Landau, Ezekiel ben Judah

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LANDAU, EZEKIEL BEN JUDAH

LANDAU, EZEKIEL BEN JUDAH (1713–1793), halakhic authority of the 18th century, known as the Noda bi-Yehudah , after one of his works (see below). Landau was born in Opatow, Poland, and received his talmudic education first in his hometown until the age of 13 and subsequently in Vladimir-Volinski and Brody. He was endowed with qualities which make him one of the most famous rabbis of the close of the classical Ashkenazi rabbinic era. He came from a wealthy and distinguished family tracing its descent back to Rashi. He had a commanding appearance and rare intellectual ability, was of strong character imbued with a love of truth and of his fellow men, and had considerable diplomatic skill. By nature he was an intellectual ascetic whose main interest lay in the study and teaching of Torah. In his time he was regarded as the prototype of the ideal Jew. At the age of 18 he married, moved to Brody, and joined the famous Brody kloiz, studying Talmud with his relative Isaac of Hamburg and Kabbalah with Hayyim Zanzer, who remarked that the young Ezekiel "saw the ma'aseh merkavah" (vision of the God's chariot from the opening chapters of the Book of Ezekiel). At the age of 21 he was already dayyan of Brody, and at 33 rabbi of Yampol. From there he received a call in 1754 to become rabbi of Prague and the whole of Bohemia, one of the highest positions of that time. His famous proclamation of 1752, whose purpose was to put an end to the notorious *Emden-*Eybeschuetz controversy, which split the Jewish world into two, helped in no small measure in his obtaining this appointment. His tenure of the Prague rabbinate enabled Landau to give practical effect to his outstanding qualities. It afforded ample scope for his rabbinic and communal activity both in Prague itself and beyond. He acted as judge, teacher, and mentor of the community. In his capacity as rabbi of Bohemia, he represented the Jews before the Austrian government. In his great yeshivah, he taught hundreds of students, the cream of Jewish youth from Austria and surrounding countries. One of his better known students was Abraham *Danzig, the author of the Ḥayyei Adam.

Landau was one of the greatest writers of responsa in his time. His Noda bi-Yehudah (2 pts., Prague, 1776, 1811) contains some 860 responsa. It has been frequently published with glosses and commentaries by some of the greatest rabbis of succeeding generations. The most important of his other books are Ẓiyyun le-Nefesh Ḥayyah (Ẓelaḥ) on the tractates Pesaḥim (Prague, 1783), Berakhot (ibid., 1791), Beẓzah (ibid., 1799); an edition including all these appeared in 1825, and one on Seder Nezikin with various additions in 1959; Dagul me-Revavah (Prague, 1794) on the Shulḥan Arukh; Derushei ha-Ẓelaḥ (1899); Ahavat Ẓiyyon, sermons and addresses (1827); all are frequently republished.

Landau took an active part in all the Jewish social and religious events of his time. He identified himself absolutely with the traditional Jewish way of life, regarding its preservation and welfare as his primary duty. It was for that reason that he advocated ending the controversy with Eybeschuetz, even though he was of the opinion that the accusations leveled against him could not easily be dismissed. In 1752, Landau sent a letter to the factions on both sides of the controversy, suggesting a compromise: the Shabbatean amulets written by Eybeshuetz would be returned to him and Eybeshuetz would renounce all the Shabbatean works claimed to be his. The compromise failed. It is clear from later events that Landau did consider Eybeshuetz to be a Shabbatean; nevertheless, he had great respect for Eybeshuetz's learning and overall character. On the other hand he persecuted those who were known as Shabbateans, and in particular the *Frankists. While Landau himself was well versed in Kabbalah and even taught kabbalistic concepts and ideas freely in his sermon, he was very critical of the rabbis of the ḥasidic movement and the Shabbateans and Frankists for teaching Kabbalah so openly. Indeed, there is very little that differentiates between Landau's kabbalistic teachings and those of his ḥasidic contemporaries. It is important to note in this regard that Landau and many of the ḥasidic rabbis had the same roots in the kloiz in Brody, where asceticism was practiced on the basis of continued in-depth study of Kabbalah. In the end, Landau's objections were focused on the emphasis placed on the study of Kabbalah among the Ḥasidim, as well as the changes they made in the siddur. Landau looked with some favor on the Haskalah movement. When, however, the aggressive anti-rabbinic tendency amongst the maskilim of Berlin grew stronger, he regretted this support and his attitude toward them took an unfavorable turn. The *Me'assefim came to regard him as their arch enemy, while he in turn referred to them as "a rabble of unclean birds" (introduction to Ẓelaḥ on Berakhot). Despite this, he continued to support the traditional element among the maskilim, giving his approbation to books on history, grammar, natural sciences, etc.

