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The Unbroken Chain of Torah Transmission

Is there an unbroken chain of leaders, who passed the Torah down from generation to generation, from Mt. Sinai until our times?

The Unbroken Chain of Torah Transmission
Is there an unbroken chain of leaders, who passed the Torah down from generation to generation, from Mt. Sinai until our times?

The answer is unequivocally Yes! From the Bible and the Talmud we know the names, deeds and achievements the main Jewish leaders and Torah sages from the Giving of the Torah until the closing of the Talmud, circa 500 CE. From that point on until today, we know the transmitters of the tradition from their own written works and references to them in the works of their contemporaries and following generations. Many of these became famous in Jewish history, and their heritage and words have been preserved from one generation to the next.
 
This is the order of transmission, from generation to generation, of the Oral tradition. As we discussed above, in addition to the following list of individuals, who were both leaders of their generations and the greatest scholars of the time, thousands of other Torah scholars lived contemporaneously and contributed to the larger mechanism of the faithful transmission of the Torah. Furthermore, many of the individuals listed below were also prophets, as noted.
 
1. Moses, our Teacher received the Written and Oral Torah from the Almighty at the Revelation on Mount Sinai.
2. Joshua bin Nun received it from Moses.
3. Pinchas, the son of Aharon HaKohen received it from Joshua and his court of law.
4. Eli, the son of Pinchas was the High Priest, in addition to being the greatest sage of his generation. He received it from Pinchas and his court of law.
5. Samuel, the prophet,  received it from Eli and his court of law.
6. King David (who was also a prophet) received it from Samuel and his court of law.
7. Achiyah of Shilo, a prophet, received it from David and his court of law.
8. Elijah, the prophet, received it from Achiyah of Shilo and his court of law.
9. Elisha, the prophet,  received it from Elijah and his court of law.
10. Yehoyada, the priest, received it from Elisha and his court of law.
11. Zechariah ben Yehoyada (who was a prophet) received it from Yehoyada and his court of law.
12. Hosea, the prophet,  received it from Zechariah and his court of law.
13. Amos, the prophet, received it from Hosea and his court of law.
14. Isaiah, the prophet, received it from Amos and his court of law.
15. Micah, the prophet, received it from Isaiah and his court of law.
16. Joel, the prophet, received it from Micah and his court of law.
17. Nachum, the prophet, received it from Joel and his court of law.
18. Habakuk, the prophet, received it from Nachum and his court of law.
19. Zephaniah, the prophet, received it from Habakuk and his court of law.
20. Jeremiah, the prophet, received it from Zephaniah and his court of law.
21. Baruch ben Neriah received it from Jeremiah and his court of law.
22. Ezra[1] (who was High Priest, in addition to being the greatest sage of his generation) received it from Baruch ben Neriah and his court of law.
23. Shimon the Tzaddik (who was High Priest) received it from Ezra and his court of law.
24. Antigonos of Socho received it from Shimon the Tzaddik and his court of law.
25. Yosi ben Yoezer and Yosi ben Yohanan received it from Antigonos of Socho and his court of law.
26. Yehoshua ben Perachiah[2] and Nittai of Arbel received it from Yosi ben Yoezer and Yosi ben Yochanan and their courts of law.
27. Yehuda ben Tabbai and Shimon ben Shatach received it from Yehoshua ben Perachiah and Nittai of Arbel and their courts of law.
28. Shemayah and Avtalyon[3] received it from Yehuda ben Tabbai and Shimon ben Shatach and their courts of law.
29. Hillel and Shammai received it from Shemayah and Avtalyon and their courts of law.
30. Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai and Rabban Shimon I ben Hillel received it from Hillel and Shammai and their courts of law.
31. Rabban Gamliel the Elder received it from his father Rabban Shimon I.
32. Rabban Shimon II[4] received it from his father Rabban Gamliel the Elder.
33. Rabban Gamliel II[5] received it from his father Rabban Shimon II.
34. Rabbi Shimon III[6] received it from his father Rabban Gamliel II.
35. Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi,[7] codifier of the Mishnah in 190 C.E., received it from his father Rabbi Shimon III.
36. Rabbi Yohanan, Rav and Shmuel[8] received it from Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi.
37. Rav Yehudah and Rav Huna received it from Rabbi Yohanan, Rav and Shmuel.
38. Rabbah and Rav Yosef received it from Rav Yehudah and Rav Huna [who passed away in 4082 = 322 CE].
39. Abaya and Rava received it from Rabbah and Rav Yosef [who passed away in 4113 = 353 CE.]
40. Rav Ashi received it from Rabbah. Rav Ashi and his colleague Ravina compiled the Babylonian Talmud. He passed away in 4187 = 427 CE].
 
