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ORNSTEIN, ẒEBI HIRSCH:

Austrian rabbi; born at Lemberg; died there March 21, 1888; son of Mordecai Zeeb Ornstein, and grandson of Jacob Meshullam Ornstein, rabbi of that city. He was educated by his grandfather and father, and while quite young manifested exceptional talent. Responsa of his were published in the "Yeshu'ot Ya'aḳob" of his grandfather, in the first decades of the nineteenth century, and his reputation soon spread far beyond the limits of his own land. He occupied his first rabbinate at Brest-Litovsk, where he succeeded (1855) Jacob Meïr Padua. Even here, where, in opposition to the Galician critical treatment of the Talmud and of rabbinical literature, the Wilna method of instruction prevailed (in which the study of the Talmud consisted in memorizing it), Ornstein's wonderful powers of memory excited admiration. This respect for a foreigner displeased the government, which seized the occasion of a general expulsion of foreigners to remove him from his position. He was obliged toleave the city in 1874. Hard times now befell him. He was no longer rich, and was compelled to seek any vacant rabbinate. The regard felt for him in Galicia was still unbounded; in spite of nine years' absence the community of Rzeszow at once extended to him a call as rabbi, which he accepted, officiating there from 1874 to 1875. In the latter year, after a hard fight for election, he obtained the rabbinate of Lemberg, which had been held by several of his ancestors; and there he remained till his death.

After Ornstein's death his son-in-law—he had no sons of his own—published, with notes, under the title "Milḥamot" (Lemberg, 1889), a collection of responsa which formed a small fragment of Ornstein's Talmudic work "Birkot Rabbi Ẓebi Hirsch" (RaẒaH).

Bibliography:
  • Buber, Anshe Shem, p. 199.
E. C. M. W. R.
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