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Rabbi Eliyahu Feinstein

R. Eliyahu Ha-Levi Feinstein (Rav Ele Pruzhaner, 1842-1929) was born in Slutzk. His father, R. Aharon Ha-Levi served that days as rabbi of nearby shtetl of Starobin.

He started his Torah and Talmud studies very early, and at the age of 7 was known for his expertise on the whole of tractate "Nezikin". At the age of 15 he entered Volozhin yeshiva, and less than 3 years after he married a daughter of the famous R. Yitzhak Yechiel Ha-Levi Davidson, ABD of Korelitz. In 1863 his father R. Aharon died and R. Eliyahu was asked to inherit his position as rabbi of Starobin. In 1870 he was elected as rabbi of Kletzk, and in the winter of 1874 his father-in-law, R. Yizhak Yechiel, died and R. Eliyahu took the position of rabbi in Korelitz.

From 1877 till 1882 R. Eliyahu served rabbi of distant Chislavichi situated on the edge of the Pale, there a new chapter in his life story began. In that period significant migration of Jewish population to the western provinces of Russia outside the Pale as Smolensk, Kharkov, gained momentum. It was important that the Jews who managed to infiltrate into forbidden places would be able to reach a rabbi for him and his family, a melamed for his children, a shochet, a mikve, etc, and R. Eliyahu worked to help them in these matters. After the pogroms of 1882 had broken out, the conference of Russian Jewish leader was held in St. Petersburg, and R. Eliyahu was among those who were invited to take part in it. One of the proposals proposed at the Conference was to sand a deputation to the Czar to tell him about the tragic events and ask him to defend the Jews from the pogromers. R. Eliyahu was against hid proposal. He argued that it was impossible that the Czar had not known about the pogroms and that they had been under his silent consent. So, such a deputation would not improve the situation of the Jews but worsen it. The future proved that R. Eliyahu was right. In 1884 R. Elyahu took the position of the rabbi of Pruzhany which he occupied for 45 years, till the end of his life.

His sons-of-law were prominent rabbis: R. Menachem Krakowsky, R. Moshe Soloveitchik, R. David Feigenbaum who inherited his position of the rabbi of Pruzhany and R. Eleazer Yitzhak Meizil, MoZ in Lodz. The last two perished in the Holocaust. Many of his writings remained unpublished, bus some part of them was included into the book of his son-in-law R. David Feigenbaum "Halichot Eliyahu" (Vilna, 1932) which also contains his biography.

 


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