- In 1935 he, together with Rabbi Yaakov Myer Biderman, brother-in-law of the Gerrer Rebbe, and Rabbi Avraham Weinberg, was appointed to the Warsaw Rabbinate, becoming one of the foremost spokesmen for Orthodox Jewry in Poland quote
- His two active roles as halachic decisor and an active role in Agudas Yisroel.
- He was appointed to the Warsaw rabbinate, and was at the height of his fame at the 3rd Knessiah Gedolah at Marienbad
Rabbi Menachem Ziemba (1883–1943) (Hebrew: מנחם זמבה) was a
distinguished pre-World War II Rabbi, known
as a Talmudic
genius and prodigy.
He was gunned down by the Nazis in the Warsaw
Rabbi Ziemba was born in Praga, a suburb of Warsaw, in 1883. His father,
Elazar, died while Menachem was still a young boy and the orphan was brought up
by his grandfather Rabbi Avraham Ziemba. Rabbi Avraham had been a chassid of the Kotzker Rebbe and a
student of the Chiddushei Harim, and
was now a follower of the Sfas Emes of Gur.
was brought up in the Gerrer chasidus by
his grandfather and remained a loyal chasid his entire life. Even years later
when he was world-renowned as a Torah scholar, Posek and master of Hasidic
thought, he still considered himself a simple Chasid of the rebbe of Ger. When he visited Ger,
he was called by his first name and refused to sit at the Rebbe's top table, an
honour reserved for visitors of note.
As Rabbi Ziemba grew up in Warsaw, he
gained a reputation as a formidable Talmid Chacham (scholar) and dazzling
genius. He maintained a unique correspondence with the Gaon of Rogatchov, a
fiery individual not known for his tolerance of mediocrity, nor tolerance of
At the age of eighteen, Rabbi Ziemba married the daughter
of a wealthy local merchant. He was thus able to learn Torah unhindered for the
next twenty years, a time remembered by him as the happiest years of his life.
His fame spread further afield, attracting the attention of Rabbi Meir Simcha of
Dvinsk and others. He once confided that he authored more than 10,000 pages
of Torah novellae during this golden period.
When his father-in-law died,
Rabbi Ziemba found it necessary to help out in the former's store in order to
continue supporting his family. He rejected numerous offers to serve as rabbi in many towns
and cities, saying that he had more time to study while working than as a
However, at the request of his beloved Gerrer Rebbe,
Rabbi Ziemba entered communal affairs. He was appointed the representative of
Praga to the Kehilla Council in Warsaw.
Between 1930 and 1935, the world economic depression
affected Rabbi Ziemba. His store was forced to close. He was offered the
prestigious position of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, but
turned it down. After the untimely death of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, Rabbi Ziemba
was offered the position as his successor as both Rabbi of Lublin and rosh
yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei
Lublin. For unknown reasons, this never came to pass.
In 1935 he,
together with Rabbi Yaakov Myer Biderman,
brother-in-law of the Gerrer Rebbe, and Rabbi Avraham Weinberg, was appointed to
the Warsaw Rabbinate, becoming one of the foremost spokesmen for Orthodox Jewry in Poland. Aside from
his newfound political prominence, Rabbi Ziemba became a Halachic decisor
of great importance, answering questions from around the world, as well as from
Rabbi Ziemba also took an active role in the Agudas Yisroel at
an early stage. At its first Knessia Gedola (great gathering), he was not yet
forty when chosen to serve as honorary secretary in the Moetzes Gedolei
HaTorah. At the second Knessia Gedola, Rabbi Chaim Ozer
Grodzenski agreed to serve as chairman of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah only
if Rabbi Ziemba would continue in his position, while the forty-five year old
Rabbi Ziemba felt himself to be too young and sought to stay in the background.
At the third Knessiah Gedolah in 1937 in Marienbad, Austria, which played witness to
the last massive gathering of European Orthodoxy before the Holocaust, Rabbi
Ziemba was at the height of his fame. He spoke twice to the full assemblage and
each time was greeted with hushed silence and awe.