The 25th of Shevat marks the 127th yartzeit of Rav Yisrael Lipkin (Salanter). Thanks to Google Books
, I found a very interesting biography of written in 1899, only 16 years after Rav Yisrael was niftar. The original is in German
, and I used Google Translate to render in into English
. I have attempted to keep the transaltion from Google in the original form, but had I did have to change some sentence syntax. While this translation is rough, it is amazing that even so shortly after his death, Rav Yisrael’s impact was so strongly felt. The version posted here is also available as a pdf here
His life and work.
Israelite Religion Educator in Memel.
All rights reserved.
Self-published by the author.
Print by H. Itzkowski in Berlin.
His teacher and friend
Rabbi and seminar director
Dr. Hirsch Plato in Cologne on the Rhine
Dedicated in honor
by the author.
Through the publication of these leaves a great desire of my heart has found his long-awaited fulfillment. Long ago I had vowed in my heart that this truly great in Israel to build a monument, not of bronze or stone, but by a description and assessment of his life and work. However, the task I was asked, no light and low, because one hand is almost entirely lacking in preparatory work, the other saw the Transfigured on foreign soil, the light of day. The procuring of the material was thus associated with many obstacles and difficulties to overcome cost me a not inconsiderable sacrifice of time, energy and money. Only after a lot of questions and research, searching and collecting, writing back and forth with still-living contemporaries of the great dead, I’ve come into possession of what is being presented here, except my personal notes from my youth.
This presentation can and should therefore make no claim to exhaustive detail and completeness, but only provide an insight into the eventful life and versatile working and creating the rare man. I still wish to highlight that I wanted with this simple but hard work, not so much a “living image” as both a “model”, therefore I am also of German widespread and generally have used unprecedented language. Inasmuch as I, a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in like reserves, I hope and wish that this would be my present work is a blessing for many. For “The memory of the righteous is a blessing!” (Proverbs 10,7).
All those who have contributed through their oral or written communications to complete this picture of life so readily, thereby once again I say sincerely thank, especially, Sr. Rabbi Reverend Mr. L. Lipkin in Russisch-Crottingen at Memel and probably Meldeamt, the mayor of my home town of Memel which I owe in particular the indication of year and day of the birth of the perpetuated one .-The Author
Rabbi Israel Lipkin was born on 3 November 1810 at Sagar in the province Samogitia in Russia, the birthplace and birth land of his father. His father, Rabbi Wolf Lipkin, held the office of a rabbi, first in Goldingen (Courland) and afterwards in Telshe in Russia.
From the high learning of his father came his “marginal notes” to the Talmud. These notes can be found reprinted in the latest edition of the great Vilna Talmud. He had also been the first teacher of his son, Israel. In accordance with the custom at that time among the Russian Jews, which was still standing, almost in boyhood Lipkin became engaged to the daughter of one of the religionists named Rabbi Jacob Eisenstein of Salant, called Jacob, who takes over, also according to the fashion, food and drink for the young couple in their home while the young husband is carefree and undisturbed resigns employment with the doctrine.
The rabbi of the town, Rabbi Hirsch Braude, got to know and appreciate twelve year old Lipkin, and immediately suspected the high spirit which dwelt in him. This acquaintance had the effect that Lipkin from then on was the favorite pupil of Rabbi Hirsch. He was sometimes called “Rabbi Hirschel Tosafos” called “because he was a great championship in the interpretation and explanation of the so-called “Tosafos” or “Extras” is the name of a Talmudic commentary, to which the comment of Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi) is linked. These additions have been compiled from a number of very learned men who have become known as the “Baalei Tosafos”.
So this great Talmudic master instructed Lipkin night and day, and it was not long before he had taken up the contents of the extensive Talmud literature so in himself that this called his big teacher him once jokingly called him “Little Alfassi” – (Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi from Fes is the author of an “exodus” from the Talmud, is the most under the name of the author briefly Alfasi or shortened called Rif. Lipkin was also significantly influenced by another truly great man in Salant – Rabbi Joseph Sundel – by profession a businessman, but nevertheless, a great scholar and ascetic in the true sense of the word. He was fortunate to sit at the feet of the very famous Rabbi Chaim in Volozhin (Russia) and the illustrious Rabbi Akiba Eger in Posan .- (Reb Chaim Volozhin is the author of a highly regarded ethical writing “Nefesh Hachajim “(Soul of Life), Rabbi Akiva Eger has through his astute responsa gained a reputation).
The impression which of this Rabbi Sundel had on the young Lipkin was so immense and exceedingly lasting that Lipkin still thought this of his friend and indirect teacher with the biggest admiration and deference at the ripe man’s age and called him because of his God-blessed conduct and his lofty moral striving figuratively a “stairway to heaven” called it. (1. B. Moses, See 28, 12) Rabbi Sundel left us a treatise with the title “Hanhogah Yesharah” or “Statement to a Godly Life”. This treatise is in modern times was the moral book “Cheshbon HaNefesh” of Mendel Satanav been printed under a separate annex. (New Edition Warsaw, 1885). Sundel, Joseph died in Jerusalem.
Dealing with Rabbi Sundel, might well have contributed greatly to Lipkin early on having an interest in the ethics of Judaism (Chochmas Mussar) by being close and being befriended by the Talmudic scholar, this often-neglected science of the time indulged with particular zeal.
After Lipkin had so spent some time in the house of his in-laws, he went to Vilna, were once the famous Rabbi Elijah Vilna had lived and worked. Here Rabbi Lipkin was at “university for the study of the Talmud” or “Yeshiva” as a reporting teacher. This university or Yeshiva is the first and oldest institution of its kind in Russian – Lithuania and is named after its founder “Yeshiva Ramailes”. The same was established some 80 years ago by the then Chief Rabbi of Vilna, Rabbi Abraham Posswell and continues today. Here in Vilnius, Rabbi Lipkin became very large and apparently well known. His fame spread, more and more, came in ever-widening circles, and very soon he had the reputation of a “Gaon”, or the Great in Israel!
