The Jewish Eye
Rav Dovid Luria
The gemara says that when Hashem takes one great tzaddik from the world a new one is born. This was said about Rav Dovid Luria "The Radal" who was born in Lithuania in the year of the passing of the Vilna Gaon 5558/1798. He was niftar in 5616-1855 at approximately 57 years old. Many of the Vilna Gaon's writings were arranged and edited by the Radal who was known to have a lightening quick grasp and even faster pen.
His father, Rav Yehuda Yudel, was a man of sterling character and extremely wise was one of the wealthiest businessmen in the country. He was respected by the gedolim and was generous to the masses. His home was a destination of choice for the poor as well as distinguished Rabbanim and dignitaries.
The Radal was a child prodigy. At the age of nine he knew the first nine mashectos of Shas by heart and knew all of Mishnayos so clearly by heart that he was able to count the words without seeing them. One day the local Duke came to visit his father together with the private teacher that the Duke brought from France to teach his own son. Both the Duke and the teacher were blown away by the intelligence of the Radal. The Duke decided that the Radal was too smart to let his talents go to "waste" and decided that the teacher would teach him foreign languages and other subjects for one hour a day. The Radal's father has no choice but to acquiesce. The Radal stayed awake crying the whole night for this plan not to come to fruition. It didn't. In the morning the teacher was found murdered on the outskirts of the city.
After getting engaged to the daughter of one of the respected men in Vilna the Radal lived there until age eighteen. After that he refused to take up the various prestigious Rabbinic positions offered to him including the offer to become Rav of Warsaw. He preferred to shun the limelight and supported himself in business as a simple layman. This did not mean he shunned public responsibility. He worked closely with Rav Yitzchok of Volozhin on matters of public interest. He once met with Rav Moshe Montefiore. Twice he used his vast wealth and influence and risked his life to prevent a blood libel.
In the Torah world the Rabbanin of his generation all looked up to him as their leader. When the Bais HaLevi (Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik) was being considered as a candidate to become a Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin he was the first one asked to approve the appointment. When the Netziv wrote his sefer He'emek Sheila the only one he approached for a haskama was the Radal.
The Radal wrote seforim on Medrash Rabba, Pirkei D'Rav Eliezer, Pesikta Rabasi, Zohar, and Shailos U'Teshuvos.
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