(1720–1797) the “Vilna Gaon,” scholar of Vilna, Lithuania. He studied religious and secular subjects (such as mathematics and philosophy), arguing that knowledge in these areas was necessary for Torah study. For eight years he wandered throughout Europe, meeting with and teaching local rabbis and establishing his reputation for learning. He then returned to Vilna, where he spent the rest of his life expounding the Talmud. He strongly opposed the nascent Hasidic movement.