Thursday, July 11, 2013

Malbim disappointed Rav Yisroel Salanter by neglecting halacha for Tanach in order to fight Haskala

Rav Nosson Kaminetsky (Making of a Godol pages 1117- 118): It is also noteworthy that two of the four listed greats dedicated the major part of their effort/intellect to fighting the Haskalah/Reform: R' Yisrael Salanter and the Malbim. In regard to the Malbim's magnum opus on Tnakh, authored as a weapon in the war against the German-conceived science of Bible criticism(, R' Eyzil Shapira (Slonimer) said wittingly, "It is our good fortune that the Malbim chose to occupy himself with his commentary on Tnakh, because now we are still able to hold up our heads in his presence [in the area of Shas and posqim]." It is also said that when R' Yisrael Salanter met his coeval the Malbim after a long absence, the former cried out, "Our dear R' Meir-Laibush, what happened to you? You had been our hope that our generation would have a gadol like the Gra  in his time!" R' Yisrael seems to have meant that the Malbim's putting aside the Talmud and dedicating himself to Tnakh was a major disappointment for Klal Yisrael - and even the Salanter, for whom concern with the Haskalah was paramount, as above, was disillusioned. Also cf., שמושה של תורה that when the Malbim began his commentary on Tnakh, he was visited by R' Ruvalleh Denneburger  and R' Lipalleh Mirrer, who tried to persuade him to continue instead with his ingenious commentary on the Shulhan 'Arukh - the first volume of which, ארצות החיים, he had authored at the age of 18 and published 10 years later. He told them, "[My] work [on the Written Law] is the need of the hour due to the condition of the generation - so as to draw the general public to the way of the traditions of Torah and to assure that they not be caught in the nets of the infectious Haskalah. Only if you two do my work on  תורה שבכתב will I return to writing ארצות החיים.


  1. So the opposition to Tenakh started quite before current times. It wasn't always that way, Rashi, Ramban, Ibn Ezra wrote classic commentaries, and were still Gedolim in Torah Sh B'al Peh.

    1. How do you jump from Rashi etc. to the Malbim?!?

      And what does this have to do with opposition to Tanach; it was a queston of priority. The Malbim never did complete his work on Halacha (unlike Rashi etc)

  2. at a tangent - government postpones conscription of Yeshiva students


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