RABINOWITZ, HIRSCH (ẒEBI HAKOHEN):
Russian scientist and publicist: born at Linkovo, near Poneviezh, government of Kovno, Feb. 23, 1832; died in St. Petersburg Jan. 16, 1889. His chief instructor in Talmud and kindred subjects was his father, who was the local rabbi. Hirsch very early evinced an inclination to scientific studies, and was happy when his father permitted one of his old friends to instruct him in the rudiments of mathematics. At the age of twenty he was well acquainted with natural science, and in 1852 commenced to write scientific works in Hebrew. About that time he married and removed to Dünaburg (Dvinsk), where he founded a technical school for Jewish boys. He was a thorough master of the Russian language and wrote in the "Yevreiskaya Biblioteka" of 1873 a memorable reply to the attack on the Jews contained in the "Kniga Kahala" of Jacob Brafmann, a converted Jew.
Settling in St. Petersburg, Rabinowitz became an active member of the Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia. In 1879 he and L. Behrmann established in that city the Russian weekly "Russki Yevrei," and in 1885 the monthly "Yevreiskoe Obozrenie," both of which in 1886 ceased to appear. In the latter year he was raised by the government to honorary citizenship in recognition of his services to literature and the advancement of knowledge.
Rabinowitz's works include: "Yesode Ḥokmat ha-Ṭeba'": book i., "Ha-Menuḥah weha-Tenu'ah" (Wilna, 1867), containing the principles of mechanism and of acoustics; "Hosafah Madda'it," a scientific supplement to "Ha-Meliẓ" (St. Petersburg, 1871; three months); "Mishpeṭe ha-Magbilim" (ib. 1871), of which the second half is a translation of a work by the mathematician S. Pineto; and "Oẓar ha-Ḥokmah weha-Madda'" (German title, "Bibliothek der Gesammten Naturwissenschaften"): vol. i., "Toledot ha-Esh weha-Mayim," on heat and steam; vol. ii., "Eben ha-Sho'ebet," on magnetism, which contains his own theory of original matter and of motion; vol. iii., "Ha-Harkabah weha-Hafradah," on chemistry, the last three works being published in Wilna in 1876.
In his publicistic writings in the Russian language Rabinowitz always insisted that the Jews are hated not for their faults, but for their excellent qualities. He continually pointed out that only those nations which stand low in the scale of civilization or are retrograding persecute the Jews, while those which are really civilized or progressing are the most friendly toward them. He was not in favor of religious reforms; and, unlike other progressists of his kind, he never wrote a harsh word against the strictly Orthodox Jews, among whom he had been brought up.
- Zagorodsky, in Ha-Asif, iii. 440-447 (with portrait); ib. v. 101-102;
- Sefer Zikkaron, pp. 103-104, Warsaw, 1890;
- Zeitlin, Bibl. Post-Mendels. pp. 284-285;
- Ha-Shiloah, i. 161-162;
- Sokolow, Sefer ha-Shanah, 1900, pp. 241-242;
- Deinard, Massa be-Europa, pp. 87, 108, 131, 188.