יום רביעי י"ז בשבט תשפ"ב 19/01/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Yeshivas Mir

The oldest Yeshiva in the world was established in 5577, following the founding of the 'mother of all Yeshivas' – Yeshivas Volozhin, therefore being referred to as 'the daughter of Volozhin'.

Avi Lazar 10/06/2009 10:13
The small town of Mir, which was located in Minsk, Russia/Poland, was a Jewish town whose residents led simple and righteous lives. The town of Mir merited to host many prominent Rabbis, such as the 'Levushei Yom Tov' – Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz Teomim (the Aderet), Rabbi Eliyahu Baruch Kamai and many others. But the town was perhaps most famous due to the outstanding Yeshiva in its midst – Yeshivas Mir.

The founder of the Yeshiva was a well-to-do man by the name of Rabbi Shmuel Tikatinsky. His son, Rabbi Avraham, led the Yeshiva already during the lifetime of his father. The other Rosh Yeshiva at the time was Rabbi Yisrael Hallir, the 'Charif'. Rabbi Shmuel passed away in 5596 in Hungary, while conducting business there at the time. His son, Rabbi Avraham, passed away in the same year, at the young age of forty. The only remaining family member was Rabbi Shmuel's twelve-year-old son, Chaim Leib. As he was too young to lead the Yeshiva, Rabbi Yosef David, the Head of the local rabbinical court, was appointed Rosh Yeshiva. He subsequently became known as 'Reb David'l Mirrer'.

Rabbi Yosef David passed away in 5606 and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Moshe Avraham, Head of the rabbinical court of Zhatel. In the meanwhile, Chaim Leib, the son of Rabbi Shmuel who established the Yeshiva, had grown up and was appointed Rosh Yeshiva. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, founder of the Mussar Movement, was often quoted as saying: "Whoever wishes to fully comprehend the Gemara should participate in Rabbi Chaim Leib's lectures".

In 5636, Rabbi Chaim Leib appointed his son Rabbi Shmuel as Rosh Yeshiva; however he passed away a year thereafter, in 5643. One year later, in 5644, the youngest son of Rabbi Chaim Leib - Rabbi Avraham – was appointed Rosh Yeshiva. Following the passing of Rabbi Chaim Leib, Rabbi Eliyahu Baruch Kamai was chosen to take his place as Rosh Yeshiva. After him, his son-in-law Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Finkel (a son of the Grandfather of Slabodka) served as Rosh Yeshiva, as did his son, Rabbi Avraham Tzvi Kamai. In the following generation, his son-in-law Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz served as Rosh Yeshiva.

The Grandfather of Slabodka – Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel – and his son the Rosh Yeshiva introduced the Mussar method to the Yeshiva and brought Rabbi Zalman Malbo (Radiner), Rabbi Yerucham Lebovitz and Rabbi Yechezkel Levinstein to serve as mashgichim.

The Yeshiva's excellent reputation reached even the most distant locations, and the result was thousands of serious young Jewish men from all across Europe flowing to the Yeshiva and wishing to be accepted into it. Students from Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Hungary and even far-away America came to the Yeshiva.

The Yeshiva had a great influence on the students and their personalities. The story is told of a group of German students who were sent to learn in Mir as they were beginning to question their faith. After a long period of learning in Mir, they returned to Germany where they were asked if Rabbi Yerucham really answered all their questions. They answered: "Rabbi Yerucham did not answer our questions because we didn't ask any!" – after learning with such Torah giants as the mashgichim of Mir, there were no more questions to be asked.

Another story is told about the mashgiach, Rabbi Yerucham, who gave a lecture in Mussar one Sabbath eve. To everyone's astonishment, Rabbi Yerucham stopped in the middle of his lecture and left the room. This was highly unusual for him, so a group of students followed him and hid behind the closed door of the room he had fled to. They could clearly hear him speaking to himself and saying: "Yerucham, Yerucham, you know that you have not reached those heights, who are you trying to fool?" This is one example of the ways of the living Mussar book whom the Yeshiva students were fortunate enough to be learning from.

Even under the difficulties of WWI, the Yeshiva continued to run as usual, despite the fact that the Yeshiva was forced into Russian exile. Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Finkel, the Rosh Yeshiva, greatly exerted himself for the sake of the continuation of the Yeshiva. During one instance he smuggled himself through the border in a potato sack. The journey took several days and once it reached the border, a soldier stabbed the sack in several places to certify that there was no human being inside. The Rosh Yeshiva miraculously escaped unharmed. Following the Communist Revolution, the Yeshiva returned to its hometown of Mir, where it continued to blossom.

At the outbreak of WWII, the Yeshiva was transferred to Lithuania. However, the staff and students quickly realized that they were unsafe even there, so they continued to wander from city to city. This did not prevent the students from learning Torah; they continued with their regular routines just like in the good times. When they reached the city of Kaydan, the Rosh Yehsiva said: "Our Yeshiva, which was established 120 years ago, still exists, and we will continue to fight for its existence until the coming of the Messiah – to whom we will give its keys!"

When Russia invaded Lithuania the Yeshiva escaped to Vilna. The Russian commissar exclaimed: "The mighty Torah fortress of Yeshivas Mir has been destroyed!" He was, however, mistaken, as the Yeshiva was miraculously saved time and time again and never ceased to exist.

One of the greatest miracles that happened to the Yeshiva was its escape to Japan and China, to the cities Kobe and Shanghai. There the students continued to learn diligently, despite their knowledge of the terrible fate that their families had met in the Holocaust. Neither did the unbearably high temperatures and lack of basic necessities also prevent them from ascending the spiritual ladder higher and higher. As the war came to an end, the Yeshiva was reestablished in Jerusalem and a branch of the Yeshiva was founded in the United States.

As of today, the Mirrer Yeshiva of Jerusalem is the largest Yeshiva in the world.