Thursday, November 03, 2011

Three students

In Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg's Seride Esh Vol. IV, in the back, there is an essay on mussar. Writing about R. Yisrael Salanter, he says that he had three primary students, each possessing a unique quality.

R. Itzele Peterberger was the lamdan (scholar), R. Naftali Amsterdam was the chassid (pietist) and R. Simcha Zissel Ziv was a chacham (wise).

Obviously this is not R. Weinberg's own formulation, but probably what "they" used to say.

As soon as I read this I remembered an earlier, very similar list. After Israel Baer Kursheedt (1766-1852) died, R. Morris Raphall wrote his obituary in the Asmonean (May 7, 1852). Noting that in Frankfurt he studied under the
"Chief Rabbi, Nathan Adler, the uncle and namesake of the president Chief Rabbi of London. Among his fellow students two were particularly distinguished and attained considerable eminence - R' Abraham Bing, subsequently the Chief Rabbi at Wurzburg in Bavaria, and the celebrated translator and commentator of the Machsor, R' Wolf Heidenheim at Rodelheim. With these two great men, I. B. K. was held in equal estimation by their gifted teacher, who used to say that R' Abraham was a churiph (acute logician), R' Wolf was a medackdeck (grammarian and philologist), bur R' Israel was a chochem, a wise man, because his attainments were universal."
I, of course, preserved the original spelling. I normally would like to post an image of the actual page, being a lover of typography and all, but in this case I only have a badly photocopied page, which was subsequently sent as a fax, and then scanned into a pdf. My thanks to Dr. Yitzchok Levine who sent it to, and indeed, wrote a fine article on Kursheedt (link and here).

Note two things: (1) R. Nosson Adler was not the Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt at all. (2) Guess which student of R. Nosson Adler is not mentioned?

I don't know what Raphall's source is. On the one hand it would be hard to believe that Kursheedt told him that himself. On the other hand, you never know. On the third (and hopefully final) hand, the source could well have been a story floating around, just the same as R. Weinberg's reference to R. Yisrael Salanter's students. I will even permit myself to conjecture that it is even possible that in other versions of the story it is indeed the Chasam Sofer who is the chochem, but that never made it across the Atlantic, and when it did it was transformed to fit America's own rabbinic scholar, Israel Baer Kursheedt. There is another possibility, which is that the idea of the Chasam Sofer as being considered R. Nosson's most prominent pupil may not actually date to the time when he was his pupil.

Here is his portrait:

And here is a post about his burial location in Queens (link). Evidently people come to oren at his kever:


  1. That last picture appears to be

  2. Let me add something fascianating to what the Sridei Eish said over:

    R' Zelig Epstien zt"l once told a close friend of mine, that the sabba m'Slabodka would say over "R' Yisroel would say about us (these three talmidim) 'kulam yufa raisi' and on me he'd add 'u'mum ein bach'".

  3. Wait, so who is he?



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