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Ezekiel Feivel ben Ze'ev Wolf


EZEKIEL FEIVEL BEN ZE'EV WOLF (1755–1833), Lithuanian preacher, known as the "maggid of Deretschin." Ezekiel was born in Planaga, Lithuania. In his youth he was appointed preacher in his native town and, subsequently, in Deretschin. At the age of 19 he was an itinerant preacher in the Jewish communities of Galicia, Hungary, and Germany (where he remained for some time in Breslau). In Vilna he made the acquaintance of Elijah b. Solomon (the Gaon of Vilna) and through him, of Solomon Zalman of Volozhin, brother of *Hayyim b. Isaac of Volozhin. Solomon made a deep impression upon Ezekiel, who wrote his biography (Toledot Adam, in 2 parts (Dyhernfurth, 1801–09); frequently reprinted). This contains details of Solomon's life and his teachings as well as stories current about him, and is a unique work for its period, reflecting the widening of the horizons of Hebrew literature in Lithuania at the end of the 18th century. Ezekiel sharply censures those rabbis who neglect study of the Scriptures as a result of their preoccupation with the Talmud and codes. In 1811 Ezekiel accepted an invitation to become the "maggid" (official preacher) of Vilna, a post in which he served until his death.

Other works by Ezekiel are Musar Haskel (Dyhernfurth, 1790), an exposition of Hilkhot De'ot and Teshuvah of Maimonides, and a commentary Be'urei Maharif (i.e., Morenu ha-Rav Ezekiel Feivel) on the Midrash Rabbah to Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, which was published in Vilna together with the text in 1878. A third volume of Toledot Adam remains unpublished.


H.N. Maggid-Steinschneider, Ir Vilna, 1 (1990), 87–90; S.J. Fuenn, Kiryah Ne'emanah (19152), 241–4; Yahadut Lita, 3 (1967), 54.

[Abraham David]

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