Joseph Saul Nathansohn

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Joseph Saul Nathansohn (1808–1875) (Hebrew: יוסף שאול בן אריה הלוי) was a Polish rabbi and posek, and a leading rabbinical authority of his day.


Rabbi Nathansohn was born at Berezhany (Berzan), Galicia (today's western Ukraine); he was the son of Aryeh Lebush Nathanson, rabbi at Berzan and author of "Bet El." He studied Talmud at Lviv (Lemberg) together with his brother-in-law Mordecai Zeeb Ettinger. In the 1830s in Lemberg—then under the rule of the Austrian Empire—he founded an informal study-group under his tutelage; this “yeshiva” attracted some of the most brilliant students in Galicia. In 1857 Nathanson was elected rabbi of Lemberg, where he officiated for eighteen years. He was a widely recognized rabbinical authority, and was asked to rule on various contemporary issues; his rulings are still widely cited (for instance he was one of the first to permit the use of machinery in baking Matzah, which created a widespread halachic controversy[1][1]). Nathanson was very wealthy, and was known for his activity as a philanthropist. He died at Lemberg March 4, 1875.


Rabbi Nathanson was a voluminous writer, the author of many works, including:

  • "Mefareshe ha-Yam" (Lemberg, 1828), in cooperation with his brother-in-law Mordecai Zeeb Ettinger: notes by Joshua Heschel on the "Yam ha-Talmud," to which they appended their own responsa -
  • "Me'irat 'Enayim" (Wilna, 1839), also together with Ettinger, on the ritual examination of the lungs -
  • "Magen Gibborim" (Lemberg, part i., 1832; part ii., 1837), also together with Ettinger, on Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim - at I, II

He also wrote glosses to many other works, and innumerable approbations to the books of others.


  1. ^ ';Codex Judaica'; by M. Kantor, 2005, p.267

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