The Rosh Hayeshiva
Rabbi R Usher Zelig Landa
Born in 5630  in Kolbuszowa. His father, R Yochanan was the grandson of
Rabbi Moshe Meir Landa, the Rabbi of Mielec, and a close adherent of the Gaon
of Ropszyce. His mother, Tzirel the daughter of R Usher Zelig and the
grand-daughter of Rabbi Avrohom Elozor, the Av Besdin of Radomysl, was famous
as a woman of valor, and a businesswoman who supported her household so that
her husband and sons could fully devote themselves to Torah study.
Rabbi R Usher Zelig was a scion of families with Yichus, such as the
Pnei Yehoshua, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Zaboritzer [?], the
Mahara'l of Prague, and others. His family lineage traced back all the way
to King David.
He, himself, did not serve as a Rabbi. He refused to accept such a burden
claiming that it might interfere with providing answers to the responsa that
were directed to him from all over the land. He did, however, function as a
Rabbi in several places, but did so without remuneration.
He came to Oshpitzin from Olpiny after it nearly completely burned down in a
conflagration which broke out there in 5677 . He then accepted the
repeated invitations of the Chief-Rabbi Yehoshua Pinchos Bombach.
His settling in Oshpitzin was a source of great satisfaction for him because it
was an important Jewish center with Talmidei Chachamim and scholars with whom
he could interact in Torah conversation. Consequently his stay became permanent
and he never wanted to leave there, and would not accept promising requests to
come and teach Torah in other places. I will never regret my refusals to
serve in the Rabbinate in Myslenice and Biecz, who implored me so
he said, and when he did agree to accede to the request of the Admor of
Radomsko to head the Keser Torah Yeshiva in Sosnowice, he
stipulated two primary conditions: Not to give up his apartment in Oshpitzin,
and that the appointment was to be temporary, for several semesters only.
Rabbi Usher Zelig's personality was multifaceted and marvelous, fully directed
only towards studying Torah and Torah novella. His intelligence was incisive
and he had a wonderful memory. They said of Rabbi Usher Zelig that he was
a wilder [a wild person], and that is true, since when I sometimes met him on
Sunday mornings he was still going around in Shabbes clothes. This was because
he had not as yet responded to a difficult question that had been put to him
and in attempting a resolution he had been occupied without a break all that
night. His absentmindedness was also displayed during regular
conversation when his mind was elsewhere, in the realm of Torah dialectics.
He directed the Higher Yeshiva in Oshpitzin for many years and trained hundreds
of students. Most of his time was devoted to writing, responding to the many
responsa that had accumulated on his desk, and to recording his novella for
He authored many books: Korban Asher on the Mitzvah of
Circumcision; Divrei Asher on the tractate of Brachot, etc., and he
was the editor of the monthly Koheles Asher. There remained some
manuscripts ready for publication entitled Avnei Zikaron,
Avnei Hasadeh and many responsa that he had already edited towards
publication in one thick volume, and more. All of these were destroyed by the
He suffered great discomfort in his latter years but accepted the pain with
love and suffered silently. He died on Teveth 23 5702 [Jan. 12 1942] in the
Sosnowice Ghetto and was buried in the section allotted to the Jews of
He had four sons and two daughters, all upright, following the paths of Torah,
and noble souls. Two sons survived: R Avrohom Yehoshua, a Rabbi in Brooklyn,
and Moshe who resides in Bnei Brak. All the other members of the family
perished in the Shoah. HYD.
T. N. Z. B. H.
Rabbi R Eliyahu Rosen HYD
Rabbi Ze'ev Gottlieb, Rabbi of Glasgow, Scotland
Rabbi R Eliyahu Rosen was the firstborn to my teacher and father-in-law, the
renowned Gaon and descendant of a distinguished lineage, Rabbi R Avrohom Arye
Leib Rosen, from his first marriage. His mother Sarah was the daughter of the
Tzadik, Rabbi Chaim Yehoshua. The latter was the son of the Holy Gaon, Rabbi
Shmarya, the Av Besdin of Mosty Wielkie (related through the marriage of their
children to the Rabbi Tzadik, R Dov Berish, the Av Besdin of Olesk, and
related to the Holy Rabbi, Sar Sholem of Belz) and the grandson of the Holy
Rabbi, R Shmarya of Kaminka, who was a disciple of the Holy Rabbi and Tzadik,
R Elimelech of Lejask. He stemmed from the Holy Rabbi, R Eliyahu Ba'al Shem
His father the Gaon, my sainted father-in-law, was the son of the daughter of
the Holy Rabbi Nachman Ze'ev Auerbach of Monastericz [?] (the
brother-in-law of the Holy Rabbi, R Nachman of Bratzlaw
[tr. note: a seemingly endless and very complex family line tracing back to
King David similar to the two paragraphs above is omitted from the translation].
