Bloch, Joseph Leib

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BLOCH, JOSEPH LEIB (1860–1930), Lithuanian yeshivah head. He showed exceptional ability from childhood and at the age of 14 he traveled to Chelm where he studied under R. Eliezer *Gordon. He continued his studies with Naphtali Ẓevi Judah *Berlin at Volozhin. After his marriage to the daughter of Eliezer Gordon, he moved to Telz, where he assisted his father-in-law, who had been appointed rabbi and rosh yeshivah. In 1902, after resigning from the yeshivah in protest against the resistance of a number of the students to the study of musar, he was appointed rabbi of Varna, a small village near Telz. He served later as rabbi of Shadova, where he established his own yeshivah. In 1910 Bloch was appointed rabbi of Telz and roshyeshivah, succeeding his father-in-law. Under his leadership, the yeshivah attracted large numbers of students. In addition to his lectures on halakhah, Bloch also gave talks on musar. He took the unusual step of founding a teachers' seminary, which produced hundreds of educators, and a preparatory school, in which secular studies were taught. Thanks to these auxiliary institutions, the yeshivah of Telz occupied a central position, with an enrollment, at times, of as many as 500 students. Active in communal affairs, Bloch served as a member of the executive of the Association of Lithuanian Rabbis and as one of the leaders of *Agudat Israel. Prominent among his sons were Abraham Isaac, who succeeded his father in Telz, and Elijah Meir, who was one of the yeshivah principals. His other sons and sons-in-law also taught in Telz. Bloch's ethical essays were published in Shi'urei Da'at (pt. 1, 1949; pt. 2, 1953; pt. 3, 1956). His halakhic lectures appeared in Shi'ur Halakhah (pt. 1, 1932; pt. 2, 1943; pt. 3, 1958).


D. Katz, Tenu'at ha-Musar, 5 (1962/63), 17–109.

[Itzhak Alfassi]