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[Page 66]

Sources Regarding
the History of the Jews in Volozhin

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Donated by Anita Frishman Gabbay


Articles and memoirs about Volozhin

Rabbi Avraham (the son of the Gr'a). Peerat Eliahu; Eulogy for the Gr'a. Brought to publication by Rabbi Shmuel Yevnin of Horodno, Warsaw, 5638 [1878].

Eisenstadt, Ben–Zion. Rabbis and sages of Minsk; History of the Torah greats who disseminated Torah in the city of Minsk (Lithuania) during the previous two hundred years, with copies of 75 gravestone inscriptions and lists of books that they published. Vilna 5659 [1899].

Eisenstat, Yisrael Tovia. Daat Kedoshim; Peterburg, 5657–5658 (1897–98), pp. 136–180, Berhman and Partners publishers.

Ish–Horowitz, Menachem Mendel HaLevi. Derech Eitz Hayim; a portrait of life of the students of the holy Ets Hayim Yeshiva of Volozhin. Krakow, published by Emanuel Horowitz, 5655 [1895].

Bialik, Hayim Nachman. Matters by Heart; volume I, page 22 (about Cheder and the Talmud), Tel Aviv, 5695 [1935].

Brisk, Asher Leib. Chelkat Mechokek; A list of gravestones in the Mount of Olives Cemetery – Jerusalem.

Berlin (Bar–Ilan), Meir. From Volozhin to Jerusalem; Yalkut publishers, 5699 [1939].

Drianov, Alter. Writings of the History of Hibbat Zion and the Settlement of the land of Israel. Odessa, published by the Committee for the Settlement of the Land of Israel, 5679 [1919]. Volume I, page 684 (376). Volume II, Tel Aviv, Hapoel–Hatzair Publishing Cooperative, 5685 [1925], pp. 797–799.

HaKohen, Yitzchak Izak. Shaarei Yitzchak; written in the year 5588 [1828], published in Warsaw, Efraim Baumerister Publishers, 5658 [1898], pp. 111–112.

Zichron Shimshon. Words of Rabbi Shimshon the rabbinical judge, published by his eldest son Yehuda Leib, Vilna, 5639 [1879].

Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin. Sermon of our rabbi Rabbi Hayim, delivered on the first day of Selichot, 5572 [1812]. The sermon was published in the book Neima Kedosha by Rabbi Yosef Jaski, Vilna, published by Reb Hillel the son of Reb Avraham Yitzchak Dworzec, 5632 [1872].

Yechezkel Feivel. This is the Book of the History of Man; History of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman, nicknamed Reb Zelmele (the younger brother of Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin). Bnei–Brak, Tifarteinu Book Publishers, 5722 [1962].

Yaari, Avraham. Letters of the Land of Israel. Published by the division of youth affairs of the Zionist Organization, Tel Aviv, 5703, pp. 341 and 503.

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Yaari, Avraham, Emissaries of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem, Mossad Harav Kook Publishers, 5711 [1951].

Magid, David, History of the Ginzberg Families. Peterburg, published by the author, 5659 [1899], pp. 35–50.

Magid (Steinsznajder), Hillel Noach, City of Vilna; Memories of the Jewish community and history of the lives of its greats. Vilna. Published by the Romm Widow and Brothers, 5660 [1900], pp. 108–109 (with notes).

Slutzki, Avraham Yaakov, Shivat Tzion; An anthology of statements of the geniuses of the generation in praise of the settlement of the Land of Israel. Two volumes. First edition appeared in the year 5652 [1892]. Second edition, Warsaw, Reb Meir Yechiel Halter and Partner Publishing, 5660 [1900]. Volume I, pp. 17–18. Volume II, pp. 5–6, 5–9, 28–29.

Fein, Shmuel Yosef, Kirya Neemana; History of the Jewish community of Vilna, and memorials to the souls of its Gaonim, sages, scribes, and philanthropists. Vilna, Reb Yosef Reuven the son of Reb Menachem of Romm Publishers. 5620 [1860], pp. 156–158, 158–160.

