Chaim Rabinowitz

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Chaim Shalom Tuvia Rabinowitz, also known as Reb Chaim Telzer, (1856 – 21 October 1931) was an Orthodox Lithuanian rabbi and rosh yeshiva of the Telshe yeshiva. He developed a unique method of Talmudic analysis which became renowned throughout the yeshiva world as the Telzer Derech.[1][2]


He was born in the town of Luknik, Lithuania,[3] and studied under Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, and Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor.[4] He married Osnat Geffen (1880–1942) with whom he had two sons, Yosef and Azriel.[5]

Following the death of Rabbi Spektor in 1896, his son, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Spektor, renamed the yeshiva that his father had founded in Kovno, Knesses Beis Yitzchok and chose Rabinowitz as the first rosh yeshiva.[6][7] After this, Rabinowitz served as rabbi to the town of Meishad, Lithuania.[4][2]


Rabinowitz next moved to the Telshe yeshiva as a rosh mesivta under Rabbi Eliezer Gordon.[2] In 1904 Rabbi Shimon Shkop, who had replaced Rabbi Gordon as rosh yeshiva, left the Telshe yeshiva and Rabinowitz replaced him as rosh yeshiva.[8] Rabbi Rabinowitz taught in the Telshe yeshiva for twenty-six years. He was known for his high-level shiurim in Halakha and his special talent for chakira (intensive investigation) into each subject he taught. In each chakira, he would present to his students the two opposing viewpoints and teach them how to dissect each argument point-by-point,[2] developing their acuity and analytical skills.[9] Although his approach was different from that of Rabbi Bloch and his family, it was accepted in the yeshiva and renowned throughout the Eastern European Torah world.[4]

Among his students was Rabbi Shimon Schwab.[10]

Death and legacy[edit]

Rabinowitz died on 21 October 1931 (10 Cheshvan 5692) and was buried in the Kovno Jewish cemetery.[11] His son, Rabbi Azriel Rabinowitz (1905–1941), assumed his father's position as rosh yeshiva of the Telshe yeshiva.

Rabbi Rabinowitz has no surviving descendants, as his wife, sons and their families were all murdered by the Nazis in Telshe in 1941 and 1942.[5][12]

During his lifetime and afterwards, Rabbi Rabinowitz's Talmudic lectures were recorded by a special yeshiva editorial committee and made available to students. The unpublished shiurim of Rabbi Rabinowitz and Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch, now housed in the Telshe yeshiva of Cleveland, are considered the "foundation stones" for the study of Torah in the Telshe yeshiva to this day.[2]

Three volumes of Rabbi Rabinowitz's Talmudic lectures have been published by the Telshe yeshiva in Cleveland, under the title Chiddushei Rabbi Chaim MiTelz.[3]


  1. ^ Jacobs, Louis (1995). The Jewish Religion: A companion. Oxford University Press. p. 540. ISBN 0-19-826463-1. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Gifter, Mordechai (2003). ישיבת טלז [Telz Yeshiva] (in Hebrew). Herzog College. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Rabiner, Rabbi Zev Aryeh (1968). HaGaon Rabbi Eliezer Gordon, zt"l (in Hebrew). Biegeleisen Hebrew Book Store. p. 58. 
  4. ^ a b c Bechhofer, Rabbi Yosef Gavriel. "Telshe: 120 years since the founding of the yeshiva". Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Osnat Geffen". 15 October 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Sherman, Moshe D. (1996). Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-313-24316-5. 
  7. ^ Rakeffet-Rothkoff, Aaron (18 May 2005). "The Torah and Rabbinics of the Early YC Years". The Commentator. 
  8. ^ Sofer, D. (18 February 2010). "Rav Eliezer Gordon zt"l, Rosh Yeshivas Telshe, On His 100th Yahrtzeit, Today, 4 Adar". Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  9. ^ "Description Information". Virtual Judaica. 2007. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  10. ^ Schwab, Shimon; Schwab, Moshe (2001). Rav Schwab on Prayer. Mesorah Publications. p. ix. ISBN 1-57819-512-8. 
  11. ^ Sher, Chaim (12 September 2001). "To Rededicate Koenigsburg – He Established Elul (The Alter of Kelm about Rav Yisroel Salanter)". Dei'ah VeDibur. Archived from the original on 28 October 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  12. ^ "Rabbi Azriel Rabinovitz". 15 October 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 

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