Safran, Bezalel Ze'ev

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SAFRAN, BEZALEL ZE'EV (1866–1930), Romanian rabbi. Safran studied under his grandfather Hanoch Henikh Safran of Pomeran, Galicia, Isaac Aaron Ittinga of Lemberg and Jacob Wiedenfeld of Grimailov. He served as rabbi of the Romanian towns of Secueni from 1887, and of Ştefaneşti from 1899. From 1905 until his death he was rabbi of the Romanian oil town Bacău and district. He was regarded as the most important halakhic authority in Romania and virtually every Romanian rabbi addressed problems to him. In his responsa he discusses topical problems, such as mixed dancing at weddings, and the heating of food in an electric oven activated on the Sabbath by a time switch. In his responsa he makes wide use of the Jerusalem Talmud, which was generally ignored as a source by the authors of responsa. J.J. Weinberg described him as "one of the most erudite scholars of our generation," and "a living library of the vast rabbinic literature."

He wrote Responsa Rabaz on the Shulḥan Arukh Oraḥ Ḥayyim and Yoreh De'ah (1930), and on Even ha-Ezer (1962); Yalkut ha-Ḥinnukhi, responsa on aggadic matters – an appendix to Part 1 of the Responsa Rabaz; Doresh le-Ẓiyyon, on the religious duty of settling in Ereẓ Israel (about which he expresses enthusiasm), also included in the Minḥat Azkarah (1933), which contains his biography, and letters appraising his Responsa Rabaz; and Yevakkesh Da'at, glosses and notes to the She'elot u-Teshuvot Maharsham of Shalom Mordecai of Brzeziny. Yevakkesh Da'at was originally lost but was recovered among the various works saved from the Holocaust.

Safran left a ramified family, many of whom served in the Romanian rabbinate and were later dispersed throughout the world. They included Hanoch Henikh Safran, rabbi of Bucharest and publisher of his books; Dr. Alexander *Safran, chief rabbi of Romania and then rabbi of Geneva; Dr. Joseph Safran, chief rabbi of Jassy; and Dr. Menahem Safran, rabbi of Ploeşti.


J.J. Weinberg, in: Oẓar ha-Ḥayyim, 8 (1932), 173–5; idem, in: Kibbuẓei Efrayim, 11 (1932), 19f.; H.H. Safran, Minḥat Azkarah (1933); A. Stern, Meliẓei Esh al Ḥodshei Kislev… Adar (1962), 32 no. 103; L. Jung (ed.), Men of the Spirit (1969), 437–55.

[Itzhak Alfassi]