R' Shlomo Dubno

By Rabbi Dov Eliach

The following material was gathered in connection with research on Rav Eliach's forthcoming book on the Vilna Gaon, entitled HaGaon. It was prompted by an article that appeared in the Tammuz 5759 issue of the Torah journal Or Yisroel written by R' Yehoshua Mondschein (author of the work Kerem Chabad), published in Monsey, New York, which noted that Rav Eliach, in his book Avi Hayeshivos about HaRav Chaim Volozhin, did not mention that HaRav Chaim gave a haskomo to a work of R' Shlomo Dubno.

Though that article built up an elaborate speculative explanation of the reasons that document was not mentioned, the simple truth is that when that work was published, there was no independent corroboration of that haskomo other than a work published by a notorious leader of the Vilna haskalah, and Rav Eliach, for obvious reasons, did not want to rely on that dubious source. Since then, and especially in the past year, much new information has come to light, and that is the subject of this essay. R' Shlomo Dubno should not be confused with Simon Dubnow, a historian who lived in Russia about a hundred and thirty years later and left the religious community as a youth.

Historical documents that have been discovered recently in Russia shed light on what has hitherto been a somewhat obscure episode that took place over two centuries ago at the time when the German haskalah movement was beginning to gather momentum. The new material reveals the central protagonist of this episode, the well known grammarian Reb Shlomo Dubno, in his true light.

In the past, many considered Reb Shlomo to have been one of the infamous Berlin maskilim because at one time he collaborated with Moses Mendelsohn, the father of haskalah. The problem with this theory is that later, when Dubno was about to publish a Chumash with his own commentary, he received letters of approbation from many great rabbonim, including the greatest among the Vilna Gaon's talmidim, the brothers Reb Chaim and Reb Zelmele of Volozhin.

Reb Shlomo Dubno's Chumash was in fact never published and our knowledge of these illustrious haskomos only dates from almost a hundred years later, when they were published by one of the first maskilim of Vilna, Shmuel Yosef Fein (who had his own agenda in making them public, as we shall see).

Who was Reb Shlomo Dubno and what was the significance of the haskomos that he and his work received from many of the greatest gedolim of his generation?

This article provides the answers to these questions.

Who was the Man?

Reb Shlomo ben Yoel was a native of Dubno. In his youth, he was a talmid of the author of the Mirkeves Hamishnah, and he also learned in Lemberg from HaRav Shlomo ben Moishe Chelem (author of Sha'arei Ne'imoh).

Already as a young man, he became known to the great rabbonim of his hometown for his expert knowledge of the Hebrew language and he soon became renowned as a professional grammarian. In 5532 (1772), he moved to Berlin, where he earned a living by private tutoring. One of his pupils was Moses Mendelsohn's son Joseph.

Several years later, Reb Shlomo began collaborating with Mendelsohn over the latter's now infamous Biur on the Chumash. Mendelsohn contributed the German translation while Reb Shlomo Dubno composed his own commentary to the Torah, as well as a work entitled Tikun Sofrim which dealt with the grammar of the Chumash and the traditions connected with the text.

The two of them also jointly planned a "prospectus" for the new Chumash, which they published under the name Alim Letrufoh, in order to obtain subscribers for the venture. It was then the custom for aspiring authors who wished to publish seforim to gather signatures in advance from people who had undertaken to purchase a copy of the new work upon its appearance.

The two colleagues had managed to complete the first two Chumoshim, Bereishis and Shemos, Dubno having contributed his Tikun Sofrim on both Chumoshim, as well as a commentary on chumash Bereishis, with the exception of parshas Bereishis. Suddenly however, in the middle of the work on the introduction to sefer Shemos, Dubno abruptly left both the project and Berlin. This happened at the beginning of 5541 (1780-1), when work on the Chumash had been underway for approximately three years.

Some two years later in the winter of 5543, Reb Shlomo arrived in Vilna, where he lodged with the wealthy Reb Yosef Posseles, a kinsman of the Gaon's. The sofrim of Vilna were engaged just then in writing a set of the sifrei hanevi'im on parchment, at the Gaon's behest, and with the financial backing of Reb Yosef and his nephews Reb Leib and Reb Berish. Reb Shlomo Dubno was very impressed with the project and he decided to remain in Vilna until the festivities that were planned to mark the completion of the seforim. In honor of that occasion, which was celebrated on the night following the seventh of Adar, Reb Shlomo Dubno composed a special pamphlet entitled Bircas Yosef, praising the important achievement and his wealthy patron who had supported it.

