RABBI MENACHEM MENDEL SCHNEERSON

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was born in Nikolayev, Ukraine (Russia) in 1902 (5602, where his maternal grandfather was the Rav. His father was a grandson of the third rebbe of Chabad, known as the TzemachTzedek.

It became clear that he was a genius when he learned to read before he was three and was studying whole Mesechtot of Mishanyot by heart, by age five. He spent his formative years totally immersed in advanced Torah studies.

In 1941 (5701) he was able to come to America, where he created a series of organizations to help spread Yiddishkeit. In 1950 (5710) when his father-in-law, the sixth rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, passed away,Chassidim prevailed upon him to become the seventh Lubavitcher rebbe.

When he became rebbe, there were a few hundred Lubavitcher families in America, Europe, and Israel. He encouraged them to become kiruv (outreach) activists and he sent shluchim (emissaries) to spread Yiddishkeit wherever there was a Jewish community, reaching tens of thousands of Jews. He spent many hours of Shabbot and Yomim Tovim teaching Torah through his sichot (Torah talks) and Maamorim (discourses), which were later edited and printed in 35 volumes called "Likutei Sichot."

People from all over the world came to seek his advice and counsel, and his fame and influence grew. His whole life was dedicated to Torah and bringing Jews closer to Hashem. When he passed away on 3 Tammuz 5754 (1994) there were more than 100,000 Chassidim, hundreds of Lubavitcher shuls, dozens of yeshivot, and countless "Chabad" houses where kiruv work is done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RABBI AKIVA EGER

Rabbi Akiva Eger was the oldest child born to Moshe and Gittel Guens, in Eisenstadt, on the first of Cheshvan 5522 (1761), named after his maternal grandfather, formerly the Rav of Pressburg. The reputation of his analytical mind and clear insight extended beyond the Breslau community.

The Jewish community of Maerkisch-Friedland invited Rabbi Akiva Eger to take the position of Rabbi, of a community of 700, in 1791, in which he served for 24 years. His daily routine was committed to Torah and community. Though he was physically frail he was very strict with himself and displayed exceptional modesty.

Halachic inquiries were directed to him from all over the world, and he corresponded with all the great rabbinic authorities of his day, many of whom made their decisions dependent on the approval of Rabbi Eger.

In 1815, he took the position of Rav of the Jewish community of Posen and transformed it into the center for rabbinic leadership and halachic guidance in Europe. Unfortunately his tenure in Posen was clouded by his difficulties with the reformers in the community who wanted to change the focus of Yiddishkeit from Torah to assimilation. He devoted himself to charity work and the physical and spiritual welfare of the Posen community.

The sainted Gaon passed away on the 13th of Tishrei 1837 (5598). His legacy of chiddushim (original Torah thoughts and interpretations) and tshuvot (his responses to complex halachic problems) have bridged the Rishonim (Talmudic authorities) to the Acharonim (more recent scholars), which makes them important components of contemporary Torah study in yeshivot today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BABA SALI - ABUCHATZEIRAH

Rav Yisrael AbuChatzeirah was born in 1890 (5650) in the city of Tafillalt, Morocco, to a family of great kabbalists. Although still very young, people flocked to Rav Yisrael for blessings for their parnassa (income), family, and health. Consequently he became known as "BabaSali," (our praying father) because of the prayers that he would invoke on behalf of those who sought out his guidance.

At nineteen he was inducted as the Rosh Hayeshiva, after his father's death. After an extended one year trip to Eretz Yisrael he returned, and was compelled to take the position of Rav of the kehilla (community) after the murder of his brother by an Arab. He gave daily lectures, served as a judge in the beis din (rabbinical court), and set the tone for the kehilla. The community appreciated that nothing escaped his holy, penetrating eyes. From throughout Morocco, people converged on his home for his brachot, his counsel, and his encouragement.

In 1964 when Baba Sali noted that much of Moroccan Jewry had emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, he followed them to fulfill his dream of settling there. Baba Sali chose Yavne as his home because many of his followers had settled there.

In 1970 he moved to Netivot where he was steadily visited by Rebbes, Chassidim, Ashkenazim and Sefardim who sought his unique counsel. He stressed emunah (faith), humility, ahavat yisrael (love of fellow Jews) and kiyum hamitzvot (fulfillment of mitzvot). His phenomenal memory allowed him to access information at will, whether it dealt with law, Talmud, Kabbalah,etc.

Baba Sali was laid to rest on the 4th of Shvat 1984 (5744). An estimated 100,000 were there to pay their respects to a tzadik who had devoted his life to his people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RABBI ELCHONON WASSERMAN

Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman was born in 1875 in Birz, Lithuania. He studied in Telz, Poland under Rabbi Eliezer Gordon and Rabbi Shimon Shkop. He later studied under Rabbi Chaim Soloveichick in Brisk. After his marriage, he studied in the Kollel Kodshim in Radin, Russia, headed by the Chofetz Chaim.

