Elchanan Bunim Wasserman (1875 - 1941)

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Nicknames: "Khonel"
Birthplace: Biržai, Lithuania
Death: Died in Kovno ghetto, Lithuania
Cause of death: Murdered by the Nazis
Occupation: Headed yeshiva in Baranovitch, rabbi
Managed by: Maxine Levite
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Elchanan Bunim Wasserman

http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/rabbi_quotes/wasserman.cfm

http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/birz/birz_pages/birz_stories_wasserman.html

A very interesting site about Birzei by Gordon Levitan -

http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/birz/birz.html

Links to wikipedia:

Hebrew - http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%97%D7%A0%D7%9F_%D7%95%D7%A1%D7%A8%D7%9E%D7%9F

English - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elchonon_Wasserman

http://www.daat.ac.il/DAAT/chinuch/mosdot/slovodka2-2.htm:

...ב-28 באוקטובר, ה' מרחשון תש"ב, קיבלה הנהלת הגטו פקודה מן הגסטאפו, שעל כל היהודים להתאסף על "ככר-הדמוקרטיה", וכל שיהינו לא לבוא ויישארו בבתיהם, יומתו בירייה, בשעה שש לפנות בוקר מקטן ועד גדול. אפילו את החולים הביאו באלונקות, בשעה שמונה בבוקר הופיע איש-הגסטאפו הידוע באכזריותו, רויקה, והתחיל לבחור בין הקהל הרב, בשלחו חלק ימינה וחלק ציווה להתייצב שמאלה. הוא אסף עשרת אלפי יהודים, ביניהם עשרות בני-הישיבה וחמישה רבנים, את ר' יחזקאל ברנשטיין ראש ישיבת "אור ישראל" עם כל משפחתו, ר' ישראל יעקב לובאטשאנסקי, המנהל הרוחני של ישיבת ברנוביץ, רבה של בושטריץ, ר' מרדכי ליפשיץ עם משפחתו, הרב ר' נפתלי ווסרמן, בנו של ר' אלחנן ווסרמן, הרב ר' זלמן שטיין ובני-משפחתו, את מזכיר הישיבה ר' יעקב שלמה ועוד רבים הוציאו להורג. ...

-------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elchonon_Wasserman Elchonon Wasserman (1874 – July 6, 1941)[1] was a prominent rabbi and rosh yeshiva in pre-World War II Europe. He was one of the Chofetz Chaim's closest disciples and a noted Torah scholar.

Rabbi Wasserman was born in Birz, Lithuania to Rabbi Naftali Beinish, a shopkeeper.[1] In 1890, the family moved to Boisk, Latvia, and Wasserman, then 15 years old, studied in the Telshe Yeshiva in Telz, Poland under Rabbi Eliezer Gordon and Rabbi Shimon Shkop. In the summer of 1897, Wasserman met Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik at a health resort and "became deeply attached to him and his way of learning."[1] He left Telz and traveled to Brisk (now in Belarus), where he learned under Soloveitchik for 2 years, thereafter considering him his primary rebbe (teacher and mentor).

Wasserman was married in 1899 to Michla, the daughter of Rabbi Meir Atlas, rabbi of Salant. Wasserman lived in his father-in-law's house for many years and rejected offers of rabbinical posts (including a prestigious rabbinate in Moscow, being afforded the opportunity to learn Torah at home. He did however decide to teach, and together with Rabbi Yoel Baranchik, he started a mesivta in Amtshilov, Russia in 1903 and earned himself a reputation as an outstanding teacher. Prior to 1907, Wasserman heard that another local rabbi wanted to head the mesivta in Amtshilov and he left to avoid an argument, returning to learn in his father-in-law's house.[1] From 1907 to 1910, he studied in the Kollel Kodshim in the Raduń Yeshiva in Radin, Russia, headed by the Chofetz Chaim. While at the kollel, Wasserman learned with Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, who would later become the rosh yeshiva of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, for 18 hours a day.[1]

In 1910, with the encouragement of the Chofetz Chaim, Wasserman was appointed rosh yeshiva of the mesivta in Brisk, leading its expansion until it was disbanded in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I; with its closing, Wasserman returned to the Chofetz Chaim in Radin.[1] When the warfront reached Radin, however, the yeshiva there was closed and Wasserman fled to Russia with the Chofetz Chaim.

In 1914, the yeshiva was exiled to Smilovichi (near Minsk) and Wasserman was appointed its Rosh Yeshiva one year later when the Chofetz Chaim decided to relocate to Semiatitch, and together with Rabbi Yitzchok Hirshowitz (son-in-law of Rabbi Eliezer Gordon from Telz), was asked to keep Torah alive in Smilovichi.[1]

In 1921, after the war, when the Soviet government began permitting Torah scholars to leave Russia, Wasserman moved to Baranovitch, Poland (now in Belarus) where he took the lead of Novardok, which later became one of the most famous yeshivas in all of Europe. The yeshiva grew under Wasserman's immense Torah genius, and soon had close to 300 students. Copies of the notes taken from Wasserman's Torah lectures were passed around many of the yeshivas in Europe, increasing his influence and fame over most of the Torah world.[1] He was one of the leaders of the Agudath Israel movement and was regarded as the spiritual successor of the Chofetz Chaim.

Rabbi Wasserman visits AmericaWhen there wasn't enough money to buy food for the yeshiva students, Rabbi Wasserman traveled to America to raise money for the yeshiva. Rabbi Wasserman made a powerful impression on the Jewish youth in the USA. Rabbi Wasserman returned to Poland and although he knew his life was in danger by returning, he did not want to abandon his students

Rabbi Wasserman had several sons. Rabbi Simcha Wasserman served as Dean of Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in Detroit in the 1940s, founded Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon in California in the 1950s, and later founded Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon in Jerusalem. Rabbi Wasserman's other sons were Naftoli and Dovid.

When World War II broke out Rabbi Wasserman fled to Vilna, Lithuania, and in 1941, while on a visit to Kovno, was arrested by the Nazis with 12 other rabbis and sent to his death.

[edit] Murder by Nazi collaborators in LithuaniaRabbi Elchonon was taken and murdered by Lithuanian collaborators on the 12th of Tammuz, 1941. Before he was taken he gave this statement: "In Heaven it appears that they deem us to be righteous because our bodies have been chosen to atone for the Jewish people. Therefore, we must repent now, immediately. There is not much time. We must keep in mind that we will be better offerings if we repent. In this way we will save the lives of our brethren overseas."

"Let no thought enter our minds, God forbid, which is abominable and which renders an offering unfit. We are now fulfilling the greatest mitzvah. With fire she (Jerusalem) was destroyed and with fire she will be rebuilt. The very fire which consumes our bodies will one day rebuild the Jewish people."

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Elchanan Wasserman's Timeline

1875
January 5, 1875
Biržai, Lithuania
1899
1899
Age 23
1900
1900
Age 24

Early 1900's

1903
1903
Age 27
1903
Age 27
1909
1909
Age 33
United States
1910
1910
Age 34
1910
Age 34
1914
1914
Age 38
1914
Age 38