he was a teacher for three years and there he met Mendele “Moḥer Seforim,” “The Book Seller” (Yiddish writer) and even helped him send his first works to Ha-Maggid (Hebrew language weekly). Also, the educated daughter of A.B. Gotlober helped Mendele prepare himself for the government exams, where he was successful in acquiring a teacher's attestation.

Avraham-Ber Gotlober once again had to take his staff in hand, and in the year 1854, out of his own desire, he went to his place of birth, Old-Konstantin, where he was a teacher for eleven years. Among his students in the town was also Avraham Goldfaden, the father of Yiddish theater. While he was there he succeeded in obtaining a holiday and went on a visit to Vienna where he translated Ludwig August Frankel's book of his travels (1860). And in his last year in that town, in 1864, he published two books: one with financial help of the Russian Ministry of Education, “A History of Karaite Sect,” and the second regarding Hebrew poems: “A balanced evaluation of the Hebrew Poem in Germany and Slavic countries.”

In 1865, AB'G received a post as teacher of the Talmud at the government Beit Hamidrash (Study House) for Rabbis in Zhytomyr after being recommended by an official at the Russian Ministry of Education, and he maintained that position for eight years until the school was closed in the summer of 1873. While he was resident in Zhytomyr his literary output increased and in 1866 he published “A Psalm of Thanksgiving” for Tsar Alexander II's escape from an assassination attempt on his life by the Nihilist Karakozov on April 4, 1866, for which he was thanked by the Tsar; he translated “Jerusalem” by Moses Mendelssohn and published the first part of “The History of Cabbala and Chassidut.” He argued passionately with the owner of “Ha-Melitz” Alexander Zederbaum and the critic Avraham Uri Kowner.

With the closure of the “Beit Hamidrash” for Rabbis in Zhytomyr, AB'G requested a paid holiday from the Russian Ministry of Education because “...from my extensive work my eyes have now dimmed,” but he was rewarded with a one-time benefit and an allowance for one year only and he was forced to return to his daughter, who was married to the government appointed Rabbi Bornstein in Dubno. Dubno was no longer the town of great Hebrew scholars of forty years previous, but a town where the young scholars were mostly interested in following the cultures of Russia and Europe. In great sadness he left Dubno and moved to Galicia to sell his translation of Lessing's “Nathan the Wise” and then went to Brody, Lvov, Krakow, Jarosław, and Tarnow. He was in Vienna and Prussia and again Vienna, but without success. In Vienna he met the founder and editor of “The Dawn,” Peretz Smolenskin, who helped him significantly, but their paths separated in 1875 when Smolenskin took an antagonistic stand in “The Dawn” against Moses Mendelssohn and the “Berlin Haskala” while AB'G was an admirer of Mendelssohn, and defended him and even founded “The Morning Light,” a monthly journal a year later with an entirely different approach to Jewish issues from “The Dawn.” Smolenskin's “The Dawn” was a flag signalling the national rebirth of Israel while Gotlober emphasized in his journal's name with Mendelssohn and the Haskala. The light already illuminated the morning after the darkness of the Middle-Ages and the spread of the Chassidut.

When AB'G founded the “Haboker Or” (“Morning Light”), he was already an older man, and the work was not easy for him. At the time, he lived in Dubno (Russian Vohlinia), while the newspaper was published in Lvov (Austrian Galicia), because under the Tsar Alexander II Jews were not permitted to publish newspapers and journals. Within ten years – 1876-1886, only seven issues of “Haboker Or” were printed: In the years 1876-1878 it was published in Lvov; from April 1879-June 1881 it was published in Warsaw; it stopped appearing from summer 1881 to the beginning of 1885, from 1885-until January 1886 it was again printed in Warsaw and then stopped completely. AB'G was not available to edit it because he was burdened with financial problems and the practical issues of editing were performed by others. In Lvov the coordinator was the writer Reuben Asher Braudes while in Warsaw at the beginning it was Eliezer Yitzḥak Shapira and then Avraham Zuckerman.

[Columns 79–80]

Despite its brief life, the “Haboker Or” of Avraham-Ber Gotlober served as the primary place for young working men, many of whom later held a respected position in Jewish literature and culture. Here were the first songs and ballads of “Kiddush Ha-Shem” (“Sanctification of G-d's Name”) of Y.L. Peretz. Konstantin Abba Shapira published his first poems of “Al Meshorerei Bat Ami”. And the first compilations of David Frishman saw their real light in “Haboker Or” – and the poems – “There is Hope,” “On my Birthday” and “Behold – Today I am Fifteen,” the story “On the Day of Atonement” and the pamphlets “Pen-sketches.” Among the participants in the Journal were the grammarian Ḥaim Tzvi Lerner, the researcher Ya'acov Reifman, the author of a treatise on the prophets David Kahane, the historian Ze'ev Yavetz and the publicist S.Y. Horowitz. Mendele “The Book Seller” also contributed “A General Overview of Fish” that was a part of his series on “The History of Nature,” N. Rochel excerpts from “Pinkas Dubno” and the writer Zalman Epstein his essay on F.N. Dostoevsky, “In Memory of a Great Man.”

In 1879, AB'G received a license to publish “Morning Light” in Warsaw and in April of that year came to settle there - and there, in the shabby, editorial offices he was visited by the young, spiritual Aḥad Ha'am (Asher Ginzburg) who was then aged 22.

In 1881, AG'B was to celebrate his seventieth year and the Hebrew press of the day, “Ha-Melitz,” “Ha-Maggid” and “Ha-Tzefira” lauded the activities of the celebrant and called upon the public to support him lest he be forced once again to wander the world seeking subscribers for his journal “Morning Light.” But it seems that the cry for help went unheeded and the celebration held in St. Petersburg on October 8, 1880, was not a financial success.

In the years 1881-1885, when “Haboker Or” was no longer published, he left Warsaw and returned to Dubno to his married daughter. Because of the pogroms in southern Russia in 1881, and because of his disappointment with the Haskalah in terms of its wages, he joined the Ḥovevey Tzion [“Lovers of Zion”] and began to write a series of Zionist songs: “Yisrael Mekunan,” “The Eternal Wandering Jew,” “A Voice from the Window Sings” and “Le-Menatze'ah al Mechalat bat ami b'Romania” (meaning Russia), in which he summons his brothers to return to the Land of the Fathers.

“Who is there among you of all his People? The Lord his G-d be with him and let him go up.”[13]
In Dubno, he also wrote his famous songs Die Stürmedike Schiff (“The Stormy Ship”) December 1883 and Yehuda and Ephraim (Tevet - January 1884) – against assimilation, changing one's name, the language and dress of the Maskilim, and against the lessening of faith in nationalism.

