(July - August)
THE DAY YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT
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1 Av - Rosh Chodesh Av
The 9 Days begin.
1 Av 1657 - 2104 B.C.E.:
The mountaintops became visible as the Mabul / Flood waters receded. (According to R' Eliezer).
1 Av - 1312 B.C.E.:
The Mitzriyim / Egyptians were afflicted with
the second plague, Tzefardea / Frogs.
1 Av 2489 - 1272 B.C.E.:
Yahrtzeit of Aharon Hakohain, the son of Amram and Yocheved, elder brother of Moshe and Miriam,
who died at the age of 123 - the only yahrtzeit explicitly mentioned in the Torah (Bamidbar / Numbers 33:38).
The first Kohain Gadol / High Priest of the Jewish people. Aharon was a great prophet and righteous man, who was known for bringing peace between people. All Kohanim in history are descended from Aharon; indeed, DNA research in recent years supports this tradition.
1 Av is also the Yahrtzeit of Elazar ben Aharon Hakohain. The third son of Aharon and Elisheva, he learned Torah directly from Moshe Rabbeinu, and became the Kohain Gadol after his father. He served as Kohain Gadol in Eretz Yisrael and directed the inheritance of the ancestral lands.
1 Av 3414 - 347 B.C.E.:
Ezra Hasofer (the Scribe) and his followers
arrived in Yerushalayim / Jerusalem. Following their long journey from Bavel / Babylon (see 12th Nissan), Ezra and his entourage arrived in Eretz Yisroel / the Land of Israel, to be near the newly built second Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. A relatively small group (1,496 men) came together with Ezra, the majority of Jews, including great Torah scholars, choosing to remain in Bavel due to the harsh conditions that were then prevailing in Eretz Yisroel. Ezra had to persuade 38 Levi’im with their 200 servants (the Levi’im didn’t want to come, and it was only because they were essential for the Temple service that Ezra managed to get them to join him).
1 Av - 1492:
Columbus set sail for the New World. There is an entry in Columbus’ diary noting the expulsion of Jews from Spain right before he set sail. See 10 Av.
1 Av 5703 - August 2, 1943:
The mostly Jewish captives in
the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland, located 60 miles northeast of Warsaw, staged an armed revolt. On a Monday at about 4:00 p.m., before the resistance leaders could gain full control of the arms cache, a suspicious SS officer was killed by a shot that alerted the camp guards and prematurely signaled the inmates to revolt. During exchanges of gunfire, some prisoners torched parts of the camp. As the escapees ran for their lives, most were gunned down from the camp’s watchtowers or caught and killed later. On the day of the uprising, the camp held approximately 850 prisoners of which some 750 tried to escape. Only 70 survived. Consequently a dozen S.S. soldiers
were killed and a few hundred Jews escaped, at least temporarily.
1 Av 5707 - July 18, 1947:
A British ship seized the S.S.
Exodus, which was carrying 4,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors to Eretz Yisrael,
and forced it to return to Germany: Three "illegal Jewish immigrants" were killed
and more than 100 were wounded during this immoral action.
The negative public relations which this generated for the British contributed to their final decision to leave the Middle East in 1948.
1 Av 5707 - July 18, 1947:
Raoul Wallenberg was reported by Russia to have died in prison.
1 Av 5712 - July 23, 1952:
Egyptian military officers, led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, launced a successful coup against King Farouk I.
1 Av Yahrtzeits
Aharon Hakohain, (2489 / 1272 B.C.E.), the son of Amram and Yocheved, elder brother of Moshe and Miriam,
who died at the age of 123 - the only yahrtzeit explicitly mentioned in the Torah (Bamidbar / Numbers 33:38). See above.
Elazar ben Aharon Hakohain. The third son of Aharon and Elisheva, he learned Torah directly from Moshe Rabbeinu, and became the Kohain Gadol after his father. He served as Kohain Gadol in Eretz Yisrael and directed the inheritance of the ancestral lands.
HaRav Eliezer Isserlish, zt”l, (5383 / 1623), brother of the Rema.
HaRav Yosef, zt”l, (5460 / 1700), Rav of Dubna, author of Yesod Yosef.
HaRav Yisrael Avraham Zev of Chevron, zt”l, (5491 / 1731), author of Orim Gedolim.
HaRav Noson Nota ben R' Yosef of Averitch, zt”l, (1785) Talmid of the Baal Shem Tov and father-in-law of the Bat Ayin. He did not sleep on Shabbat because it says "V'shomru Bnei Yisroel es HaShabbat", you should watch the Shabbat.
HaRav Chaim (ben Tzvi Hirsch) of Krasna, zt”l, (1793).
HaRav Asher Ginzburg, zt”l, (5597 / 1837), Rav of Wallerstein, and son of the Shaagat Aryeh.
Harav Asher Ginzburg was born in 5514/1754, in the old age of his father, Harav Aryeh Leib, the Shaagat Aryeh.
Reb Asher was a talmid of his father and of Harav Meir Zayeh of Metz.
Reb Asher served as Rav of Karlsruhe.
Harav Gedaliah Rothenberg, Rav of Bodenheim, a talmid of the Shaagat Aryeh and of Reb Asher, writes of Reb Asher in his introduction to the Shaagat Atsryeh’s Gevurat Ari:
“As a youngster, seven or eight years old, he already had a sharp and well-honed mind. At that age, if he was shown a difficult passage in the Rambam and was told in what part of the Gemara the answer lay, he could work out the answer in a short time. When he became bar mitzvah, his father said to him, ‘Because I know that you have a clear mind and that you are a vessel which is fit to receive the Torah of Hashem, therefore be strong and become a person who is great in Torah; then I will be honored because of your achievements.’
“When he was 15 years old, he learned with his father an entire masechta every day. When he was 17 or 18, the beit din and the local talmidei chachamim of Metz were amazed by his sharpness and vast knowledge, and his father publicly declared that his son was sharper than he.”
One of the best-known talmidim of Reb Asher was Harav Yaakov Ettlinger, the Aruch Laner. He considered Reb Asher the most powerful influence on his way of learning.
Some of Reb Asher’s chiddushim are printed in She’eilot U’teshuvot Shaagat Aryeh Hachadashot, and in She’eilot U’teshuvot Binyan Tzion of his talmid, the Aruch Laner.
Reb Asher’s sons were Harav Avraham and Harav Aryeh Leib, both of whom served as Rabbanim in Germany. His daughter married Harav Alexander Aran, Rav of Pagresheim.
Reb Asher was niftar on Rosh Chodesh Av, 5597/1837, at the age of 83.
HaRav Shmuel Ehrenfeld, zt”l, (1805 - 5643 / 1883), author of Chatan Sofer, grandson of the Chatam Sofer and Rav in Matersdorf.
Harav Shmuel was born to Harav Dovid Tzvi Ehrenfeld, the son-in-law of Harav Moshe Sofer, the Chatam Sofer.
In his youth he studied under the guidance of his father and his uncle, the Ktav Sofer. At a rather young age, he became known for his great scholarship and piety. He was close to his uncle the Ktav Sofer, who consulted with him about communal as well as Torah matters.
He married the daughter of Harav Bunim Pashkes and earned a living through trade, while keeping to an extremely busy schedule of learning and teaching.
The Chatan Sofer wished to avoid the Rabbanut but Hashem willed otherwise. His business ultimately didn’t succeed and he was forced to accept a Rabbinical position.
In 5626/1886 he became Rav in Betlon, where he established a yeshivah. Two years later he moved to Siks, where he founded another yeshivah with great success; hundreds of eager talmidim flocked to it.
Rav Shmuel, true to the way of his grandfather the Chatam Sofer, lived a humble and purposeful life, disseminating Torah and serving Hashem. His tefillot were renowned as fiery and heart-rending.
In 5634/1894 he published the first volume of Chatan Sofer, followed by the second four years later.
The esteemed kehillah of Mattersdorf, where the Chatam Sofer had previously served as Rav, exerted pressure on Rav Shmuel to accept the rabbanut. Rav Shmuel adamantly refused, claiming that he had to remain loyal to his talmidim.
However, under increasing pressure from Mattersdorf, he finally acquiesced and moved there. In Mattersdorf, his yeshivah grew even more, and eventually Mattersdorf became a major focal point for bnei yeshivah. The yeshivah came to be one of the most outstanding in Hungary.
Rav Shmuel was noticeably similar to his holy grandfather, the Chatam Sofer. Many contemporary Gedolei Hador regarded him as the “junior Chatam Sofer.”
Rav Shmuel was niftar at the age of 48. During the last period of his life, when he fell ill, he refused to accept money from the kehillah for treatment, explaining that he had made a neder not to derive benefit from such monies.
He was succeeded by his son, Harav Simchah Bunim.
His works were published as Chatan Sofer, literally “son-in-law of the Sofer,” referring to the Chatam Sofer (he was actually the son of the son-in-law of the Chatam Sofer).
HaRav Aharon Halberstam, zt"l, (5586 / 1826 - 5663 / 1903). Born in 5586/1826, in Rudnick to Rav Chaim, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz.
He was a talmid of his father, and also traveled to the courts of other leading Rebbes, among them Harav Tzvi Hirsh of Rimanov, Harav Dovid of Tolna, the Sar Shalom of Belz and Harav Avraham of Trisk.
He married the daughter of the naggid Reb Yaakov Weinberger of Dukla.
He was appointed Rav of Sanz in 5617 / 1857, during the lifetime of his famous father. After his father’s petira on 25 Nisan 5636/1876, Rav Aharon was the only son who did not become a Rebbe, refusing to accept the chassidim who came to his house.
During his tenure as Rav, Reb Aharon applied a cherem against one of the residents of the city, who refused to accept the ruling of his beit din. This incident led to Reb Aharon being imprisoned for six weeks.
Reb Aharon wrote down many chiddushei Torah, but shortly before his passing, he burned all his manuscripts.
After taking ill, Reb Aharon traveled to Vienna to consult with doctors there. En route home, he was niftar on Rosh Chodesh Av 5663 / 1903 at 77. He is buried in the ohel with his father, in Sanz.
Reb Aharon’s sons were Harav Shmuel Shmelke; Harav Shalom, who served as Rav in Pikli and Sanz; and Harav Aryeh Leibish of Sanz-Gribov. His son-in-law was Harav Moshe Halberstam of Bardiov.
Some of his Divrei Torah were published in Meged Eretz by a grand-nephew, Rav Aharon Halberstam of Biale-Bilitz and in other sefarim as well.
HaRav Menachem Nochum of Kobrin-Bialystok, zt"l, (5678 / 1918) ben R' Yehudah Leib. He was a talmid muvhak of the Yesod Avodah of Slonim.
HaRav Yaakov Moshe Shurkin, zt”l, (5723 / 1963), Rosh Mesivta of Mesivta Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin and a student of the Chafetz Chaim (1963).
Harav Yaakov Moshe Shurkin was the younger son of Harav Michel Zalman, born in 5662/1902. He was born in Podobranka, a small village deep in White Russia. His original surname was Shur, which was later changed, most likely to evade the Russian military draft.
He was descended from a prominent Chabad family in Podobranka. His mother’s father was Reb Zalman Freidin, son-in-law of Reb Zalman Chaikin of Podobranka.
Harav Levi Yitzchak Schneerson was also a grandson of Reb Zalman Chaikin; he and Reb Yaakov Moshe’s mother were first cousins. His son, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, and Reb Yaakov Moshe were second cousins.
When Yaakov Moshe became bar mitzvah, Rav Michel Zalman was suddenly niftar. Now a young orphan, Reb Yaakov Moshe decided to go to Radin, where he learned with extraordinary hasmadah under the Chofetz Chaim for the next 15 years. During his years in yeshivah, his mother also passed away.
Reb Yaakov Moshe was zocheh to be one of those who took part in the taharah of the Chofetz Chaim. Many years later Harav Mendel Zaks, zt”l, son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim and Rosh Yeshivah in Radin, wrote the nusach for the matzeivah of Harav Shurkin, zt”l.
In 5693/1933 Reb Yaakov Moshe tried to leave Europe and go to America, but he couldn’t get the right papers, so he went first to Eretz Yisrael. In Yerushalayim, he was close with Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer, zt”l.
Two years later he went on to America. There he married the daughter of Harav Yaakov Kantorovich, zt”l. Reb Yaakov, an uncle of Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, had been Rav of Timkavitch in Russia. When the communists took over, all Rabbanim were in danger. Reb Yaakov and Reb Moshe escaped to America, and Harav Kantorovich became a Rav in Trenton, New Jersey. He authored Tzilusa DeShmaatsa on the Shev Shmaatsa, Chiddushei HaGra and other sefarim. At his petirah he was buried in Trenton; later, with a psak from his nephew Reb Moshe, the aron was moved to chelkat haRabbanim in Beit Shemesh.
Reb Yaakov Moshe was a Rosh Mesivta in Yeshivah U’Mesivta Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin from its founding in 5698/1938 until he was niftar on Rosh Chodesh Av 5723/1963, at 62. He was buried in Beth David cemetery in Elmont, Long Island.
Several volumes of his shiurim on masechtot have been published as Shiurei Reb Yaakov Moshe.
His son Harav Michel, shlita, is a Rosh Yeshivah in Torat Moshe in Yerushalayim.
HaRav Shlomo Halberstam, zt"l, (1908 - 5760 / 2000), son of Rav Ben Zion, grandson of Rav Shlomo, founder of the Bobov dynasty. At the outbreak of World War II, he and his father escaped to Lemberg. On the fourth of Av 1942 his father was killed, and Rav Shlomo escaped to the Bochnia Ghetto. In Bochnia, the Rav lost his Rebbetzin and two children. He managed to escape with his only surviving child, Naftali, to Budapest, and then to Bucharest. Rav Shlomo is believed to have been the last remaining Chassidic rabbi to have survived the Holocaust. Born in the Galicia region of central Europe, Rav Shlomo arrived in the United States in 1946,
alone and indigent after his group was largely obliterated by the Nazis. During the war, Rav Shlomo dressed up as a nun in order to rescue other Jews, hiding them in the false bottom of a coal truck. Rav Shlomo is widely credited with rebuilding the Bobover community in the United States. His only son to survive the war, R' Naftal Tzvi, succeeded him and passed away in 2005. There is a book, Nor the Moon by Night, about his experiences during the Holocaust.
His divrei torah were recorded in Likkutei Kerem Shlomo.
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2 Av 3830 - 70 C.E.:
Roman General Titus attacked the walls of the
second Beit Hamikdash with battering rams.
2 Av 5027- July 26, 1267:
Pope Clement IV established the
abhorrent Inquisition in Rome.
2 Av - 1274:
Pope Gregory X banned blood-ritual charges against the Jews.
This was neither the first nor the last time a pope tried to ban charges of ritual murder against the Jews. None were very successful.
2 Av - July 18, 1290:
Edward I of England issued the proclamation to expel the Jews. After returning from his Crusade, Edward was deeply in debt. He summoned his knights to impose a steep tax and to make the tax more palatable, he offered to expel all the Jews. The heavy tax legislation was passed, and the widely popular expulsion order which was issued, met with little resistance, and was quickly carried out. This proclamation was not reversed until 1656.
2 Av - 1510:
38 Jews were burned at the stake in Berlin, (Prussia).
2 Av 5566 - July 17, 1806:
Last execution of the Inquisition in Peru.
2 Av 5701 - July 26, 1941:
The S.S. killed 250 Jews from
Horodec, Poland, Hy"d.
2 Av 5701 - July 26, 1941:
On that same day, a transport with 988 Jews left Vienna for the Theresienstadt
murder camp in Czechoslovakia.
2 Av 5701 - July 26, 1941:
Also on the same day, the Nazis murdered 1,700 Jews in Drohiczyn, Ukraine, Hy"d.
2 Av 5702 - July 16, 1942:
French police rounded up over 30,000
Jews, including 4,500 children, for deportation to Auschwitz. Only 30 adults survived, Hy"d. The day is referred to as “Black Thursday.”
2 Av 5702 - July 16, 1942:
The first train with Jews from Holland left for a death camp. A few years earlier, tens of thousands of Jews had fled from Germany to Holland, which maintained an open-door immigration policy. But soon after, the Nazis occupied Holland and proceeded to make it Judenrein (clean of Jews). Perhaps the most famous Dutch Jew was Anne Frank, a teenage girl whose diary has become the most widely-read account of life during the Holocaust. In 2005, Holland's prime minister apologized for his country's collaboration with the Nazis.
2 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Aharon Tumim (Teumim) of Cracow, zt”l, Hy”d, (5390 / 1630 – 5450 / 1690).
Harav Aharon Tumim of Cracow was born in 5390/1630. His father, Harav Moshe Tumim, was Rav in Mehrin. His paternal grandfather was Harav Shimon Tumim Lemil, from the Gedolim of Vienna.
