Rabbi Nathan HaKohen Adler

Rabbi Nathan HaKohen Adler (Frankfurt 1741 – Frankfurt 1800)  he won the admiration of Rabbi Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai (The Chida), who had visited Frankfurt when Nathan was 11 years old.

As a child, Nathan attended the Yeshiva of the Penei Yehoshua, who was at that time rabbi at Frankfurt, but his principal teacher was Rabbi Dovid Schiff.

At age 20 he himself established a yeshivah, which produced several prominent rabbis, notably Rabbi Abraham Auerbach,  Rabbi Avraham Bing, Rabbi Yitzhok Aryeh Wormser, and most notable Rabbi Moshe Sofer – aka the Chasam Sofer.

He was the first Ashkenazi Rabbi to openly adopt the Sephardi pronunciation of Hebrew and would use that pronunciation when reciting Birchat Kohanim (the priestly blessing), some attribute Rabbi Nathan’s preference to the Sephardic dialect to the Chida’s (A Sefardi) visit to Frankfurt when Nathan was a child.

His disciple the Chasam Sofer writes that he had performed miracles (Chasam Sofer Orach Chayim, Ch. 197), and turned visionaries themselves, frightening many persons with predictions of misfortunes which would befall them. Ultimately, at age 38, the rabbis and  congregational leaders intervened and prohibited attending Torah lesson assemblies in his house.

Rabbi Nathan, however, paid no attention to these orders. He even excommunicated a man who had disregarded his orders, although this was contrary to the laws of the congregation. His doors remained open day and night, and he declared all his possessions to be common property, that thus he might prevent the punishment of those who might carry away by mistake anything with them. The excommunication was finally repealed shortly before his passing at age 59.

In his copy of the Mishnah he wrote brief marginal notes, mostly cross-references. Some of them were collected and explained ingeniously by Rabbi Binyamin Auerbach under the title Mishnat Rabbi Nathan. One responsa of his is found among those of the Chasam Sofer to Yoreh De’ah,  Ch. 261.

Literary works

Mishnat Rabbi Nathan

 

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