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Rabbi Pinchas HaKohen Lintup

(1851 - 1924) by Joel Weingarten

Rabbi Pinchas HaKohen Lintup (also written as “Lintop;” Hebrew:לינטופ הכהן פנחס הרב ;1851 – June 1, 1924)[1] was a Biblical scholar, Kabbalist, and teacher in the second half of the 19th Century and the first quarter of the 20th Century. Rabbi Lintup served as the Rabbi of the Chasidic community of Birzai, Lithuania.[2]  Together with the Leshem (Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv) and Rav Abraham Yitzhack HaKohen Kook, Lintup is one the three greatest Lithuanian Kabbalists from his era. Rabbi Lintup was also a religious Zionist and supporter of the Mizrachi movement.[3]


Born in 1851, Rabbi Lintup was the son of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Hahn Lintup. Rabbi Lintup was appointed rabbi in Vabolnik, Lithuania in 1876 prior to being sought out by the Hasidic Jews of Birzai, Lithuania to lead their community in 1888.[4] [5] His student Menachem Mendel Frieden noted that Lintup was known as “one of the great rabbis of Lithuania . . . sharp and well versed in the entire treasury of Jewish law, he knew almost the entire Talmud by heart, he studied philosophy and progressive ideas, and he was pious and zealous.”[6]

Lintup and his wife Slova (née Kantzapovich) had eleven children. One of his sons, Tzvi Hirsch immigrated to the United States in 1905. Passing through Ellis Island his name was changed to Harry Seebee Linfield. Upon ordination, he too became a rabbi.

Rabbi Lintup and his wife sought passage to Palestine in 1924. Rabbi Kook requested a visa for them from the British Governorate on March 24, 1924. This request was approved on July 30, 1924, however, Lintup had passed away two months prior.

Rabbi Lintup died on June 1, 1924, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Birzai.[7]

Religious Focus & Philosophy

Rabbi Lintup viewed the salvation of the Jewish people as inextricably linked to study of Torah. According to Rabbinic scholar Bezalel Naor, Rabbi Lintup, believed that “knowledge of the ‘inwardness of Torah’ (penimiyut ha-torah) contained the medicine for the spiritual malady of the generation. Both men [Rabbis Lintup and Kook] attempted, each in his own way, to disseminate Kabbalah to the masses. For this, they came under criticism from their rabbinic peers.”[8]

Philosophically, Rabbi Lintup sought to “synthesize the various schools of Ramhal [Moshe Chaim Luzzatto], the Vilna Gaon [Elijah ben Solomon Zalman], and Chabad [the Chasidic school founded by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi]!”[9]

Rabbi Lintup believed the Kabbalah in general, and such concepts as Tsimtsum in particular, were not to be taken in a purely literal fashion, and was thus at odds with many other Kabbalists.

Rabbi Lintup was said by his student Menachem Mendel Frieden to be in “spirit” a Mitnaged,[10] though he was Rabbi of the Hasidic community in Birzai.

Methodologically, “Rabbi Lintup was said to apply Halacha leniently, which angered others. Yet when approached with complaints about Rabbi Lintup’s methods, the Rogatchover Gaon responded ‘If I were not familiar with him personally, I would cut him off from the community, but I am acquainted with his honesty and his purity of heart and his great knowledge of Torah, and he has upon whom to rely if he is lenient in Halacha. Let him be.’”[11]

Rabbi Lintup believed in the importance of unifying the Jewish people, as there were significant sectarian differences that divided them – such as between the Chasidim and the Mitnagdim -- and led to significant animosity. He believed that removing this sectarian hatred was a precondition to rebuilding the Temple in Eretz Yisrael. To this end, he sought to address the World Agudath Israel movement at its convention in Vienna in August of 1923. Although the convention was noteworthy for the establishment of formal schooling for girls and the launching of Daf Yomi, the assembly proved to be a great disappointment, as it broke down into internecine separatist recriminations including attacks on Rav Kook.[12]


In addition to authoring manuscripts, Rabbi Lintup authored several books and extended essays, certain of which are available in the National Library of Israel, including:

·        Pitchai Shearim (Opening of the Gates) that was published in Vilna in 1881.[13] This was a work of Talmudic commentary. Scholar Dr. Marc B. Shapiro states that therein: “Lintop criticizes Maimonides’ view, Hilkhot Melakhim 8:10, that given the power Jews must force non-Jews to adopt the Noahide laws” as “this command only applied to the seven nations that inhabited ancient Canaan, but does not apply to any other non-Jew, even those living in the Land of Israel.” Furthermore, “. . . non-Jews who don’t observe the Noahide laws . . . [are] blameless as they don’t know any better, having been born into their cultures.”[14]

·        Yalkut Avenu Emunat Yisrael. Published in 1895.[15] In this work, Lintup sought to bridge the divisions within the Jewish ranks (e.g., between Sephardic and Askenazi Jews). A specific focus is the rabbi’s attempt to remove the divide between those who followed the Baal HaTanya (the first Rabbi of the Chabad Lubavitch) and the Vilna Gaon (the leader of the non-Hassidic, Misnagdic Jews). Lintup also stressed the central importance of faith in ones thinking. For although Lintup studied philosophy, he felt many would interpret philosophic thinking and the changes wrought by the industrial revolution as obviating the need for faith, which he believed central to the purposefulness and very existence of the Jewish People. Concerning Maimonides, Scholar Dr. Marc B. Shapiro notes that in this work Lintup additionally challenges “Maimonides’ view that one who is mistaken when it comes to principles of faith is worse than one who actually commits even the worst since,”[16] for Lintup states: “this view is very foreign to the spirit of the sages of the Talmud, who did not know philosophy.” He further notes: “. . . people greater than Maimonides were mistaken when it came to the matter of G-d’s incorporeality.”[17]

