The Power of Volozhyn
By Harav Moshe Zvi Neriya (Kfar Haroe)
Translated from Volozhyn Yizkor book, by M. Porat
The Volozhyn Yeshiva was established in the "three-sons" system: Rabbi
Chayim, Rabbi Itzele and the "Naziv". There were other great men, beginning
with Rabbi Hilel from Horodno and Rabbi Avraham Simha from Mietshislav, and
ending with Rabbi Refoel Shapiro and Rabbi Hayim Soloveytshik. Each of these
leaders of the Yeshiva added a worthwhile element to the Yeshiva reputation.
Nevertheless, the most significant aspect, the authentic Yeshiva essence, was
carried by the three-.
"As Fathers we name only three".
The holy Yeshiva first Rabbi, Rabbi Chayim, created the foundations, Reb
Itsele raised its glory and Hanaziv strengthened the walls.
Rabbi Chayim was an exceptional educator and most erudite person. A mighty
"The wise man is esteemed more then the prophet"
He was a man of deeds, an ingenious leader, and a profound and brilliant
thinker. Yet, Chiefly He was a pedagogue - a master at his profession.
Rabbi Itzele resembled his father in many ways. He was a born leader;
brimming of wisdom, of unique intelligence and astute comprehension. He was
also blessed with a golden heart, flowing with love for the Jews far and near
and a universal concern for the entire community. He was prodigious and
honest, He was the head of the Yeshiva, and he was the leader of the entirety
of the Diaspora,
The Naziv had an iron will and a powerful character. He was a remarkable
builder, he constructed himself as a leader, and the Yeshiva as a prime
Jewish center. He did it with solid and extensive resourcefulness, with
diligence, integrity, devotion and love for the Torah, his People and the
Additional people formed the wholeness of the Yeshiva image. Every one from
the Volozhyn great and famous- down to the most ordinary shtetl resident
Contributed to Her character and left a personal imprint at her gates.
Moreover, not only Her leaders, but also the best of the students, the
magnificent Yeshiva Boys who turned to be the great sages of Israel. When
they left the Yeshiva, they left behind their impressions. Stories and facts,
memories and traditions passed from mouth to mouth and interlaced into the
web of the great Yeshiva.. In addition, mysterious figures selected the
Yeshiva for residence. Many years later stories rotated about the awesome
and humble characters that walked by way of the Yeshiva in stillness, and the
warmth of their breath hovered over and commingled with her ambience.
The Yeshiva became the Torah center of the Great Russian Jewry. She became a
mighty power of Torah learning: diligence, Torah loving, Torah respecting and
of every good principle. From year to year the Yeshiva grew, Her frontiers
extended with students and more elevated learning was achieved. In Her
shelter thousands found protection, drank from Her sources, absorbed Her
spirit and became intoxicated by Her aroma.
The Jewish lads, talented and will powered, thrashed their feet walking from
remote places to enjoy in the light of Her Torah and to breath Her scholarly
atmosphere. Some were brilliant prodigies and others modest yet diligent
Most were virtuous souls clinging to the wings of the divine presence. In
addition, some broken spirits skeptical of life suffering in the Diaspora.
Hidden tsadikim seeking the wonderful and educated scholars exhumed with
cogency - all of them flowing toward the Volozhyn Yeshiva.
Here they looked for a conclusion to their raw brilliant talent, a holy place
for their searching souls; enervating grieved hearts, a mystical place for
their yearning psyche and an opportunity for clarifications for their
The great concentration of the most outstanding persons in the century
talents, the wonderful and diligence disciples of Torah studying and
laboring. The uniquely divine spirit of friendship, genius and willpower. All
of them joined and created a extraordinary reality. a mighty workshop of
spiritual richness and charming legends, forever captivating the hearts and
No man left Volozhyn empty handed. Those who worked hard and lay the
foundation - departed with great treasures. Volozhyn mended their image and
strengthened the Jewish population wherever they have gone to teach. Also the
tired, that did not find their way - they did not leave empty handed. They
took the Volozhyn melody, which later turned to be their life song. The light
of Volozhyn's Torah illuminated their spirit. Moreover, faraway, after many
days and years, they remembered the Yeshiva; and her memory was refreshing
their souls and sustaining their hearts.
The Torah dignity increased and multiplied by the Volozhyn faculty and from
the strength of its energy. It was accomplished due to the dozens of Gaonim
and hundreds Rabonim who illuminated the whole community by their dignity.
and also due the thousands of "balabatim", outstanding scholars, erudite
Talmudists, virtuous persons with bright opinions, persons carrying the
Volozhyn Torah in their heart and from Her deriving their splendor. All of
them were praising her dignity. And over all: The core of the Yeshiva
influence was the spreading of her essence far away from Her borders and from
the sphere of her disciples. The Volozhyn legend ascended above small burghs
and large towns, above schools and Yeshiva's, She warmed and exited,
encouraged and strengthened, and many, many followed Her method.