Weinberg, Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov

15 Jun 2006

Rabbi Weinberg was an extraordinarily multi-faceted figure. A student of the Mir and Slabodka yeshivos, he combined within himself Lithuanian profound understanding of Halacha with the Slabodka musar expounded by the illustrious Alte, R. N.T. Finkel, and which he so eloquently described in an essay on the Alte. That musar emphasized the awesome potential of man to attain the greatest spiritual heights.

As a young man he served for seven years as Rabbi of the city of Pilwishki which contained scholars of note considerably his senior. When World War 1 broke out he went to Germany and studied at the university of Giessen, receiving a Ph.D. for a thesis on the masorectic text.

Rabbi Weinberg subsequently taught and eventually became rector of the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary founded by Rabbi Ezriel Hildeshimer. He was receptive to the criticism of others of an extraordinary degree. Dr. Judith Bleich quotes a student of Rabbi Weinberg who writes that “he had never seen an individual of comparable stature who admitted the validity of a question or criticism or acknowledged the insightful comments of students with such regularity”.