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Torah Luminaries / Roshei Yeshivot

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Roshei Yeshivot / Torah Luminaries

Great intellects, profound thinkers, and master teachers who examplify the grandeur of the Torah in our century. Their very names inspire awe:

Rosh yeshiva ראש ישיבה‎; is the title given to the dean of a Talmudical academy (yeshiva). The rosh yeshiva is required to have a vast and penetrating knowledge of the Talmud and the ability to achieve a level of mastery of his material and an ability to analyse and present new perspectives, called chidushim, (novellae) verbally and often in print.


Yeshivas continue the scholarly traditions of the sages of the Mishnah and Talmud who often headed academies with hundreds of students. In the Talmudic academies in Babylonia the rosh yeshiva was referred to as the Reish Metivta in Aramaic and had the title of Gaon.

Rosh Yeshiva Dynasties

There are familial dynasties of rosh yeshivas, for example the Soloveitchik, Finkel, Feinstein, Kotler and Kook families, which head many yeshivas in the United States and Israel.

Famous Rosh Yeshivas

Prior to the Holocaust, most of the large yeshivos were based in Eastern Europe. Presently the majority of the world's yeshivas and their rosh yeshivas are located in the United States and Israel.

The following is a list of some famous rosh yeshivas:

  • • Rabbi Yehuda Amital
  • Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Leib Auerbach
  • Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
  • • Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin
  • • Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bloch
  • • Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein
  • Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
  • • Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel
  • • Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel
  • • Rabbi Chaim Flom
  • • Rabbi Mordechai Gifter
  • • Rabbi Refael Reuvain Grozovsky
  • • Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht
  • • Rabbi Eliezer Gordon
  • • Rabbi Nachman Shlomo Greenspan
  • • Rabbi Shlomo Heiman
  • • Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner
  • • Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan
  • • Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky
  • • Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook
  • • Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook
  • • Rabbi Aharon Kotler
  • • Rabbi Shneur Kotler
  • • Rabbi Boruch Ber Lebowitz
  • • Rabbi Dovid Leibowitz
  • • Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz
  • • Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
  • • Rabbi Dov Linzer
  • • Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer
  • • Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl
  • Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Pam
  • • Rabbi Michael Rosensweig
  • • Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman
  • • Rabbi Shmuel Rozovsky
  • • Rabbi Yisroel Salanter
  • • Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna
  • • Rabbi Hershel Schachter
  • • Rabbi Aaron Schechter
  • • Rabbi Gedalia Schorr
  • • Rabbi Elazar Shach
  • • Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapira
  • • Rabbi Meir Shapiro
  • • Rabbi Naftoli Shapiro
  • • Rabbi Shimon Shkop
  • • Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz
  • • Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
  • • Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
  • • Rabbi Naftoli Trop
  • • Rabbi Chaim Volozhin
  • • Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman
  • • Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg

List of Current Rosh Yeshivas

Mashgiach Ruchani

Famous mashgichim

  • • Yehuda Leib Chasman, mashgiach ruchani of the Hebron Yeshiva, Israel
  • • Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler (1892-1953), mashgiach ruchani of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Israel
  • • Binyamin Finkel, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshivas Mishkan Yisrael, Jerusalem
  • • Yechezkel Levenstein (1895-1974), mashgiach ruchani of Mir yeshiva, Poland
  • • Yeruchom Levovitz (1873-1976), mashgiach ruchani of the Mir yeshiva, Poland
  • • Moshe Rosenstein (1880-1941), mashgiach ruchani of the Lomza yeshiva, Poland
  • • Don Segal
  • • Matisyahu Salomon, mashgiach ruchani of Gateshead Yeshiva and later, Beth Medrash Govoha (the Lakewood Yeshiva)
  • • Nosson Meir Wachtfogel (1910-1998), mashgiach ruchani of Beth Medrash Govoha (the Lakewood Yeshiva) from 1941-1998
  • • Shlomo Wolbe (1914-2005)
  • • Dov Yaffe, Mashgiach Ruchani of Knesses Chizkiyahu

Musar Movement

The Musar movement arose among the non-Hasidic Orthodox Lithuanian Jews, and became a trend in their yeshivas. The movement's founding is attributed to Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin Salanter (1810–1883), although the roots of the movements drew on ideas previously expressed in classical Musar literature. Prior to the founding of the Musar movement, musar was a practice of the solitary seeker; thanks to Salanter, it became the basis for a popular social/spiritual movement. Read Full Article


Roshei Yeshiva


(See more Torah Luminaries on the right, Click "Profiles")