The following are the leading Sages of Israel, after the death of Rav Ashi, with the year that they became head of the main yeshivot in Babylonian (First date is the Hebrew calendar, second date is Gregorian).
 
41. Marimar [from 4187 / 427]
42. Rav Idi bar Abin II [from 4192 / 432]
43. Rav Nachman bar Huna [from 4212 / 452]
44. Rav Tavyumi[9] [from 4215 / 455].
45. Rabbah Tosfa’ah [from 4228 / 468]
46. Rabbi Yosi, the first of the Rabbanan Savorai [final redactors of the Talmud] [died in 4274 / 514]
47. Rav Yosef [appointed head of the Sura yeshiva in 4274 / 514]
48. Rav Ina [head of Sura yeshiva from 4279 / 519. During this time, Rav Simora was head of the Pumpedita yeshiva]
49. Rav Hanan Me-Ishka [appointed head of Pumpedita yeshiva in 4349 / 589]
50. Rav Mari bar Rav Dimi [appointed head of Pumpedita yeshiva in 4374 / 614]
51. Rav Chinana Gaon [appointed head of Neharda yeshiva in 4374 / 614][10]
52. Rav Channa Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4390 / 630]
53. Mar Rava Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4430 / 670]
54. Rav Bustanai Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4440 / 680]
55. Rav Huna Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4448 / 688]
56. Rav Chiyah Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from around 4460 / 700]
57. Rav Natronai Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from around 4470 / 710]
58. Rav Yaakov Gaon of Nahar Pekud [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from around 4471 / 711]
59. Rav Yehuda Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from around 4480 / 720]
60. Rav Yosef Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4498 / 738]
61. Rav Shmuel Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4507 / 747]
62. Rav Dodai Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4520 / 760]
63. Rav Hananya Gaon ben Rav Mashrashya [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4523 / 763]
64. Rav Malka Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4530 / 770]
65. Rav Rava Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4532 / 772]
66. Rav Chaninah Gaon Ha-Kohen [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4541 / 781]
67. Rav Huna Gaon bar Yitzchak [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4544 / 784]
68. Rav Menasheh Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4548 / 788]
69. Rav Yeshaya Gaon Halevi [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4555 / 795]
70. Rav Yosef Gaon bar Shili Me-Shilchi [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4557 / 797]
71. Rav Kahana Gaon bar Chanina [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4563 / 803]
72. Rav Abuma Gaon bar Sherira [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4569 / 809]
73. Rav Avrohom Gaon bar Sherira [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4575 / 815]
74. Rav Yosef Gaon bar Chiya [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4577 / 817]
75. Rav Yitzchak Gaon bar Hananya [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4587 / 827]
76. Rav Yosef Gaon bar Mordechai [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4597 / 837]
77. Rav Poltoi Gaon bar Abaye [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4600 / 840]
78. Rav Achai Gaon [appointed head of Pumpedita yeshiva in 4616 / 856 and passed away six months later]
79. Rav Menachem Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4616 / 856]
80. Rav Matisyahu Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4619 / 859]
81. Rav Abba Gaon bar Rav Ami [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4629 / 869]
82. Rav Tzemach Gaon bar Rav Poltoi Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4631 / 871]
83. Rav Hai Gaon bar David [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4648 / 888]
84. Rav Kimoi Gaon bar Rav Achnai [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4655 / 895]
85. Rav Yehudah Gaon bar Shmuel [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4665 / 905, and the father of Rav Chanina Gaon and grandfather of Rav Sherira Gaon]
86. Rav Mevasser Ha-Kohen Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4676 / 916]
87. Rav Kohen Tzedek [He was appointed a second head of the Pumpedita yeshiva during the lifetime of Rav Mevasser Ha-Kohen by the Exhilarch David ben Zakkai. Two yeshivas existed until the passing of Rav Mevasser Ha-Kohen. During this period, the head of the Sura yeshiva was the famous Rav Saadia Gaon, who passed away in 4695 / 935.]
88. Rav Tzemach Gaon [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4695 / 935]
89. Rav Chanina Gaon bar Yehuda [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4698 / 938]
90. Rav Nechemiah Gaon bar Rav Kohen Tzedek [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4702 / 942]
91. Rav Sherira Gaon bar Hanina [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4727 / 967]
92. Rav Hai Gaon bar Sherira [head of Pumpedita yeshiva from 4757 / 997. He was appointed as head of the yeshiva during the lifetime of his father, Rav Sherira Gaon, after his father stepped down from the position. Rav Hai Gaon passed away in 4797 / 1037. He was the last of the Gaonim.]
 
