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Rabbis and students of Volozhin Yeshiva - (Valozhyn, Belarus)

רבני ותלמידי ישיבת וולוזין בלרוס

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Volozhin Yeshiva - ישיבת וולוז׳ין

The Volozhin Yeshiva, also known as Etz Chaim Yeshiva, was a prestigious Lithuanian yeshiva (talmudical college) located in the town of Volozhin, Russia, (now Valozhyn, Belarus). It was founded by Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, a student of the famed Vilna Gaon, and trained several generations of scholars, rabbis, and leaders. Completed in 1806, it was the first modern yeshiva to be established and became known as the "mother of all yeshivas," it serving as a model for all later yeshivas which opened in Lithuania.

The institution reached its zenith under the leadership of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, who became the rosh yeshiva (dean) in 1854. In 1892, demands of the Russian authorities to increase secular studies forced the yeshiva to close. It reopened on a smaller scale in 1899 and functioned until 1939 when World War II broke out.

The yeshiva was founded in 1802 by Rabbi Chaim Volozhin. After his death in 1821, he was succeeded as head of the yeshiva by his son, Isaac. When Isaac died in 1849, Rabbi Eliezer Fried was appointed head of the yeshiva, with Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin as his assistant. Rabbi Fried died soon after, in 1854, whereupon Rabbi Berlin became the new head along with Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveichik, Reb Chaim Volozhin's great-grandson who was the assistant rosh yeshiva. In 1865, Soloveichik left to become a rabbi in Slutsk.

The Volozhin yeshiva closed in 1892. The reason for the closure was the Russian government's demand for a dramatic increase in the amount of time spent teaching certain secular studies.It is to note that it is documented in the biography of R Chaim Soleveitchik that there were secular studies taught for a short period some nights that were barely attended.However these were concessions legally mandated that the rosh hayeshivas felt were necessary rather then shut down the yeshiva. When the government imposed extreme guidelines Rabbi Berlin refused to comply and allowed the government to close the yeshiva. : "All teachers of all subjects must have college diplomas ... no Judaic subjects may be taught between 9 AM and 3 PM ... no night classes are allowed ... total hours of study per day may not exceed ten."

Rabbi Refael Shapiro, the son-in-law of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, reopened the yeshiva in 1899, albeit on a smaller scale. It remained open until World War II, and was re-established, also on a small scale, in Israel after the war.

ישיבת וולוז'ין (בשמה הרשמי ישיבת עץ חיים, וכונתה תדיר אם הישיבות) הייתה ישיבה שפעלה במאה ה-19, והייתה הראשונה שפעלה באופן עצמאי ובלתי־תלוי בקהילה המקומית. הישיבה שימשה כאב טיפוס למבנה הישיבות הליטאיות שבאו אחריה. הישיבה נוסדה על ידי רבי חיים מוולוז'ין, תלמידו המובהק של הגר"א, ב-תקס"ב (1802) בעיירה וולוז'ין שבפלך מינסק (ברוסיה הלבנה), בתחום המושב של האימפריה הרוסית (מאז חלוקת ברית המועצות בבלארוס), והתקיימה עד תרנ"ב (1892). בשנת תרנ"ה (1895) נפתחה הישיבה מחדש על ידי הרב רפאל שפירא והתקיימה עד תקופת השואה.

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