Frumkin, Aryeh Leib, History of the Sages of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Solomon Publishers, 5688–5690 [1928–1930], Volume II, pp. 138–139.

Kamelhar, Yekutiel Aryeh, Dor Deah; 5695 [1935].

Katzenelenbogen, Avraham Tzvi Hirsch, Shaarei Rachamim [Gates of Mercy]; Vilna. Reb Avraham Yitzchak and his son Reb Shalom Yosef Dworzec Publishers. 5631 [1871].

Rivkind, Yitzchak, The Netzi'v and his Relationship to Hibbat Zion; Łódź, 5679 [1919].

Rivkind, Yitzchak, Letters of Zion; Letters to the Netzi'v from Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever, Dr. Pinsker, Reb M. Erlanger–Lubetzki, Yechiel Michel Pines, and a letter from the Netzi'v to Dr. Pinsker. The letters were published in Sefer Shmuel in memory of Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever, at 25th anniversary of his death (19 Sivan 5658–19 Sivan 5683 – [1898–1923]). Edited by Rabbi Yehuda Leib HaKohen Fishman, Jerusalem 5683 [1923], pp. 73–103.

Shalit, Moshe (editor), On the Ruins of Wars and Disturbances; a ledger of the region. YEKOPO Committee in Vilna (1919–1931). Accountings, articles, explanations, material, and documents.


In the Vernacular

M. Balinski – Lipinski – StaroŻytna Polska.

S. Orgielbrand – Encyklopedja Powszechna

Slownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego in innych Krajów Slowianskich.

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Daily Newspapers

(edited by Erez–Alexander Cederbaum)

Holand, Zalman Yitzchak: Hamelitz, 5 Tishrei 5650 (September 12, 1879), issue 38.[1]

Erez: Hamelitz, 28 Tishrei 5652 (October 17, 1883), issue 80.

Robinson: Hamelitz, 24 Tishrei 5645 (October 1, 1884), issue 77.

The Netzi'v. Accounting of the Yeshiva expenditures. Hamelitz, 1 Sivan 5646 (May 23, 1886), issue 40.

Article from the Heads of the Community of Volozhin: Hamelitz, 24 Av 5646 (August 13, 1886), issue 88. The heads of the community of Volozhin issue a call for the providing of help to the Jews of Volozhin after the fire that broke out on June 27, 1886. Signatories of the article: Sh. G. Perski (Scribe of Operova), Yosef Eliezer, Rabbi Ezriel Zelig Rogovin, Yehuda the son of Rabbi Yeshaya Kahana, Yitzchak Yosef Broda, Starosta of Volozhin.

The Netzi'v: Hamelitz, 20 Cheshvan 5647 (November 6, 1886), issue 149. The Netzi'v acknowledges the donations received for those affected by the fire.

The Netzi'v: Hamelitz, 23 Cheshvan 5647 (November 9, 1886), issue 151. The Netzi'v published a long list of donors for the restoration of the Yeshiva and those affected by the fire.

P.B.P., A researcher of their honor in honor: Hamelitz: 5 Iyar 5647 (April 17, 1887), issue 85 (in a note). The writer tells that when he was studying in the Ets Hayim Yeshiva of Volozhin, he saw the statue of Rabbi Itzele, son of Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin, in the palace of Count Tyszkiewicz.

An Article from Volozhin: Hamelitz, 13 Iyar 5648 (April 12, 1888), issue 80. In the article, they announce that “it has been about eight days since the eating of meat has been cut off from the mouths of Jews of Volozhin because the butchers decided among themselves to no longer slaughter cattle until they are given a new shochet [ritual slaughterer].”

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Peli: Hamelitz, 28 Iyar 5648 (April 27, 1888), issue 91. The writer announces that “the town of Horodok went up in fire, and the Jews of Volozhin sent two wagonloads of bread to the hungry.” Similarly he announces that “a few days ago, a new prayer leader arrived in Volozhin with seven choir singers.”

