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Encyclopedia Talmudit Dedicated to Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, zt”l

Rabbi Motti Neuburger, Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger, Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg and Benni Gur at the Evening of Tribute at Beth Abraham.

A truly historic Torah milestone took place at Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield on Wednesday evening, June 5. The 52nd volume of the Encyclopedia Talmudit, its final volume in print before being completely digitized, was dedicated to the memory of one of the most renowned American rabbis of the 20th century, Rabbi Zevulun Charlop. Rav Charlop, beloved father of Rebbetzin Peshie Neuburger, wife of Morah D’Asra of Congregation Beth Abraham, Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger, was niftar at the age of 94, on January 16, 2024, after an illustrious career in the rabbinate and Jewish education. Honoring the gathering was an address by the renowned Israeli medical ethicist, Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg, who has served as the director of the Yad Harav Herzog Institute and head of the Editorial Board of the Talmudic Encyclopedia since 2006.

Rav Neuburger shared,”Our family and the students of my revered father-in-law, Harav Zevulun Charlop zt”l, are extraordinarily grateful to Harav Professor Steinberg shlit”a and the leadership of Encyclopedia Talmudit for dedicating this volume in his honor.”

The initiative for the Encyclopedia Talmudit was proposed by Rabbi Meir Bar Ilan in 1942, inspired by a 1921 lecture by Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. The concept was to “elucidate the essence of Torah principles by summarizing all the Talmudic discussions and all of the opinions of Rishonim and Acharonim in encyclopedic articles in alphabetical order.” The first edition of the first volume was published in 1947 and won the city prize of Tel Aviv for Torah Literature to honor the memory of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook. Major Torah scholars from around the world, both Chassidim and Mitnagdim, supported the project, including Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv.

The original volume contained 219 articles. Presently, there are over 25,000 entries Many have been revised and expanded upon over the years. According to Rabbi Dr. Steinberg, “The current project being undertaken by the publishing group, Yad HaRav Herzog, is the updating and digitizing of all of the entries into a new and updated format, style and purpose. A team of 80 scholars is onboard in addition to a technology team working on the digital platform. The group’s headquarters is the Yeshurun Synagogue in Yerushalayim where they have a library of 14,000 volumes for reference.” The project is predicted to take a minimum of 10 years. When complete, the world of Jewish scholarship will have entered the world of cyberspace and, hopefully, will thus expand its bandwidth worldwide.

Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, zt”l was the grandson of Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlop, rabbi of Shaarei Chesed in Jerusalem during the first half of the 20th century, and the son of Rav Yechiel Michael Charlop, who was ordained at RIETS, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Talmudic Seminary of Yeshiva University, which his son would later administer.The Charlop family boasts a long line of rabbinic leaders and traces its ancestry to Dovid Hamelech.

Rav Zevulun Charlop received semicha from RIETS and earned his secular degrees at Yeshiva University and Columbia University. Initially teaching Talmud at the James Striar School of YU, Charlop was appointed dean of RIETS in 1971, a role he served in most successfully for 37 years. By the time of his retirement from this position in 2008, the school had experienced enormous growth and had graduated thousands of rabbis, educators and Jewish scholars. At his retirement ceremony,” Sefer Zeved Tov,” a collection of essays in his honor by roshei yeshiva and grateful students was presented.

In addition to his academic roles, Rabbi Charlop served as the beloved rabbi of the Young Israel of Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx for close to 50 years. He also served terms as president of the United Charities of Israel, Jerusalem’s General Orphans Home for Girls and the National Council of Young Israel Rabbis. His eight children and many grandchildren include highly-recognized rabbis and Torah scholars across the U.S. and Israel.

At the gathering, Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg, Israel Prize Laureate and Yakir Yerushalayim, offered a shiur entitled, “The Prayer for the State of Israel.” Through his powerpoint presentation based upon his 2012 volume, “Prayers for the Welfare of the State and for the Welfare of the State of Israel,” Rav Steinberg offered the many differing opinions about this phrase in the original version of the Tefillah L’Shalom Hamedina which was published in 1948, four months after the declaration of the State and signed by Chief Rabbis Herzog and Uziel. The phrase “Reishit Tzemichat Geulateinu,” the first flowering of our redemption, was met with opposition by the more religious sectors in Israel as it was not in keeping with the order suggested by the Rambam and other Torah-based sources. Another objection was that the leaders of the new state were not themselves Torah observant Jews. Through exploration of the many reactions, Rav Steinberg shared a most enlightening history of the tefilla. He concluded with the hope that all sides of the discussion join in praying for the “hastening of the process of Geula (redemption) in light of today’s challenges.

The program concluded with a message by Benni Gur, chief fundraiser for the Talmudic Encyclopedia, who recommended the selection of Rabbi Zevulun Charlop as the honoree for the 52nd volume of the Encyclopedia Talmudit as Rabbi Charlop personified the three basic tenets of Torah, Avodah and Gemilat Chassadim through his myriad lifetime accomplishments. Gur urged the community to perpetuate their commitment toTorah, to Gedolei Torah and to the strengthening of Torah for the coming generations through the support of the ongoing projects of the Encyclopedia Talmudit. He urged the assembled to honor the memory of Rav Charlop, zt”l, with the 52nd volume as it joins in honoring many illustrious Jewish personalities, including, most recently, Rav Hershel Schachter, to whom the 50th volume was dedicated.

In the words of Rav Steinberg, “It is with great honor and reverence that the Encyclopedia Talmudit has chosen to dedicate volume 52 to the cherished memory of HaRav HaGaon Zevulun Charlop zt”l. In doing so, Rav Charlop takes his rightful place among a distinguished array of scholars and philanthropists who have been similarly honored in the annals of this venerable institution.”

To donate to the dedication of the 52nd volume of Encyclopedia Talmudit in memory of Rabbi Zevulun Charlop zt”l, go to www.talmudic-encyclopedia.org, email Benni Gur at [email protected] or call 972-52-447-9461.

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