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Anglo-Jewish Life as Reflected in the Writings of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1875-1893

Rabbi Eugene Newman

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818-1893 Rabbi Dr. EUGENE NEWMAN, M.A. My lecture* is based on the Responsa, Halachic and Aggadic works, and letters of Jacob Reinowitz (1818-1893). Jacob Reinowitz was born in 1818 in Valkovisk, in Russia. He descended from a long line of Rabbis and scholars.1 He had a phenomenal memory, an analytical mind, and a wide and deep knowledge of the Talmud and the Codes and their commentaries. At the age of 26, he was appointed Moreh Horaah, Dayan cum Maggid, of his home town, which was a tribute to his Talmudic and Halachic know? ledge as well as his qualities of heart, among which were sincerity, humility, and compas? sion. He occupied this position for thirty years. He married Esther Liba Binion,2 who bore him three daughters, Bertha, Leah, and Rebecca. Bertha married Susman Cohen, who became a Rabbi in Manchester in 1875 and succeeded Jacob Reinowitz as Dayan of the London Beth Din in 1893. Leah married S. Glucksohn, of Berlin, and Rebecca married a Mr. Saul, of Berlin. In 1876 J. Reinowitz paid a visit to his daughter, Leah, and son-in-law in Berlin,3 and from there went to Manchester to his daughter, Bertha, and son-in-law. LONDON APPOINTMENT The Chevra Shass (Talmud Society) Synagogue, situated in Old Montague Street, London, E., had been founded on 3 Adar * Paper delivered to the Jewish Historical Society of England, 11 December 1968. 1875.4 Its primary aim, apart from congrega? tional prayer, was to study the Talmud daily in order to raise the very low standards of such learning in England.5 Its members, who had recently settled here, were trained in the Yeshivoth of Poland and Russia. A year later the Chevra Shass decided to appoint an eminent East European Rabbi. Having heard that Rabbi Jacob Reinowitz was visiting Manchester, the Chevra Shass asked him to pay them a visit in London. He duly arrived and gave shiurim in Talmud and delivered derashoth. He made a great impression on the members, who believed that 'a messenger from above' had been sent to them, and they unanimously decided to appoint him as their Rabbi on Sunday, 3 Tamuz 1876.6 Soon after? wards Reinowitz, who was then 56, brought over his wife, Esther Liba, and youngest daughter, Rebecca, from Valkovisk. They took up residence at 18 Tenter Street East, Good? man's Fields, E.l. This is a translation from the Hebrew of the original agreement7 between the Chevra Shass and Jacob Reinowitz: 'All of us, originally from Poland and Russia, gathered here to consider our position regard 4 Pinkas of Chevra Shass, London, 1875. I am indebted to the Hon. Officers of the Federation of Synagogues and its secretary, Mr. Michael Gold? man, for permitting me to peruse it. The Chevra Shass was founded in London on 3 Adar 1875 and these were its rules: (a) Every member must attend the Talmud Shiur at least once a week; (b) if a member does not attend even once a month, he is fined by the Hon. Officers as they think fit accord? ing to his means; (c) if a member does not attend for three months consecutively without a valid reason he loses his membership; (d) no one can become a member without the consent of the Hon. Officers; (e) no Hon. Officer can be appointed unless he is able to learn a page of Talmud; (f) only a member is permitted to conduct the Talmud Shiur. 1 Among the manuscripts are novellae on the Talmud by his great-grandfather. 2 She was a sister of Professor S. A. Binion, the Egyptologist. The name Binion is a corruption of Nunez. The family came from Holland, originally from Spain, and the name was Nunez. Letter by Prof. Binion's niece to Mrs. H. M. Lazarus on 17 August 1948. 3 Letter by J. Reinowitz to Rabbi B. Lipschutz, of Berlin, in 1877, in which he refers to his visit in Berlin a year ago. See infra, p. 31. 5 Idem., p. 11a. 6 Ibid., p. 5a. 7 As this may be the first contract between an East European Rabbi and his congregation in England, I quote it in full: 22</page><page sequence="2">The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818-1893 23 ing heavenly matters, see that we form a large Congregation. We know that every small congregation has a spiritual leader at its head, and why should we be like sheep without a shepherd ? Therefore we said to one another, "Let us arise and strengthen one another and the Lord will be with us. Let us appoint a spiritual head who will teach us of his ways, the ways of the Torah, and we will walk in his ways." As this great and honourable man happens to pass by, the distinguished Rabbi, the great light crowned with the ways of the Torah, who acted as Moreh Haraah for many years, our teacher Rabbi Jacob son of Rabbi David, may his light shine, we decided unani? mously that he is the man whom we wish to honour. He shall be our spiritual guide. He will instruct us in the laws which are for? bidden and which are permitted, and he will teach Talmud, Rashi, and Tosafoth every day in the Chevra Shass, which we founded with God's help. We, the undersigned, undertake to pay him a salary of ?3 sterling per week. The agreement shall have the force of any other agreement made by Jewish law. As proof, we have signed it on Sunday 1st day of Rosh Hodesh Ellul 5636-1876, here in London'. Thirteen signatures follow. On the day he received his agreement, Reinowitz delivered the Siyyum* (conclusion) on the Tractate Rosh Hashanah. rown "nV 1HT "1WK KWl pVlB ??n iaVa HD n*?K lamK irpor Vs7 np?V im ias&gt;OKnn .sprwnV ns&gt; Ti7 'Kin an irwyp "o mm ^Dni nVnp p ??d ii^t? mm ,Vm VnpV mn *wk pn kV irsnna Vmar? msisn *?aa map ,t? Vaa www 'd^naai am? 'ntr^n1? ^iVk nninV 'VKnwV d^?sw?i a^pin iw im srmn m pi p1? p p mr et? 'nsm an1? p iipk maw ]Ksa lamK mm naip man*? t^k ot?k pa ,nw kV pi irm *ipk oaV oa mi mm oanK "m npmnai 'VmmiKa naVa lanaKi nmn w ran? am 'KTp'n nan Knaa -??n ^a; naa; nwoi ?wk nmn piTraa nnai? an"iK?n aVsi&amp;n *m? *naa man nnw Vicwa mmin nmn nnaiai inx ns^a na w in na apsr onp'o pern "wk ETKn Kin Kin ian?k anna mo^K ?'ana 1a1? mr Kin .tz^nV iaV mm Kin or Vaa mro maron nan?