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Sorotzkin, Zalman ben Ben-Zion

SOROTZKIN, ZALMAN BEN BEN-ZION

SOROTZKIN, ZALMAN BEN BEN-ZION (1881–1966), Lithuanian rabbi and communal leader. Sorotzkin was born in Zakhrina, Russia, where his father was rabbi. After studying under his father, he proceeded to the yeshivot of *Slobodka and *Volozhin. His renown as a brilliant student came to the attention of Eliezer *Gordon, the head of the yeshivah of Telz, whose daughter he married. After his marriage he studied for several years in Volozhin. On returning to Telz he undertook the administration of the yeshivah, displaying great organizational ability. The yeshivah building was destroyed by a conflagration, and he succeeded in rebuilding it within a short time. In 1911, after the death of his father-in-law, he was invited to serve as rabbi in the small town of Voronovo (Werenow), near Vilna, where he founded a yeshivah for young students. After some years he was appointed rabbi of Zittel in Lithuania, where he also developed extensive communal activities, particularly in founding an educational network. After the outbreak of World War i, he was forced to wander with his family into Russia and arrived in Minsk. There he devoted himself to public activity and vigorously opposed the false charges and discriminatory decrees against the Jews, which were constantly being issued by the czarist government. After the war he returned to Zittel, but shortly afterward was appointed rabbi of Lutsk, capital of Volhynia (then in Poland), which had a Jewish community of 30,000, and he remained there until the outbreak of World War ii. During his rabbinate in Lutsk he became renowned as one of the outstanding Polish rabbis and was one of the leaders of Agudat Israel and of Orthodox Jewry generally. When Lutsk was occupied by the Russians after the outbreak of World War ii, they threatened to imprison him if he continued his activities. He was compelled to flee with his family to Vilna, where Ḥayyim Ozer Grodzinski, rabbi of Vilna, charged him with reorganizing the many yeshivot, most of whose students had escaped to Lithuania. He remained in Vilna until the entry of the Russian army, when he left, and after many vicissitudes finally arrived in Ereẓ Israel.

There he threw himself into communal work. He established the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot charged with the care of the yeshivot in Israel on the model of the Vilna Va'ad ha-Yeshivot (of which he had been one of the founders), and he headed it until his death. He was elected vice chairman of the Mo'eẓet Gedolei ha-Torah of Agudat Israel, and after the death of Isser Zalman *Meltzer served as its chairman, a position he held until his death. He also headed the independent educational network (Ḥinnukh Aẓma'i) set up by Agudat Israel. Sorotzkin was an outstanding preacher, and many of his homilies appear in his work Ha-De'ah ve-ha-Dibbur (1937), on the Pentateuch. Toward the close of his life he published Oznayim la-Torah (1951–60), a commentary on the Pentateuch, and Moznayim la-Mishpat (1955), a collection of responsa in two parts. Some of his responsa are still in manuscript. His commentary Ha-Shir ve-ha-Shevaḥ on the Passover Haggadah (1971) was published posthumously.

bibliography:

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin… (Heb., 1967).

[Itzhak Goldshlag]

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