Rath, Meshullam

views updated


RATH, MESHULLAM (1875–1963), talmudist and rabbinic authority. Rath's father and earlier forebears had occupied the rabbinate of Kolomyya for 150 years consecutively. Rath, who had a remarkable memory and a rapid grasp of essentials, was ordained at the age of 12 by Isaac *Schmelkes and Jacob Teomim. In 1895 he was appointed rabbi of Molniza and in 1899 rabbi to his native town Horoskov and then to Ushbuza. Rath was an active community leader. He founded a yeshivah for outstanding students, was elected to the Romanian senate, and was one of the first rabbis to join the Mizrachi movement openly. He spent part of World War i in Vienna, where his renown spread. On returning to Galicia after the war, he was considered for the Lvov rabbinate but withdrew his candidacy when asked to give up his Zionist work. He was then appointed rabbi of Chernovtsy. In 1944 he settled in Ereẓ Israel and became a member of the chief rabbinate. There he was consulted by the Supreme Rabbinic Court, and examined candidates for the post of dayyan.

Some of his responsa were published under the title Kol Mevasser (2 vols., 1955–62). These deal with such topical matters as the permissibility of a bat mitzvah ceremony for girls and of the wording of the ketubbah in Hebrew instead of Aramaic. He ruled that Hallel with blessings and the She-Heheyanu should be recited on Israel Independence Day.


O. Feuchtwanger, Righteous Lives (1965), 98–101; S.N. Gottlieb, Oholei Shem (1912), 407; Kaniel, in: Shanah be-Shanah (1963), 493–7.

[Mordechai Hacohen]