Slonim Admors - Slonim, Lithuania
History of Jewish Settlement in Slonim ---- There is no definite date when the town of Slonim came into being. Records show that in the 11th century, a wooden fortress named Slonim was built on the left bank of the Schara River. The Lithuanian government, envious of the prosperous Polish cities , encouraged Jewish immigrants from Poland to settle in Lithuania.
In 1388, the Lithuanian Duke Veetold granted the Jews the same privileges and rights that they received in Poland. From all indications, it appears that Jews began their settlement in Slonim that same year. The first Jewish cemetery dates back to the 15th century.
“Slonim are typical Ashkenazi hassidim,” Professor Menachem Friedman, a Bar-Ilan University sociologist and Jewish historian and one of Israel’s leading authorities on haredi society, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “They are one of the smaller courts, and not a wealthy one.”
The town of Slonim, where the Hassidut originated, is located in Lithuania, making the Slonim Hassidim “part of the small group of courts that maintained their hassidic lifestyle in the heart of the Lithuanian haredi Jewry,” Friedman continued.
“Of the various hassidic courts, the Slonim have one of the longest presences here, due to the fact that in the 19th century the rabbi ordered part of the court to immigrate to Israel,” Friedman said.
The Hassidim settled in Tiberius, alongside Karlin Hassidut. This move is what afforded the continuity of the Slonim Hassidut, whose larger Eastern European branch was decimated in the Holocaust.
“In the middle of the 20th century, after the leadership of the Hassidut had been reestablished in Israel, the court moved to Jerusalem, and built a new yeshiva on the outskirts of Mea She’arim. The Slonim Rebbe was Rabbi Avraham Weinberg and the yeshiva was headed by Rabbi Shalom Noah Barazovsky, Weinberg’s son-in-law, who attracted many to the Hassidut due to his greatness in Torah. He was central in rehabilitating the small Hassidut,” Friedman continued.
“However, a drama occurred when, during a Shabbat meal in the early 80s, a group of hassidim appointed Rabbi Sholom Noah Barazovsky as Admor while Weinberg was still alive, which caused a major split between the factions supporting and following each of the rabbis.”
That rift remains to this day, Friedman explained.
The current Admor of Emmanuel-Slonim Hassidim, Rabbi Shmuel Barazovsky, is Shalom Noah Barazovsky’s son.
“The Barazovsky Slonim,” said Friedman, “gravitated towards Agudat Israel,” the hassidic faction of United Torah Judaism, “while the other group, sometimes called ‘Slonim Beit Israel,’ remained part of the Eda Haredit,” which is neither represented in the Knesset nor takes funding from the State.
Emmanuel was meant to become the center for Slonim, where their institutions – a kollel, yeshivas for the various age groups and more – could be established, but the economic crisis in the small locale, located in Samaria, caused the more empowered residents to leave, Friedman noted.
“The affinity of the small and unified group of Slonim hassidim that remained in Emmanuel to their educational institutions is important, as it ensures their continuity; they stayed there under the difficult conditions because they want their institutions,” Friedman said.
- The Admor of Slonim was among those who renewed the worlds of Torah and Chassidus in the generation after the Holocaust, and one of the captains of chareidi Jewry in Eretz Yisroel.
The Admor of Slonim, HaRav Sholom Noach Barzovksy, zt"l, was born in the Polish town of Baranovitch. His father, HaRav Moshe Avrohom, was rav of the community. As a youth, he grew up in the sacred courtyard of Slonim and was especially close to the Admor of Slonim, the Beis Avrohom, who held him in high esteem, predicting that Rav Sholom Noach was destined for greatness.
In 5696 (1936) he moved to Eretz Yisroel following the advice of his mentor, the Admor of Slonim, who saw that the purpose of Reb Sholom Noach's move would be to revive the Slonimer community after the Holocaust. With the blessing of the Beis Avrohom, he married the daughter of the Admor, author of the Bircas Avrohom. During the first years after his marriage he lived near his illustrious father-in-law in Tiveria, and imbibed Chassidic thought from him. It was a blend of peerless avodas Hashem and omal baTorah. Together, he and his father- in-law studied in the Ohr Torah Yeshiva located near the grave of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess.
In 5702 (1942), when the reports of the wicked Nazi fiend wielding his sword over European Jewry reached Eretz Yisroel, he rose up like a lion and founded the Beis Avrohom Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
During the Holocaust, HaRav Sholom Noach lost his entire family. Barely a vestige of the Slonim Chassidic sect remained, and from the scores of shtiblach scattered throughout Europe, R' Sholom survived and, with his vision, perceived the designs of his rebbe. He understood that the heavy task of reviving the Chassidic sect of Slonim lay upon his shoulders, and with great courage he mustered all his strength and began to rebuild the illustrious community.