His stay in Vilna, however, was marred by a circumstance. In 1844, namely, there was built according to the Russian government a declared “rabbinical school”. They looked around for a suitable person who should preside over this institution, and believed not to have found more a efficient force than Rabbi Lipkin. He rejected this offer and ran away, because he foresaw with wise eyes that the “old” Judaism would have of this “new” house of no great hopes. He also gave up his former position as head of the school, and left Vilnius.
As they say, he was concerned that the magistrate would take him this rejection badly, to leave Vilna. With this rejection, however, Rabbi Lipkin had made a great sacrifice of his sincerity of conviction. For the post of Director of the newly established rabbinical seminary had been associated with an annual salary of 800 rubles, which Rabbi Lipkin, who lived in perpetual poverty, surely would have gained more external independence. However, the pious Lipkin turned down the job.
The Jewish doctor Trachtenberg in Vilna, which had helped to establish this institution, put it once because of this refusal to task. He replied to him in a humorous parable: “The rabbi is not a doctor! Today’s physicians are struggling from most of the rich, the rabbis have to bother herself with the poor. For the poor, the smallest question forms as a vital question. Therefore, the rabbi should be resolved in such difficult cases happy his job, so this is not only a thorough and extensive knowledge of rabbinic literature is required, but equally a strict and a devout sense! Such requirements shall inherit the pupils of your newly created “rabbinical school” hardly, so I do not like such a heavy load of responsibility on my behalf. “
A similar response he once gave to a former student on the question: How the admonition of our ways to deal with the teaching for its own sake (Torah Lishma) was to be understood, too? The answer was: “Learning in the intention to become a rabbi”! What he meant was that there was a great responsibility of being a rabbi and point at the same time, the indispensable duty of training in office.
This bias against such educational institutions as “modern” education was his way until his death, but in his heart, though he himself in old age was for the sciences, and they certainly had not been hostile. The seductive charm that even the “secular” sciences to its contemporary youth, which was concluded by then, of all science, had been exercised, he was much feared, and the bad experiences he had made himself as an educator in this regard in his homeland, was only suited to him in this concern to encourage. Since an uncanny suspicion had crept his heart against all that seemed to reveal, especially in the areas of youth education to the “Zeitgeist” about, although he was himself a thinker, bright and clever man of the world.
This mistrust has Rabbi Lipkin also indicated to me when I asked him not long before his death, to give me a “letter of recommendation” for the purpose of giving my acceptance into a teacher training college (seminary) with them on their way. Rabbi Lipkin had his residence at that time in Königsberg. Though I saw him in my letters to my personal relations with him, recalls, and had also drawn attention to my religious background, yet this was all nothing, nor did the letter attached to my brief intercession of my late grandfather, Rabbi Samuel Benjamin, whose person signature had placed his name among them, Rabbi Lipkin had known personally for decades and appreciation was well known. This dual request, he simply replied with the following few lines: “He would have tried hard to solicit me again now. It is not in my hands a certificate to give, to stay with it after a seminar. It was, as he was. Because of the weakness of my eyes I must be brief. Well-wishing from Israel Salant, called Likpin. 28 Siwon, 5642nd Konigsberg,
Knochengasse 2nd Street
.” All this indicates that the legal position which he held to the educational aspirations of his time, but especially his attitude towards the “seminaries” (Rabbi and teacher education). This and the need for an achievement of modern times had him as a representative of the “old school”, and this direction was entirely new and strange, apart from the pernicious and destructive tendency, which had taken most of these “nurseries” for young people from the old traditional Judaism. That were among these newer schools and seminaries, including those that a praiseworthy exception made, Rabbi Lipkin knew very well, but his ideal was not the seminary, but the Yeshiva, those educational establishments where the sole Torah or teaching and Jewish Studies that had been nurtured.
Such schools will receive and justified, he was always anxious and ready, because he saw the only salvation for all of them being the ancient Judaism and the coming generation is promising and they were only defense against the coming up craze in his days.
After he had now rejected the Director post in Vilna, he moved to Kaunas (Kovno). Here it should be even more aware of how much had taken the awakened mind of enlightenment, “Haskallah”, had threatended to undermind the spirits and the old traditional Judaism of the fathers and this was very distressing for Rabbi Lipkin. His perception led him to ponder a remedy, so that the “old faith would be saved.” He knew no better means against this tide of bringing in the proposal as the erection of a Beis Midresh or room, dedicated to what would be entertained as Chochmos Mussar or the “ethics of Judaism” and maintained.
Those joining this company of thought, incidentally, were also friends of Lipkin: Rabbi Sundel from Salant, Rabbi Alexander Lapidus from Rassein and Samuel Lubz from Vilna.
This house should stand for time for everyone, alike the age and the conditions, openly, first however thought the pious founder of such people, those by its worldly occupation or by providing for woman and child taken off from the high one and holy one too much, neither nor must find to quite actually think about their true regulation as Jews on this earth. Thus, should and could every man of the house of Jacob, whose chest was still “excited holy feelings” come in this house and draw from there in readiness “building books,” the necessary instruction to the “self”, which was the main condition of all virtue, and improvement is.
Here, however, the visitors also had many opportunities, from the mouth of the words of the founder himself, he began to hear and collect, what words might have influenced and have a much more lasting effect on the audience due to the high enthusiasm and stirring eloquence of the master, as all reading in books and writings. This house was almost a lecture hall of the “stoic”, which was preached to the fragility and transience of all earthly things. However, this arrangement had provoked the opposition of some highly significant contemporaries, who had feared in this institution is affected then in full bloom standing Talmudic studies; other hand, we entertained the fear that it might over time develop through this movement a new “sect”.