Landau distinguished himself in his attitude to the new situation arising from the opening of the gates of the ghetto and the consequent entry of the Jews into general non-Jewish society. He toiled and pleaded with sincerity for a strengthening of a correct relationship with the non-Jews and the development of a feeling of patriotism for the country. His benedictory message to the first Jewish recruits to the Austrian army made a strong impression (Ha-Meassef (1789), 253). He also cooperated in the establishment of the first Jewish school in Prague (May 2, 1782), although several weeks previously he had come out strongly against the attempt of Naphtali Hirz *Wessely (in the latter's Divrei Shalom ve-Emet, Berlin, 1782) to attach religious significance to general education. While he was generally stricter in his own halakhic observance, Landau demanded that other rabbis follow his lead in ruling more leniently for the general public. His responsa reflect the state of affairs in the Jewish community of his day: the difficulties in making a living, which affected many marriages; lax sexual mores, and the sometimes problematic relations with the secular government. In his decision-making, he relied most heavily on talmudic sources and the rulings of the *rishonim, only rarely turning to the *aḥaronim. He always attempted to find a precedent for any of his own original thoughts. In money matters he preferred compromise over ruling according to the letter of the law, and he frequently consulted with scientists and doctors to better understand related questions that came before him. When attacked for his lenient halakhic tendencies, he always respectfully stood his ground. Among his rulings are original and bold, lenient decisions which testify both to his responsible approach to the community and to his mastery of the halakhah, enabling him to effect a compromise between it and the demands of the time. One of his best-known lenient rulings was the permission to shave during the intermediate days of the festival (Noda bi-Yhudah, Mahadura Kamma, oḤ 13; Mahadura Tinyana, oḤ 99, 100, 101), which caused a storm in the rabbinic world at the time. This, as well as many of his other lenient decisions, were set aside by the halakhic authorities of the following generation (see Resp. Ḥatam Sofer, oḤ, 154). He was also the first to permit, albeit with severe restrictions, autopsies (Noda bi-Yhudah, Mahadura Tinyana, yd 210).

[Moshe Shraga Samet /

David Derovan (2nd ed.)]

Ezekiel Landau's sons were jacob (known as jacobke; 1745 or 1750–1822), who was ordained rabbi but was friendly with the Galician maskilim. After living in Hamburg for a time, he settled in Brody, where he became a prosperous merchant. Some of his novellae on the Talmud are included in works by his father and other contemporary authorities. He also contributed to *Bikkurei ha-Ittim. samuel (d. 1834) graduated from his father's yeshivah. In his early years he moved in Prague Haskalah circles and was associated with the *Gesellschaft der jungen Hebraeer. It is generally assumed that Ezekiel did not formally pronounce the ban on Moses *Mendelssohn's translation of the Bible because Samuel's name appeared on the list of those who had subscribed to the work. Having become strictly Orthodox, he applied for the office of av bet din after his father's death but was not appointed. His objections to the establishment of rabbinical seminaries formed the main subject of the pamphlet Ha-Orev (Vienna, 1795), attributed to Baruch *Jeiteles. He was elected to the bet din and later became av bet din. In 1799 Samuel and Eleazar *Fleckeles signed the ḥerem against the *Frankists, and a year later, on Nov. 11, he and Fleckeles were imprisoned for four days in connection with a scandal at a Frankist funeral. He was one of the signatories of an application in 1820 for the restoration of the two gates of the Jewish quarter. However, in a sermon delivered in 1830 he praised Mendelssohn's Bible translation for its good German and suggested that fathers decide, when their sons reach the age of ten, whether to dedicate them to talmudic studies or to a secular education. When in 1834 the Verein fuer geregelten Gottesdienst made changes in the architecture of the Altschul, he pronounced a ban on them. His responsa were published as Shivat Ẓiyyon (Prague, 1827; republished 1967). With his brother Jacobke he published his father's Noda bi-Yhudah Mahadura Tinyana (Prague, 1811) with his own preface and including some of his own responsa. His father's Ahavot Ẓiyyon contains four of Samuel's sermons.

