Monday, June 11, 2012

An objection to Malbim's appointment in New York.

When Malbim was considered for the post of Chief Rabbi of New York (see here) the American Israelite was not a fan of the suggestion (Aug. 22, 1879) or, really, the whole concept.

After he died, the same paper passed on the request for donations to his impoverished family.


  1. Typical snarkiness from Isaac Mayer Wise. But I am pleasantly surprised by the more generous tone of the second piece. "The American Israelite" is still published in Cincinnati:

    1. But would you not say, Dan, that on the general principle of it (no central european-style chief rabbinate for NY) they were right.

  2. Jordan Penkower wore shorts to work today, thus making three days in a row. HOME RUN!!!!!!

  3. I think I can interpret the final sentence of the second letter:
    "If anyone wants to donate to the fund, just give a 'mite.'"

    Dan Klein, I assume your comment was said even after reading the "he met with no success" line.

  4. "He met with no success" is only mildly snarky (for Wise) and refers merely to R. Malbim's efforts as a "practical rabbi," i.e. one whose livelihood depended on it. Hence the appeal for tzedakah, as parve and half-hearted as it might have been.

    As for the wisdom of calling for a chief rabbi of New York, the plan obviously failed when it was tried years later with R. Jacob Joseph, but in 1879, when the Jewish population of the city had not yet exploded, it might have seemed like a good idea to try for some unity and order in the community, or at least in its "Polish" component. The state of kashrus in particular was chaotic and remained so for decades after.

  5. I like his comment about Hirsch, Hildesheimer, and Lehmann -- no greater fanatics than them, but at least they're civilized!

  6. Baruch, indeed. That's a fascinating insight into the perception of the Torah im derech eretz crowd on the part of the German Reformers.



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