Rabbinowicz, Israel Michel
RABBINOWICZ, ISRAEL MICHEL
RABBINOWICZ, ISRAEL MICHEL (1818–1893), writer and scholar. Born in Gorodets, Lithuania, Rabbinowicz, whose father was rabbi in Gorodets and from 1828 in Antopol, received a traditional education. His brother, Joshua Jacob, also rabbi in Gorodets, was the author of several talmudic works. At the yeshivah in Brest-Litovsk Rabbinowicz began his study of the philosophers, especially Maimonides. Deciding to widen his field of study, he learned German in Brody and Greek and Latin (with D. Chwolson) in Breslau, where he subsequently entered the university as a student of philology. In 1851 he published a Hebrew grammar, Hebraeische Grammatik nach neuen, sehr vereinfachten Regeln und Grundsaetzen, followed by Hebraeische Schulgrammatik… in 1853 (French translation by J.J. Clement-Mullet), selling the books himself in order to earn a living. Later he took up medicine and in 1854 went to Paris, where he continued his studies in hospitals until 1865. In that year he obtained his M.D. with his Etudes historiques de l'empoisonnement, which consisted in the main of a translation of Maimonides' "Treatise on Poisons." However, he rarely practiced medicine, preferring to devote himself, in solitude and poverty, to scholarship. Too poor to heat his room, he wrote his books in a café. As well as extending his grammatical methods to other languages (Nouveaux principes comparés de la prononciation Anglaise…, 1874; Vergleichende Grammatikder polnischen Sprache, 1877; Grammaire de la langue française d'après de nouveaux principes… 1886, 18892), he defended Jewish tradition against its detractors, publishing Le rôle de Jésus et des apôtres (1866), a critique of Renan; La religion nationale des anciens Hébreux (1873), a criticism of Jules Soury; and Histoire Sainte: Ancien Testament (1877). However his main work was his condensed translation, with commentary, of talmudic legislation, La législation criminelle du Thalmud (1876) and La législation civile du Thalmud (1–5, 1877–80). A Zionist from the early days of the movement, he took part in the Kattowitz Conference of 1884 and presided over the Benei Zion of Paris. He went to Russia in 1889 with the intention of trying to have his books republished, and subsequently lived in London, where he was assisted until his death by Chief Rabbi N.M. Adler and other benefactors.
Ha-Maggid, 32 (1888), 153–5; Reines, in: Oẓar ha-Sifrut, 5 (1896), 117–23; M. Schwab, Le Docteur I.M. Rabbinowicz (1903).