Page 102 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

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P R O F E S S O R L O U I S G I N Z B E R G
On the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of His Birth
By
I
s a a c
K
lein
P
r o f e s s o r
Louis
G in z b e rg
was one of those gifted persons who
illumine the sky once in a long, long time. His scholarship
encompassed a wide range and was most creative. During his
lifetime he had no equal and in the scholarly world he was
acclaimed as
the
authority in Jewish studies. Only the traditional
epithets can adequately describe the magnitude of his scholarship.
He was a
harif,
a
baki,
and a
had be-doro
without a peer in his
generation. He excelled in many fields and was a pioneer in a
number of areas of Jewish erudition.
His profile may be found in biographies, encyclopedias, Who’s
Who’s, and in the necrologies of learned journals. In honor of
the hundredth anniversary of his birth we shall present just a
short resume of his scholarly achievements.
In the
Festschrift,
published in his honor in 1945, the list of
his published works fills twenty large pages. In the first
Jewish
Encyclopedia
published in America, he was the author of over
four hundred items, a number of which were of monograph size
representing original scholarship. Solomon Goldman aptly de­
scribed his work as quantitatively staggering and qualitatively
inestimable.
Perforce, we must limit ourselves to the main works of his far
flung scholarly efforts, and choose those areas where he was the
supreme authority and where he did original and pioneering work.
Those of us who were privileged to be his students shared the
general impression that Prof. Ginzberg was preeminently the
great Talmudic scholar, the master of
halakhah.
To him this was
the most important field of scholarship—all else was subsidiary—
because, as he said, “As for me, not only to believe with a perfect
faith that there is no life to the Jewish people without the Torah
of life, and therefore as long as the people of Israel lives the
halakhah
will live .. . Z’1 He was brought up in surroundings where
the understanding of the
halakhah
was the chief subject of Jewish
learning and he never freed himself from this stance. And yet his
1 Ginzei Schechter (New York, 1928).
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