Nahum Rabinovitch

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Nahum Rabinovitch
Nahum Eliezer Rabinovitch

April 30, 1928
DiedMay 6, 2020 (aged 92)
Children6, including Dina Rabinovitch
Alma materJohns Hopkins University (BS)
University of Toronto (PhD)

Rabbi Nahum Eliezer Rabinovitch (Hebrew: נחום אליעזר רבינוביץ'‎; (April 30, 1928 / 10 Iyyar 5688)[1] – May 6, 2020 / 12 Iyyar 5780) was a Canadian-Israeli Orthodox rabbi and posek, and head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Ma'ale Adumim. Rabinovitch died on May 6, 2020 and was laid to rest in Jerusalem.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in Montreal, Quebec. Rabinovitch began studying with Rabbi Pinchas Hirschsprung at age 14. At age 20, he studied in Yeshivas Ner Israel, Baltimore, where he received Semicha from Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman. He also obtained a master's degree in mathematics from Johns Hopkins University. He later completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy of science from the University of Toronto. [3]


Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch as Sandak at a Brit Milah

Rabinovitch taught Judaism in several places and served as a congregational rabbi. Between 1952 – 1963, he was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1963, he was called to serve as a community rabbi in Toronto. In the 1970s, he completed a Ph.D. in the field of statistics and probability in the Talmud at the University of Toronto; the results are in his book, Probability and Statistical Inference in ancient and medieval Jewish Literature (Toronto, 1973). This topic was also explored by Australian Professor of Mathematics, Michael Hasofer. At that time he also gave lectures at the university and was an editor of the Rabbinical Council of America's journal "Hadarom".[citation needed]

Rabinovitch also lived in London (1971–1982), where he served as dean of the London School of Jewish Studies and had a reputation as an influential scholar. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks became his protege.[4] He later agreed to be a head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Ma'ale Adumim, Judea and Samaria, a Hesder institution, and he was named rosh yeshiva there in 1982. [5]

In 2015 he led the Giyur K'halacha conversion court, of which he was one of the founders.[6]


Rabinovitch was an authority on Maimonides; he published scientific, theological, and halachic books and essays on Maimonides' writings. His philosophical approach is influenced by Maimonides' rationalism. It emphasizes the connection between philosophy and halacha, between Torah and scientific studies, and between theoretical learning and practical application in life. [7]

In an interview, Rabinovitch said that he backed religious studies for women, and did not see a problem in Halachic decisions taken by women. [8] However, he signed a letter agreeing with the Chief Rabbinate's opposition to religious women serving in the IDF.[9]

While many interpret Jewish law as speaking of monarchy as an ideal, Rabinovitch has supported a modern and liberal democracy with rule of law as the optimal form of government. [10]

Personal life[edit]

Rabinovitch had six children, including British journalist Dina Rabinovitch (born in 1963), who died in 2007 of breast cancer.[11]

Political opinions and statements[edit]

Rabinovitch was a religious Zionist.[12] [13][14] and an opponent of the Oslo Accords[15] However, he was also more liberal in social and religious matters than many in the religious Zionist movement.[16].

Selected works[edit]


  • Yad Peshuta (יד פשוטה) Commentary on Maimonides' halachic book "Mishne Torah" - 14 volumes.
  • Melumdei Milchama (מלומדי מלחמה) - Responsa on halachic questions about military service
  • Darkah shel Torah (דרכה של תורה) - halakhic-philosophical actual essays
  • Hadar Itamar (הדר איתמר) - Finis on the Talmud
  • Iyunim be-Mishnato shel ha-Rambam (עיונים במשנתו של הרמב"ם)
  • Siach Nachum (שיח נחום) - Responsa on halachic questions
  • Mesilot Bilvavam (מסילות בלבבם)- Halakhic-philosophical essays on Society and Statehood (expansion of Darkha shel Torah)


  • Rabbi Hasdai Crescas (1340–1410) on Numerical Infinities - Isis, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer, 1970), pp. 224–230
  • Studies in the History of Probability and Statistics. XXII: Probability in the Talmud - Biometrika, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Aug., 1969), pp. 437–441
  • Torah and Science: Conflict or Complement - Challenge: Torah Views on Science and its Problems, Feldheim Publishers pp. 44
  • Torah and the Spirit of Free Enquiry - Challenge: Torah Views on Science and its Problems, Feldheim Publishers pp. 54
  • The one and the many: Early stochastic reasoning in philosophy - Annals of Science, Volume 34, Issue 4 July 1977, pp. 331 – 344
  • Early antecedents of error theory - Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Volume 13, Number 4 / December, 1974 pp. 348–358
  • Halachah and Technology - Proceedings of the Associations of Orthodox Jewish Scientists, Volume 2 (1969) pp. 129–149
  • All Jews Are Responsible for One Another - Jewish Tradition and the Nontraditional Jew. Ed. Jacob J. Schacter. Northvale, NJ.: Aronson, 1992 pp. 177–204
  • Probability and statistical inference in ancient and medieval Jewish literature - University of Toronto Press, 1973
  • Rabbi Levi ben Gershom and the origins of mathematical induction - Archive for History of Exact Sciences, num.6, pp. 237–248, 1970
  • The Way of Torah- The Edah Journal Vol 3 Issue 1
  • What is “Emunat Ḥakhamim”?- Hakirah: The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought Vol 5


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  6. ^ "In first, Israeli judge recognizes conversion to Judaism by private court". 13 September 2018. Convert 'Katya' and her daughter sit before the independent Giyur K'halacha conversion court, led by Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch (center) on August 10, 2015. Giyur K’halacha’s rabbinical courts, which follow the precepts of Jewish law, were founded by Farber along with many of Modern Orthodoxy’s biggest names — Efrat’s Rabbi Shlomo Riskin; Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch from Ma’ale Adumim
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  11. ^ staff, T. O. I. "Prominent religious Zionist rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch dies at 92". Retrieved 2020-05-06.
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