Historical Letter by
Rabbi Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik
Av Beis Din of Brisk. 1909
“The essence of the Jewish Rabbinate, in its true meaning, is to teach the nation Hashem’s Torah and Emunah, to practice, uphold and preserve the faith which is the basis of the nation and its existence.”
A handwritten letter replete with emotion and fervor portraying the pure Torah perspective of Rabbi Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik through his efforts to preserve authentic Judaism and the traditional institution of the Rabbinate in Eretz Yisrael.
In this letter, he relates the importance and significance of the position of Rabbanim in the Jewish community, their immeasurable influence on religious observance and sanctity among the nation.
Rabbi Chaim vigorously decries the liberal movements and societies
“whose thoughts and plans are only to destroy and eradicate all that is holy”. He also issues a heartfelt appeal to the nation as he exposes the liberal societies for their evil, proving that their efforts are devoted to destroy religion and uproot Jewish homes, ” and that they use Rabbis for their own perverted purposes. He adds that “Their Rabbis are not even worthy of being compared to the simplest layman among us, neither for his knowledge of Torah, nor for his observance of religious nor even his integrity or conduct.”
Instead, he advocates for taking practical steps to prevent further travesty by dispatching a permanent emissary to Constantinople to “be there consistently, increase his endeavor without stopping, and not return home!” before prevailing upon the G-d-fearing members of Turkish society and authorities and succeeding at “rescuing the House of Israel.”
An particularly long letter, with 35 handwritten rows. It is one of the longest known letters written by the hand of Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik.
Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik (1853-1918) one of the greatest Torah luminaries and spiritual leaders of the 19th and early 20th centuries. His profound method of thinking and learning left an indelible mark on the yeshivah world today, and countless learners follow his path until this very day. He was called “A minister of Torah, a genius and truly pious, Rabbi of all of Yisrael who forged a path through the ocean of Talmud and paved a new path in the knowledge and understanding of the truth of Torah. He established legions of students by the thousands.”
Brisk. 14 Cheshvan, 1909. Page Count: 2 handwritten, autographed sides; 35 lines. Condition: Good. Reinforced on fold.
There are very few long letters written by the holy hand of Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk, who was known for curtailing his words and would weigh every word and syllable that he wrote. The present letter is remarkably long, ostensibly due to its weighty content regarding the preservation of Jewish faith, perpetuation the golden chain of tradition, and condemnation of those who wish to douse the flame of Torah and fear of heaven in order to advance and gain progress in an Enlightened world…
Valuable Collection of Letters
The Battle by Gedolei Yisrael
to Preserve traditional Judaism in Eretz Yisrael.
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).
Any inquiries about this lot ?