He was, then, of the greatest Yichus from both his parents, and taking after
his father, he, too, was an exceptional scholar, poring over Torah texts day
and night, possessed a gentle soul, modest and unassuming, a Hasid and holy in
all his words and deeds, satisfied with very little and without great
pretensions. (Although having been appointed as Rabbi in Hessen, Germany, he,
for reasons unknown to me, did not remain there and returned to Oshpitzin).
When still quite young he had already written his own novella on Halacha,
Aggada, and homiletics, had already prepared them for publication, but to our
regret was not able to raise the publication costs so that his manuscripts were
unknown due to his financial status, all except for some of the novella on the
Talmud which were published in the first volume of the Great Talmud in London,
and several essays that appeared in HaBe'er and other Torah
journals. One homily on the completion of the study of the entire Talmud by
means of the Daf Yomi [daily portion] as given in his city,
Oshpitzin, was published in Lublin just before the Second World War in 5698
 and entitled Peh Eliyahu. In the frontispiece his other
manuscripts are listed: Novella Divrei Eliyahu on the Talmud (Tractate
Brachot); responsa Minchas Eliyahu, two parts; Zichron Eliyahu, on the Laws of
Trefos; P'nei Eliyahu, on tractates of the Talmud, Kol Eliyahu containing
sermons and homiletics; Beis Eliyahu on the Torah; Toras Hatzovo, on the Torah.
During the years of war and fury this wonderful Gaon was murdered together with
his wife, children, and family, along with his fellow Oshpitziner, HYD.
With him perished all of his books and manuscripts. Like Rabbi Hanina Ben
Teradyon in his time, he was burned at the stake, he and the Sefer Torah
together, scrolls on fire and the letters floating in the air. Only a few
of his letters containing Torah which he wrote to his father, the Gaon of
Felsztyn survived and were published in the book of responsa Eitan
Arye by my father-in-law, the Gaon. Woe unto us for those who are gone
and cannot be recovered, and for that paragon of Torah who is no more. May the
Lord champion our cause and avenge the wrong in our time and bring about the
salvation of Israel speedily, in our days. May these lines written in tears and
sorrow become an eternal memorial to the soul of my martyred brother-in-law,
Rabbi Dr. Reuben Farber
He was born in Oshpitzin on Tammuz 18 5629 (June 27 1869).
He was educated in his father's home. His father was a descendant of a long
line of Rabbis and the son was schooled in the time-honored tradition of
Judaism covering the Talmud and Codes in the Hasidic Yeshivos at Limanowa and
Wisnicz. He was ordained by the Admor, the Gaon R Shlomo Halberstam, the
grandson of the author of Divrei Chaim of Sacz.
In order to complete his secular studies he left for Germany and studied at the
Universities of Berlin and Strasburg. He studied Semitic Philosophy under
Professor Nidelka [?] and was awarded a doctorate on the basis of his
dissertation on historical and critical analysis of the Aggadah, the Tanaim,
and Amoraim, entitled, King Solomon in the Tradition.
Serving as a Rabbi and Educator of religion in Vitkovice and Moravska Ostrava
in Moravia, he developed a flourishing educational methodology and battled
against the Reform Movement. He came out against the use of the organ in the
synagogue on Sabbaths and Holidays as well as against mixed choirs of men and
women. He stood guard at this post for 36 years struggling against
intermingling and assimilation. He educated his students towards Zionism and
many of them made Aliyah while their parents heard the message of the National
Renaissance in Israel.
He served as a military chaplain during the First World War in the Austrian
Army, first at Vienna, and later on the Russian front at Wlodzimierz Wolhynsk,
and here and there developed extensive aid efforts for the many Jewish refugees
as well as the urgent relief measures immediately required there.