In the meantime, Reb Shlomo had come to a decision of his own, in which Vilna's sages had played a major role. He had resolved to publish a new Chumash, accompanied by his own commentary, which was based on the commentaries to Chumash of the Rishonim and the earlier authorities, as well as his work Tikun Sofrim. Reb Shlomo's admirers had been impressed by his work on the volume of Bereishis that had already been published in Berlin. In Nisan 5543 (1783), Reb Shlomo started to work at gathering signatures for his projected sefer, recording them all in a special ledger which he set aside for the purpose.

Yet the puzzle still remains: what is the meaning of the warm and enthusiastic attitude of gedolei Yisroel towards Dubno, who, just two years previously, had been working with Mendelsohn, father of the Berlin haskalah, on the Biur to Chumash that had so angered the very same gedolim?

The Partial List and the Complete List

As mentioned, the Chumash remains as yet unpublished. Our information about the haskomos and signatories is today available from a photocopy of the original ledger, which has been found. Reb Shlomo indeed received warm recommendations from many gedolei Torah, men of means and scholars, who lavished praises on his great undertaking before adding their signatures to the list of subscribers. The ledger was in the possession of the Vilna maskil Shmuel Yosef Fein, who made thorough use of it in the course of his efforts to bolster the long-standing and fallacious claim of the maskilim regarding the positive attitude of the members of the Vilna Gaon's circle in particular, and of other great sages of that generation, towards haskalah.

Haskalah spread in western Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries like wildfire, moving hand in hand with the granting of civil rights to Jews and political emancipation. Many communities in France and Germany underwent swift spiritual decimation as a result of its ideas.

By the same token however, its spread eastward to the countries where Jews remained under the oppressive rule of the Russian Czars, was a much slower process. With no available avenue of entry into the gentile society, the attraction of a foreign language and culture for the eastern European Jews was far weaker.

Even a century after Mendelsohn, the early Russian maskilim were still only a relatively small band, without any power over the masses. One of the tactics which they adopted in order to gain credibility with the people was to maintain that revered Torah luminaries of the previous century had adopted an approving or even admiring attitude towards the early German maskilim. They seized any shred of evidence that could possibly be presented or manipulated as supporting this position and carefully incubated and embellished it until they were able to offer it as part of their credentials.

Reb Shlomo Dubno's ledger was one such piece of "evidence" which, if correctly manipulated, could provide a very convincing "proof." S. Y. Fein extracted several haskomos from the ledger. In his own works Kiryoh Ne'emonoh and Sofoh Lane'emonim, he published almost all of Reb Shlomo Dubno's haskomos in their entirety, repeatedly emphasizing that they demonstrated their writers' attitudes towards haskalah and the involvement in other fields of knowledge.

As long as Fein's works were the only source for the haskomos, the question mark over Reb Shlomo Dubno's life and work remained. Now that the original ledger can be examined however, it solves the riddle. Fein published almost all of the haskomos but not all of them. Critically, he omitted the letter from the gaon HaRav Shmuel ben Avigdor, the av beis din of Vilna, which places the matter in a new light, as will be shown.

Dubno Breaks off With Mendelsohn

If we examine the chronology of the events surrounding Reb Shlomo Dubno's departure from Berlin, the true picture emerges. Our research into this period in general and this episode in particular, which was conducted in connection with our forthcoming work Toldos Rabbenu HaGro, revealed several pertinent facts.

First, as background to the discussion, it should be realized that the founding of the haskalah movement was not heralded by any announcements or publicity. It had no founding as such, nor even any definite beginning. It rather took shape slowly, as the result of an ongoing process. Those who are reckoned as having been its "founders" were not born with signs on their foreheads proclaiming them as such. The reverse was true -- they were raised and educated within the fold of the traditional Jewish community and initially, they even won the community's high estimation for their talents and accomplishments.

Who has a greater reputation for sharp sightedness and detection of any deviations from traditional practices than HaRav Yaakov Emden, in his generation? Yet, in a Torah letter to Mendelsohn dated Cheshvan 5530 (1770), he addresses him with admiration and obvious friendliness, "to the wise man, a song of friendship, a man of mighty wisdom . . . Reb Moshe . . . "

The works of Mendelsohn's friend and colleague Naftali Hertz Wessely (Wiesel) also initially won recommendations from such gedolim of their time as the Nodoh Biyehudoh and Reb Dovid Tevele of Lissa.

