Tamares, Aaron Samuel

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TAMARES, AARON SAMUEL (1869–1931), rabbi, writer, and philosopher. Born near Maltsh in the district of Grodno, Tamares became known as the "prodigy from Maltsh." Upon the death of his father-in-law (1893), he inherited his post as rabbi in the village of Milejczyce (Grodno district), which he occupied until his death. With the emergence of political Zionism, Tamares joined the new movement and responded to rabbinical opposition in a series of articles entitled "Shillumim le-Riv Ẓiyyon" (Ha-Meliẓ, nos. 56–70, 1899). He said that the religious leadership of the people was becoming petrified and incapable of moving with the spirit of the times; this, he argued, was the reason for its loss of mass support.

Tamares participated in the Fourth Zionist Congress in 1900 but returned disillusioned with Zionism, especially its political aspects, and was also unable to find his place in the *Mizrachi movement, which he considered essentially no different from political Zionism. He began to denounce nationalism, and to preach pacifism. This was the subject of his first book Ha-Yahadut ve-ha-Ḥerut (1905). At the core of Tamares' outlook was his concept of Judaism as a moral code. He preached acceptance of the galut because of its "spiritual purification of our people" by liberating it from the urge for power and war. He also attacked the rabbis for clinging to the superstitions of the masses. These views were expounded in his books Ha-Emunah ha-Tehorah ve-ha-Dat ha-Hamonit and Musar ha-Torah ve-ha-Yahadut (both in 1912), as well as in many articles in Hebrew and Yiddish signed "Aḥad ha-Rabbonim ha-Margishim." With the outbreak of World War i the attainment of world peace, which he saw as the mission of the people of Israel, became his central concern (expounded in his books Keneset Yisrael u-Milḥemot ha-Goyim (1920) and Sheloshah Zivvugim Bilti-Hagunim (1930)). He stepped up his attacks on Zionism for its aspirations to make the people of Israel "a nation like other nations," and for its objectives to attain statehood and military power. He also published a book on halakhah, Yad Aharon (1923). Tamares was an unusual figure in the rabbinical world: an Orthodox rabbi who fought against the fossilized halakhah in a completely original style and who attacked nationalism and political Zionism as anti-Jewish phenomena.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 4 (1929), 897–902; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 989–90.

[Yehuda Slutsky]