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David Weiss Halivni

Rabbi Dr. David Weiss Halivni (Hebrew: דוד וייס הלבני; September 27, 1927 – June 28, 2022) born in Kobyletska Poliana (now part of Ukraine), was a Judaic studies scholar. He grew up in the home of his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Isaiah (Shaye) Weiss, a Hasidic Talmud scholar in Sighet, Romania. His grandfather began teaching him at age 5, and he was regarded as an Illui (savant). He received semichah (rabbinic ordination) at age 15 from Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Gross of the town's yeshiva. When he arrived in the United States at the age of 18 after his liberation following the Holocaust, he was placed in a Jewish orphanage, where he created a stir by challenging the kashrut of the institution. A social worker introduced him to Rabbi Saul Lieberman, a leading Talmudist at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in New York, who recognized his brilliance and took him under his wing. Weiss later studied with Lieberman for many years at the JTS. Initially, he studied in Yeshiva Chaim Berlin under Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner and was allowed to forgo lectures because of his advanced standing. Over the next decade, he completed high school; earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Brooklyn College; a master's degree in philosophy from NYU, and his doctorate in Talmud at JTS. For many years he served as a Professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). Halivni's "source-critical approach" to Talmud study had a major impact on academic understanding and study of the Talmud. The traditional understanding viewed the Talmud as a unified homogeneous work. While other scholars had also treated the Talmud as a multi-layered work, Halivni's innovation (primarily in the second volume of his Meqorot u-Mesorot) was to distinguish between the onymous statements, which are generally succinct Halachic rulings or inquiries attributed to known Amoraim, and the anonymous statements, characterized by a much longer analysis often consisting of lengthy dialectic discussion, which he attributed to the later authors- "Stamma'im" (or Savora'im). After 1983, Halivni served as Reish Metivta of the Union for Traditional Judaism's rabbinical school. Halivni later served as Littauer Professor of Talmud and Classical Rabbinics in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. In July 2005, he retired from Columbia University and moved to Israel, where he taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar Ilan University until his death.


על השואה ועל התפלתה | Prayer in the Shoah, an essay and a prayer by Rabbi Dr. David Weiss Halivni (2000)

Contributed on: 02 Mar 2023 by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Peter W. Ochs (translation) | David Weiss Halivni |

A meditation on a unique prayer heard by Rabbi Dr. David Weiss Halivni at the Rosh Hashanah services at the Wolfsberg Labor Camp in 1944. . . .

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