Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch zt”l, On His 70th Yahrtzeit, Today, 20 Tammuz – 70 Years Since the Destruction of Telz, Lita


telz-litaRav Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch, who lived from 1891 to 1941, was the rov and rosh yeshiva of the Telz Yeshiva in Lithuania, and one of the greatest pre-Holocaust rabbinic figures.

Rav Bloch was born in 1891 and was the second son of Rav Yosef Leib Bloch, the rov and rosh yeshiva of Telz. He represented the third generation of family leadership in Telz, as his grandfather, Rav Eliezer Gordon, was also the rov and rosh yeshiva in Telz.

Rav Bloch was educated by both his father and zaide 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 old.

Upon the petirah of Rav Yosef Leib Bloch in 1929, it was widely assumed that Rav Yosef Leib’s oldest son, Rav Zalman Bloch, would succeed his father as rov and rosh yeshiva of Telz, as was the custom in many communities. At the levaya of Rav Yosef Leib, however, Rav Zalman Bloch, in his great humility, announced that the positions should be filled by his younger brother, Rav Avrohom Yitzchok.

At the young age of 38, Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch succeeded his father in the dual role of rov and rosh yeshiva of Telz, which was one the largest and most prestigious yeshivos in Europe.

Serving in these capacities, Rav 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 talmidim, he traveled to the United States in 1928 on a successful fundraising campaign.

Rav Bloch continued to develop the educational methodology, the Telzer derech, pioneered by his father.  Rav Bloch was also a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisroel and participated in the third Knessia Gedolah of Agudas Yisroel in Marienbad, Austria in 1937.

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 yeshiva talmidim, 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. Rav Bloch responded by dispersing the yeshiva to five surrounding towns and arranging for members of the hanhalah to travel from town to town and deliver shiurim to the talmidim.

On Tuesday, July 15, 1941, 20 Tammuz, Nazi forces and local Lithuanian sympathizers massacred the male population of Telz, including Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch and the faculty of the yeshiva. Three of Rav Bloch’s daughters survived the Holocaust. One married Rav Baruch Sorotzkin, who joined the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland and later served as the rosh yeshiva. Another married Rav Aizik Ausband shlit”a, a talmid of Telz in Lithuania and rosh yeshiva at the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland. The third daughter married Rav Yosef Yehudah Leib Kleiner; they escaped Europe during World War II and fled to Israel.

Rav Avrohom Yitzchok was both a prolific writer and darshan, but many of his writings were lost during the Holocaust. Some writings, however, were saved and some of his talmidim who escaped the Holocaust had notes of his shiurim and drashos. Subsequently, Rav Avrohom Yitzchok’s family published Shiurei HaGrai Bloch on the masechtos of Chullin and Yevamos, and Shiurei Daas, a collection of essays on a variety of topics.

Yehi zichro boruch. Hashem yinkom domov.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Thank you for this piece

    You at Matzav.com seem to be the only frum media today to remember this date and the tragedy of churban Telz.

  2. The midda of yishuv hadaas under all circumstances is the heritage of the Bloch dynasty to the Telzer talmidim. As we were told time and time again:

    The time came, and the Telzer Rov was summoned to his execution. He went with utter calm. The cruel Nazi murderer chose a heavy sledge hammer as his weapon of choice.

    As he battered the Rov’s head with the heavy implement, blood was pouring from his wounds. The murderer sought, not only to break his victim’s body, but his spirit as well. He taunted him, saying “Herr Rabiner, where is your G-d now?”

    Totally composed, with perfect faith, the Rov responded, “My G-d? He is not only my G-d, but He is YOUR G-d as well, and the time will come when the entire world will be made aware of his mastery.

    Hashem Yikom Damo.