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KLATZKO, MORDECAI BEN ASHER (surnamed Meltzer):

Russian rabbi and author; born in Wilna 1797; died in Lida July 2, 1883. He was a descendant of Rabbi Mayer Katzenellenbogen of Padua. Klatzko received the usual Talmudical education and soon distinguished himself by his keen mind and retentive memory. After lecturing privately for some time in his native city he was appointed (1831) chief teacher in the newly established yeshibah founded by Mayla. The stories circulated about difficulties between him and the great Talmudist Israel Lipkin, who for a short time was a subordinate teacher at the yeshibah, are now mostly discredited.

In 1844 Klatzko was chosen dayyan of Wilna; he retained his positions at the yeshibah and in the rabbinate until 1852, when he was called to Kalvariya, government of Suwalki, to succeed Löb Shapiro of that place, who had become rabbi of Kovno. Klatzko remained in Kalvariya till 1864, when he was elected to the rabbinate of Lida, government of Wilna, which position he held until his death.

Klatzko was considered one of the most eminent rabbis of Russia. He had many pupils, and probably ordained more young rabbis than any of his contemporaries. He was the author of novellæ on the Talmud and the Shulḥan 'Aruk, some of which were published posthumously by his son under the title "Tekelet Mordekai" (Wilna, 1889). This work contains his novellæ on Berakot, Mo'ed, and the first part of the Shulḥan 'Aruk. The work was compiled by his pupil Aba Joseph Triwosch, who wrote down what he received from him orally.

Bibliography:
  • H. N. Steinschneider, in Oẓar ha-Sifrut, iv. 531-541;
  • idem, 'Ir Wilna;
  • Triwosch, biography of Klatzko appended to Tekelet Mordekai.
L. G. N. T. L.
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