“The Stormy Ship”[14]

Amid the wild noisy sea
A ship tosses and turns,
Swinging around and around
Atop the crest a moment then falling.
etc.

Yehuda and Ephraim[15]

Go, Germany and gaze in earnest
If they will be borne there by force,
They have turned their backs on their peoples,
Erased all Memory of Zion and Jerusalem
From their hearts and their prayers –
And still the scorn and curses...
etc.

[Columns 81–82]

The last year of “Morning Light,” during which only five editions appeared, was 1886. It was also the year of AB'G's seventy-fifth birthday and the completion of fifty years of his literary output. Sages and authors from all over Russia and abroad showed him great respect. Among those who respected him was Mendele “The Book Seller” who recalled the kindness shown to him in his youth and sent a heartfelt and sensitive letter under the name “S.Y. to the teacher” (a clue to his real name: Shalom Ya'acov Abramowitch).

After the final appearance of “Morning Light,” AB'G changed his place of residence together with his daughter and son-in-law from Dubno to Rivne and later to Bialystok, where he became blind. In Bialystok, he was visited by the young writer Joseph Klausner who was impressed by his dignified mien telling of respect and his outpouring of sayings displaying his wisdom and intellect, humor, and scholarship.

In the last three years of his life, AB'G did not leave his house because of his blindness and found himself in complete solitude. On June 12, 1899, he died at the age of 88.

Dr. Shlomo ben Simḥa-Dov Mandelkern, the man from Greater Dubno, as he used to call himself during his youth, was born on the second day of Passover, 1846, in Mlyniv, a town near Dubno.

During his childhood years, he studied a lot of Torah with Rabbi Pinhas in the town of Torhovytsia (Trovits, Targovitza), in the Dubno district, when his father died in the year 1862. When Shlomo was 16 years old, he left for Dubno and studied Torah there with Rabbi Tzvi Rappoport Hacohen and with Rabbi Yitzhak Eliyahu Landau. When he was studying in Dubno, the young Shlomo Mandelkern dedicated himself to Cabbala, went to the Kotzker Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel of Kotzk, befriended his son Rabbi David'l, and together with him studied Cabbala and Chassidut.

When he returned to Dubno from Kotzk, he became busy with Tanaḥ research, with the literature of the Middle Ages, and grammar of the Hebrew language, and he also began to write for the weekly Ha-Maggid (“The Preacher”) 1856, the first Hebrew language weekly newspaper in Lutsk (Łuck, Łutzk), Poland] (1865) and in the periodical “Ha-Melitz” (“The Advocate”); the first Hebrew language newspaper published a few months after “Ha-Carmel)”, and “Ha-Carmel” (1860, first Hebrew weekly then monthly in Russia), which were published in Odessa and Vilna. In 1864, he married in Dubno, and about a year later, they had a son. But he left his wife and child to study in the Zhytomyr Rabbinical seminary, and from there – in the Rabbinical seminary in Vilna. There he met AD'M Hacohen,[16] who befriended him warmly.

In 1868, Mandelkern completed his studies in the Vilna Rabbinical seminary and he was awarded with ordination as the government-appointed Rabbi. He returned to Dubno, divorced his wife, and left for Petersburg. He was accepted into the university and there studied Oriental languages. After five years at the university (1868-1873), he completed his studies with excellence and received a gold medal for his concordance of the Tanaḥ, the Septuagint and the Vulgate and his paleographic study of certain biblical locations. He was given the position of representative of the Rabbis in Odessa, and for the eight years of living in the city (1873-1880), he completed his judicial studies in the University of Odessa and was given the title of “Candidate for Judicial Science.” During the holidays he studied in the university in Jena (Germany) and there he was granted the title of Doctor of Philosophy for his dissertation about the differences between the Book of Prophets and Divrei Hayamim (Book of Chronicles).

In the year 1880, he stepped down from the Rabbinic position in Odessa and went to Leipzig (Germany), and then worked for 16 years preparing his concordance of the Heichal Hakodesh (Hebrew and Aramaic concordance of the Tanaḥ), a monumental and all-encompassing work that serves as a basis until today, for all studies of Tanaḥ research. He also planned for a large concordance of the Talmud, but his energy had been spent on the enormous previous task and he did not have enough funding for this endeavor.

Dr. Shlomo Mandelkern published many articles in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, and English, and also wrote songs and ballads. He was a delegate at the First Zionist Congress in Basel. On March 24, 1902, he died of a mental illness in a Vienna hospital and was brought for burial to Leipzig.

[Columns 83–84]


F. Ḥovevey Tzion and the Beginnings of Zionism

by Ya'acov Netaneli-Rothman

Translated by Selwyn Rose (Hebrew) and Pamela Russ (Yiddish)

In the '80s of the 19th century, the Haskalah light began to fade among Eastern European Jewry. The ideals of the Haskalah movement, struggle against superstition, and the low level of religious life, the mockery of Chassidut and rabbis, the efforts to be an “individual in the street but a Jew at home” – did not survive the test of the times. The pogroms in southern Russia in the year 1881 that were marked with the allegorical name of “Storms in the Negev” broke the belief of many intellectual personalities of that period. The problem of emigration from all the Russian provinces which, in the last few years had become stronger and became a mass fleeing to Germany, England, America, and Argentina – increased the pace of the development of the Ḥovevey Tzion movement and the colonization work in the Land of Israel.

Among the Dubno Jews, there was a young scholar from a prestigious family – Rabbi Zalman Ashkenazi, who was active in the Ḥovevey Tzion and Zionist activities.

He was born in Dubno in 1848, at the beginning of the Haskalah movement. His father, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh, was well known as a scholar and Maskil. At that time, there was a youth group in Dubno, to which Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh belonged, which strove for knowledge and education.

In his father's house, Zalman had the accepted Torah upbringing, and as a youth he was sent to Lvov to receive a general education. When he returned to Dubno with a lot of Torah and knowledge, and since he was already well known, he began working with pharmaceuticals, got married, and set up a rich, Jewish home. He had only one son, and he soon began his community activities.

Rabbi Zalman Ashkenazi's first steps to speak on behalf of Ḥovevey Tzion was after the visit of the renowned lecturer Tzvi Hirsch Masliansky in Dubno (1893), who, in the “Resursa Obywatelska” (Citizens' Club), called a meeting of “worldly” Jews, who came in large numbers, and he earned significant approval from them.