Absh'r: Hameltz, 1 Shvat 5649 (December 22, 1888) issue 281.

Bar–Bei–Rav Dechad Yoma (Micha Yosef Berdichevski) : Hamelitz, 28 Sivan 5650 (June 1, 1890), issue 120. The writer describes the activities of the Netzi'v in Hovevei Tzion.

Bunimovich, Sh. M. : Hamelitz, 10 Sivan 5653 (May 13, 1893), issue 106. The writer describes the difficult situation of the sick Jews in Volozhin, and demands that a permanent physician come to Volozhin.

Ish Yehudi. Eulogy for the Netzi'v: Hamelitz, 1 Elul 5653 (August 1, 1893).

Uriaszson, Michael and Yafa, Shlomo Zalman: Article from Horodno, Hamelitz, 5 Elul 5653 (August 5, 1893), issue 176. It states in the article: “We wish to state several things in the spirit of the Yeshiva students of Volozhin, the students of our teacher and rabbi, the Gaon, Tzadik, and luminary of Israel, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, may the memory of the holy be blessed. I have informed you of the greatness of the love of our Rabbi and Gaon Tzvi Yehuda for the Land of our Forefathers. Who knows like us that all his days he bore it in his soul to plead for the soil of our Holy Land, and to placate its stones. He especially took the idea of the new settlement to his heart. He always talked about it and predicted a great, creative future for it. Therefore, dear brothers! If he did not merit to see with his own eyes the Land that he pined for and desired all the days, please bring satisfaction to his pure soul, and leave him an eternal memorial through your donations for the benefit of the workers in our Holy Land.

“We hereby begin this great commandment to memorialize his soul by donating two rubles for the workers, in accordance with receipt 719. Would it be that they see what we did, and all the students in every city do the same. This way, they will give honor and value to his revered, sublime name, as well as fulfil the wishes of his heart that he conceived of and thought about while still alive.”

Perpetuation of the Memory of the Netzi'v: Hamelitz, 17 Cheshvan 5654 (October 14, 1893), issue 221.

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In the section of announcements in this issue, a list is printed of students of the Netzi'v who donated to perpetuate the name of their great rabbi.

Raski, Eliezer Leib: Hamelitz, 6 Tammuz 5654 (June 28, 1894), issue 144. The writer demands that a permit be issued to open a pharmacy under the direction of a Jewish pharmacist in Volozhin.

Raski, Eliezer Leib: Hamelitz, 11 Elul 5654 (August 31, 1894), issue 198. The writer describes the Talmud Torah of Volozhin.

Raski, Eliezer Leib: Hamelitz, 7 Shvat 5654 (January 2, 1894), issue 1. The writer announces the opening of the school for the study of the Hebrew language in Volozhin.

Winski, Elchanan Leib. The fires and those affected by the fires: Hamelitz, 20 Tammuz 5655 (June 30, 1895), issue 143. Lewinski writes, among the rest: “Volozhin is the host of Torah, but a precious host, a living host on the account of its guests. Its Torah comes from Israel, and it livelihood comes from Torah. The Yeshiva lads in Volozhin were like the army unit of the region, from which livelihood is derived.”

Lodocha, Yehuda: Hamelitz, 15 Kislev 5659 (November 11, 1898), issue 254. The writer announces the founding of Linat Tzedek in Volozhin.

Perski, Eliezer Leib: Hamelitz, 6 Iyar 5659 (April 4, 1899), issue 75. In the announcements section, the writer announces that this issue contains a list of Volozhin Jews who donated for the benefit of the workers in the Holy Land.

Bunimovich, Moshe: Hamelitz, 5 Kislev 5663 (November 22, 1902), issue 257. The writer announces: “The honored preacher, Rabbi Betzalel Czodikow, founded a Zionist movement here.”