Opponents were particularly Lipkin and Rabbi Leib Schapiro, Rabbi Yitzchak Abigdor, both former rabbi of Kovno, Rabbi Joshua Hessel of Janowo, Rabbi Shmuel Abraham in Rassein, Rabbi Mordechai Eliasberg in Bauske, Rabbi Isaiah, Rabbi in Salant and other great contemporaries.
When Rabbi Lipkin once had given a speech about learning the ethics of Judaism, the former Kovno Rabbi Leib Schapiro had Rabbi Joshua of Hessel, give a counterargument to it in the same building.
Rabbi Lipkin once told himself, as mentioned in Isaiah, weeping before his death, and asked himself: What he had probably made partakers of eternal life? – But did Rabbi Isaiah comforted by the fact that he probably hoped that he acquired by his stand against the “Men of Morals”, Baalei Mussar is a merit, which help him in death.”
Even, this great manifestation demonstrates how within Israel contradictory aspirations that Lipkin had initially found at the beginning. However, Rabbi Lipkin had not let that influence him, and continued its efforts. (See the essay “Talmudos Baalei Mussar” by Elias Friedman in the Hebrew journal “Hameliz”, St. Petersburg, Jahrg, in 1897, no. 108, 111 and 115.)
Through this approach, however, Lipkin was groundbreaking and set the tone for his other learned countrymen – the rabbis of Russia and Poland and has been in fact the founder of a school and direction, which took place in the course of time, brought quite a few trailers. Until then, the rabbis of Russia and Poland used to dealing with all kinds of case histories and responsa Pilpulim almost entirely from the realm of Halacha or “doctrine of the law” to the field while the “Agadah” or that part of Talmudic exegesis, the sublime morality or ethics of Judaism contains in itself, the so-called “Magiddim” or “Darschonim” left, most of which were “migrant speakers.
These people are used in all sorts of symbolic, often kabbalistic interpretations would to be taken, which appeared after a special kind of interpretation of Scripture, under the name “threshing” became widely known. For the long-winded speeches that “master of threshing” would deliver could rarely give the people a morally “practical application”. So it was that the pure morality of Judaism was least known and has been less appreciated. The emergence of Lipkin has come to a turn for the better. He deserves the credit and inspired by his example, the rabbis of his homeland began to give greater attention and consideration of “moral doctrine of Judaism”, albeit indirectly. Lipkin, following the example, now disdained the rabbis for not speaking of the sublime “ethics of Judaism” from the pulpit, not as less drag this science in the area of their literary activity. The rabbis now transferred the spirit the “Halacha” on the territory of the “Agadah”. A zealous representative of this trend can be seen recently in the bud in Russia as of late by Rabbi Simcha Süssel (Ziv), a very worthy and direct student (Talmud Muvhok) by Rabbi Lipkin.
Lipkin lived and worked in Lithuania for many years, during which time he was involved with many other organizations and events to raise Judaism to where it particularly deserves. His special care had allowed him to make a “retreat” with a wealthy and pious fellow believer named Navayzer Hirsch, who had been Rabbi Lipkin’s housemate during his stay in Kaunas. In this “Shtibel” or klause, many young people sat and learned. The habit or custom at the time was to get ”free meals” . This custom had become among the Russian and Polish Jews so general that even the sons of the rich have tried it.
For some students, however, this “change table” was degrading and troublesome. Rabbi Lipkin created here also “change” when he abolished the humiliating “change table” and that meant that now the fathers of the diligently learning would have food sent to the Beis Midrash. This laudable custom was later introduced in other academies of the city, thereby increasing the prestige of the yeshiva students increased, and thus the desire and love for the sacred Torah in the hearts of yeshiva students.
This meant that many studious young people made pilgrimages to Kovno, to see the two great lights of Jewry in the Light of the Torah of Hesse, that is Rabbi Leib Schapiro as spiritual leader of the community and next to him, Rabbi Israel Lipkin, equally distinguished as a lecturer teaching and as a moralist. Many of those who have once sat at the feet of these two quantities in Israel, have become outstanding scholars who are now taking important and prestigious positions as rabbis. (Among the former students of Rabbi Leib Schapiro also includes the most learned rabbi of Memel Gabriel Feinberg, author of the work to Baer Rechobos on the Shuchan Oruch)
When it came to the election of a rabbi in Kovno in 5624 Rabbi Lipkin nevertheless failed to apply for this office. Rather, his friend, Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor was appointed as rabbi of Kovno. Rabbi Lipkin himself could, in principle, never decide to adopt such a public office. He had once been the town of Suwalki in Poland to an employment contract to take over the rabbinate had been submitted to him, he still refused at the last hour.
This rejection and aversion had a double motive, on the one hand, he wanted to pull out of the “sacred” doctrine that there is no “secular” profit, the other, he might be on issues from the realm of the “doctrine of the law” that did not quite trust ulterior verdict, despite or rather because of his broad erudition in the field of rabbinic literature, out of concern that he might have perhaps not reached with its judgments, as the right thing.
In fact, Rabbi Lipkin had never even held a particular office or ever held a firm and stable residence. His life and work was never tied to a particular soil or limited to a particular sphere of action was. His whole life was the “good of the whole” (L’Tovos Hakhal) and in the service of all he had placed himself with his whole person.
