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Eliyahu Lopian (1876–21 September 1970), known as Reb Elyah, was among the most prominent rabbis of the Mussar Movement. As a disciple of the Kelm Talmud Torah method, he was known for his strict keeping of order and strong self-control. It is told that he would not turn his head without a reason and a structured decision.
Reb Elya Lopian was born in Grajewo, Poland in 1876. In his youth he studied at the yeshiva in Łomża and at the Kelm Talmud Torah of Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv. He emigrated to England in 1928, where he served as the rosh yeshiva of the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in the East End of London, working for many years alongside his distinguished colleague Rabbi Nachman Shlomo Greenspan. His wife Soroh Leah Rotman died in 1934, shortly after the engagement of their daughter Leiba to Rabbi Leib Gurwicz.
For many years, Rabbi Lopian had wanted to make his home in the Land of Israel, and spoke a great deal about the Vilna Gaon's intense yet unfulfilled desire to live there. In 1950 he left the Etz Chaim Yeshiva and moved to Israel. At first he stayed in the home of his wife's brother, Yisrael Luria, in Jerusalem. That Sukkot, he visited the Brisker Rov, Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik.
He initially refused to lead mussar seminars in Israel and sought to occupy himself with teaching and private moral work. Yet with the blessing of Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (the Chazon Ish), he finally reconciled himself with leading mussar courses. Despite his old age, he agreed in the end to act as Mashgiach Ruchani at the Knesses Chizkiyahu yeshiva located originally in Zikhron Ya'akov and later in Kfar Hasidim), headed by Rabbi Noah Shimonowitz.
From the moment of his arrival, Reb Elya became a magnet for the young men. The yeshiva became firmly established and even drew many young people from neighboring yeshiva high schools such as the Bnei Akiva Kfar HaRo'eh yeshivah and Midrashiat Noam in Pardes Hannah.
Reb Elya Lopian had 13 children:
- Rabbi Simcha Zissel Lopian of Yeshivat Toras Emes, London;
- Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Lopian, United States;
- Rebbetzin Leiba Gurwicz, (wife of Rabbi Leib Gurwicz);
- Rabbi Chaim Shmuel Lopian of Sunderland Yeshiva;
- Rabbi Leib Lopian of Gateshead Yeshiva;
- Rabbi Eliezer Lopian of Yeshivat Toras Emes, London;
- Rebbetzin Pearl Klien, London and Jerusalem;
- Rabbi Benzion (Benzel) Lapian, Willesden (London), Edgware (London) and Hong Kong;
- Rabbi Zvi Hershel Lopian (perished in the Holocaust);
- Rebbetzin Rochel Vilenski, Jerusalem;
- Yisroel Nochum Lopian, London;
- Rebbetzin Chaya Pinski, Jerusalem;
- Yankel Yoel Lopian, Manchester
After his death, a street was named in his honor in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Lev Eliyahu — Mussar lessons. Edited by his students
- Reb Elyah: The Life and Accomplishments of Rabbi Elyah Lopian, David J. Schlossberg, Mesorah Publications Limited, February 1999.