Reb Aharon married the sister of Harav Eliezer Halevi Ettinger, zt”l, of Holleschau, Austria.
From 5419 / 1659 through 5432 / 1672, Reb Aharon held the position of darshan and maggid shiur in Prague. In 1672, he was appointed Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Worms, Germany. In all his capacities, he was known as a tremendous talmid chacham, with a phenomenal memory.
After the petirah of Harav Mordechai Deitches, zt”l, Rav of Cracow, Reb Aharon was chosen to succeed him. He was to have moved there already in 5447 / 1687, but because of political circumstances, he delayed his departure from Worms by a few years, until 5450 / 1690. Shortly after Reb Aharon left Worms, the city was destroyed by the troops of King Louis XIV of France.
Reb Aharon served as Rav in Cracow for barely four months, when he went to the “Vaad of the Four Lands” in Chemelnick, where he was attacked by soldiers and imprisoned on the orders of a Polish nobleman. He died on Shabbat Parashat Mattot-Masei, 2 Av 5450/1690, in Chmelnik as a result of the torture and severe beatings he received. He was buried in Pintchov, where the local Rav was his brother-in- law, the husband of his sister, Harav Yehudah Leib Tzintz of Helishoi (Holleschau).
Reb Aharon wrote Mateh Aharon on theHaggadah, and his son, Rabbi Yehudah Leib, published his work Bigdei Aharon on the Torah. Hy"d.
HaRav Pesachyah Hornblass, zt”l, (5607 / 1847 - 5674 / 1914), Rav of Warsaw and author of Pis’chei She’arim.
Harav Pesachyah was born in 5607/1847. His father, Rav Yitzchak, was a noted talmid chacham.
Young Pesachyah stood out from the other children his age, and all who saw him predicted that he would become a Torah leader. In some places in his sefarim, Rav Pesachyah quotes chiddushim he created in his youth.
With his father, Rav Yitzchak, Rav Pesachyah would journey to Reb Yaakov Aryeh of Radzimin (and, after his petirah, to Reb Avraham of Porisov). Rav Pesachyah was very close with the Radziminer Rebbe. In Pis’chei Torah, Reb Pesachyah quotes divrei Torah that he heard directly from Reb Yaakov Aryeh.
In 5637/1877, when Rav Pesachyah was 30 years old, he was appointed Rav in Warsaw. Interestingly, Rav Pesachyah was accepted by all groups in the city, both the Chassidim and the Misnagdim. He was close with Rav Yosef Ber of Brisk, the Netziv of Volozhin and others.
It is related that he once complained to his Rebbe that as Rav in Warsaw, answering she’eilot all day, he barely had time left for his own learning. Reb Yaakov Aryeh gave him a brachah that whenever he would search for something in a sefer, he would open directly to the correct page, thus saving much time. It was known to family members that this amazing brachah was fulfilled.
Groups of talmidei chachamim were often gathered around his table discussing Torah topics, with Rav Pesachyah sitting at the head and giving the final word on the sugya.
Rav Pesachyah was also known for his tefillot, and many would come to request his brachot.
Rav Pesachyah was niftar on Shabbat, 2 Av 5674/1914, in Warsaw. He was 67. He was buried the next day in Warsaw’s cemetery, near his Rebbe, Reb Yaakov Aryeh of Radzimin. According to the newspapers of the time, some 20,000 people participated in his levayah.
Rav Pesachyah wrote Pis’chei She’arim, and sefarim of she’eilot u’teshuvot and drashot; Pis’chei Mishpat on Choshen Mishpat; and Pis’chei Ezra on Even Haezer. It seems from his writings that he had a compilation on the Gemara, but this was never printed. (Others 3 Av).
HaRav Aharon Yosef Baksht , known in mussar circles as Reb Archik, zt"l, (1863-1941). Born in Iyola, Lithuania (near Vilna), an only child to Rav Yeshayahu Baksht, he left home to study in Volozhin when he was 14. After studying under Rav Yitzchak Blazer at Halvayat HaMeit yeshiva in Slobodka, for three years, he transferred to the Beit Hatalmud in Kelm and became one of Rav Shimcha Zissel’s most outstanding talmidim. After his marriage, he took his first rabbinical post in Bisgola, near Shavli. Thereafter, he served at Simiatitz (1896-1901), Volgograd (later known as Stalingrad), Shadova, Suvalk, and eventually - in 1926 - in Lomza, where he also founded a Kollel. In 1937, he moved to Shavli to replace Rav Meir Atlas and founded a yeshiva. He was shot and murdered by the Nazis. Sadly, his many chidushim and commentary on the Yerushalmi were also destroyed. Some of his writings which were salvaged were printed under the titles Torat Aharon and Lev Aharon. Hy"d. (15 Tammuz, according to some).
HaRav Gedaliah Silverstone, zt"l, (1871-1944). Born in Eastern Europe in 1871, he studied in the yeshiva of Telshe under Rav Eliezer Gordon. In 1901, Rav Silverstone became Chief Rabbi of Belfast (Ireland). In approximately 1906, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he served several congregations, including Tifereth Israel (which was then Orthodox) and Ohev Shalom. During the 1930s he settled in Eretz Yisrael. His works include Beit Meir, Yeshuah Gedolah, Pirchei Aviv, Sukkat Shalom and a Haggadah commentary entitled Korban Pesach.
HaRav Binyomin (ben Yitzchok Leib) Bomrind, zt"l, (1907-1973). Born born in Galicia in Berzhan, Rav Bomrind immigrated to America in 1921. He was a Director and Rebbe at Yeshivas Rabbi Jacob Joseph school and he also was the Rav of the Horodetzer Shul on the lower east side for many years. He also practiced law, and was thereby able to help hundreds of fellow Jews with their legal problems.
HaRav Moshe Stern, zt"l, (1914 - 5757 / 1997), the Debrecziner Rav, author of Be’er Moshe. Born in Neuhaizal, Slovakia, on Hoshana Rabah, his father, Rav Avraham, was the Rav of Neuhaizal, a historian and author of the sefarim, Gapei Eish on the Shas, Shulchan Eish and Melitzei Eish. After learning with his father and grandfather, Rav Moshe left Neuhaizal to study in Yeshivat Pressburg, headed by the Chasam Sofer’s great-grandson, Rav Akiva Sofer, the Daat Sofer. Rav Moshe married a daughter of Rav Mordechai Nissan HaKohen Strasser, a grandson of the Chasam Sofer. After his marriage, he moved to Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city, where Jews had been barred from living until 1840. Debrecen had served as the capital of Hungary twice, once in 1849, and a second time, in 1944. In Debrecen, he was appointed a poseik and dayan. By 1941, 9,142 Jews lived in Debrecen and comprised about 7% of its population. After the war, about 4,640 Jews returned to Debrecen making it the largest Jewish community in the area. Rav Moshe restructured the kehillah. Together with the Admor of Erlau, he even founded a yeshivah in Budapest. In about 1950, Rav Moshe was invited to be the rav of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he stayed for a year. Soon afterwards, Rav Moshe moved to New York and established his ‘Kahal Yesodei HaTorah’ whose congregants were mostly immigrants from Hungary. In 1969, Rav Moshe began publishing his sefer of responsa, Be’er Moshe. Another of Rav Moshe’s sefarim is his “Kunterus Ha’Electric” where he discusses the dozens of shaylot involved with electricity, such as accepting testimony over the phone and setting up alarms to work on Shabbat.
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3 Av 5120 - 1360:
Anti-Jewish riots erupted in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), many Jews were killed, Hy"d, and the rest were expelled. See11 Av.
3 Av 5408 - July 22, 1648:
Chmielnicki's cossacks murdered Harav Shimshon of Ostropolia, together with 300 community members, and massacred 10,000 Jews in
Polnoa (today located in the Ukraine),
Hy "d. Rav Shimshon was the author of Yad Yadin. See below.
3 Av - pre 1735:
Ha Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (RaMChaL, Mesilat Yesharim) was forced to swear that he would stop writing down his heavenly revelations by a heavenly Maggid. These writings were seen by Rav Y. Chagiz of Altona, a giant of his era, and aroused suspicions that the Ramchal was a possible follower of Shabtai Tzvi.
3 Av 5641 - July 29, 1881:
The first shipload of Russian Jewish immigrants arrived in New York City. This began the mass immigration of eastern European Jews to America after the 1881 pogroms all over Russia, and in the next half-century over 2 million Jews would flee the Russian pogroms for the safety of the U.S. This influx indelibly altered the demographics of American Jewry; according to the U.S. census of 1940, 1.75 million Jews spoke Yiddish at home.
· 3 Av 5641 - July 29, 1944:
Majdanek concentration camp near Lublin is liberated by the Soviets. They found less than 1000 surviving prisoners, mostly non-Jews, as the Jews had been evacuated or murdered. The soldiers also found a storage house containing hundreds of thousands of shoes, a hint of the degree of the massacre that had taken place.
3 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shimshon of Ostropolia, Hy”d, (c. 5360 / 1600 - 5408 / 1648).
His father was Harav Pesach of the town Koritz, son-in-law of Harav Shimshon of Kremnitz (the brother of the Maharal). He learned Torah from his father, and from Harav Nassan Nota Kahane, Rav of Ostraha, whom he refers to as his primary Rebbi.
He was fluent in all the hidden aspects of Torah, having studied Kabbalah from his youth. He was known to have a malach known as a maggid, who taught him many secrets of the Torah.
Harav Shimshon served as a maggid meisharim in the kehillah of Ostropolia, and was known far and wide as a holy person. He was the recipient of many complicated she’eilot and was consulted about difficult problems. He would not answer those inquiring about the concealed portions of Torah, claiming responsibility to preserve its kedushah.
Before the horrible massacres of Tach V’tat (5408–09 / 1648–49), led by the infamous Bogdan Chmielnicki, ym”s, Harav Shimshon told his community in fiery drashot that his malach revealed to him that grave gezeirot were in the offing; they must repent with intense fervor in order to avoid the consequences. He delivered this message in all the surrounding towns and cities, and the Jews repented with all their hearts.
But, unfortunately, the gezeirah was already “sealed,” and thousands upon thousands perished during those years. Hy”d.
As the Cossacks made their way into Ostropolia, Harav Shimshon and 300 community members went to shul, wearing tachrichim and taleisim, and began to daven with fervor. The resha’im arrived at the shul and murdered all the kedoshim who were inside, killing Harav Shimshon with a misah meshunah. Hy”d.
He was survived by his son, Harav Pesach, a grandfather of Harav Yaakov Shimshon of Shpitkiva, zt”l.
Many tzaddikim attested that the source of Harav Shimshon’s neshamah was Moshiach Ben Yosef, who, according to Chazal, is going to be killed.
Harav Shimshon authored Dan Yadin on Zohar, composed according to the teachings of the malach; but that sefer, among others of his, is not available to us today. In addition, he authored Likutei Shoshanim; and there are many divrei Torah attributed to him. There is also a famous letter, printed in machzorim, that many have the custom to recite on Erev Pesach.
HaRav Shimshon Bachrach of Nicholsburg, zt”l, (5481 / 1721), son of the Chavot Yair.
HaRav Shmuel Salir, zt”l, (5557 / 1797), author of Shem MiShmuel.
(Not to be confused with the Shem MiShmuel from Sochatchov). (See 24 Tevet)
HaRav Yaakov Landau, zt”l, (5582 / 1822), son of the Noda B’Yehuda.
HaRav Gedalia Ahron Rabinowitz of Monastrich HY"D (1919) ben R' Yehoshua. He was killed in a pogrom in Uman with 700 others.
HaRav Yitzchak (ben Mordechai) Twersky, zt”l, the first Skverer Rebbe in America (1888 - 5701 / 1941). Known as Reb Itzikel Skverer, he left the Ukraine and settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in 1923. Eventually he established a Beit Midrash in Boro Park.
HaRav Eliyahu Moshe Shisgal, zt”l, (5681 / 1921 - 5733 / 1973). Harav Shisgal was born in Slutzk, Lithuania, and was zocheh to have Harav lsser Zalman Meltzer serve as sandak at his brit. His father brought the family to Providence, Rhode Island, when Eliyahu Moshe was four; at seven he received a bracha from Harav Boruch Ber Lebovitz during the latter's visit to America. His rebbi muvhak was Harav Shlomo Heiman, under whom he learned at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. After marrying Faye Gittel, daughter of Harav Moshe Feinstein, he became a rebbi in Torah Vodaath and taught there for the next thirty years.He also served as Rav of a large congregation on the Lower East Side.
He passed away at the age of fifty-two. The hespedim in Eretz Yisrael lasted five hours; he was later buried on Har Hamenuchot (very close to where his saintly father-in-law, Reb Moshe, would be buried years later).
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4 Av 3314 - 447 B.C.E.:
The silver and gold that Ezra and his followers brought along to build the second Beit HaMikdash was weighed.
4 Av 3317 - 444 B.C.E.:
The Navi / prophet Nechemiah, the leader of the Jewish people who had returned from Galut Bavel, began to repair the destroyed walls around Yerushalayim as recorded in Tanach, in the Book of Nechemiah. Portions of this rebuilt wall can still be seen today. The repair process took 52 days, and was completed on the 25th of Elul. This was a first stage in the restoration of the Jewish capital, crowned by the construction of the Second Beit HaMikdash a few years later.
4 Av - 1264:
Anti-Jewish riots in Arnstadt, Germany.
4 Av - 1305:
The Rashba proclaimed a ban on the study of metaphysics and philosophy by students under the age of 30. The Cherem was both famous and controversial.
.4 Av 5701 - July 28, 1941:
Jewish males of Aniksht and the Jews of Vilkovishk, both in Lithuania, were killed by the Nazis, Hy"d.
4 Av 5704 - July 24, 1944:
The Lublin concentration camp was liberated by the Russian army.
4 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Avraham Luzatto, zt”l, (5343 / 1583).
HaRav Menachem Azariah ben Yitzchok Brechya deFano (from Pano), zt”l, (5308 / 1548 - 5380 / 1620), Italian mekubal, known as the Rama miPano. Author of Shu’T Rama MiPano and Asarah Ma'amarot.
Harav Menachem Azaryah was born in Pano, Italy. His father was Harav Yitzchak Berachyah.
He married the daughter of Harav Yitzchak Poah of Mantua, who was one of the leading talmidei chachamim in Italy. While living near his father-in-law, he grew greatly in Torah.
Rav Azaryah was introduced to Kabbalah in his youth by the leading Italian mekubal of the time, his uncle Harav Ezra of Pano. Because the Arizal’s teachings had not yet reached Italy, he learned the methodology of Ramak. Rav Azaryah had such a love for all Ramak’s writings that after the petirah of Ramak, he sent a huge sum of money to acquire a copy of his unpublished commentary on the Zohar, Ohr Yakar.
Rav Azaryah’s fame spread to Eretz Yisrael, and Harav Yosef Karo put him in charge of printing his commentary to the Rambam, Kesef Mishneh, in Venice, in 5334 / 1574.
After he painstakingly achieved proficiency in Ramak’s writings, Rav Azaryah’s life turned upside down when Harav Yisrael Seruk arrived in Italy from Eretz Yisrael to spread the teachings of his own rebbi, the Arizal. Rav Azaryah became one of his avid talmidim. However, Rav Azaryah emphasizes that despite the loftiness of the Arizal’s teachings, he continued to revere Ramak’s teachings.
Due to his love for the secrets of the Torah and their dissemination, Rav Azaryah taught many talmidim. Each day he taught another topic from Pardes Rimonim.
He wrote about 30 sefarim, including a collection of responsa, Shu’T Rama MiPano, that rely heavily on the Zohar. His best-known sefer is Asarah Ma'amarot. Although most are based heavily on Kabbalah and are therefore incomprehensible except to people well-versed in its mysteries, they also contain moral and ideological lessons.
Rav Azaryah was revered by the greatest talmidei chachamim of his era.
Rav Azaryah was niftar on 4 Av 5380 / 1620, at the age of 72, and was mourned all over Italy, especially in Mantua and Venice. Special kinot were composed in his honor.
HaRav Avraham ben Harav David, zt”l, (5382 / 1622), Rav of Lvov and mefaresh of the Rif.
HaRav Tzvi Meir Hakohen Rabinowitz, zt”l, (5601 / 1841 - 5661 / 1901), Rav of Radomsk, son of the Tiferet Shlomo of Radomsk. From his earliest youth, he was seen as an outstanding masmid, and was also known for his vast memory. The Tiferet Shlomo once said of his son, “He is a shelf full of sefarim.”
Reb Tzvi Meir would rise many hours before dawn, and after breaking the frozen waters in the mikveh, would learn works of Kabbalah, mainly of the Arizal. After day broke, he would learn a Gemara shiur with the bachurim.
Following his father’s petirah, on 29 Adar 5626 / 1866, Reb Tzvi Meir, fondly known as Reb Hirsh Meir, was appointed Rav in Radomsk in place of his father. Reb Tzvi Meir was renowned for his mesirut nefesh in his avodat Hashem.
