Rav Shalom Shachna of Lublin - In 16th Century Poland Lived The Biggest Rosh Yeshiva You May Never Have Heard Of
In 16th Century Poland Rav Shalom Shachna was according to his matzeiva the most prolific Marbitz Torah in the history of Poland. Carrying the torch of his famous Rebbi Rav Yaakov Pollack, Rav Shalom Shachna popularized the controversial Pilpul method instituted by Rav Yaakov. Scorned in every generation by leading gedolim, the Pilpul method nevertheless took hold and remained a pillar of Yeshivos for hundreds of years. Interestingly, this revolutionary learning style was taking root in Poland at the exact same time that the learning of Kabbala was flourishing in Tzfas under Rav Moshe Cordevero and The Arizal.
According to the Rema (Rav Moshe Isserles), his most famous Talmid and son-in-law (for two years before his wife died in a plague), all the gedolim of the generation were his talmidim. Rav Chaim Ben Betzalel the brother of the Maharal MiPrague was also a talmid of his. He was Rav of Lublin and Rosh Yeshiva from the time of Rav Yaakov Pollack's in 1530 until his own death nearly 30 years later in 1558.
Despite the constant pleas of his many talmidim, Rav Shalom Shachna refused to write his Psak Halacha out of modesty since he knew that as the latest word he would be relied on instead of his great predecessors.
A story is written in the sefer Zechusa D'Avrohom that during the time when Rav Leibel Eiger (grandson of Rebbi Akiva Eiger) was Rebbe of Lublin a fire broke out that could not be put under control. Rav Leibel sent a Minyan to the Kever of Rav Shalom Shachna and told them to say at his grave that he promised to protect the city of Lublin. Shortly thereafter the fire was brought under control saving the city from total destruction. (Gedolei Hadoros)
YH, 2009-11-19 12:48:14 Which is why I don't see any point in the oft-repeated line that Volozhin in the 1800's was the first of the modern yeshivos. In what fundamental way did it differ from the yeshiva of R' Sholom Shachna? The usual answer has to do with finances and feeding the bachurim. Sorry, that doesn't do it for me.