Zvi Hirsch Masliansky (1856-1943)

Zvi Hirsch Masliansky, born in Slutsk, Belarus, was a preacher of renown educated in the Mir Yeshiva. He became an educator influenced by the Haskalah, a Hebraist, and a Zionist campaigner. Obliged to leave Russia in 1895, he rebuilt his reputation as the ‘National Preacher’ and reconfigured his activities in the United States (where he lived until his death in 1943). In New York his Yiddish sermons drew crowds for several decades. His excursus on Josephus, in a Hebrew work intended as material for sermonizing, denounces him as traitor and servant of the Flavians and compares him unfavourably to Jeremiah. But Josephus’s later writings are appreciated as an undying service to his people. The Jewish rebels whom Josephus denounced are, by contrast, glorified. Surrounding sketches of some Second Temple figures and events depend heavily on Josephus, directly or indirectly. Debts to Kalman Schulman and to Heinrich Graetz are apparent.

Kitvei Zvi Hirsch Masliansky (New York, 1929, in 3 vols). Concise account of Josephus (Yosef Ha-Cohen) in Volume 1 (Sefer Ha-Hatafa), 296-8.
Zvi Hirsch Masliansky, Memoirs: an Account of My Life and Travels = Kitvei Zvi Hirsch Masliansky Volume 3, trans. Isaac Schwartz and Zviah Nardi (Jerusalem, 2009).

Tessa Rajak, ‘Josephus through the Eyes of Zvi Hirsch Masliansky (1856 -1943): between Eastern Europe, the USA, and Eretz Israel’, in Josephus in Modern Jewish Culture: New Perspectives., ed. Andrea Schatz (forthcoming).
Gary Phillip Zola, ‘The People’s Preacher; A Study of the Life and Writings of Zvi Hirsch Masliansky (1856–1943)’ (Diss., Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, 1982).

JRA entry contributed by Tessa Rajak