&amp; p*? Kin nmm m natpai n"an mo1? im o'tpn rnana nttnbw ana&amp; Vaa iV nnV ?"n lanaK iV lanoan *ipm naT? D^pa1? im wVivw rvntrV Dwan nn wn *?a *ipwa ira mm ntn anan nnvn pVa anaa i^Kai m d"a7 m D"a? tv'n 'k 'K or n"na? iaKa '-?mVi V?ana ?paK1? ns p'dV v/lnn naw SALARY ?3 A WEEK The promise of a salary of ?3 a week, which in those days was a good one (the Dayan of the United Synagogue did not get more), was obviously not fulfilled. The Chevra Shass paid him perhaps ?1 a week, the United Synagogue gave him a small annual gratuity,9 which at the end of his life (1893) did not amount to more than ?1. Through the recommendation of Dr. Asher Asher, the physician and Secre? tary of the United Synagogue, Reinowitz received ?20 from Lord Rothschild on his Tahrzeit." Reinowitz's wife, Esther Liba, who was a wise woman, managed on her husband's meagre salary, a fair share of which was given to charity. When their youngest daughter became engaged in 1882 to Mr. Saul, of Berlin, who asked for a large dowry, Dr. Hermann Adler, the Delegate to the Chief Rabbi, helped to raise it.11 The Chief Rabbi, Dr. Nathan Adler, in a letter, congratulated Reinowitz on the engagement of 'his wise 8 It is among the manuscripts. 9 In a letter, 5 Hanukah 1878, to Reinowitz, Dr. Nathan Adler, the Chief Rabbi, was pleased to learn that through the recommendation of his son, Hermann, the United Synagogue granted Reinowitz a gift of ?10. i? Letter by Dr. Hermann Adler to Rabbi Susman Cohen, of Manchester (Reinowitz's son in-law), in 1893. 11 Letter by Simeon Singer in 1882.</page><page sequence="3">24 Rabbi Dr. Eugene Newman daughter', which, coming from one who was so sparing in praise, was praise indeed. Rebeccah was not only beautiful but also accomplished. She wrote Rabbinic Hebrew perfectly, and she copied some of her father's responsa and other writings which are among the manuscripts. Several Jewish historians have written about the social and political life of Anglo-Jewry in the nineteenth century. I shall therefore con? fine myself to some social and religious problems as reflected in the responsa, writings, and letters of Jacob Reinowitz which have some bearing on Anglo-Jewish life. When Reinowitz became the Rabbi of the Chevra Shass in 1876 the London Beth Din consisted of the Chief Rabbi (Dr. Nathan Adler), B. Spiers, who was appointed in that year as Dayan and Librarian of the Beth Hamedrash, which was the seat12 of the Beth Din, and Dr. Hermann Adler. Reinowitz's house in Tenter Street was a humble dwelling, but it was full of activity from morning till late at night: Rabbis, scholars, ministers, students of the ministry, emissaries of Yeshiboth, eminent visitors to London, and the new immigrants who needed help, advice, and guidance on social, economic, and religious problems, knew that 'the good, wise, and gentle' Rabbi Yankov, or Yankele, and his wife would help them solve their problems. The older settlers of Dutch and German Jewish origin looked down on the new immi? grants from Poland and Russia and regarded them as foreigners. At first the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Nathan Adler, did not take any notice of the East European Rabbi, Jacob Reinowitz, but having heard such glowing reports about his erudition, saintly character, and benevolent activities among the new immigrants who were increasing daily, he decided to invite him for a brief meeting. In the end, the meeting lasted for two hours. The Chief Rabbi was so impressed by his personality, his wide and deep Talmudic and Halachic knowledge, that he asked him there and then to act as one of his Dayanim. Reinowitz was not appointed as Dayan by the United Synagogue, but its Council voted him annually a small gratuity. 13 From that day on friendship and mutual regard existed between them, as evidenced by their responsa and correspondence, which could fill more than one stout volume. Owing to his advanced age, the Chief Rabbi retired to Brighton in 1879 and his son, Dr. Hermann Adler, became the Delegate to the Chief Rabbi. Though unable to attend the Beth Din, the Chief Rabbi remained in firm control of Jewish ecclesiastical matters in the country and Empire. Any major decision had to have his sanction. MEMBER OF THE BETH DIN Though Reinowitz occasionally acted as Dayan when the Chief Rabbi was unwell,14 it was only in 1879 that he became a permanent member of the Beth Din. From now on the Beth Din consisted of Dr. Hermann Adler, B. Spiers, and J. Reinowitz, who was its Halachic authority, recognised as such in this country and abroad. Reinowitz was the original of 'Reb ShemueP in Israel Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto.15 Zangwill describes Reb Shemuel as 'an official of heterogeneous duties, he preached, he taught and lectured. He married people and divorced them. He released bachelors from the duty of marrying their deceased brothers' wives. He superintended a slaughtering depart? ment, licensed men as competent killers of animals, examined the sharpness of their knives, so that the victims might be put to as 13 Minute of the United Synagogue, 4 November 1890: 'The Gentleman who acts as second Dayan, the Rev. Jacob Reinowitz, was not appointed by the United Synagogue but a small gratuity is voted to him yearly by the Council for his services. It is but just to point out that this gentleman who is now far advanced in years wields powerful influence over the foreign element in the East End of London, an influence which has been invariably exercised in the interests of peace and of union. It is highly desirable that this connection with the Beth Din should be continued'. I am grateful to the Secretary of the United Synagogue, Mr. Nathan Rubin, for supplying me with a copy of this. 12 P. Orenstein, Historical Sketch of the Beth Hamedrash, London, 1905. 14 Reinowitz arranged a Get, with Day an B. Spiers and Dr. H. Adler, on 18 Marcheshvan 1878. 15 P. 93, Wayfarer's Library issue, published by Dent, 1914 [?].