In order to bring the people closer to the Ḥovevey Tzion movement, Rabbi Zalman organized Maccabi celebrations (Maccabi-fest) each year, for which he arranged renowned speakers and activists, and most illuminating was the article of one Pinḥas Pasis in “Ha-Melitz[17] in 1894 concerning a Ḥanukah celebration of the Ḥovevey Zion that same year in Dubno:

“On Saturday night, as the Holy Sabbath ended – the first night of Ḥanukah – there gathered together by invitation the Ḥovevey Zion group in the home of the respected Mr. Reuven Stahl (with authorization from the County Governor). Many dear women, members and other guests, delegates from neighboring towns were also there…the number of participants exceeded three hundred persons. They gathered together in four large rooms, pleasantly illuminated, and in the main hall the men and women sat apart from each other. In one of the rooms tables were set up laden with produce from the Holy Land, the results of the labors of our brethren working with the sweat of their brow on the mountains of Israel: wine and cognac from Rishon Le-Zion; citrus from the Holy Land; and other various sweetmeats, most of which had been prepared by our sister members.

“The opening ceremony was conducted by our representative Mr. Z. Ashkenazi who blessed the first Ḥanukah light using olive oil brought from the Holy Land, and a choir afterwards sang 'A Song of Praise and Dedication' and 'Hanerot Halallu.' After the lighting of the candle, Mr. Z. Ashkenazi delivered a sermon on the verse: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning…”[18] and “And behold, the glory of the G-d of Israel came from the way of the east…”[19] After him, the honored delegate Mr. Tzvi Prelutzky of Kremenitz spoke for about an hour on the topic of the 'Return to Zion' from the period of Zerubabbel until the time of the Hasmoneans…the lecture made a deep impression on the entire gathering, even to the extent of some of them shedding tears, and a deathly silence fell over the audience. At the end, he received great acclaim and shouts of appreciation. After that the chorus sang the song “Maduah” (Why), by the poet M.M. Horwitz, and then Mr. Ashkenazi raised his glass and proposed a toast blessing several notable participants and their respective organizations both at home and abroad, especially mentioned were Paris, Kremenitz, Rivne. Mr. Prelutzky toasted Dubno and the Holy Land ---------- It was five in the morning when the gathering finally dispersed, satisfied, and went home.

“The prepared tables yielded a net income of one-hundred-and-twenty silver rubles for the benefit of settlements in the Holy land.”

Rabbi Zalman also wrote songs, all of which were dedicated to Israel. Apparently, two typical verses of a poem that appeared in the same year in “Ha-Melitz”:[20]

[Columns 85–86]

A poem in Honor of Ḥanukah by Zalman Ashkenazi on lighting the Ḥanukah Candle (1895).

“These lights…”
The clouds disperse, the heavens clear,
The starlight shines around with noble light.
No longer will the face of Jacob pale with shame,
These lights we which we ignite…”

All creation is in shadow – brothers and friends,
A plethora of blessings and joyfulness are poured forth…
“These lights which we ignite…”

When the Ḥanukah celebrations were being organized, Dr. Tuviah Hindes and Tzvi Hirsh Prelutzky of Kremenets helped Rabbi Zalman, because his activities were not only in Dubno, but he would travel on the difficult roads to the distant Vohlinia towns in order to “snatch up souls.”

For the entire time of the activities of the Odessa committee of Ḥovevey Tzion, Rabbi Zalman was its authorized director in Dubno. He was the “living spirit” in organizing the distribution of money on the eve of Yom Kippur, distributing it to the right destinations, empowering others to become active as well.

In the year 1897, he was selected as a delegate for the First Zionist Congress and took upon himself the responsibility to tell his electors about the Congress and his problems in Ha-Melitz, dated 5 Shevat 5659[21] [January 1899]:

From Dubno comes the announcement that on Tuesday, the 6th day of Ḥanukah, the Zionists celebrated the “Festival of the Maccabees” in great elegance in the home of Mr. Zalman Ashkenazi. The Zionists congregated in the hall at 10 in the evening. Mr. Ashkenazi opened the evening with burning issues of the day…and after a short break began to relate – as the Zionist delegate of Vohlinia - the events that took place in Basel in all its details, and significantly engaged the hearts of his audience reporting almost word for word the speech of Max Nordau concerning the diplomatic work of Dr. Herzl… and the hearts of his listeners were filled with hope and love for the Ancestral Home and its People…”

Rabbi Zalman Ashkenazi did not make light of any smaller jobs, no matter how trivial, provided they were related to Hebrew or the Land of Israel. Wherever he went, he spread the Hebrew books from the publications of Aḥiyosef and Toshia that were being printed at that time. It was understood a priori, that products of the Land of Israel – the wines of Carmel Mizraḥi and olive oil, almonds and raisins – were always to be found on his table, even the Land of Israel's etrog[22], which was far from profitable and close to proving a loss, failed to dissuade him, and it too found its way to Dubno.

When the Jews in Russia, during the first election of the Duma (1904), believed that in the Russian Empire it was now also a time of “spring for the people,” Rabbi Zalman was of the first to assess the importance of the Jews' participation in the elections, and thanks to his caution and activities, all the Jewish electors came to the ballot box. No one failed to vote – something that did not happen anywhere else.

Rabbi Zalman Ashkenazi was an exceptionally good-looking person, and his manner of dress was fine as well, and he was religious. Every Shabbat, he prayed in the Beit Midrash of BR'T (Rabbi Ya'acov ben Meir). He was a good speaker, he wrote articles, songs, and pamphlets that were often published in Ha-Melitz and in the Luaḥ Aḥiyosef. A friendly and kind person, he found time to play chess with his friends, where he made an exceptional impression.

On Shabbat, 21 Tammuz, July 10, 1909, he died at the age of 71. His death left a tragic mark on all the Jews of Dubno. Thousands of his followers and friends of the city and the surrounding areas came to pay their final respects. His funeral was a powerful demonstration of Zionism and showed how deeply he had planted roots in the people.

From various sources and the descriptions of David
Lander, the friend of Mr. Zalman Ashkenazi, from the
“Vohlin Journal” 1 Nissan, 1940


[Columns 87–88]

G. Dubno Rabbis

by Ya'acov Netaneli-Rothman

Translated by Selwyn Rose (Hebrew) and Pamela Russ (Yiddish)

Until the end of the 17th century, the names of the Rabbis of Dubno were not recorded, not by their study groups, not in the contracts, and not on the tombstones. But beginning in the year 1600, the names of the rabbinic leaders and heads of the Rabbinical courts of the city were known – until the murder of the Jewish community by the Nazis.

The first of the Dubno Rabbis at the end of the 16th century was the Gaon Our Rabbi Yeshaya Halevi Ish Horowitz, called the Shelah Hakadosh (the Holy Shelah) named after his book Shnei Luḥot Habrit (“Two Tablets of the Covenant”). His progeny, generation after generation, until Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Ish Horowitz, and his son Rabbi David Halevi, may his blood be avenged, were Rabbis in Dubno. They died in the first days of the German invasion of the city, in the year 1941.

