Hamburg, Abraham Benjamin

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HAMBURG, ABRAHAM BENJAMIN (Wolf ; 1770–1850), German talmudic scholar. Hamburg was born in Fuerth and studied at the yeshivah of R. Meshullam-Solomon Kohn, the chief rabbi of Fuerth. He succeeded his teacher as head of the yeshivah, and in 1820 was appointed moreh-ẓedek ("spiritual leader") of the congregation, serving also as cantor and mohel. The appointment of a new chief rabbi, however, was indefinitely postponed and Hamburg was hard put to combat the inroads of the Reform movement into the community. In his correspondence with Moses *Sofer, who describes Hamburg as a "great man of high stature," he talks of his difficulties in building a communal mikveh (see M. Sofer, Hatam Sofer, Yoreh De'ah (19582), no. 214; Even ha-Ezer, 1 (19582), no. 82). By 1830, the adherents of the Reform movement had obtained a majority in the communal administration and had him removed from all his positions, except from that in the Klaus synagogue in which he had vested rights (it had been founded by one of his ancestors, Baermann Fraenkel). His yeshivah was closed and his opponents enlisted the help of the police in expelling his students, who numbered more than 100, from Fuerth. Ultimately, Hamburg himself was driven from the city and died heartbroken.

Hamburg's published works include sermons, responsa, talmudic novellae, and memorial addresses. Sha'ar Zekenim (Sulzbach, 1830) consists of sermons, eulogies, and ethical tracts. The latter half of the work also contains responsa addressed to former pupils and rabbinical contemporaries. Simlat Binyamin (Fuerth, 1840–41), Hamburg's other major work, is in three parts. The first contains responsa on Oraḥ Ḥayyim and Yoreh De'ah, and the second under the title Naḥlat Binyamin on Even ha-Ezer and Ḥoshen Mishpat, as well as aggadot; this section deals at length with the laws of circumcision. In the third section under the title Sha'ar Binyamin (unpublished) the author includes his own interpretations, additions, and novellae. One of his eulogies is in honor of his teacher, Solomon Kohn (Kol Bokhim…, Fuerth, 1820). He also paid homage to Sir Moses *Montefiore in a poem on his visit to Fuerth in 1841 together with Adolphe *Crémieux, on their return from the Orient. Hamburg taught and inspired a number of eminent disciples, among them Seligmann-Baer *Bamberger, and Moses Sofer.


Fuenn, Keneset, 304–5; Loewenstein, in: zgjd, 2 (1888), 90; idem, in: jjlg, 6 (1909), 209–14, 225.