Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin

The "Netziv"

Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, (b. Mir, Russia, 1816 - d. Warsaw, Poland, August 10, 1893), also known as Reb Hirsch Leib Berlin, and commonly known by the acronym Netziv, was an Orthodox rabbi, dean of the Volozhin Yeshiva and author of several works of rabbinic literature in Lithuania.

Contents

Family

Berlin was born in Mir, Russia in 1816[1] into a family of Jewish scholars renowned for its Talmudic scholarship. His father Jacob, while not a rabbi, was a Talmudic scholar; his mother was directly descended from Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt. Although initially a weak student, legend has it that Berlin applied himself to his studies after overhearing his parents debating whether he should pursue a trade.

His first wife was the daughter of Rabbi Yitzchok of Volozhin, the son of Rabbi Chaim Volozhin. His second wife was his niece, a daughter of Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, the author of the Aruch haShulchan. A son from his first marriage, Chaim Berlin, became the rabbi of Moscow, a daughter married Rabbi Refael Shapiro, and his son from his second marriage was Rabbi Meir Berlin (later Bar-Ilan).

The Volozhin yeshiva

Berlin led the yeshiva in Volozhin (in what is presently Belarus), then the largest institution of its kind, from 1854 to its closure in 1892. Despite the destruction (twice) of the town and the yeshiva building in large fires, its enrollment increased steadily under his leadership, and the yeshiva would produce a number of prominent rabbinic figures who led Eastern European Jewry until World War II. Amongst them was Rabbi Shimon Shkop.

In Volozhin, his leadership was contested by the popular Rabbi Joseph Dov (Yoshe Ber) Soloveitchik, whose style of Torah study differed substationally from Rabbi Berlin's. Rabbi J.D. Soloveitchik ultimately became rabbi of Slutsk, Warsaw and Brisk, where he founded the rabbinical dynasty that still carries his name.

In 1892, the Volozhin yeshiva shut down. Russian authorities (influenced by Haskalah elements) sought to introduce secular studies into the yeshiva.[2] Berlin was willing to initially accept some secular studies.[2] However, the requirements became more and more onerous with the government eventually stipulating that "All teachers of all subjects must have college diplomas ... no Judaic subjects may be taught between 9 AM and 3 PM ... no night classes are allowed ... total hours of study per day may not exceed ten." Faced with these restrictions, Berlin chose to close the Yeshiva.[2]

Final months

Ohel of Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin and Chaim Soloveitchik, Jewish cemetery in Warsaw

After the closure, Berlin traveled to Vilna and other cities, trying to clear the yeshiva's debt.

In the last few months of Berlin's life he suffered from diabetes and the consequences of a stroke. While he intended to travel to the Land of Israel, his medical condition made this impossible. He spent his last weeks in Warsaw, and died there on August 10, 1893.[3])

Views and influence

Berlin had a traditionalist approach to Torah study that was at odds with the highly analytical style of lomdus ("learned intellectual analysis") that was pioneered by Soloveitchik.

Politically, he favored Jewish settlement of the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), then under the control of the Ottoman Empire; he was initially a member of the Chovevei Tzion movement (founded by his contemporary Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher), but later distanced himself from them.

Bibliography

  • Ha'emek She'eila ("The Depth [of the] Question"), a commentary on the She'iltoth, a geonic work of halakha by Achai Gaon;
  • Meishiv Davar ("Response [in] Kind"), a collection of his responsa;
  • Ha'emek Davar ("The Depth [of the] Word"), a Torah commentary;
  • A commentary on the Song of Songs.
  • Meromei Sadeh ("Heights [of the] Field", used as a reference to the tribe of Naphtali by Deborah in the Book of Judges), comments and insights on selected volumes of the Talmud.
  • Davar Ha'emek commentary on Nevi'im and Ketuvim.
  • Imrei Shefer commentary on the Haggadah
  • Commentary on the Mechilta
  • Kadmas Ha'emek She'eila ("The introduction to The Depth [of the] Question"), by his son Rabbi Chaim Berlin; translated into English as "The Path of Torah" by Rabbi Elchanan Greenman

Sources

References

  1. ^ The year of Netziv’s birth is often mistakenly listed as 1817. According to his son, Meir Bar-Ilan, he was born on the eve of Rosh Chodesh Kislev in the Jewish year of 5577 which is November 20, 1816. See Meir Bar Ilan, Rabban Shel Yisrael (New York: Histadrut ha-Mizrahi ba-Amerikah, 1943), p. 13.
  2. ^ a b c Schacter JJ (1990). "Haskalah, secular studies and the close of the Yeshiva in Volozhin in 1892" (PDF). The Torah U-Madda Journal 2: 76–133. http://www.yutorah.org/_shiurim/TU2_Schachter.pdf. 
  3. ^ Bar Ilan CD-ROM

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zvi Yehuda Kook — (1891 1982) was a rabbi, leader of Religious Zionism (usually associated with the Hardal movement in Israel) and Rosh Yeshiva of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva. He was the son of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and named in honor of his father s mentor,… …   Wikipedia

  • Zvi Yehuda Kook — Zvi Yehouda Kook Zvi Yehouda Kook (1891 1982. en hébreu צבי יהודה קוק) était un rabbin et une figure du mouvement sioniste religieux israélien et plus spécifiquement du Hardal. C était aussi le rosh yeshiva de la yechiva israélienne Mercaz HaRav …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Zvi Yehouda Kook — (1891 1982. en hébreu צבי יהודה קוק) était un rabbin et une figure du mouvement sioniste religieux israélien et plus spécifiquement du Hardal. C était aussi le rosh yeshiva de la yechiva israélienne Mercaz HaRav. Il était le fils du célèbre… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Berlin (surname) — This is a list of notable people with surname Berlin.* Brent Berlin, anthropologist * Irving Berlin (1888 1989), composer * Isaiah Berlin (1909 1997), philosopher and historian * Jeff Berlin (b. 1953), musician * Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (1817… …   Wikipedia

  • Chaim Berlin — Not to be confused with Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin. Rabbi Chaim Berlin …   Wikipedia

  • Meir Bar-Ilan — For other uses, see Bar Ilan (disambiguation). Meir Berlin, later Hebraized to Meir Bar Ilan, (1880 1949), born Volozhin, Lithuania, died Jerusalem, Israel) was an Orthodox rabbi and leader of Religious Zionism, the Mizrachi movement in USA and… …   Wikipedia

  • Chaim Volozhin — (also known as Chaim ben Yitzchok of Volozhin or Chaim Ickovits; born January 21, 1749 died June 14, 1821)[1] was an Orthodox rabbi, Talmudist, and ethicist. Popularly known as Reb Chaim Volozhiner or simply as Reb Chaim , he was born in Volozhin …   Wikipedia

  • Mnachem Risikoff — Mnachem HaKohen Risikoff Mnachem (Mendel) HaKohen Risikoff (1866–1960), was an orthodox rabbi in Russia and the United States, and a prolific author of scholarly works, written in Hebrew.[1] Risikoff used a highly stylized and symbolic pen name,… …   Wikipedia

  • Micha Josef Berdyczewski — Born August 7, 1865 Medzhybizh, Ukraine, Russian Empire Died November 18, 1921 Berlin, Germany …   Wikipedia

  • Joseph B. Soloveitchik — Infobox Person name = Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik image size = 186px caption = Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik of Yeshiva University birth date = February 27, 1903 birth place = Pruzhany, Belarus death date = Death date and age|1993|4|9|1903|2|27… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.