Rabbi Yeshaya Halevi Ish Horowitz, the son of Rabbi Avraham Bar Shabtai Sheftel Bar Yeshaya Halevi, leader of the Jewish community in the city of Hoøovice, in Bohemia, was born in Prague in the year 1575. In his childhood years, he and his father left Bohemia and went to Krakow, Poland. He was closely associated with his teacher the Gaon, Rabbi and Teacher Yehuda Leib, Father of the Rabbinical Court in Polonne.

In the year 1600, his name was mentioned for the first time with Dubno and its circle, because, it seems, of the answer of the Maharam (Meyer Ben Gedaliah) of Lublin, on Monday, 13 Adar 5360 (28th February 1600), regarding nullifying a divorce because of a change of name:[23] “Shalom, to you - Shalom my beloved and exalted friend, whose name is known in heaven, Head of the County and town Rabbi, our Teacher and Rabbi. Concerning the Get (divorce document) granted there near the border, and the woman in the domain of the Rabbinical court of his honor and Torah in the Holy Community of Dubno, etc., etc…”

In the years 1603-1606, he was Rabbi and Father of the Rabbinical court in the Holy Community of Ostroh and the region and possibly also Poznań, and later was installed in Frankfurt-am-Main where his salary was “...400 Guilder a year, and he was obliged to purchase for his son and son-in-law citizenship of the town.” He remained in Frankfurt until 1614 when he and the Jews of Frankfurt were exiled, and moved to Prague where he officiated as Rabbi and Father of the Rabbinical court together with the Gaon Rabbi Ephraim Luntschitz, of Łęczyca (Lintshits), author of “Olelot Ephraim.[24] On the death of his wife the Rabbanit Mrs. Ḥaya in 1620, he decided to go to the Holy Land – his secret dream, passing through Germany via Frankfurt-am-Main and Venice in Italy, whence he sailed to the Holy Land, arriving in 1622 at his longed for destination - Jerusalem. There he completed his major work “The Two Tablets of the Covenant” in 1624. The following year he was imprisoned by the Turkish Pasha together with another 15 Rabbis on false charges. That same year he escaped from Jerusalem to Safed, where he died in 1630, and was laid to rest there.

After the Shelah Hakadosh, the successor to the Rabbinical Chair in Dubno was the Gaon, Rabbinical scholar and leader Shmuel Aharon Halevi Ish Horowitz – from 1625 until about 1630. Then he was established as the head of the Rabbinic court in the city of Lubovna (Lubomel) and that is where he died.

For a short time (1632-1634), the Rabbinical office in Dubno took on Rabbi Ha-Gaon the Rabbinic leader Tzvi Hirsh son of the Rabbi Our Teacher Ozer, son-in-law and disciple of the Gaon Avraham Ḥaim Naphtali Hirsh Shorr, Rabbi in Satanova, (Satanów). Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh wrote the foreword to the book “Torat Ḥayyim,” authored by his son-in-law, printed in Krakow in 1634 and inscribed by him with a formal elegant dedication.

It is generally considered that in the years 1642-1643, the rabbinic seat in Dubno was occupied by the Gaon, Our Teacher Meyer Katz, son of Gaon Moshe Katz Ashkenazi. This opinion is supported by the script on the tombstone in the Dubno cemetery.

A righteous and holy man, a revealer of wisdom and Halacha,
Our Rabbi and Teacher Meir the son of MAHARAM Katz,
He passed away on Tuesday, 3 Kislev.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life.
Maharam (Our Teacher and our Rabbi, Rabbi Meir) Katz was at first the Rabbi in Amstibovo and afterwards in Mohylev (Mohyliv, Mogilëv, Mohilev, Moghilau, Zogilów, Mogilev, Mohylów, Mogilov), on the Dnieper- (Molev) until 1642. Later he moved to Dubno and died there. Relying on the clause “…an illuminator of wisdom and Halacha,” one may assume he was the head of a college and a righteous teacher in Dubno until the day of his death.

[Columns 89–90]

The Gaon and Cabbalist Rabbi Yehuda, may his blood be avenged, mentioned among the fallen martyrs of the year 1649 in the book Tza'ar Bat Rabim,[25] was almost certainly the head of the Jewish court and was murdered by Chmielnicki's thugs, along with the Dubno Jews, and did not have a Jewish burial.

For about nine years, 1649-1658, there was no Jewish community in Dubno. In those years, Dubno was given a “charter” by Prince George Sebastian Lubormirski. Then the Gaon Avraham Halpern, Our Teacher and Rabbi, the son-in-law of the Gaon Mordecai Yeffe author of “Halevushim,” was elected as the Rav, where he held his position from 1660-1662 when he became the honored Rabbi of the Holy Community of Kovel (Kowel), where he was laid to rest.

For eleven years (1663-1674), the Rabbinical seat in Dubno was held by the great, renowned Gaon of his generation, Our Rabbi Naḥman Hacohen Liptzis, who was the Rabbi of Lwów (Lemberg, Lviv, Lvov, et. al.), Kremenets, (Kremenitz), Chelm, and Belz. He was the grandchild of the Gaon Our Teacher and Rabbi Gershon Ha-Cohen Rapa of Porto, a scion of the family of Rabbi Moshe of Speyer, known as Liptzis after his mother the wealthy Mrs. Liptzis, the grand-daughter of the Gaon Rabbi Yitzḥak Shrentzel, Father of the Rabbinical Court of Lvov. He was installed as Father of the Rabbinical Court of the Holy Community of Dubno in 1663, as proved by the signed “agreement” in his name: “…and it was agreed in 1633 to print 'Shulḥan Aruḥ' with clarifications by the Maharal (Judah Loew ben Bezalel), 'Be'er Hagolah' in its first printing in Amsterdam, together with the Rabbis of the Council of Four Lands at a conference held at a fair in Yaroslav together with the author of “Columns of Gold” ('Turei-Zahav' also his nickname), Rabbi David Ha-Levi Segal, on Monday, 15 Elul, 5423 (17th September 1663), from Naḥman in an anthology of sayings gathered by Meir Katz Rapp who had settled in the Holy Community of Greater Dubno.”

In 1675, he had already approved of the work ”Naḥamot Tzion” as the Rabbi of the Holy Community of Bełz, and died there that same year.

