R. Meir Leibush Weiser (Malbim)

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Malbim
Malbim
Name
R. Meir Leibush b. Yechiel Michel Weiser, Malbim
ר' מאיר ליבוש בן יחיאל מיכל וייזר, מלבי"ם
Dates1809-1879
LocationRussia / Romania
WorksCommentary on most of Tanakh, Yair Or, Eretz Chemdah, Artzot HaShalom, Artzot HaChayyim
Exegetical Characteristics
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Background1

Life

  • Name – 
    • Hebrew name – רבי מאיר לייבוש בן יחיאל מיכל וייזר, known by the acronym מלבי"ם
    • _ name – 
  • Dates – 1809-1879
  • Location – Malbim was born in Volochysk, Volhynia, and lived in Wreschen (Posen), Breslau, Kempen, Bucharest, Paris, Lencziza (Russian Poland), Kherson, Moghilef, and Konigsberg. He also traveled widely throughout Europe.
  • Occupation – 
    • Malbim served in rabbinic positions in many locations throughout Europe.2
    • During his nineteen year tenure in Kempen,3 Malbim learned German and began studying the sciences, logic, philosophy (with a special interest in Kant), history, and geography.4
    • While serving in Bucharest, Malbim’s efforts to set halakhic standards and encourage his congregants to become more observant, and his fervent opposition to Reform Judaism, raised the ire of wealthy community leaders. These leaders made false accusations leading to Malbim’s imprisonment and then expulsion from Romania.
    • Similar acrimonious disputes occurred in other locations where Malbim served as rabbi, as Malbim continued to stand on principle, defend Orthodoxy, and oppose Reform through his communal leadership and literary activity.
  • Family – Malbim’s father died when he was six years old, and his mother remarried to R. Yehudah Leib of Volochysk. Malbim married at the age of 14, and fathered a son and daughter, but divorced soon after. In 1838, he married the daughter of R. Hayyim Auerbach of Leczyca. His son, Aharon, tragically died in 1862.
  • Teachers – R. Yehudah Leib of Volochysk, R. Moshe Halevi Horowitz,5 R. Aryeh Leib Tzintz, R. Tzvi Hirsch Eichenstein of Zhydachiv.6
  • Contemporaries – Malbim’s life and career (mostly in Eastern Europe) largely overlapped with those of R. Samson Raphael Hirsch in Germany, and R. Shemuel David Luzzatto (Shadal) in Italy. Other contemporaries include Chatam Sofer,7 and R. Shelomo Zalman Tiktin of Breslau.8
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  • Time period – Malbim’s rabbinic career spanned a period when Reform and Haskalah, after having become dominant in Western Europe, began making serious inroads into Eastern Europe. Malbim was living in Breslau in 1838 when the community split into Reform and Orthodox factions, with Abraham Geiger leading the reformers.9

Works

  • Biblical commentaries – Malbim authored commentaries on the entire Bible except for Eikhah and Kohelet.10 He also authored the work Ayyelet HaShachar, laying out the principles of linguistic usage and the interpretation of verbs and synonyms underlying Rabbinic exegesis,11 as well as a work devoted exclusively to interpretation of synonyms, Yair Or.12 Eretz Chemdah13 and Artzot HaShalom14 are collections of sermons on the Torah.
  • Rabbinics – 
    • Talmudic novellae – Yalkut Shelomo15
    • Halakhic codes – Artzot HaChayyim16
    • Responses to the works of others – 
    • Responsa – 
  • Jewish thought – Mashal UMelitzah,17 Alim LeTerufah18
  • Other works – Yesodei Chokhmat HaHiggayon,19 Autobiography20
  • Commonly misattributed to – 

Torah Commentary

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