The Alter of Slabodka died in 1927. Suppose someone today wanted to learn the unique "Slabodka approach" as embodied and taught by the Alter. Are there any remaining students of the Alter alive today (they would presumably have to be over 100 years old) that one could learn from? If not, are there any second generation students that are known** to represent the Slabodka approach?

(Note, Wikipedia has a partial list of famous students of the Alter who went on to become influential in many of the modern day yeshivos. I am not simply asking for a list of students. My question is specifically if there is someone alive today who is known** to accurately represent the Alter's approach and can give it over to a student.)

** This is obviously somewhat subjective. The closer to objective the better (e.g. the Alter is recorded as saying that So-And-So follows his path).

  • Hi Alex, great question. However, instead of a specific torch carrier, why not study the known facets of his approach deeply first on your own? The Kelm Talmud Torah is famous (where the Alter learned) and it has no comparison today. You could find out about the seder and attitudes of Kelm by learning the stories of R Elya Lopian , for example. Especially stories about how he experienced Kelm. R Dishon once told me that our generation could never accept the daily seder and rules of Kelm; we would not know how to relate. If you can start with Kelm, you are on your way. – David Kenner Apr 5 '18 at 7:46
  • @DavidKenner Actually the Kelm Talmud Torah is often contrasted with the "Slabodka approach" for being more about focusing on slow, minuscule self-improvement, as opposed to Slabodka's "greatness of man" approach. Also, I know you're not looking for books, but תנועת המוסר (vol. 3) was written by his student and some of his other students (in אור הצפן and בעקבות היראה) wrote down some of his teachings, so this might be the next best thing – b a Apr 5 '18 at 8:41

I personally find the approach of Rav Reuvain Leuchter to be true to Slabodka as I understand it, in the sense that he demands individualism and self-reflection, and at the same time intense study and a strong relationship with Rebbeyim, from his students. He himself is a student of Rav Shlomo Wolbe, who is a student of Rav Yeruchem, who is a student of the Alter. But as is evident from his diverse range of students (Rav Aaron Kotler, Rav Yitzchak Hutner, Rav Yaakov Kamentsky, Rav Ruderman etc) it is clear that the Alter catered his method to each student, so presumably any loyal student of the Alter would be doing the same thing. Therefore, "The Alters Method" isn't so formulaic in any event.

Note however that Rav Leuchter's shiurim are fairly challenging, so it may take some time to appreciate them.

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  • Wasn't Rav Yerucham only a very brief talmid? I thought he only went to him for tochacha – robev Apr 5 '18 at 20:12
  • Because of the limitations of geography I think the standard of time spent with Rabbi was much less. For example, I heard that Rav Chaim Volozener visited the Gra about once a year. Rav Wolbe himself only knew Rav Yeruchem for the last two years of his life, and yet his impact on Rav Wolbe was so profound. – Ester Lin Apr 5 '18 at 20:15
  • Does R. Leuchter claim to be following the Slabodka approach, or is it just that his approach appears to be similar? – Alex Apr 5 '18 at 20:17
  • I'm contrasting him with talmidim who studied full time in slabodka, or who lived with the Alter (like Rabbi Ruderman, IIRC) – robev Apr 5 '18 at 20:19
  • @robev Your intuition that time spent with a Rav is an important variable determining the accuracy of his reception, but there are many other factors that apply as well. I myself know many people who spend a lot of time with Rebbeyim and have no clue what they're talking about, while there are some who were only zocheh to a few gem conversations with Rebbeyim and have a much more complete grasp of what they're saying. These are extremes obviously, but in concept we look more for the product than the process. Also important to consider, in this particular case, is accessibility of content. – Ester Lin Apr 5 '18 at 20:23

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