Following him – the great Gaon Moshe Bar Yosef, but we do not know about his position in Dubno, other than the writing on his tombstone in the cemetery in Lemberg (Lvov):

“And Moshe went to G-d, 16th of Sivan, 1684.
The great Gaon Our Teacher the Rabbi Yosef –
Father of the Rabbinical Court of the Holy Community of Greater Dubno. Preacher of the Torah in his generation to the needy and poor and population of G-d. May he rest in honor and peace until the dead arise.”
After Rabbi Moshe Bar Yosef, head of the Beit-Din in Dubno was the renowned Gaon of his generation, Gaon Yisrael son of the notable Rabbi Avraham Yoleh's (after his mother's name Yoleh) of Krakow. He was the son-in-law of the community leader of his generation the Rabbi Berish son of the Gaon Rabbi Hershel of Krakow. Rabbi Yisrael who was also known as Rabbi Swinocher, held the position in Dubno for one year (1684-1685) and then with the highest honor, he was given the Rabbinical seat in Lutsk, where he died. His daughter was the wife of the Gaon Our Teacher and Rabbi Simha Katz Rappoport the son of Rabbi Naḥman Katz who officiated after him as Father of the Rabbinical court in Dubno.

From the year 1685, the Rav of Dubno was the Gaon, the great leader Simḥa and the Gaon Rabbi Naḥman Katz Liptzis Rappoport. He was born in Lemberg where his father was the Dayan [judge] and the head of the Beit-Din. In 1685, he married the daughter of Rabbi Yisrael Swinocher and came to Dubno along with his father and when his father took his seat in Lutsk he filled his father's place in Dubno.

It is not clear how long Rabbi Simḥa occupied the Rabbinical seat in Dubno, but in 1694 he approved the book “Zafnat Pa'aneaḥ Ḥadasha[26] (Frankfurt-am-Main). “Pleasure beyond words for our Teacher the great Gaon Our Teacher and Rabbi Naḥman Katz Rappoport (His Righteousness will be Remembered in the Next World), of the Holy Community of Dubno and now in the Holy community of Grodno.” He died in 1717 in Szczebrzeszyn (Shebreshin).

From the years 1691 until 1698, there was no Rabbi in Dubno. In that year, 1691, the Gaon Rabbi Simḥa moved to Grodno. In 1698, the Dubno community invited the Rabbi Yosef Yazki, son of the Lublin Rabbinical leader and Cabbalist Yehuda Yodel who had been Rabbi and Father of the Rabbinical court in Lvov, in Minsk, and then Kowel.

Rabbi Yosef approved of the book “The Satisfaction of Naphtali”[27] and wrote: Yosef – the famous Rabbi, our Teacher Rabbi Yodel (Z”L), residing in Minsk from where his influence was spread wide in the Holy Community of Greater Dubno.

He was the Rabbi of the Cabbalist Our Teacher and Rabbi Tzvi Kaidanower, author of the book “Kav Ha-Yashar” (The Just Measure) to which he added elements of wisdom and morals. He also authored “In Honor of the Holy Sabbath.”[28]

Rabbi Yosef died in 1706 in Dubno on the evening preceding the month of Iyar (approximately January/February), and the congregation would recite the El Maleh Rahamim prayer for the dead on the anniversary of his passing.

Following the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Yazki, of blessed memory, the Rabbinical seat was held by the Gaon and wealthy man, the leader Shmuel “Hagvir Haparness” Rabbi Shlomo Shaḥne Katz of Krakow. Before this, he was the Rabbi in Neustadt and afterwards the Father of the Beit Din[30] in Dubno; we have an approval by him of the book “P'nei Arieh Zota” (Wilmersdorf 1720), “Signed, Shmuel son of my beloved father Our Teacher the Rabbi Shaḥne of Krakow, dwelling in the community of Greater Dubno.”

[Columns 91–92]

He officiated as the Rabbi of Dubno for six years, from 1706-1712. He died in Brody in 1729 and on his tombstone was inscribed:

Here lies buried the great Gaon Rabbi, Rabbi of the Community of Dubno
Our Teacher and Rabbi Shmuel Shalom Shaḥne Katz
21st Sivan 5489 (20th May, 1729)
In the years 1712-1715, the rabbinic seat in Dubno was held by the leader Yitzḥak Isaac the son of the Gaon Rabbi Sha'ul Ginzberg. He was the father of the Gaon Meir Ginzberg, Father of the Community of Wieczyn and brother-in-law of the Teacher and Gaon Tzvi Ashkenazi. He was the son-in-law of Meshulam Zalman Mierlisch (Mirels), Chief Rabbi of the Community of Hamburg. Then, in 1715, he was invited with great esteem to come to Mohilev on the River Dnieper.

In the years of 1715-1719, before the Holy Gaon and leading community personality Eliezer Beharav came to Dubno, the son of Our Teacher and exalted Rabbi, the Gaon Rabbi Issachar-Berish (“Rabbi of all exiles”), he was Rabbi in Ruzinoy (Rozshinoi, Rozanik, Ruzhany, Różana). He left Dubno for the position as Rabbi in Brody, and he died there.

He was the grandfather of the Gaon Rabbi Yeḥezkiel Landau, the author of “Nodah Biyhudah" (Known in Judah), who was the son of his daughter Mrs. Ḥaya and Rabbi Ya'acovk'e the son of Our Rabbi and Teacher the exalted Rabbi Yeḥezkiel Landau who refers to him in the preface of his book “Nodah Biyhudah” as a “…righteous element of the world.”

In the year 1719, the Gaon Rabbi Yehoshua Heschel, son of our leader Eliezer Beharav, also called the 'Little' Rabbi Heschel, was Rabbi and Father of the Rabbinical court in Dubno, and when his father left for Brody in 1719, he officiated there for ten years. On 27 Nissan (approximately April/May), 1720, he was one of the signatories in the community journal to a document pertaining to medical and nursing protocols in the town, and in 1724 he approved of a book “His Hand against All”[29] (Frankfurt-an-der Oder, 1727) and signed: “Yehoshua Heschel son of Our Teacher the Gaon Eliezer, the 'Light of Israel,' resident in Dubno.

He died in Dubno in the year 1729, and left behind an inheritance of 400 gold złotys for charity. Two-and-a-half percent of that sum – 10 złotys per annum – was designated to support those who studied Torah.

The Gaon Our Rabbi Ephraim son of Sha'ul, Rabbi in Ludmir, held the Rabbinical position in Dubno for only one year (1730) and left the city for an unknown reason. For the next five years, Dubno was without a Rabbi. During these years, the Beit Din judged the people.

In 1735, the community notable Rabbi, Our Teacher and Rabbi Avraham the son of the Gaon Shmuel Kahana, came to Dubno and was installed as the Rabbi after having had many adventures.