This, his “world-embracing” effectiveness was the reason that he changed his residence so often and not infrequently also undertook long journeys. In addition to his native land of Russia, he had chosen the neighboring country of Germany for his stays. Repeatedly he had been in Koenigsberg and Memel. In Konigsberg we find him in 1858 on the side of the famous rabbi, Rabbi Jacob Hirsch Mecklenburg, in the cause of traditional Judaism and especially the academic youth and their business. The story is told of how the Jewish students of the University of Konigsberg (Albertina) would come every evening to gather at his apartment to listen to his “Bible explanations” and “Talmud lectures”.
Most and the longest he had stayed in Memel, and there a large portion of his life spent, although with repeated interruptions. In this border town of Memel, he found many of his former countrymen, whom his presence and advice they cheerfully supported. With special recognition follows two men deserve to be mentioned here, the merchant Benjamin Hanemann and now immortalized merchant Elijah Behr Fischel, whose housemate and longtime family friend, Rabbi Lipkin was.
In the house of former Rabbi Lipkin even had its own minyan been established, which was attended by high and low and in which he often teaching and devotional talks would hold.
At Memel he had his name included in the Prussian naturalized documents, to pursue more freely and unhindered to the health of its population activity to be addressed. Here he also began publishing a weekly book in Hebrew “HaTevunah” or “Reason”, which prints some text in Memel, partly in Konigsberg appeared.
Here at Memel he also laid the foundation of some good events, which the Memel Jews are still pleased. First, he arranged for an official rabbinate in Memel, was set up by his recommendation Rabbi Jesaia Wohlgemuth, who was there was to keep proper rabbi.
As everywhere, in Memel Rabbi Lipkin also turned his special attention and care to educate the young students (Bahurim). Thus he often used his in his room to gather around him and give them discourses on the ethics of Judaism, usually in a tone of casual conversation and entertainment. Likewise he used in the great house of learning (Beis Midresh) on Friday evenings to give exegetical lectures on each occasion the weekly portion, but even on weekdays, whenever he deemed it necessary. In his later years, he had discontinued the Friday evening lectures, and held his speeches then only in the afternoons of the Sabbath and holidays, especially in the days before the New Year celebrations and the Day of Atonement. Some friends Lipkin, Behr Altschul and David Ferber, Isaac, had made the attempt, his speeches, which he considered his time here in Memel, bringing with shorthand (shorthand) to paper. What happened to these records is not known to us.
In 1875, Rabbi Lipkin saw the great joy of the construction of new large prayer and Beis Midrash (house of learning) in Memel had seen its completion. Here again he had made his influence felt, that would be built in close connection with this house of learning even a “room” in which the poor or young students might find necessary, a night shelter.
For the inauguration of this magnificent house of God were out of several prominent rabbis from the neighboring Russian villages and the illustrious Rabbi Meier Leibusch Malbim loaded from Konigsberg. Rabbi Malbim opened the ball of Einweihungsreden. In this speech Malbim the opportunity of his great fullness for Lipkin in a nice play on words to express, by alluding to the first name called out Lipkin of the Assembly, the word of Scripture: “How beautiful are your tents congregation of Jacob, so in your homes,” Israel “dwells so among you, Rabbi Israel Salant dwells!”
There are other sites in Germany, Rabbi Lipkin had stayed longer. So he spent his time as a guest of the late Mr. Hirsch Scholem in Halberstadt and also in the hospitable home of Dr. Stern’s home in Berlin, his home and put his large collection of books available.
With the late Rabbi Hirsch in Frankfurt, he had made epistolary relationship with Dr. Israel Hildesheimer in Berlin, he was personally known to them for years and friends.
Rabbi Lipkin, however, was not only known in Russia and Germany as a leading authority, but had, as such, almost gained an international reputation. So it came about that from near and far, all sorts of questions came to him and from various sides, for advice and cases that had been addressed. Shortly before his death he was appointed by Memel after Paris to get a law-abiding cooperative that had joined to form a community to stand as a consultant and teacher to the side. He willingly followed this call and with the courage of a young man of high standing in the old age Lipkin made in the winter of 1880 this long and arduous journey without any accompaniment. Here again it was the house of Dr. Sternheim, moved into what Rabbi Lipkin and in which he dwelt.
Here in Paris was to him the words of our sages come true: “The exerciser of a Mitzvah suffered no harm!”
Once it was in the house of Dr. Sternheim, Rabbi Lipkin slipped on the staircase and fell to the first floor. He was almost completely unharmed, except for a slight contusion of the one hand he hand come down on. The other time it was in the synagogue of that newly established community itself Rabbi Lipkin was one day in an adjoining room, and a crazed Jewish craftsmen from the neighborhood had imperceptibly crept into the synagogue, and attached him, “Why not create your announcement of the Moshiach?” cried the madman loud. Rabbi Lipkin, who was absorbed in thought, had not seen this man initially. When the intruder, however, repeated his question again, and louder, then Rabbi Lipkin saw this unknown man in front of him in more detail. This, made the man even more excited and he began then to cry loudly: “What? You look at me?” I propose now dead, if you would not have the Moshiach immediately procured. I’ll get a piece of wood, so I’ll split your head in half!” While the madman ran from the room, Rabbi Lipkin pushed the bolt of the door quickly behind him, and so escaped the danger of death.
In the summer of 1882 Rabbi Lipkin of Paris returned to Germany and settled in Königsberg to work there after his friend’s death in the local Orthodox community. However, its effectiveness should not last long there. Even after several months of his stay his tireless efforts and work came to an end. After only three days’ illness, his pure soul stopped breathing in the night of the 25th Shevat 5643 (1883).