He was niftar on 4 Av, at the age of 61. He was buried the next day, near his father, in the Ohel of Radomsk.
His sons were Harav Emanuel Gershon, Rav in Modzhitz; Harav Yitzchak Mordechai, Rav in Polana; and Harav Yisrael Pinchas, who served as Rav in Radomsk. Many of Reb Tzvi Meir’s chiddushim and divrei Torah on the Torah remain in manuscript form. (others 5662 / 1902).
HaRav Efraim ben R' Yechezkel Taub of Kuzmir, zt”l, (5664 / 1904).
Harav Efraim was the son of Harav Yechezkel of Kuzmir and the son-in-law of Harav Nosson Dovid Rabinowitz of Shidlovtza.
After the petirah of his father on 15 Shevat 5616/1856, Reb Efraim was appointed Rebbe.
Reb Efraim lived in Shenenah, then later in Kuzmir. Later, he moved on to other cities. He lived in Bloina, Nadrazin, Yablona and Prague.
Some of the divrei Torah of Reb Efraim were published in the sefarim of his father.
Reb Efraim was niftar on 4 Av, 5664/1904.
His sons were Harav Menachem Dovid, Rebbe in Prague; Harav Eliezer Shlomo, Rebbe in Walmin; and Harav Yerachmiel Tzvi, Rebbe in Shenenah.
HaRav Meir Mordechai Chadash, zt"l, Rosh Yeshivat Ohr Elchanan (1916).
HaRav Raphael (ben Mordechai) Ankawa (Encouau), zt"l, (1848-1935). Born in Salé, Morocco, he became President of the Beit Din in Sale and founded a yeshiva in 1880. In 1918, he was appointed the first President of the High Rabbinical Court of Rabat, Morocco. He published numerous works on Choshen Mishpat, including Karne Reem, Hadad Vetema, Paamone Zahav, and Paamon Ve-Rimon.
HaRav Benzion Halberstam, zt”l, Hy”d, (1874 - 5702 / 1942), the second Bobover Rebbe, author of Kedushat Tzion. Born in Bokovosk, Galicia, to Rav Shlomo Halberstam, a grandson of Rav Chaim of Sanz.
In 1893, Rav Shlomo moved to Bobov and appointed his son, Rav Benzion as Rav of the town.
His father would work with the youth to bring them closer to Hashem; however, his work was sadly cut short when he died suddenly in 5665/1905, at the age of 58. On the following Shabbat, Rav Shlomo’s brothers appointed Rav Benzion, the Bobover Rebbe.
He followed in his father’s footsteps by focusing on the youth.
He was murdered together with 20,000 Jews after being forced to dig a mass grave in a forest outside of Lvov (Lemberg).
Rav Benzion was survived by two sons - Rav Shlomo Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe (d. 2000), and Rav Yechezkel Dovid (d. 1978), as well as 7 daughters, the oldest of whom was Devora Leah Twerski, of Milwaukee. (Others 5701 / 1941)
HaRav Yehoshua Heshel Horowitz Sternfeld, Hy”d, of Chenchin-Elkosh, (5620 / 1860 - 5703 / 1943).
Harav Yehoshua Heschel of Chenchin-Elkosh was born in 5620/1860 to Harav Chaim Shmuel of Chenchin and Rebbetzin Rachel, daughter of Harav Yosef Baruch Epstein, zy”a, the Gutter Yid of Neustadt, son of the Maor Vashemesh, zy”a. He was named after his grandfather, Harav Yehoshua Heschel of Komarna, zy”a, the son of the Baruch Taam. In his childhood, he grew up under the tutelage of the Gutter Yid.
He davened with a great intensity from his youth. He did not understand that this was unusual until he overheard some adults saying, “What is real davening? The way Heschele davens.”
Rav Yehoshua Heschel married Malka Feige, the daughter of Harav Pinchas Rabinowitz of Kintzk, son of Harav Nosson David of Shidlovtza, grandson of the Yid Hakadosh of Peshischa.
Rav Yehoshua Heschel began serving as Rav in Chenchin in 5670/1910, and seven years later, when his father was niftar, he founded his own beit medrash in Elkosh. As Rebbe, Rav Yehoshua Heschel treated his Chassidim with compassion and love.
At his tischen, Rav Yehoshua Heschel hardly spoke, but when he did, every word was a diamond. The Rebbe demanded of his Chassidim that they pursue shleimut in every area of avodat Hashem.
When the Holocaust began, the Rebbe was aware of events and had the opportunity to escape to Eretz Yisrael, but refused. He would not leave his Chassidim.
In the summer of 5703/1943, the Rebbe was found hiding with his family in a bunker in the ghetto near Sosnowitz. The Nazis ordered everyone to leave, but the Rebbe was too weak, so he remained behind with his granddaughter Frieda. The commander ordered a soldier to go in and shoot the tzaddik, but the soldier rushed out of the bunker crying, “He is a saint!” Then the Nazis sent Jewish workers to carry the tzaddik out on pain of death. The Jewish workers removed the Rebbe from the bunker donned in his Shabbat attire carrying his tallit and tefillin, ready to perform the mitzvah of kiddush Hashem.
From there the Rebbe and a large group of Jews were shipped to Auschwitz. The entire group was sacrificed al kiddush Hashem, from what is known, on 4 Av 5703/1943, Hy”d.
HaRav Shimon Nosson Notta Biderman, zy”a, (5764 / 2004), Rebbe of Lelov-Yerushalayim.
HaRav Eliyahu Glucksman, zt”l, (1921-2004), dayan of the Washington Heights (New York) community, teacher at Beit Yaakov and Rika Breuers Teachers Seminary. Born in Berlin, he escaped to England in 1938, where he studied under Rav Eliyahu Dessler. He later emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, where he learned at Beit Yosef, Petach Tikvah, and then 10 years in Bnei Brak at Kollel Chazon Ish.
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5 Av - 1345:
Pope Clement VI forbade forcible baptism of Jews. (another papal order that was not followed seriously).
5 Av 5415 - August 8, 1655:
The Russians took Vilna as part of the peace settlement between Chmielnicki and Czar Alexis. The Jews of Vilna were once again subject to expulsion and murder.
5 Av 5476 - July 24, 1716:
Anti-Jewish riots in Posen.
5 Av 5559 - August 6, 1799:
Death of physician and zoologist Marcus Eliezer Bloch of Germany, 1799. A member of Moshe Mendelsohn’s circle of German maskilim, he became famous as the first modern fish naturalist (ichthyologist). He classified 1500 species in his 12 volume work Allegemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische. His collection of about 1500 specimens is today preserved at the Museum for Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum) of the Humboldt University of Berlin.
5 Av 5643 - August 8, 1883:
Anti-Jewish riots in Budapest, following the acquittal of Jews on ritual murder charges.
5 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yitzchok Luria Ashkenazi, zt"l, the father of modern Kabbalah, known as the Ari HaKadosh ("The Holy Lion"), or by the acronym, Arizal (1534 - 5332 / 1572). The Chida said on him that the way he reached such a high level was that Eliyahu HaNavi purified him with ashes of a Parah Adumah.
He was born in Yerushalayim to Rav Shlomo Luria Ashkenazi, who is believed to be descended from Rav Yechiel Luria, Av Beit Din of Brisk and author of Chochmat Shlomo on Shas and the Yad Shel Shlomo. His father passed away shortly after his birth, and Rav Klominus taught him. He and his family moved to Egypt when Rav Klominus died. There he learned with Rav Dovid ben Zimra, the Radvaz from age 14. Among the other talmidim was Rav Betzaelel Ashkenazi, author of Shita Mekubetzet. At age 22, he became engrossed in the study of the Zohar, and spent the next seven years in near-total seclusion and meditation. In 1570, at age 36, he moved from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael according to the instructions of Eliyahu HaNavi to pass all of his Torah to Rav Chaim Vital in Tzefat in northern Eretz Yisrael, where his colleagues included Rav Yosef Karo (author of the Code of Jewish Law), the kabbalist Rav Moshe Cordovero (Ramak), (who was niftar that year), Rav Shlomo Alkabetz and Rav Moshe Alshich. From Tzefat, where he lived for two years until his passing at age 38, the Arizal revolutionized the study of Kabbalah, and came to be universally regarded as one of the most important figures in Jewish mysticism. He proclaimed, "In these times, we are allowed and duty-bound to reveal this wisdom," opening the door to the integration of the teachings of Kabbalah--until then the province of a select few in each generation--into "mainstream" Judaism. He taught extensively about reincarnation and transmigration of souls. His primary student, Rav Chaim Vital, collected Arizal's lectures into a six-volume work entitled, Aitz Chaim (Tree of Life). His tomb in Tzefat is a place of pilgrimage and prayer. (5333 / 1573 according to others).
HaRav Aharon Baal Ruach Hakodesh, zt”l, (5419 / 1659), Rav of Zlotchov.
HaRav Gedaliah Chiyun, zt”l, (5510 / 1750), Born in Turkey, he founded the Yeshivat Beit El (in 1732), which studied Kaballah according to the approach of the Ari. His teacher was the great mekubal, Rav Chaim Alfandari. His greatest student was his son-in-law Rav Shalom Sharabi (Rashash) of Yemen.
HaRav Meir Berabi, zt”l, (5485 / 1725 - 5549 / 1789), Rav of Pressburg and author of Chidushei Maharam Berabi. Born in 5485 / 1725 in Berabi, near the German city of Halberstat to Rav Shaul and Rebbetzin Yentl’che.
When he was still young, his father sent him to learn under Harav Tzvi Hirsh Charif, Rav of Halberstat, who immediately noticed the great potential of this young talmid.
From there, Reb Meir continued on to the yeshiva of Harav Yaakov Paprish, Rav of Frankfurt-on-Main, and author of Shev Yaakov. He stayed in this yeshiva for two years, advancing in Torah. After his stay in Frankfurt, he returned to Halberstat, making this his place of learning.
At the age of 13, in 5498 / 1738, Reb Meir married Rebbetzin Elkele, the daughter of Harav Michel of Halberstat. He dedicated himself solely to learning Torah, thanks to his brother-in-law Reb Nosson, who supported him.
Even at this young age, Reb Meir was already known as an outstanding talmid chacham. He was expert in medicine and music as well, Many men, seeking such a talmid chacham as a teacher, gathered round him in Halberstat. Later, he was appointed Dayan in the city, and in 5517 / 1757, when Harav Moshe Brisk, the local Rav, was niftar, Reb Meir was asked to fill his place. Reb Meir held this position for the next six years.
In 5523 / 1763, Reb Meir was accepted as Rav in Hali, Germany, but only resided in the city for one year. At the end of that year, Reb Meir assumed the position of Rav of Pressburg, Hungary, a position he held for the next 25 years, until his passing, in 5549 / 1789.
Reb Meir was zocheh to teach many talmidim in all the communities where he was Rav. Many of them went on to become leading Rabbanim and Gedolim.
Reb Meir was close with many of the generation’s Gedolim, and frequently discussed with them halachic she’eilot. Most notably, he was in frequent contact with the Noda B’Yehudah over all halachic topics. There are many teshuvot in the sefarim of the Noda B’Yehudah that are directed to Reb Meir.
Reb Meir was known as a Rav who always sought peace and harmony in all the communities where he officiated. It is related that one year, on Yom Kippur night, the inhabitants of the city were waiting for Reb Meir to arrive in shul for davening. In the meantime, he was standing outside, trying to make peace between two long-time enemies, telling them that davening wouldn’t begin until they made peace; they heeded his words and Kol Nidrei commenced.
In 5549 / 1789, Reb Meir took ill. Even though he was bedridden, he made all possible efforts to continue his normal learning seder. He continued to learn until his last minutes in this world.
He was niftar on 5 Av 5549/1789, at the age of 64.
HaRav Chaim of Krasna, zt”l, (5553 / 1793), talmid of the Baal Shem Tov.
HaRav Zev Lichtenstein, zt”l, (5567 / 1807), Rav of Broistitz, author of Kedushat Yisrael
HaRav Shimon Isserlish, zt”l, (5571 / 1811), Rav of Slutzk, son of the Rema.
HaRav Azriel Hildesheimer, zt”l, (5680 / 1820 - 5659 / 1899), Rav of Adat Yisrael of Berlin.
Harav Azriel Hildesheimer was born in 5580/1820 in Halberstadt. His father was Rav Yehudah, a native of Hildesheim, a small town near Hanover.
He learned in the local yeshivah in Halberstadt and, from age 17 on, in the yeshivah of Harav Yaakov Ettlinger, the Aruch Laner, in Altona. Rav Azriel was reckoned among the closest talmidim of the Aruch Laner.
In 5611/1851 he became Rav of Eisenstadt, Hungary (now Austria), the principal city of the sheva kehillot. Subsequently, a community of about 200 Orthodox families in Berlin, dissatisfied with the local Rabbi, chose Rav Hildesheimer to be their Rav. He moved to Berlin in 5629/1869.
In response to the growth of Reform in Germany, he established a religious school and a yeshivah, which 30 former talmidim of his at once entered. Rav Hildesheimer thus became the real intellectual founder and leader of the community Adat Yisrael.
In 5621/1861, Rav Hildesheimer received an offer from the Ktav Sofer to come to Pressburg and serve as Rav alongside him, but he turned down this offer.
Rav Hildesheimer was known for his hasmadah and ameilut in Torah. His custom was to enter the dining room only after the first course was served; this way he would gain an extra few minutes to learn.
Rav Hildesheimer exerted enormous energy into the fight against the “reformists.”
Financially independent, Rav Hildesheimer never accepted a salary. He was frequently engaged in philanthropic activities connected with his own community, and no labor was too great for him, no journey too long in the service of the poor and needy in Germany, Austria, Russia and even in Abyssinia and Persia.
He took a special interest in the welfare of the Jews of Palestine; in 5620/1860, when the gentile missionary society of Palestine provided 70 free dwellings for homeless Jews, Rav Hildesheimer himself financed the building of houses in Yerushalayim for the free use of Jewish pilgrims and for the poor.
Rav Hildesheimer was niftar on 5 Av 5659 / 1899 in Berlin at the age of 79.
He authored Sheillot U-teshuvot Rav Azriel and Chidushei Rav Azriel.
The Seminary continued in existence until the late 1930s under the leadership of such figures as R’ Dovid Zvi Hoffman (until 1921), R’ Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan (until 1924) and R’ Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg.
HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski, zt”l, (5623 / 1863 - 5700 / 1940), talmudic scholar, Rav of Vilna and leader of eastern European Jewry. ).
Born on 9 Elul 5623 / 1863 in Ivye, a small town near Vilna where his father, Harav Dovid Shlomo (a talmid of Rav Yisrael Salanter, the founder of the Mussar ethics movement), was Rav for forty years, preceded by his grandfather who had also served as Rav there for forty years. Rav Chaim Ozer was gifted with an infallible memory (he could recite complex texts word-for-word), and he testified that he never experienced "forgetting" until his old age. He was also able to write two separate things at a time using his right and left hand simultaneously.
When he was a young child he was taught by his father; at 15 years of age, he went to the yeshiva of Volozhin, where he studied under the Netziv and was immediately accepted in Reb Chaim Brisker's select group. He married the daughter of the Vilna dayan, Reb Lazer, (Eliyahu Eliezer), son-in-law of Reb Yisrael Salanter, at the age of 20.
Reb Chaim Ozer successfully served as his father-in-law’s right-hand man. The combination of his sterling character, his complete dedication to Torah and his devotion to performing acts of tzedakah and chessed made him immensely beloved to the people of Vilna. Two years later, after his father-in-law’s petirah, Reb Chaim Ozer was appointed to fill his place, and he became the esteemed Dayan of Vilna.
Over the next 55 years, he became the unofficial Rav of Vilna.
His home was a beit vaad l’chachamim, where Rabbanim and prominent askanim were always present discussing Torah or other urgent matters. Everything of importance to Vilna — and to world Jewry, for that matter — was dealt with in Reb Chaim Ozer’s home, which was the nerve center of Klal Yisrael.
Hardly a Rav, or even a shochet, was appointed anywhere in Russia or Poland without his agreement. He was involved in the appointment of the Chacham Bashi in Istanbul and in the choice of an Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi for Yerushalayim.
A large number of Reb Chaim Ozer’s activities were dedicated to supporting the poor of Eretz Yisrael and the Torah and chessed institutions of the Yishuv Hayashan.
A meeting was held in Vilna during America’s Great Depression to discuss the financial crisis of Europe’s yeshivot. One of those present stood up and said, “Given only natural means and considering the financial situation of the yeshivot, they will all close down.”
Rav Chaim Ozer jumped up and exclaimed, “Chas v’shalom! The Torah asserts that ‘it will not be forgotten by his descendants’ — the Torah will not be forgotten from Yisrael!”
