Letter by R. Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski, Vilna 1933 (47865)

כתב מה"ר חיים עוזר גראדזענסקי - Manuscript - Kosher slaughter ban

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 47865
Title (English): Letter by R. Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski
Title (Hebrew): כתב מה"ר חיים עוזר גראדזענסקי
Note: Manuscript - Ritual slaughter ban
City: Vilna (Vilnius)
Publication Date: 1933
Estimated Price: $2,000.00 USD - $3,000.00 USD


Physical Description

[1]p., 267:205 mm., wide margins, light age staining, ink on stationary, creased and starting on folds, Ashkenazic script by the Rabbi, signed and dated.


Detail Description

Written at at time in which Nazi law in Germany had created intense difficulties for religious life, this is an historically important response to R. Unna’s earlier plea to R. Chaim Ozer, seeking Halachic leniency that would permit electroshock-stunning of animals prior to ritual slaughter. In Europe of the interwar years, restrictions were imposed on ritual slaughter, by various antisemitic organizations acting under the guise of prevention of cruelty to animals. One of the rabbis who was very active in the battle against the Kosher slaughter ban was R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski of Vilna, who dispatched letters on the topic to many European rabbis, and did his utmost to forestall the ban.

R. Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski (1863–1940), talmudic scholar and one of the spiritual leaders of Lithuanian Orthodox Jewry, son of the talmudic scholar, R. Solomon David Grodzinski (1831–c. 1908). R. Grodzinski studied in the yeshivot of Eisheshok and Volozhin, where he was known as an illui (prodigy). In 1887 he was appointed one of the dayyanim of the bet din of Vilna, and he came to be regarded as its leading dayyan. R. Grodzinski was one of the initiators of the Vilna Conference of 1909, which resulted in the formation of the Orthodox Keneset Israel organization. He also participated in the founding conference of the Agudat Israel at Katowice in 1914, served as a leading member of that party's Council of Sages, and was the prime force for spreading its influence in and around Vilna. An initiator of the conference of rabbis at Grodno in 1924 which founded the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot ("Council of the Yeshivot") for the spiritual and material support of yeshivot and their students, he was the moving spirit behind the Council. R. Grodzinski was a vehement opponent of Zionism and of secular education for Jews, his aim being to preserve the Torah milieu of the Lithuanian yeshivot and townlets intact. In 1934 he prevented the transfer of the Hildesheimer rabbinical seminary from Berlin to Tel Aviv. Asked by an Agudat Israel kibbutz whether it was permitted to settle on Jewish National Fund land, he advised its members "Let him who is firm in spirit stay steadfast in his place and not hurry to join the swelling stream… until God has mercy on His people and hastens his redemption." In 1929, when R. Isaac Rubinstein was chosen as chief rabbi of Vilna, Grodzinski's supporters sparked a violent controversy in the community. R. Grodzinski's responsa were published in three volumes under the title of Aḥi'ezer (1922, 1925, 1939). In the introduction to the last volume, written on the eve of the Holocaust, he spoke of the fear and dismay that was rapidly descending upon the entire Jewish people, both in the Diaspora and (in a reference to the 1936–39 riots) in Ereẓ Israel. He wrote about the spiritual disintegration of the Jewish community, and its laxity in the observance of the Sabbath, kashrut, and the laws of marital purity. All this he blamed on the Reform movement in the West and on secular education in the East. His sole consolation was in "the important work of preserving and strengthening Torah education" and in the fact that "the large and small yeshivot were the strongholds of Judaism… in Poland and Lithuania."

R. Isak Unna (1872 – 1948) response is in the lower part of the letter. He was born in Wuerzburg, studied philology at the universities in Wuerzburg and Berlin, and attended the Orthodox Hildesheimer Seminary in Berlin. He became one of the Rabbis of the Klaus-Synagoge in Mannheim. He was one of the founders of the Achduth Organization, an organization of Neo-Orthodox Jews in Germany. In 1935 he followed his older children and emigrated with his wife and younger children to Palestine. He died shortly after the proclamation of the State of Israel.


Hebrew Description