He entered the Volozhin yeshiva when he was only twelve years old, and remained there until its close in the winter of 1892. He then went to learn with his mentor, Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, in Brisk for the next four years. It was Rav Chaim that referred to him as the "Meitscheter Illui" ("[Talmudic] genius [from] Meitchet"). Chaim Soloveitchik commented that in all his life, he had never come upon a genius of the measure of the Meitscheter.
Polachek held some broad-minded views relative to some of his contemporaries. For example, in Jeffrey S. Gurock's Judaism's Encounter with American Sports (Indiana University Press), Polachek is described as:
...Polachek was silent on the importance of gyms and teams within the school [Yeshiva University]. But reportedly he did harbor a positive view of yeshivas encouraging students physical fitness. It was a Maimonidean-style point of view that [Bernard] Revel could have counted upon if he were ever challenged about what was going on in his Torah school..."
Following the sudden passing of Polachek in 1928, Shimon Shkop was persuaded to replace him for a short period of time. His children, such as his daughter Rebbetzin Libby Moshowitz, married to Rabbi Dr. Israel Mowshowitz, and two sons, one who received a PHd and one who became a doctor were notable in their own right.