</page><page sequence="4">The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818-1893 25 little pain as possible. But his greatest function was paskening or answering inquiries ranging from the simplest to the most complicated problems of ceremonial ethics and civil law. He had added a volume of She'eloth u- Teshuboth, questions and answers, to the colossal casuistic literature of his race. His aid was also invoked as shadchan, though he forgot to take his commissions. In fine, he was a witty old fellow and everybody loved him. He and his wife spoke English with a strong foreign16 accent.' The number of the she'eloth submitted to Reinowitz was exceedingly great. One Ereb Pesah alone, when Dr. Michael Friedlander (the Principal of Jews' College) paid him a visit, he dealt with 95 cases.17 By all accounts, Reinowitz had a keen sense of humour. Some she'eloth were ludicrous and caused amuse? ment. On a Shabbath afternoon, the Dayan returned from the Minhah Service and a middle-aged woman appeared before him and said, T have a she'eloh to ask you, Rabbi'. 'Let me hear it, please', said the Rabbi. The lady took out a pin which had been neatly wrapped up in several pieces of paper and said, Tn preparing a fowl yesterday for Sabbath I found this pin in its stomach'. 'And why', asked the Rabbi, 'did you not bring the fowl for me to examine, for the decision solely depends upon the position of the pin in the body of the fowl ?' 'Oh', exclaimed the woman, with much astonishment, 'the fowl we had for dinner today'. 'Then the pin is quite kosher', said the Dayan gently'.18 As to the She'eloth u-Teshuboth, I shall men? tion only some with which he dealt in this country and some which were sent to him from abroad. A Rabbinic scholar knows that one of the most difficult problems to solve is that of Agunah. An Agunah is a wife whose husband has left her or disappeared without trace and she is unable to provide evidence of his death. The Rabbi who undertakes to solve the problem prepares a responsum in which he suggests Halachic reasons for freeing her from the state of Agunah. Then he submits his responsum to two or three Halachic authorities for their approval, and if they agree, a hetter, permission, can then be given to the woman so that she is no longer an Agunah and is free to marry again. As a rule, more than three years have to elapse before permission is given. UNUSUAL AGUNAH CASES I shall mention four special cases of Agunah which Reinowitz solved. All four cases under? line his compassion and are of great Halachic value. 1. The year is 1878 and the Agunah is Zirel Levinsky, of Suvalk. Zirel married Moshe Levinsky in Suvalk 13 years ago. They had one daughter, who was now 12 years old. They lived first in Suvalk and then in Warsaw. About nine years ago the husband left her and she has not heard from him since. Her father travelled to many lands, including America, to try to trace him but without success. Zirel came to London to look for her husband. She was a dressmaker and found it difficult to make a living. She was God-fearing and very modest and did not have the courage to consult a Rabbi about her problem. But eventually neighbours persuaded her to approach Jacob Reinowitz. When she came to see him, Reinowitz asked her whether she had heard anything of her husband since he left her. Zirel said, 'About three years ago my father wrote to me that he had heard that my husband was in Berlin. As soon as I heard this I travelled to Berlin and went to see a German [Christian] couple who were our neighbours when we lived in Suvalk. As soon as I entered their house the German woman said to me, "Zirka, it is over three years since your husband died". When I asked her how she knew this she said that her husband, Lutz, told her. "If you wait a little while", she said, "he is due to arrive any minute and he will tell you so personally". Lutz soon 16 Although he was about 56 years old when he arrived in London, Reinowitz began to learn English. I found among his manuscripts the English alphabet transcribed in his fine Hebrew handwriting with the correct English pronuncia? tion of each letter. 17 Jewish Chronicle, 16 June 1893. Jewish World, 16.6.1893. is Ibid.</page><page sequence="5">26 Rabbi Dr. Eugene Newman arrived and said, "Your husband lived in a public-house which I also used to frequent and he used to drink with me and other Germans. When I saw him there for the first time I inquired after you. At first he denied that he had a wife, but when I said to him that I remembered you from Suvalk, saying that you had made me the shirt which I was now wearing, he admitted that he had a wife". Then I asked Lutz, "How did you know that my husband was dead?" He said that the publican told him that he died in Berlin in the measles epidemic during the Franco-German War (1870-1). So I went to see the publican, who told me that my husband used to live there but after a time he moved out and a German who used to drink with him told him that he died of measles. I went to see that German and he told me that it happened a long time ago, and since then he met many Jews'. It is over three years since Zirel Levinsky returned from Berlin. She is imploring me, wrote Reinowitz, to help her in her tragic plight. In his responsum, Reinowitz suggested Halachic reasons for freeing her from the chains of Agunah, and submitted his opinion for approval to leading Halachic authorities. Rabbis Naphtali Zvi Yehudah Berlin, of Volo zhini9 (5 Ellul 1877), Zvi Orenstein, of Lem? berg (28 Teves 1878), Yisrael Ha-Gohen Rapeport, of Tarnow (5 Tezaveh 1878), Rishon Le-Zion Abraham Ashkenazi (18 Kislev 1878) and Baruh Pinto, of Jerusalem, and Ezriel Hildesheimer, of Berlin (Bo, 1878), agreed with Reinowitz's solution. Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler, B. Spiers, and Susman Cohen, of Manchester, also agreed. It is interesting that Reinowitz consulted both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Halachic authorities; it was the first Agunah problem he solved favourably. 