Judah Leib (Fishman) Maimon
(1875 - 1962)
Born in Bessarabia, Judah Leib Fishman studied in Lithuanian
yeshivot, and after ordination, was a preacher (maggid) and then
rabbi. He met Rabbi Yitzhak Reines, founder of the Mizrachi
religious Zionist movement in 1900 and took part in the movement's
founding conference in Vilna. He participated in the second and
subsequent Zionist congresses and was a member of the Zionist
General Council. He settled in Eretz Yisrael in 1913.
At the beginning of World War I, Rav Maimon was imprisoned by the
Turkish authorities, and when he was expelled, went to the U.S.
where he was active on behalf of the Mizrachi movement. He returned
on the first ship to reach Palestine after the war. His friendship
with Rav Kook led them to establish the Chief Rabbinate of
Palestine. He 1936 he founded Mosad HaRav Kook which still publishes
religious books. As Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, he was
interned by the British on "Black Saturday" in June 1946.
After establishment of the State, he was a member of the
First Knesset, as well as minister of religions and minister in
charge of war casualties. He eventually gave up politics in favor of
Rav Maimon founded a number of institutions which are still
important in modern-day Israel. Specifically, the Mizrachi
organization, including its educational institutions; the Israeli
chief rabbinate and Mosad HaRav Kook.
While he was in exile in the United States, Rav Maimon
became a prolific writer on behalf of the Mizrachi movement for
religious Zionism. Later, although he was faithful to the leadership
of the Jewish Yishuv, he was sympathetic to breakaway Jewish
organizations, particularly the Irgun Zevai Leumi (Etzel) and
Lohamei Herut Israel (Lehi). He was clear about the right of every
Jew to bear arms in self-defense and in defense of Jewish rights in
Eretz Yisrael. When the Haganah, forerunner of today's IDF, began to
suppress the Etzel (1944-1945), he expressed his opposition.
After establishment of the State, he advocated institution a
Sanhedrin supreme religious authority, but the idea was opposed in
most religious circles.
His writing ranged from Halacha (religious law) and biblical
investigation to talmudic and literary works. He founded Mizrachi's
weekly newspaper, HaTor, which published 1921-1936. His major work
was "Sarei HaMeah", whose six volumes, published 1942-1947, describe
the greatest Jewish scholars of the 19th century. Other late works
included books on Jewish holidays, on religious Zionism and several
figures from Jewish history.
Sources: The Pedagogic
Center, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency for
Israel, (c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, Director: Dr. Motti Friedman, Webmaster: