Baruch HaLevi Epstein
1902, Rabbi Epstein published his Torah Temima, which became one of the most
popular sefarim of
the century. Baruchs father, Rabbi Yechiel Michel, was the rabbi of
Novorodak and author of the classic Aruch HaShulchon, and his uncle
was the illustrious Rabbi
Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, Rosh Yeshiva of the famed Volozhin Yeshiva.
The family was of Sefardic
extraction, whose name was originally Benveniste. However, after the Spanish
Expulsion they were permitted to settle in the German city of Epstein and
apparently in gratitude adopted Epstein as their own name.
of a photographic memory, Baruch was a brilliant student and though he
received semicha from some of the greatest rabbis of the time, declined to
accept a rabbinical position. Instead he worked as an accountant and banker
object of the Torah Temima is to show the interrelationship between the Oral
Law. His method is to quote comments and interpretations from the vast
Rabbinical literature on each Biblical verse and then to provide his own
analysis of how the interpretations were deduced. His comments are
stimulating and absorbing. An English translation of The Essential Torah
Temima was recently published by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein.
the first World War Pinsk was in dire financial straits and Rabbi Baruch was
unable to concentrate on his Talmudical studies. Instead, he wrote his
memoirs, Mekor Baruch, in four large volumes, containing over 2000
pages. They are a candid and fascinating portrait of his family and the
leading personalities of the previous generation. Rabbi Baruch sees
Mendelssohns fatal flaws in his denial of Jewish national identity in the
diaspora. For Mendelssohn the Jews were a religion but their nationality was
that of the country in which they lived. This concept had disastrous
Baruch also wrote Tosefot Bracha on the Pentateuch and Baruch She-amar
on the prayers. However, his magnum opus remains the Torah Temima, which
was published when his father was still alive. In his brief letter of
blessing Rabbi Yechiel Michel comments on how apt the title is for when the
Torah is Temima, meaning that the Oral and Written Law are shown to be an
organic entity, then in fact it is meshivat
nefesh, it restores the soul.
Rabbi Baruch came to the United States in 1923 but was unable to find a suitable position and returned to Pinsk in 1926.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.