Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The life stages of Rabbi Hermann Adler

Here are some fantastic pictures of R. Hermann Adler (1839-1911) at various stages of his life, from a boy of 8 to yeshiva bochur at 17, young rabbi at 24, marriage at 27, established rabbi at 37, and "delegate Chief Rabbi" - due to the poor health of his father - at 44.


  1. Obviously I learned the minhag wrong. I thought it was no tallis gadol before marriage. I now see it is no head covering before marriage.

  2. 1. Out of interest - what is the source of the photos?
    2. Jeffrey -- there was no universal custom of head covering in Anglo-Jewry until -- well, probably after 1967.

  3. To describe Rabbi Adler as a yeshiva bachur is a bit misleading. He studied in Prague, and A. Schischa published an article about his student days there in a volume in honor/memory (?) of Cecil Roth.

  4. That was indeed what I was referring to, but why is it misleading, or any more misleading than Schischa's article? He went to Prague to learn and get semicha from Rapoport, and that isn't even where he went for his university education. I'd say that's exactly what a yeshiva bochur is.

  5. You may, indeed, be correct. It's simply that the title "yeshiva bachur" (whether chassidishe, litvishe, hesder etc.) conjures up in my mind a certain image. From what I remember of Schischa's article which I read decades ago, the image of head of Adler in Prague was more of an English student. Why semicha from Shir? Perhaps it was discussed in the article. Mayinyan leinyan, I assume you're aware of the antagonism towards his supervision of shechita in the beginning of the 20th century. His opponent's position is documented in Dr. Bernard Homa's A Fortress in Anglo Jewry, about the Machzikai Hadas Synagogue in the East End where his grandfather, Rabbi Abba Werner, was succeeded by Rav Kook. Rabbi Yizchak Elchanan Spektor supported Rabbi Adler. Incidentally, in one of Elkan Adler's books (he was a half-brother, I believe), he describes meeting Rabbi Spektor.

    I gather that my remarks are sent to you and not your blog. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for a wonderful blog which has given me a great deal of pleasure. It seems to me that the quality of your posts vary, from excellent to outstanding!

    I only figure out how to respond last night, but I do remember two things I wanted to comment about. You had a wonderful series on Shadal. In his letters he has a response to Aaron Choriner who asked him his opinion about a certain machloket rishonim. The gist of his response was that he is indifferent to such matters.

    I believe more recently there was a discussion over whether Rabbi Abraham Sofer taught at JTS, a grandson denying this emphatically. He certainly did, and I've met men and women who studied with him. However he refused to teach at the rabbinical seminary and taught only at the teacher's institute.

    As a curiosity, in the introduction to the response Zeche Yehosef by the great Rabbi Yosef Zecharya Stern, he mentions that the telegraph was invented by an American Jew, Shmuel ben Yedidye Morse.

    Please excuse this lengthy response, and again my thanks.

  6. You jilted us and went off to facebook, without informing us.
    I come back here looking for you on a regular basis looking for a new post, nada
    very rude and very disappointing

  7. Are you still updating your blog, Mississippi Fred?

  8. Hm. Not as much as I should, right?

  9. Speaking of Hermann Adler, his brother, Elkan Adler, was a great scholar, who did pioneering work on the Genizah. I have his personal copy of the complete original Jewish Quarterly Review (the original old series, not the Ktav reprint, from 1888 to 1908) with Adler's Ex Libris sticker inside. I actually have the complete JQR set, old series and new series, all professionally bound until the late 1980s, and paperbacks from them on. A Jewish library closed, and having some connections, I was able to get the whole set. It's a collectors dream, a lifetime of Jewish learning. If anyone sees this and is interested in buying it, contact me at davidsfarkas at gmail dot com. If anyone knows relatives or descendants of Elkan Adler, who might be interested in recovering a prize possession of their forebear, please comment here and email me at blazingbeaver2 at (crazy email address, don't ask) and put JQR in the subject line! Thank you.



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