Letter by R. Naphtali Zevi Judah Berlin (Neziv), Volozhin 1868
כתב מה"ר נפתלי צבי יהודה ברלין, (הנציב) - Manuscript
- Lot Number 53410
- Title (English) Letter by by R. Naphtali Zevi Judah Berlin (Neziv)
- Title (Hebrew) כתב מה"ר נפתלי צבי יהודה ברלין, (הנציב)
- Note Manuscript
- City Volozhin
- Publication Date 1868
- Estimated Price - Low 5,000
- Estimated Price - High 10,000
- Item # 2385014
- End Date
- Start Date
 p., 265:213 mm, light age staining, creased on folds, neat Ashkenazic hand, signed and dated.
Early letter with official seal in upper corner.
Neziv was keenly interested in the general community and its needs. He wrote many detailed responsa to questions arriving from various communities throughout the world on matters of halakhah and on general public affairs. A small part of his responsa was collected in his Meshiv Davar (2 vols., Warsaw, 1892) which revealed his general breadth of outlook. He completely rejected the demand of certain religious circles to establish separatist orthodox communities, stressing that "such advice is as painful as a dagger in the body of the nation," for all Jews are commanded to form "one union" (Meshiv Davar, vol. 1 responsum 42). He joined the Hibbat Zion movement from its very inception, and at the Druzgeniki Conference (1887) was elected "counseling member" of its executive. In many letters he urged observant Jews to join the movement and to support the settlement of Jews in Erez Israel, even though some were nonobservant. At the same time, he stressed that "our contributions do not go to settle the land of the Philistines, but to restore the desolation of our Holy Land... so that the Torah and the precepts be observed among its inhabitants" (Meshiv Davar, vol. 2, responsum 50, on shemitta). With that end in view, he urged that a religious person be appointed supervisor of the settlers in the colonies in Erez Israel to ensure they conduct themselves in accordance with the Torah and the precepts. He also suggested that "secular" members of the Jewish settlements (referring to the Bilu'im in Gederah) be enabled to return to their countries abroad and that their place be taken by observant Jews from the old yishuv in Jerusalem. Later, however, he withdrew this suggestion, and even defended the Bilu'im because they had "improved their ways." Neziv was opposed to the permission granted by other rabbinic authorities for fields to be worked during the sabbatical year by means of the legal fiction of "selling" the land to non-Jews.
In his last years, he came into conflict with the Russian authorities as a result of their instructions both for a reduction in the number of students at the yeshivah of Volozhin and the introduction of secular subjects, especially the study of Russian, in the curriculum. Very much against his will, he reduced the student roll somewhat and introduced the study of Russian. However, even after these steps, the number of students at the yeshivah remained double that permitted by the Government, with few students among them attending the lessons in Russian. As a result the yeshivah was closed down by government decree in 1892 and Neziv and his family were exiled. They moved first to Minsk and later to Warsaw. The closing down of the yeshivah seriously affected his health and he was unable to carry out his desire to settle in Erez Israel. He died in Warsaw about 18 months after his departure from Volozhin.
ReferencesEJ; M. Berlin, Mi-Volozhin ad Yerushalayim, 1 (1939); idem, Rabban shel Yisrael (1943); S. Y. Zevin, Ishim ve-Shitot (1958), 9–37; J. Litvin, in: L. Jung (ed.), Men of the Spirit (1964), 285–99