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Can anybody recommend a good history of the Mir Yeshiva - specifically until the outbreak of World War II, but ideally even inclusive of the war years? Shaul Stampfer has an excellent history of Volozhin, Novaradok, Telz and Kovno (Lithuanian Yeshivas of the Nineteenth Century) and Gil Perl has a wonderful biography of the Netziv (The Pillar of Volozhin), but I've yet to find a history of the Mir or its rabbonim that wasn't published by Artscroll.

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  • This sounds to me more like "Jews, Jewish history" than "history of Jewish law or of Jewish life" and hence off topic, per meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/196/759. Thoughts anyone?
    – Double AA
    Jan 7, 2013 at 23:18
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    A quick search online turned up History of the Mirrer Yeshiva by Lester Eckman.
    – Fred
    Jan 8, 2013 at 1:03
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    @DoubleAA it's about a y'shiva. Sounds like history of Jewish life to me. (Note the Slovakian-y'shiva question (that I'm not taking time to look for now) was closed(? considered for closure?) only as unconstructive and not as off-topic.)
    – msh210
    Jan 8, 2013 at 1:12
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    Especially as understanding the history of some of these yeshivas helps understand great rabbis, their approaches, and yeshivas of the present ... and often the yeshiva's alleged history (accurate or not) is applied as precedent on contemporary questions (<cough!> Closing of Volozhin! <cough!>)
    – Shalom
    Jan 8, 2013 at 1:14
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    Ask Stampfer or Gil to write one.
    – Seth J
    Jan 8, 2013 at 2:09

2 Answers 2

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We have already seen Lester Eckman's book mentioned in the comments above and that it was largely based upon the lengthy 1956 article (in Hebrew) which appears in pp. 87-132 of: ישיבת מיר - הרב יוסף ד. עפשטיין - מוסדות תורה באירופה בבניינה ובחורבנה - בעריכת שמואל ק. מירסקי

Excerpts from that article appear in two parts here and here.

In addition to these, we have a vast block of articles (mainly in Hebrew, some in Yiddish and English) regarding the Mir yeshiva in the yizkor book for the town of Mir, ספר מיר, published in 1962. See within that book:

  • pp. 75-82, 99-136 of the Hebrew section
  • pp. 283-288 of the Yiddish section
  • pp. 17-26 of the English section

Among the articles is pp. 99-114 which contains a history of the yeshiva written by Rabbi Moshe Tzinowitz.

He would later expand upon this to a full fledged book dedicated to the history of the Mir yeshiva: משה צינוביץ, מיר : תולדות ישיבת מיר, מוריה, חייה, תלמידיה ותורתה. תל אביב: מור, תשמ"א.

We also have the much earlier 1902 biography (in Hebrew) on Rav Chaim Leib Tiktinsky the Mir rosh yeshiva for much of the late 1800s. It was authored by Moshe Yehuda Leib Goldberg in Hebrew: תולדות חיים יהודה ליב טיקטינסקי.

Intersecting with the interests of the original question here is also (in Hebrew) A. Y. Bernstein, ed., Yeshivat Mir (Bnei Brak, 1999-2001), 3 vols. While that doesn't deal with the early history of the yeshiva in the 1800s, it does begin with a focus on the heyday of the yeshiva as a world famous institution between WW1 and WW2 and then continues through the postwar period up to the date of its writing.

Additionally, they now have a decent historical section (in Hebrew) on the yeshiva's official web site:

Other smaller tidbits of memoirs about the Mir yeshiva can be gleaned from individual links at Reeva Kimble's Mir genealogy web site.

It should be noted that local yeshivos and batei midrash did exist in Mir before the official founding of the famous Mir yeshiva. I imagine the difference was that the latter was based on the Volozhin model where it was not intended merely for locals, but even as a learning destination for yeshiva students from all over the map.

An example of the pre-existance of a yeshiva in Mir is the case of Rav Shlomo Zalman Mirkes the author of Sefer Shulchan Shlomo who was the chief rabbi of Mir in the mid 1700s. In the folowing sources it is indicated that in addition to Rav Mirkes being av beis din (אב"ד) of Mir, was also a reish mesivta (ר"מ) there:

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  • Thank you! What a wonderful collection of resources. You have helped me enormously.
    – Shimon bM
    Aug 7 at 10:38
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Artscroll has a book called The world that was: Lithuania which has a section on Mir.

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  • I'll confess to having little interest in Artscroll's historiography. By their own admission, they are more interested in presenting what people of "our generation" should believe than they are in recording real history. That said, the fact that they have included reflections in this volume from people like Rabbi Avigdor Miller and Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein makes those sections worthwhile in their own right, and so I'm sure I'll give it a look. Thanks for the recommendation.
    – Shimon bM
    Jan 9, 2013 at 0:38

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