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Rabbi Simcha Zelig the Dayan
By Rabbi Dr. M.A. Riger (Canada)
Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

My father was born in Novogrodek in 1864. In 1874 he came with his
parents to Brest. He was influenced by the orthodoxy and
interpretations of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Diskin, and from time to time
would study Torah with him; in 1878 he was accepted to study by the
head of the Beth Din, (Rabbinical Court) Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik, who
was the new Rabbi of Brest. When Yoshe Ber arrived in Brest, they
brought my father to him for an examination. At this time his son
Chaim was the head of the Yeshiva in Volozhyn. He commented to his
father:"father, why do you test his learning (erudition), better to
see how he studies the page". From that day onwards there existed a
special friendship between them –Rabbi Chaim would not make a move
without my father's opinion in Torah and all other matters. As so it
was his entire life.

In 1882 my father studied new interpretations of the Torah with Yoshe
Ber Soloveitchik who was already then a famous scholar, although Brest
was a famous city, full of renowned scholars and pupils. To achieve
fame as a Great of Torah was no easy feat. After my father's marriage
he settled in Volozhyn, which was a very famous community in the
Jewish world. Amongst the hundreds of youths there were many who were
prodigies and geniuses in Torah (Gaons). At that time my father was 20
years old and already known as an expert in the laws of our
forefathers (the book Chidushei Rabbi Chaim Halevi) mentioned my
father's innovations.

In Volozhyn at that time there were two Heads of Yeshiva: The Natzav
Rabbi Naphtali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, and Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik. Each
had his own system of teaching. The method of the first was to know
the subject with all the reasonings from the Great scholars with
wonderful expertise - this he also demanded from his students.

Rabbi Chaim's method was to analyze the subject for himself and to
immerse himself in the originals and analyze the matter, especially
the Ram Bam (Maimonides)

Most of the students were those who favored one method or the other,
my father belonged to the select few that studied both methods.

When the ruling powers closed the yeshiva in 1892 and expelled Rabbi
Berlin, my father was also dismissed. Rabbi Chaim proposed to my
father that he come with him to Brest. Less than a year had passed and
Yoshe Ber had passed away. Rabbi Chaim immediately asked my father to
join him in Brest, to be the head of the Yeshiva in the Synagogue
School, and to become the Head of the Rabbinical Court (Beth Din).

From that time on, he was the Head Dayan (rabbinical judge) of Brisk
D'Lita and the surrounding district, and people came to him from all
the surrounding towns with questions about the laws and customs...For
the rest;