Page 169 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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SEYMOUR SIEGEL
Saul Lieberman: 1898-1983
T
h e
p a s s in g
o f
S
a u l
L
i e b e r m a n
,
o f blessed memory, on his way
to Israel in an El AI plane on March 23, 1983, left a grea t void in
the Jewish scholarly community. He was universally acknowl­
edged to be the world’s greatest rabbinic scholar, perhaps the
world’s greatest Jewish scholar. He was hono red by many aca­
demic institutions including the Jewish Theological Seminary,
where he was professor for forty years, H arvard University,
Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, and others. He was the
recipient o f the most prestigious prizes and was looked upon as
master and teacher by most o f the scholarly world.
Carved on his tombstone in the Sanhedria Cemetery in
Jerusalem are the words:
Shalshelet Ha-Yuhasin
(Chain o f Geneal­
ogy). He was born in Motele, White Russia. On his m o ther’s side
he was the grandson o f Rabbi Shaul Katzenellenbogen, one o f the
most prom inen t and learned rabbis in Eastern Europe. Rabbi
L ieberman’s uncle was Rabbi Malkiel Zevi, the rabbi o f Lomza
and the au tho r o f the famous book,
Divre Malkiel.
He was the
cousin o f the Hazon Ish. Most o f his cousins and uncles were
famous rabbis and the young Saul followed in the ir footsteps.
A fter his Bar Mitzvah, Saul Lieberman went to study in the
famous yeshiva in Slabodka. T he re he not only absorbed rabbinic
learning bu t also the teachings o f the
mussarniks
th rough the
famous Rabbi Neta Hirsch Finkel, the
a lte ro i
Slabodka. When the
first World War broke out, the yeshiva ceased to function and
Lieberman went to Minsk to continue his studies. He witnessed
the Russian Revolution and frequently spoke o f the cruelties that
accompanied tha t event. He left Russia, spending some time in
France, and then em igrated to Erets Yisrael. It was in Jerusalem
that he began to devote himself to the study o f the Jerusalem
Talmud. In 1929 he published his first scholarly work,
AI
ha-Yerushalmi
, in which he discussed the erro rs tha t have crept
into the ord inary text o f the Jerusa lem Talmud and suggested
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