Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart zzl

Know Idea is translating the holy books of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart z”zl from Hebrew into English.

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart (1862-1937) was the Stashever rebbi, chief rabbi to Toronto’s Polish Jews, director of Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah, and a leading spokesman for Orthodox Jewry during the 1920s and 1930s. Rabbi Graubart was born in Sarinsk, Slutzk Province, Lithuania. Rabbi Graubart’s father, Binyamin Graubart, a disciple of the Hasidic Rabbi Israel Meir of Gur (author of Chidushei HaRim), was R. Graubart’s initial instructor of Talmud. Rabbi Menachem Tzvi Graubart, also an accomplished Torah scholar, was the brother of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart. In addition, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart learned extensively with his older brother, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Graubart, the Bendiner Rav, an acclaimed Torah scholar and the rabbi of Bedzin, Poland. To ensure that Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart was acquainted with the ideas and customs of hasidism, R. Graubart’s father regularly brought him to the Hasidic court of Rabbi Zev Wolf of Strikov for guidance and support. While Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart was interested in the literature of chassidism, he was also attracted to other streams of Jewish wisdom including the central works of Jewish philosophy and modern hebrew literature. Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart was unique in that he contained a Lithuanian knowledge of Jewish law, a deep knowledge of Chassidus as well as a broad understanding of modern Jewish literature.

In 1882, at the age of 20, R. Graubart received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Chaim Eliezer Wax of Kalisch, Poland. Two years later, he acquired an additional ordination from Rabbi Nathan Leipziger of Sarinsk. Following his marriage to the daughter of Rabbi Alexander Ziskind Lipshitz, a dayyan in Ozorkov, Poland, in 1884, R. Graubart accepted a position as communal Rabbi in Janov, Lithuania. Four years later, he became a rabbi at Makov, near Lomza, Poland. Graubart spent more than a decade at Makov, where he earned a reputation as a hardworking and kindly rabbi who brought distinction to the community by establishing a new yeshiva. In 1901 Graubart accepted a rabbinic position at Stashov, Poland, where he spent the next 25 years. In Poland, he served in Stashov, the district from which most of Toronto’s Polish Jews had emigrated. He was renowned for his religious knowledge and published works as well as for his efforts in creating rabbinical associations throughout Poland and Russia.

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart would go on to be a noted rabbi and posek in Poland, St. Louis, and later, Toronto. On August 18th, 1920, Rabbi Graubart became the communal rabbi of Toronto’s Polish Jews, succeeding Rabbi Judah Rosenberg. He soon took charge of the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah, and in 1922, he formed a Yeshiva called Shaarei Torah. Rabbi Graubart developed the first communal Eruv in Toronto.

Rabbi Graubart was also a spokesman for Mizrachi, the movement of religious Zionists. Following World War I, R. Graubart participated in a conference of the Agudath Israel organization, but rejected an offer to join its Council of Torah Sages because of the Agudath’s repudiation of Zionism. Instead, R. Graubart joined the movement of religious Zionists, Mizrachi, where he became one of its illustrious spokesman.

Toward the end of his life, Rabbi Graubart withdrew from communal work and concentrated almost exclusively on his writings and Torah study. He was renown internationally as a scholar and authority in his field. Rabbi Graubart wrote numerous holy books including Chavalim Ba’neimim (pdf 1pdf 2pdf 3pdf 4pdf 5), Devarim K’ChtavamYabia OmerYamin Usmol, as well as a piece about Shabbas. He also wrote an autobiography entitled Book of Memoirs.

Rabbi Graubart was married to Hinda (née Kronenberg) and they had five children: Binyamin, Yaakov, Eve, Rachel, and Sarah. (All three daughters were murdered during the Shoah.) Upon the passing of his wife, he married Esther (née Lipszyc) and they had four children: Pinchas, David, Hinda, and Devorah. Rabbi Graubart’s second wife, Esther, was a direct descendant of Rabbi Alexander Zisskind Liebschuetz (Lipschitz) HaKohen, Rabbi Pinchas, Rabbi Yoel Sirkis (the Bach), Rabbi David Segal HaLevi (the Taz), Rabbi Shabbatai Cohen (the Shach), Rabbi Aharon Shmuel Koidenower, Rabbi Moshe Heilprin, Rabbi Yehiel Heilprin (the author of Seder HaDorot), and Rabbi Solomon Heilprin.

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