2. The case of a mentally sick woman. A young man, Nehemiah ben Shimshon, of Saki, Poland, married Henah, daughter of Leib from England. They lived in Manchester and had two very young daughters. About four years before the woman became mentally sick and was now in a mental hospital. The husband was a poor man who had to go out to work and had no one to look after the two young daughters, who needed special care and atten? tion. 'My son-in-law, Rabbi Susman Cohen, of Manchester, went with the husband to the mental hospital and he saw that the woman was insane. The doctors say that she will never be well again. The husband implores us,' wrote Reinowitz, 'to give him permission, according to Jewish law, to marry another woman who will look after his two young daughters'. In presenting the case to the leading Hala? chic authorities, Reinowitz states (1) that a Get has never been written in Manchester, (2) that in England only the London Beth Din is authorised to issue a Get, (3) that as for this case the permission of 100 Rabbis (or scholars) is required, and that number cannot be found in England, and (4) that in this country people have queer ideas and marry out of the Jewish faith a lot, 'may God forgive our iniquity, take us out from foreign lands and bring us speedily into our land'. Rabbis Naphtali Z. Y. Berlin, of Volozhin, Raphael Spiro, Yehudah Leib Melzer, and 11 scholars of the Volozhin Yeshiva (10 Sivan 1880), Pinhas Michael, of Antipoli, Russia (23 Heshvan 1880), and Samuel Salant, of Jeru? salem, agreed with Reinowitz's solution of the problem. DROWNING TRAGEDIES 3. The case of two Agunoth in London whose husbands were drowned on Tuesday evening, 30 August 1881, in the ship Titan, which struck a rock on its way from Capetown to Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The only survivors o. about two hundred people were 11 passengers and 26 officers and men of the crew. In the London Mansion House an appeal was launched on behalf of the widows and orphans of those who perished in the disaster and it raised a large sum of money. Each widow received ?40 and they were also informed that each orphan on reaching the age of 14 would receive ?10. The Agunah Faiga bath Joseph, the wife of Mosheh ben Simhah, was 30. She had been married for ten years and had three children, the eldest of them nine years old. 19 Responsa Meshib Dabar, Eben Ha-Ezer, 1894, No. 25.</page><page sequence="6">The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818-1893 27 The Agunah Pesha bath Chanan, the wife of Moshe Nahum, was 26. She had been married for six years and had a four-year-old daughter. Both of the women had been Agunoth for four years. 'They keep on coming to me', Reinowitz wrote, 'and implore me to have pity on them and their young children and to find a way of permitting them to marry again*. In presenting the case to the Halachic authorities, Reinowitz stated that in this country people had erroneous views. Some people derided these two women for being Agunoth and scoffed at the prohibition of the Sages, 'and I heard that there are men who want to marry them as they are'. On the basis of the official version of the disaster from the Royal Navy, Reinowitz suggested a favourable solution to the problem, which was approved by Rabbis Isaac Elhanan Spektor, of Kovno (27 Tishri 1885), and Naphtali Z. Y. Berlin, of Volozhin (undated). Berlin in his responsum remarked, 'As this is an entirely new case, which will be used as a precedent for similar cases, it is my strong desire that you should copy this responsum and send it to some other Geonim of our time'.20 4. An Agunah whose husband was found drowned near London Bridge in May 1884. Before burying the man in a non-Jewish cemetery, the police took a photograph of him. When the woman called at the police station to inquire after her husband, the police showed her a photograph of the drowned man, which she recognized as that of her husband. The police returned to her the diamond ring which was on his finger when he drowned, the latch? key of the door, and a small penknife which he had in his pocket and which she recognised as belonging to her husband. She appeared at the Beth Din on Monday, the day after Suk koth 1884, when she was asked to bring a written statement from the police about the accident. She brought this on the Thursday. On her evidence, as well as the written state 20 The Hebrew reads: mw? naD1? namn Ksnmaarirn xmn mm msro pm *n:ptD"y w ?orm? nwnnan nvvr? nnwVi nawnn pron? rrava merit by the police, Reinowitz suggested Halachic reasons for permission and submitted them for approval to Rabbis Isaac Elhanan Spektor, of Kovno2* (16 Tebeth 1886), and Naphtali Zvi Y. Berlin, of Volozhin.22 The former addressed him as Harab Ha-Gaon Hamefursam, DOniD?TT JlKTl Tin, and the latter as Harab Ha-Gaon Hamubhak, prDlfcH ]1*0n lin, very high titles indeed, which prove how highly they thought of Jacob Reinowitz as an Halachic authority. The Agunah cases are called Kuntres Agunah or Agu noth, mro? &gt;7\wxa ontnip. Kuntres Sefeyka DeToma, KttTHr KpDO CHtttlp ?Jacob Reinowitz was also an authority on the Jewish calendar. After studying the calendar in England, he discovered that the calculations on the times of the day, dawn, sunrise, sunset, and twilight on which the commencement and ending of the Sabbaths, Festivals, and Fasts depended were in accord? ance with the astronomical tables of the eighteenth-century astronomer, Raphael Levi Hanover (1685-1779), which are based on the Berlin-Hanover-Amsterdam horizon. The Chief Rabbis of England from Hart Lyon (1756-1764) onwards accepted Hanover's calculations. Reinowitz maintained that, as London has a different horizon, the times should be different. He submitted his treatise of 41 folios, Kuntres Sefeyka DeToma, in 1883 to Dr. Nathan Adler, who consulted Dr. Michael Friedlander, an authority in the field. They agreed that Reinowitz's times were right and accordingly adjusted the beginning of the Fast of Yom Kippur and the beginning of the Sabbath, but the other times they left as before, because that was the minhag, custom, of this country. The calculation of the times of the day according to different horizons is quite topical. Leo Levi23, of New York, and M. Posen2?, of London, with the help of the computer, suggest various times for various horizons, which fundamentally was Reinowitz's thesis. 