In a narrow and very poor little house he was died in Königsberg in Prussia, as if this border town, Russian and Deutscheu territory symbolically reflect his thoughts and aspirations, which was aimed at bridging the gap, which in terms of traditional Judaism between these two neighboring countries prevailed. Several thousand mourners followed his coffin. The funeral home arranged for a student of the deceased, the pastor of the local Orthodox community, Dr. Grunfeld to give moving words. On the burial ground consecrated Rabbi Bamberger from Konigsberg, the dead words of the obituary and then ceded the issue to Rabbi Hildesheimer from Berlin, who was specially invited by the Polish rushed Russian community there to his family and his longtime friend, the last to show honor.
The news of the death of Rabbi Lipkin had provoked the unanimous participation of his co-religionists, not only in his home country Russia but also abroad. Even those Hebrew newspapers of his native country, which paid homage to the more liberal direction, donated to the departed warm-felt and appreciative obituaries. The hespedim funeral orations, which were in his native land he held in honor of which were without number
His wife Esther was already preceded him in death. Since then, he had been living alone and single. The couple had so far become known to us, six children, sprung, four sons and two daughters. The sons had been mostly professional rabbis, while the daughters were married to such.
One of these sons of Lipkin had been entirely devoted to the sciences and against the will of father studied mathematics at St. Petersburg, where he had distinguished themselves in the realm of “client machines”. All this, however, made little joy to the pious father, because he had to fear, it will not be possible that his son would live according to the statutes of the Judaism. As a father, Lipkin has also got over this pain in devout surrender and has survived this choice of his son.
Touching and modest were his demands on life. His watchword was deprivation and renunciation! For his selfless efforts and exhausting for the spiritual and physical uplift of the whole of his people, he had only claimed as much as indispensable to its maintenance was least bit. In the last years of his life, a worthy and grateful pupil Lipkin, Rabbi Elias Lewinsohn Krottingen from Russian at Memel, the care of his great teacher and master had taken over, and when combined with some other friends to him the means to his livelihood and other needs readily available, without anyone else knew about them. From his income, or rather “pocket money” as necessary, said the gifts to needy people of all kinds, especially of his protégés, the poor students of the Talmud. To favor the latter he has often invoked enough influence through speech and writing. If any had important matter, the father would turn to Lipkin. A letter of recommendation from his hand opened the door and gate of the homes of the noblest and best in Israel.
Kindness and affability were the basic traits of his character. But he was very careful with his recommendations, and sometimes unrelenting, if he had the slightest concern that such a personal letter could serve him as the promotion of such purposes, would his real sentiments and principles are not followed.
Admirably, however, was his self-denial and self-control. Here he showed himself in all his greatness. Like no other he had his own “self researched” that he himself was in the crowd surging passions of the text and did not lose consciousness. Touching was the sincerity and honesty of his convictions. He was like the embodiment of truth itself, in the introduction to the above concept in “Tevunah” lay at the end of this introduction from the following confession: “In I’m obviously ahead (not to be taken for such a one who steals the “thoughts of the people”) that my posts (because of my limited knowledge) will, with the help of others, come into the publicity, God willing! “
With this “imperfect knowledge” he had meant that his inability to bring his thoughts forward and ready for printing to be expressed in a purely Hebrew language.
This skill at that time was mostly owned by individuals, since the former Jews of his homeland, the purely “scientific” learning of Hebrew was thought of by the “enlightenment” as “wasting time”. The scholars were to see only the beauty of form just as beautiful as a manuscript, only the content was taken into account.
Through this “indirect” representation of his ideas Lipkin, however, was difficult to understand and they are well understood on closer inspection within the thought process to the reader. His thoughts were, however, so deep and so wide that they in fact could be linked by anything more than the living word to the right understanding.
In fact, Rabbi Lipkin’s teaching was more through the living word, than in his writings. Countless speeches he delivered. Not sermons were his lectures, but only “talks” in the true sense of the word. Often he was knon to stir his audience to tears, through tears that he cried himself. This, his speeches, were in the dialect of the “Judeo-German ‘jargon, interwoven and permeated by the words of the sages of the Talmud and Midrash, supported by the highest wisdom and deepest beliefs, coupled with the results modern research in art and science. In almost any question the saying of Solomon ” If you do the same search as the treasures of silver and track her down, then you will understand the fear of God and the knowledge of God found ‘, or the prophets saying “Bring us back, O Lord, to thee, and we want to repent of our transformation.” This phrase he often repeated so often until he began to weep loudly.
Usually have his speeches as “Winged words” mouth to mouth they were propagated. Many speakers and writers of his homeland during his lifetime have already used some beautiful words from his mouth as the yield. But that’s what got us in this way, nothing more than patchwork. His speeches were not tied to specific days and hours. He said where and when he found it necessary to often probably unprepared and off the cuff, because he never lacked substance because he is one always bubbling “water source” was like, whose water never ended.
Although he stood in matters of faith in the unshakable ground of supernaturalism, it was nevertheless in his speeches even more than in his footsteps that he was a thinking theologian. So he said in a speech, for example, the dogma of “reward and punishment” in the afterlife succinctly by saying: “There will be after the life of this world, a condition in which it will be good or bad!” – Such a sober and thoughtful explanation (definition) of beliefs must be, so one would think, even the “free-thinkers and skeptics,” to wring applause and encourage them in the belief in a “survival of the soul in death.”
As in matters of faith, he would also in the exercise of religious duties showed reasonable prudence, so every one-sided and misunderstood religion seems impossible. Of which he himself has given the best example.
He once lived together with people who had a baby. The holy Yom Kippur was approaching on that night. On this eve, all hurried into the house of prayer for “Kol Nidrei prayer” and, behold, the child’s mother hurried there and left her sleeping child alone in the crib. No sooner had the mother moves away from the house, then the child awoke and began to cry. Since no one was there to tak care of the abandoned child he took it upon himself to wait until the “pious” mother had returned home.
In general, Rabbi Lipkin put great weight on the Talmudic principle: “The danger is more severe than the prohibition!”