After the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic, Rabbi Farber was invited
back to modify the textbooks in the subject of Jewish Religion for the high
school curriculum and it was he who included in the subject matter the Jewish
and Zionist values emphasizing Jewish identity in the spirit of national
renewal [in Czechoslovakia]. The Prayerbook which he composed, entitled
Avodas Yisrael was recognized by the authorities as the official
study text in all of the schools in Czechoslovakia.
As the secretary of Hamizrachi there, he gained many adherents to
this Religious-Zionist Movement. In order to expand religious activity towards
Zionism on a greater level, he founded the Haivri Press which
published books and research works on the history of the Moravian Kehillot,
handbooks for Rabbis, and informational books on Zionism.
Rabbi Farber himself, wrote and published several books, among them the
comparative literary study King Solomon in Tradition, and an
antholgy of his speeches and sermons.
In 5698  he made Aliyah and settled in Tel Aviv. He established his own
synagogue, engaged in research of Judaism and Zionism, and founded the
Eytan Press. In 5701  he published his great monograph on
Rabbi Mordechai Benet [Markus Benedict] of Nikolsburg [Mikulowa] entitled
Pe'er Mordechai. He also published his book Moses and
Joshua in which he dealt with the relations between them, as reflected in
the Talmudic, Aggadic, and Halachic sources. It was here that the author
examined the reasons and explanations of the motivations of the Sages during a
specific period for having interpreted their acts detrimentally and ascribing
various sinful acts to them. With conclusive evidence Rabbi Farber
demonstrated, that the heyday of that school of thought did not last more than
three generations, and that the sages following them were in opposition and
restored their [Moses and Joshua's] place of glory.
Rabbi Farber brought to bear his great expertise and knowledge in his book
Pe'er Mordechai on the Gaon, Rabbi Mordechai Benet of Nikolsburg,
the author of Be'or Mordechai, Mordechai, and Mogen
Ovos, on the 39 Types of Labor in the Mishnah, Har Hamor
responsa, Parshas Mordechai responsa, Divrei
Mordechai homiletics and explanations of the Tur and Shulchan
Aruch sections of Yoreh Deah.
The twenty-two chapters of the work include the story of R Mordechai's
childhood, the origin of the name Benet which according to
the author is a distortion of the name Ben Yom Tov, the lineage of
Yichus of the Rabbi, his sons and daughters, the books of the Gaon, and on his
study methodology. The book also contains the imprimaturs he gave to 58 books
and the certificates of ordination he granted. One of the chapters is devoted
to Benet's campaign against Reformists and their Temples, against the extreme
Reformer, R Ahron Chorin, the author of Kinat Ha'emet, and against
Saul Levin of Berlin whose book entitled B'samim Rosh, had been
forged and falsely attributed to the RoSH and other Jewish luminaries,
and in which there are bogus Halachic decisions in the spirit of revision and
Another chapter describes the excellent relations between R Mordechai Benet
and the Imperial Palace at Vienna, and of the special relationship he enjoyed
with Kaiser Franz Josef as a result of an event that occurred. Kaiser Franz
wished to marry a woman who was his relative and the Church forbade the union
on the basis of the family relationship. Rabbi Benet proved in a memorandum to
the Pope that such marriages were permitted according to Jewish Law, and should
accordingly not be forbidden by Canon Law. The Pope was convinced and permitted
the marriage. The Kaiser elevated the Rabbi to the rank of Nobility and granted
him favors by nullifying harsh decrees against Jews when he requested it.
The treatise is written in excellent Hebrew. It contains much material covering
of both the Rabbi and his family as well as the Kehillot where he served and
the Kehillot and Rabbis with whom he had dealings.
For many years he labored on a book about the Kabbalist, R Nosen Note Shapira,
author of Megale Amukos but he didn't complete it.
He died in Tel Aviv on the 23rd
of Sivan 5715 (13.6.1955).
T. N. Z. B. H.
Roshei Yeshivos and Melamdim
Our town Oshpitzin was a city thirsty for Torah and knowledge. Most of the
residents set aside time for Torah and some of them were Talmidei Chachamim and
accomplished people. Its Rabbis were famous for their status among the great
Torah Luminaries in the land, and so were the Roshei Yeshiva and Melamdim of
As the Sages have said: Dare ye not harm my anointed this refers
to the little ones studying Torah, and so the Rabbis and community
leaders sought to provide Melamdim who were Talmidei Chachamim, pious, and had
pedagogic skills. If they were unable to secure fitting candidates locally,
they went to the trouble of bringing to town learned and dynamic Avrechim who
would invest their time and energy to educate the Oshpitzin children toward
Torah, understanding, and knowledge, and they were, indeed, successful in
raising generations of young in a praiseworthy manner.
