It became clear that he was a genius when he learned to read before he was three and was studying whole Mesechtot of Mishanyot by heart, by age five. He spent his formative years totally immersed in advanced Torah studies.
In 1941 (5701) he was able to come to America, where he created a series of organizations to help spread Yiddishkeit. In 1950 (5710) when his father-in-law, the sixth rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, passed away,Chassidim prevailed upon him to become the seventh Lubavitcher rebbe.
When he became rebbe, there were a few hundred Lubavitcher families in America, Europe, and Israel. He encouraged them to become kiruv (outreach) activists and he sent shluchim (emissaries) to spread Yiddishkeit wherever there was a Jewish community, reaching tens of thousands of Jews. He spent many hours of Shabbot and Yomim Tovim teaching Torah through his sichot (Torah talks) and Maamorim (discourses), which were later edited and printed in 35 volumes called "Likutei Sichot."
People from all over the world came to seek his advice and counsel, and his fame and influence grew. His whole life was dedicated to Torah and bringing Jews closer to Hashem. When he passed away on 3 Tammuz 5754 (1994) there were more than 100,000 Chassidim, hundreds of Lubavitcher shuls, dozens of yeshivot, and countless "Chabad" houses where kiruv work is done.
The Jewish community of Maerkisch-Friedland invited Rabbi Akiva Eger to take the position of Rabbi, of a community of 700, in 1791, in which he served for 24 years. His daily routine was committed to Torah and community. Though he was physically frail he was very strict with himself and displayed exceptional modesty.
Halachic inquiries were directed to him from all over the world, and he corresponded with all the great rabbinic authorities of his day, many of whom made their decisions dependent on the approval of Rabbi Eger.
In 1815, he took the position of Rav of the Jewish community of Posen and transformed it into the center for rabbinic leadership and halachic guidance in Europe. Unfortunately his tenure in Posen was clouded by his difficulties with the reformers in the community who wanted to change the focus of Yiddishkeit from Torah to assimilation. He devoted himself to charity work and the physical and spiritual welfare of the Posen community.
The sainted Gaon passed away on the 13th of Tishrei 1837 (5598). His legacy of chiddushim (original Torah thoughts and interpretations) and tshuvot (his responses to complex halachic problems) have bridged the Rishonim (Talmudic authorities) to the Acharonim (more recent scholars), which makes them important components of contemporary Torah study in yeshivot today.
At nineteen he was inducted as the Rosh Hayeshiva, after his father's death. After an extended one year trip to Eretz Yisrael he returned, and was compelled to take the position of Rav of the kehilla (community) after the murder of his brother by an Arab. He gave daily lectures, served as a judge in the beis din (rabbinical court), and set the tone for the kehilla. The community appreciated that nothing escaped his holy, penetrating eyes. From throughout Morocco, people converged on his home for his brachot, his counsel, and his encouragement.
In 1964 when Baba Sali noted that much of Moroccan Jewry had emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, he followed them to fulfill his dream of settling there. Baba Sali chose Yavne as his home because many of his followers had settled there.
In 1970 he moved to Netivot where he was steadily visited by Rebbes, Chassidim, Ashkenazim and Sefardim who sought his unique counsel. He stressed emunah (faith), humility, ahavat yisrael (love of fellow Jews) and kiyum hamitzvot (fulfillment of mitzvot). His phenomenal memory allowed him to access information at will, whether it dealt with law, Talmud, Kabbalah,etc.
Baba Sali was laid to rest on the 4th of Shvat 1984 (5744). An estimated 100,000 were there to pay their respects to a tzadik who had devoted his life to his people.
Rabbi Wasserman served as Rosh Yeshiva of Smilovitz and later in Baronovitch. He was one of the leaders of the Agudath Israel movement.
Rabbi Wasserman was famous for his clear, penetrating Talmudic analysis. His popular works include "Kovetz Heorot," "Kovetz Shiurim", and "Kovetz Maamarim". These works are required learning in yeshivot around the world.
Rabbi Elchonon was murdered by the Nazis on the 12th ofTammuz, 1941.
In 1911, Rav Avraham Yeshayah published his first volume of the sefer "Chazon Ish," (and subsequent volumes) choosing the anonymity of an unassuming identity. However his greatness was revealed with his sefer and his behavior. He became a Rav in Stuyepitz and dedicated himself to battling the Haskalah (Jewish reform movement) by establishing chadarim for Jewish children and emphasizing that early education was the key.
After W.W. I the Chazon Ish settled in Vilna. Even at the urging of Reb Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, the leader of the generation, The Chazon Ish declined to emerge as a Torah leader.
He was oleh (emigrated) to Eretz Yisroel in 1933, whereupon he immediately restructured the separation of terumot and maasrot and composed a comprehensive review of the application of the land-related laws of Shmittah. Thereafter he settled in the new settlement of Bnei Brak with the intention of forging it into a Torah center. Shiurim were organized, mikvaot were established, shuls and battei Medrash flourished as well as yeshivot, and kollelim. Complex halachic issues that previously were being referred to Europe, were now being referred to the Chazon Ish, by those same Gedolim in Europe.
After the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948, the Chazon Ish chose to deal with the secularists in a no-nonsense manner. He established Chinuch Atzmai to maintain the independence of the yeshivot and Bais Yaakovs, without interference from the government that could undermineTorah values.
He passed away in MarCheshvan of 1953, having created the Torah character of 20th century Eretz Yisroel.
He insisted, "Chadash assur min HaTorah," that newness is prohibited by the Torah, implying that "reforms" initiated, must be thoroughly investigated so they do not undermine Torah observance. He was a Torah giant, who was a renown kabbalist, and was thoroughly versed in biology, botany, astronomy, history, and mathematics. He is referred to by the name of his Torah interpretations, responsa and halachic rulings - the Chasam Sofer.
The fortress he erected against Reform proved to be the catalyst for the spiritual survival of European Jewry. He was diligent in his acceptance of even marginal minhagim, so as not to leave any room for Reform to erode Torah values. He believed that securing Jewish tradition was the key to Jewish survival. He passed away in 1840 and was succeeded by Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer, his son.
Rav Moshe possessed a phenomenal memory as well as quick perception. At the age of 15, he already clearly knew the talmudic orders of Moed, Nashim and Nezikin. Rabbi Feinstein served as Rabbi of Luban, a city near Minsk, until 1934, when he came to America where he started and became Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferet Yerushalayim on the Lower East Side of New York.
Rabbi Feinstein published over a dozen volumes of responsa dealing with modern-day halachic (law) questions. Rav Moshe Feinstein passed away on "The Fast of Esther" in 1986. Over 200,000 people attended his funeral in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was the acknowledged "Posek Hador" (leading authority on Jewish law during his generation) and leader of world Jewry. He published responsa on the most difficult questions regarding Jewish law as applied to modern time.
His disciplined schedule of writing, beginning at 5:00AM, and his vast knowledge and understanding of the foundations upon which Jewish law is built, resulted in over a dozen volumes of responsa and commentary: Igrot Moshe, Dibrot Moshe and Dorash Moshe.