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Religious thinker and famous Chief Rabbi of Palestine. Born in a small town in Latvia, he studied at famous yeshivot, or Talmudic academies, and became known as a brilliant Talmudic scholar when young. He served as rabbi in several important Jewish communities. He also gained renown for his knowledge of Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah, Hasidism, and religious philosophy. He was among the few religious leaders of his time who saw in the return to Zion the fulfillment of a basic doctrine of Judaism.

In 1904, he became Rabbi of Jaffa, thus realizing his wish to settle in the Holy Land. In 1922, he was chosen Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazic Jews in Palestine. In Jerusalem, he founded his Yeshivah Merkaz-Harav. He wrote and published distinguished Talmudic works and philosophic-poetical essays. He identified with the pioneers and exerted great influence on younger generations. His devotion and tolerance endeared him to all the builders of Palestine, the freethinking as well as the Orthodox. Every pioneer was close to his heart. When criticized for his tolerance of the irreligious Halutzim, he gave this characteristic reply: “When the Holy Temple existed, it was forbidden for a stranger or even an ordinary priest to enter in the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest was permitted to enter it, and that but once a year during the Day of Atonement

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