This Chossid Literally Emptied His Pockets

A chossid of the Rebbe Maharash, Rebbe Rashab, and Frierdiker Rebbe, R. Yehoshua Eliyahu Volosov was a generous baal tzedakah beyond his means who was moser nefesh to keep the Kharkov shul and mikvah open under Communism.

R. Yehoshua Eliyahu Volosov was a chossid of the Rebbe Maharash, Rebbe Rashab, and Frierdiker Rebbe. His father R. Sholom was the baal koreh and makri for the Yomim Noraim by the Rebbe Rashab in Lubavitch.

A native of Orsha, R. Yehoshua Eliyahu made a living from teaching accounting, first in Orsha, and after World War I in Charkov. He was known as a great baal tzedakah and chessed, and was a prominent communal activist on behalf of Yiddishkeit. Under Communist rule in Kharkov, he was moser nefesh to keep the local shul and mikvah open. He passed away c. 5700.


Throughout his life, R. Yehoshua Eliyahu was always busy with tzedaka and gemilus chassadim. Being a pleasant and kind man, all those in need would come to him, and he would help each one in a discreet manner. He would go to great lengths to conceal his good deeds.

He worked as an expert accounting teacher, while his wife ran a small grocery store, providing them with a modest income for their livelihood. However, he gave tzedaka with a good heart and a generous hand, even beyond his means. Whenever an urgent matter arose, he would empty his pockets. He participated in all community affairs, and was friendly with all the people of the city. Everyone respected and loved him, and his name was held in high regard.

In his later years, he maintained the shul and the adjacent mikvah. This shul was the only one left in the city, while the others were converted into Communist meeting halls, theatres, and warehouses. The Communists repeatedly tried to close this one too, and R. Yehoshua Eliyahu put much effort into convincing the officials not to. Many officers were his accounting students, and they would come to him for help when they had accounting problems. He was therefore well-liked and could influence them. But it was a constant struggle, since new efforts were constantly being made to shut it down.

In addition, he bore the heavy cost of maintaining the shul and mikvah, since he could not burden the mispalelim to pay dues. Besides the regular maintenance, they were forced to make repairs to strengthen the building, which were necessary both for the building itself and also for the government, which claimed was that it was unsafe, as if they were so concerned for their wellbeing.


Once in yechidus, the Rebbe Rashab told R. Yehoshua Eliyahu to learn the entire parsha in Likutei Torah each week.

R. Yehoshua Eliyahu asked the Rebbe, “But there are some parshiyos where it is impossible to learn all the maamorim on the parsha?” The Rebbe advised him to complete those parshiyos by reading them as he reads the parsha Shnayim Mikra each Erev Shabbos.

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