• Issue: November 1984
  • Designer: Z. Narkiss
  • Stamp size: 30.8 x 30.8 mm
  • Plate no.: 85
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Rabbi Isaac Ha-Levi Herzog was born in 1888 in Lomza, Poland where his father served as Rabbi. His father who was known for his inspiring sermons and as a spiritual leader, officiated in Lomza, Leeds, and Paris, and it was from him that his son imbibed a deep love for Jewish Studies and a love for Zion. Isaac was an outstanding scholar and when no more than 16 years old had mastered the whole of the Babylonian Talmud and a few years later was ordained as rabbi by one of the outstanding Jewish scholars of the day.

Rabbi Isaac Ha-Levi Herzog was regarded as an authority on Jewish Law and respected for his profound knowledge and judicial skill. He also devoted himself to secular studies and studied mathematics, classical and Semitic languages, philosophy and science at the Universities of London, Leeds and Paris. He was fluent in a dozen languages and his writings show a mastery of such subjects as marine biology and Roman and English Law.

In the year 1916 he was invited to take up the position of Rabbi in Belfast Northern Ireland and shortly after that moved to Dublin as Chief Rabbi of what is now Eire. He was a close observer of the Irish people's fight for independence and became friendly with their leaders. Until this very day he holds a special place in the memory of the Irish people who saw in him both an exceptional personality and a true friend.

In 1936 Rabbi Herzog was invited to succeed Rabbi Kook as the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbni of Eretz Israel and following the declaration of the State, was privileged to serve as Israel's first Chief Rabbi, a post he continued to hold until his death in 1959.

Throughout all those stormy years of the Holocaust and the rebirth of the Jewish State, Rabbi Herzog fought unceasingly to bring the people of Israel closer to Judaism. He strengthened the yeshivot, established contacts with all sections of the Yishuv, strove for national unity and for a greater understanding between religious and non-religious sections of the community and negotiated with the Mandatory authorities as equal to equal. He was one of the leaders of the fight for independence and frequently represented his people before world tribunals. Again and again he pleaded the Jewish people's case before the various Enquiry Commissions set up to solve the problems of Eretz Israel and on one never-to-be-forgotten occasion publicly tore to shreds the infamous White Paper on the future of Palestine.

During and after the Second World War he worked unceasingly to save the Jews of Europe from destruction and conversion. At the risk of his life he travelled to Europe and the USA to speak personally with the world's leaders and was received by presidents of the USA and the Pope. His rescue mission undertaken in 1946 saved hundreds of Jewish orphans from the danger of conversion. Rabbi Herzog was among those who helped draft the laws of the new State. In the judgements that he handed down in his capacity as President of the Rabbinical High Court of Appeal he interpreted Jewish Law in terms of current realities, emphasizing its relevance alongside the laws of the new Jewish State. His judgements in matrimonial cases form the basis of present-day legal decision and contributed greatly to enhancing the status of the woman in our society.

He left behind him a whole treasury of responsa (rabbinical opinions) on questions of Jewish Law, part of which have been published; two volumes (out of the five that he planned to write) on "The Main Institutions of Jewish Law" as well as numerous articles and scholarly theses.

Rabbi Herzog's family too have left their mark on Israel public life. His wife Sarah served as President of Mizrachi Women and chairman of the Ezrat Nashim hospital; his son Ya'akov was an intellectual and statesman who served as Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office until his untimely death, while his other son Chaim is Israel's sixth President.

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Rabbi Isaac Herzog