Up until this time, the main Torah centers were in the Middle East. From the 11th century and on, Jews communities spread out through North Africa, Spain, Germany and France. The distance of these communities from their original communities (present day Iraq) resulted in the development of different customs, study methods and legal decisions. Thus, a slight legal rift exists between Jews living in Eastern countries and Spain [generally called Sephardim], who follow the legal decisions of such Rabbis as Rav Alfasi, Maimonides, the Rashba, and others, and those who lived in European lands (Ashkenazim) and followed the judicial decisions of Rabbis, such as the Tosafists, Maharam of Rotenburg, Rabbeinu Asher (the "Rosh"), the Mordechai, and others.[11] The following list includes the greatest sages of both the Sephardic and the Ashkenazic communities.
 
93. In the East and SpainRabbeinu Hananel [he authored a commentary on the Talmud and passed away in 4810 / 1050].
 
In Germany and FranceRabbeinu Gershom Me'or Hagolah. [He established the interdiction against marrying two wives, and other ordinances. He wrote a commentary on the Talmud and passed away in 4883 / 1123.]
 
94. In the East and SpainRabbi Yitzchak Alfasi - also known as the "Rif." [A student of Rabbeinu Hananel. He collected, in a single work, all the legal decisions scattered throughout the Talmud. Passed away in 4883 / 1123.]
 
In Germany and FranceRav Yaakov ben Yakar [a student of Rabbeinu Gershom Meor Hagolah] (4824 / 1064).
 
95. In the East and SpainRabbi Yosef Migash [a student of the Rif. Passed away in 4901 / 1141].
 
In Germany and FranceRav Shlomo Yitzchaki — Rashi [authored the famous commentary on the Bible and the Talmud. Wrote Sefer Ha-Pardes, Sefer Ha-Parness and more. Died in 4865 / 1105].
 
96. In the East and SpainRabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides) — also known as the Rambam, [authored numerous books, includeing the famous philosophical work A Guide for the Perplexed, a commentary to the Mishna and the massive Codification of Jewish Law called the Mishneh Torah. Passed away in 4965 / 1205 in Egypt].
 
In Germany and FranceRashi’s grandchildren: Rabbeinu Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam) [Passed away in 4935 / 1175], Rabbeinu Yaakov ben Meir (Rabbenu Tam) [Passed away in 4931 / 1171), Rabbeinu Yitzchak ben Meir (Rivam). Known collectively as the Baalei Tosefot, after the important commentary they wrote on the Talmud.
 
