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I am writing to RavSIG because I have a mystery. My ancestor was a
man named Moshe ben Rephoel LEHRNBLATT. He was born ca. 1813 in
Rossien in Kovno Province in Lithuania.
According to Levi Ovchinsky in his Magnum Opus "The History of the
Jews of Kourland 1474-1907," Rav Moshe was Rabbi of Sassmacken in
Kourland for 52 years til his death in 1887, and he corresponded
with Rav Yitzhak Elchanan Spektor. Moshe also wrote a Haskuma to the
sefer "Madrich HaTalmud" (I have seen the sefer, it has numerous
pages of Haskomot >from various people and various places but no
Moshe ben Rephoel)
According to Ovchinsky and Markowitz (Maarechet Rossien) Moshe's
1) Nochum GIMMELSHEIN a rabbi in St. Petersburg Russia,
2) Fevel HIMMELSHEIN a rabbi and businessman in Memel in Germany,
3) David MARGOLIUS a boki in Hilchos Mamonos and
4) according to family tradition, Yitzhak MARGOLIUS.
Moshe's sons-in-law were:
1) Gavriel ben Yaakov ELION Rabbi of Rujene in Livland. His family
had been Rabbis in Kharzai for generations and had emigrated from
Amsterdam in the mid 17th Century to be close to The Gaon of Vilna.
A source claims that an aunt was the second wife of the Gaon. I am
not sure if they are Cohenim but if ELIONs of Lithuania are, they
would be rlated to the ELIONs of Amsterdam.
2) Yekusiel ben Yaakov EPHRAIMSON Dayan and subesquent rav in Bausk
and contemporary of Avraham Yitzhak Kook who was rav there until he
made aliyah to Yaffo in 1905.
Sefer "Tal ve Raya" on the life of Rav Kook claims they had a very
good relationship. They used to send presents to each other on Purim
and quote epitaths >from Tractate Megillah. Yekusiel was a close
student of Yisrael Salanter.
A source also wrote to me that Yekusiel's daughter married the
brother of AY Kook's second wife.(Rav Kook married two cousins, the
first a daughter of the Aderet the second her cousin)
3) Avraham Shmuel ben Naftoli DUBITSKY. Rav in Sassmacken after 1887
and then in Goldigen and Freidland and thence to Montreal where he
died in 1943.
He was the Head of the Vaad HaRobonim of Montreal til 1941. He was
buried on Mont Royal.
A student told this writer in 1990, that DUBITSKY had the appearance
of Rabbi Elimelch Bloch, Rosh Yeshiva of Telz.
4) Joseph MARGOLIUS, the son of Moshe's brother Yitzhak. This
fellow was Moshe LEHRNBLATT's nephew, the son of his brother Yitzhok
MARGOLIUS, who married his daughter. Aside >from rumours of being a
rabbi in Heidelberg Germany for a short while in 1881-82, I have no
evidence of his greatness aside >from the fact that his 90 year old
grand son told us in 1990 that Joseph taught him Shneim Oksin, the
first chapter of Tractate Baba Metzia back in 1912.
Moshe married a certain Tzerna bat Meshulem Zalman. Markowitz in
his Maarechet Rossien mentions that Meshulem Zalman taught Talmud
in the great Beth Hamidrash in Rossien until his death in 1837.
Meshulem Zalman displayed prowess in teaching Talmud. He was
considered highly and he was held in very high esteem for his
knowledge and ability to teach.
Meshulem Zalman had a son as stated in Maarechet Rossien as well as
in Ovchinsky's sefer, named Aaron who served on a number of Dayonot
until he became a dayan on Rav Yitzhok Elchonon Spektor's Beth din
in Kovno. Aaron did Shimush (learnt Dayanut) in Rossien under Rabbi
Moshe Zeitlin and was a Dayan in Tukkum
Lipshitz in his memorial Book on the life of Rav Yizhak Elchanan
states in a footnote in the chapter concerning the Etrogie Korfu
controversy in 1875, that Aaron ben Meshulem Zalman signed the psak
(decree) as Dayan. It should be noted, however, that both Markowitz
and Ovchinsky state that R' Aaron died in or about 1874 in Kovno
My question is what was Aaron ben Meshulem Zalman's surname? I have
several theories based upon his grandfather's name Aryeh.
1) Yitzhak Wolf Olschwanger, Rav of St. Petersburg, had a wife,
Hinda bat Aryeh. My family has a tradition of a connection to
Ollswong. Olschwangers trace their lineage back to the
Katzenellenbogen family and the Levush. David Eisfelder send Anna
Ollswanger a family tree in 1983 in which he indicated a hunch that
if the Almogs (Judges in Haifa) are descendents of Olschwanger then
Olschwanger could be >from the Katzenellenbogen family. "The Unbroken
Chain " published the thesis as a fact.
2) Yisrael Salanter's father was Zev Wolf ben Aryeh (According to
Tnuat Hamussar, even though The Jewish Encyclopedia Funkanwagnell
1907 edition gives a different lineage). Is it a possibility that
theses two sons of Aryeh were brothers?
3) A cousin has suggested that Aaron's surname was Rosenberg. This
would be very interesting as well, as the late Rosh Yeshiva of
Slobotka Yeshiva in Bnei Braq was a certain R' Boruch Rosenberg.
To cut a long story short this whole family is a mystery to me, can
anyone else out there help me answer any of my implied questions
aside >from who was Rabbi Aaron ben Meshulem Zalman?