Moreover, he used to, as I said, be very cautious with his decision, and not infrequently he had been reluctant, until he made his final decision, even trips he had not hesitated to show only the greatest possible certainty about the conditions of this case to obtain.
During his last visit to Memel people employed him, among other things, the resolution of a question concerning the purity laws for women,”Shilos Nashim” whose solution required in this particular case, some anatomical knowledge, or rather gynecology. After he was unable to agree with some of Memel physicians on this account, the old Lipkin traveled a few miles away from the Russian border town of Memel Gar’s to confer with the local dentist Judah Aronsohn on this question because he believed he could communicate better with this, since Aronsohn a former yeshiva student have been.
The relevant report (Teshuva) is found printed in the rabbinical document “Kovatz Yigdal Torah”. Edited by Moses Eliasar Belinson in Odessa. Born in 1879.
The same Lipkin showed prudence in relation to the usual customs and everyday life. During his stay in Memel, it happened once that Rabbi Lipkin had the annual mounring prayer (Kaddish) for the memory of his late father, happened to be the same day on which another member of the community had a memorial for a deceased daughter, no children left behind. Rabbi Lipkin had noticed the grieving man and understood his desire. He immediately nodded kindly to him, saying: “You say the Kaddish” – After the Kaddish they argued and Rabbi Lipkin said smiling, “Well, I met with my father’s Kaddish by Gemilus Chessed (works of charity ) for the Neshama (soul) of my father (This episode has given me the person himself, Mr. Isaac, Isaac’s son, called Packer announced this orally, shortly before his death.) Those who have ever seen an opportunity, in the services of the Polish or Russian Jews, will certainly have noticed how the quarrelling among mourners around the “Kaddish” often has the weighty words of the rabbi, or even decide the fate. (Such appearances at services also occur in Germany sufficiently, especially in small communities.)
You know, the Polish rabbis pray very slowly, at best, and longest, they delve into the “silent prayer” or the “Eighteen” (Shemone Esray), which the public worship, or rather the town often on usual duration is also stalled because of the prayer leader (chazen) usually will start with no more “loud repetition ‘(cahzoros haShatz) for daring to have ended up as the spiritual leader of his silent prayer. From such a popular consideration Rabbi Lipkin has only very rarely used. Only in the “Days of Penitence”, he would pause in the “silent prayer” somewhat longer than usual to keep, and this mostly in the first three main pieces of Prayer (Avos) to avoid any further “harassment of the community” if possible.
Rabbi Lipkin was a philosopher in the true sense of the word, ie, a “friend of wisdom,” He had, like his other learned contemporaries never visited a scientific school, much less college, but he had the secular sciences in the way of “self-instruction trying to make it their own” and he gained quite a lot and vast knowledge. His high spiritual talent made easy the acquisition also of such science and wisdom for him to what to least his big „ modesty and humility ” has not contributed, because he did not disdain it to accept instruction and instruction from each, still when the crown of the age decorated his head and the call of his name fulfilled the world. Not only the sciences, but the arts he loved, though he possessed no skills in the arts. But also as mentioned in the Middle Ages, the rabbis often with due assessment, referred to the so-called seven liberal arts (Sheva Chochmos).
Like its predecessors, such as Rabbi Lipkin also looked at the arts and sciences only as “auxiliary sciences” to study the highest science, which is because “the doctrine of God!” That was because even our glorious Lipkin, the first and last object of his thinking and research was the study of theology. With the auxiliary sciences, he busied himself only as much and as often as it demanded to its’ own main purpose. Therefore, he would observe in the sciences in a fixed and definite order.
But as he dealt with the doctrine of God always and everywhere, so also with the sciences, if they were to serve that supreme science, the sacred doctrine of God. So he himself went to the traveling public libraries to get some scientific articles on instruction and information.
Among the arts he loved and appreciated and especially the art of music, for which he seemed to have great understanding. This he has indicated to me especially when I was invited to a “Purimabend”, it was in 1879, and for him to tell about some Hebrew songs and hymns on the violin. With obvious relish, he had listened to the ancient Jewish songs and after the termination of his pleasure in the presence of those that had been gathered around him, “young students” repeatedly expressed joy.
In this exalted mood his mind he had not left his gravely pious sense however, he used this opportunity to occur in the Talmud about a “term of art”, which concerns the pursuit of music at festivals and holidays, give greater certainty asked me what is meant by the Talmudic expression “Tikun kli Shir” and how it can actually be understood.
(You know, the Talmud forbids the playing of musical instruments (Kli Shir) to feasts and holidays from the concern of the players would like, if something in the tools became involved in disorder, a same immediately put back in order, ie on the instruments make, which, according to the rabbis within the definition of “Sat” forbidden labor would fall. “)
A great desire of his heart was, to make the Talmud the common property of his people. This was his heart’s desire, he at first believed by the publication of a Talmudic dictionary “in the colloquial language of his countrymen” was worth to attempt to achieve. With the development of such a dictionary, he had entrusted to some residents in Memel. If this had ever come about, we do not know. In addition to the publication of this dictionary, he’d want to carry yet another plan for the mediation of the Talmud with the same knowledge and he discussed this often with his students at the end of his earthly career. He had in mind to commit to a whole extensive Talmudic commentary (perush) to help even a beginner, without the assistance of a qualified teacher, get a thorough understanding of the Talmud. Of course, the execution of such a plan could not have been the work of an individual. Rather, about a hundred of the most important rabbis and Talmud students in giant companies should collaborate and share so much in the work that each employee of free choice should work on a small part of the Talmud, about 30 leaves, for processing in Hebrew Language. This plan even put into effect, he’s not come, however, brought a few years ago, Jewish newspapers, the news that they had been working in London with the formation of a club which had pursued the goal of those carrying out his plan.