97. In the East and SpainRabbi Ezra [Nachmanides' teacher of Kabbalah. Passed away in 4998 / 1238].
 
In Germany and FranceRabbi Yehudah Ha-Hasid [author of the Sefer Hasidim, passed away in 4977 / 1217].
 
98. In the East and Spain Nahmanides -- Rabbeinu Moshe ben Nahman, also known as the Ramban. [Authored a commentary on the Torah and the Talmud, Sefer Torat Ha-Adam, Sefer Ha-Milhamot, and others. Passed away in 5030 / 1270.]
 
In Germany and France — Rabbeinu Yehiel [student of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Hasid, and father of Rabbeinu Asher. Passed away in 5028 / 1268], and Rabbeinu Meir of Rotenburg [teacher of the Rabbeinu Asher. Passed away in prison in 5057 / 1293, after he was kidnapped and forbad the Jewish community to pay the ransom.]
 
99. In the East and SpainRabbeinu Shmuel ben Aderet — also known as the Rashba [authored a commentary on the Talmud, Sefer Torat Ha-Bayit, Teshuvot Ha-Rashba and more. Passed away in 5070 / 1310], and Rabbeinu Yona of Gerona [some say that he passed away in 5064 / 1304].
 
In Germany and FranceRabbeinu Asher bar Yehiel — also known as the Rosh [authored legal decisions on the Talmud, and Teshuvot Ha-Rosh. Fled to Spain in 5066 / 1306 and met with the Rashba. Some say he passed away in 5081 / 1321].
 
100. In the East and SpainRabbeinu Nissim bar Reuven — also known as the Ran [authored a commentary on the Talmud and on the Rif. Passed away in 5120 / 1360].
 
In Germany and FranceRabbeinu Yaakov the son of the Rosh [authored his famous legal work Ha-Turim on the Talmud. Passed away in 5100 / 1340].
 
101. In the East and SpainRabbi Vidal Di Talusha [authored his famous commentary on the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah “Maggid Mishna”, passed away in 5138 / 1378]; Rabbi Yitzhak bar Sheshet — also known as the Rivash [authored Tshuvot Ha-Rivash and lived around 5134 / 1374]; and Rabbi Shimon bar Tzemah Duran [authored Sefer Ha-Tashbetz - Tshuvot Shimon ben Tzemach, and many more works. Passed away in 5204 / 1444].
 
In Germany and FranceRabbi Yaakov bar Moshe Moilin — the Maharil [authored a book on the legal decisions and customs of German Jewry. Passed away in 5187 / 1427].
 
102. In the East and Spain —Rabbi Yitzhak Abuhav [among those expelled in Spain during the Spanish Expulsion in 1492. Authored Menorat Ha-Meor. Passed away in 5253 / 1493] and Don Yitzhak Abarbanel [who was also expelled from Spain. He authored many works including a commentary on the Bible. He passed away in 5269 / 1509].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Yisroel Isserlein Ashkenazy [authored Trumat Hadeshen]  and Rabbi Yaakov Landau [authored Sefer Ha-Agur. Passed away in 5240 / 1480] and Rav Yaakov WeillMahariv [who died before 1456 / 5216].
 
103. From the Spanish exiles —Rabbi Yosef Tatatzek [who was expelled from Spain. Passed away in 5283 / 1523 in Saloniki, under the Ottoman Empire, while the head of the Jewish community], Rabbi Yaakov Birav [also expelled from Spain. The head of the Safed rabbis. Passed away in 5306 / 1546], Rabbi David ben Zimra — also known as the Ridvaz [expelled from Spain, to became the chief rabbi in Egypt. Authored 3,000 responsa in Jewish law and many works. Passed away in 5333 / 1573].
 
