||Allegorical play in four acts on the vice of hypocrisy by R. Meir Loeb ben Jehiel Michael Malbim (1809–1879). It has been described as a visionary poem and as a dramatic philippic in verse, against hypocrisy.
R. Meir Loeb ben Jehiel Michael Malbim, a rabbi, preacher, is considered one of the foremost biblical exegetes. The name Malbim is an acronym formed from Meir Loeb ben Jehiel Michael. Born in Volochisk (Volhynia), Malbim was a child when his father died. He studied in his native town until the age of 13, with Moses Leib Horowitz, among others. He married at the age of 14, but after a short time divorced his wife. He went to Warsaw, where he became widely known as the "illui from Volhynia." From there he went to Leczyca, where he married the daughter of the local rabbi Hayyim Auerbach, who maintained him, and he was thus able to devote himself to literary work. In 1834 he traveled to Western Europe to obtain commendations from contemporary rabbis for his Arzot ha-Hayyim (1837), visiting, among other places, Pressburg, Amsterdam, and Breslau. In 1839, on the recommendation of Solomon Zalman Tiktin of Breslau, he was appointed head of the rabbinic court of Wreschen (district of Posen). From there he went to Kempen in 1840, where he remained for 18 years, and was therefore sometimes referred to as "The Kempener." While in Kempen he was invited to the rabbinate of Satoraljaujhely in Hungary but refused the offer. He finally agreed to accept the call of the Bucharest community, and in the summer of 1858 he was officially inducted as chief rabbi of Romania. In Bucharest, Malbim set new kashrut standards, imposed restrictions on the kosher butchers, constructed a new eruv, personally supervised the educational institutions in town and began to attract large crowds to his sermons. All of these activities, combined with his insistence that his congregants become more observant, resulted in friction between Malbim and the enlightened intellectuals in the Jewish community, who were actually wealthy, foreign nationals. When Malbim objected to the building of a new modern synagogue, the Choral Temple, because it would include an organ and choir like the Reform synagogues in Western Europe, his opponents complained to the authorities, claiming falsely that Malbim was preaching against Christianity. In 1860, he published the first volume of his commentary on the Pentateuch – on Leviticus. In the introduction he wrote a scathing attack against Reform Judaism. His son, Aaron, passed away in 1862. This personal tragedy had a severe effect on Malbim. At the same time, his rapidly deteriorating relations with the enlightened members of his community made his position precarious. Because of Malbim's uncompromising stand against Reform, disputes broke out between him and the communal leaders of the town, leading to his imprisonment. On Friday, March 18, 1864, Malbim was arrested and jailed. He was freed only on the intervention of Sir Moses Montefiore and on condition that he leave Romania and not return. Upon release, he was placed in a boat sailing down the Danube River. He was put ashore at the Bulgarian border town of Ruschuk. M. Rosen has published various documents which disclose the false accusations and calumnies Malbim's Jewish-assimilationist enemies wrote against him to the Romanian government. He served as rabbi intermittently in Leczyca, Kherson (1869–70), Lunshitz (1870–71), and Mogilev (1872–75), and wherever he went he was persecuted by the assimilationists, the maskilim, and the Hasidim. The maskilim accused him of being an extremist and a rebel against the enlightenment. He was invited to Mainz, and on his way stopped at Koenigsberg, where he remained for about four years (1875–79). In 1879 he received an invitation from Kremenchug, Poltava oblast, to serve as its rabbi, but died in Kiev on his way there.
Malbim's fame and his immense popularity rest upon his commentary on the Bible, which is widely esteemed. His first published commentary was on the Book of Esther (1845), followed by one on Isaiah (1849). In 1860 his commentary Ha-Torah ve-ha-Mitzvah on the Sifra was published in Bucharest. His commentary on the Song of Songs, Shirei ha-Nefesh, was published first in Krotoszyn and then in Bucharest in 1860. The remaining commentaries to the books of the Bible were completed and issued during the years 1867–76. His commentary encompasses all of the books of the Bible except Lamentations and Ecclesiastes. Malbim's commentary on the Bible was motivated by his opposition to the Reform movement, which in his view could potentially undermine the very foundation of Judaism.