Klatzkin, Elijah ben Naphtali Herz

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KLATZKIN, ELIJAH BEN NAPHTALI HERZ (1852–1932), rabbi and author. Klatzkin's father (1823–1894) was rabbi of Ushpol (1851–58), where Elijah was born, and later of Schoemberg (Courland). Elijah was known in his childhood as the Shklover Illui ("child prodigy of Shklov"). He is said to have mastered the Talmud at the age of 12, and when he was only 23, R. Meir *Malbim pronounced him without equal in his generation. He also acquired a profound knowledge of medicine, pharmacology, chemistry, history, geography, and mathematics, and was acquainted with a number of European languages. Elijah served as rabbi of several communities, being appointed in 1881 to Bereza Kartuskaya in the province of Grodno, in 1884 to Mariampol in the province of Suwalki, and in 1910 to the famous community of Lublin, hence his title the "Lubliner Rav." In 1928 he settled in Ereẓ Israel where he spent his remaining years. He was an outstanding talmudic authority and queries were directed to him from distant places. He was well known for his tendency to leniency in questions of ritual law. Most famous for his efforts on behalf of agunot, he even proposed a formula that would (in most cases) annul these marriages retroactively. Elijah's works are Even ha-Roshah (1887), Imrei Shefer (1896), Even Pinnah (19302), Devar Eliyahu (1915), Devar Halakhah (1921) and its complement Millu'im (1923), Millu'ei Even (1925), ḥibbat ha-Kodesh (1926), and Devarim Aḥadim (1929). Also by Elijah is a collection of lectures and papers in Russian. Some of his responsa were published in the Sedei Ḥemed (1896–1911) by Ḥayyim Hezekiah *Medini.

Elijah had an elder brother israel issar (1844–1921), many of whose responsa and novellae appear in Devar Eliyahu and in Ammudei Shesh published by Moses Ẓevi Hirsch Klatzkin (as appendix to Ayyalah Sheluḥah, 1912). Devar Eliyahu also contains novellae by Israel's son joshua mordecai (1862–1925), who was head of a yeshivah in Slobodka and later rabbi of Libau (Libawa), where he died. Elijah was the father of Jacob *Klatzkin.


J. Klatzkin, in: L. Jung (ed.), Jewish Leaders (1953), 317–41; Yahadut Lita, 3 (1967), 84f.

[Shlomo Eidelberg]

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