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Lichtenstein, Hillel ben Baruch

LICHTENSTEIN, HILLEL BEN BARUCH (1815–1891), Hungarian rabbi. Lichtenstein was one of the outstanding pupils of Moses *Sofer. He first served as rabbi of Margarethen and in 1854 was elected rabbi of Kolozsvar, the capital of Transylvania. After 18 months he was compelled to leave the locality without officially assuming office, owing to his opposition to Abraham Friedman, rabbi of Transylvania, and because of the internal frictions in the community which were aggravated as a result. His refusal to go to Gyulafehérvár (*Alba-Julia), where the district rabbi had his seat, to receive his sanction to take up his post, as was then the custom, served as the formal reason for his departure. Between 1865 and 1867 he was rabbi of Szikszó, also in Hungary. He then moved to Galicia and became rabbi of Kolomyya (Kolomea). Lichtenstein was one of the dominant figures of the Orthodox community in their struggle with the reformers both before and after the great schism of 1869. He fought against any suspicion of reform in the life of the Jews, and sharply criticized those Orthodox Jews, including rabbis, who inclined to any kind of innovation in religious practices. He especially attacked those who attempted to preach in German, and even censured Azriel *Hildesheimer on this account. Lichtenstein's pupils also served as uncompromising fighters against religious reforms. At rabbinical conventions in Hungary, called on his initiative, the main principles of extremist Orthodoxy for Hungarian Jewry were laid down. The first convention of this kind assembled in Sátoraljaújhely in 1864 but the main one took place in 1866 in Nagymihály (Michalovce) where resolutions were adopted excommunicating Reform Judaism and any rabbi preaching in German or any other European language. Ten *takkanot were also enacted, which to this day serve as the basis of the separation between Orthodox Jews and reformers in Hungary. Lichtenstein wrote many books, including Maskil el Dal, 4 parts, sermons (1860–69); Shirei Maskil, on ethics (1877); Avkat Rokhel, responsa, 2 parts (1883–85); and Et La'asot, in Yiddish, on ethics, 2 parts (1878).


Aaron of Nadvornaya, Zekher Ẓaddik (1891); Z.H. Heller, Beit Hillel (1893); Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 147–50; N.M. Gelber, in: Pinkas Kolomey (1957), 41–48.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.