21 Responsa Eyn Tizhak, Eben Ha-Ezer, Vilna, 1888. No. 31. 22 Responsa Meshib Dabar, Part IV, Warsaw, 1894, No. 23. 23 Jewish Chrononomy, New York, 1967. 24 Kuntres Ha-Neshef, London, 1968.</page><page sequence="7">28 Rabbi Dr. Eugene Newman PROBLEMS OF CIRCUMCISION Mezizah: The problem of mezizah had been discussed by Halachists25 for some time. Dr. Asher Asher, who besides being a physician was a distinguished mohel26, consulted Reino? witz on problems of circumcision, including mezizah, and as a result Reinowitz wrote a treatise of 64 folios, Kuntres Ataroth Hatanim, mX\T\ ITH?? Ontttlp, which he divided into three parts: 1. Katan Hanolad Mahul, VlH? iVian pp (a babe born circumcised). 2. Ger Shenithgayer Keshehu Mahul, *U Vina WiTOD TMW (a non-Jew circumcised before he became a proselyte). 3. 'Alim Latrufah, TWFlTfr U^hv ('Leaves for Healing', deals with mezizah). Since his arrival in London, Reinowitz had observed that the mohelim did not practise the traditional mezizah, but used other means, which had the same effect. He thought that this was sanctioned by the Chief Rabbi and he justified it halachically as well as on medical grounds.27 He suggested, however, that those who practised the traditional method of mezizah should not do it on a Sabbath for Halachic reasons. A mohel, a newcomer to London, complained to Dr. Hermann Adler that Reinowitz was advocating the abolition of the traditional mezizah. Hermann mentioned this to his father, who wrote to Reinowitz, 'with open rebuke and hidden love', to withdraw his view on mezizah. He sent to the Chief Rabbi his 'Alim Latrufah on mezizah, from which it was obvious that the mohel had not grasped Reinowitz's view. The Chief Rabbi, in his reply, uses the phrase 'Shalom 'al Dayeney TisraeV (peace upon the judges of Israel), which implied that he agreed with Reinowitz's view of mezizah on Sabbath. Machine-made matzoth mitzvah: In the pre? vious generation Halachists28 had discussed whether machine-made matzoth were kasher lePesah. By now it was almost generally agreed that they were kasher. But the kashruth of machine-made matzoth mitzvah used for Seder nights was still being discussed. The Chief Rabbi requested Reinowitz in 1882 to prepare a responsum on the subject, and he ruled that they were kasher. Cremation: When cremation was being dis? cussed in certain Jewish circles, Reinowitz, of course, forbade it in a responsum. LevyjKohn~Zedek Controversy: Reinowitz was asked to mediate in the controversy between Naphtali Levy* (1840-1894) and Joseph Kohn-Zedek (d. 1903). Levy settled in London in 1874. He opened an export-import shoe business but this apparently failed, and he became a shochet of the London Board of Shechita. He was a Rabbinic scholar and Hebrew writer and author. Levy was the first Rabbinic scholar to expound in Hebrew Darwin's Theory of Evolution in his essay Toledoth Ha-Adam. He also refers to Darwinism in his Sheney Ha-Matoth, published by Peretz Smolen skin in Vienna in 1880. Joseph Kohn-Zedek30 was the preacher at the Sandy's Row Synagogue and author of Hebrew books on homiletics. He was a fierce critic of Naphtali Levy and asked Reinowitz in 1883 to write to the great Rabbis of Poland and Russia with whom he exchanged responsa to withdraw the approbation they gave to Levy's books. Levy appealed to Reinowitz in 1883 to plead with Kohn-Zedek not to attack him in his speeches and articles. Reinowitz wrote to Rabbi Samuel Mohilewer, of Bialy stock, who knew Levy from his Yeshiva days. He replied31 that he had never given Levy an approbation. Moreover, he regarded Levy as an epikoros, because he had not listened to his advice to alter some statements in his book, Sheney Ha-Matoth, which implied a denial of Jewish beliefs, e.g., creation of the universe, the existence of a soul, and Torah min ha Shamayyim. The Responsa Literature, Philadelphia, 1959, pp. 183-188. 25 Responsa Maharaz Hayyoth, 1, 60; see also Mezizah, by Dr. B. Homa, London, 1960. 26 Dr. Asher Asher, The Jewish Rite of Circumcision, London,1873. 27 Ibid., p. 27. 28 H. H. Medini, Sedey Hemed, Warsaw, 1903. Harnez u-Mazzah, pp. 93-95; see also S. B. Freehof, 29 Jewish Chronicle 1.6.1894 and 8.6.1894. Ibid., December 1903. 3i Letter by S. Mohilewer in 1888.</page><page sequence="8">The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818-1893 29 PALESTINE COLONISATION Hobebey Eretz Society: Rabbi Abraham Eber Hirschowitz, of Kovno, came to England in 1884 on behalf of the great Rabbis and leaders of Poland and Russia, perhaps after the Chovevei Zion Conference in Kattowice that year to establish an organisation for the settlement of Jews in the Holy Land where they would make their living from the land and not be exposed to the shame of hunger and the hatred of the Gentiles. He had inter? views with the Chief Rabbi in Brighton, Dr. Asher Asher, who introduced him to Mr. Samuel Montagu, M.P., Jacob Reinowitz, who was very good to him, and others in London and the provinces. They all encouraged Rabbi Hirschowitz to set up an organisation for this purpose. The Hobebey Eretz Society was founded in London on 15 Ab 5648?23 July 1888, with its office at 84 Leman Street, E. The Trustees were Messrs. M. Cohen, H. Goodman, M. Goldstein, and A. E. Hirscho? witz, who was also Hon. Secretary. I assume that Reinowitz was a member, as a copy of the constitution, distributed to members, is among his correspondence. Reinowitz in? structed Hirschowitz in matters of practical Halachah.32 The latter left England in 1892 and went to Australia, where he became the Rabbi of the Shomerey Emunim Beth Hame drash in Melbourne. Machzikei Hadass controversy: Not long after Dr. Hermann Adler (1839-1911) succeeded his father as Chief Rabbi, the Machzikei Hadass controversy started. It is described in detail in Dr. Bernard Homa's book A Fortress in Anglo-Jewry (1953), and I therefore do not need to deal with it in detail. Reinowitz received