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Lewin, Joshua Heshel ben Elijah Ze'ev Ha-Levi


LEWIN, JOSHUA HESHEL BEN ELIJAH ZE'EV HA-LEVI (1818–1883), Lithuanian talmudist and author. Lewin was born in Vilna and studied under Elijah *Ragoler. In his youth he was friendly with Mordecai Aaron Gunzberg, Samuel Joseph *Fuenn, and Julian Klaczko. In addition to his extensive talmudic learning, he acquired a knowledge of secular subjects. He married a granddaughter of Isaac b. Ḥayyim of Volozhin, in which town he took up residence. His opposition to the teaching methods at the yeshivah of Volozhin brought him into conflict with its heads, Eliezer Isaac and Eliezer's brother-in-law, Naphtali Ẓevi Judah *Berlin. Lewin had hoped to become head of the yeshivah and to make fundamental changes in its curriculum and direction. When his differences with Berlin were brought before the trustees of the yeshivah, however, they decided against Lewin, who thereupon felt compelled to leave Volozhin. Subsequently he lived an unsettled life. For a year he acted as rabbi of Praga (a suburb of Warsaw). After lecturing in various provincial towns on his new approach to the functions of the rabbi, he went to St. Petersburg and called a rabbinical conference where, with the participation of the *Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews, the founding of Jewish elementary schools was discussed. From 1875 to 1876 he was the preacher at a synagogue in Minsk. Lewin was a supporter of the *Ḥibbat Zion movement, favored the establishment of an Orthodox rabbinical seminary, and initiated with the encouragement and participation of some of the most eminent rabbis of his day the publication of a rabbinic journal, Peletat Soferim, of which, however, only one issue appeared (1863). Articles not published in other pamphlets were published by Y. Raphael (see bibliography). In 1882 he succeeded Israel *Lipkin of Salant as rabbi of the Russian community in Paris, but died in the following year.

Lewin was the author of (1) glosses to the Midrash Rabbah, published with the commentary of Ze'ev Wolf Einhorn to Genesis Rabbah (1835); (2) Mevasseret Ẓiyyon (1866), prospectus to his book Ẓiyyon Yehoshu'a; (3) Aliyyat Eliyahu (1856), a biography of *Elijah b. Solomon, the Gaon of Vilna; (4) Ẓiyyun Yehoshu'a (1869), parallel passages in the Jerusalem Talmud which shed light on the Babylonian; (5) Mareh Yehoshu'a (1869), glosses to the Jerusalem Talmud; (6) Tosefot Sheni le Ẓiyyon (1886), passages from the Babylonian Talmud paralleling and clarifying passages in the Jerusalem Talmud; (7) Davar be-Itto (1878), a rabbinical anthology; (8) Miẓpeh Yehoshu'a, an extract from his commentary on Avot, entitled Ma'yenei Yehoshu'a, was printed in the Ru'aḥ Ḥayyim (1859) of *Ḥayyim b. Isaac of Volozhin. His other works remain unpublished. Lewin also published the prayer book Derekh ha-Ḥayyim (1845) of Jacob *Lorbeerbaum of Lissa. His planned new edition of the Jerusalem Talmud to include the commentary of Moses b. Simeon *Margolioth (Penei Moshe) and his own Mareh Yehoshu'a was not realized (see *Ha-Maggid, 3 (1859), no. 18).


Ḥ.N. Maggid-Steinschneider, Ir Vilna (1900), 277–81; Citron, in: Reshumot, 1 (1925), 123–35; Y. Raphael, Rishonim va-Aḥaronim (1957), 342–6; idem, in: Aresheth, 1 (1958), 327–95; Yahadut Lita, 1 (1959), 211f.; 3 (1967), 60.

[Samuel Abba Horodezky]

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