Page 87 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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SALAMON FABER
Meir Loeb Malbim (On the Occasion of
the 100th Anniversary of His Death)
Bibliographical data mentioned in this article, unless
culled directly from Malbim's own writings, are based
mostly on M. M. Yashar's
Ha-Gaon Ma lb im,
Jerusalem,
Hod, 1976 (hereafter cited as H .M .) . Though not an ob-
jective critical study, i t is the only available comprehensive
work on Malbim, his life, views, struggles and achieve-
ments, written in the style and format of books about il-
lustrious men in Israel (“sefarim”) intended to inspire
piety. I t contains a wealth of information not available
elsewhere. Other extant materials, including some of the
references cited in the bibliography on Malbim in the
Encyclopedia Judaica
(vol. II, p. 824), are of little help
in an attempt to trace the life story of this great scholar.
Regrettably, H. M. rarely offers information on sources.
M
e i r
L
o e b
J
e h i e l
b e n
M
i c h a e l
(acronym: MALBIM) was born
on the 19th of Adar, 5569—March 7, 1809, in Volochisk, Volh-
ynia. He was orphaned at a very young age. Endowed with superi-
or intelligence, a retentive memory and unusual diligence, he ex-
celled in studies from early childhood. H.
M .
cites his Bar
Mitzvah discourse verbatim (pp. 15-17), a highly sophisticated
“p ilpu l” concerning Tefillin and other aspects of Jewish law,
which reflects the level of intellectual prowess of a mature Tal-
mud scholar rather than a lad aged 13. A year later Malbim
married the daughter of a local notable, bu t the union soon
terminated in divorce. T he young man subsequently made his
way to Warsaw where he enjoyed opportunities to study and
associate with rabbinic scholars renowned throughout the Jew-
ish world. In their company he was frequently identified as the
“illui from Volhynia.” In addition to Rabbinics he devoted
much attention to medieval philosophy, Hebrew linguistics,
ethical and homiletical literature, etc. Also his interest in mys-
ticism dates from this period as disciple of the revered hasidic
master Zevi Hirsch Eichenstein of Zydaczov (cf. H.M., p. 99).
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