many letters from famous Rabbis in Poland and Russia in support of the Chief Rabbi, and even the Machzikei Hadass could not find fault with Reinowitz, except that he was old, and they said that he was the only Dayan whom they could trust. Ministers' Conference 1892: The Chief Rabbi convened a Ministers' Conference in May 1892, when it was decided, among other things, that the repetition of the Musqf Amidah could be dispensed with. Reinowitz wrote to Dr. Michael Friedlander complaining about this decision. Friedlander replied in Hebrew, of which this is an abridged translation: T too am displeased with the young who wish to break down the fence and destroy the vineyard of the Lord. I have no share in them. But this I must say before my Master. We have to investigate and examine each problem and question which they submit to the Chief Rabbi. We have to listen to their questions and argu? ments and rule according to the Din9. After stating his view of the repetition of the Amidah, Friedlander continues, 'At this age and especially in this country, it is impossible to insist and say, "this is my will and this you shall do". If we do this, we shall, God forbid, drive many away from us and put to shame the Torah and men of Torah. This, everyone who fears the Lord should understand and especially those who call themselves Machzikei Hadass, who lie in wait to attack the Chief Rabbi with all kinds of false charges. It is better to walk in the middle way. I do not wish to help those who transgress but only to help them to return to the fold'. WIDESPREAD INFLUENCE Reinowitz issued many responsa to questions put to him in various cities in this country and abroad. I quote a number of instances: Manchester: His son-in-law, Rabbi Susman Cohen, submitted many she9eloth to him, and their halachic correspondence, too, could fill more than one volume. One day, I hope to discuss the content of the responsa of Susman Cohen, in which I shall show his contribution to responsa literature in this country. Had L. P. Gartner known of Reinowitz's, Chief Rabbi Adler's, and Susman Cohen's responsa, he would not have written, 'There is no sizable body of responsa . . . issued in England'33. The correspondence between Reinowitz and Cohen is, of course, in Hebrew, but Esther Liba Reinowitz adds to many letters a few lines in Yiddish about family and domestic 32 In his correspondence he refers to Reinowitz as 'my master and my teacher'. 33 The Jewish Immigrant in England 1850-1950, London, 1960, p. 245.</page><page sequence="9">30 Rabbi Dr. Eugene Newman matters to which their daughter, Bertha, replies in Yiddish. Bradford: The shochet, Z. T. Jaffe, of Brad? ford, in 1884 asked Reinowitz a she'elah about menstruation, and described the poor religious conditions in the city. Coventry: The Rev. Jacob Bonner submitted to Reinowitz she'eloth on shechita (no date). Hull: She'elah by H. Horowitz, Ellul 1878, on huppah (marriage) which was not held in the local synagogue but privately. Ramsgate: Rabbi Saul, of Ramsgate, in 1877 submitted Talmudical problems. South Africa: Capetown. No date, One of the questions was, may a woman who suffers much pain during childbirth prevent her pregnancy with her husband's consent? Berkeley East: Three she'eloth from E. Rosen? berg, two about shechita and one (March 1888) about koshering, referring to animal ribs. Australia: As mentioned, Rabbi Hirscho? witz34 left England and in 1892 became the Rabbi of Shomerey Emunim Beth Hamedrash in Melbourne, Australia, from where he submitted several she'eloth to Reinowitz in 1892 and 1893; addressing him as 'my teacher, my master'. 1. Is Jamaica rum kasher lePesah? 2. As there is no mikvah in Melbourne, may a Jewish woman supervise the immersion of a female proselyte which is performed in the open sea ? 3. In Melbourne the prayer for rain, Mashibh haruah umorid hatal and vTen tal umatar, was not read. Hirschowitz submitted the problem to Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spektor, who ruled that the prayer should be read in the place in the prayer-book where all Jews read it. Rabbi Samuel Salant, of Jerusalem, was of the opinion that it should be read in the 16th blessing of the Amidah after 'turn us not empty handed away'.35 As these two authorities differed, Hirschowitz asked Reinowitz for his ruling, and he agreed with Spektor. Hirschowitz wrote to Reinowitz to ask the Chief Rabbi to instruct the Jewish congregations in Australia to read the prayer for rain. He also informed Reinowitz that his Beth Hamedrash was the only place in Australia where Ma'aribh, the evening prayer, was read and preceded by a Talmud Shiur. 4. In 1892 the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Hermann Adler, asked Reinowitz to prepare a respon? sum for an Agunah in Australia whose husband was drowned on a sea journey. China: Hongkong. No date. Israel Weinberg, inquiries about Halitzah. America: New York: Reinowitz instructed Rabbi Abraham Joseph Ash, in New York, on spelling the words 'New York' and the name of its two rivers correctly in a Get. Rabbi S. M. Suskind, of New York, also submitted a she'elah about a Get in 1880. Denver, Colorado: The Rabbi of Colorado asked Reinowitz (no date) how to spell 'Denver' in a Get, and also how to build a mikvah. France: Paris: Rabbi Judah Lubetzki arrived in London in 1880 as an emissary of the Mir Yeshiva. The head of the Yeshiva wrote to ask Reinowitz to hand over to Rabbi Lubetzki the Pinkas, the list of subscribers, which the last emissary had deposited with him, and to assist him in raising funds for the Yeshiva. From England, Lubetzki went to Paris, where the Polish-Russian community were seeking a Rabbi. Lubetzki was keen to obtain the posi? tion but Israel Salanter (1818-1883), the founder of the Musar Movement, who hap? pened to be in Paris at this time, thought that the community should appoint an older, more experienced Rabbi. Lubetzki wrote asking Reinowitz to recommend him as being fit for the position, because he knew that Salanter valued Reinowitz's opinion more highly than that of the Rabbis in Poland and Russia. Salanter came to Paris in 1882, most probably to straighten out certain irregularities regard? ing Gittin (divorce). He sent a telegram to Reinowitz to come to Paris immediately. Reinowitz went and discussed several problems with Salanter and, no doubt, recommended Lubetzki for the Rabbinical position there. He went on to Berlin36 for the engagement of his daughter, Rebecca, to Mr. Saul in 1882. 