The Yeshiva of Volozhin was started in
1803 and become the most important Russian Yeshiva. Its founder and president,
Hayim of Volozhin, was an opponent of
Pilpul, like his teacher, Elijah Vilna. The
number of pupils was small at first, but speedily increased, although only
those who had recieved a thorough previous education were admitted. After
the death of Haym of Volozhin (1821), his son, Rabbi Isaac of Volozhin,
directed the institution in 1824. The Yeshiva, which now had more than
200 pupils, was closed by order of the goverment. In spite of this, it
actually continued to maintain its existence up to the time when it was
again officially sanctioned in 1843. When Isaac of Volozhin died, he was
succeeded by his son-in-law Rabbi Naphtali Zebi Judah Berlin; after 1854
the latter and Joseph Baer Soloweichik were jointly in charge of the Yeshiva.
Berlin was adherent of Elijah Vilna`s method of teaching, while Soloweichik
favored a Pilpulistic method. As a result of this a dispute arose; after
it had been settled, Berlin retained the sole direction.
In 1858 the Yeshiva was again closed by the goverment, but thanks to the energies of Berlin, it was further developed in spite of this, and numbered about 400 students. After a second legalization and another closing, its re-opening was violently opposed by the Maskilim (Haskalah supporters); it was accomplished only under the condition that certain secular studies also should be taught there (1891). These conditions were not carried out, and this led to the final official closing (1892). After this it still continued to exist, despite the lack of official sanction, until the first World War, under the direction of Rabbi Raphael Shapiro, the son-in-law of Berlin. During the Yeshiva hundred years of existence its influence on the cultural life of Russian Jewry was unusually strong. Many of the important rabbis of Russia, Poland and other countries as well as many Hebrew authors, were students there.
Source: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
inc., New-York, 1946, Vol.10.