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Rosh yeshiva (Hebrew: ראש ישיבה‎, pl. Hebrew: ראשי ישיבה‎ , roshei yeshiva; Anglicized pl. rosh yeshivahs) is the title given to the dean of a yeshiva, a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud, the Torah, and halakha (Jewish law). It is a compound word of the Hebrew words rosh ("head") and yeshiva (a school of religious Jewish education). The rosh yeshiva is required to have a comprehensive knowledge of the Talmud and the ability to analyze and present new perspectives, called chidushim (novellae) verbally and often in print


The primary role of the rosh yeshiva is not simply to be the dean, but is generally to give the highest-level lecture in the yeshiva, which is usually a program of at least two years. Students who have studied in a yeshiva are generally known as "students of the Rosh Yeshiva", as his lecture is the one in which they usually attain their method of Talmudic analysis and critical reasoning, and this method is based on the particular style of that rosh yeshiva. In addition, since yeshivas play a central role in the life of certain communities within Orthodox Judaism, the position of rosh yeshiva is more than just his position within the yeshiva. A rosh yeshiva is often seen as a pillar of leadership in extended communities. In Hasidic Judaism, the role of rosh yeshiva is secondary to the Rebbe, who is head of the Hasidic dynasty that controls it. In many Hasidic groups, the rosh yeshiva of a school will be the son or son-in-law of the rebbe, the assumed heir of the rebbe. However, the role that yeshivohs have within Hasidic communities is not nearly as important as it is in Lithuanian Jewish (Litvishe) communities. Hasidic students usually get married at the age of 18, which – in most cases – is the end of their yeshiva education. Students in the Lithuanian Jewish communities typically continue to study until they get married starting at around age 23, with the vast majority continuing their studies in a Kollel after marriage. As a result, the role that a rosh yeshiva plays in Lithuanian Jewish communities is much more important than in the Hasidic ones.


Yeshivas continue the scholarly traditions of the sages of the Mishnah and Talmud who often headed academies with hundreds of students. In the Talmudic academies in Babylonia, the rosh yeshiva was referred to as the reish metivta ("head of the academy" in Aramaic) and had the title of gaon. Regard for the rosh yeshiva in many ways is the transplantation of Hasidic attitudes in the Lithuanian world.

General role

The general role of the rosh yeshiva is to oversee the Talmudic studies and practical matters. The rosh yeshiva will often give the highest shiur (class). He is also the one to decide whether to grant permission for students to undertake classes for rabbinical ordination, known as semicha.


Depending on the size of the yeshiva, there may be several rosh yeshivas, sometimes from one extended family. There are familial dynasties of rosh yeshivas, for example, the Soloveitchik, Finkel, Feinstein, Kotler, and Kook families, which head many yeshivas in the United States and Israel.

Famous rosh yeshivas

Prior to the Holocaust, most of the large yeshivas were based in Eastern Europe. Presently, the majority of the world's yeshivas and their rosh yeshivas are located in the United States and Israel.

The following is a list of some famous rosh yeshivas:

  • Rabbi Yaakov Ades
  • Rabbi Ezra Attiya
  • Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Leib Auerbach
  • Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
  • Rabbi Leib Bakst
  • Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin
  • Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bloch
  • Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein
  • Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
  • Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel
  • Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel
  • Rabbi Chaim Flom
  • Rabbi Mordechai Gifter
  • Rabbi Refael Reuvain Grozovsky
  • Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht
  • Rabbi Eliezer Gordon
  • Rabbi Nachman Shlomo Greenspan
  • Rabbi Shlomo Heiman
  • Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner
  • Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan
  • Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky
  • Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook
  • Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook
  • Rabbi Aharon Kotler
  • Rabbi Shneur Kotler
  • Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz
  • Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
  • Rabbi Dov Linzer
  • Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
  • Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer
  • Rabbi M.M. Minshky
  • Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl
  • Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Pam
  • Rabbi Shmuel Rozovsky
  • Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman
  • Rabbi Yisroel Salanter
  • Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna
  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter
  • Rabbi Aaron Schechter
  • Rabbi Gedalia Schorr
  • Rabbi Elazar Shach
  • Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapira
  • Rabbi Meir Shapiro
  • Rabbi Naftoli Shapiro
  • Rabbi Shimon Shkop
  • Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz
  • Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
  • Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
  • Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum
  • Rabbi Naftoli Trop
  • Rabbi Chaim Volozhin
  • Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman
  • Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg
  • Rabbi Ezra Schochet

Rosh mesivta

The title rosh mesivta (alt. rosh metivta)[1] has a long history, going back many centuries.[2] The role is comparable to a dean in a university.[3]

Mashgiach Ruchani

The personal and ethical development of the students in the yeshiva is usually covered by a different personality, known as the mashgiach or spiritual supervisor. This concept, introduced by the Mussar movement in the 19th century, led to perfection of character as one of the aims of attending a yeshiva. One typical and influential mashgiach was Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler.


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Rosh yeshiva. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.