BERLIN, SAUL BEN ẒEVI HIRSCH LEVIN

BERLIN, SAUL BEN ẒEVI HIRSCH LEVIN (also called Saul Hirschel; 1740–1794), German rabbi. His father was hirschel levin (Ẓevi Hirsch) and his brother, solomon hirschel . At the age of 20, he was ordained by some of the greatest rabbis of the time. In 1768 he was serving as av bet din in Frankfurt on the Oder. In 1778 he wrote an approbation for Moses Mendelssohn's commentary on the Torah Biur (Be'ur; Berlin, 1783). Some time before 1782 Berlin, becoming disenchanted with what he considered antiquated rabbinical authority, retired from the rabbinate and settled in Berlin. There he joined the Haskalah group whose members, known as the Me'assefim, were the pupils and admirers of Mendelssohn. He was also an ardent supporter of naphtali herz wessely at a time when the most eminent rabbis of Germany violently opposed him. After the publication of Wessely's Divrei Shalom ve-Emet (Berlin, 1782), Berlin wrote a satire Ketav Yosher (published anonymously after his death, 1794), in which he sharply criticized the methods of education and the scholarship of his time as well as the customs and superstitions which had spread among the people. It also sought to dispel the rabbis' opposition to the work of Wessely. In 1784 he traveled to Italy, ostensibly to seek a cure for his rheumatism, but, quite conceivably, to meet those rabbis who had placed themselves in Wessely's camp. In Italy Berlin wrote a provocative anonymous pamphlet of objections to the Birkei Yosef of R. Ḥayyim Joseph David Azulai (Leghorn, 1772), to which the latter replied in his book Maḥazik Berakhah (ibid., 1785). Interesting himself in manuscripts, Berlin began to edit the Or Zaru'a of isaac b. moses of vienna , to which he added his own notes and novellae; these were omitted, however, from the posthumously published version in 1862. In 1789 his book Miẓpeh Yokte'el appeared in Berlin under the pseudonym of Obadiah b. Baruch Ish Polonyah. It contained the most extreme criticism of the novellae to Yoreh De'ah, entitled Torat Yekuti'el, by raphael b. jekuthiel susskind kohen , rabbi of the united communities of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck. Berlin's book, in which Raphael is accused of plagiarism and of condoning corruption, stirred up a storm among the rabbis, including Berlin's own father, who placed a ban upon the book and upon its author. When the identity of the author became known, his father regretted his action and tried to protect his son. However, before the storm had subsided, another of his books, Besamim Rosh, appeared in Berlin in 1793 and touched off a new tempest. The book contains 392 responsa purporting to be by Asher b. Jehiel and his contemporaries: on the title page it was stated that these responsa had been collected and prepared for publication by R. Isaac di Molina. Although Berlin maintained that he had copied the book from a manuscript in Italy and that he had only added his own notes and novellae (Kassa de-Harsana), it soon became evident that the statements attributed to Asher and the other rabbis quoted were full of strange leniencies which actually bordered on antinomianism. The suspicion was soon raised that the whole book was fictitious and that its author was Berlin. The first   to attack him was R. Wolf Landsberg in his pamphlet Ze'ev Yitrof (Frankfurt on the Oder, 1793). After him came R. Mordecai Benet, who wrote to Berlin's father and to other rabbis. A massive rabbinical campaign then followed which branded Berlin as an atheist who sought to uproot the foundations of the Torah. Berlin's father came again to his aid, requesting the rabbis to retract their accusations against his son, and even attempting to establish the genuineness of the manuscript and R. Raphael ha-Kohen and his circle as the source of the libel. It seems that he succeeded in appeasing the rabbis, but not those scholars who held no rabbinical position. Disappointed, Berlin began to wander from one country to another. According to his relative Ẓevi Horowitz (Kitvei ha-Ge'onim, 1928), Berlin went to London in 1794 to take up the position of rabbi of the Ashkenazi community there but died before he was able to assume the office. His literary remains present many bibliographical problems, some of which have not yet been solved. He left critical essays which have been published in various places. He is probably the author of Ha-Orev (Vienna, 1795), attributed to R. Baruch Jeiteles . -BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Roth, The Great Synagogue London 16901940 (1950), 108–24, 180–201; Samet, in: KS, 43 (1967/68), 429–41; M. Wunder, ibid., 44 (1968/69), 307–8. (Abraham David)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • LEVIN, ẒEVI HIRSCH(-el) BEN ARYEH LOEB — (Hirsch Loebel; Hart Lyon; 1721–1800), rabbi; born in Rzeszow, Galicia. In addition to talmudic scholarship he had a knowledge of Hebrew grammar, Jewish history, philosophy, physics, and geometry. While still young, he took part in the emden… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • BERNSTEIN, ISSACHAR BERUSH BEN ARYEH LOEB — (1747–1802), German rabbi and author. Bernstein studied under his father, the son of jacob joshua falk , and Ẓevi Hirsch Levin of Berlin. In 1788 he succeeded his father as rabbi of Hanover. Legend attributes Bernstein s untimely death to his… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • ZIONISM — This article is arranged according to the following outline: the word and its meaning forerunners ḤIBBAT ZION ROOTS OF ḤIBBAT ZION background to the emergence of the movement the beginnings of the movement PINSKER S AUTOEMANCIPATION settlement… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • LOEWENSTAMM — LOEWENSTAMM, 18th century family of Dutch rabbis. ARYEH LOEB BEN SAUL LOEWENSTAMM (1690–1755) was born in Cracow, where his father SAUL had been rabbi; in 1707 Saul was appointed Ashkenazi rabbi of Amsterdam in succession to Moses Judah b.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • HEBREW LITERATURE, MODERN — definition and scope beginnings periodization …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • MUSIC — This article is arranged according to the following outline: introduction written sources of direct and circumstantial evidence the material relics and iconography notated sources oral tradition archives and important collections of jewish music… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • SPORTS — There is no evidence of sports among the Jews during the obscure period between the close of the Bible and the Maccabean periods. At the beginning of this latter period, in the second century B.C.E., circumstances conspired to make sporting… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • POLITICS — Introduction Jewish involvement in national politics in the various countries in which they settled dates from the period of Jewish emancipation at the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century. In fact, personalities such as joseph… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • WOMAN — This article is arranged according to the following outline: the historical perspective biblical period marriage and children women in household life economic roles educational and managerial roles religious roles women outside the household… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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.