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(Edited by Hayim Zelig Slonimski, and later by Nachum Sokolow)

Robinson, Yisrael: Hatzefira, 15 Tevet 5640 (December 18, 1879), issue 49. The writer describes the difficult economic situation faced by the Jews of Volozhin with the following words: “Clouds of grief spread over the residents of this city this year. All faces have gathered blackness[2] and sighing from the heartfelt agony that bursts forth from the oppressed indigents, for these times are bad times. Commerce has quieted, the paths of business are in mourning, and those who earn are earning through a bundle of holes. Inflation is spreading through the city, and many are bearing the disgrace of hunger, to the point where one person has committed suicide from great pressure and poverty.”

A. Tz'm, a memorial for a pure soul: Hatzefira, 22 Elul 5656 (September 10, 1886), issue 131. The writer portrays the life of Rabbi Eliahu, the son of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Neuwedell, the great–grandson of Rabbi Zalmele, the younger brother of Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin.

Perski, Eliezer Leib: Hatzefira, 11 Iyar 5656 (April 12, 1896), issue 82. The writer describes the economic situation of the Jews of Volozhin, and announces the founding of the Malbish Arumim [Clothing the Poor] and Chevrat Poalim [Workers' Group] organizations.

Epstein, Zalman. A forgotten Jubilee: Hatzefira, 28 Menachem Av 5653 (August 8, 1903), issue 184; 30 Menachem Av 5663 (August 10, 1903), issue 185; 2 Elul 5663 (August 11, 1903), issue 186; 4 Elul 5663 (August 13, 1903), issue 188.

Zak, Y. L. , One day in Volozhin: Hatzefira, 22 Adar 5671 (March 9, 1911), issue 58. Mr. Zak describes his visit to Volozhin and writes, among everything else: “We are close to the small, remote city from which Torah and light emanates to the entire Jewish Diaspora. Our wagon drove with difficulty. The mare, beaten by the wagon driver's whip, pulled us between two rows of low, bent houses, with withering grass growing from their roofs. The people standing were somnolent, staring at us with curiosity. The triangular balconies, which were protruding from beneath the roofs and appeared as dovecotes, were also staring at us, as if in surprise, and asking: Why are you coming to this desolate place?

“They were in wonder, as we passed by them and arrived at the large marketplace. It was not paved with stones and had there not been walkways of boards in the center, one might simply drown in the mud and grime that covers everything. We passed in front of the pond, surrounded by reeds growing from within it.

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Bent, oppressed Jews passed before us, bearing the entire burden of the exile upon their shoulders. They wore belts on their wastes and heavy, coarse shoes on their feet.

“This is Volozhin, from which Torah has been emanating to Israel for more than a hundred years. This is the city that has been the host of Torah for hundreds of years. These houses hosted all those Gaonim and Torah luminaries, all the masses of scholars and studiers who disseminated Torah and knowledge throughout the nation.”

(Edited by Dr. Yehuda Leib Kantor)

Eldad: Hayom, 28 Menachem Av 5646 (August 18, 1886), issue 160. The writer describes the economic destruction of Volozhin after the fire in the following words: “The heart of every soul shall mourn, and the eye of everyone who loves his people is smitten when seeing the straits and tribulations that overtook the people of this city. Their faces are foaming from sadness and agony. Dark clous rest on their foreheads. Their situation is terrible and frightful, for, aside from having been judged by G–d with fire, with their houses and all their wealthy and property having been burnt, leaving them naked and lacking everything, an additional disaster befell them, in that the sources of livelihood from which they drew to this point have dwindled and dried up. The majority of the residents of the city earned their livelihoods by hosting the Yeshiva students in their homes. They sustained themselves and their families in this manner. Now, however, when their houses have burnt down, and the Yeshiva was also burnt, and virtually all of the Yeshiva students have traveled to their own homes – now the defeat is complete. My pen does not have the strength to describe the poverty and pressure pervading in our city at this point. The residents of our city have never been known for wealth. Many lived in straits and meagerness. There were only a few who earned a comfortable, ample livelihood. Now, the wheel has turned even for those few, and we appear as an empty vessel. If assistance is not forthcoming from afar – then, Heaven forbid, our fate will be destruction.”