The first time that gedolei Yisroel protested publicly against the Berlin maskilim was only in 5542 (1782), in response to Naftali Hertz Wessely's Divrei Sholom Ve'emes. In a drosho he gave in Prague, the Nodoh Biyehudoh then spoke out openly against Mendelsohn's Chumash.

What seems so obvious to us in hindsight, with our knowledge of Mendelsohn's disastrous legacy, was therefore not immediately apparent as he set about trying to facilitate the entry of his fellow Jews into the surrounding society. Whatever the nature of any private reservations they may have had, the leaders of that generation could perhaps not do otherwise than treat the gifted and widely admired Mendelsohn with respect until such time as there were more definite indications that the path that he and his friends were treading would lead the masses astray.

When Reb Shlomo Dubno first joined forces with Mendelsohn then, the latter's public record was still spotless. As they began work on the Chumash, no suspicions surrounded Mendelsohn and even when Dubno broke off with him three years later, a whole year still elapsed before the campaign against the maskilim broke out openly.

Though when Dubno left in 5541 (1781) things still appeared outwardly calm, behind the scenes efforts were already underway (and had been since perhaps as early as the end of 5540), to obstruct the new translation of the Chumash. Dubno's departure was one result of these efforts. So Reb Shlomo Dubno himself maintained in a letter to the grammarian Reb Wolf Heidenheim, in which he identified the geonim, the Nodoh Biyehudoh and HaRav Rephoel Hacohen of Hamburg as the prime movers in his leaving.

In his letter, Dubno told Reb Wolf Heidenheim that he had abandoned Mendelsohn due to the influence of his childhood teacher, the gaon Rav Naftali Hertz, av beis din of Dubno who, "passed through Berlin and rebuked me with the words of the posuk, `When you joined forces with Achazyoh, Hashem made a breach in your actions,' [by which means he conveyed to me] that I was engaged in my work together with those whose sole intention, according to the letter addressed to him by the rabbonim of Prague and Hamburg [i.e. the two aforementioned gedolim], was to completely uproot Torah shebe'al peh.

"His words made a strong impression on me and I decided to leave that group and travel far away from Berlin . . . and since I did so, I am no longer one of their circle."

Even though the idea of the Biur still retained its importance in Reb Shlomo Dubno's opinion, "some of the people who were drawn into assisting the work were a very suspect crowd, for they had thrown off the Torah's yoke and regarding the likes of them it can truly and justly be said, `Move away now [from . . . these wicked people].' "

(Reb Shlomo Dubno's letter to Reb Wolf Heidenheim, dated Sivan 5549, was printed in German by Rav B. H. Auerbach, av beis din of Halberstadt in Geschichte der Israelitischen Gemeinde, and in Hebrew in the periodical Asifas Chachomim in Koengisburg in 5638 (1878), issue one, page 13.)

Dubno's story leaves no doubts about the circumstances and the finality of his break with the Berlin maskilim.

Corroboration and Exoneration

The Nodoh Biyehudoh's haskomo to Reb Shlomo Dubno's own Chumash supports the latter's version of events and sheds further light on the initial attempts to contain the damage that was feared as a result of Mendelsohn's work. It should be noted that it was the Nodoh Biyehudoh who led the campaign against Mendelsohn's Chumash and who was one of the first to enter the fight against the maskilim in general. As such, his account of the episode carries special weight.

After heaping praises on Reb Shlomo Dubno (whom he clearly considered a gifted writer and grammarian of unimpeached reputation) and his written works, the Nodoh Biyehudoh states what differentiates the present (Dubno's) Chumash from the Berlin one.

"Then, at the time of the beginning of its printing in the aforementioned holy community [Berlin], he wrote to me asking me to give him a haskomo and I did not accede, for the sacred and the profane were joined together in that edition, for he had appended to the Torah a foreign commentary, referred to by its author [Mendelsohn] as a German translation and we feared that the foreign tongue would be a stumbling block in the path of the Jewish youth and that it would give rise to abandonment of Torah. I therefore refrained from giving him a haskomo.