To a great rabbi of Russia, Lipkin had suggested that idea again, and had the intention to be taken out of London, an “appeal” to the most important rabbis and Talmud can and call the workforce. Before going to the whole thing should be the greatest authority and recognized Rabbis for revision and evaluation are presented. The cost of the fee for employees, and the cost of completion should be matched by the devotion of believers of all countries. (See Leaflet No. 47 of the “Israelite” in Mainz, Jahrg 1893 .) Also by this company is nothing more known.
The desire to bring the so neglected Talmudic studies back into their own, employed Rabbi Lipkin so much that he came up with ideas that would have held for some strange. So he would have liked that the Talmud would be taught, even at Christian colleges. This idea has immortalized the occasion of an interview made known to myself and also suggested ways and means by which this purpose would be achieved. A memorandum would be prepared and to the Superintendent and Head of High Schools (secondary schools) and other schools would it be . In this memorandum, the benefits would be paid to shed light on who would provide the host of the “Talmudic” teaching material in the curriculum of schools of learning and of Christian students. The benefit of the Talmud studies would be demonstrated for Christian students, if you run the Talmud also conceived as merely “formal” education and showed in what ways the Talmud law, “mental gymnastics” were and therefore deserved equal to all other.
Educational resources of classical antiquity, such as Latin, Greek, etc., can only be fruitful for the overall education of the students. Really have Christian scholars of our time, made no such suggestion from the Jewish side, the beginning, drag the “Talmud” in the area of their teaching activity at universities, though it initially only the “Mishna”. We think “Mishna edits” of Professor Strack in Berlin, who has also written an “Introduction to the Talmud.”
These were probably Rabbi Lipkin’s concerns, which stands to share in the Talmud itself against such a start, the “inheritance of the congregation of Jacob” also to not have been strange. After he told me the plan he added himself: “Now will you argue that it is written …
“Then I have an answer!”
While Rabbi Lipkin had his approval and is approved, of Talmud translations, in whatever language, it was clearly visible that he thought of “translations” is generally not very much, by making a faithful reproduction of the sense or the text by a translation is ever questioned. This possibility, he doubted, not only with the laconic held “Talmud”, but also in the “bible”.
Regarding the teaching lessons of the Talmud, Rabbi Lipkin was a warm friend and representative of those teaching and learning style, whose very essence a “rivalry of ingenuity” and therefore under the name “pilpul” “pepper” known. This teaching speaks to Rabbi Lipkin and his preface to the said weekly especially the word: “One is it that pointed to by the moralists and they have refused to enter into the “congregation of Israel“, that is “pilpul “. But in my opinion, the case is reversed: The pilpul is a great and a strong basis for the search after truth, without it there can be little. “
For this, he cites his logic for two reasons: 1 The pilpul is an excellent vehicle for raising and training of the intellect; 2nd The hidden truth in the theory can be explored only by the pilpul and the rest would also be ascertained that the old mode of instruction served as the Talmud says: “Rabbah was the Board of the yeshiva! ” The tightness of his “pilpul” treatment of the Talmud, he once gave me recognized and verbally: “The world is mistaken if he thinks pilpul is a mere play of the imagination!”
In relation to the student or learner, Lipkin believes every man should be educated. “On the brain of every human being, he said, is something “dirty “, the teacher just needs to understand how to remove the dirt from the brain of the child” for his view that he shared with me an experience which he made himself a student. He once had a boy in class that kept his former teacher for a “more slowly” head. Having taken it, he would have brought the students as meaning that the same understanding through his “issues”, his former teacher in amazement sat.
This view Lipkin proves that he denies the doctrine of the so-called “native” plants, which considers the way, the Christian school pious men of faith toward unpopular rejected because the Scripture says: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above”. However, Lipkin has one informant at a famous school of modern man, who has written about this issue specifically a little work, “so-called special talents and assets do not have the man.” From Gustav Hauffe, the school director in Dresden. Printed in Leipzig, 1876.
Rabbi Lipkin high value placed on “regular” learning. With reference to this he once said the following words: “In the temple, a sacrifice was offered every day, morning and evening sacrifice. However, in the Scripture, that sacrifice is called the “continual sacrifice” not because it was burning day and night on the place of sacrifice, but because it became a daily basis that is “regularly offered.” Thus, even one who deserves to be called “diligent”, is only “regularly” engaged in the sacred doctrine.” I meant that Rabbi Lipkin with this ingenious interpretation of the written word, young and old, it is easy to assume he would not order the admonition of Scripture: “Deal with the holy teachings day and night,” accept it and share power, since he himself was the brightest lines in it.
Very apt and are worth heeding are his views on education. With the elevation and habituation (Chinuch) in the “morality” (Middos) you should begin quite early in adolescence, before the “struggle for life begins.” How can the teaching of the “Art of War” and the practice in the “arms” is done on time and should be done, as it would be too late, when one wanted to make this exercise during the war fighting, as it is with the art of self-control. This should be the practice and instruction in “morality” or Middos. It would also be so important that propriety of such instruction in the “teaching” should be set, as well as the sages say: “The moral law is preceded by the revealed law!” (Derech Eretz Kadma l’Torah).
The “Doctrine”, or the revealed law of God would speak, the “substance” (bond), is the first by the “morality”, the proper “form”.
Thus Lipkin calls for the harmonious development of the whole person. This education is even higher than the education in the classroom!
