> Day in Jewish History

Av 28

December 7, 2009 | by

Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (1817-1893), a leader of Lithuanian Jewry, known by the acronym of his name, Netziv (which also means "pillar"). Legend says that as a child he was in danger of dropping out of school, but he applied himself diligently to his studies and emerged as the star student. He married the granddaughter of Rabbi Chaim of Voluzhin when he was 14 years old. He was later appointed head of the Voluzhin yeshiva, a position he held for 40 years. The yeshiva became the worldwide center of Jewish scholarship, and it was said that 10,000 students studied there during the Netziv's tenure. Tragically, the yeshiva was forcibly closed by the Russians in 1892. The Netziv then intended to travel to Israel, but his medical condition made this impossible. He spent his final weeks in Warsaw, and is interred in a cemetery there. He wrote Ha'emek Davar, a commentary on the Bible, and other scholarly works that are widely studied today. His oldest son, Rabbi Chaim Berlin, was Chief Rabbi of Moscow, and his youngest son was Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan, after whom Israel's Bar Ilan University is named.


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