Levin, Ẓevi Hirsch(-el) ben Aryeh Loeb

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LEVIN, ẒEVI HIRSCH (-el ) BEN ARYEH LOEB (Hirsch Loebel ; Hart Lyon ; 1721–1800), rabbi; born in Rzeszow, Galicia. In addition to talmudic scholarship he had a knowledge of Hebrew grammar, Jewish history, philosophy, physics, and geometry. While still young, he took part in the *Emden-Eybeschuetz controversy, siding with Jacob Emden, his maternal uncle. In 1758 he was appointed rabbi of the Great and Hambro synagogues, London (where he was known as Hart Lyon), holding the post for seven years. When in 1764 the leaders of the London community prevented him from publishing a defense of the sheḥitah in London in reply to the attack of Jacob Kimḥi, and because of dissatisfaction with the state of talmudic studies, he relinquished his position and went to Halberstadt (Germany), where he was appointed rabbi and rosh yeshivah. In 1770 he was appointed rabbi of Mannheim and in 1773 became rabbi of Berlin. Levin was a friend of Moses *Mendelssohn, even writing an approbation for his German translation of the Bible. When the Prussian government requested Levin to write in German an account of Jewish commercial and matrimonial law, Levin asked Mendelssohn to compose it under his supervision. It was published in Berlin (1778) and entitled Ritualgesetze der Juden. His friendship with Mendelssohn was impaired when Levin attempted to prevent N.H. *Wessely from publishing his Divrei Shalom ve-Emet (Berlin, 1782) and even endeavored to have him expelled from Berlin. When Mendelssohn defended Wessely, Levin sent in his resignation; however, he did not act on it and remained in Berlin until his death. Levin supported and defended his son, Saul *Berlin, in the disputes in which he was involved, especially with regard to the forged response Besamim Rosh (Berlin, 1793).

Levin's commentary on Avot was published together with that of Jacob Emden (Berlin, 1834). He also wrote occasional poems, entitled "Naḥalat Ẓevi," which were published in Ha-Maggid (no. 14, 1870). One of his poems appears at the beginning of his brother Saul's Binyan Ari'el (Amsterdam, 1778). He was father of Solomon *Hirschel, subsequently chief rabbi in London.


Adler, in: Papers Read at the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition (1888), 280–4; B.H. Auerbach, Geschichte der israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt (1866), 86–96; C. Duschinsky, The Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue, London (1921), 2–73, 274–95; L. Landshut, Toledot Anshei ha-Shem (1884), 69–115; Schischa, in: Ha-Darom, 12 (1960), 58–67; Samet, in: ks, 13 (1967/68), 430–1; C. Roth, History of the Great Synagogue, London (1950), 108–23; idem, Essays and Portraits in Anglo-Jewish History (1962), 252–3; M.S. Samet, in: Meḥkarim be-Toledot Am Yisrael ve-Ereẓ Yisrael le-Zekher Ẓevi Avneri (1970), 249–53.

[Shlomo Tal]