  • Isaac Abendana, 17th century Sephardic scholar in England
  • Jacob Abendana, 17th century Sephardic rabbi in England
  • Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, 17th century Dutch scholar and Kabbalist, first Rabbi in the Americas
  • Yehudah Leib Alter (Sfas Emes), Gerrer rebbe.
  • Bezalel Ashkenazi (Shitah Mekubetzet), 16th century Talmudist
  • Chaim Joseph David Azulai (Chida), 18th century scholar and traveler, pioneered history of rabbinic writings
  • Yair Bacharach (Havvot Yair), 17th century German Talmudist
  • Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (Netziv, HaEmek Davar), 19th century head of Volozhin Yeshiva in Lithuania
  • Josef Chaim of Baghdad (Ben Ish Chai), 19th century Iraqi Halakhist, Posek, Kabbalist and communal leader
  • Moses ben Jacob Cordovero (Ramak), 16th century Holy Land Kabbalistic scholar
  • Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler (Michtav Me'Eliyahu), 20th century religious philosopher and ethicist
  • Dovber of Mezeritch (Maggid), 18th century Eastern European mystic, primary disciple of the Baal Shem Tov
  • Samuel Eidels (Maharsha), 16th century Talmudist famous for his commentary on the Talmud
  • Elijah ben Solomon (Gra, Vilna Gaon), 18th century Lithuanian Talmudist and Kabbalist, leader of the Mitnagdim (opponents of Hasidic Judaism)
  • Mordechai Eliyahu, Halakhist, Posek, and former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel
  • Jacob Emden, 18th century Danish/German scholar
  • Baruch Epstein (Torah Temimah), 20th century Lithuanian Torah commentator
  • Moshe Mordechai Epstein (Levush Mordechai), 20th century Talmudist and co-head of Slabodka Yeshiva
  • Yechiel Michel Epstein (Aruch ha-Shulchan), 19th/20th century Halakhist and Posek
  • Jonathan Eybeschutz, 18th century scholar, Dayan of Prague, accused of heresy
  • Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe), 20th century Russian-American Halakhist, Posek, and Talmudist
  • Nosson Tzvi Finkel (Alter/Sabba of Slabodka), early 20th century founder of Slabodka Yeshiva, Lithuania. Disciples opened major yeshivas in US and Israel
  • Kalonymus Haberkasten, 16th century Polish rabbi, Rosh Yeshiva of many early Acharonim
  • Hillel ben Naphtali Zevi (Bet Hillel), 17th century Lithuanian scholar
  • Samson Raphael Hirsch, 19th century German rabbi, founder of the Torah im Derech Eretz movement
  • Yitzchok Hutner (Pachad Yitzchok), 20th century European-born, American and Israeli Rosh Yeshiva
  • Moshe Isserles (Rema), 16th century Polish halakhic authority and Posek, author of HaMapah component of the Shulkhan Arukh.
  • Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (Chazon Ish), 20th century Belarussian-born, leading halakhic authority and leader of Haredi Judaism in Israel.
  • Yisrael Meir Kagan (Chofetz Chaim), 20th century Polish Halakhist, Posek, and moralist
  • Yosef Karo (the Mechaber), 16th century Spanish and Land of Israel legal codifier of the Shulkhan Arukh code of Torah Law
  • Abraham Isaac Kook, 20th century philosopher and mystic, first chief rabbi of Palestine
  • Judah Loew ben Bezalel (Maharal), 16th century Prague mystic and Talmudist
  • Isaac Luria (Ari), 16th century Cairo and Holy Land mystic, founder of Lurianic Kabbalah
  • Solomon Luria (Maharshal), 16th century Posek and Talmudist
  • Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (Ramchal), 18th century Italian philosopher, mystic, and moralist
  • Meir Leib ben Yechiel Michel (Malbim), 19th century Russian preacher and scholar
  • Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (Ohr Sameiach, Meshech Chochmah), Lithuanian-Latvian Talmudist and communal leader
  • Menasseh Ben Israel, 17th century Portuguese/Dutch Kabbalist, diplomat and publisher
  • Obadiah ben Abraham of Bertinoro, (Bartenura), 15th century commentator on the Mishnah
  • Avraham Aharon Price of Toronto, Canada, 20th century scholar, writer, educator, and community leader.
  • Chaim Rabinowitz, Rosh Yeshivah in Telz, Lithuania
  • Yisrael Lipkin Salanter, 19th century Lithuanian ethicist and moralist
  • David HaLevi Segal (Taz), 16th century Halakhist, major commentator on the Shulkhan Aruch
  • Sforno, 15th, 16th, and 17th-century family of Italian Torah scholars and philosophers
  • Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno (Sforno), 16th century Italian scholar and rationalist
  • Shalom Sharabi, 18th/19th-century Yemenite Sage, Kabbalist and founder of the Beit El Yeshiva, Jerusalem
  • Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seventh Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch
  • Moses Sofer (Chatam Sofer), 19th century Slovakian rabbi
  • Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik ("Reb Chaim Brisker"), 19th century Rosh Yeshivah in Volozhyn
  • Chaim Vital, 16th century Kabbalist and primary disciple of Rabbi Isaac Luria
  • Ovadia Yosef, Iraqi-born Halakhist, Posek and Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel
  • Yisroel ben Eliezer (Baal Shem Tov) considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism
  • David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz), 15th/16th century Halakhist, Posek and Chief Rabbi of Egypt
  • Moses S. Margolies (Ramaz)


The term "Misnagdim" gained a common usage among European Jews as the term that referred to Ashkenazi Jews, Jews who opposed the rise and spread of early Chassidim, particularly as embodied by Hasidism's founder, Rabbi Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer (1698–1760), who was known as the Baal Shem Tov, or BESHT
Misnagdim or Mitnagdim is a Hebrew word (מתנגדים) meaning "opponents". It is the plural of misnaged or mitnaged. Most prominent among the Misnagdim was Vilna Gaon or the Gra.