Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel
Hebrew: הרב נתן צבי פינקל הסבא מסלבודקה Finkel
|Also Known As:||"Alter of Slabodka", "הסבא מסלבודקא", ""Alter of Slabodka""|
|Birthplace:||Rasin , now Lithuania|
|Death:||Died in Jerusalem|
|Occupation:||מיסד ישיבת סלבודקה בקובנה ליטא|
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About Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Alter of Slabodka
Nosson Zvi (Nota Hirsh) Finkel was an influential leader of Orthodox Judaism in Eastern Europe and founder of the Slabodka Yeshiva.
The Alter (or "Sabba") of Slabodka Yeshiva, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel
(Born in Rasin in 1849 - died in 1927 in Jerusalem)
Nosson Zvi (Nota Hirsh) Finkel was also known as the
alter (elder and Sabba) of the Yeshiva of Slobodka
Born in 1849 in Raseiniai, Kaunas, Lithuania ( 50 kilometers from
Kelm) to Reb Moshe. He was orphaned at a young age. Was first educated
at the home of his relatives in Vilna. He studied in Kelm, and married
the granddaughter of the rabbi of Kelm at age 15.
In Kelm he took an important place amongst the Torah giants. He became
close to Reb Simcha Zisl Ziv and involved with the Musar movement. He
left Kelm. Using his unique talent and energetic personality he
spread the" Musar"system all over Lithuania. He settled in Kovno and
established Kolel in Kovno and its suburb; Slobodke, as well as
"Keneset Yisrael " Yeshiva in Slobodke. He was the spiritual leader of
the Yeshiva for fifty years ( 1877- 1927).
An Appreciation of the Alter of Slobodke by his talmid HaRav Meir
Chodosh -- "And they said, You have Revived us!"
by Moshe Musman
The following recollections of the Alter of Slobodke zt'l offer a
spiritual portrait of one of the greatest and most influential
educators that the modern yeshiva world has known. As well as
eminently qualifying him to elucidate the main ideas of the Alter's
outlook, HaRav Chodosh's standing as one of his closest talmidim for
over twenty years also qualifies him to demonstrate how the Alter
himself was their embodiment. From a close reading of the shmuess,
herein it seems clear that in addition, HaRav Chodosh intends to show
how the ideas which the Alter spread indeed addressed areas of general
human weakness, such as the fear of sin and the importance of
humility, with which a superficial acquaintance with Slobodke mussar,
with its emphasis on inspiring and uplifting and their distinct outer
manifestations, may have led outsiders to believe that the Alter was
less preoccupied with than were the proponents of other mussar
Indeed, the term gadlus ho'odom, the greatness of man or mankind, is
not fully understood today. Many mistakenly associate it with a
certain air of self assurance and style of clothing, as if this
approach achieved the improvement of the self image of bnei Torah by
having them dress smartly. In this shmuess, HaRav Chodosh sets out the
fundamental premise of gadlus ho'odom and shows how its correct
appreciation and assimilation led to the realization of the main goals
that all the different mussar systems shared.
HaRav Chodosh demonstrates that attaining yiras Shomayim is the work
of a lifetime and that success can only result if a person's efforts
are firmly founded upon a correct understanding of man's purpose in
this world. To achieve this, the Alter continually drew upon Chazal's
teachings concerning the greatness of Odom Horishon. HaRav Chodosh
goes on to show that the attainment of true wisdom and humility, as
well as refined and pleasant character traits, are both an outgrowth
of recognizing man's relationship with his Creator. Obviously, this
awareness will also require that interpersonal relationships are
handled with the utmost consideration for others. An understanding of
the soul of Slobodke mussar enables its outward features to be viewed
in their proper proportions.
Why didn't the Alter write seforim? Why was he continually speaking
about Odom Horishon? His home was open to all, twenty-four hours a
day, yet he lived a life of modesty and concealment. He was speaking
all day, yet he was a man of silence. Why did he speak softly, so that
people had to move closer in order to hear him? Why did he hold onto a
handkerchief or cloth during a shmuess? Some of the enigmas about the
Alter are explained herein.
The shmuess was delivered by HaRav Meir Chodosh on the twenty ninth of
Shevat, 5741, the Alter's yahrtzeit, in the beis haknesses of
Hisachdus Yeshivas Chevron in Bnei Brak. It was transcribed by Rabbi
Aharon Meir Kravitz, who is a grandson of HaRav Chodosh.
Write Them On Your Heart!
In the Torah world at large and especially in the yeshivos, the day
before Rosh Chodesh Adar is a day of introspection. This day marks the
yahrtzeit of the man who founded our holy yeshiva -- not merely with
regard to its material founding but also in the sense of having put
the yeshiva upon its feet, educating and guiding us so that we
developed spiritually. He taught us to tread along the path of Hashem,
[and showed us] an approach to serving Him.
The Alter left his Torah in oral form. He didn't record his novel
ideas in writing. On his way to Eretz Yisroel he travelled through
Berlin and went to visit one of the greatest of his talmidim, who was
one of the renowned rabbonim of the generation. The talmid asked his
rebbe, the Alter, why he did not record his [many] shmuessen, since
the Alter used to lecture day and night.
The talmid related that several other distinguished talmidim of the
Alter's had been with him earlier and he had asked them what the Alter
had been speaking about lately. By way of answer, they had tried to
repeat two or three shmuessen, but they couldn't remember a fourth
one. Since it seemed that the shmuessen were being lost, why didn't he
keep a written record of them?
The Alter answered him with another question. "You have conversed with
my talmidim -- are they the same as other people?"
"No, certainly not. The difference is recognizable at once."
"Those are my shmuessen," the Alter replied. "They are written down on
my talmidim!" for the rest go to http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/kovno/kovno_pages/kovno_stories_z_finkel.html
Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Alter of Slabodka's Timeline
Rasin , now Lithuania
Kelmė, Kelmė district municipality, Šiauliai County, Lithuania
Kelmė, Kelmė district municipality, Šiauliai County, Lithuania