||R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski (1863-1940) was a world renowned pre-war Dayan, Posek and Talmudic scholar in Vilna. R. Grodzinski was born in 1863 in Iuje, Belarus, a small town near Vilna where his father served as Rabbi for forty years, preceded by his grandfather who had also been a Rabbi there for a similar length of time. R. Chaim Ozer was gifted with an infallible memory - never experiencing "forgetting", as he himself remarked, until his old age.
At fifteen, he went to the world-renowned Yeshiva of Volozhin. In spite of uhis tender age, he was immediately accepted into R. Chaim Soloveitchik's select group. By the age of twenty, when he passed through Vilna, his fame preceded him. He followed the suggestion of his father, a pupil of R. Yisrael Salanter, who advised him to marry the daughter of R. Lazer (Eliezer Eliyahu) Grodzinski, son-in-law of R. Salanter and a the Dayan in Vilna.
R. Grodzinski had expected to engage full-time in Torah study in his father-in-law's house, but after two years R. Lazer died, and the community of Vilna requested him to take his father-in-law's place. Since the time of the Vilna Gaon, Vilna never had an official rabbi. Instead, a group of Dayanim (rabbinical judges) formed the rabbinate, all of whom were elderly and great scholars and Poskim. Now the twenty-two year old R. Grodzinski joined their ranks and over the following fifty-five years emerged as the unofficial Rabbi of Vilna, for it was apparent from the start that his vast Torah knowledge was complemented by great wisdom.
While R. Chaim Ozer did have a yeshiva, it was not a yeshiva in the usual sense, for he could not give the students much of his time. The group studied independently, and only on Shabbos would the boys gather in his home for discussions. In spite of the limited hours he spent with his pupils, he had vast influence over them and a number of great men emerged from his Kibbutz - among others, R. Moshe Shatzkes, R. Eliezer Silver, R. Avigdor Amiel (Tel Aviv), R. Yechezkel Abramsky and Dayan Michoel Fisher.
R. Chaim Ozer was one of the founders of Agudath Israel and the pillar of the movement throughout his life, participating in every Knessia Gedolah (great convention) as long as his health permitted. He was also honorary president of the movement. When the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah was established, he was the first chairman and remained so throughout his life. R. Grodzinski was a founding member and administrator of the Vaad HaYeshivos in Lithuania. He also established a network of Jewish schools that provided traditional Jewish education and the Agudas HaRabbanim of Poland.
The Chofetz Chaim would not initiate any public action, or sign any public document, until he consulted with R. Grodzinski, considering him to be a living embodiment of Torah. R. Grodzinski died in 1940 after a protracted illness, thought to be cancer. His death prompted massive grief and a huge funeral was held, attended by most of Lithuanian Jewry and many war refugees from Poland, led by the most eminent rabbis of the time.
R. Grodzinski's brilliance as well as the scope of his leadership are reflected in the responsa (halachic queries) that were sent to him from all parts of the world. He would write each responsum personally, not entrusting this to a secretary. His mind was so disciplined, that he would simultaneously write a responsum in halachah, give orders to two secretaries, and speak on the telephone. R. Grodzinski authored She'elot uT'shuvot Achiezer, a three-volumed collection of responsa.