web analytics
September 15, 2014 / 20 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



America’s Forgotten Posek

How did America’s leading Posek fall into halachic obscurity?
Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (left), Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin ZT"L

Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (left), Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin ZT"L

He was the Gadol haDor in the United States prior to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. And, unfortunately, his rulings and his seforim have, by and large, been completely forgotten.

Walk into any shul or Seforim store and you will be hard-pressed to find a sefer written by Rav Yoseph Eliyahu Henkin zt”l. Open up a contemporary Halachic work and you will rarely find a ruling quoted in his name.

Rav Henkin studied in Yeshiva Etz Chaim in Slutzk, Russia under Rav Isser Zalman Melter zt”l. He received Smicha from Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, the Ridbaz, and the Aruch HaShulchan and served as a Rav in Russia. He arrived in this country in 1923, and eventually founded and headed the organization called Ezras Torah. Rav Henkin issued tens of thousands of rulings and wrote responsa to Rabbonim across America and beyond. He published three Seforim. Yet somehow, Rav Henkin has become “America’s Forgotten Posek.”

How did it happen? How did America’s leading Posek fall into such halachic obscurity?

This author’s theory is that there were three factors. Firstly, Rav Henkin spent most of his time dedicating himself to others, through the vehicle of his remarkable organization Ezras Torah. He did not make photo offset copies of his letters or rulings or write them again for posterity because he gave every spare moment to raising much needed funds for Torah scholars. Secondly, Rav Henkin lived in a time quite different from ours. Then, the Torah scholars were refugees, suffering in misery and distress. They could barely put food on the table. Who thought to put out Seforim? Even those that eventually were issued rarely had the name of the recipient of the letter. Finally, Rav Henkin did not have a Yeshiva or an official Rabbinic Shteller like other great Rabbis and Torah leaders. He was the Gadol HaDor and headed Ezras Torah true, but without a natural constituency demanding the Seforim, it was difficult to bring them to the printing house again. Boruch Hashem, this sad reality will soon be addressed.

With the encouragement of his Rosh Yeshiva, Moreinu HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, a Torah scholar with prodigious talents, Rav Daniel Osher Kleineman, has taken upon himself a remarkable project. Reb Daniel has started the painstaking task of reissuing, or rather newly issuing, Rav Henkin’s incisive and groundbreaking rulings that have been almost lost to oblivion.

Reb Daniel has carefully scoured the letters and archives found in the inner recesses of university libraries across the country for Rav Henkin’s letters. He has called nearly one thousand people from Maine to Los Angeles in his search for correspondences.

At times he has struck gold, finding a cache of letters back and forth from descendants of Rabbis who were active in the 20’s. 30’s and 40’s. Most of the time Reb Daniel comes up empty-handed, but he does not give up.

He has done a fantastic job in putting together the extant material. He has organized Rav Henkin’s writings in the order of the Shulchan Aruch, and has gathered all that is available in print. He has gathered material that has not been printed from Rav Henkin’s family and has found over 100 additional letters in his search.

He is now in his last stretch. This project needs our assistance. If anyone out there is a descendant of a Rav who may have corresponded with Rav Henkin zt”l, now is the time to speak up. If anyone has any such letters in their possession, please reach out to Reb Daniel at MachonRavHenkin@gmail.com or by calling him at 732 370-0995.

About the Author: The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “America’s Forgotten Posek”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    Hasn't Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin, also recorded many of his grandfather's opinions?

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A Jew, a soldier and a Druze watch - very carefully - the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
IDF Stands By as Al Qaeda Offensive Threatens Golan Farmers
Latest Indepth Stories
Gas Pump

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

ISIS on the Temple Mount

Value of IS: It enables people to see the place to which all other Islamist fascism is headed.

Eller-091214-Word

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

President Obama: “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents”

he time of the Uman pilgrimage is upon us, and we dare not ignore the opportunity to highlight the danger.

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

During the war, not once was Hashem’s name mentioned to the nation by Israel’s PM or gov’t officials

How many illegal Arab structures are there in the city? Why are they not being destroyed?

We did not win the war in Gaza because we are still captive to the concept of the 2 state solution.

Trapped in a false notion of power, America will lose the battle in the same way Israel now loses.

It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true that 9/11 changed my life. There is evil in the world. Our grandparents were right.

His many articles on education showed great insight into the problems facing Jewish teachers in a changing student environment.

We cannot forget Secretary Kerry’s obsessive and relentless focus on the Middle East peace process.

More Articles from Rabbi Yair Hoffman
Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (left), Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin ZT"L

How did America’s leading Posek fall into halachic obscurity?

The Orthodox community should voice its strong opposition to the new proposals by the mayor of York City and the governor of New York State to legally redefine marriage.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/americas-forgotten-posek/2013/03/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: