by the Avnei Nezer. 1909
“The greatest threat to traditional Judaism is the lack of Achdus... ”
This Sacred Letter features both the Avnei Nezer’s autograph, “Hak[atan] Avraham of Sochatchov” and stamp and was handwritten by his son and successor the Shem MiShmuel.
Sharply-worded letter of condemnation by the Admor Rabbi Avraham Borenstein of Sochatchov, Author of Avnei Nezer against those who “wish to uproot Torah and mitzvos from Yisrael.”
In this letter, the Avnei Nezer advocates for an “assembly of righteous who will affirm their opinion, the opinion of the Torah, against all who wish to uproot Torah and mitzvos from Yisrael” and to protest the “bullies…who arose from our midst to annul Torah and mitzvos from Yisrael”.
He describes that the latter are intimidating the people “to the extent that all who are straight and innocent, who are still truly the vast majority and composition of our holy nation, have placed their hands upon their mouths in fear of these errant ones, until there is no voice sounded to protest and object against them. And there are those whose ignorance makes them unable to distinguish between sacred and profane and between impure and pure.”
The Avnei Nezer explains that the purpose of the assembly is
“so the errant of our nation, wherever they are, will recognize and know that Torah and religion is not abandoned, and that baruch Hashem, even now at this evil time, there, the vast majority and constitution of the Jewish nation are still believers sons of believers and all that is lacking is their unified assembly.”
He concludes with the blessing that
“the One Who guards His nation Yisrael eternally shall send His angel before you and make you successful…and you shall merit seeing the salvation of Yisrael along with all the salvations, and wisdom and knowledge shall emerge from Zion with the coming of the Redeemer speedily in our days. Amen!”
The Avnei Nezer, the Admor Rabbi Avraham Borenstein
(1839-1910) was one of the greatest Admorim in Poland, a genius and Torah scholar who was compared to Rabbi Yehonasan Eibeschutz. He was the son-in-law and prime disciple of the Admor Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and was appointed as Rav and Admor of
Sochatchov in 1883 where he led thousands of chassidim and guided countless talmidim to pursue his brilliant path of study. The Avnei Nezer was also one of the greatest meishivim in his generation, authoring countless teshuvos and chiddushim that were compiled into the 7-volume masterwork Shu”t Avnei Nezer and Eglei Tal.
Sochatchov, 5 Kislev, 5669 (1909). Double-sided folded handwritten leaf. Page Size: 21×13 cm.
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).
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