||Eulogy on R. Judah Loeb Rappaport by Perez Smolenskin (1840 or 1842–1885), Hebrew novelist, editor, and publicist. A leading exponent of the Haskalah in Eastern Europe and an early advocate of Jewish nationalism, Smolenskin is best known for the important Hebrew monthly Ha-Shahar which he founded in 1868, and edited, 12 volumes in all, until his death.
R. Solomon Judah Leib Rapoport (Rappaport) (Shir; 1790–1867) was a rabbi and scholar, pioneer of Haskalah and Wissenschaft des Judentums. Born in Lemberg, Galicia, Rapoport, received a traditional education and became known for his brilliance as a Talmudist. After a period in business in Brody, he became rabbi of Tarnopol (1837), where he had to contend with the violent opposition of the Hasidim, whom he had attacked in a pamphlet (Ner Mitzvah, in: Nahalat Yehudah, 1868) in defense of Haskalah in 1815 (ref. introduction to She’erit Yehudah). Rapoport was appointed chief rabbi of Prague in 1840, successfully opposing the candidacy of R. Zevi Hirsch Chajes for the same position. After his youthful efforts at poetry and drama, including this paraphrase of Racine’s Esther, Rapoport turned to Jewish scholarship, publishing articles in Bikkurei ha-Ittim and Kerem Hemed. Dealing with biblical subjects, he considered the Book of Judges a composite work, certain Psalms to be post-Davidic, and some chapters in Isaiah as belonging to a later prophet. His real mark on Jewish scholarship was made in a series of bibliographical studies of the geonic leaders Rav Saadiah, Rav Hai, R. Hananel ben Hushi’el, R. Nissim ben Jacob, and R. Hefez ben Yazli’ah, and of R. Eleazar ha-Kallir and R. Nathan ben Jehiel of Rome, author of the Arukh (published in Bikkurei ha-Ittim, 1828–31; and also separately and posthumously under the title Yeri’ot Shelomo, 1904, repr. 1913 and 1960). These studies illuminated a relatively obscure period of Jewish history and paved the way for later research; moreover, they set a new standard of critical methodology to be applied to the history of rabbinics.