Rabbi Wasserman served as Rosh Yeshiva of Smilovitz and later in Baronovitch. He was one of the leaders of the Agudath Israel movement.

Rabbi Wasserman was famous for his clear, penetrating Talmudic analysis. His popular works include "Kovetz Heorot," "Kovetz Shiurim", and "Kovetz Maamarim". These works are required learning in yeshivot around the world.

Rabbi Elchonon was murdered by the Nazis on the 12th ofTammuz, 1941.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAZON ISH

Avraham Yeshayah Karelitz was born on 11 Mar Cheshvan, 1878 (5639) to the Rav and Rebbitzen of Kossowa, White Russia. He demonstrated exceptional intellectual abilities at an early age, yet he comprehensively reviewed, though he had an excellent memory.

In 1911, Rav Avraham Yeshayah published his first volume of the sefer "Chazon Ish," (and subsequent volumes) choosing the anonymity of an unassuming identity. However his greatness was revealed with his sefer and his behavior. He became a Rav in Stuyepitz and dedicated himself to battling the Haskalah (Jewish reform movement) by establishing chadarim for Jewish children and emphasizing that early education was the key.

After W.W. I the Chazon Ish settled in Vilna. Even at the urging of Reb Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, the leader of the generation, The Chazon Ish declined to emerge as a Torah leader.

He was oleh (emigrated) to Eretz Yisroel in 1933, whereupon he immediately restructured the separation of terumot and maasrot and composed a comprehensive review of the application of the land-related laws of Shmittah. Thereafter he settled in the new settlement of Bnei Brak with the intention of forging it into a Torah center. Shiurim were organized, mikvaot were established, shuls and battei Medrash flourished as well as yeshivot, and kollelim. Complex halachic issues that previously were being referred to Europe, were now being referred to the Chazon Ish, by those same Gedolim in Europe.

After the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948, the Chazon Ish chose to deal with the secularists in a no-nonsense manner. He established Chinuch Atzmai to maintain the independence of the yeshivot and Bais Yaakovs, without interference from the government that could undermineTorah values.

He passed away in MarCheshvan of 1953, having created the Torah character of 20th century Eretz Yisroel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHASAM SOFER

Born on the 7th of Tishrei 5523 (1762), in Frankfurt on Main, Rabbi Moses Schreiber-Sofer was recognized as a child prodigy at a very early age. In the communities of Boskowitz, Prustitz, Dresnitz, and Mattersdorf, Rabbi Sofer witnessed the inroads that the Reform movement was making into the Jewish enclaves. Therefore he accepted the position of Rabbi of Pressburg in 1804. In 1807 he established the preeminent yeshiva which became the fortress for Torah throughout Central Europe. His talmidim became the rabbinic and lay leaders of Rumania, Austria, and Hungary.

He insisted, "Chadash assur min HaTorah," that newness is prohibited by the Torah, implying that "reforms" initiated, must be thoroughly investigated so they do not undermine Torah observance. He was a Torah giant, who was a renown kabbalist, and was thoroughly versed in biology, botany, astronomy, history, and mathematics. He is referred to by the name of his Torah interpretations, responsa and halachic rulings - the Chasam Sofer.

The fortress he erected against Reform proved to be the catalyst for the spiritual survival of European Jewry. He was diligent in his acceptance of even marginal minhagim, so as not to leave any room for Reform to erode Torah values. He believed that securing Jewish tradition was the key to Jewish survival. He passed away in 1840 and was succeeded by Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer, his son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RABBI MOSHE FEINSTEIN

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was born on the 7th day of Adar, 1895. His father, Hagaon Rav Dovid Feinstein was the rabbi of a small Russian town in Uzda. Rabbi Feinstein studied under his father's tutelage as well as the direction of Rabbi Pesach Pruskin in Shklov. Additionally, he learned in Starobin.

Rav Moshe possessed a phenomenal memory as well as quick perception. At the age of 15, he already clearly knew the talmudic orders of Moed, Nashim and Nezikin. Rabbi Feinstein served as Rabbi of Luban, a city near Minsk, until 1934, when he came to America where he started and became Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferet Yerushalayim on the Lower East Side of New York.

Rabbi Feinstein published over a dozen volumes of responsa dealing with modern-day halachic (law) questions. Rav Moshe Feinstein passed away on "The Fast of Esther" in 1986. Over 200,000 people attended his funeral in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was the acknowledged "Posek Hador" (leading authority on Jewish law during his generation) and leader of world Jewry. He published responsa on the most difficult questions regarding Jewish law as applied to modern time.

His disciplined schedule of writing, beginning at 5:00AM, and his vast knowledge and understanding of the foundations upon which Jewish law is built, resulted in over a dozen volumes of responsa and commentary: Igrot Moshe, Dibrot Moshe and Dorash Moshe.