||Polemical attack on the Ridbaz by R. Zevi Simon b. Naphtali Hertz Album (1849-1921). He was born in Tazitz, Kovno Province, into a well-known rabbinical family (his brother, R. David Tevel Katzenellenbogen, was the chief rabbi of St. Petersburg). He studied in the Volozhin yeshivah. "I was a man of wealth and means ... and I never strayed from Torah. It was on my lips day and night. This is how I thought I would live my entire life, but suddenly the wheels of fortune turned. [ln 1891] a great fire in my town destroyed my house, my belongings and all that I had, which forced me to ... [immigrate to Chicago] where I was appointed a rabbi and teacher in one of the holy congregations [Mishna Ugemro]. (Some sources record that Album was a rabbi in Russia and that he immigrated following pogroms). Album, who was "the foremost champion of Orthodox Judaism in Chicago" (Gutstein, 130), was involved in community-wide activities and he supervised kashruth without receiving any remuneration. This latter endeavor was of supreme importance, since Chicago was the nation's slaughtering capital. His authority in this sphere was threatened in 1903 by the appointment of R. Jacob David Willowsky [Ridbaz] as the city's chief rabbi. A struggle ensued between the two, which at one point erupted into a violent confrontation between the supporters of each side. It abated only when Willowsky left town the following year. Album died in 1921.
Though Willowsky did not name any individuals in his indictment of kashruth supervision in Chicago (Nimukei Ridbaz, Chicago 1904), Album was, by association, implicated. Divrei Emet (Volume 1) contains Album's defense and counter attack. For Album's contention that Willowsky had a hostile personality and had been involved in many fights in Europe, see vol. 1, p. 83. Willowsky was subsequently defended by Feivel Gwirtzman of New York in אכן נודע הדבר. Album relentlessly continued his attack in which he accused Willowsky ,ספר דברי אמת in vol. 2 of of certifying wine as kosher for Passover even though it was not, and of supervising a bakery that operated on the Sabbath. This work is an invaluable source on kashruth supervision and shehitah in America and it contains numerous primary sources relating to the controversies between Album and Willowsky.
R. Jacob David ben Ze’ev Willowski (Ridbaz, 1845–1913) was already recognized for his brilliance in his youth. In 1868 he was appointed rabbi at Izballin; in 1876 of Bobruisk; and in 1881 moreh zedek and Maggid meisharim of Vilna. He later served as rabbi of Polotsk, Vilkomir, and Slutsk, in the latter appointing R. Isaac Zalmon Meltzer as principal. In 1903 he moved to the United States where he was appointed chief rabbi of a group of Orthodox congregations in Chicago. He was also designated the zekan ha-rabbanim (elder rabbi) of America by the then newly organized Union of Orthodox Rabbis. On Sept. 8, 1903, he was elected chief rabbi of the Russian-American congregations in Chicago. He endeavored to introduce order into the religious services of his congregations, but met obstruction and opposition on the part of a former rabbi, R. Zevi Simon Album, and his followers; not being able to withstand the persistent opposition, Ridbaz resigned his position ten months later. His comments in Nimmukei Ridbaz caused R. Album to rejoin with Divrei Emet (Chicago, 1904), in rebuttal of the allegations by Ridbaz. R. Album was in turn attacked by P. Gewirtzman in a pamphlet entitled Aken Noda ha-Dabar, in defense of Ridbaz. R. Willowski, due to what he considered to be the neglect of religious life in America, emigrated to Erez Israel in 1905, settling in Safed, where he founded yeshivah Torat Erez Israel, known as Yeshivat ha-Ridbaz. He took issue with R. Abraham Isaac Kook, then rabbi of Jaffa, for his lenient ruling permitting farmers to work the land during the Sabbatical Year. In the Sabbatical Year of 1910, R. Willowski urged them not to work the land, and established an international charity fund to sustain those who followed his decision. His was particularly renowned for his two commentaries to the Jerusalem Talmud, one of which followed the method of Rashi, the other tosafot. His other works are Migdal David (1874) and Hanah David (1876), both containing novellae and comments on the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds; Responsa (1881); Responsa Beit Ridbaz (1908); and annotations on R. Israel of Shklov’s Pe’at ha-Shulhan (1912).
|| ... ע"ד [על דבר] השבועה ... שנשבעו השובי"ם והרידב"ז [ר' יעקב דוד ב"ר זאב ווילאבסקי] זה לזה, ובענין הכשרות ... ממני צבי שמעון בלא"א הרב ... נפתלי הירץ ז"ל אלבום ... חלק א-ב.
חלק א: תרס"ד. מד דף. חלק א:"בא לפה ... הרידב"ז ... וקיפח פרנסתי ... וכתב עלי ... עלילות ... דברי הקדמתו לספר נמוקי הרידב"ז [שיקאגא תרס"ד] ... שקר ענה בי".
חלק ב: תרע"ב. , 82 עמ'. חלק ב:"כזב משנה לקח בידו כתב פלסתר מכונה בשם, אכן נודע הדבר' [קליבלנד תרס"ד], וכתב על שם מסתתר [פ. גבירצמאן] ... ומעשהו בשני ... כך מעשהו בשלישי בית רידבו"ז [בית רידב"ז, ירושלים תרס"ח] ... ואמרתי ... לדבר ולגלות המסך ... על הריב". מחאה גלויה נגד אסיפת והסכמת הרבנים עם בעלי הכת צער בעלי חיים לעשות תקנות או סכנות בעניני השחיטה. תוצאה שניה. ממני צבי שמעון בלא"א ... מה"ו נפתלי הירץ ז"ל אלבום, רב החונה פה ק"ק שיקאגא ... עמ' 22-28: אנגלית ויידיש. נדפס ונכרך יחד עם "דברי אמת", חלק שני. קדמה להוצאה זו "תוצאה שניה" נוספת, בהשמטות ובהוספות, שיצאה בשיקאגא תר"ע.