The Mussar Movement was promulgated by Rav Yisrael Salanter in the mid 19th century, as an attempt to bring ethical standards of conduct to the forefront of national consciousness. In the closing decades of the century, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka, incorporated the ideas of mussar into an educational philosophy which would become part of the curriculum of the great Lithuanian style yeshivos.
In 1907, the Mir Yeshiva decided to associate with the mussar movement and hired its first Mashgiach, Rav Zalman Dolinsky. In the years leading up to World War One, Rav Yerucham Levovitz served a first stint in the position as well. Following the Yeshiva’s return from its imposed exile, it continued to be associated with the ideals of the mussar movement and hired mashgichim to oversee the ethical growth of its student body. A loose association developed into the essence of the Yeshiva’s identity with the return of Rav Yerucham in 1924. It was then that the yeshiva entered its ‘Golden Age’, and Rav Yerucham’s charismatic personality and unique mussar philosophy made the yeshiva central to the mussar ideals in the years preceding the Holocaust.
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