In Ashkenazi landsRabbi Yaakov Pollak [headed a yeshiva in Prague. Passed away in 5290 / 1530] and Rabbi Binyamin Zev [authored a book of responsa, completing it in 5294 / 1534].
 
104. From Spanish exiles —Rabbi Yosef Caro [author of the Shulhan Aruch -- the Code of Jewish Law. Passed away in 5355 / 1595].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Moshe Isserles — also known as the Rema [authored a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch. Passed away in 5332 / 1572].
 
105. From Spanish exiles —Rabbi Moshe Alshich [from the rabbis of Safed, authored a commentary on the Bible. Passed away in 5353 / 1593], and Rabbi Moshe Galanti [from the rabbis of Safed. Authored legal decisions and novella on the Talmud. Passed away in 5368 / 1608.
 
In Ashkenazi landsRabbi Yeshaya Segal Horowitz [chief rabbinical judge in Prague. Authored the work Shnei Luhot Ha-Brit. Passed away in 5389 / 1629] and Rabbi Yoel Sirkish also known as the Bach after his commentary on Ha-Turim, called "Bayit Chadash" [chief rabbinical judge in Cracow and author. Passed away in 5398 / 1638].
 
106. Spanish exiles —Rabbi Haim Benvenishti [of Constantinople, author of Knesset Ha-Gedola. Passed away in 5433 / 1673], Rabbi Azariah Figo [of Venice. Authored Gidulei Teruma on Sefer Ha-Terumot. Passed away in 5407 / 1647].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi David Ha-Levi Segal — also known as the Taz after his work Turei Zahav on the Shulchan Aruch [chief rabbinical judge in Ostroh and Lvov. Son-in-law of the Bach. Passed away in 5427 / 1667] and Rabbi Shabtai Cohen — the Shach after his work Sifsei Cohen on the Shulchan Aruch [of Vilna. Passed away in 5423 / 1663].
 
107. In Oriental and Sephardic lands —Rabbi Shmuel Abuhav [of Italy. Authored Responsa Dvar Shmuel. Passed away in 5454 / 1694], and Rabbi Moshe Galanti II — the Magen [head of the rabbis in Jerusalem, and author of the Responsa Aleph Ha-Magen and more. Passed away in 5449 / 1689.
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Avraham Abeli Gombiner [authored Magen Avraham on the Shulchan Aruch, Zayit Ra’anan and more. Passed away in 5443 / 1682].
 
108. In Oriental and Sephardic lands —Rabbi Yehuda Rosenes [of Constantinople. Author of Mishnah Lamelech. Passed away in 5478 / 1718].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Ashkenazy [of Lvov, author of Responsa Hacham Zvi. Passed away in 5478 / 1718].
 
109. In Oriental and Sephardic lands —Rabbi Haim ben Attar [of Salo, Morocco. Authored Ohr Ha-Haim. Passed away in Jerusalem in 5503 / 1743] and Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzatto — the Ramhal [of Padua, Italy. Authored many works. Passed away in 5507 / 1747].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Yehiel Heilprin [chief rabbinical judge in Minsk, Russia. Authored Seder Ha-Dorot. Passed away in 5507 / 1747], and Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Harif [chief rabbinical judge in Halberstadt, Germany. Authored Responsa Ateret Zvi. Passed away in 5508 / 1748].
 
110. In Oriental and Sephardic lands —Rabbi Shalom Sharabi — the Rashash [from Sharab, Yemen. Famous kabbalist who authored Nahar Shalom and other works. Passed away in 5542 / 1782], Rabbi Haim Yosef David Azulai — the Hida [authored many books. Passed away in 5566 / 1806].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna — the Vilna Gaon [authored many works. Passed away in 5558 / 1797], Rabbi Yechezkel Landau of Prague. [Authored Responsa Nodah B’Yehudah. Passed away in 5553 / 1793].
 
