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Dembitzer, Ḥayyim Nathan

DEMBITZER, ḤAYYIM NATHAN (1820–1892), talmudist and historian. Dembitzer was born in Cracow and became a dayyan in his native city. Active in financial support of the old yishuv in Ereẓ Israel, Dembitzer urged scholars to renew their support for the R. Meir Ba'al ha-Nes Fund (1852). His first research was devoted to responsa literature and the to safists. Dembitzer became noted for historical research and critical work in the field of talmudic and rabbinic literature and its leading personalities. As early as 1841 he had begun correspondence on biographical and historical subjects with such well-known rabbis as Solomon *Kluger and Ẓevi Hirsch ben Meir *Chajes. A visit to Germany in 1874 brought him in touch with such contemporary scholars as H. Graetz, Z. Frankel, L. Zunz, and D. Kaufmann, who influenced him to publish his work. His works include Livyat Ḥen (1882), notes and glosses on the work of Ravyah (R. Eliezer b. Joel ha-Levi); Kelilat Yofi, volume one (1888), a historical survey of the Lvov rabbis, and volume two (1893, repr. 1960), biographies of famous rabbis from Poland-Latvia from 1493 to 1692, including information on Polish Jewish independent government; essays on the Council of Four Lands; and Torat Ḥen (1895), halakhic responsa.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Wettstein, Toledot Meharḥan (1893), reprinted in J. Mandelbaum, Mafte'aḥ le-Sefer Kelilat Yofi (1968), 11–35; Brann, in: MGWJ, 39 (1895), 142; B. Wachstein, Die hebraeische Publizistik in Wien, 3 (1930), 11; Aḥi'asaf, 1 (1893), 296 (obituary).