During the winter of 5700 / 1940, when thousands of Jews fled to Vilna, a temporary refuge at that time, Rav Chaim Ozer’s home was open to the masses. He tried to help whomever he possibly could, despite his own physical weakness.
His only child, a girl of seventeen, became ill, was bedridden for three years, and died at twenty. In the years between the World Wars, he was the central rabbinic figure in Lithuania, at that time the world center of Torah scholarship. Rav Chaim Ozer was one of the founders of Agudath Israel and the pillar of the movement throughout his life.
He authored Sheilot Utshuvot Achi'ezer, drawn from the thousands of questions sent to him from all parts of the world.
Rav Chaim Ozer was niftar before the Nazis captured Vilna, on 5 Av 5700 / 1940, and was buried there. With his passing, the Jewish people lost three giants in 10 months: Rav Shimon Shkop, Rosh Yeshiva in Telshe for 25 years, and in Grodno (9 Cheshvan), and Rav Baruch Ber Levovitz of Kamenitz (5 Kislev).
HaRav Binyamin Paler, zt"l, (1908 - 5760 / 2000), a talmid muvhak of the Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchak Zev HaLevi Soloveitchik. His mother was a direct descendent of the Rema. Born in Brisk, Rav Binyamin studied in Torat Chessed of Rav Moshe Sokolovski, author of the Imrei Moshe. In 1931, he transferred to the yeshiva of Rav Velvel Soloveitchik, the rav of Brisk. He traveled with the Mir yeshiva to Shanghai, where he drew close to the mashgiach, Rav Yechezkel Levenstein. After the war, he arrived in the United Sates and founded the Beit HaTalmud yeshiva in Brooklyn. Soon afterward he married the daughter of Rav Shmuel Ehrenfeld of Mattersdorf. In 1967, he founded the Mekor Chaim yeshiva, where he taught for over thirty years.
HaRav Shimon Nosson Nota Biederman, zt”l, (1930-2004). Born in Tverya to Rav Yaakov Yitzchak, the Admor of Lelov, a descendent of the first Lelover Rebbe, Rav Dovid, who himself was a talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin. When his father was niftar in 1981, Rav Shimon Nasan Nota became Admor and opened Mosdot Ohr Yaakov in his father’s memory; these included kollelim and chessed organizations.
HaRav Aharon Shakovitzky, zt”l, (1911-2005). Born to Rav Binyamin Shakovitzky, the Maggid of Minsk, Reb Aharon traveled alone to Eretz Yisrael at the age of 12 to study under Rav Leib Chasman at Yeshivat Chevron. He survived the Chevron Massacre of 1929 and later he lived in the home of Rav Yechezkel Sarna. After marrying, he and his wife lived in Tel Aviv and later in Bnei Brak. He studied with hasmodoh and yegi’oh his entire life, never wanting to take on the burden of the rabbinate.
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6 Av 1298:
The Jews of Wurzburg were massacred, Hy"d.
6 Av 5416 - July 27, 1656:
Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jewish community of Amsterdam for advocating Apikorsus.The Jewish elders of Amsterdam issued the excommunication notice against Baruch Spinoza, a philosopher who postulated that God and nature are equivalent, and that the Bible is purely allegorical. Spinoza is known as the "Jewish Atheist," and he is considered the founder of modern biblical criticism. Spinoza believed that there is no Divine intervention, and that all events are fatalistically destined to occur (thus there is no free will). For these and other heretical ideas, Spinoza was officially shunned by the Jewish community.
6 Av 5532 - August 5, 1772:
The first of the three partitions of Poland (that occurred in 1772, 1794 and 1795) which created huge changes in the Jewish world. Ukraine went to Russia, Galicia to Austria (whose Jewish population now doubled), and Lithuania to Prussia. Catherine II inherited many of the same Jews she was trying to be rid of. Each monarch made an effort to integrate and assimilate its Jews into the “State of Order” and central administration, expediting the advance of Haskalah throughout these countries.
6 Av 5593 - July 22, 1833:
The British House of Commons voted in favor of the emancipation of the Jews
while the House of Lords refused to do so for another 11 years (1845).
6 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yosef Kitzingen, zy”a, (5367 / 1607).
Harav Yosef Kitzingen was born in Kuzel in 5344/1584. His father, Harav Yisrael, was a noted talmid chacham. Harav Yosef married the daughter of Harav Dovid Altschuler of Prague, and the young couple settled in that city after their marriage.
His erudition was apparent at a very young age; in his teens, he was already well-versed in Shas and poskim.
When he was barely in his 20s, his profound knowledge and his geonut earned him a prominent place among the leading Rabbanim of Prague, many of whom were double and triple his age.
Before his death, there was a widespread halachic controversy that erupted regarding the issue of chalitzah granted by Harav Avraham Wallerstein (son-in-law of the Maharal), Rav Yosef, the Maharsha, and the Levush were among the first to invalidate the chalitzah. Unfortunately, the situation spiraled into a massive machloket between the Rabbanim on both sides of the controversy. A short time later, Rav Yosef was niftar, at the tragically young age of 23.
HaRav Yehudah Briel of Montova, zt”l, (5482 / 1722).
Born in Montova in 5403 / 1643, Rav Yehudah was the son of Harav Eliezer Briel.
He was one of the leading Italian Rabbanim of his time. He served on the beit din of the famed mekubal Harav Moshe Zachus; after the latter’s petirah, Rav Yehudah was appointed Av Beit Din and he served for 30 years, becoming famous as a leading posek and Gadol baTorah.
Rav Yehudah was fluent in Italian, and this helped him in the battle against the anti-Semitic elements in Italy. He wrote articles in Italian newspapers refuting them. He was also known as a philosopher.
Rav Yehudah waged war against one of the followers of Shabsai Tzvi and joined the Chacham Tzvi in banning his sefarim.
Rav Yehudah corresponded with many of the generation’s Rabbanim. Some of his teshuvot are found in Pachad Yitzchak by Harav Yitzchak Lamronti, in Shemesh Tzedakah by Harav Shimon Morporgo and in Dvar Shmuel by Harav Shmuel Abuhav. His chiddushim in hilchot treifot are published in Zera Emet, by Harav Yishmael Hakohen.
He was also known as an expert in dikduk, having written the sefer Klalei Hadikduk.
Rav Yehudah was niftar on 6 Av 5492/1722, at the age of 79.
HaRav Mordechai Chassid, zt”l, (5494 / 1734), a member of the esteemed Brodi Kloiz.
HaRav Shlomo Zalman ben Yehuda Leib haKohain Hanau (Katz), (later known by the acronym Raza"h), zt”l,(5447 / 1687 – 5506 / 1746), of Frankfurt-on-Main, author of Binyan Shlomo, a work on Hebrew grammar, which he wrote when he was 21.
HaRav Nosson (ben Shlomo) Ma’az, zt”l, (5556 / 1796), Rosh Yeshiva and Av Beit Din in Frankfurt-am Main, and author of Binyan Shlomo. He was one of the Chatam Sofer's teachers in Franfurt.
HaRav Dr. Shlomo Zalman (Solomon) (ben Mordechai) Breuer, zt”l, (1850-1926), son-in-law and successor of Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch. In his teens, Rav Breuer learned in Pressburg under the Ketav Sofer. His first position was Rav of Papa in 1876, a position he held until 1889. He replaced his father-in-law in 1890, two years after the latter’s petira. Through his efforts, a yeshiva was founded in 1893, the first yeshiva in Germany since the Manheim Yeshiva of the Aruch LaNer in 1836. His family posthumously published his drashot on Chumash in German, subsequently translated into English and Hebrew as Chochmo U’Mussar.
HaRav Yehoshua (ben Avraham Yosef) Greenwald, zt”l, (5729 / 1969), Av Beit Din of Chust. After suffering the horrors of World War II, he followed the Rambam’s advice and wrote that “strolling in beautiful gardens, looking at pleasing works of architecture, and being surrounded by beautiful objects, alleviate depression and expand one’s mind. Served as Rav of Chust-Boro Park, author of Chasdei Yehoshua.
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7 Av 3339 - 422 B.C.E.:
First Beit HaMikdash / Temple Invaded.
After nearly a month of fierce fighting inside Yerushalayim / Jerusalem (see 9 Tammuz), the armies of King Nevuchadnetzar of Bavel / Babylonia under the command of Nevuzaradan broke through into the Beit HaMikdash compound, where they feasted and vandalized until the afternoon of Tisha B'Av, when they set the Beit HaMikdash aflame.
7 Av - 1278:
Pope Nicholas III ordered Jews to attend sermons on conversion.
7 Av 5151 - 1391:
The Jews of Valencia, Spain, were massacred, Hy"d.
7 Av 5252 - 1492:
Spanish officials convened and finalized the expulsion decree against the Jews.
7 Av 5678 - July 16, 1918:
The execution of Czar Nicholas II, by the Bolshevik revolutionaries, among whom were many Jews, brought an end to the Romanov dynasty. The Romanov dynasty had hatched scheme after scheme in the preceeding 70 years to deJudaize and convert the Jews in Russia, and achieved success particularly among the Jews in the large Russian cities. But instead of turning the deJudaized Jews into faithful Russian Orthodox believers, the secularized Jews joined revolutionary anti-Czarist groups — particularly the Bolsheviks -- and ended up murdering the Czar and his family, sealing the fate of the entire Romanov dynasty.
7 Av 5680 - July 22, 1920:
Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal) was founded. Its purpose was to provide financial investment for building and developing the Jewish homeland. Over the years, Keren Hayesod has assisted in bringing 3 million immigrants to Eretz Yisrael and facilitating their absorption. Keren Hayesod has also helped establish and develop over 800 villages and towns in Eretz Yisrael. Its managing director, Leib Jaffe, was amongst those killed in 1948 by a bomb explosion in the Jewish Agency courtyard.
7 Av 5701 - July 31, 1941:
Nazi Minister Hermann Goering, ym"s, officially ordered the mass executions of Jews, known as the Final Solution.
7 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Menachem Ben Harav Zerach, zt”l, (5134 / 1374), author of Tzeidah Laderech.
Don Yosef Nasi, Duke of Naxos, (1524 – 1579). His death put an end to plans to resettle Tverya. He was a wealthy man who was active on behalf of his fellow Jews, the nephew and son-in-law of Donna Gracia Nasiah. He learned in the University of Luban in Felandriah and joined the Mendes Bank in Antwerp. His activities on behalf of the Marranos aroused the enmity of the Church and he had to flee to France and later Italy. He joined his aunt, Donna Gracia in Instanbul and became friendly with the Sultan, achieving the exclusive right to import wine and trade with Poland. He renovated the city wall of Tiberius/ Tverya under the encouragement of his aunt, and founded factories for wool and silk there. He was the ruler of Tverya until he died, although he never visited Eretz Yisrael.
HaRav Yissachar Dov of Zlotchov, zt”l, (5555 / 1795), author of Bat Eini and Mevaser Tzedek. (Others 25 Av).
Harav Yissachar Dov Ber was the son of Harav Aryeh Leibish, and a descendant of Harav Naftali Katz, the Semichat Chachamim. He was the son-in-law of Harav Tzvi Hirsh Peretz of Levertov.
After settling in Levertov, Rav Yissachar Ber joined the group of famed Chassidim, including Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who were also sons-in-law of the Peretz family, originally from Spain.
Influenced by a cousin, Harav Aryeh Leibish Peretz, Rav Yissachar Ber and Rav Levi Yitzchak would journey to the court of the Maggid of Mezeritch and, after his petirah, to Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov.
Some time later, Rav Yissachar Ber was appointed Rav of Zlotchov.
In 5554/1794, Rav Yissachar Ber started on his way to Eretz Yisrael, arriving there in 5555/1795. He settled in Tzfat, as instructed in a letter from Rav Avraham of Kalisk to the Chassidim in Europe.
Rav Yissachar Ber was niftar on 7 Av of that same year, and is buried near the Alshich in Tzfat. Among his talmidim was Rav Chaim of Chernowitz, the Be’er Mayim Chaim.
Rav Yissachar Ber wrote Mevaser Tzedek on the Torah, in which he quotes the divrei Torah of the fathers of the Chassidic movement: the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, the Zlotchover Maggid, Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, and others; and Bat Eini, chiddushim on Gemara and halachah.
HaRav Sinai Sapir, zt”l, (5635 / 1875), author of Olat Chodesh and Minchat Ani.
HaRav Moshe Greenwald of Chust, zt”l, (1915), (Others 5670 / 1910), the Arugat Habosem.
Harav Moshe was born on 13 Shevat. His father was Harav Amram Greenwald; his mother was a descendant of the Panim Me’irot.
Already in his youth it was noticeable that Reb Moshe was destined for greatness. He conducted himself with kedushah and taharah, and was a great masmid. When he was 11 years old he went to learn in the yeshivah of Harav Menachem Katz of Tzelem, where he gained renown as an iluy.
After his bar mitzvah he learned under his grandfather Harav Yosef of Tchechowitz; subsequently he entered the yeshivah of the Ktav Sofer in Pressburg. There he learned b’chavrusa with Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, who later became the Rav of Yerushalayim.
When Reb Moshe was 17, tragedy struck. His father, Rav Amram, was niftar, leaving Reb Moshe, who was the bechor, responsible to provide parnassah for the family. In fact, Reb Moshe was forced to seek work, but his main career remained Torah.
Eventually talmidim began clinging to him and he started leading a yeshivah in Tcharna. He married his cousin, the daughter of his uncle Harav Avraham Gestetner, zt”l.
In 5643 / 1883 Reb Moshe was chosen as Rav of Homna, and four years later he became Rav in Kleinvardein. In the interim he was offered the prestigious Rabbanut previously held by the Maraham Schick in Chust, who had just been niftar. However, Reb Moshe, in his great humility, refused to accept it.
In Kleinvardein he suffered at the hands of maskilim who tried to forbid public study of Torah. Reb Moshe ignored them totally and taught his talmidim to fight the ruling. Thanks to his persistence, yeshivot became legally recognized in Hungary.
In 5653/1893 he acceded to the requests of the residents of Chust and became their Rav. For 18 years he served as Chuster Rav, as he led the largest yeshivah in Hungary at the time. Over 300 talmidim quenched their thirst for Torah there.
His sefarim are She’eilot U’teshuvot Arugat Habosem, Arugat Habosem al haTorah and Mikveh Taharah on the topic of mikvaot. He was a disciple of Rebbe Yusha Rokeach of Belz.
His son, Rav Yaakov Yechezkiya, the Vayaged Yaakov, was Rav in Pupa, and became the Pupa Rebbe. The Rebbes of the Pupa dynasty are direct descendants of the Arugat Habosem.
His other sons were Harav Levi Yitzchak, Rav of Tzelem; Harav Avraham Yosef, Rav of Ungvar; Harav Yekusiel Yehuda Greenwald, Rav of Yoreh; and Harav Yisroel Meir Greenwald, who was niftar young.
HaRav Yaakov of Yavlona, zt"l, (5680 / 1920).
HaRav Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld of Mattersdorf, zt”l, (5686 / 1926). Son of Rav Shmuel Ehrenfeld. Rosh Yeshiva of the Chatam Sofer yeshiva. Author of Ma’aneh Simcha.
HaRav Elazar Rosenfeld of Ushpitzin, Hy”d, (5703 / 1943.
HaRav Shalom Noach Berzovsky, zt”l, the Slonimer Rebbe, the Nesivot Shalom, (1911- 5760 / 2000). Born in Baranovich (today in Belarus), where his father, Rav Moshe Avraham, was the Rosh Hakahal.
HaRav Shmuel Yankowitz, zt”l, (1999), son of Rav Yitzchak Isaac Yankowitz, Rishon LeZion Rebbe.
Baranovich was the home of the Slonimer Rebbe, Rav Avraham Weinberg, and his yeshiva, Torat Chessed. (Rav Weinberg, known as the Bait Avraham, was a great-grandson and namesake of the first Slonimer Rebbe, known as the Yesod Ha’avodah. Rav Berzovsky’s mother was a granddaughter of Rav Hillel, a brother of the Yesod Ha’avodah.)
The future Rav Berzovsky studied in Yeshivat Torat Chessed under its rosh yeshiva, Rav Avraham Shmuel Hirshovitz (a grandson of Rav Eliezer Gordon of Telz), and its mashgiach, Rav Moshe Midner (a grandson of the Yesod Ha’avodah and a student of Rav Chaim Brisker Soloveitchik). He thus absorbed Talmudic studies in the Lithuanian style with traditional chassidic teachings.
Shortly before his own passing in 1933, the Bait Avraham recommended to his cousin, Rav Avraham Weinberg of Teveryah that he take Rav Berzovsky as a son-in-law. (Rav Avraham’s brother was the father of Rav Yaakov Weinberg, the late rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel, and Rav Noach Weinberg, founder of Aish Hatorah.)
On Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, 1941, Rav Berzovsky opened the Slonimer yeshiva in Yerushalayim. With the exception of the Yesod Ha’avodah, none of the Slonimer Rebbes or their predecessors, the rebbes of Lechovitch and Kobrin, committed their teachings to writing. As part of his effort to rejuvenate Slonimer chassidut, Rav Berzovsky was responsible for collecting the oral traditions ascribed to these leaders in works such as Divrei Shmuel and Torat Avot.
Rav Berzovsky also authored many volumes of his own teachings, including the seven-volume Nesivot Shalom. Rav Berzovsky served as the Slonimer Rebbe from his father-in- law’s death in 1981.
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8 Av 2448 - 1313 B.C.E.:
The meraglim / spies returned from their 40-day tour of Eretz Yisroel. See 9 Av.
The meraglim, who were dispatched 40 days earlier by Moshe to tour the Promised Land (Eretz Yisroel), returned to Israel's encampment in the desert, bearing a huge cluster of grapes and other lush fruits. Even as they praised the land's fertility, they terrified Klal Yisroel / the people with tales of mighty giant warriors dwelling there and asserted that the land was unconquerable.
8 Av - 67 C.E.:
Civil War in Yerushalayim.
Fighting breaks out inside the besieged city of Yerushalayim between Jewish factions divided on the question of whether or not to fight the Roman armies encircling the city from without. One group sets fire to the city's considerable food stores, consigning its population to starvation until the fall of Yerushalayim three years later.
8 Av 5109 - July 24, 1349:
Jews of Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, were killed following the Black Death massacres, Hy"d. When the Christian mob started its attack on the Jewish quarter many Jews chose suicide over barbarous torture.
8 Av 5430 - July 25, 1670:
Emperor Leopold I expelled 4,000 Jews from their homes in Vienna, Austria. A
small number of Jews agreed to baptism and were therefore allowed to stay. The
Great Synagogue was destroyed and a church dedicated to St. Margaret was erected
in its place.
8 Av 5547 - July 23, 1787:
Jews of Austria were required to take family names.
8 Av 5689 - August 14, 1929:
The Jewish Agency (Sochnut) for Palestine was founded.
8 Av 5702 - July 22, 1942:
The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto was announced. The Warsaw Ghetto held 400,000 people (30% of the entire population of Warsaw), crammed into a tiny area. In its three years of existence, thousands of Jews died of disease and starvation. Yet despite all, the Jews managed to continue religious and cultural activities in the ghetto. On the eve of Tisha B'Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year, the Nazis began the deportation, with over 300,000 Jews taken to concentration camps, primarily to Treblinka, in
the 53.days of this Nazi action.
When the Nazis sought to liquidate the ghetto, Jewish resistance fighters took action, digging hundreds of bunkers under the houses, connected through the sewage system. In the spring of 1943, some 750 Jewish partisans began the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, killing approximately 300 Germans in one month of fighting.
8 Av 5737 - July 23, 1977:
A jury in Washington DC convicted twelve Hanafi Muslims on charges stemming from a hostage siege at three buildings the previous March.
8 Av 5763 - August 8, 2003:
Israel released 334 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to Abu Mazen, the Palestinian Prime Minister, as a confidence building measure. However, Yasser Arafat, ym's, dismissed the release as "an act of fraud and deceit.”
8 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Eliezer Chazan, zt”l, (around 1790 - 5583 / 1823), author of Amudei Arazim. Born in Izmit, Turkey, his father, was Rav Joseph Refael Chazan, author of Chikrei Lev.
HaRav Shlomo Zalman Levi, zt”l, Rav of Zlotchov, (5591 / 1831), oldest son of Harav Avraham Levi. He was named for his father’s father, Harav Shlomo Zalman, who was niftar when Reb Avraham was still young. His brothers were Harav Nachum of Shadik (Shadika), who later lived in Yerushalayim; Harav Asher Lemel of Galin; Harav Yaakov Yehudah of Sleshin; and Harav Yisrael.
Reb Shlomo Zalman was born in Warsaw during the time that his father learned there with Harav Shlomo Zalman Lifshitz, the Chemdat Shlomo. Later, Reb Avraham returned to his native Posen.
Reb Shlomo Zalman married the daughter of Harav Chaim Nachum Margulies, the son-in-law of Harav Ephraim Segal, Rav of Kviel. His zivug sheini was the daughter of Harav Binyamin Wolf Traube, Rav of Kalish.
Reb Shlomo Zalman was appointed Rav in Zlotchov, near Kalish.
An outstanding matmid, he also secretly did many acts of tzedakah and chessed.
Reb Shlomo Zalman was considered to have ruach hakodesh.
It is related that one time, during his shiur in his yeshiva in Zlotchov, a group of six doves landed on the window of the beit medrash; one flew away. Reb Shlomo Zalman instructed the talmidim to continue to learn on their own, while he himself set out to gather his brothers and travel to the home of their sister in Kletshev who had passed away. They arrived just in time for the kevura. When asked how he had known, Reb Shlomo Zalman replied that the six doves on the window corresponded to his family, five brothers and one sister, and when one bird flew away, he understood that his sister had been niftar.
Another time, after a shiur, Reb Shlomo Zalman instructed one of the bachurim to recite Kaddish. Then he told the bachur to return home, and the bachur found that his mother had passed away. When asked how he knew, Reb Shlomo Zalman replied that his eyes saw further than the eyes of other people.
Reb Shlomo Zalman was niftar on 8 Av 5591/1831, during a cholera outbreak.
He left manuscripts of chiddushim on many masechtot, but they were not printed. Some of his chiddushim are quoted in other sefarim.
Reb Shlomo Zalman had one son-in-law: Harav Michoel Dov Weingott, Rav in Loivitch and author of Agudat Ezov Midbari.
HaRav Shmuel Shmelke Toibish, zt”l, (5625 / 1865), Rav of Yas (Jassi), author of Chayei Olam, Milchamot Hashem and Mitzvat Chalitzah.
HaRav Yehudah Halevi of Ragoza, zt”l, (5638 / 1878), founder of the Jewish yishuv in Yaffo.
HaRav Shmuel Luvtzar, zt”l, (5658 / 1898), author of Olat Shmuel.
HaRav Simcha Zissel Ziv (ben Yisrael), the Alter of Kelm, zt"l, (1824 - 5658 / 1898). After his marriage, he moved from Kelm to Kovno where he became a talmid muvhak of Rav Yisrael Salanter. In 1862, he opened the Talmud Torah of Kelm, in order to combat the growing influence of haskala. About 15 years later, he and his yeshiva were denounced as “anti-government, and Rav Simcha Zissel had to change his last name from Broide to Ziv. His talmidim included Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel (the Alter of Slobodka), Rav Yosef Yoizel Horowitz (the Alter of Novardok), Rav Aharon Bakst, Rav Reuven Dessler, and his son Rav Nachum Ziv. The yeshiva was always highly restricted and at most it held 30 to 35 talmidim.
HaRav Shimon Agasi, zt”l, (1852 - 5674 / 1914), was born in Baghdad. His family originated in Persia. In Persian, his name Agasi, means “commissioner,” a position some of his forebears, who were very wealthy and influential, had occupied in their native land. Rav Shimon’s father, Rav Aharon, had been a very successful businessman who imported paint from India.
At the age of eleven, Shimon began to study in Baghdad’s Medrash Talmud Torah, founded by Rav Abdallah Somech. It developed rapidly to become the top Torah institution in the city, where over three thousand students studied free-of-charge. Among those who learned there were Rav Eliyahu Mani (the chief rav of Chevron), the Ben Ish Chai and Rav Salman Mutzafi.
In 1865, a man, named Yitzchak Luria, came to Baghdad and attempted to open an Alliance school, which offered secular studies and tried to modernize the lifestyles of its students. However, Baghdad’s sages placed a cheirem on the school and thwarted his efforts.
From Medrash Talmud Torah, Rav Shimon proceeded to its adult division, Beit Zilcha, where he became one of its finest students. His main mentors in Beit Zilcha were Rav Abdallah Somech’s two best students, Rav Shmuel Majled and Rav Nissim HaLevi. At the age of 17, Rav Shimon began to study Kabbala from Rav Chaim Vital’s Eitz Chaim. A number of years later, he joined the Chacham Yitzchak yeshiva, founded by Rav Yitzchak Berabi Mordechai Sasson, another of Baghdad’s great sages. Among its illustrious students were Rav Yehuda Petaya, Rav Dovid Sofer, Rav Rafael Shlomo Laniado, Rav Nissim Kadouri and Rav Yitzchak Nissim. In 1898, his oldest son, Aharon, passed away on Purim of that year. Rav Agasi was the author of Shem MiShimon.
HaRav Meilech Silber, zt”l, (5730 /1970), menahel of the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway. Born in Nuremberg, Germany, his lifetime of serving his fellow Jews began at the age of 7: Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Klein, leader of the Adat Yisroel community in Nuremberg, would send him on secret missions in the early morning hours, going to the houses of poor families, leaving an envelope full of money on the step, knocking on the door, and then running away as fast as he could.
With the advent of World War II, the Silber family moved to America, settling in the Bronx. He learned at different periods in RJJ, Torah Vodaath and Yeshivat Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin. He also served as National Director of Pirchei Agudat Yisroel, as well as Head Counselor of Camp Agudah. In 1946, Reb Meilech was sent by Rav Hutner to a new yeshiva in the Crown Heights neighborhood which was searching for a principal. At the time, the yeshiva consisted of 10 kindergartners, two teachers and, now, a principal. From this humble beginning grew the renowned Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway. Throughout the next 25 years, Reb Meilech built the yeshiva into a dynamic force in Torah education. Today, Yeshiva Zichron Meilech, under the leadership of Rav Chaim Leib Epstein, takes its name from Reb Meilech and strives to continue in his path.
HaRav Chanoch Henoch Dov Zilberfarb, zt”l, (5738 / 1978), the Koidenover Rebbe.
Harav Chanoch Henoch Dov Zilberfarb was born in Koidenov in 5650 / 1890. His father was Harav Meshulam Zalman Yosef of Toporow, the son-in-law of Harav Aharon of Koidenov.
Harav Meshulam Zalman was famed for his avodat Hashem, to such a degree that the Alter of Slabodka, Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, used to send bachurim to Koidenov to see how he recited Kriat Shema and davened. Reb Meshulam Zalman stamped his feet so hard in hislahavut that the wooden floor where he stood had to be periodically replaced. It took him two hours to recite Kiddush Levanah, even in the freezing cold of mid-winter.
Reb Meshulam Zalman was appointed Rebbe after his father-in-law was niftar on 26 Elul 5657 / 1897.
Reb Chanoch Henoch married the daughter of Harav Mordechai Yosef Moshe Moskowitz of Sulitza. Initially, the family resided in Koidenov, but later they moved to Toporow, where Reb Meshulam Zalman was once Rav.
After the petirah of his father-in-law, on 11 Sivan 5689 / 1929, Reb Chanoch Henoch was appointed Rebbe in his stead in Butashan, Romania. In no time he became one of that country’s most famed Rebbes.
It is related that once, in midwinter, he arrived in a town that had no mikveh. He insisted, despite the people’s protests, on immersing himself in the ice-covered river as a live demonstration of mikveh’s vital importance. When the people protested that they had no money to build a mikveh, Reb Chanoch Henich traveled around the neighboring towns to raise the necessary funds.
During World War II, thousands of Romanian Jews were banished to work camps; those who remained in towns needed a special permit. To shelter someone without such a permit put one at risk of being banished oneself. Despite this danger, Reb Chanoch Henoch sheltered dozens of illegal refugees in the spacious cellar of his home throughout the war years supplying not only their physical needs but providing spiritual succor and comfort as well. The very well-attended Seder he led there is well known.
In 5708 / 1948, Reb Chanoch Henoch left Communist Romania, moved to Eretz Yisrael and re-established his court, opening a beit medrash in Tel Aviv. His arrival was cause for much joy amongst the Koidenov Chassidim in the country.
Even though Reb Chanoch Henoch was totally blind during the last 20 years of his life, he would always stare into the sefer Torah before saying Birchat haTorah as if he were scrutinizing its words. One Sukkot someone asked him the reason for this strange custom.
After entering his sukkah, Reb Chanoch Henoch seized the person’s hand and said to him, “Listen carefully, I’m not going to lie in the sukkah. Believe me that I never say Birchat HaTorah without seeing the letters of the sefer Torah before my eyes.”
But, despite his blindness, his memory did not fail him, and he was able to recite many Gemaras by heart without making a mistake. He accepted the decree with love, saying, “Baruch Hashem,now I don’t need to see what’s happening around me when I go out in the streets.”
Reb Chanoch Henoch was niftar on 8 Av 5738/1988, at the age of 87.
HaRav Moshe Dov Chait, zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chofetz Chaim in Yerushalayim (1921-2009). Born in Philadelphia, Rav Chait – a talmid of Rav Dovid Leibowitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills - was a long-time Rav of the Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater and a rebbi at Yeshiva University, before moving to Eretz Yisroel in 1970 to found the Yerushalayim branch of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. Rav Chait was well-known to have “a dazzling smile and a twinkle in his eye that lit up your soul as he spoke to your soul.”
Av - Tisha B'Av
9 Av - Tisha B'Av
HaRav Pinchas of Koritz warns of the danger of laughing on this day. (Imrei
Notice how many different attempted destruction of the Jews are associated
with Tisha B'Av.
The mishna in Taanit (4:6) enumerates five calamities that took place on this day:
9 Av - 2448 - 1313 B.C.E.:
1) The Dor Hamidbar (the generation of Jews who came out of Mitzrayim / Egypt under Moshe Rabbeinu's leadership 16 months earlier) was condemned to die in the midbar / desert and not enter Eretz
Yisroel. (See 8 Av - The Meraglim / spies had returned with a false report to the people after 40 days
of scouting out Eretz
Approx. 15,000 adult Jewish
males died each year on Tisha b'Av.
9 Av - 3339 - 422 B.C.E.:
9 Av - 3828 - 68 C.E. or 3830 - 70 C.E.:
2-3) Both the First and Second Batei Mikdash / Holy Temples which stood in
Yerushalayim / Jerusalem were destroyed on Tisha B'Av.
The First Beit HaMikdash by Nevuzradan and the Babylonians, (3339 - 422 B.C.E.) 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled.
The second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed by the Romans led by Titus.(3828 - 68 C.E. or 3830 - 70 C.E.) Some 2 million Jews died, and another million were exiled.
9 Av - 3893 - 133 or 135 C.E.:
4) During the time of Rebbi Akiva, the Romans under Hadrian capture the city of Beitar and put an end to the Bar Kochba rebellion.
Beitar, the last stronghold in the heroic Bar Kochba rebellion, fell to the Romans on the 9th of Av after a three-year siege. 580,000 Jews died by starvation or the sword, including Bar Kochba, the leader of the rebellion.
5) The Romans totally destroyed Yerushalayim. Under the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the wicked general Turnus Rufus plowed under the site of the Mikdash to establish a pagan Roman city there, and renamed it Aelia Capitolina - and access was forbidden to Jews.
This is also the day that Yirmiyahu HaNavi was born.
Today, Tisha B'Av is the Jewish national day of mourning, when we don't eat, drink or bathe. Lights in the synagogue are dimmed, and we read Eicha (the Book of Lamentations), Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah's poetic lament over the destruction of Yerushalayim. For more info, click here.
9 Av 4855 - 1095:
First Crusade declared by Pope Urban II. 10,000 Jews killed in first month of Crusade. Crusades bring death and destruction to thousands of Jews, totally obliterate many communities in Rhineland and France, Hy"d.
9 Av - 1190:
The anti-Jewish riots and the mass suicide of the Jews of York, England, Hy"d .
9 Av - 1215:
The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 arranged by Pope Innocent III imposed distinctive clothing on Jews - a piece of saffron-colored fabric in the shape of the two tablets of the law (luchot). It was the first time it was done in Europe.
9 Av 5050 - July 18, 1290:
King Edward I expelled the Jews (approx 4,000) from England, marking the first ever national expulsion
9 Av 5252 - August 2, 1492:
Spanish rulers King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expel 300,000 Jews from Spain, terminating many centuries of flourishing Jewish life in that country.
9 Av - July 31, 1571:
The ghetto of Florence, Italy was opened.
9 Av 5408 - July 28, 1648:
Chmielnicki and his cossacks massacre 3,000 Jews in Eastern Europe (Konstantynow), Hy"d.
9 Av 5430 - July 26, 1670:
The last Jews left Vienna, following expulsion orders.
9 Av 5609 - July 28, 1849:
The Jews in Hungary were granted civil rights.
9 Av 5638 - August 8, 1878:
The Jewish town of Petach Tikva was founded in Eretz Yisroel..