"However, afterwards the partnership dissolved and they left each other. The chochom . . . Rav Shlomo did not complete the latter Chumoshim. Now, many fine people have taken note and are asking him to refine the vessel and remove the dross from the silver . . . printing the Torah's five chumoshim in a way that is entirely holy, as they were given at Sinai, with immense care and supervision so that there be no mistake, and with his Tikun Sofrim on the entire Torah as well as his Biur on the entire Torah and with Targum Onkelos and Rashi's commentary . . . "

Dubno's Biur -- so it emerges -- was entirely holy while Mendelsohn's translation was entirely profane. Opposition had been leveled at the combination of sacred and profane but with the parting of the ways, the admirers of Dubno's Biur wanted to see it continued "in a way that is entirely holy, as . . . given at Sinai." It would then indeed be a work that deserved the fullest support.

The efforts of the rabbonim to extricate Dubno from the circle of Berlin `enlighteners' were undertaken because the former recognized him as a fine and upright person and as one deserving of being shown the truth and being removed from the evil circle. Our knowledge of the subsequent history of Mendelsohn and his friends bears out this judgment.

It is known that all the individual members of the Berlin haskalah were tainted with either false ideas, Bible criticism, reform-style demands for change, or a combination of these. Reb Shlomo Dubno however, has never been accused of harboring any such ideas. His sole occupation was with Torah, either in explaining the pesukim according to the rishonim or studying their grammar and the traditions for reading them. Throughout his life, he was scrupulous in his mitzvah observance. A list of the volumes and manuscripts in Dubno's library, which was published prior to the library's sale in Amsterdam in 5574 (1875), contains the names of many works on kabolo, which their owner studied during his lifetime. This is further evidence of his dissimilarity from his former colleagues, who denied the authenticity of the kabolo to a man. (This was pointed out to me by my friend Rabbi Dovid Kamenetsky.)

Further Revelations

While the Nodoh Biyehudoh's letter is the most significant one, both in terms of its writer and its content, it is by no means the only one supporting Dubno. In fact, besides the ledger in which Reb Shlomo Dubno signed up subscribers in Austria-Hungary, White Russia and Lithuania (to which we will return later), he kept a second ledger in which he recorded approximately twelve hundred further signatures from the German lands, amongst them many of the greatest rabbonim and dayanim in their region.

One of the phrases in the Nodoh Biyehudoh's letter appears in a number of the other haskomos as well: "Now, many fine people have taken note and are asking him . . . " This suggests that the public's interest in seeing Dubno's Chumash published may have been stronger than that of the author himself. Maybe the entire initiative was launched by those "many fine people."

It transpires that besides the inherent value of Reb Shlomo Dubno's work, which is very highly praised in all the letters, there was indeed a further aim in trying to get his work published. It was hoped that the appearance of a quality competitor to Mendelsohn's Chumash, a work of a high standard written by a scholar with good credentials, would limit the spread and the influence of the former work. Further support for this inference can be adduced from a letter of haskomo written by the gaon HaRav Sho'ul, the av beis din of Amsterdam, who had known Reb Shlomo Dubno in his youth, when the former had been rav of the town Dubno.

"I have known the man of understanding . . . Rav Shlomo nr'u ben . . . Rav Yoel zt'l, from . . . Dubno, my previous place of residence. When he was young, I recognized his ready eloquence and his fine choice of expression. As a grown man he retained these gifts and set his heart to delve into the seforim of Torah, nevi'im and all the remaining holy scriptures, as to their reading and tradition . . . with wondrous ideas and comprehension, and with clarity of expression, until he rendered them as clean as fine flour [from which all impurities have been removed], as anyone can see from the two Chumoshim that were printed in Berlin with his biur and Tikun Sofrim. In this he has found favor and good sense in the eyes of all who see him. All [exclaim] in unison that it is good to merit the public with [these works] and to have them beautifully set and printed, fittingly joined to the five Chumoshim . . . with Targum Onkelos . . . and Rashi . . . together with Rav Shlomo's biur and his Tikun Sofrim, so that Hashem's Torah should be in our mouths in its complete perfection, lacking nothing. As I revealed my opinion to him in my letter of advice and counsel and now Heaven has arranged that he has consulted his Creator and taken heed of my opinion, which should be acceptable and good for all."

Rav Sho'ul then, had already recommended this course to Reb Shlomo Dubno at an earlier stage.

The View from Vilna: the Crucial Letter

How did the rabbonim of Vilna -- the Yerushalayim of Lithuania -- look upon the controversy surrounding the Berlin Chumash? What was their opinion of Reb Shlomo Dubno and his Biur, when he was staying in their town, prior to his obtaining the haskomos of the gedolim?

