Avraham Yitzchak Bloch (1891 – 1941) was the
Chief Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva of the Telz Yeshiva in Lithuania, and one of the greatest pre-Holocaust Rabbinic
Bloch was born in 1891 and was the second son of Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch, the Chief Rabbi and Rosh
Yeshiva of Telz.
represented the third generation of family leadership in Telz, as
his grandfather Rabbi Eliezer Gordon
was also Chief Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva in Telz.
Bloch was educated by both his father and grandfather and on
account of his brilliance and intellectual ability, was appointed
to the faculty of the Telz Yeshiva when he was only thirty five years
Telzer Rav and Rosh Yeshiva
Upon the death of Rabbi Yosef Leib
in 1929, it was widely assumed that Rabbi Yosef Leib's
oldest son, Rabbi Zalman Bloch
succeed his father as Chief Rabbi
of Telz, as was the custom
in many communities. At the funeral of Rabbi Yosef Leib, however,
Rabbi Zalman Bloch announced that the positions should be filled by
his younger brother, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak.
At the young age of 38, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bloch succeeded his
father in the dual role of Chief Rabbi
and Rosh Yeshiva
of Telz, which was one
the largest and most prestigious yeshivas
Serving in these capacities, Rabbi Bloch understood the diverse
points of view of community members, while, simultaneously,
upholding the Torah perspective. Sensitive to the material as well
as the spiritual needs of his students, he traveled to the United
States in 1928 on a successful fundraising campaign.
Rabbi Bloch continued to develop the educational methodology
pioneered by his father. This method is known as the Telzer
, a unique analytical approach to Torah
Bloch was also a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the
Agudath Israel and participated at
the third Knessia Gedolah of the
Agudath Israel at Marienbad, Austria in
World War II
In 1940, the town of Telz was invaded by Soviet forces. Shortly
thereafter, the yeshiva
was forced to
surrender its main building for use as a Red Army barracks. The
students, however, remained in Telz,
where they rented accommodation from local townsfolk. This,
however, also changed, when the Soviets forbade the renting out of
rooms to yeshiva
students. Rabbi Bloch
responded by dispersing the yeshiva
surrounding towns and arranging for members of the faculty to
travel from town to town and deliver classes to the students.
On Tuesday July 15 1941
(20th Tammuz), Nazi forces and local Lithuanian sympathizers
massacred the male population of Telz, including Rabbi Avraham
Yitzchak Bloch and the faculty of the yeshiva
Three of Rabbi Bloch's daughters survived the Holocaust.
married Rabbi Baruch Sorotzkin who
joined the Telz
Yeshiva in Cleveland and later served as the Rosh Yeshiva. Another married Rabbi
Aizik Ausband, a student of Telz in Lithuania who is also a
Rosh Yeshiva at the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland.
The other daughter resides in
Rabbi Bloch was both a prolific writer and speaker, however, many
of his writings were lost during the Holocaust. Some writings,
however, were saved and some of Rabbi Bloch's students who escaped
the Holocaust had notes of his lectures. Subsequently, Rabbi
Bloch's family published:
- Shiurei HaGrai Bloch on the Talmudic Tractates of
Chullin and Yevamos.
- Shiurei Daas - A collection of essays on a variety of
topics viewed from the unique Telz method of analysis.