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RABBI MOSHE ZE'EV SKOLNICK
Rabbii Moshe Ze'ev Skolnick, known as R. Velvel the Teacher, was born in approximately 1860 in Kossovo, near Slonim. At the age of 10, he became an orphan upon the death of his parents, and was raised by friends and relatives. Until the age of 13 he studied in the House of Study in town, and later he studied on his own at the yeshivas of Maltsh and Seltz.
At the age of 20, R. Moshe Velvel was ordained as a rabbi and certified as a ritual slaughterer. He didn't earn a living in either field, however. After his wedding, he settled in Drohitchin and taught Talmud. He was very good at teaching and never lacked students. In fact, he taught hundreds of students, many of whom later studied in yeshivas.
R. Moshe Velvel was a rare individual. Besides his erudition in Talmud and the commentaries, he also had fine character traits, and was a talented person who was liked by everyone. He also had a Jewish sense of humor.
Even though he had a seat at the eastern wall of the Old House of Study, he was always found sitting at the table next to the oven, studying a text or engaging in Torah study with someone. Although he was able to give erudite lectures in Talmud for welcome students, he preferred to teach the weekly Torah portion to the simple folk on Friday night, or psalms and abridged halachic texts such as Chayei Adam between the afternoon and evening prayer services during the week. He especially enjoyed speaking with people, and in turn, they enjoyed listening to his Torah anecdotes and humor. R. Moshe Velvel also studied regularly on his own between 2 am and the morning prayer service.
R. Moshe Velvel was also a good cantor, Torah reader and shofar blower, and gave charity above his means. As a devoted Zionist, he was one of the first people to buy shares in the Colonial Bank