Page 173 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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SIEGEL / SAUL LIEBERMAN
167
utilized to unders tand the rabbis and the ir writings. Ju s t as he was
well versed in modern scientific critical literature, he was a master
o f the writings o f the traditional
aharonim.
He revered the writ­
ings o f such giants as the
Nodah Bi-Yehudah,
o r the
Hazon Ish.
It
was one o f the grea t frustrations o f his life that those who p refer
the traditionalist, pilpulistic style o f “learning” did, by and large,
ignore his books.
Lieberman had absorbed the introspective piety o f the
mussarniks
o f his youth. He prayed with
kavannah
w ithout being
demonstrative; was meticulously observant without being offi­
cious. For years he presided as rabbi o f the Seminary synagogue,
establishing norms and patterns o f conduct.
He was a master o f
halakhah.
He ventured into public
halakhic
policy making in his famous suggestion to include a codicil in the
ketubah
obligating the couple to follow the dictates o f the
beth din.
This was an attem p t to solve th
eagunah
problem. When the sug­
gestion was published, it was strongly attacked by orthodox
authorities. From the attacks it was clear that some o f the critics
had not even read the text o f the codicil. Many said that the courts
would not enforce this agreement. Only recently the New York
State Court o f Appeals upheld the legality o f the Lieberman codi­
cil.
Professor Lieberman was a man o f amazing scholarly attain­
ments. He revolutionized the whole field of rabbinic scholarship.
He worked without the usual accoutrements o f scholarship. He
had no research assistants or com pu ter readouts. Alone he pro­
duced the marvels o f learning tha t he did. And as the years crept
on, some o f the outward signs o f old age became visible. But, like
Moses o f old, his productivity remained at a stunningly high level.
Also, like Moses, he died painlessly on his way to the Holy Land
where he reposes today in eternal rest. He no doubt continues as
always in the Academy on High discussing with his Eternal Mas­
ter abstruse passages in the
Yerushalmi.