Ornstein, Mordecai Ze'ev ben Moses

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ORNSTEIN, MORDECAI ZE'EV BEN MOSES (d. 1787), Polish rabbi and kabbalist. His father, Moses b. Joske (d. 1764), known as "Rabbi Moses b. Rabbi Joskes," was a member of the community council of Zolkiew. Previously rabbi of Satinov, Kamenka, and Yampol, Podolia, Ornstein was appointed rabbi of Lvov in succession to Solomon b. Moses of Chelm, the author of Mirkevet ha-Mishneh (Frankfurt on the Oder, 1851), who moved to Ereẓ Israel. According to Ornstein's tombstone, he had been appointed rabbi of Fuerth just before he died (1787). Ornstein applied himself to the study of Kabbalah and was close in spirit to Ḥasidism, and so was referred to as "the kabbalist and Ḥasid." He is reputed to have studied for a while under Rabbi Dov Baer of Mezhirech. He was known in Lemberg as "The Great Rabbi Mordecai Ze'ev" to distinguish him from his grandson, Mordecai Ze'ev Ornstein. Ornstein did not publish any halakhic works, but his novellae are quoted by his descendants. He gave approbations to many of the works of his contemporaries, and he is referred to in terms of the greatest reverence. Of his sons, the best known are Jacob Meshullam *Ornstein, author of Yeshu'ot Ya'akov (1828), and Moses Joshua Hoeschel, rabbi of Taringrad and author of Yam ha-Talmud (Lemberg, 1825). Two of his sons-in-law are well known, Aaron ha-Levi Ittinga (the first) and Dov Berish Halperin of Berzan (Brezhany). For over a century, except for a brief gap, all the incumbents of the rabbinate of Lvov were his descendants.


Ḥ. N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 1 (1888), 144b–146a; S. Buber, Anshei Shem (1895), 149–51; idem, Kiryah Nisgavah (1903), 59f.; M. Balaban, in: Sefer ha-Yovel… M.Z. Brode (1931), 25; Z. Karl, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 1 (1950), 329; eg, 4 (1956), 413f.

[Itzhak Alfassi]