Baruch Don-Yachya

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Baruch Don-Yachya

Birthplace: Ushachi, Vitebsk, Lithuania
Death: Died in Dissna, Lithuania
Immediate Family:

Son of Yishayahu Shapiro and ? Shapiro
Husband of Dina Don Yachya
Father of David Don-Yechia, [Plate 176]; Chana Donchin; Menachem-Mendel Danskio, [Plate 173] and Frieda Levin
Brother of . Don-Yachya

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About Baruch Don-Yachya

The daughter of Elijah, the Wilna Gaon, was Pesche Batja, wife of Rabbi Zvi Hersh ben Yitzhak Donchin. The antecedents of Yitzhak Donchin have not as yet been discovered but every appearance of that name indicates descent from the Ibn Yahya family. This branch of the Donchin family lived in Disna, Wilna Guberniya. The town is west of Polotzk between Dvinsk and Vitebsk. We know of two sons born by Pesche Batja: Yitzhak and Shlomo Zalman. Yitzhak, grandson of the Wilna Gaon, married Chana, almost certainly his cousin. Chana was the daughter of Baruch Don Yechiya, son of Yeshayahu Shapiro, who lived in Nikelsburg, Germany. Prior to that, Yeshayahu most likely lived in the Bavarian city of Speyer. Fearful of persecution he assumed the name of the town. Jews in German city-states and in Prussia generally assumed family names earlier than their co-religionists further east. Many families bearing the names Shapiro, Spira, Speier, et al originate in the region of Speyer. In 1750, or thereabouts, Yeshayahu settled in Uschatz, Vitebsk Guberniya. There he became wealthy and devoted much of his later life to Torah scholarship. In 1804 Baruch restored the Don Yechiya name when authorities forced Jews to assume surnames. Baruch, one of the greatest Torah scholars of his age, became a rabbi in Disna after studying with his father-in-law Rabbi Yosef Shlomo of Hozenfot, Kurland. R' Yosef Shlomo was also a descendant of the Ibn Yahya family, his father being Menachem Don Yahya.

Several references state that Yeshayahu was the son of Ephraim Eliezer Zvi Hersh Charlap. A manuscript fragment from Jack Chodoroff of Toronto was said to originate with his father. It closely resembles some of the wording in L'Toledot Yishivat Ha-Yehudim V'Kurland.

R' Baruch, before he came to his father-in-law R' Shlomo was known as Shapiro and through his father-in-law received the nick-name Don Yahya. This was about the time of his marriage. R' Baruch was the son of the great and wealthy R' Yeshayahu who was born in Ninsburg, but left for the city of Uschatz in Russia. There, he was to study with the great Gaon Rabbi Ephraim Eliezer Zvi Hersh Charlap. In the book Hod Tehilah, R' E. Z. H. Charlap showed the pedigree of generation after generation from himself to King David.

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Baruch Don-Yachya's Timeline

Ushachi, Vitebsk, Lithuania
Age 36
Age 53
Dissna, Lithuania
Dvinsk, Vitebsk, Lithuania