israel (1758–1829) was a pioneer of Haskalah in Prague. Although he received a traditional education, he also acquired a German education himself, and was a pupil of Israel *Zamosc. From 1782 he worked as a Hebrew printer in a Christian firm. In 1793 he reprinted Abraham *Farissol's Iggeret Orḥot Olam. In 1794 he published his father's Dagul me-Revavah and in 1798 Ḥok le-Yisrael, a translation of Moses *Maimonides' Sefer ha-Mitzvot "into the language of the masses," intended to strengthen their adherence to tradition. His son by his first marriage, eliezer (1778–1831), became rabbi in *Brody and published Yad ha-Melekh (Lemberg, 1826) on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. He died of cholera. Israel's son by his second marriage was Moses *Landau.

[Meir Lamed]

bibliography:

ezekiel landau: A.L. Gelman, Ha-Noda bi-Yhudah u-Mishnato (19622); Y.A. Kamelhar, Mofet ha-Dor (1903); R. Kestenberg-Gladstein, Neuere Geschichte der Juden in den boehmischen Laendern, 1 (1968); Klemperer, in: hj, 13 (1951), 55–76; Wind, in: L. Jung (ed.), Jewish Leaders (1953), 77–98; M.S. Samet, in: Meḥkarim le-Toledot Am Yisrael ve-Ereẓ Yisrael le-Zekher Ẓevi Avneri (1970), 240–4. add. bibliography: M.S. Samet, in: De'ot, 36 (1969) 26–30; I. Hess, "Rabbi Yehezkel Landau u-Mekomo be-Toledot ha-Halakhah" (Dissertation, 1979); D. Sinclair, in: Le'ela, 45 (1998), 16–22; S. Flatto, in: Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, 12:2 (2003), 99–121; M. Saperstein in: Shofar, 6:1 (1987), 20–25; S. Leiman, in: From Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism, 3 (1989), 179–94; I. Ta-Shma, in: Sidra, 15 (1999) 181–91; K. Kahana, in: Ma-Ma'ayan, 26:4 (1986), 51–57; I. Rephael, in: Sefer Yovel li-Khvod ha-Gaon Rabbi Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik (1984). moses landau: O. Muneles, Bibliographical Survey of Jewish Prague (1952), index: R. Kestenberg-Gladstein, Neuere Geschichte der Juden in den boehmischen Laendern, 1 (1969), index; F. Roubík, in: jggjČ, 9 (1938), 433–47, passim; R.N.N. Rabbinovicz, Ma'amar al Hadpasat ha-Talmud (1953), index; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 290. other members of the family: E.S. Margulies, Ma'alot ha-Yuḥasin (1900), 63–69; Weiss, Dor, 5 (19044), 286f.; J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Ḥedek (1874), iv, 173, suppl.; J. Dembitzer, Mappelet Ir ha-Ẓedek (1878); I.T. Eisenstadt and S. Wiener, Da'at Kedoshim (1897–98), 104, 111, 118–20; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Luḥot Zikkaron (1897), 11, 18, 35, 44, 50, 74, 89, 91f., 108, 111, 113; idem, Benei Landau le-Mishpeḥotam (1905); S. Buber, Kiryah Nisgavah (1903), 34, 46f.; J.A. Kamelhar, Mofetha-Dor (1903); Der Orient (1848), 541–3. add. bibliography: I.N. Heschel, in: Koveẓ Bet Aharon ve-Yisrael, 11:3 (1996), 147–56.