Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman

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Yaakov Yitzchok Halevi Ruderman (Shushan Purim 1900, [1] Daŭhinava - July 11, 1987) [2] was a prominent Talmudic scholar and rabbi who founded and served as rosh yeshiva (yeshiva head) of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel in Baltimore.

A Levite is a Jewish male descended patrilineally from the Tribe of Levi. The Tribe of Levi descended from Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah. The surname HaLevi, which consists of the Hebrew definite article "ה" Ha- ("the") plus Levi (Levite) is not conclusive regarding being a Levite; a titular use of HaLevi indicates being a Levite. The daughter of a Levite is a "Bat Levi".


Daŭhinava is a village in the Vileyka Raion, Minsk Region, Belarus. It is located 82 kilometres (51 mi) north of Minsk and 40 km (25 mi) east-northeast of Vilejka. Between the two World Wars it was part of the Wilno Voivodeship of Poland.

Talmud Holy Book of Rabbinic Judaism

The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the centerpiece of Jewish cultural life and was foundational to "all Jewish thought and aspirations", serving also as "the guide for the daily life" of Jews.


Early life

Ruderman was born in Daŭhinava, in the Vilna Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus), where his father, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ruderman, [3] was the rabbi. He studied in Yeshivas Knesses Yisrael in Slabodke, [1] under the "Alter", Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, and the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein, receiving semicha from the latter in 1926.

Vilna Governorate governorate of the Russian Empire

The Vilna Governorate or Government of Vilnius was a governorate of the Russian Empire created after the Third Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795. It was part of the Lithuanian General Governorate, which was called the Vilnius General Governorate after 1830, and was attached to the Northwestern Krai. The seat was in Vilnius, where the Governors General resided.

Russian Empire former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

Belarus country in Eastern Europe

Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.


In 1924, two years before receiving semicha , Ruderman married into a rabbinical family. [4] [1]

In 1930, he joined his father-in-law, Rabbi Sheftel Kramer, at the latter's yeshiva in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1931, the Ruderman family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he served as one of the teachers at the Yeshiva. [5]

New Haven, Connecticut City in Connecticut, United States

New Haven is a coastal city in the U.S. state of Connecticut. It is located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in New Haven County, Connecticut, and is part of the New York metropolitan area. With a population of 129,779 as determined by the 2010 United States Census, it is the second-largest city in Connecticut after Bridgeport. New Haven is the principal municipality of Greater New Haven, which had a total population of 862,477 in 2010.

Cleveland City in Ohio

Cleveland is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County. The city proper has a population of 383,793, making it the 52nd-largest city in the United States, making it the second-largest city in Ohio. Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 32nd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,055,612 people in 2016. The city anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the United States.

Ohio State of the United States of America

Ohio is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, and the tenth most densely populated. The state's capital and largest city is Columbus.

Building Torah in America

In 1933, with his father-in-law's encouragement, Ruderman moved to Baltimore, where he was immediately offered a rabbinical post at Tiferes Yisroel Shul. [1] Ruderman accepted the position on the condition that he be permitted to open a yeshiva using the synagogue's facilities. He began with six students and named the newly formed yeshiva Ner Yisroel (after Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin Salanter, [6] the founder of the mussar movement).

The yeshiva grew quickly, [1] and Ruderman approached the renowned Rabbi Shimon Schwab, at the time rabbi of another Baltimore congregation, and invited him to join the faculty. Rabbi Schwab taught the first-year shiur (class) in Ner Israel for several years, until he moved to Washington Heights. When Ruderman grew old, he became blind but still held a siddur when davening. Ruderman led the yeshiva for 54 years until his death when Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, his son in law, took over. [7] Ruderman was rosh yeshiva, while his brother-in-law, Rabbi Naftoli (Herman) Neuberger took care of the financial side. Together, they built it into one of the largest yeshivas in America, producing thousands of rabbis, educators and learned laymen.

Shimon Schwab American rabbi

Shimon (Simon) Schwab was an Orthodox rabbi and communal leader in Germany and the United States. Educated in Frankfurt am Main and in the yeshivot of Lithuania, he was rabbi in Ichenhausen, Bavaria, after immigration to the United States in Baltimore, and from 1958 until his death at Khal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights, Manhattan. He was an ideologue of Agudath Israel of America, specifically defending the Torah im Derech Eretz approach to Jewish life. He wrote several popular works of Jewish thought.

Shiur (Torah)

Shiur is a lesson on any Torah topic, such as Gemara, Mishnah, halakha, Tanakh, etc.

Washington Heights, Manhattan Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

Washington Heights is a neighborhood in the northern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The area, with over 150,000 inhabitants as of 2010, is named for Fort Washington, a fortification constructed at the highest point on the island of Manhattan by Continental Army troops during the American Revolutionary War, to defend the area from the British forces. Washington Heights is bordered by Harlem to the south, along 155th Street, Inwood to the north along Dyckman Street or Hillside Avenue, the Hudson River to the west, and the Harlem River and Coogan's Bluff to the east.

Ruderman was also involved in many aspects of Jewish communal life outside of the Yeshiva. He was a member of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel and the chairman of the Rabbinic Advisory Board of Torah Umesorah.


Around 1926, Ruderman published his only written work, Avodas Levi. [8] The Sefer Avodath Levi Project to preserve his legacy has been in progress. [9] Posthumously, his students have published several volumes of his teachings: ethical insights based on the weekly parsha named Sichos Levi, later re-written and republished as Sichos Avodas Levi, lectures on the 19th century work Minchas Chinuch and other Talmudic and halachic insights in Mas'as Levi, and lectures on Sukkah, Kiddushin, Kesubos, Bava Kamma, and Bava Metzia, as Shiurei Avodas Levi.


Ruderman's death on July 11, 1987, the 14th of Tammuz, [2] [3] [10] followed less than 18 months after the deaths of Rabbis Yaakov Kaminetsky and Moshe Feinstein. Ruderman was one of the last surviving roshei yeshiva who came to America from Lithuania early in the 20th century.

His son-in-law, Rabbi Weinberg, who married his only child, Chana, [1] succeeded him as rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel [11] until Rabbi Weinberg's death in 1999. [7]

Weinberg's wife, Chana, died on January 23, 2012. [5] [7]

Ruderman was buried in Baltimore's United Hebrew Cemetery. [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Halevi Ruderman zt"l, On His 22nd Yahrtzeit, Today, 14 Tammuz". matzav.com. July 6, 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 S. Schecter. "Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman". Kevarim.com.
  3. 1 2 Eytan Kobre (July 11, 2012). "He Planted Slabodka in Baltimore". mishpacha.com.
  4. "married the daughter of Rav Sheftel Kramer, a son-in-law of Rav Shraga Feivel Frank and brother-in-law of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein and Rav Baruch Horowitz.
  5. 1 2 http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/115531/Petira-Of-Rebbitzen-Chana-Weinberg-A%22H%3B-Daughter-Of-HaRav-Ruderman-ZATZAL.html
  6. Sefer HaYovel - HaPardes. Jubilee Book HaPardes - Rabbinical monthly journal, pg. 397. New york, NY: 1951. Can be seen here: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=3153&pgnum=404
  7. 1 2 3 http://matzav.com/rebbetzin-chana-weinberg-ah
  8. Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman. "Sichos Avodas Levi".
  9. http://nerisrael.co.nf
  10. Shabbos, P'Balak
  11. "Rebbetzin Chana Weinberg, a"h"". Hamodia . 26 January 2012. p. B29.