9 Av 5642 - July 25, 1882:
The Turkish government barred immigration of Russian and Romanian Jews, and forbade the sale of land in Eretz Yisrael to Jews.
9 Av 5674 - August 1, 1914:
World War I began.
Germany, an ally of Austria-Hungary, declared war on Russia and demanded the neutrality of Russia's ally France; France refused and mobilized. This occured four days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia (one month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian activist), and three days after Russia, Serbia's ally, ordered the mobilization of troops. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
9 Av 5689 - August 15, 1929:
2,000 Arabs attack Jews davening at the Kotel. The British refused to condemn the attacks and secretly encouraged, armed and supported the Arab uprising. This resulted in great tragedy, including the Jewish massacre in Chevron (Hebron).
9 Av 5701- August 2, 1941:
Jews were ordered expelled from Hungarian Ruthenia.
9 Av 5701- August 2, 1941:
The S.S. murdered 600 Jews in Targivica, Ukraine, Hy"d.
9 Av 5701- August 2, 1941:
The Treblinka extermination camp was opened.
9 Av 5702 - July 23, 1942:
On the eve of Tisha B'Av , the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka. The deportation continued for 53 days, during which 300,000 Jews were taken to the death camps. See 8 Av.
9 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Dovid Forkas, zt”l, (5532 / 1772), talmid of the Baal Shem Tov.
HaRav Yaakov Yitzchak ben Reb Avrohom Eliezer HaLevi Horowitz, zt”l, the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin (1745 or 1754 - 1815). 8th generation from the Shela HaKodesh; His primary Rebbe was Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, and he studied with Rebbe Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezeritch and Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.he was also a student of Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg. He began the dynasty of Admorim of the Horowitz family who are important in Chassidut until today. He was known as a miracle worker. Most of the Admorim of Poland and Galitzia were his disciples. He was known as the Seer because he could look into the inner world of a person and see the future. He encouraged love of fellow Jews very much. His works are fundamental to Chassidut: Zot Zichron, Divrei Emet and Zichron Tov, all published posthumously. See here for more on the Chozeh.
HaRav Moshe David Lida of Weisslitz, zt”l, (5540 / 1780 - 5588 / 1828), author of Migdal David.
Harav Moshe David Lida was born in 5540/1780. He was a direct grandson and namesake of Harav Moshe Lida, Rav of Amsterdam, noted mekubal and author of several sefarim.
From his youth, he was noted for his intense tefillah and avodat Hashem.
Reb Moshe David traveled to the court of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, and became his devoted chassid. After the petira of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech, Reb Moshe David became the chassid of the Chozeh of Lublin. He was also a chassid of the Yehudi Hakadosh of Peshischa.
The Chozeh would send many young chassidim to learn from the ways and teaching of Reb Moshe David. Among his talmidim were Harav Yitzchak of Vorka; Harav Klonimus Kalman, the Ma’or V’shemesh; and Harav Meir of Apta, the Or LaShamayim.
Later, Reb Moshe David was appointed Rav in Weisslitz, near Cracow. Although the town was small, it became famous due to the tzaddik who resided there.
Reb Moshe David was noted for his emotional tefillot and for his tzedaka works. Many traveled to him to receive his brachot, which were known to work wonders.
In the summer of 5588/1828, Reb Moshe David traveled to the resort city Altendorf, in Hungary, where he was suddenly niftar, on the night of Tishah B’Av, at the age of just 48. It has been noted that he thus shares the same yahrtzeit as his Rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin.
Reb Moshe David was buried there, and his kever became a noted place of tefilla.
His son was Harav Chaim, while his son-in-law, Harav Aryeh Leibish of Zhelichov, succeeded him as Rav in Weisslitz.
Many of his Torah thoughts and talks were compiled and published as Migdal Dovid.
HaRav Rafael Aharon Monsonego, zt’l, (ca. 1760 – 1840), head of the Beit Din in Fez, Morocco, author of Mei haShiloach, Neot Midbar and many other sefarim.
HaRav Gavriel (Malach) ben Rav Dovid Horowitz of Moglenitza, zt”l, (1858). A talmid of the Ohev Yisroel of Apta, Magid of Koznitz and his son, Reb Moshe Elyakim Briah and Reb Chaim Meir of Moglenitza. He helped put together the writings of the Magid of Koznitz.
HaRav Alexander Meir Schuck, Z’tl, (1906 - 2006), who was Rav in Temesvar, Romania before the war. Immediately after the war ended, a train arrived in Temesvar with merchandise for sale. Across the one of the train cars was written in German: “Soap--Pure Jewish Fat”. The community of Temesvar gathered together their monetary resources and purchased the train load of ‘pure Jewish fat’. They unloaded the fat, and buried it in the most proper Jewish burial that they could have. HaRav Schuck giving a moving eulogy at the cemetery. At the time, he was a man in his late 30’s with a flaming red beard. His family relates that, almost overnight after the eulogy, his beard turned completely white.
Dr. Leo (Shmuel) Deutschlander (1888-1935), one of the founders of the Beit Yaakov movement. Born in Berlin, Reb Shmuel’s father was niftar when he was five years old, and his mother just two years later. In addition to his Torah chinuch, he studied in the Universities of Berlin,Warburg, and Gussen, earning a doctorate in German history and literature. Following WW1, after Lithuania proclaimed its independence, he was invited to head of the Yavne religious school system in the Jewish Ministry of the new republic - a position he retained from 1919 to 1922. He was later instrumental in allocating funds to Sarah Schenirer’s first Beit Yaakov in Krakow.
HaRav Yitzhak Nisim ben Rachamim, zt"l, (1896-1981). Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel (Rishon Letzion) from 1955 to 1972. Born in Baghdad, he came to Yerushalayim in 1925. In 1926 he published his first sefer, Tzedaka U'Mishpat.
In 1955, he was chosen as the Rishon L'Zion and the Chief Rabbi of Israel. He published two volumes of responsa, Yayin HaTov. He was the Rebbe of R' Mordechai Eliyahu.
HaRav Yitzchak Yosef Zilber, zt”l, (1917 - 5764 / 2004), founder of Mosdot Toldot Yeshurun.
Born in Kazan, Russia, to Rav Ben Tzion, who had studied in the Slabodka yeshiva. Rav Ben Tzion taught Torah to his son, despite Soviet Russia's Mandatory Schooling Law. During the 1920s, in the Soviet Union, all of the Jewish schools were closed, and those caught studying or teaching Torah was exiled to Siberia. At the age of fifteen, Rav Yitzchak Yosef delivered shiurim throughout the city. At one point, he was arrested for his kiruv activities and thrown into prison. On Purim of 1953, when he was still in prison, Rav Yitzchak Yosef assembled fifteen Jews and taught them about Megilat Esther. In 1972, Rav Yitzchak Yosef finally received an aliyah permit.
When he arrived in Eretz Yisrael, Rav Yitzchak Yosef took his son, Ben Tzion, to Meah Shearim. While there, he met Rav Beinish Finkel, the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Mir, with whom he became very close. Although Rav Yitzchak Yosef was overjoyed to be in Eretz HaKodesh, he was deeply disturbed by the fact that, during that period, very few Russian-born Jews kept Torah and mitzvot. Then and there, he launched an amazing array of activities on behalf of his Russian brothers. As in Russia, he would travel long distances to draw young Russians, who were scattered all over the country, closer to Torah. One of those young people was Eliyahu Rips, currently a professor of worldwide fame who lectures on the subject of the Bible Codes. Soon after his aliyah, Rav Yitzchak Yosef became a mashgiach ruchani in Yeshivat Dvar Yerushalayim, headed by Rav Baruch Horowitz. In that yeshiva, he paid special attention to its Russian baalei teshuvah. Over the years, he assisted and inspired all of the organizations for Russian immigrants, among them Shamir, Shevut Ami, Ohr Avner and the Russian departments of Ohr Sameach, Machon Lev and Aish HaTorah. Today, Toldot Yeshurun sponsors kollelim in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashdod, Netanyah, Ofakim, Beitar, Beit Shemesh, Neveh Yaakov, Netivot and Modi'in, while Rav Yitzchak Yaakov's daughter, Chavah Kuperman, runs a network of shiurim for women.
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10 Av - 586 B.C.E.:
Eliahu Hanavi went up to heaven one day after Shabbat Nachamu
10 Av 3335 - 426 B.C.E.:
Yechezkel HaNavi delivered a nevuah (prophecy) to the Jewish elders and awakened Bnei Yisroel to Teshuvah.
10 Av - 3828 - 68 C.E. or 3830 - 70 C.E.:
The Second Beit HaMikdash continued to burn, through 10 Av, from fire started the afternoon before by the Romans (see 9 Av). For this reason, some of the mourning practices of the "Nine Days" are observed through the morning hours of 10 Av.
10 Av 5066 - 1306:
King Phillip IV (Philip the Fair), arrested and deported all the Jews from France.
Short of money due to a war with the Flemish, he came up with the plan to expel the Jews of France and confiscate and sell off their property. 100,000 Jews were arrested on July 22nd 1306, the day after Tisha B’Av. When in prison the Jews were told that they were sentenced to exile. They had to leave behind their belongings and debts and were to be allowed to leave the country only with the clothes they were wearing and a small sum of money. (They came back nine years later.)
10 Av - July 7, 1320:
Les Pastoureaux, crusaders against the Muslims, killed 400 Jews in Jaca, French
10 Av 5118 - 1358:
Hundreds of Jews of Catalonia (a region of northeast Spain) were murdered, Hy"d.
10 Av 5252 - August 3, 1492:
Christopher Columbus left Spain for the new world with a three-ship convoy.
Many Jews were on board.
10 Av 5257 - 1497:
Six years after the expulsion from Spain, the Jews were expelled from neighboring Portugal. (others 5258 / 1498).
10 Av 5315 - 1555:
The Jews of Rome were forced to move into a ghetto.
10 Av 5435 - August 2, 1675:
The new Amsterdam synagogue “Talmud Torah” was inaugurated with great ceremony. Amsterdam had over four thousand Jewish families at that time. The shul is still in existence today.
10 Av 5435 - August 2, 1675:
The new Amsterdam synagogue “Talmud Torah” was inaugurated with great ceremony. Amsterdam had over four thousand Jewish families at that time. The shul is still in existence today.
10 Av - 5607 - July 23, 1847:
· Prussian Jewry granted equality.
10 Av 5665 - August 11, 1905:
The British Aliens Act, which had a clear anti-Jewish bias, became the law, a piece of legislation designed to stop or at least slow the influx of Jews who were fleeing from the pogroms in Eastern Europe at that time. This first introduced the concept of port controls, operated by immigration officers who would inspect immigrants upon arrival.
10 Av 5754 - July 18, 1994:
With Iranian help, Hezbollah bombed the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 87 and wounding over 100, Hy"d.
10 Av - 5765 - August 15, 2005:
Expulsion from Gaza 2005.
More than 8,500 Jewish residents were forcefully expelled from their homes in 25 towns and settlements in the Gaza Strip (including 16 settlements in the flourishing "Gush Katif" belt) and Northern Shomron in the summer of 2005, as part of the Israeli government's ill-fated "Disengagement Plan."
Despite mass rallies against the disengagement, and an orange-ribbon campaign, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon implemented the plan with the hope of reducing security concerns and diffusing the demographic problem of Gaza's 1.5 million Arabs.
Av 10 was the deadline set by the governments for all Jews to leave their homes in these areas. Two days later, tens of thousands of soldiers and police officers began the forceful removal of the thousands who refused to leave willingly.
The removal of all Jewish residents from Gush Katif and the Gaza Strip was completed by Av 17, and from Northern Samaria a day later. The army completed its withdrawal from these areas on the 8th of Elul, after bulldozing all the hundreds of homes and civic buildings in the settlements. The Jewish dead were disinterred and removed from the cemeteries. Only the synagogues were left standing.
The government's hopes that the "disengagement" would open "new opportunities" in relations with the Palestinian Arabs were bitterly disappointed. No sooner had the last Israeli soldiers departed from the Gaza Strip that Arab mobs began looting, desecrating and tourching the synagogues. The vacated settlements became the staging grounds for terrorist attacks against Israel, including the unremitting rocket fire on the nearby Israeli town of Sederot and the cities and settlements of the Western Negev.
10 Av Yahrtzeits
Yissachar, son of Yaakov Avinu, was born to Leah, (1443 / 2319 B.C.E.), and later died on the same date
(1565 - 2196 B.C.E.).
HaRav Don Yitzchak ben Yehudah Abarbanel, zt"l, (1437 - 5268 / 1508), leader of Spain’s Jewry, and author of sefer Abarbanel.
Born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1437 to an an illustrious Sephardic family which traced its lineage back to the royal house of David HaMelech. His grandfather, Rav Shmuel, escaped from Seville, Spain, when the Catholics destroyed the Jewish quarter, murdering many Jews. Abrabanel was one of the great Biblical commentators of late medieval Spain. From his early youth, he was carefully instructed in the Talmudlc and Rabbinic literatures, and mastered the various branches of secular learning. When Rav Yitzchak was only 20, he completed his first sefer, Ateret Zekeinim, and began to work on his famous commentary on the Torah.
In the Summer of 1471, following the victory of King Alfonso V over Morocco, an emissary of the Moroccan Jewish community, Emmanuel ben Yitzchak, approached Don Yitzchak Abarbanel with a plea to assist in the ransom of 250 Jewish would-be slaves. The Abarbanel was not only successful, he added his own funds to supply food and medicine.
His keen intellect and, above all, great business ability drew him to the attention of Alfonso V of Portugal, who made him his treasurer, a position that he held until 1481, while serving as the leader of the Jewish community of Portugal.
After Alfonso's death in 1481, Abrabanel was suspected by the new king of complicity in a rebellion, and was forced to flee to Castille. He was fortunate to be able to carry his wealth with him, and eventually became a member of the court of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1484. From that position, Abrabanel argued vehemently for the revocation of the expulsion order of 1492, but to no avail. On Tisha B’Av, he led 300,000 Jews out of the country. Only10% reached safe shores. Abrabanel went to Naples and eventually settled in Venice, where he held office as a minister of state till his death in 1508.
He was buried in Padua, Italy, but the location of his grave is now unknown.
Most of Abrabanel's writings date from his later years when he was free of governmental responsibilities.
Abrabanel's commentaries on Tanach are unique and represent a fresh departure in the depth of his questions and analyses and the originality of his interpretations. All subsequent commentators must take note of his questions even if they do not agree with his answers. He wrote a famous commentary on Maimonides' "Guide to the Perplexed," which he admired greatly, though he did not hesitate to criticize that work. He wrote works on the Pesach Haggadah and Pirkei Avot and several works on the Messianic period and the Mashiach / Messiah, and Rosh Amana, in defense of the Rambam's thirteen principles of faith.
He often bemoaned the excessive time he spent on worldly matters and in his last work, a letter written to Saul HaKohain in 1507 Abrabanel writes:
"All these commentaries I wrote after I left my country. Before that, all the time was spent in the courts and palaces of the kings... my days in vanity and my years in getting riches and honor; and now these riches have perished... It was only after I had become a fugitive...without money, that I sought out the Book of the L-rd...Therefore, I have limited myself to the contemplation of the "Guide to the Perplexed" and to the exposition of the Bible. These are the sources of all knowledge and in their wisdom all doubts and perplexities are dissolved."
Though he spent the closing years of his life in Italy, Abarbanel never ceased to view himself as an Iberian (Sefardic) Jew. Indeed, in his final words which have come down, he describes himself as one "unable to be at peace when . . . the exile of Jerusalem in sefarad remains in dispersion."
HaRav Shmuel Florintin, zt”l, (5479/1719), author of Olat Shmuel. Son of Harav David Florintin.
He learned under his grandfather Rav Shmuel, the author of Me’il Shmuel. He was also a talmid of Harav Avraham Gatinyue.
Later he headed his own yeshiva, where he taught many talmidim.
Rav Shmuel produced many sefarim; notable among them is Beit Haroeh, a collection of the works of the poskim on the Shulchan Aruch and commentaries, including some of the chiddushim of Rav Shmuel. This sefer was cherished by Rabbanim and poskim, including many of the Sephardic Gedolim, notably the Chida and Harav Chaim Palagi, as a reliable source for psak halacha.
Among the other sefarim that Rav Shmuel wrote: Minchat Shmuel, a collection of his drashot, and She’eilot U’Teshuvot Olat Shmuel, his halachic responsa.
Rav Shmuel was niftar on 10 Av 5479/1719.
His sons were Rav Dovid and Rav Moshe, and his son-in-law was Harav Avraham Shirano.
HaRav Masoud Chai Rokeach, zt”l, (5528 / 1768), author of Maaseh Rokeach on the Rambam.
Harav Masoud was the son of Rav Aharon. He was born in Izmir, Turkey, about 5450/1690.