It is regrettable that this great spirit of the fullness of his spiritual treasures entrusted to the little papers, and even that little he left to posterity, is basically nothing more than a fragment. His first literary activity began with the publication of the Hebrew weekly periodical “HaTenuva” or “Reason “. This weekly paper should discuss difficult issues from the realm of Halacha and Agaddah and almost be an intellectual arena in which the Talmudic scholar, and the layperson share their ingenuity and their strength of mind in the realm of Torah submit to public scrutiny and assessment. The most important rabbis and Talmudic scholars of his time from all countries had participated willingly in this company. The full title of this weekly paper is: Sefer Tevuna (August Stobbe).
The actual folder this week, writing was a former editor of the highly-talented students, known as Reb Itzel Petersburg, born in Kovno, who still lives in St. Petersburg. From this week’s letters are published only 12 issues, and same was discontinued after only quarterly publication again.
These few issues have long since completely sold out and only found in Russia isolated. Therefore, even during his lifetime Lipkin’s worthy grandson had a few letters this week included ethical and exegetical papers of his grandfather under the title: Imm’rei Binoh to appear in book form. (Warsaw, 1878). This little book contains weekly paper called from only two major papers of his grandfather in an orderly and corrected version:
1. B’rurei Hamidos or “self-control”.
2. Chok u-Mischpot or the duty to deal with the sacred teachings.
A new feature in this work is an epistle “Iggeres Hamussar” Mussar Letter or above the high value of the “self” and the consequent obligation to deal with the Study of morality (Mussar). This epistle, also of Rabbi Lipkin, was first printed as an appendix to the Hebrew Scriptures: Tomar Devorah. The conclusion provides an incisive discussion (pilpul) on a topic from the Talmud to handwritten notes of his grandfather. This addition has been included because, as he laments, of the so many such speeches his grandfather had not even one hand is found. Another treatise from the pen of Lipkin, who is also a bonus printed under the said epistle is written: Pri Eitz “Fruitful Tree” (Vilnius, 1881). This paper Lipkin has written on the evening of his life in Memel. In addition to this is mentioned in Scripture is as comprehensive treatise from the pen of his great contemporary and friend, Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Spektor in Kaunas. This script was designed to contemporary Jews to “care for poor yeshiva students” cheer. It is noteworthy that the aforementioned “Epistle” of Lipkin was printed into most popular books of devotion. So we find this letter in the devotional booklet “Four Open Letter” again, which contains three similar epistles from other great men of Judaism (Vilnius, 1882). Just as an appendix in later editions of the delightful little book “Messilas Yeshorim “The Path of the Righteous” by Luzatto.
His handwritten estate was published immediately after his death. The script, which contains this modest collection of mixed content, has the name Even Yisrael ”Stone of Israel “, Warsaw 1883.
This would, however, be everything know that was made by this great man as a writer. Yet even shines sufficiently clear from these few things is the spirit Lipkin, and even this small amount is sufficient to secure his name in immortality. If we consider the manifold and comprehensive efforts of this man, it is clear that the completion and implementation of the same is not the work of an individual. If he has this great and magnificent work of his life and effort did not even put into execution and completion, he has but by what he thought and done, shows what remains to do the good and great still left to posterity, and the drawn off and paved, which leads to this lofty goal. The picture of this man’s life is now unrolled, however, it shows how much, not even at the end of his life had he become tired, as he would approach his life’s work of the greatest possible perfection.
Throughout his life he has fought and struggled for the higher and more sacred, for the glory of God and the cause of Judaism “Like his name, he” was an “Israelite” in the truest sense of the word, which means a “holy warriors”!
Rabbi Lipkin was medium-height, rather thin but strong nature and regular build. Even his outward appearance was great and he was a man of unusual significance. The large forehead, the interesting character of the head, the sharp eye betrayed the great thinkers. His face was flushed almost constantly, probably because of the repealed balance between body and mind. Often he was so lost in thought that he seemed to forget everything around them, and was employed in conversation with himself. Despite his deep earnestness his conversations were often spiced by a beneficent humor and whimsical fancies. This humorous tone he would not strike too often in his speeches, especially when it came to lash the follies and absurdities of the age or the zeitgeist, or to correct ingrained but erroneous views; on other hand, he could with the greatest ease in one and the same speech change the mood and mind of another. Most hardened sinners had to cry, then Rabbi Lipkin began to cry too, because everything with him was purely natural, no artificiality. Almost in every speech he used the words “Let’s see” and this formula during his speeches was repeated several times. Handkerchief and snuff were almost always on the desk before him. He probably made most extensive use of snuff, which he usually held in one hand, while he uneasily with the other hand knocked on it. A lamp was lit when he spoke, but never burned above his head because of his nervous disorders (hypochondria), he was very timid and suspicious. (Even the great Kant once said to have lost the thread of his speech because he realized that was lacking in the coat of a listener was a button.) In the dress he had let himself go sometimes, but considered to the importance of cleanliness and decorum. Usually he carried himself in the garb of his Russian compatriots. A particularly dignified impression he made when he appeared in his winter garb, consisting of a Polecat fur coat with beaver collar, and one was trimmed with beaver cap. He enjoyed even in his old age into a pretty good health, hypochondria, or just learned the disease had been inseparable companion of his life, but he also knew it like Kant, through the power of his mind his morbid feelings champion. With his increasing age, his eyesight had greatly diminished. This disease was aggravated with him especially after crying. As he in his pious mind crying, especially not in his denunciations, was able to completely suppress it, he used the bathe in warm tear-filled eyes after a speech. Strange to say, this modest and selfless man has never given his consent to the fact that mimicked the moves of his face by the brush of a painter and posterity would receive.
Wow – Thanks for doing this!
FYI, the author “Emil Benjamin” dedicated this work to his teacher Dr. Hirsch Plato, who was a son-in-law of RSRH.
Hard reading but very inspiring!
Agreed. Had I more time, I probably would have re-phrased 90% of this bio. While it is choppy reading, the ikar comes through.