34 Supra, p. 29. 35 S. Singer, Authorised Daily Prayer Book, London, 1962, p. 51. 36 Letters by J. Abraham, Berlin, 1882; M. Rosenblatt, Paris, 1882.</page><page sequence="10">The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818-1893 31 Subsequently, Lubetzki submitted she'eloth continually to Reinowitz in London. I shall mention the case of an Agunah which is of special interest. It concerned the wife of a man, Metchick, who was imprisoned in London for seven years for selling forged bonds. After serving his prison sentence Metchick went to Switzerland, where he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment. His wife, who came from Warsaw, spent some time in London and was now in Paris. 'I promised her', wrote Lubetzki, 'if her husband sent her a Get I would hand it over to her according to Jewish Law. But the Rabbi of Baden, who is also the Rabbi of Zurich, where Metchick is imprisoned, is very strict. He is a disciple of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, of Frankfort on-Main. He will not permit the Get to be handed over through a messenger in any cir? cumstances. Metchick's wife travelled to Zurich and the Rabbi asked me to come there to assist him in arranging the Get. He had already obtained permission from the governor to write the Get in prison and there is a kasher scribe and witnesses. I promised to go to Zurich Monday next, provided you agree, as you know the case and you are a great man in our midst and we can rely on you. As a Get has not been written before in Zurich, and in order to write it the permission of a great man is required, I ask you, therefore, to grant me permission, as it is a case of emergency'. Reinowitz granted Lubetzki permission by return of post and also advised him how to spell 'Zurich' and the name of its two rivers in Hebrew. Thus, Reinowitz was instrumental in getting a Get written for the first time in Zurich. In 1884, Lubetzki asked Reinowitz to advise him how to build a mikuah, as T know that you put right the London mikvah;*7 perhaps you could send me a plan of it, which I will return to you'. In 1892 the London Beth Din sent a Get to Rabbi Lubetzki in Paris through Harris Cohen, who married Anna, the daughter of Lubetzki. The other son-in-law was Dayan Dr. Asher Feldman. Germany: Berlin: Reinowitz corresponded in 1877 with Rabbi Baruh Yizhak Lipshutz, of Berlin,38 informing him of his appointment as Rabbi of the Ghevra Shass and inquiring the meaning of a passage in Tractate Sabbath in Lipshutz's father's Mishna commentary, Tifereth Tisrael. In the course of his reply, Lipshutz congratulated Reinowitz on his appointment in London. In 1886 Reinowitz informed Rabbi Benjamin Ze'ev Eger, son of Rabbi Akiba Eger, that the father's name of a woman whose Get he had arranged was incorrect. Eger replied on 3 Me nahem Ab 1886 that the woman should not live with the man whom she had married after she received her Get. K?nigsberg: In 1881 Rabbi Israel Lipkin (1810-1883) submitted a she'elah to Reinowitz whether a Jew may instruct a non-Jew on Friday to act on his behalf on Sabbath on the Stock Exchange. VOLOZHIN YESHIVA Russia: Volozhin: As already mentioned,39 Reinowitz exchanged responsa with the head of the Yeshiva, Rabbi Naphtali Zvi Yehudah Berlin (1817-1893). From 1876 onwards, Rabbi Berlin wrote continually40 to Reinowitz asking him to assist in obtaining funds for the Yeshiva, which he did. Two letters are of special importance. In 1879 Rabbi Berlin in? formed Reinowitz that officials of the Russian Government had searched the documents and correspondence of the Yeshiva and taken away 'all my correspondence with you'?the reason being that 'a vile person forged a letter of a secret nature which I am supposed to have sent to you'. In his next letter Rabbi Berlin said that the correspondence was returned after a few hours and that nothing untoward happened except that they had had a big fright. In a letter of 1889 Rabbi Berlin told Reino? witz that he would make an exception and accept a bahur, student, from London who desired to study in Volozhin. The cost per week would be two roubles; one rouble for board 37 Letter by Dayan B. Spiers to Reinowitz on mikvah, 22.7.1880. 38 Supra, p. 22. 39 Supra, pp. 26, 27. 40 Rabbi Berlin wrote to Reinowitz about forty letters.</page><page sequence="11">32 Rabbi Dr. Eugene Newman and lodging, and one for a teacher. That student was Judah Kyanski, later Rabbi Kyanski (the father of Judge Bernard B. Gillis), who was a great-nephew of Reinowitz. He must have been the first and only student from this country to study in the famous Volo? zhin Yeshiva. Kovno: As mentioned above,41 Reinowitz exchanged responsa with the Rabbi of Kovno, Isaac Elhanan Spektor (1819-1896). Spektor wrote in 1886 to Reinowitz for financial aid for his Kolel, for a poor student who was an illui (prodigy), and for families who had suffered in the pogroms. Brest-Litovsk. Rabbi Mosheh Yehudah Leib Diskin (1818-1898), a Talmudic authority, wrote to Reinowitz on 4 Adar 1877 asking him whether tea was kasher lePesah; if yes, would he send 21b., together with 21b. of sugar kasher lePesah, by express so that it should arrive in time. This letter is of interest because it is in Diskin's own handwriting. The Russian Government later expelled Diskin and he settled in Jerusalem, where all his correspondence with Reinowitz was written by his secretary. ROYAL VISITORS TO JERUSALEM The Holy Land: Jerusalem: Reinowitz was deeply attached to the Holy Land. Not only did he hope for a return there of the Jewish people but he also encouraged every activity towards the fulfilment of that hope. Already in 1880 he helped financially two of the original settlers in Petah