Page 99 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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9 3
in d
— E
z e k ie l
a n d a u
the Emperor was about to enact a monolithic law for the whole
Empire, and this would result in the abolition of the Jewish
court even in purely religious matters, including the sphere of
marriage and divorce.
The sanctity of Jewish family life had been preserved inviolate
for centuries, unmolested by governmental edict. Now it was
in imminent danger, and in the face of mounting protests the
government requested Rabbi Landau to present an authoritative
opinion on the matter. After three years of assiduous labor,
Rabbi Landau presented a memorandum summarizing the
Talmudic laws of marriage and divorce in eleven specific prin-
ciples, and compared them with the proposed government
statute. He voiced his opposition to those contravening Jewish
principles, and pleaded for the continuance of Jewish law in the
realm of Jewish family life, which had been respected by all
temporal powers. The Emperor finally acquiesced; he permitted
the Jewish court to exercise authority in areas affecting Jewish
religious life. Rabbi Landau’s resourcefulness, intellectual acu-
men, and benedictive leadership are eloquently attested in this
courageous, herculean achievement on behalf of his people.
Rabbi Ezekiel Landau’s illustrious reputation as a monu-
mental personality in eighteenth century Jewish history is firmly
established. Zealous, fearless, encyclopedic in Jewish lore and
literature, he stood guard upon the ramparts of Judaism, a
protective shield against whatever he considered debilitating to
Jewish traditional life. He bitterly attacked the Hasidim and
denounced them as
sinners, principally because they
were indifferent to study and scholarship. Mendelssohn’s transla-
tion of the Bible was anathema to Rabbi Landau, but he re-
frained from issuing a ban against it, motivated perhaps by
his overriding desire to maintain peace in the Jewish com-
munity wherever possible. Indeed, this abiding love for the
solidarity of his people was a characteristic that ran like a gos-
samer thread throughout his long, fruitful life.