Rabbi Avraham, who was the son of the Gaon Rabbi Shmuel Kahana – the nephew of Rabbi Shalom Shaḥne Katz of Krakow – was previously Rabbi and Father of the Rabbinical court in Brody and was invited by the community of Ostroh to accept the chair of the Rabbanut there after its Rabbi, Rabbi Naphtali Katz, immigrated to the Holy Land. He arrived in Ostroh, but “...his wife was remarkably beautiful and the town's head authority was captivated by her; the Gaon our Teacher and his wife escaped by night from Ostroh, and on their way to Brody passed through Dubno.” He died in Dubno in about 1741.

After he died, his eldest son, Rabbi Yitzhak Moshe Kahana took the rabbinic seat. His signature appears on many regulations in the town's constitution in the years 1741-1742. He left behind a paroḥet (curtain covering the Holy Ark) in the Great Synagogue, beautifully woven with the two large symbolic hands of the priesthood, as well as a Torah scroll.

He did not live long, dying in 1745.

Rabbi Yitzhak Moshe Kahana's inheritor in 1745 was his brother-in-law, the renowned Gaon Rabbi Sha'ul, son of Rabbi Arieh Leib. Rabbi Sha'ul, son of Rabbi Arieh Leib, the grandson of the Gaon, Our Teacher Sha'ul, Father of the Rabbinical court of Lokachi (Lokatsh), Krakow, and Amsterdam, the father-in-law of the “Great Eagle” the wise Tzvi Ashkenazi.

Rabbi Sha'ul the son of Arieh-Leib was born in 1717 in Rajcza (Reitcha), and in 1734 he married the daughter of the Dubno Rav-Rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Kahane. When he was about twenty, he was accepted as the Rabbi of Lokachi, his aged father's community, and in 1745 after the death of brother-in-law Rabbi Yitzhak Moshe Kahane he was invited to accept the Rabbanut of Dubno and officiated there until 1757.

In 1749, he “endorsed” the book “Blessed Be the Children of Asher”[31] (published in Żółkiew) and “Shash Katan” (published in Amsterdam) and wrote: “The Holy Sha'ul, Gaon and Our Teacher Rabbi Arieh Leib (Z”L) resident in the Holy Community of Dubno and the Holy Community of Amsterdam.” And indeed after the death of his father the Rav-Rabbi of the Holy Community of Amsterdam, he was elected in his place as the Rabbi of the German community when he was only 32 years old. He served there for 35 years and died there in 1790.

[Columns 93–94]

Rabbi Arieh Leib wrote songs and also wrote a book Binyan Ariel (“The Building of Ariel”) that was printed in two volumes in Amsterdam in the year 1778. The son of Rabbi Sha'ul, Rabbi Arieh Leib, took as a wife the daughter of the uncle of the Gaon Ya'av”etz (Rabbi Ya'acov Emdan, the son of Tzvi Ashkenazi, also known as “Tzvi the Wise”).

After the departure in 1757 of Rabbi Sha'ul the son of Arieh Leib, to officiate as the Rabbi in Amsterdam, the Cabbalist and Gaon, Our Teacher and Rav-Rabbi Naphtali Hertz, the second son of the Gaon Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Father of the Beit Din Halberstadt, was called upon to occupy the seat of the Rabbinate of Dubno. (Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh was the son of Rav-Rabbi Naphtali Ashkenazi, Father of the Beit Din in Kowel and Lvov and the son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Pinḥas known as the “Ḥarif” – sharp-minded.

Rabbi Naphtali Hertz studied Torah in Brody, together with his brother-in-law Rabbi Yitzḥak Halevi Ish Horowitz, Rabbi of the three towns: Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck, and with the Gaon Rabbi Yeḥezkel Landau author of “Known in Judah” (“Nodah Biyhudah”). He was the son-in-law of the Lvov notable and Father of the Rabbinical court Rabbi Yankel'e, and while still young became the Father of the Rabbinical court in Kowel where, in 1755, he was a signatory to “the Excommunication Edict against the Frankists and Sabbateans concerning Market Days in the Holy Community of Brody in 1755,”[32] together with his uncle the Gaon Rabbi Ḥaim Cohen Rappoport, Father of the Lvov Rabbinical court, his brother Rabbi Simḥa Father of The Rabbinical court of Dessau and brother-in-law of Rabbi Yitzḥak Halevi Ish Horowitz Father of the Three Towns: “Signed, Naphtali Hertz.”

He was the Rabbi of the sage Rabbi Shlomo bar Yoel of Dubno and it is thought reasonable that he was a contributor to the argument between Rabbi Shlomo and Mr. Mendelssohn, causing their mutual separation.

Rabbi Naphtali Hertz died and was laid to rest in Dubno on 10 Iyar, in the year 1777.

The inheritor was his son the Gaon, Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf, who was born in 1745 in Brody, and who, as a young man, received his Rabbinical ordination in the city of Radziwill. In 1792, his wife Mrs. Yuta, the Rebbetzen, died; she was the daughter of the Gaon Our Teacher and Exalted Rabbi Naḥman Halperin Father of the Rabbinical court in Kalisz and Brisk in Lithuania.

When he was thirty-two years of age and with the death of his father in 1777, he occupied the Chair of the Rabbinate of Dubno. His signature is found in the Journal of the Dubno community from 28th (month illegible) 1778, where he gave his approval to the book “Margoliot Ha-Torah” (“Pearls of the Torah”) on 22 Elul, (14th September 1787), and on the book “Bat-Oni,” Dubno 1788, and on “T'shuat Khen,” Dubno 1797.

Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf was a prosperous man all his life, and in 1792, with the death of his wife Mrs. Yuta, he “spent 1,000 Polish złotys for charitable needs setting aside 10% for a memorial prayer for his wife on the anniversary of her death.” He also donated money to the synagogue for an expensive curtain for the Holy Ark, embellished with the Kiddush prayer for each of the three pilgrimage festivals, costing in Danzig 500 silver rubles.

In 1800, he died at the age of 55 leaving his son Rabbi Ḥaim Ya'acov then about 25 years old. One of his descendants, Our Teacher and Exalted Rabbi the Gaon Menaḥem Mendel Auerbaḥ, erected a new tombstone in 1884, on which was inscribed:

“Here lies buried Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf Father of the Rabbinical court of our community,
Son of the Great Rabbi the revered Gaon of his generation, of blessed name,
Rabbi Naphtali Hertz (Z”L), Father of the Rabbinical court Our Rabbi and Teacher.
He left orders which were obeyed, not to eulogize him or praise him beyond measure.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life.
“In the year 5560 from the creation of the world”
In 1800, the Rabbinical seat of Dubno was taken by the brother-in-law of Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf, the leader Rabbi Natan Halevi Ish Horowitz, the son of the Gaon Rabbi Yitzḥak Halevi Ish Horowitz, Rabbi of “The Three Towns.” His signature is found in the Community Journal from the 26th of Sivan, 5560 (19th June 1799): “Natan Halevi Ish Horowitz, Biała Cerkiew (Biala Tserkva, Vais Feld).” He died in Dubno in 1815, leaving no children.

