Letter by R. Ezekiel Sarna, Jerusalem, 1938 (46792)

כתב מה"ר יחזקאל סרנא - Manuscript

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 46792
Title (English): Letter by R. Ezekiel Sarna
Title (Hebrew): כתב מה"ר יחזקאל סרנא
Note: Manuscript
City: Jerusalem
Publication Date: 1938
Estimated Price: $200.00 USD - $500.00 USD


Physical Description

[1] p., 278:216 mm., light age staining, creased on folds, ink on stationary, signed, and dated.


Detail Description

R. Ezekiel Sarna (1889–1969), rosh yeshivah in Israel. Born in Gorodok, Lithuania, R. Sarna was the son of R. Jacob Hayyim Sarna, the Maggid ("preacher") of Slonim and a close associate of R. Hayyim Soloveitchik. At an early age R. Ezekiel was accepted in the famous yeshiva of Slobodka, Lithuania, where he became known as the illui ("child prodigy") of Gorodok. He was particularly influenced by the method of study and moral inspiration of the heads of the yeshiva – the Sabba of Slobodka, R. Nathan Zevi Finkel, and R. Moses Mordecai Epstein. When World War I broke out, the Slobodka yeshivah was transferred from Kovno to Kremenchug in the Ukraine. In this period R. Sarna studied under R. Israel Meir ha-Kohen (Hafez-Hayyim). His marriage to R. Epstein's daughter accorded R. Sarna, already distinguished by his talent and profound acumen, a special status. After the war the yeshiva returned to Slobodka, where R. Sarna was appointed a lecturer.

In 1924 R. Epstein decided to transfer the Slobodka yeshiva to Erez Israel. For this purpose he sent R. Sarna to choose a site. R. Sarna selected Hebron, where he immediately became one of the heads of the yeshiva and was mainly responsible for its development. About a year later R. Finkel and R. Epstein joined the yeshiva. On the death of his father-in-law in 1927, R. Sarna was appointed rosh yeshiva, a position he held until his death. The yeshiva attracted students from all parts of the world and, at the time of its destruction in the pogrom of 1929, had 265 students. R. Sarna reestablished the yeshiva in Jerusalem as the Hebron Yeshivah. Under Sarna's guidance it again flourished. His talmudic and musar discourses achieved a reputation in the yeshiva world, and Hebron Yeshiva developed into one of the largest and most important Torah centers in Israel, continuing the educational and musar methods of the great Lithuanian yeshivot. As a leader of the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot, R. Sarna was mainly preoccupied by his own and other yeshivot, but was also actively interested in national problems. He was a member of the Mo'ezet Gedolei ha-Torah, the supreme religious institution of Agudat Israel. He held independent views on political matters, both local and foreign, and on occasion addressed his opinions to the prime minister and members of the Israel government, attempting by virtue of his personality to influence the political, social, and religious life of the state. He was instrumental in obtaining exemption from military service for yeshiva students. R. Sarna had a unique style in halakhah and musar, and published a number of books, including commentaries on R. Judah Halevi's Kuzari (1965), on the Orhot Hayyim by R. Asher b. Jehiel (1957), and on Mesillat Yesharim (1957) by R. Moses Hayyim Luzzatto. He left many manuscripts on halakhah and Jewish thought. Despite an illness in his last years, he undertook the establishment of the new yeshiva center, Kiryat Hevron, in southern Jerusalem.