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A Human Torah Scroll
R’ Elchonon Wasserman would
relate that, once, when the Netziv (1816-1893) was carrying a
Sefer Torah to the Bima, the Netziv slipped and fell along with the Sefer
Torah. While everyone ran to pick up the Sefer Torah first, R’ Itzele of
Volozhin yelled that the Netziv must
be picked up first because he is a living Sefer Torah.
The Sefer Be’er Moshe tells
of a story with the great R’ Dovid Deutsch (1756-1831). He once came to
the city of Pressburg late at night and didn’t have a place to lodge in. He
therefore went to the Beis Midrash and rested on the floor. Early the next
morning when the Chassam Sofer arrived and saw R’ Deutsch on the floor, he
decreed a fast, saying that a Sefer Torah is on the floor!
merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close
to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt
has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the
author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics.
His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live
with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a
suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is
passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.
נציב is an acronym for his
name—נפתלי צבי יהודה ברלין. His first wife was the daughter
of R’ Yitzchak of Volozhin (R’ Itzele),
the son of R’ Chaim Volozhin. His second wife was his niece, a daughter of R’
Yechiel Michel Epstein, the author of the Aruch Hashulchan. A son from his
first marriage, R’ Chaim Berlin, became the rabbi of Moscow. His son from his second marriage was R’ Meir Berlin
(later Bar-Ilan). The Netziv led the yeshiva in Volozhin from 1854 to its
closure in 1892. During the Netziv’s time in Volozhin, the
yeshiva produced many greats, including R’ Issur Zalman Meltzer and R’ Zelig
Bengis. His Sefarim include Ha'amek She'eila, Meishiv Davar (a
collection of his responsa), Ha'amek Davar (a Torah commentary) and
R’ Chaim Volozhin headed the
yeshiva in Volozhin until 1825. When R’ Chaim died, his son, R’ Yitzchak, who
was called Reb Itzele, became the head of the yeshiva and the chief
rabbi in Volozhin. R’ Itzele often took an active role in lobbying the Russian
government on behalf of the Jewish people.
The Gemara says כמה טפשאי...ולא קיימי מגברא רבה, how
foolish are those that they rise before a Sefer Torah but not before a great
man—Torah sage (Makkos 22b).
He was a student of the Noda
B’yehuda and became a Rav in several cities.
See Shu”t Chassam Sofer,
Orach Chaim 124 where the Chassam Sofer gives R’ Dovid Deutsch a title of
honor. In the Haskama for the sefer of R’ Dovid Deutsch, the Chassam Sofer
wrote “that Tzadik, holy Jew, genius…I have seen in it [the sefer] wonderful
things. We are privileged to merit his words and his light…His merit should
protect us from all harm.”
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