The Admor, Rabbi Elozor, in his stubborn attachment to the customs and
traditions of his forebears, and in his uncompromising zealousness, brought
Melamdim of little ones and intermediate levels for his sons and grandchildren
from his birthplace, Kaminka. These were quickly integrated in the multifaceted
landscape of the Jewish Kehilla and absorbed into the wide range of activities
to enrich the study of Torah and its students.
It is only proper to mention R Yekele Kaminker who responded to the call of
the Admor, R Eluzerl and came to teach his children. He later made his stay
permanent and brought his family which branched out to include the Zwerling and
Tadnir [?] families. They, their children and grandchildren contributed
much to shaping the atmosphere, and soon were accepted as townsmen in every
respect. The same happened with R Mordechai Boruch Donner, the renowned Magid
who was at first brought to town by the Admor as an intermediate-level Melamed,
and remained as a permanent resident along with his household, and even
attained the status of one of the Kehilla dignitaries.
Among the Melamdim there were those who were simply Melamdim, and there were
some who achieved the coveted status of Roshei Yeshiva. The truth is that both
categories taught the young the words of the living God; both were
great in Torah knowledge, true scholars and Rabbis for whom Torah was both a
vocation and avocation, but as our Sages have said: Everything depends on
luck, even a Torah Scroll in the Holy Ark. So it was that some had the
good fortune to be called by the honored title: Roshei Yeshiva, and the others
remained with the name: Melamdim. Yet, each and every one of them bore his
title with pride and respect since his craft was a holy one. The common
denominator was that they all taught Torah to the many and raised generations
of Talmidei Chachamim, who knew Torah and set aside time to continue to study
There is not enough space to bring full biographical details of each of the
town's Melamdim, and we make no pretense of evaluating their characters and
huge accomplishments. We will but list the names of our teachers and Rabbis, so
dear and beloved, who toiled and made so many efforts with all their heart and
soul, to raise and educate the young of Oshpitzin in Torah and piety. These are
Rabbi Shimon from Berdajew [?], the Melamed of the martyred Admor, R
Benzion of Bobowa, HYD.
Rabbi Wolf Magid, he too was a Melamed of the martyred Admor, R Benzion of
Rabbi Yakov Arye Zwerling
(R Yekele Kaminker)
Rabbi Mordechai Boruch Donner
Rabbi Wolf Samuel
Rabbi Mordechai Krakower
Rabbi Shmuel Zuterer
Rabbi Nechemia Tyberger
Rabbi Eli Elias from Sanok
Rabbi Binyamin Soifer
Rabbi Yitzchok Schroite [?]
Rabbi Shimshon Hirsch
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
Rabbi Avigdor Bronner
Rabbi Moshe Simcha Teitelbaum
Rabbi Berel'e Wintholz
Rabbi Moshe Leib Kremnitzer
Rabbi Eliezer Zlotorow
Rabbi Dovid Benet
Rabbi Sholem Roth
Rabbi Dovid Reifer
Rabbi Yehoshua Roth
Rabbi Yechezkel Kinderman
Rabbi Chaim Scherer
Rabbi Shimon Hersh Wulkan
Rabbi Shloime'le Wisznicer
Rabbi Mordechai Leib Kaminker
Rabbi Yitzchok Porath
Rabbi Simcha Kliger
Rabbi Ahron Korngold
Rabbi Dovid Kremnitzer
Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Wilchfurt
Rabbi Avreme'le Rosenthal
Rabbi Yakov Unger
Rabbi Avrohom Oizer Alter
Rabbi Ahron Yudel Levy
Rabbi R Osher Zelig Landa
Rabbi Dovid Levy
Rabbi Shlomo Posner
The Lodzer (the Melamed from Lodz)
It should be noted that after the death of the Melamed, R Avigdor Bronner, his
wife, Mrs. Kreindel Bronner ran a Cheder for girls. Most of the
Oshpitzin girls studied there, beginning with Alef Beis and on to
reading and writing in Yiddish, and to pray with understanding of the words.
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