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Abraham Joffen

JOFFEN, ABRAHAM (1887–1970), rosh yeshivah and leading exponent of the Novogrudok school of *Musar, Joffen was born near Pinsk and studied under Rabbis Zalman Sender Shapiro in Krinki and Joseph Horowitz in Novogrudok (whose daughter he married in 1913). He became an ardent follower of Horowitz's dynamic approach to musar. Joffen was appointed rosh yeshivah in the Novogrudok yeshivah and assisted his father-in-law in administering the branches of this school. Upon the latter's death (1920) Joffen succeeded him as head of the movement. In 1921 he and ten of his students were imprisoned by the Communists on suspicion of disloyalty to the new regime. After their release, they escaped to Poland, where Joffen reorganized the central Novogrudok yeshivah in Bialystok. In 1929 he visited Ereẓ Israel, where he aided in the organization of the "Novogrudok Bet Joseph" yeshivah in Tel Aviv. After the outbreak of World War II, Joffen emigrated to the United States, where he reestablished the central Novohrodok (= Novogrudok) yeshivah in Brooklyn. In 1964 he settled in Jerusalem where he continued to guide the various Novogrudok yeshivot. Joffen's reputation as a leading talmudic scholar gained acceptance for his school in the Lithuanian yeshivah world and nullified the criticism previously leveled against the Novogrudok yeshivot that they stressed the study of musar instead of Talmud. Joffen's talmudic lectures on Ḥullin and Bava Meẓia were published under the title Derekh Eitan (1958), and his musar discourses under the title Sefer ha-Musar ve-ha-Da'at (1957).


S.K. Mirsky (ed.), Mosedot Torah be-Eiropah (1956), 247–90; D. Katz, Tenu'at ha-Musar, 4 (1963), index.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.