views updated


RIVLIN , distinguished Jerusalem family. The Rivlin family claims descent from Moses *Rivkes (d. 1671), son of Naphtali Hirsch Sofer of the Prague Jewish community, son of Pethaḥiah Sofer of that community, son of the scholarly Joseph, and from Moses b. David *Kramer (d. 1688), who was av bet din and head of the yeshivah in Vilna. Elijah Ḥasid (d. 1710), son of Moses Kramer, married the daughter of Pethahiah, son of Moses Rivkes. The original family name, Riveles, derived according to the then prevalent custom from the feminine name Riva, or Rivka. Apparently the name Riveles (= Rivlin) was first used by Solomon Zalman, son of Ẓevi Hirsch, who was the rabbi and head of the community of *Shklov in Belorussia in the middle of the 18th century. He was a grandson of Elijah Ḥasid, son of Moses Kramer. Two of the sons of Solomon Zalman were Elijah and Benjamin Riveles, who were leading Jews in Shklov at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. Benjamin was a second cousin and disciple of *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, Gaon of Vilna, and his descendants formed the branches of the Rivlins who were Perushim, or Mitnaggedim, and observed the customs of Elijah, Gaon of Vilna. On the other hand, the sons of Elijah Riveles, also known as Elijah Platkes, were followers of *Shneur Zalman of Lyady, and they and their descendants were *Ḥabad Ḥasidim. The descendants of the brothers Elijah and Benjamin Riveles were among the leaders of Lithuanian and Belorussian Jewry, especially in the cities of Shklov, Mohilev and Vilna.

According to family tradition benjamin rivlin (Riveles), founded an association called Ḥazon Zion, which had the aim of encouraging immigration to Ereẓ Israel. As a consequence, a group of the Gaon's disciples went to Ereẓ Israel, founded there the *kolel of the Perushim and renewed the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem. Benjamin himself did not succeed in reaching the country, dying on the way in 1812. In addition to being a renowned Torah scholar, he also studied the natural sciences, particularly medicine and pharmacy, and traded in medicaments. Of his numerous works, only the small book Gevi'i Gevi'a ha-Kesef (Shklov, 1804) was published. His son hillel (1758–1838), born in Shklov, was active in the Ḥazon Zion association. In 1809 he immigrated to Ereẓ Israel at the head of a company of 70 people, among whom were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, and settled in Jerusalem. moses (1781–1846), son of Hillel, lived in Shklov, where he officiated as a Maggid. After his father immigrated to Ereẓ Israel, he headed the Ḥazon Zion association. He came to Ereẓ Israel himself in 1841 where he was appointed head of the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem by the rabbis of Russia and Lithuania. Among his writings is Beit Midrash, published in Vilna in 1861 by his son isaac eisik (?–1869). When Elijah Joseph Rivlin (1805–1865), grandson of Elijah Platkes, went to Jerusalem in 1847, the members of the Ḥabad branch of the family joined the family and Ḥabad Ḥasidim already in the country in such places as Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias. Members of the family became heads of the kolelim and public institutions in Jerusalem and Hebron, such as talmud torahs, hospitals, and gemilut ḥasadim societies, and were among those who extended the limits of Jewish settlement in Jerusalem and other cities. Other members of the family traveled to Western Europe. There, too, branches of the family evolved, some of whose children moved to Jewish centers in America.


Ḥ.H. Rivlin, Ḥazon Ẓiyyon (1947); M. Kasher, Ha-Tekufah ha-Gedolah (1969); A. Horowitz, Mosad ha-Yesod (1948); S.J. Fuenn, Kiryah Ne'emanah (1915); Frumkin-Rivlin, Toledot, 3 (1929), 175, 224, 227, 261; 263; S.Z. Rivlin, Ha-Maggid Doresh Ẓiyyon (1960).

[Benjamin Rivlin]