During the days of Harat Olam (the Rosh Hashanah and Day of Atonement period, when this prayer is recited), when the Russian Empire made life difficult for religious Jews, three rabbis took over the Rabbinical positions in Dubno: Rabbi Natan Halevi Ish Horowitz – for about fifteen years during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. He was also Rabbi in Biała Cerkiew. We don't know if he presided over both cities, Dubno and Biała Cerkiew, at one and the same time.

After his death in 1815, Rav Ḥaim Mordecai Margoliot became the head of the Beit Din in Dubno, the former Rabbi of Beresteczko (Berestetchka), brother of the renowned Gaon Ephraim Zalman Margoliot of Brody. In his approval of the book “Half a Shekel” (published in Pavlivka, Poryck, Poritsk, 1819), on Wednesday, 15th Shevat 1816, he wrote: “Ḥaim Mordecai Margoliot, abiding in the Holy Community of Greater Dubno and the Holy Community of Beresteczko.” He also gave his approval to “The Two Tablets of the Covenant” by Yesheyahu (the Holy Sheloh) Halevi Horowitz (Pavlivka 1817), and on “My Prayer Book” Part B of 11 Elul, 1819.

It was he who stated: “Let no cook come to the house of inspection when the slaughterer examines his beast, and if he passes by, or looks at the house through the windows, he is again forbidden to be a cook…” and ordered it to be inscribed in the community's journal.

[Columns 95–96]

Rabbi Ḥaim Mordecai Margoliot was one of the three-man Rabbinical delegation who had to present themselves to Tsar Alexander I in Petersburg. In 1818, he started a printing company in Dubno, and there he printed his book “Sha'arei Teshuva” (“The Gates of Repentance”), “Shulḥan Aruḥ – Way of Life” and an expository work on “Yad Ephraim” by his brother. He also published his brother's book “Ephraim's Gate.” Rabbi Ḥaim Mordecai also positioned himself as a trader on behalf of his brother Ephraim Zalman in order not to find sustenance from his learning as a scholar of Torah, although eventually the business failed because of associates who went bankrupt, and finally he had to leave Dubno in 1829 when a fire destroyed his printing company and his books.

The third one who occupied the chair was the Gaon Rabbi Ḥaim Ya'acov, the son of the Gaon Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf Halberstadt, who had earlier been Father of the Rabbinical court in Róvne. He held the Rabbinical position for the years 1829-1850, and died at the age of 76.

Rabbi Ḥaim Ya'acov was the disciple of Rabbi Nisan, the Dayan, Gaon and Righteous Teacher in Dubno, author of the book “Etzei Lavuna ve-Ma'yan Ganim.[33] Rabbi Ḥaim Ya'acov, who was the son-in-law of Rabbi David Pranz, who officiated as Rabbi in Dubno from 1829 until 1850, when he died aged 76.

In 1850, in place of his father-in-law Rabbi Ḥaim Ya'acov Halberstadt the great Gaon and Rav, David Tzvi bar Ḥaim Auerbaḥ-Rosenfeld was Rabbi in Dubno for thirty years, until the year 1881, when he died and was buried in Dubno.

From 1882-1884, the Rav Moshe Natan Rubenstein, author of the book Elef Hamagen[34] (”A Thousand Shields”) and Klilas Hamenorah (“Light of the Menorah”), and after that he became Rav in Vinnytsia (Podolia).

From the year 1884, Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Menaḥem Mendel Bar David-Tzvi Auerbaḥ-Rozenfeld held the Rabbinical seat in Dubno, having previously been Father of the Beit Din in Berdichev, and with him as teacher his brother, the righteous, modest Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf.

Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel and he held this high position with pride for fifty years and did not fear the attacks of the population. He took care of the community's needs and of everyone who approached him – they knew they would be welcomed and attended to. He was not interested in money and everyone knew that he had “clean” hands.

Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel was short, resolved in his own views, and called everyone “you” (informal address), was always cleanly dressed, with black polished boots and a walking stick with the silver knob in his hand. They say that because of his speed and motion, the shamash (sexton) had difficulty keeping up with him.

In his youth, Rabbi Mendel traveled to the Righteous One of Skvyra (Scowar), left the school of Hassidut after a few years, and adhered to the Mitnagdim for the rest of his life. His favorite remark was: “I ask only one thing from the Holy One after a hundred and twenty (years): that I may be permitted to see how the Rabbis are facing the real world…” and not for nothing did he object to the appointment of the scholarly Hassidim of the town of Kotzk headed by Rabbi Berish, although he bore them no grudge after his appointment was confirmed. Politically, he was Conservative and loyal to the Crown.

Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel married the daughter of Yitzḥak Weisberg of Berdichev and they had one son, Rabbi Hershel of Zhytomyr, and one daughter, Mrs. Shifra, who married Rabbi Nisan of Radyvýliv (Radziwiłłów).

During the First World War, he went to live in Zhytomyr to avoid mobilization, but in 1916, the survivors of Dubno Jewry asked him to return to Dubno.

From that time on, he never left the city, not even during the Ukrainian pogroms nor when the city was twice assaulted by the Bolsheviks.

He died in his old age, in the year 1933.

The Chair of the Rabbanut was inherited by his son, Rabbi Hershel of Zhytomyr, who acted as his father's advisor during the latter's final years.

This might be a good place to say something of the Rabbinical family of Auerbaḥ-Rosenfeld. This family name was Auerbaḥ while Rosenfeld was an addition tacked on to avoid military service. And from where comes the name Auerbaḥ? They say that the patriarch of the family Rabbi Leibush Stanislaw, from the generation of the BESHT the name (the acronym of the Ba'al Shem Tov), had a line of descent from Rash'i about whom they say that when his mother was pregnant...

[Columns 97–98]

...with him, she passed through the town of Troyes[35] and was walking along a narrow lane when two horsemen suddenly came galloping down the lane endangering her life. She pressed herself against the wall which miraculously created an alcove-like depression deep enough for her to step back out of the way, providing what would seem to be an air-cushion for her protection (evolved into “Auer-buḥ” in Germano-Yiddish). The dynastic record was held by Rabbanit Esther-Etta, the wife of Rabbi Simḥa Ha-Cohen Rappoport of Zhytomyr until the First World War.

