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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

genius -

"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

numerous queries.

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

the souls.

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.