·        Ma’amar Binyan ha-Umah, (Building of a Nation) Published in 1906 & 1908.[18] In this work Lintup decries the assimilation of Jews into European culture that has moved the Jewish people away from upholding the teachings of the Torah and Jewish literature in the main. Yet he concurrently sees benefit to what is offered by the non-religious West, namely innovation that he believes will aid in the salvation of the Jewish people. Lintup offers that one day the ancient nation of the Israelites would be reconstituted through the use of modern technology to, amongst other ends, publish and disseminate Jewish writings that will ultimately uplift and unify the Jewish people. He believed the Jewish people were to become expert in modern Western technology while returning to following Jewish traditions. Lintup offers that this is analogous to the way in which the Japanese – a people he saw as small in numbers and geographically and culturally isolated from the West – modernized using Western technologically yet retained their unique Eastern character in the course of developing their nation and defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Some may say this is prophetic, in that it presaged the rise of modern Israel.

·        Hashvenu Shel Olim (The World’s Account), Published in 1912.[19] In this work Lintup decried that his generation, unlike previous generations, did not see the divinity of their souls and their religious mission to study Torah and hold near their Jewish faith, but instead were concerned with blood and money and giving vent to their evil inclinations. In this work he sought to provide a remedy for what he perceived as a disease that led to Jewish despair and grief caused by Jews’ disassociation from their faith.

In the 21st Century, works containing certain of Rabbi Lintup’s letters were published, including:

·        Kana’uteh de-Pinhas[20] (The Zeal of Pinhas) produced by Rabbi Bezalel Naor, centers on a previously unpublished 1909 letter from Rabbi Lintup to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, outlining Lintup’s criticisms of the Leshem’s Kabbalistic work Hakdamot u-She’arim. The book also includes a discussion of Lintup’s critique of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles (Shloshah Asar Ikkarim). On the latter, Lintup rejected the belief that otherwise pious Jews could be attacked as heretical because they did not dogmatically accept Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles, as even renowned rabbis have had their doubts about the totality of them.

·        Snos Dor va-Dor (Volume 4)[21] produced by Reuven Dessler also contains two significant letters from Rabbi Lintup to Rabbi Kook circa 1907 and 1909. According to Scholar Dr. Marc B. Shapiro, therein Lintup states his differences with Rabbi Kook regarding the meaning of “hasidut.” Cohen says: “R. Kook has written about how Hasidism is based on the idea of ahavat Yisrael [love of fellow Jews] for both the collective and the individual. R. Lint[u]p replies that this is incorrect, as hasidut is not based on ahavat Yisrael [love of fellow Jews] but on ahavat avodat Yisrael [love of serving fellow Jews] and ahavat avodat ha-hasidut [love of serving the pious and piety].”[22]


[1]Tombstone of Rav Pinchas Lintup.

[2]JewishGen KehilaLinks, Appendix 1.

[3]Marc B. Shapiro, “Maimonides and Prophecy, R. Pinhas Lintop, R. Jose Faur, and More Examples of Censorship,” The Seforim Blog, (November 21, 2015). 

[4]Shmuel N. Gottlieb, Sefer Oholei Shem, (Pinsk, 1912), p. 23. 

[5]Lee Shai Weissbach (translator), A Jewish Life on Three Continents: The Memoir of Menachem Mendel Frieden (Stanford University Press, May 8, 2013), p. 41.

[6]Ibid., p. 181

[7]Tombstone and date of passing for Rav Pinchas Lintup.

[8]Bezalel Naor (translator, editor and annotator), “Kana’uteh de-Pinhas -Description,”, (2013).

[9]Bezalel Naor, “Rav Kook: Visionary and Activist,”, (August 24, 2017). 

[10]Op Cit. A Jewish Life on Three Continents, p. 181.

[11]Op Cit. A Jewish Life on Three Continents, p. 182.

[12]Bezalel Naor “The Psychology of the ‘Yitsra de Sin’at Hinam’ Part 1,”, (December 14, 2013). 

[13]Pinchas Lintop, Pitchai Shearim, (Vilna, 1881). See: The National Library of Israel.

[14]Marc B. Shapiro, “Maimonides and Prophecy, R. Pinhas Lintop, R. Jose Faur, and More Examples of Censorship,” The Seforim Blog, (November 21, 2015).

[15]Pinchas Lintop, Yalkut Avenu Emunat Yisrael, (Warsaw: Doverosh Molding Press, 1895). See: The National Library of Israel; see also:

[16]Marc B. Shapiro, “Maimonides and Prophecy, R. Pinhas Lintop, R. Jose Faur, and More Examples of Censorship,” The Seforim Blog, (November 21, 2015)

[17]Marc B. Shapiro, “Maimonides and Prophecy, R. Pinhas Lintop, R. Jose Faur, and More Examples of Censorship,” The Seforim Blog, (November 21, 2015). 

[18]Pinchas Lintup, Ma’amar Binyan ha-Umah, (Piotrkow: 1906 & 1908). See: The National Library of Israel; see also:

[19]Pinchas Lintop, Hashvenu Shel Olim, (Poltava: 1912). See: The National Library of Israel.

[20]Bezalel Naor (Editor & annotator) Kana’uteh De-Pinhas, (Spring Valley, New York: Orot, Inc., 2013).

[21]Rabbi Reuven Dessler, Shnos Dor Vador Vol. 4, (Brooklyn, New York: ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, 2013), pp. 414-437.

[22]Marc B. Shapiro, “Maimonides and Prophecy, R. Pinhas Lintop, R. Jose Faur, and More Examples of Censorship,” The Seforim Blog, (November 21, 2015).