His father-in-law, the Bircas Avrohom, saw him as the one who would bring about the revival of the Slonimer Chassidim and, like a father to his son, he lovingly supported him in his efforts.
The Admor opened his yeshiva with just a few students in the shul of the Slonimer Chassidim in the Beis Yisroel neighborhood in Jerusalem. He dedicated himself solely to educating generations of talmidei chachomim and gedolei Torah, personally instilling in each student the aspiration to grow in Torah and Chassidus. In a remarkable manner he merged the lamdonus of the yeshiva world with the fervor of Chassidus. His shiurim, which were well known for their depth, and his discourses in Torah and Chassidus inspired his students to serve Hashem with added zeal. In his discourses he transmitted the spiritual legacy he had received from the mentors of the Slonimer Dynasty.
He was well known for his outstanding knowledge of every aspect of Torah. Throughout his life, he studied Torah in depth and for its own sake, and over the years became one of the gedolei haTorah vehaChassidus, leading his flock with glory. With untold mesiras nefesh and great love he attended to the education of each and every one of his students, wisely passing on the Slonimer legacy to future generations.
He assumed the tremendous burden of building the Beis Avrohom yeshiva and the shul for the Slonimer chassidim on a plot of land near Mea Shearim. Budding young students from Eretz Yisroel and abroad streamed to his yeshiva to bask in his light. In time, it became a beacon for many students who became his loyal Chassidim.
The Admor of Slonim was blessed with many noble character traits, such as rare gentleness and love for every human being. His face always glowed with a special light, and he was the pillar of prayer. With tremendous deveikus, he would stand before his Maker in prayer, an inner fire raging in his soul, his eyes shedding tears, his lips moving. His prayer was a foundation in Torah. All who saw him while he prayed recognized his loftiness of spirit.
He was a source of sagacious counsel for his fellow Jews, and people from all streams flocked to his home to seek his advice as one who had a deep understanding of the human soul. Chinuch was his prime concern, and his sefer, Nesivos Hachinuch, was the guidebook for many mechanchim. His many students were deeply attached to him, and he guided them like a loyal shepherd.
The Admor became known for his series of writings called Nesivos Sholom, which were cornerstones of Chassidic thought. He also compiled Beis Avrohom, based on writings of the Slonimer admorim as transmitted to him by his father-in-law. He even added his own impressions drawn from memory from his youth in Baranovitch, where he had heard his great mentor, the Beis Avrohom. He compiled these in the sefer Beis Avrohom and also published Toras Ovos, a remarkable anthology of deep Chassidic thought. With his outstanding talent, great knowledge, clarity of style and remarkable memory, he enriched the Chassidic world with the seforim of the Slonimer Dynasty.
Thousands of shiurim that he delivered for decades to his students have also been published. In these shiurim, in which he explains his learning approach, he emerges as a tremendous boki in all aspects of Torah as well as a remarkable innovator. His pamphlet, Hahorega Olecho, explains the Holocaust in an outstanding manner. In this pamphlet, his great emunah in Hashem which he sought to convey to future generations, is evident.
His most outstanding work is the Nesivos Sholom, a treasure of Chassidic thought and Torah ideas which has become a foundation for all Beis Yisroel in this generation. This series of five volumes on the Chumash focuses upon avodas Hashem, Shabbos and holidays, and has enriched the Chassidic world.
In 5741 (1981) he took over his father-in-law's position as Admor of Slonim. At that time, his father-in-law transmitted to him the secrets of the Ba'al Shem Tov and the Maggid.
The Admor of Slonim was one of the leaders of chareidi Jewry. While still a young man, he was appointed by the gedolim of the previous generation to the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah as representative of the Admor of Slonim, one of the founders of Worldwide Agudas Yisroel.
He presided as a member of the executive board of Vaad Hayeshivos in Eretz Yisroel for fifty years, during which he made great efforts on behalf of the yeshivos. He was also head of the executive board of Chinuch Atzmai and a member of its presidium, devoting much of his time and energy to saving future generations.
He passed away in August 2000 and is survived by two sons, HaRav Shmuel, rosh yeshiva of Beis Avrohom and R' Yitzchok, a prominent Slonimer chossid, as well as by sons-in-law, HaRav Yisroel Luria, HaRav Shlomo Weinberg and HaRav Yisroel Kopolovitz.