Tikvah, Hayyim Shimoni and Mosheh Zvi Levinson. They repeatedly thanked him for his donations, which he sent them through Rabbi Samuel Salant, the Rabbi of Jerusalem. In 1880, Hayyim Shimoni informed Reinowitz that he and three friends had built a house in Petah Tikvah consisting of four rooms. They had not sown their field that year but would do so the next year. The others who had sown reaped a good harvest. He asked Reinowitz to continue supporting him finan? cially and thus be counted 'among the founders of the Yishuv'. Rabbi Mosheh Y. L. Diskin, mentioned above, settled in Jerusalem, where he founded the Diskin Orphanage. He told Reinowitz on 14 Shebat 1881 that the orphanage was func? tioning and appealed to him to help it, which he did continually. The letter, 7 Iyyar 1882, which Mosheh Zevi Levinson wrote to Reino? witz on behalf of Diskin is of special importance. After thanking him for his financial aid and telling him that Rabbi Diskin read his respon? sum three times, to which he would reply as soon as his secretary returned, he informed Reinowitz that the sons of the Prince of Wales spent Seder night at the home of Rabbi Diskin. The Rabbi explained the Haggadah to them, putting special emphasis on the prayer Vhe Sheomdah, which described how God delivered the Jewish people in every generation from their persecutors throughout the ages. The Princes were deeply moved and wept. They drank the first two glasses of wine and ate matza and bitter herbs. They enjoyed themselves and departed with deep affection and respect. I am, however, unable to verify this story. In 1882 occurred the Year of Release. Some Halachists maintained that it was not obliga? tory on Jewish colonists to observe the law of Shemittah, but Rabbi Diskin ruled that it was obligatory to observe it in the Holy Land. He wrote requesting Reinowitz to speak to the Chief Rabbi and ask him to write to Baron Edmond de Rothschild, of Paris, to tell him not to seek permission, a hetter, to disregard the Shemittah law, but to enable the colonists to observe it. In Heshvan 1881 the Hebrah Shomerey Emunim in Jerusalem wrote to Reinowitz to exert his influence against the opening of a day school in Jerusalem which some people were contemplating, because they claimed it would be a great danger to Judaism. Reinowitz9s other works: Reinowitz left a complete volume, Tola'ath Jacob 2pSP nttVlD on Sugyoth, as well as Hiddushim, novellae, on the Talmud, and a large collection of Siy yumim tPWO which he delivered at Valkovisk and London. Derashoth IVIttPVT: There is one complete volume, Sheerith Ya'akobh DpSP IVHNtP, and numerous individual Derashoth (sermons). It is 4i Supra, pp. 27, 30.</page><page sequence="12">The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818-1893 33 interesting that in 1869 he delivered a Dera shah in Valkovisk during a drought in which he admonished the people to observe the Sabbath, not to commit acts of immorality, and urged women not to wear immodest dress. SABBATH AFTERNOON SERVICES Sabbath Afternoon Services in the Great Synagogue: The United Synagogue arranged special Minhah Services on Sabbath for immigrants at the Duke's Place Synagogue, at which Rabbis and Maggidim delivered Derashoth in Yiddish. In 1889 Reinowitz addressed the congregation on the subject, 'Dina demalhutha Dina\ the law of the country is the law, admonishing them to observe the laws of England, which offered them hospitality and freedom. In 1890 he appealed to his listeners to observe the Sabbath in spite of the many difficulties. He reminded them that the Chevra Shomrei Shabbat Society, whose aim was to find work for those who wished to keep the Sabbath, had been formed recently. He also appealed to them to be honest and upright in their business dealings and to observe the laws of the country. They should thank God that He had brought them to this country, where the Queen and her Princes were good to them, giving them equal rights with the other citizens. Rabbenu Hananeel Talmud Commentary: Reino? witz edited the Talmudic Commentary of Rabbenu Hananeel ben Hushiel (990-1050), printed in the Wilna edition of the Talmud. Among the correspondence I found a letter dated 13 Ellul 1880 in which the famous publishing firm of Romm thanked Reinowitz for editing the Rabbenu Hananeel and ex? pressed the hope that he would edit other works for them. Disciples of Reinowitz: Reinowitz had several disciples in London. Among them were Dr. Hermann Adler, whom he taught Hoshen Mishpat? (letter from the Chief Rabbi, 5 Hanu kah 1879), and the Rev. Simeon Singer (1848 1906), who began his Rabbinic studies with Reinowitz in 1879/3 Jacob Reinowitz died on 2 Sivan 1893, and was buried at the West Ham Cemetery. The Jewish Chronicle, in its leader,44 wrote: 'The Jewish community of London will learn too late that in the deceased Dayan, the Rev. Jacob Reinowitz, it harboured a true messen? ger of Heaven, one whose worth and learning were enshrined in a singularly modest charac? ter. To his intimate associates he was known as a man of profound Talmudic attainments and in that branch of Jewish lore which deals with the legal aspect, with the manifold questions of everyday life, he was in England, at least, without compeer. Many Jews of the East End of London will unfeignedly mourn his loss, not only because they have been bereaved of a trustworthy religious guide but because he wielded no inconsiderable, if unseen, influence in reconciling them to their environment. His efforts always tended in pacific directions. Unfortunately, his work, which was really useful and beneficial, much more so than that of self-advertising individuals, was but little understood and appreciated by the community and he was allowed to subsist on a miserable pittance grudgingly given by the United Synagogue'. ?Letter by Chief Rabbi, Dr. N. Adler, to Reinowitz stating how pleased he was to know that his son was learning Hoshen Mishpat with him. It is dated 5 Hanukah 1879. 43 Letter by S. Singer, December 1879, that he would commence his Rabbinic studies on the following Monday. 44 19 May 1893.</page></plain_text>