Page 89 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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troversies with Abraham Geiger, the spokesman of Reform
Judaism. As a result of this experience, he became known as an
effective and uncompromising opponent of Reform.
In the winter of 1837 Malbim accepted his first rabbinic post
in Wreshne, a small community in the district of Posen. About
the same time, on T ik t in ’s recommendation, he married a young
widow from Leczyca in nearby Poland. A son and a daughter
were born from this union. He also had a daughter from his
previous marriage. Following a contested election in February
1840, Kempen, a more prom inent community in the area, in-
vited him to become its rabbi; hence his title “Kempener Rav”
or “the Kempener.” In this position he spent the next 17 years,
the most rewarding and happiest in his entire career. Though
not spared controversy with the reformist opposition, nor duly
regarded by the influential group of “Kotsker” Hasidim, he was
nevertheless able to render effective service as spiritual leader
of a united community. Such satisfaction was to be denied
him in later years in other communities. Malbim acknowl-
edged his gratitude over this satisfactory situation at that junc-
ture in a letter to the Jewish community of Uhel (Satoraljau-
jhe ly ) , Hungary, when invited to become a candidate for its
rabbinical post (cf. H. M., pp. 95-100).
While in Kempen, Malbim accomplished a major part of his
program to produce a series of original commentaries on the
Bible, e.g. Book of Esther, Breslau 1845, Isaiah, Krotoszyn
1849, etc. What was it tha t motivated him at this stage of his
intellectual development to stop concentrating on the type of
rabbinic scholarship which he had so brilliantly demonstrated in
Art zot ha-Hayyim
and turn his attention to biblical exegesis?
Malbim casts considerable light on the subject in the introduc-
tion to
Ha-Torah ve-ha-Mitzvah,
his monumental commentary
Levit icus
Sifre de-Ve Rav ,
Bucharest 1860. Referring to
the synod of Reform Rabbis in Brunswick, of June 1844, he
writes: “Considering the imminent threat to Judaism by these
Reformers, I recognized tha t circumstances required action . . .
to build a wall of defense around the W ritten Torah which