Yechezkel Landau

Yechezkel Landau
Personal details
Born (1713-10-08)8 October 1713
Opatów, Poland
Died 29 April 1793(1793-04-29) (aged 79)
Prague, Bohemia, Holy Roman Empire

Yechezkel ben Yehuda Landau (8 October 1713 – 29 April 1793) was an influential authority in halakha (Jewish law). He is best known for the work Noda Biyhudah (נודע ביהודה), by which title he is also known.


Landau was born in Opatów, Poland, to a family that traced its lineage back to Rashi, and attended yeshiva at Ludmir and Brody. In Brody, he was appointed dayan (rabbinical judge) in 1734, and in 1745 he became rabbi of Yampol. While in Yampol, he attempted to mediate between Jacob Emden and Jonathan Eybeschütz in a debate—"The Emden-Eybeschütz Controversy"—that "had disrupted Jewish communal life for many years". His role in the controversy is described as "tactful" and brought him to the attention of the community of Prague—where, in 1755, he was appointed rabbi. He also established a Yeshiva there; Avraham Danzig, author of Chayei Adam, is amongst his best known students.

Landau was highly esteemed not only by the community, but also by others; and he stood high in favor in government circles. Thus, in addition to his rabbinical tasks, he was able to intercede with the government on various occasions when anti-Semitic measures had been introduced. Though not opposed to secular knowledge, he objected to "that culture which came from Berlin", in particular Moses Mendelssohn's translation of the Pentateuch.

His son, Samuel Landau (1752 – 31 October 1834, Prague), was chief dayyan of Prague. Landau was the champion of Orthodox Rabbinism, and when, at the end of the eighteenth century, the Austrian emperor planned the establishment of Jewish theological seminaries, Landau was one of the rabbis that objected thereto. He had a controversy on this subject with Baruch Jeiteles (Phinehas Hananiah Argosi di Silva), who, under the title of Ha-Oreb, published (Vienna, 1795) Landau's letter to him and his own rejoinder. Landau published his responsa under the title of Shibat Ẓiyyon (Prague, 1827). He edited his father's Ahabat Ẓiyyon and Doresh le-Ẓiyyon (ib. 1827), adding to the former work four homilies of his own, and to the latter a number of halakic discourses. [Jewish Encyclopedia]


His main work of responsa, titled Noda Biyhudah (נודע ביהודה, "Known in Judah", a reference to Psalms 76:2 and his father's name), is one of the principal sources of Jewish law of his age. Famous decisions include those limiting autopsy to prevent a clear and present danger in known others. This collection was esteemed by rabbis and scholars, both for its logic and for its independence with regard to the rulings of other Acharonim as well as its simultaneous adherence to the writings of the Rishonim.

Other works include Dagul Mervavah on the Shulkhan Arukh (cf. Song of Solomon 5:10) and Tziyun le-Nefesh Chayah (abbreviated as Tzelach, named in reference to his mother, whose name was Chayah) on the Talmud.

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