He learned under Harav Chaim Abulafiah in Izmir, and then under Harav Yitzchak Hakohen Rappaport, author of Batei Kehunah.
Rav Masoud moved to Eretz Yisrael, where he was known as one of Yerushalayim’s Torah giants. He corresponded in halachah with Rabbanim in Italy and in Izmir.
Sent to Libya to raise funds for the community in Yerushalayim around 5500/1740, Rav Masoud was asked to stay on and serve there as Rav. During the time he spent there, Rav Masoud helped the local kehillah grow in Torah and mitzvot.
Later Rav Masoud settled in Livorno, Italy, where he sat on the beit din with Harav Yaakov Lusinah and Harav Yitzchak Inrikis.
Rav Masoud wrote numerous sefarim. The most famous is Maaseh Rokeach, a three-volume work on the Rambam; he also wrote Divrei HaBraisa, commentaries on the five Megillot, and Chiddushei Hashem on the Gemara. Many other works are still in manuscript form.
Rav Masoud was niftar on 10 Av 5528/1768 in Tripoli, Libya.
HaRav Dovid Farkas, zt”l, (5532 / 1772), talmid of the Baal Shem Tov.
HaRav Avraham Tzvi Margulies, zt”l, Rav of Glusk, (1861-1908). He traced his lineage through 16 consecutive generations of Rabbanut, to the Chacham Tzvi, the Megaleh Amukot, the Maharsha, the Maharal miPrague, the Rema, all the way to Rabbeinu Hai Gaon. He was known for his exceptional hasmada. Rav Yisrael Yitzchak Reizman, dayan of the Eidah Hachareidit, testified that Rav Avraham Tzvi made a grand siyum every year at Simchat Torah to mark his completion of Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi, the Arbah Turim, Shulchan Aruch and the entire Rambam. In 1908, he moved to Eretz Yisrael. He authored Chemdat Yerushalayim, in which he attempts to answer the apparent contradictions between the Yerushalmi and the Bavli. He also authored Keren Orah on the Chumash and Yomim Tovim.
HaRav Yosef (ben Yechezkel) Paneth, Dezher Rebbe (1962), one of the foremost Rebbes in Williamsburg after World War II. The Rebbe’s son-in-law was Rebbe Naftali Tzvi Halberstam the late Bobover Rebbe.
HaRav Shimon Ziat, zt”l, (5665/1905 - 5760 / 2000), Rav of the Aram Tzova (Aleppo) community in Eretz Yisrael, (1905-2000).
Harav Shimon Ziat was born on 23 Tevet 5665/1905, in Aram Tzova (Aleppo, Syria). His parents were Rav Shaul and Salcha Ziat.
When he was very young, his father passed away and, at the age of 14, he fled to Mexico City due to the hunger which prevailed in Syria after the First World War. When he was in his 20s, Rav Shimon married Chanah, a daughter of the illustrious Katzin family. Together they founded a home which was a model of Torah observance.
For many decades, Rav Shimon lived in Mexico City, where he played an active role in the city’s Torah affairs.
Along with his mentor, the mekubal Harav Mordechai Attias, zt”l, he worked to disseminate Torah, built a shul and a mikveh, and drew the community closer to Torah and mitzvot.
He also supported Torah institutions in Eretz Yisrael by establishing a network of donors in Mexico. All emissaries who came to Mexico on behalf of Torah institutions were familiar with the address of Rav Shimon, whose home was open to all. The moment they appeared at the threshold of his store, he would close his business and accompany them to the homes of local philanthropists.
His acquaintances described him as an “eved Hashem.”
His scrupulous observance of halachah was well known, and he taught others to be equally meticulous. In the shul of Harav Shimon Ziat, no one dared to speak during the davening or Kriat HaTorah.
In 5721 / 1961, he moved to Eretz Yisrael with his entire family, settling in Bnei Brak where his sons founded Torah institutions and taught Torah.
During the last years of his life, he suffered greatly but accepted his pain with love. He never displayed signs of distress but suffered in silence in order not to burden others.
One Pesach, Rav Shimon spent the Seder at the home of his son, Reb Shaul, and happily took part in the proceedings. The following morning, the family learned that he had fallen in shul prior to the Seder and broken some ribs. He had not told anyone about the mishap in order not to ruin their simchat Yom Tov.
On 10 Av 5760 / 2000, as his children surrounded his bed and recited Shema Yisrael, Rav Shimon returned his soul to its Maker. He was buried on Har Hamenuchot in Yerushalayim.
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11 Av - 388 C.E.:
· A shul located in Callinicum on the Euphrates was looted and burned by Church officials. St. Ambrose, one of the four Latin doctors of the Catholic church, defended the action. He reprimanded Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great for ordering the local Bishop to pay restitution, even though expropriation was illegal under Roman law. St. Ambrose offered to burn the shul in Milan on his own.
11 Av - 636:
Arabs wrested control of most of Eretz Yisrael from the Byzantines.
11 Av 5024 - 1264:
Anti-Jewish riots erupted in Arnstadt, Germany.
11 Av 5120 - 1360:
Anti-Jewish riots erupted in Breslau (now Wroclaw), Poland. Many Jews were killed, Hy"d, and the rest were expelled. See 3 Av.
11 Av 5365 - July 26, 1605:
The date of a letter written by a Jesuit Missionary traveling though China which describes his meetings with Ai T’ien, a Chinese Jewish teacher. Most of what we know regarding the old Kaifeng Jewish community is from this correspondence.
11 Av 5493 - July 23, 1733:
Commemorating the defeat of the Persian army under Nadir Kuli, at Kirkuk, by the Ottomans who forced them to flee in disorder, the Jews of Baghdad established a Purim.
11 Av 5508 - August 5, 1748:
Empress Maria Theresa revoked the Edict of Expulsion of Bohemian Jews.
11 Av 5556 - August 15, 1796:
The Common Council of New York City revoked the license of a non-Jewish butcher
for affixing Jewish seals to non-kosher meat. This is the earliest act
of legal intervention in protection of kashrut.
11 Av 5557 - August 3, 1797:
The emperor of Bohemia ordered that Jews who volunteered for army service should be allowed to marry outside the restricted quota of marriage of Jews.
11 Av 5708 - August 16, 1948:
Israeli currency became legal tender.
11 Av 5708 - August 16, 1948:
During the Israeli War of Independence and the siege of Yerushalayim / Jerusalem, Arabs blew
up the Latrun pumping station, cutting off Yerushalayim's water supply.
11 Av 5750 - August 2, 1990:
Iraq invades Kuwait and prompts Allied coalition against it.
11 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Hillel ben R' Meir HaLevi Malisov of Paritch, zt”l, best known as Reb Hillel Paritcher (5555 / 1795 - 5624 / 1864), author of Pelach HaRimon.
Harav Hillel of Paritch was born in 5555 / 1795. His father was Harav Meir Halevi.
In his childhood, Harav Hillel was known as the iluy of Chometz, a small town in Russia. At 13, he was fluent in Shas and poskim, studied Kabbalah and davened with the kavanot of the Arizal. At 15, he was versed in all of the writings of the Arizal.
Reb Hillel, as he was called, was a talmid muvhak of Harav Avraham Dov of Ovritch, Rav of Zhitomer.
In 5571/1811, on the way home from a trip to Wohlin, the Baal
HaTanya passed through the provinces of Little Russia. In every town and village where he stayed, people thronged to meet him. Fifty people gathered in the hotel of one of these towns, and it was there that the 16-year-old Rav Hillel heard the Baal HaTanya speak for the first time. Reb Zalman of Zezmir explained the Rebbe’s words to Reb Hillel and soon became his teacher in Chassidut, imbuing him with yirah and ahavat Hashem.
Rav Hillel first settled in Paritch. But when Harav Baruch Mordechai, the Rav of nearby Bobroisk, moved to Eretz Yisrael, he moved there to assume his spiritual duties.
The Baal HaTanya’s son, Harav Dov Ber, the Mitteler Rebbe, made Rav Hillel a major mashpia and sent many young scholars to him for instruction and guidance in Chassidut. The Tzemach Tzedek, Harav Dov Ber’s successor, did likewise, and so for several generations Rav Hillel guided the youth of Chabad with mesirut nefesh.
On 11 Av 5624/1864, in Cherson, far from home, Rav Hillel of Paritch was niftar and buried there. An ohel was built over his grave, which became a popular place for people to daven.
Rav Hillel left behind a legacy of writings in Torah and Chassidut. Those published after his petirah were Imrei Noam (Vilna: 5636/1886), containing assorted drashot; Likutei Be’urim (Warsaw: 5628/1868), a commentary on various works of the Mitteler Rebbe of Lubavitch; Maamarei Hishtatchut (Brooklyn: 5711/1951); and the various volumes of Pelach Harimon on Bereishit (Vilna: 5647/1887; Brooklyn: 5717/1957), on Shemot(Brooklyn: 5715/1955), and on Shir Hashirim (Potava: 5678/1918). Other pamphlets and unpublished maamarei Chassidut are in the archives collected by the Rebbe, Rav Yosef Yitzchak, zt”l. (Others 13 Av).
HaRav Yitzchak Blazer (Peterburger), zt”l, (5597 / 1837 - 5667 / 1907), author of Pri Yitzchak and Kochvei Ohr, a talmid muvhak of Harav Yisrael Salanter.
Born in Shnipshok, near Vilna, on Rosh Chodesh Adar 5597/1837 to Harav Shlomo. A child prodigy, when he was just 14 his father published a kuntres of his chiddushim.
After his marriage at the age of 15 Harav Yitzchak moved to Kovno. He learned in the beit medrash of Harav Yisrael Salanter.
At 25, by the order of Harav Yisrael, Reb Itzele, as he was fondly known, was appointed Rav of Petersburg, a position he held for 16 years. He is called after that city - (Reb Itzele Peterberger).
Subsequently he returned to Kovno. In 5636/1876, Harav Yisrael Salanter had established a kollel there; its purpose was to produce Rabbanim and Dayanim by supporting and guiding exceptional talmidei chachamim. The project received the blessing and support of Harav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, Rav of Kovno. It was joined by such luminaries as Harav Naftoli Hertz (later Chief Rabbi of Yaffo), Harav Naftali Amsterdam, Harav Chaim (Telzer) Rabinowitz and Harav Yosef Yoizel Horwitz, the “Alter of Novardok,” among others.
The kollel was eventually named Kollel Knesset Beit Yitzchak, in memory of Harav Yitzchak Elchanan. The true glory of the kollel was realized under the leadership of Harav Yitzchak Blazer, whose rousing lectures were the kollel’s life-force.
As one of the leading and most famous talmidim of Harav Yisrael Salanter, founder of the mussar movement, it was to be expected that after Harav Yisrael’s petirah Harav Yitzchak became his successor.
Harav Yitzchak spent the last few years of his life in Yerushalayim, where Harav Shmuel Salant requested his help with community affairs.
He was niftar on 11 Av 5667/1907 at the age of 70 and was buried on Har Hazeitim. Harav Chaim Berlin related that Harav Yitzchok left a request that no hespeidim be delivered for him.
Harav Chaim Berlin asked Harav Shmuel Salant if they were required to abide by the humble last wishes of Harav Yitzchak Blazer, since it would be meritorious to be maspid a person of his stature. Harav Shmuel Salant ruled that indeed they were obligated to heed his final wishes. A few days after his petirah, Harav Chaim Berlin related that Harav Itzele came to him in a dream and thanked him for honoring his request.
Harav Chaim then asked Harav Itzele what issues of halacha the Beit Din shel maalah is stringent about. Harav Itzele told him that a human being cannot fathom the depth and detail of the Heavenly judgment. They were particularly exacting on the purity of a person’s speech. This, coming from a person who had mastered the art of silence!
Harav Yitzchak wrote Pri Yitzchak on Shas and also brought to print Ohr Yisrael, the drashot in mussar of Harav Yisrael Salanter.
HaRav Aharon Perlow, zt"l, (5647 / 1886 - 5702 / 1942), the Stoliner - Warsaw rebbe, Hy"d.
Harav Aharon was born on 10 Cheshvan 5647 / 1886 in Stolin. His father was Harav Yisrael, zt”l, the Yenukah of Stolin. His mother was a daughter of Harav David of Zlatipoli.
Reb Aharon married Rebbetzin Feige Gittel, the daughter of Harav Nosson David of Partzov, a descendant of the Yehudi Hakadosh.
After the petirah of his father, he refused to officially lead a court. His brothers led their respective courts, but he moved to Warsaw where he became known as “Reb Ahrele fun Varsha.” There, a large group of Stoliner Chassidim sought him out as their mentor and guide.
Reb Ahrele’s life was devoted and dedicated to helping others. He assisted the sick and the poor, and it was said about him that he “is not from this [lowly] world.”
Reb Ahrele was killed in the midst of doing chessed with mesirut nefesh mamash. Hidden in his bunker, he sat and read Eichah even though it was no longer Tishah B’Av, because in reality it was Tishah B’Av in the streets of the ghetto: the Nazi SS guards were rounding up people and shooting randomly at their hapless victims.
Through a crack in his bunker wall, he noticed an SS guard threatening an expectant woman who had fallen to the ground. Despite the objections of those with him in the bunker, he ran out to defend her.
The Rebbe roundly berated the SS guard, outraged that he would dare harm a woman in her condition. The Nazi, Yimach shemo v’zichro, stared at the Rebbe, pulled out his gun, and shot them both in cold blood.
The Rebbe lived on for a few minutes, and “Berel the Ganav,” who was hiding together with the Rebbe in the bunker, played the violin as the Rebbe recited Viduy and returned his holy neshamah to its Creator.
HaRav Pinchos Sholom Briskman, zt"l, (5753 / 1993), Son in law of the Skolyer Rebbe, zt"l., and brother in law of HaRav Yeshaya Shimanowitz, zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva in RJJ, NY. His father, HaRav Menachem Zalman Briskman, was a prominent Karlin-Stolin chossid, one of Yeshivat Mir's first talmidim and a close follower of HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, zt"l.
When the Chofetz Chaim passed through their town one day, his father, Rav Menachem Zalman, asked him for a brocha for parnossa, but after he mentioned that all three of his sons were studying in yeshiva the Chofetz Chaim said, "Then you are a very wealthy man and you don't need any brocha."
Rav Pinchos was a talmid muvhok of HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Hy"d and a talmid at Yeshivat Mir; wandering with the yeshiva during the war years—Kaidan, Lithuania, Kobe, Japan, and Shanghai, China.
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12 Av 5023 - 1263:
By order of King James I of Aragon (Spain), Nachmanides (Rav Moshe ben Nachman, the Ramban, 1194-1270) was compelled to participate in a public debate, held in the king's presence, against the Jewish apostate (convert to Christianity), Pablo Christiani. The Ramban's brilliant defense of Judaism and refutations of Christianity's and the apostate's claims served as the basis of many such future disputations through the generations.
Because his victory was an insult to the king's religion, the Ramban was forced to flee Spain. At age 72, he ultimately settled in Yerushalayim / Jerusalem, where he found just a handful of Jewish families living in abject poverty, and he did everything in his power to revive the floundering Jewish community. The synagogue he built in the Old City is still in use today, and is perhaps the oldest standing synagogue in the world.
12 Av 5720 - 1510:
38 Jews were burned at the stake in Berlin, Hy'd.
12 Av 5678 - July 21, 1918:
The Russian government removed the ban on Hebrew and Yiddish periodicals.
12 Av 5704 - August 1, 1944:
The Russian army liberated the city of Kovno, Lithuania.
12 Av 5704 - August 1, 1944:
Three hundred Jews, who had walked from the Lublin murder camp to Kielce, Poland
were deported to Auschwitz. Upon arrival at their destination, 200 of them were
immediately gassed, Hy"d.
12 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Binyamin Wolf Lev, zt”l, (5589 / 1829), author of Shaarei Torah
HaRav Aryeh Leib Katzenelenbogen, zt”l, (5597 / 1837), Rav of Brisk. (others Vilna).
HaRav Moshe Ber ben R' Ahron of Stolin, zt"l, (1847), a grandson of R' Shlomo of Karlin.
HaRav Ephraim Zalman ben R' Menachem Manish Margolies, zt"l, (1886). Son-in-law of the Trisker Magid.
HaRav Yechiel Fischel Levin, zt”l, (1897). He founded a shul in Maleniec, Poland. When a plague hit Poland, he opened the aron kodesh and implored Hashem to take him instead of Maleniec. Within days, he contracted the illness and passed away.
HaRav Yeshaya Weltfried of Kalisch, zt”l, (5699 / 1939). Son of Harav Avraham Moshe of Rosphsha, a descendant of Harav Yeshaya of Pshedborzh. On his mother’s side he was a descendant of Harav Yaakov Yitzchak, the Chozeh of Lublin.