111. In Oriental and Sephardic lands — Rabbi Raphael Yosef Hazan [of Turkey. authored Responsa Hikrei Lev. Passed away in 5577 / 1817], Rabbi Yeshua Basis [of Tunis. Author of Avnei Tzedek. Passed away on 5620-1860], Rabbi Yitzhak Taib [of Tunis. Authored Aruch Ha-Shulhan and more. Passed away in 5596 / 1835].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Avraham Danzig [of Vilna. Authored Hayei Adam and more. Passed away in 5581 / 1821], Rabbi Chaim Volozhin [student of the Vilna Gaon and founder of the Volozhin yeshiva. Passed away in 5581 / 1821], Rabbi Akiva Eiger [of Posen. Authored novella on the Talmud, Shulchan Aruch, and more. Passed away in 5598 / 1838.]
 
112. In Oriental and Sephardic lands —Rabbi Haim Palagi [of Turkey. Authored many works. Passed away in 5628 / 1868], Rabbi Yitzhak ben Walid — the Ner Ha-Maaravi [chief rabbinical judge in Tetouan, Morocco. Authored Responsa Vayomer Yitzchak. Passed away in 5630 / 1870, Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzera [of Morocco. Authored many books and passed away in 5640 / 1880], and Rabbi Yih'ye Tzalah [foremost Torah sage of Yemen, authored Pe'ulot Tzadik and many more. Passed away in 5619 / 1859].
 
In Ashkenazi landsRabbi Yosef Shaul Natanson [of Lvov. Authored Responsa Sho'el U'maishiv. Passed away in 5635 / 1875], Rabbi Meir Leibush — the Malbim [authored many works including a semantic commentary on the Bible. Passed away in 5640 / 1880], Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried [authored the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and more. Passed away in 5646 / 1886].
 
113. In Oriental and Sephardic lands — Rabbi Yosef Haim — the Ben Ish Hai [from Baghdad. The leader of Iraqi Jewry. Authored many books. Passed away in 5669 / 1909], Rabbi Haim Hizkiyahu Medini [chief rabbinical judge in Hebron, author of Sdei Chemed, passed away in 5665 / 1905], Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer Alfandri [from Turkey, author of Responsa Maharsha. Passed away in 5690 / 1930].
 
In Ashkenazi lands — Rav Yosef Dov Soloveichik — the Beis Ha-Levi (of Brisk. Head of the Volozhin yeshiva and chief rabbinical judge in Slutsk. Passed away in 5652 / 1892], Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin — the Netziv of Volozhin [last head of the Volozhin yeshiva. Passed away in 5653 / 1893], Rabbi Yitzhak Elhanan Spector [chief rabbinical judge in Kovno. Passed away in 5656 / 1896].
 
114. From Oriental and Sephardic lands — Rabbi Yaakov Haim Sofer [author of Kaf Ha-Haim. Passed away in 5699 / 1939], Rabbi Moshe Sitruk [chief rabbi in Tunis. Author of Responsa Yashiv Moshe. Passed away 5688 / 1928], Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Denan [of Morocco. Authored Responsa Bakesh Shlomo. Passed away 5689 / 1929], Rabbi Raphael Shlomo Laniado [first head of Porat Yosef yeshiva. Passed away in 5685 / 1925]
 
From Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Yisroel Meir Ha-Kohen [of Radin, Poland. Author of Chofetz Chaim, Mishna Berura and more. Passed away in 5693 / 1933], Rabbi Meir Simcha Ha-Kohen [chief rabbinical judge in Dvinsk, Latvia. Authored Ohr Someach. Passed away in 5686 / 1926], Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld [of Verbó, Slovakia, chief rabbinical judge in Jerusalem. Passed away in 5692 / 1932], Rabbi Yosef Rosen [of Dvinsk. Authored Tzafnet Paneach. Passed away in 5696 / 1936].
 