It was only over a year ago that the original ledger in which Dubno collected the signatures of his subscribers in Lithuania, Rasein and Galicia, came to light and a photocopy of it was sent from St. Petersburg to the National Library in Yerushalayim. This was the ledger in which Dubno collected his first signatures while he was in Vilna and it was the source for the haskomos which the maskil Sha"Y Fein later included in his own works.

On the very first page of the ledger, we find an answer to the questions posed above. The opening page contains the haskomo of HaRav Shmuel ben Avigdor, av beis din of Vilna, which he wrote for Reb Shlomo Dubno when the idea of the latter's publishing his own Chumash had just been broached:

"I have seen the work he has composed already on the Chumash that has been newly printed in Berlin . . . together with German translation and commentary. Since a number of the chachomim in Germany and Poland were displeased with the German translation, the aforementioned scholar . . . Rav Shlomo intends to print such Chumoshim with Targum Onkelos. And I have also undertaken to accept one of these Chumoshim . . . "

Even in Vilna then, far from the budding center of haskalah in Berlin, the nature of the new Chumash was appreciated, as Rav Shmuel states clearly. The Berlin Chumash had been rejected because of Mendelsohn's German translation and for that very reason, Rav Shlomo Dubno was about to publish a Chumash of his own, with Targum Onkelos and his own commentary.

HaRav Dovid ben Rav Shimon Broide, one of the Vilna dayanim, also had this in mind when he wrote, "And seeing that his work in that project was only completed until sefer Vayikro, and in addition, not all were pleased with the German translation, Rav Shlomo has therefore undertaken to print the Chumoshim a second time, with just his biur and Tikun Sofrim on the whole Torah, as well as Targum Onkelos . . . "

The haskomos given by the brothers Rav Chaim and Rav Zelmeleh of Volozhin, which also appear in this ledger, can now be understood in their proper context. Although the two confine themselves to lavish praises of the new projected Chumoshim and make no mention of Rav Shlomo Dubno's earlier experiences in Berlin, their colleagues' letters make it clear that Dubno himself was and had always been a faithful and upright person, and was untainted by the misdemeanors of the espousers of haskalah.

Moreover, the fact that a number of rabbonim were supporting Dubno's initiative as a means of limiting the spread of Mendelsohn's ideas, is alluded to in the following letter written by the wealthy member of the Vilna community, Reb Yosef Posseles (who had been Dubno's host when the latter had come to Vilna after leaving Berlin), to David Friedlander, (who was Mendelsohn's right hand man).

"I saw in his possession some letters from rabbonim and from Polish geonim, who are lending him their support . . . and he is being hailed . . . in Poland, Lithuania and Germany . . . by some, on account of their love . . . [for him] and by others, on account of their hatred and jealousy of the chochom . . . Reb Moshe n'y." The writer saw fit to add further, to Dubno's credit, that he was "a man who has a name and a foothold in the chambers of gedolim, the rabbonim and geonim of Poland and Germany." (This letter was written on Rosh Chodesh Adar I, 5543 (1783), shortly before Dubno began the orderly signing up of subscribers into his ledgers.)

It should be noted, as is obvious from the letter, that Yosef Posseles himself was one of those whose adulation of Mendelsohn had not yet waned. It is a fact that Mendelsohn was the most famous Jewish savant known to the gentiles at that time and this naturally made a great impression on people of a certain type. However, we are attempting to clarify what the opinions of that generation's gedolim were, not the opinions of its baalei batim. Although he was very involved with the efforts on behalf of Dubno's work, his father-in-law Rav Shmuel, the av beis din did not refrain from revealing the truth in his haskomo, namely, that Mendelsohn's translation had been found unfit by the sages of the time.

It is now almost unnecessary to spell out why Sha"Y Fein did not publish Rav Shmuel ben Avigdor's haskomo as he published those of the other gedolim. It hardly served his purpose, for instead of providing further support for his canard that they approved of a former colleague of Mendelsohn, it demonstrates that all who wrote in warm support of Dubno and his work did so precisely because he had severed his connection with the father of haskalah. They supported him not because of his former liaison but because he had remained a faithful and upright Jew despite it.

