Rav Elya Lopian zt”l, On His 44th Yahrtzeit, Today, 20 Elul


rav-elya-lopianRav Eliyohu Lopian zt”l (1872-1970) was among the most prominent leaders of the Mussar movement. As a disciple of the Kelm Talmud Torah method, he was known for his strict keeping of order and strong self-control. It is told that he would not turn his head without a reason and a structured decision.

Rav Elya was born in Kelm, Lithuania. In his youth, he studied at the yeshiva in Lomża. He emigrated to England in 1925, where he served as the rosh yeshiva of the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in the East End of London, working for many years alongside his distinguished chaver, Rav Nachman Shlomo Greenspan. His wife passed away in 1934, shortly after the engagement of their daughter Leiba to Rav Leib Gurwicz.

For many years, Rav Elya had wanted to make his home in Eretz Yisroel and spoke a great deal about the Vilna Gaon’s intense yet unfulfilled desire to live there. In 1950, he left the Etz Chaim Yeshiva and moved to Eretz Yisroel. At first he stayed in the home of his wife’s brother, Rav Yisroel Luriain, in Yerushalayim. That Sukkos, he visited the Brisker Rov, Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik.

He initially refused to give mussar shmuessen in Eretz Yisroel. Yet with the blessing of the Chazon Ish, he finally reconciled himself with leading mussar shiurim. Despite his old age, he agreed in the end to act as mashgiach at the Knesses Chizkiyahu yeshiva, located originally in Zichron Yaakov and then in Kfar Chassidim, headed by Rav Noach Shimonovitz.

From the moment of his arrival, Rav Elya became a magnet for the young bochurim. The yeshiva became firmly established and even drew many young people from neighboring yeshivos.

After his passing, a street was named in his honor in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Yerushalayim.

Rav Elya authored Lev Eliyahu, which contains his mussar lessons and was edited by his talmidim.

Rav Elya was survived by his 13 children: Rav Simcha Zissel Lopian of Yeshivas Toras Emes, London; Rav Avrohom Yeshaye Lopin of the United States;  Rebbetzin Leiba Gurwicz of Gateshead;  Rav Chaim Shmuel Lopian of Sunderland Yeshiva;Rav Leib Lopian of Gateshead Yeshiva; Rav Eliezer Lopian of Yeshivas Toras Emes, London; Rebbetzin Pearl Klein of London and Yerushalayim; Rav Benzion  Lapian, Willesden (London), Edgware (London) and Hong Kong; Rav Zvi Hershel Lopian Hy”d who perished in the Holocaust; Rebbetzin Rochel Vilenski of Yerushalayim; Rav Yisroel Nochum Lopian, London; Rebbetzin Chaya Pinski of Yerushalayim; and Rav Yankel Yoel Lopian, Manchester.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Andy Heller-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I was too young to have known Rav Elya ZT”L personally, however, I knew several of his children (R. Benzel, his sons-in-law, Rabbi B. Klein and Rabbi Pinsky) and grandchildren. During the year of his passing, his oldest son, Reb Simcha Zissel davened for the amud at Golders Green Yeshiva (Chaye Olam). Bra Kareh D’ Avuha, this was a davening straight out of Kelm, where he (R. Simcha Zisel ) was born and raised. The Pesukei D’Zimrah was measured in a Litvishe sing song tone “Ehr hot gezockt a Pesukei D’Zimra – but it was music and unforgetable. If I remember correctly, he was niftar during the year for his great Father. Yehi Zichrom Baruch!