Lot : 102

Amazing Letter by Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski
and A Telegram by Rabbi Shmuel Salant 
Vilna-Jerusalem, 1909

Start price: $5,000
Est. Price: $8,000 - $12,000
Amazing Letter by Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski
and A Telegram by Rabbi Shmuel Salant 
Vilna-Jerusalem, 1909


The Battle to Preserve Authentic Torah Judaism in Eretz Yisrael
1. Handwritten and Autographed Letter by Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, Av Beis Din of Vilna
In their efforts to preserve the authentic Jewish character of the Rabbinate and Torah institutions in Eretz Yisrael and rescue them from the talons of the Enlightenment and French Alliance, Gedolei Yisrael in the early 20th century waged a mighty battle against the appointment of Chaim Nahum as Chief Rabbi of Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire.
Despite the vehement opposition of Gedolei Yisrael, Nahum was named Chacham Bashi of the Ottoman Empire. Shortly after, Rabbi Yitzchak Eisik Halevi who had spearheaded the campaign and battle against Nahum, received word that the Roshei Kollelim in Jerusalem had dispatched a letter of congratulations and blessings to Nahum. Infuriated and betrayed, Rabbi Yitzchak Eisik sent a letter of complaint to Rabbi Chaim Ozer, dated 13 Shvat, 5669, in which he writes, “From Jerusalem, we received outrageous news that the Committee of all the Kollelim sent a letter of blessings to Nachum to [express] their support of him, and Rabbi Shmuel Salant’s signature even appears on [the letter]” (Igros Rabbi Yitzchak Eisik Halevi p. 162).
Rabbi Chaim Ozer promptly dispatched an inquiry to Rabbi Shmuel Salant (see Kamenetzky, David. Rabban shel Yisrael, p. 485-486) who responded with a telegram (see below) to the Av Beis Din of Vilna. Rabbi Chaim Ozer immediately forwarded Rabbi Shmuel’s response and telegram to Rabbi Yitzchak Eisik, “I am attaching to this the TG [telegram] that I received from Hagaon Harav Shmuel Salant shlit”a from the holy city of Yerushalayim, may she be speedily rebuilt.”
In the second half of the letter, Rabbi Chaim Ozer writes, “From Brisk, I have received word…that Hagaon Harav Chaim [Soloveitchik] is prepared to respond to Harav Hagaon Doctor Breuer that he will travel to the conference.” The above lines relate to the founding assembly of the worldwide Orthodox union of Agudas Yisrael in Hamburg in 1909 which Rabbi Chaim [Soloveitchik] indeed attended.
Vilna, 21 Adar, 5669 (1909). Stationery. Page Size: 20×13.
Condition: Light stains. This letter was printed in Igros Rabbi Chaim Ozer Vol. 2 Letter 588 [2001 Edition].
2. Telegram from Rabbi Shmuel Salant Responding to Rabbi Chaim Ozer’s Inquiry
In this telegram, Rabbi Shmuel Salant categorically denies the accusation and clarifies that no such letter of blessing was sent to Chaim Nahum. He describes the rumor to be baseless and false spread viciously to mislead the public.
The telegram was typed in German and dated February 15, 1909 (24 Shvat, 5669).
Condition: Tear, with all text intact.
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Valuable Collection of Letters
The Battle by Gedolei Yisrael
to Preserve traditional Judaism in Eretz Yisrael.
An Historical account



When the winds of the Enlightenment began blowing throughout Europe, one of the first objectives of the liberal movements to advance their agenda was to dismantle the institution of the traditional Rabbinate, by replacing the Rabbinate with “enlightened” Rabbis who would support their progressive ways and institutions.
During the era these letters were written, Eretz Yisrael was under the control of the Ottoman Empire whose axis was in Constantinople.
Ottoman authorities traditionally bequeathed the Chief Rabbi of Constantinople, known as Chacham Bashi, a wide scope of authorities and privileges that powerfully influenced and impacted Jewish communities throughout the vast Empire. In particular, the Chacham Bashi was able to facilitate the needs of the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael and represent them to the authorities. Also included in the Chacham Bashi’s powers was the appointment of new Rabbis in the Holy Land.
In 1909, progressive Jews exerted their influence in the Ottoman court to depose the Chacham Bashi, Rabbi Moshe Halevi, and campaigned strongly to appoint Chaim Nahum in his stead. Nahum, a graduate of the Alliance school and of Parisian Universities,
Gedolei Yisrael of the era regarded his appointment as a severe blow to tradition, as well as a grave threat to the spiritual future of Eretz Yisrael. They put up a fierce battle to oppose the new Chacham Bashi and to preserve the religious character of the Holy Land and of Jerusalem in particular.
Rabbi Yitzchak Eisik Halevi (1848-1914), author of Doros Rishonim, spearheaded this spiritual battle, and the letters in this collection are all addressed to him.
The present collection constitutes an eye-opening historical documentary of the times, with letters spanning Gedolei Yisrael from Chassidic, Sephardic and Lithuanian (Misnagdim) sects, among them Rabbi Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik, the Avnei Nezer, Imrei Emes, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, and others. Each letter reveals the individual Rabbi’s unique perspective and pure Torah outlook on the concept of Rabbanus along with his personal battle to preserve spiritual sanctity during this turning-point in Jewish history.
For further information regarding the battle waged by Gedolei Yisrael, see Rabbi David Kamenetzky’s work Rabban shel Yisrael (Jerusalem, 2021 Ch. 14).