Tuesday, August 22, 2006

כח מנחם אב: יום השנה לנצי"ב מוואלאזין זצ"ל

Today marks the 113th Yahrzeit of R. Naphtali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, the Rosh Yeshiva and Rov ov Volozhin (Netziv; 1817-1893), about whom I've written before .

I have long felt a deep connection with the Netziv (for which I owe a debt of gratitude to Rav Herschel Schachter שליט"א), whose humility and strength, breadth of learning and careful insight are always a pleasure to encounter. I am proud of the fact that my personal copies of his commentary on Humash, העמק דבר and that on the שאילתות, known as העמק שאלה are in deperate need of rebinding (though I would be the absolutely last person to say he has done anything more than water skied over the ocean of his wisdom).

Of course, the Netziv to which I am drawn is not only the fabulous lamdan and insightful Biblical exegete. I am drawn by his sharp awareness of the needs of our people, his strong commitment to Religious Zionism (in its חיבת ציון form) and his belief that so-called secular studies are an integral part of the Torah (though he thought that they should not be studied within the framework of a Yeshiva).

My rebbe, R. Gedalia Felder זצ"ל, once mentioned to me that on the yahrzeit of an אדם גדול, one should spend time studying his works. I do try to do that as often as I can. In light of the present situation, I think I'll read his essay on Antisemitism at the back of his commentary on שיר השירים, entitled רנה של תורה.

You can't quote the ירושלמי in שקלים too often:

אין להם נפשות לצדיקים, דבריהן הן זכרונן

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