This is a copy of Moreh Nebuchim, which means Guide for the Perplexed, that was printed in Warsaw by Isaac Goldman in 1872. Moreh Nebuchim is a work of philosophy, written by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, known as Maimonides or the Rambam. It is divided into three parts and this edition has four commentaries. My book has a repaired but interesting half-leather binding.
This is a very special copy, because it belonged to the Biala Rebbe of London, Rabbi Nathan David Rabinowicz of Biala, and has his signature and address.
The Biala Chassidic dynasty was established by his grandfather, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz (1847-1905), descended from Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak, the ‘Holy Jew’ of Przysucha. Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz moved to Biala-podolsk, a town in the province of Lublin, when he was 26 years old. He maintained that sincerity is measured by service, charity and loving kindness, and not by words. His youngest son, Rabbi Yerachmiel Zvi, was famed in Chasidic circles for his learning and piety and as an artist and musician. However, he died in 1906, aged just 26. His oldest son, Rabbi Nathan David was born in Ozarov on 11th Iyar 1900. He spent several years at the home of his uncle, the Rebbe of Radzymin and received semicha – his Rabbinical diploma – from Rabbi Meir Yechiel Halevy Halstock of Ostrowiec, and Rabbi Ezekiel Zvi Michaelson, a Rabbi on the Warsaw Beth Din, known as the Rabbi of Plonsk. On 15th Kislev 1918, Rabbi Nathan David married Sheindel Bracha, the eldest daughter of Rabbi Alter Yisrael Shimon Perlow of Novominsk.
The Novominsker Rebbe had twelve children. Economic conditions in Poland were difficult, and it was necessary for some of the children to move to other countries. The Rebbe’s eldest son, Rabbi Nachum Perlow, settled in New York, where he was known as the Novominsker Rebbe. He was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, who died of COVID-19 in April 2020.
Rabbi Nathan David came to London on 18th December 1927 and initially stayed at the home of Jacob Weisman, whose grandson, Reverend Malcolm Weisman is the long-time Minister to small Jewish Communities and Chaplain to the Forces. The Rebbe established a small shteibel (small synagogue) at 6 Osborn Place, Chicksand Street., off Brick Lane. In 1931 he bought a house at 10 St. Marks Road, Dalston and established another shteibel there. This is the address on my book.
The Rebbe’s son, Rabbi Dr. Harry Rabinowicz, who was the Rabbi of Cricklewood, Willesden and Brondesbury Synagogues in London, wrote extensively about his father in his book, “A World Apart, The Story of the Chassidim in Britain.”
Harry Rabinowitz writes about the members of the Dalston Shteibel. Elkanan Hillel, a furrier. Abraham Samuel Beresticky, a handbag manufacturer, native of Lodz and an Alexander Chasid. Zvi Elemelech Uri, a diamond merchant, who acted as gabbai and was a native of Glagov, Poland. Wolf Oster, an egg wholesaler, who was also active at Stoke Newington United Synagogue. Leibish Rickel and his son Morris Lewis. Harry Binstock, the son of Israel Binstock. Harris Lewis Cohen, who had a shoe shop in Wentworth Street. Michael Caplin, vice-president of the Shtiebel from 1928. Chayim Stark, milkman and grocer, vice-president of the Shtiebel from 1936. Chayim Lyons, a native of Parszev. The President of the Shtiebel from 1928 to 1939, Leibish (Lewis) Yehuda Freedman, a native of Zychlin, near Lodz. Osher Zelig Rubenstein, a Hebrew teacher in Stepney Green, whose grandson is Lord Max Rayne. What is clear is that the Rebbe attracted adherents from all walks of life.
His followers, says Rabbi Harry Rabinowicz, were conquered by his humanity, his personality, and his genuine friendship and approachability. He had a fiery enthusiasm that was said to be foreign to the Jews of north-east London. He was a mystic and a man of the world, and people would come to hear him speak and expound on the Torah at Seudah Shlishit and Melave Malka.
The Biala Rebbe became ill, and died at a young age, in 1947. I have written about him and his will here.