David Weiss Halivni, Controversial Talmudic Scholar, Dies at 94

Professor Halivni was born David Weiss in Kobyletska Polyana, now Ukraine. (He later adopted the Hebrew surname Halivni, which, like Wei...


Professor Halivni was born David Weiss in Kobyletska Polyana, now Ukraine. (He later adopted the Hebrew surname Halivni, which, like Weiss, basically means white, as the name Weiss also belonged to SS officers he met.) Although his passport gave his birthday as December 21, 1928, his son stated that his true birthday was September 27, 1927, and that the date was most likely changed so that he could qualify for immigration to the United States under a special program for war orphans .

When he was 4 years old, his father, Ephraim Bezalel Viderman, and his mother, Feige Weiss, separated and he went with his mother to live with his Hasidic grandfather, Shaye Weiss, an esteemed Talmudic scholar, in the city. from Sighet, then in Romania. . There he was sometimes a classmate of the religious school of Elie Wieselfuture Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

His grandfather realized that David was a child prodigy, with a phenomenal memory capable of recalling entire pages of text, and immersed him in the Talmud when he was 5 years old. By the age of 10, he had stopped going to school to study full time. clean, and at age 15 he was ordained a rabbi.

In March 1944, the Germans marched on Sighet and deported its Jewish residents to Auschwitz, where David’s mother, sister and grandfather were killed. His father was also killed by the Germans, leaving him at age 16 the sole survivor of his family. After a week in Auschwitz, he was transferred to forced labor camps in Gross-Rosen, Wolfsberg and finally Mauthausen, where he worked in an underground munitions factory.

Later he told his sons that on one occasion he noticed a German guard eating a sandwich wrapped in a torn page of the Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law, and dared to ask the guard to give him the package. The custodian consented, and the page became a topic of discussion for several months.

After the Allied defeat by the Germans, he returned to Sighet to find that the Jewish community there had been wiped out and sojourned in Budapest, where he spent his days studying with a rabbi. He told his sons, Baruch Weiss said, “the only thing that kept him going after the war was learning.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: David Weiss Halivni, Controversial Talmudic Scholar, Dies at 94
David Weiss Halivni, Controversial Talmudic Scholar, Dies at 94
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