Isser Zalman Meltzer
Isser Zalman Meltzer
איסר זלמן מלצר
Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer
|Born||February 6, 1870|
|Died||November 17, 1953 (aged 83)|
|Yeshiva||Etz Chaim Yeshiva|
|Buried||Har HaMenuchot cemetery, Jerusalem|
Isser Zalman Meltzer (Hebrew: איסר זלמן מלצר)(February 6, 1870 – November 17, 1953), was a famous Belarusian Orthodox rabbi, rosh yeshiva and posek. He is also known as the "Even HaEzel"—the title of his commentary on Rambam's Mishne Torah.
Rabbi Meltzer was born on 5 Adar 5630 in the city of Mir, in the Minsk Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Republic of Belarus) to Rabbi Baruch Peretz and Miriam Reisel Meltzer. From the age of 10, he studied with Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman, the rabbi of the city, and at the Mir Yeshiva. In 1884, at the age of 14, he began studying at the Volozhin yeshiva under the Netziv and Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, where he remained for seven years.
While at the yeshiva, he became involved in the secret [Orthodox] Ness Ziona Society, part of the Hovevei Zion movement. Together with his brother-in-law, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein, he contributed to the founding of the city of Hadera by buying land for an etrog orchard.
In 1892, at age 22, he married Beila Hinda, daughter of R. Faivel Frank of Ilukste. During his engagement period, he studied at the Raduń Yeshiva with the Chofetz Chaim. During his studies, he contracted tuberculosis due to his roommate hanging animal skins in the room they were renting, and he was forced to return to his parents' home in Mir. His fiancee's family sent him money to pay for medical treatment while pressuring her to cancel the match. She refused, despite the pessimistic predictions of the doctors, and they married after he had recovered.
In 1894, Rabbi Melzer was appointed by Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel as a maggid shiur at the Slabodka yeshiva, together with his brother-in-law, Rabbi Epstein. In 1897, Rabbi Meltzer left Slabodka to lead another yeshiva which had been established by the Ridvaz in Slutsk.
In 1903, Rabbi Meltzer was appointed as the Rabbi of Slutsk, a position he held for 20 years. Although he had already been serving as the rosh yeshiva in that city, he had no document of semicha because he had never planned on accepting a position in the rabbinate, but to teach Torah instead.
When the communal leaders resolved to appoint him as their rabbi, Rabbi Meltzer wrote to his teacher Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik and to Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, author of the Arukh HaShulkhan, asking them to send him the necessary affirmation. Rabbi Epstein immediately mailed him a letter of semicha, while Rabbi Soloveitchik made do with a brief telegram that simply bore the words, "Yoreh yoreh, yodin yodin".
Rabbi Meltzer was also a disciple of the Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel. He was the father-in-law of Rabbi Aharon Kotler and maternal grandfather of Rabbi Shneur Kotler. He and Rav Aharon fled from Russia to Poland  at the outbreak of the outbreak of the Bolshevik revolution.
Rabbi Meltzer, who subsequently emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, was a friend and admirer of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, the chief rabbi of Palestine and a self-avowed supporter of Zionism. Rabbi Meltzer once said to the famous sage Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky of Vilna, “We are considered Torah giants only up until the point that we reach the door of Rabbi Kook’s room.”
The legacy of Rabbi Meltzer was carried on by his numerous students:
- His son, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Meltzer, Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, and the father-in-law of Rabbi Yehuda Amital
- His son, Rabbi Dr. Professor Feivel Meltzer was a noted linguist of Biblical Hebrew in Israel and contributor to the Da’at Miqra commentary on the Tanach
- His son-in-law, Rabbi Yitzchack Ben Menachem, Chief Rabbi of Petah Tikva
- His son-in-law, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, founder of Bais Medrash Gevoha in Lakewood, New Jersey
- His granddaughter's husband, Rabbi Yehuda Amital, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion.
- Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, rosh yeshiva of Kol Torah and leading posek of his time.
- Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Fisher
- Rabbi Shlomo Goren, former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel.
- Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, founder of Ezras Torah
- Rabbi Moshe Aharon Poleyeff, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva University.
- Rabbi Elazar Shach, rosh yeshiva of Ponevezh Yeshiva in Israel, and leader of Lithuanian Jews
- Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Zelaznik, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Etz Chaim.
- Rabbi Shimon Zelaznik, (the above's brother) rosh yeshiva in Yeshivat Shaalvim
- Rabbi Amram Zaks, rosh yeshiva of the Slabodka yeshiva of Bnei Brak
- Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, leading 20th century posek on medicine and halacha; dayan in Jerusalem.
- Rabbi Isaac L. Swift
- Isser Zalman Meltzer "Even HaEzel" (1870 - 1953)"Isser Zalman Meltzer "Even HaEzel"".
- "Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt"l, On His Yahrtzeit, Today". matzav.com. November 27, 2009.
- "HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, in honor of his yahrtzeit".
- "Pirchei - Agudath Israel - Vayeitzei" (PDF). AgudathIsrael.org. July 2015.
- "Meltzer, Isser Zalman". JewishVirtualLibrary.org.
- Ronald L. Eisenberg (2014). Essential Figures in Jewish Scholarship. ISBN 0765709953.
- (Lithuania) "Rabbi Yechiel Michel Feinstein".
- Fendel, Hillel. "75 Years Without Rabbi Kook: Selected Quotes". Israel National News. Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
- Eckman, Lester: History of Yeshivot and White Russia from their Beginnings Until 1945: publ Judaic Research institute, Elizabeth, New Jersey : p 253-259