The rabbinical literature flourished in Lithuania in 16th-17th century. Mostly these were works in Hebrew. The great Talmudists, the most prominent authorities of Jewish law worked in Lithuania: Solomon Luria (1510-1573), Joel Sirkes (1561-1640), Shabtaj H. Hakohen (1621-1663), Moses Lima (?- around 1670), Moses Rivkes (?-1671 or 1672). Aharon Samuel Koidanover (1614- around 1676) and his son Cevi Hirsh Koidanover (the middle of 17th century-1712) were active in various fields of religious literature. Phineas Elijah Hurvitch (?-1821) wrote the first Jewish encyclopedic dictionary "Sefer ha-berith" ("The Book of Covenant"), Jechiel Heilprin (around 1666 - around 1746) - the work of historiography "Seder ha-dorot" ("The Order of Generations").


The interior of the Gaon's mausoleum with the graves of the Gaon and his relatives in the Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. There are notes on the graves, which had been left here by religious people, just like on the Western ("Wailing") Wall in Jerusalem.
The cover of the Gaon's book of commentaries on the kabalistic work "Tikunei ha-Zohar". Published in Vilnius in 1867.

Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (1720-1797), known as the Gaon of Vilna (the Genius), embodied the glory of erudition of Lithuanian Jews. His knowledge was both profound and universal. He wrote works in all spheres of Jewish science: from the commentaries to the Bible to Hebrew grammar, from kabbalah to biblical geography. Gaon's greatest achievement was editing and commenting the Babylonian Talmud. After scholar's death all editions of this Talmud were published with Gaon's notes. Gaon's method of the analysis of Talmud's texts was later taught by Gaon's pupil Hayim from Volozhin (1749-1821) in a specially founded yeshiva, which was attended by students from Lithuania and abroad. Hayim from Volozhin turned the traditional religious school into the spiritual academy. The yeshiva in Volozhin was the first among the world famous Lithuanian yeshivas - Mir's, Telsh, Radun, Ponevezh and others. Some of them continue their work in the USA and Israel.


A famous rabbi I. M. Kagan ("Chafets Chajim")
A prominent rabbi A. J. Karelits
("Chazon Ish")

Abraham Dantsig (1747 or 1748-1820), Israel Lipkin, known as Salanter (1810-1883) continued the traditions of rabbinical literature. Salanter was also the founder of the ethnical
The spiritual leader of
Vilnius Jewry rabbi Chajim
Ozer Grodzenski
movement Musar and a great spiritual leader, whose virtues became legendary. Isaak Elchanan Spektor (1817-1896), Israel Mejer Kagan (1838-1933), known as Chafec Chajim ("The One Who Loves Life") according to the title of one of his books, Abraham Jeshaja Karelits (1858-1953), known as Chazon Ish ("The Clairvoyant"), Chajim Ozer Grodzenskij (1863-1940), Abraham Isaak Hakohen Kuk (1865-1935) and others were famous not only in Lithuania but also outside its boundaries. The works of the masters of rabbinical literature in Lithuania were published all over Europe. Even today they are repeatedly printed in Israel and the USA.



The Gaon of Vilnius and the annals of Jewish Culture. V., 1999
Lange de Nicholas. Judaism
Shubas M. The Star of Talmudic Teaching, V., 1997 (in Lithuanian)
Max I. Dimont. Jews, God and History
Milton Steinberg. Basic Judaism, Northvale, 1987


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Jews in Lithuania, Vilnius, 1999-2000