Eldad: Hayom, 6 Cheshvan 5647 (October 26, 1886), issue 209. Eldad continues with his description of the severe economic situation of the Jews of Volozhin: “The eye seeing our city will witness a heartrending, mournful scene during this period of ruin and destruction. Dark clouds dwell upon the foreheads. Everyone walks about gloomy, with body–wracking sighs bursting forth from their hearts regarding the sources of livelihood that have dried up and dwindled, and the sources of food cut off from their mouths. Many women who used to do their work for the Yeshiva students,

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whom they hosted in their houses, now sit with their hands on their bosoms with nothing to do. One meets only hungry people at every footstep.”

Metushelach: Hayom, 27 Menachem Av 5647 (August 5, 1887), issue 172. The writer describes the fire that broke out in Volozhin.


Annuals, Monthlies, Weeklies, and Anthologies

Bialik, Chaim Nachman. First letters. Knesset, in memory of Bialik, Book II, 5696 [1936], page 29, Tel Aviv.

Bialik, Chaim Nachman. Autobiographical sections. Knesset. Book VI, Tel Aviv, 5701 [1941], pp. 14–15.

Blusher, Abba. Bialik in Volozhin. Meoznaim, Tammuz 5695 [1935], Volume IV, Booklet II (20).

Berdichevski, Micha Yosef (Yaba'm). Olam Haatzilut [The World of Nobility], Hakerem, “The annual book for the research of Jewish history and literature.” Edited by Elazar Atlas, Warsaw, Yitzchak Goldman Publishing, 5647 [1887], pp. 63–64.

Breinin, Reuven. The Gaon of Vilna. Hatoren, Monthly for science, literature, and Zionism. Edited by Reuven Breinin, Seventh year, 6 Iyar 5680 (April 30, 1920), issue 7, pp. 9–10.

Hamagid (edited by Eliezer Lipman Zilberman): Lyk, Rudolf Zibert Publishing, 5 Tevet 5632 (December 2, 1871), issue 49.

Hamagid, First day of Chanukah 5646 (December 3, 1885). Addendum to issue 47.

Zlotkin, M. The Volozhin Yeshiva during the era of Bialik: Shevivim, a quarterly on current issues, research, and literature. Published by Brit Haivrit Haolamit (French chapter), edited by Yaakov Yisrael Fink. Year 1, booklet I, Kislev 5615 [1855], pp. 56–64.

Turberg, P. When I left Volozhin: Haivri, A weekly newspaper (founded in Berlin in the year 5671 [1911]), Editor: Rabbi Meir Berlin. 28 Adar 5677 (February 23, 1917), issue 8.

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Litwin, Yosef. Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin and the Dispute over the Founding of the Yeshiva: Hadoar, 3 Adar II, 5722 [1962].

Litwin, Yosef. After the Shots Came the Artillery: Hadoar, 21 Iyar 5722 [1962].

Pichman, Yaakov. With Bialik: Knesset, Book II, page 85, Tel Aviv, 5697 [1937].

Rivkind, Yitzchak. The Yeshiva in Volozhin and the National Renaissance: Hatoren, 9th year, Kislev 5683 [1922]. Booklet 10, pp. 51–61.

Rivkind, Yitzchak. Pathways of Volozhin, Clear and Not Clear: Hadoar, 24 Adar II, 5722 [1962], issue 22, page 349; 2 Nisan 5722 [1962], issue 23, pp. 366–367.

Rivkind, Yitzchak. Bialik's G–d: Ein–Hakoreh, edited by D. A. Friedman, Berlin, Nisan–Elul 5683 [1923], pp. 3–35.


Translator's Footnotes:
  1. In this, and all dates in this chapter, I notice a 12–day discrepancy between the Jewish and secular years. For example Sept 12, 1879 corresponds to 24 Elul 5639. I attribute this to the fact that the Russian Empire was still using the Julian calendar prior to 1918. Return
  2. Joel 2:6. Return


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