Distortions and Apologetics of Mendelsohn

Mendelsohn and his followers, though priding themselves on their "scientific" approach, were not above manipulation of the facts and putting on them a "spin" that suited their agenda.

Approximately two years after Dubno left him, Mendelsohn published a booklet entitled Or Lenesivoh, which he described as an introduction to his work on the Chumash but whose purpose was actually to deal with the problematic issue of Dubno's departure. Although Mendelsohn does survey the nature and methods of his work, the section which he devotes to Dubno is out of all proportion. Apparently the effects of Dubno's departure weighed heavily upon Mendelsohn and his group and he was forced to provide an explanation of his own in order to salvage his project.

He is therefore careful to avoid maligning Dubno's professional abilities, which would have been petty on his part and would also have seemed ludicrous, in light of the fact that he included whatever work Dubno had done and the readers of the Chumash were able to make up their own minds about the quality of Dubno's work. In fact, Mendelsohn praised his talents and capability very highly and tried to dispel the heavy cloud that the departure of his collaborator had cast over the entire project by citing financial pressures as the cause. Dubno, he writes, was unable to wait until the project began generating income. This sounds like a very shallow argument. Are we to believe that after an investment of time and energy, not to mention finances, that such a project demanded, Dubno lost patience and simply got up and left, throwing away the fruits of three years' labor?

It is hardly likely that Mendelsohn himself believed that this was the real reason. He writes, "And at the beginning of the sefer (Shemos), he started to print my introduction but he did not finish it, for before it was finished, he had a change of heart -- I don't know what happened to him -- for he left me and went to his native land . . . "

Well, what could we have expected from Mendelsohn? Since Mendelsohn and his group were clearly planning to continue their project, he had hardly any choice but to express amazement at Dubno's "change of heart," to feign ignorance of its cause and to advance the "pareve" theory that financial stresses were to blame.

The truth is that Dubno himself does complain that he was swindled out of what was due to him by the Berlin circle, and that this also caused him problems. However, while Mendelsohn turns the financial aspect into the sole reason for the split, Dubno uses it as an illustration of the generally unscrupulous nature of the people with whom he had been dealing. In his work Bircas Yosef, Reb Shlomo Dubno writes, "I have already published my work on sifrei Bereishis and Shemos and thank G-d, it was received well by the wise of heart, savants and connoisseurs of knowledge. Were it not for the fact that I was interrupted by those who veer from the path of the world's King, this one coveting money that is not his own, that one with flattery and fabrications and another harming the public with smoothness, my sefer on the entire Torah would already have been completed."

The Evidence of the Ledgers

Overall, the ledgers show a broad and deep support for R' Shlomo Dubno and his project. The Lithuanian ledger shows that Dubno had the support of close to a thousand signatories, in tens of communities and several countries, led by the greatest figures of the generation. Another of the Gaon's talmidim, HaRav Binyomin Rivlin of Shklov signed, though no haskomo of his appears. Other well known rabbonim who signed include HaRav Mordechai Zeev Orenstein, av beis din of Lvov and HaRav Zalman Rappoport of Brody. They speak about Dubno warmly and praise his work.

The true extent of the support for Dubno is further attested to by the second ledger, in which Dubno collected signatures from communities in Germany and Holland, along the same pattern that he had followed earlier on his first trip to gather signatures in Lithuania, Rasein and Galicia. Some of the haskomos from this other ledger were published before those of Sha"Y Fein, by R' Gavriel Falk of Amsterdam in his sefer, Ben Gorny (Amsterdam 5611 (1851), from page 41 onwards). The second ledger was found in Amsterdam (where Dubno lived during the last years of his life), and it contains some twelve hundred signatures from Germany, Holland and other countries.

The author of Ben Gorny describes the pattern which Dubno followed in obtaining signatures when he came to a town. First, the rav would sign and would usually also contribute some words of recommendation. Then, the townspeople would sign an undertaking to purchase the Chumash upon publication and finally, the local beis din would sign, affirming the authenticity of all the signatures.

Among the haskomos from the second ledger that are printed in Ben Gorny are those of the Nodoh Biyehudoh and of Rav Sho'ul of Amsterdam. The account in that sefer receives confirmation from the recently discovered Vilna ledger. In both, the pattern of gathering signatures is the same.

The result of this is to authenticate both ledgers which place Reb Shlomo Dubno in his correct light, exonerating his character and repudiating Sha"Y Fein's accusation that the Gaon and his circle admired haskalah.

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