Berlin, Ḥayyim

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BERLIN, ḤAYYIM (1832–1912), Lithuanian rabbi, eldest son of R. Naphtali Ẓevi Judah *Berlin, head of the yeshivah at Volozhin for some 40 years. Ḥayyim Berlin received his education from his father and became conversant with all aspects of rabbinic literature as well as being well versed in Jewish subjects. At the age of 17 he married into the wealthy Zeitlin family of Shklov (see Zeitlin, *Joshua), and later used part of his wealth to amass an excellent library which was acquired by the Yeshivat *Eẓ Ḥayyim of Jerusalem after his death.

In 1865 Berlin became the rabbi of Moscow. In 1889 he returned to Volozhin at the request of his aged father, who wanted his son to succeed him as head of the yeshivah. However, he was opposed by many of the Volozhin yeshivah students, who favored the election of his niece's husband, R. Ḥayyim *Soloveichik, who was renowned for his unique analytical approach to talmudic study. The controversy soon ended with the forced closing of the school by the Russian government on January 22, 1892.

With the closing of the yeshivah, Berlin became the rabbi of Yelizavetgrad (*Kirovograd), where he remained until 1906, when he settled in Jerusalem. His erudition, family heritage, and patriarchal appearance gained for him a leading role on the Jerusalem scene, and in 1909 he was elected to succeed R. Samuel *Salant as chief rabbi of the Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem.

R. Meir *Bar-Ilan (Berlin), who was nearly 50 years his junior, was his half-brother.


M. Bar-Ilan, Mi-Volozhin ad Yerushalayim, (1971), 314–24; ibid., 2 (1971), 632; S.K. Mirsky (ed.), Mosedot Torah be-Eiropah be-Vinyanam u-ve-Ḥurbanam (1956), 72–74; E. Leoni (ed.), Sefer Volozhin (1970), 155ff.

[Aaron Rothkoff]

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Berlin, Ḥayyim

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