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Hillel ben Naphtali Ẓevi


HILLEL BEN NAPHTALI ẒEVI (Herz ; 1615–1690), Lithuanian rabbi. Hillel was apparently born in Brest-Litovsk, where he was a pupil of the rabbi Hirsch Darshan and, perhaps, of Heshel b. Jacob. In 1650/51 he was appointed a member of the bet din of Moses b. Isaac Judah *Lima in Vilna and was one of the signatories to a halakhic decision to the effect that a woman could not be deprived of her right to oppose divorce against her will. He remained in Vilna until 1666, and after serving in various Lithuanian towns, the last of which was Keidany, he was appointed rabbi of Altona-Hamburg in 1670. Shortly after his arrival the joint communities of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck, following a schism which had taken place, again united. One of the conditions of unification was that there be one rabbinate for the three communities, and Hillel served in this office from 1671. Various communal takkanot were enacted for the united communities during his period of office. In 1680 he returned to Poland and was appointed rabbi of Zolkiew, where he remained for the rest of his life. Hillel was active in the *Councils of the Lands in Jaroslaw, taking part in various consultations of the Council in 1684, as well as in the formulation of takkanot in halakhic matters and in the life of the Jews of Poland.

In his old age, Hillel requested his son Moses – who was av bet din and preacher in Vilna and later av bet din of Kepno – to arrange his novellae on the four parts of the Shulḥan Arukh, and in his will bequeathed his estate to that purpose. His son, however, succeeded in publishing only the novellae to Yoreh De'ah and Even ha-Ezer, under the title Bet Hillel (Dyhernfurth, 1691) with the approbation of the Council of Jaroslaw. He omitted from his father's work, however, halakhic rulings in which his father had been anticipated by earlier scholars and added his own glosses. Hillel's novellae to the other parts of the Shulḥan Arukh have remained in manuscript, as has a homiletical and kabbalistic commentary to the Pentateuch. His importance as a halakhist is reflected in Jacob *Emden's designation of him as "the pious rabbi and halakhic authority, Bet Hillel."


Michael, Or, no. 799; S.J. Fuenn, Kiryah Ne'emanah (19152), 88f.; H.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 2 (1893), 566ff.; H.N. Maggid (Steinschneider), Ir Vilna (1900), 82f.; S. Buber, Kiryah Nisgavah (1903), 23–25; E. Duckesz, Iwoh Lemoschaw (1903), 5–7 (Ger. pt. 4–6); D. Kaufmann (ed.), Die Erstuermung Ofens (1895), 16; I. Markon, in: Studies… A.S. Freidus (1929), 373–6; Halpern, Pinkas, 201, 219, 470; I. Wolfsberg, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 2 (1948), 8, 24.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

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