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The Yeshivah in Vilna

As mentioned in previous articles, the Previous Rebbe requested that the Bochurim escape to Vilna in Kislev of 5700 (December 39). Each bochur experienced hardships in the process of escaping the Nazis at the border. In the Yeshiva of Vilna, the bochurim learned under Rabbi Ushpol. Rabbi Shmuel Zalmanoff and Rabbi Rotstein came at the beginning of the war, and Rabbi Yehoshua Isaac of Kovna was made mashpiah by the Rebbe, as mentioned previously. The Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Vilna, Lithuania tried to maintain its regular, rigorous schedule of learning and prayers. However, even if the Yeshiva students were in a relatively safe haven, their families were too often in critical circumstances in Poland. While in Stockholm for only one day (on the 25th of Adar I, 5700, Tuesday, March 5, 1940) the Rebbe sent my father 2 letters. (The other letter was printed previously.) This letter to my father and Rabbi Bornstein, obm, Rabbi Moshe Fedder, Rabbi Avrohom Yitchak Garnkle instructed the bochurim to orally review their chidushim (innovations) in Niglah once a week. They were to take care, however, that this should not detract from their Chassidic studies. Reb Moshe Fedder told me that he remembers the chiddushim that my father said to this group of four. How amazing it was that, even while escaping the war and on a one-day layover, the Rebbe gave this advice and the bochurim took it to heart with such energy under wartime conditions. The letter was sent to Rabbi Yecheskel Faigen in Riga and he typed it (and the other letter) and sent it to Vilna. (Later these four ran the Yeshiva in Shanghai, as we will discuss, please G-d, in the future.) While onboard the Rottingholm on the 27th of Adar I, 5700, Thursday, March 6, 1940, the Rebbe wrote to the students of Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch, in the city of Vilna, as follows: I am traveling with the hope that the students, especially the older students, take upon themselves the responsibly of running the Yeshiva, the learning of Niglah Chassidus, davening, and farbrengens, and it should run in the spirit of the Yeshiva in Otvosk and the older talmidim should run the Yeshiva physically and spiritually, and make sure everything is proper, and they should write me weekly, via air mail, regarding everything, the physical and spiritual This is letter 11653 in Volume 5 of the Previous Rebbes Letters. (In Hebrew) When Rabbi Ushpol, then Rabbi Shmuel Zalmanoff, and Rabbi Rotstein, left to America in the Winter of 1940, the Yeshiva was run by four or ve senior bochurim including Rabbis Rodal, Weisberg, Handel and Kramer. When the Rebbe settled in America, the goal was to stay in Vilna only