115. From Oriental and Sephardic lands — Rabbi Ezra Attiya [head of Porat Yosef yeshiva. Passed away in 5730 / 1970].
 
From Ashkenazi lands — Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz — the Hazon Ish [authored Hazon Ish and more. Passed away in 5714 / 1953].
 
116. From Oriental and Sephardic lands — Rabbi Ovadya Yosef [chief rabbi of Israel. Authored Responsa Yabia Omer and more. Passed away in 5774 / 2013] Rabbi Yehuda Tzadka [head of Porat Yosef yeshiva. Authored Kol Yehuda. Passed away in 5751 / 1991], Rabbi Benzion Abba Shaul [head of Porat Yosef yeshiva, authored Responsa Ohr Lezion. Passed away in 5758 / 1998], Rabbi Shalom Cohen [head of Porat Yosef yeshiva in the Old City], Rabbi Meir Mazuz [head of Kisay Rachamim yeshiva in Bnei Brak].
 
From Ashkenazi communities — Rabbi Yitzhak Yaakov Weiss [chief rabbinical judge of the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem, author of Responsa Minhat Yitzhak. Passed away in 5749 / 1989], Rabbi Moshe Feinstein [author of Responsa Igrot Moshe. Passed away in the United States in 5746 / 1986], Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach [head of Kol Torah yeshiva. Author of Responsa Minhat Shlomo. Passed away in 5755 / 1995], Rabbi Shmuel Wozner [author of Responsa Shevet Ha-Levi. Passed away in 5775 / 2015], Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv [among the leading legal experts of his generation. Passed away in 5772 / 2012].[12]

Notes and Sources
[1] Ezra returned to the Land of Israel with the First Temple exiles, and was among the builders of the Second Temple. Mordechai was among the members of Ezra’s court of law, together with Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Daniel, Hananya, Mishael, Azariah, Nehemiah, Zerubabel, and others. There were a total of 120 members on this court of law, who were given the distinguished name of “The Men of the Great Assembly.” The last remaining member of this court was Shimon HaTzaddik..
[2] One of Yehoshua ben Perachiah’s students was Yeshu of Nazereth. Unfortunately, he strayed from the path of Torah and all of his teacher's efforts to return him failed. The outcome of his actions are well known to all of us today.
[3] Shemayah and Avtalyon were converts to Judaism. They became the greatest scholars of their generation and were appointed to the two highest positions of Nasi (president) and Chief Judge in the supreme court of law (the Sanhedrin).
[4] One of the famous Ten Martyrs killed by the Romans.
[5] This was Rabban Gamliel of Yavne, who was appointed the Nasi in 3833 (73 CE), five years after the destruction of the Second Temple.
[6] This is the Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, whose name appears in the Mishna. He was appointed Nasi around 3881 (121 CE), after the death of Rabbi Akiva.
[7] Also called “Our Holy Teacher” (Rabbeinu Ha-Kodesh). He was appointed Nasi around 3904 (approximately 144 CE).
[8] Rabbi Yochanan was appointed the head of the yeshiva in the Land of Israel around 3990 (230 CE). He compiled the Jerusalem Talmud. Before that, Shmuel had moved to Babylonia and Rav followed him in 3979 (219 CE).
[9] His real name was Mar the son of Rav Ashi. He was so-called because in his days, the Jews had it good (tav). He was the head of the yeshiva in Sura.
[10] In this year, Mohammed founded Islam and began to publicly disseminate his delusions.
[11] See Chapter 2, where we cite Ovadia’s prophecy on how the Jewish people will be scattered around the world during their exile.
[12] Nearly all the Jewish leaders in the past one thousand years mentioned here were both legal authorities and authors, whose works timeless classics. We have no intention to minimize the greatness of other rabbinic luminaries who lived in their times, but who are not mentioned in this list, G-d forbid. Our goal merely to show how the torch of Judaism was held aloft and passed down from one generation to another.

Adapted from ‘Journey to the Truth’ by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Coming to you soon in English.

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