Rabbi David Tzvi the son of Ḥaim Auerbaḥ-Rosenfeld, who occupied the Chair as Dubno's Rabbi for thirty years, had four sons and each was a scholar of the Torah: Rabbi Menachem Mendel, Father of the Rabbinical court; Rabbi Yitzḥak Weisberg of Berdichev; Rabbi Ze'ev-Wolf, Teacher and Expositor in Dubno, and married to a woman from Tetiyiv (Tetiev) in the district of Kiev. They said of him that “Walls melted when he would shake the world with his Day of Atonement prayer of 'Al Ḥet…'”; Rabbi Leibush, Rabbi ---- Shteibel of Uman, who knew word-for-word by heart 500 pages of the Gemara and lived in Chiºinãu (Kishinev) and Rabbi Tzadok, Gaon and with a penetrating mind, Rabbi Elisha Halperin of Uman were also residents in Kishinev.

The Dynasty of the Gaon, Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel Auerbaḥ-Rosenfeld
(His Righteousness will Protect us), Father of the Rabbinical court of Dubno.
The dynastic Patriarch was Rabbi Leibush Stanislaw of the generation of the BESHT and he, a male child, Rabbi David Tzvi the Great was born through the legendary intervention of the BESHT himself.

The son of Rabbi David Tzvi the Great was Rabbi Naphtali Hertz, Father of the Rabbinical Court of Halberstadt.

His son was Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf who officiated as the Father of the Rabbinical court of Dubno.

His son was Rabbi Ḥaim Ya'acov who also officiated as father of the Rabbinical court of Dubno. The son-in-law of Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf was Our Teacher and Rabbi David Tzvi Auerbaḥ-Rosenfeld the husband of Sarah Feyga (Z”L).

The son of Rabbi David Tzvi was Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel Auerbaḥ-Rosenfeld, Father of the Rabbinical court of Dubno for fifty years.

The son of Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel was Rabbi Heschel of Zhytomyr who inherited the Rabbi's position and remained there until the Shoah when he perished together with most of his community.

 

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Translator's Footnotes
  1. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occasional_poetry . Return
  2. Tikunei Sefarim” is an expression used for scholarly workers who correct perceived biblical errors from creeping into the Holy script, therefore diminishing its authority – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiqqun_soferim Return
  3. You may consider reading this excellent, somewhat esoteric – and subjective – article that gives much more background to this topic and contains much of interest - Trans.: http://www.chareidi.org/archives5760/metzora/features.htm Return
  4. See also the works of Eliezer Steinman about the Dubno Maggid. Return
  5. See the section “The Dubno MaggidReturn
  6. An expression denoting apprenticeship, a disciple, devotion to, aiding or otherwise serving a recognized superior, and taken from Kings 2: 3:11 – the Prophet Elisha's “public debut. Return
  7. ADoneinu, MOreinu Rabbeinu” Our Lord, our Teacher, Our Rabbi. Return
  8. According to Chassid Rabbi Gamliel, the son of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi said: “An excellent thing is the study of the Torah combined with some worldly occupation, for the labor demanded for them both causes sin to be forgotten. All study of the Torah without work must in the end be futile and become the cause of sin.” (Ethics of the Fathers 2:2); All those who work with the public will work with them for the sake of Heaven, us and Chassidim, by Dr. S. A. Horodatzki, Part A. Published by Dvir, Tel-Aviv, 1952. Return
  9. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mekhilta. Return
  10. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trumot. Return
  11. “The Thousands of Menashe” a direct reference to Deuteronomy 33:17 q.v. Return
  12. A sect of the Jewish people who do not accept the oral law. see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karaite_Judaism. Return
  13. A reference to Chronicles 2:36: 23 Return
  14. From all the poems of the Mehalelel Return
  15. One of the last three verses. (The previous ones are not shown in the original text, so the full context cannot be illustrated – Trans.). Return
  16. Avraham Dov Levinsohn Ha-Cohen Return
  17. Volume 281, 19/31 December 1894. Return
  18. Isaiah 58:8 Return
  19. Ezekiel 43:2 Return
  20. Vol. 276, 13/25 November 1894 Return
  21. Vol. 273, Petersburg 1898. Return
  22. A member of the Citrus-fruit family, used in ritual during the festival of Succoth Return
  23. “Questions and responsa” Maharam of Lublin. Return
  24. “Gleaning of the Grapes of Ephraim” - a reference to Judges 8:2. Return
  25. Loosely translated as “The Grief over the Daughters of Many,” a Eulogy on the Jews, victims in the 1649 massacres in Poland, by Avraham ben Shmuel Ashkenazi, published in 1848. Return
  26. “A New Decryption Decoder” the name of a large number of books published throughout the ages by different scholars designed to assist scholars in understanding all the difficult references in early scholarly works by such luminaries as Maimonides, e.g. Return
  27. Deuteronomy 33:23 (Amsterdam 1698). Return
  28. A shortened title of the original – (a comprehensive book giving clarification of the preparations and rituals for the Sabbath – Trans.). Return
  29. A literal translation of the title, but taken basically from Genesis 16:12. Return
  30. Rabbinical Court Return
  31. Taken from Deuteronomy 33:24. Return
  32. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbateans. Return
  33. An apparent but slightly paraphrased reference to “Song of Solomon” 4:15. Return
  34. The Song of Solomon 4:4. Return
  35. By all accounts, Rash'i was indeed born in Troyes, but this reference to Troyes for the incident is clearly an error on the part of the writer since the legend is well-established as referring to Worms where the “depression” in the wall can still be clearly seen in the side-wall of the Rash'i Synagogue and is pointed out by guides. The “horsemen” similarly is a carriage in most accounts – Trans. Return


H. The Government-Appointed Rabbis of Dubno

by Ya'acov Netaneli-Rothman

Translated by Selwyn Rose

Due to the lack of sources, it is not possible to prepare a complete and definitive list of the official, government-appointed Rabbis who officiated in Dubno. The registry given here was scoured from the Hebrew press beginning from the '60's of the 19th Century.

 

1862   The first appointed Rabbi in Dubno Mr. Shpetlezahn (Adar 'A' 1862).
1870-1874   A. Bornstein, the son-in-law of Avraham bar Gotlober.
1875-1878   Rabbi Meir Pesis the grandfather of Rabbi Pinḥas Pesis, author of the book “The Town of Dubno and her Rabbis”.
1878-1882   Rabbi H. Z. Margoliot, Author of “Greater Dubno”.
1882-1893   Rabbi Shalom Meierzahn.
1894-1902   Rabbi Pinḥas bar Yeshaya bar Meir Pesis.
1902-1911   Rabbi H. Z. Margoliot.
1911-1914   Rabbi Sacher.
1914-1920   “Interregnum” – First World War – No Rabbi was installed.
1920-1942   Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch, may G-d avenge his blood, the son of the Rabbi and Father of the rabbinical court, Rabbi Mendele Rosenfeld, May his Righteousness be remembered for a Blessing.

 

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