Their forebear Reb Yeshaya of Pshedborzh became a chassid under the influence of Reb Dovid of Lelov, who traveled with him to the Chozeh. The Chozeh would refer to Reb Yeshaya as “my sefarim shank,” and Rebbe and talmid maintained a strong bond. Harav Yeshaya became Rav in Pshedborzh, one of the ancient kehillot in Poland, and after the petira of the Chozeh, Reb Yeshaya became a Rebbe, as well, as chassidim began flocking to him.
He was succeeded by his son, Harav Emanuel, who in turn was succeeded by Harav Avraham Moshe of Rosphsha, the father of Harav Yeshaya of Kalisch.
Reb Yeshaya, carrying the illustrious name of his great-grandfather and emulating the holy ways of his forebears, was from his youth a kadosh v’tahor and a fervent oved Hashem.
He married the daughter of Harav Yechiel Danziger, the first Alexander Rebbe, and resided in Dzunska-Walya, where he was commonly referred to as Reb Yeshaya of Walya.
Eventually he moved to Kalisch, a less primitive city, where he was the first chassidic Rebbe there ever. The Rebbe was well-loved by his followers, stirring their souls and bringing them ever closer to Hashem with his moving tefillot. In addition to his own chassidim, he was revered as well by many Alexander chassidim, since he was the son-in-law of Reb Yechiel of Alexander.
The Rebbe would say that when a Yid came to his court thinking that he could be helped by the Rebbe, and even spent money for that purpose, then the Rebbe must do all in his power to help him.
He was niftar about a month before the outbreak of WWII. A large number of his descendants were murdered al kiddush Hashem. One son, Reb Yechiel, moved to Eretz Yisrael before the war. Another, Reb Chaim, survived the Holocaust, and was niftar in 5757/1997 in Eretz Yisrael.
HaRav Zevulun Aryeh Graz, zt”l, (1904-1989). Born in Ozband, Lithuania, to Rav Yosef Nesanael, a student of the Alter of Kelm and, for a while, the menahel ruchani of the Telz yeshiva.
As a youngster, Rav Zevulun Aryeh studied for a while in Kelm, and then under Rav Eliyahu Lopian in Telz. In 1924, he joined a group of Telz students to Eretz Yisrael to study in the Knesset Yisrael yeshiva in Chevron, a branch of Slabodka.
After the massacre of 1929, the survivors left Chevron and settled in Yerushalayim. Rav Zevulun Aryeh noved back to Lithuania in 1931, married, and delivered shiur at Yeshiva Ohel Moshe. Later, Rav Zevulun Aryeh studied in the Kovna kollel of Rav Avraham Kahana-Shapiro, the Dvar Avraham. In 1939, when the Nazis overran Lithuania, Rav Zevulun Aryeh, who already possessed Palestinian citizenship, headed back to Eretz Yisrael. Upon arriving, he moved to Chadera, where he stayed for 10 years.
Rav Tzvi Yehuda Meltzer, the brother-in-law of Rav Aharon Kotler, was Rav of Pardes Channa at that time. Opening a branch of the Kletzk yeshiva in Pardes Channa, he invited Rav Zevulun Aryeh to deliver shiurim there. When Rav Tzvi Yehuda moved his yeshiva to Rechovot, he asked Rav Zevulun Aryeh to join him there, too. Every Erev Shabbat, Rav Zevulun Aryeh would return from Rechovot to his home in Chadera for Shabbat, in an armored vehicle that protected him from Arab snipers.
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13 Av 5058 - 1298:
The Jews of Wurzberg, Germany were massacred. Hy'd.
13 Av - 1488:
16 Jews were burned at the stake in Barcelona, Hy'd.
13 Av 5704 - August 2, 1944:
A handful of Jewish survivors of the Kovno Ghetto - including Rav Efrayim Oshri, author of Responsa from the Holocaust - emerged from hiding.
13 Av 5704 - August 2, 1944:
A transport with 222 Jews left Verona, Italy for Auschwitz.
13 Av 5711 - August 15, 1951:
French Marshal Henri Petain died. Head of the Vichi government during Nazi rule, Petain went on trial charged with treason. He was condemned to death but his sentence was commuted and he died in prison.
13 Av 5758 - August 5, 1998:
Death of Harel Oz Ben-Nun and Shneur Zalman Liebman, students of Yeshiva Od Yosef Chai in Yitzhar, murdered al-kiddush-Hashem by Palestinian terrorists, Hy"d.
13 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Nosson Nota Shapira, zt"l, author of Megaleh Amukot and Ranav Ofanim (1585-1633).
Eliyahu HaNavi is said to have visited with him regularly. Son of Rav Shlomo Shapira, and grandson of Rav Matisyahu ben Yosef Treves of Provence (1325-1382)
who was appointed Chief Rabbi of Paris by Charles the Fifth. The Shapira family comes from the German town of Speyer from where the founder of the family escaped at the time of the First Crusade in 1096. Besides the Talmud, he learned Philosophy, Astronomy, and grammar. His main interest, though, was Kabbala. In 1617 he became the Rav and Rosh Yeshiva of Crakow, where he had many disciples, including the Shach. Most of his works are in Kabbala, the most famous is Megaleh Amukot, which has 252 drashot, interpretations, for the word “Va’etchanan.” Many of his descendants were famous Rabbis: Rav Yonason Eibshitz, The Admor Rebbe Pinchas of Koritz, and Rav Meir of Lublin, who founded Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin and the Daf Yomi.
HaRav Mordechai (ben Avraham) Banet of Nikolsburg, Hungary, zt”l, (1753 - 5589 / 1829), author of Parashat Mordechai and Magen Avot.
Harav Mordechai Banet, born in the town of Shurga in the Weissenberg region, was the son of Rav Avraham and grandson of the Chacham Tzvi and Harav Naftali Katz, the Semichat Chachamim.
As a young child, Mordechai learned Torah in Nikolsburg and in the yeshivah of the Rav of Itingen. At the age of just 13, he was already famed as an iluy. That year he wrote three sefarim: a commentary on the Torah, on the Haggadah shel Pesach and on Shas.
As a young bachur of just 15, Rav Mordechai left home for the yeshivah of Harav Yosef Steinhart, zt”l, where he continued to grow in Torah.
Later, Rav Mordechai moved on to Prague, where the gvir Reb Meir Karpalah took him into his house and supported him. Many eager bachurim gathered around Rav Mordechai to grow from his Torah wisdom. Rav Mordechai often visited the home of the Noda B’Yehudah, zt”l, the Rav of Prague, when they would study Torah together.
At the age of 20, Rav Mordechai was taken as a chassan by one of the prestigious families in Nikolsburg, where he settled after his wedding.
Rav Mordechai undertook many acts of asceticism. He slept for just three hours a night, and fasted often.
Despite being a leading talmid chacham, Rav Mordechai turned down the position of Rav in several kehillot, feeling that he wasn’t ready for the position before being fluent in all four sections of Shulchan Aruch by heart.
At the age of 23, he was chosen as Dayan in Nikolsburg, and later in Landsberg and Shusberg. In 5550/1790 he was appointed Rav in Nikolsburg, replacing Harav Gershon Chayus, zt”l. He was known as one of the leading Gedolim of the generation.
Rav Mordechai cared for the members of his kehillah like a dedicated father, and would help them in many ways.
Rav Mordechai formed close connections with Harav Akiva Eiger; Harav Yaakov of Lisa, the “Nesivos Hamishpat”; and the Chatam Sofer.
Due to illness, Rav Mordechai journeyed to Karlsbad for the benefits of its curative waters.
He was niftar there on 13 Av 5589/1829 and was buried in the nearby town of Lichtenstadt. The next year, permission was finally given for his remains to be transferred to Nikolsburg.*** The Chatam Sofer paskened that he may be interred and moved to Nikolsburg, where he served as Chief Rabbi; he was reburied on 10 Adar 5590/1830 following a huge levayah. (Others say the transfer occurred on 12 Adar in 1830).
***(The author of Pe'er Mordechai, who wrote the biography of Rav Mordechai Banet, brings a story from the son of the Chatam Sofer who heard it from his father.
He told that even the first time the Chatam Sofer dealt with the question, he wrote that they are obligated to return the body to Nikolsburg. However, before he could send his decision away, he fell asleep and Rabbi Banet came to him in a dream and asked him to delay his ruling for a while. He explained that he is being punished and must be buried in Lichtenshtadt for half a year because he once gave someone permission to break a shidduch. The Rabbi stressed that "although my decision was correct according to the Torah, nevertheless, since people's honor is a very serious matter and I caused pain and embarrassment to the girl and her family, therefore I am being punished!" In order to prove that his words were true, Rabbi Banet told the Chatam Sofer that they can check and see that the betrothed girl is buried right next to the grave where he is lying now. The Chatam Sofer did so and found his words to be true. Therefore he waited six months before having the Rabbi's body returned home).
(Different versions of this story is found in many places (most recently in sefer Siach Nechamah by Rav Chaim Kanievsky, page 192).
Rav Mordechai’s sefarim include Biur Mordechai, commentary on the Mordechai on the Gemara; She’eilot U’Teshuvot Har Hamor; She’eilot U’Teshuvot Parashat Mordechai; Techelet Mordechai, his drashot; and many more.
The famed philanthropist and Jewish advocate, Sir Moses (Moshe Chaim ben Yosef Eliyahu) Montefiore, z"l, at age 101, (1784 - 5645 / 1885). (others 16 Av).
Born in Livorno, Italy, of Sephardic descent, he traced his lineage back to the exiles from the Spanish Expulsion. When he was still a young child his family resettled in England.
Young Moses became a member of the London Stock Exchange at a time when there were only 12 licensed Jewish brokers in all of England . In a matter of a few years he had amassed great wealth and had become a member of the London Aristocracy.
In 1812, he married his wife Judith, whose sister was the wife of Reb Nathan Meyer Rothschild, one of the wealthiest Jews in Europe at the time. Sir Moses eventually became the stockbroker for his brother-in-law and as a result of their partnership they amassed a tremendous fortune. In addition, he was a partner in a large insurance company as well as a gas company that introduced gas lighting to many of the major cities of Europe. Sir Moses also had a hand in building railroads and many other industrial and financial enterprises. As the years passed, Moses and Judith grew together in their Yiddishkeit. In 1837, Montefiore was appointed Sheriff of London. In the same year, Queen Victoria, who had recently ascended the British Throne, awarded him the honorary title of Knighthood, bestowing upon him the title “Sir” Moses. In 1846, he was elevated to the rank of Baron. Montefiore retired from business at age 40 and devoted the rest of his life to humanitarian causes on behalf of the Jewish people. When he was appointed as Sheriff of London, he specifically wrote in his contract that he would be absolved from working on Shabbat and Yom Tov. He also specified that he was to be absolved from entering a Church on non-Jewish holidays. Even when he was traveling, he almost always made sure to travel with an entourage of at least 10 Jews to ensure that he would have a minyan. He also took one of the many sifrei Torah that he owned along with him.
His opposition to the Reform movement kept it from spreading to England.
He traveled to the Sultan of Turkey in 1840 to defend the Jews of Damascus against a blood libel; to Rome in 1858 to try and free the Jewish youth Edgar Mortara, kidnapped and baptized by his Catholic nurse; to Russia, Morocco and other points to ask government authorities to stop persecution of the Jews. But it was the Holy Land that was dearest to his heart. He made the arduous journey to Eretz Yisrael seven times and wrote a book about his travels in Israel. His first visit to Yerushalayim had a profound affect on him spiritually, and from then on he lived a life of Torah observance. In Eretz Yisrael, he dispensed charity, sought to promote industry, education and health, and sponsored several agricultural settlements. In Yerushalayim, he built the first neighborhood outside the protective walls of the Old City of Yerushalayim, Mishkenot Sheananim. (The area is recognized by a landmark windmill, though due to the lack of wind in Yerushalayim, the windmill has never worked.) His tireless efforts made him a beloved folk hero. Montefiore’s 100th birthday was celebrated by both Jew and non-Jew alike.as an official holiday in London and by Jewish communities around the world. The Montefiores died childless, but they left behind a legacy of tzedaka and chesed that endures to this very day. In Yemin Moshe in Yerushayim, there is a museum with a model of his carriage dedicated to his memory
Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885)
HaRav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, zt"l, Menahel of Ezrat Torah (5641 / 1881- 5733 / 1973). Born in the Mohilev province of Russia, (Byelorussia, today Belarus) on Rosh Chodesh Adar I 5641/1881. His father, Harav Eliezer Klonimus, was Rosh Yeshivah in Klimovitz.
He studied at the Mir Yeshiva at the age of 15. Starting in 5657/1897, for close to six years, he became the youngest student in the new yeshiva of Slutsk headed by Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer from whom he received s'micah.
He was also given s'micah by HaRav Yaakov Dovid Wilovsky, the Ridvaz, Harav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, and HaRav Yechiel Michel Epstein, the Aruch HaShulchan.
In 5663/1903, Reb Yosef Eliyahu married the daughter of Harav Yehudah Leib Kreindel of Kritchov. In 5680/1920 his wife and young son passed away from a raging epidemic.
After his first wife passed away, Reb Yosef Eliyahu remarried in Sivan 5681/1921. Persecuted by the Communist regime, in 5682 / 1922, Rav Henkin was on the verge of being deported to a Soviet labor camp when he escaped with his family to the United States . After being detained on Ellis Island for five weeks, he obtained a rabbinic position on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Shortly thereafter, he published his important work on the laws of marriage and divorce entitled Perushei Ivra.
In 5685 / 1925, he was appointed Executive Director of the charitable organization Ezrat Torah, which provides assistance to talmidei chachamim. He would remain in this position for 48 years until his petirah, distributing millions to poor families in both america and Eretz Yisrael.
Under his guidance and following his pesakim, Ezras Torah published an annual calendar listing the halachot and minhagim for each day. Many shuls in North America follow the decisions of Rav Henkin as their baseline.The halachic rulings in the calendar are Rav Henkin's, based on his work, Edut L'Yisrael.
Rav Henkin was one of the foremost poskim in America. In the years before Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, became renowned, Rav Henkin was considered the Mara d’Asra of America.
Rav Henkin and Reb Moshe, neighbors on the East Side, often sat together on a beit din. He is mentioned dozens of times in the Igrot Moshe.
Many of Rav Henkin’s teshuvot were published in the sefer Even Mikir Tizak, and in his own sefarim: Pirushei Ibra, Lev Ivrah and Kisvei Harav Henkin.
Rav Henkin was niftar on 13 Av 5733 / 1973 at the age of 93.
He is buried on Long Island in Beth David Cemetery, Elmont, NY.
HaRav Yosef Greenwald of Pupa, zt”l, (5663 / 1903 - 5744 / 1984), author of Vayechi Yosef. Harav Yosef was born on 24 Elul 5663/1903. His father was Rav Yaakov Yechezkel (Chizkiyahu) Greenwald, the previous Pupa Rebbe, author of Vayaged Yaakov, the son of Rav Moshe Greenwald of Chust, author of Arugat HaBosem.
Harav Yosef’s intellect and diligence were obvious from a young age. After studying Torah under his father’s expert guidance, he began helping him run his yeshivah in Pupa, where he also delivered shiurim.
Subsequently he traveled to his uncle, Harav Eliezer Dovid, the noted Keren L’Dovid, who headed one of the largest Hungarian yeshivot in Satmar. After his chasunah to a relative, a granddaughter of the Arugat Habosem, he remained in Satmar, where he served as a Rosh Yeshivah. Eventually, he also served as a Dayan in that city.
After the petirah of the Keren L’Dovid, when Harav Yoel Teitelbaum became Rav in Satmar, Rav Yosef continued to head the yeshivah and serve as Dayan.
In 5701 / 1941, Rav Yosef’s father was niftar, and he was called upon to succeed him. Rav Yosef moved back to Pupa, where he established a thriving yeshivah.
In 5704 / 1944, thousands of Hungarian Jews were transported to Auschwitz. The Rav was miraculously saved.
Immediately after the war, despite his own severe suffering the Rav was the first to reestablish a yeshivah, first in Pupa and later in Sombotheli.
In 5707 / 1947, with the Communist rise to power, the yeshivah was transferred to Antwerp. In 5711 / 1951, it moved to America, where the Rav established additional mosdot haTorah such as a kollel and a cheder.
In his sefarim, one catches a glimpse of his erudition and vast holiness. They are: Vaya’an Yosef, Vayechi Yosef and Kenei Bosem. Kuntras Hakdamot and Darchei Yosef were collected and published after his petirah.
The Pupa Rav was niftar on 13 Av 5744 / 1984, and was buried in Kiryat Pupa, Westchester.
Harel Oz Ben-Nun and Shneur Zalman Liebman, students of Yeshiva Od Yosef Chai in Yitzhar, murdered al-kiddush-Hashem by Palestinian terrorists, Hy"d.(5758 - August 5, 1998).
HaRav Klonimus Kalman Kryman, zt"l, (1914-2004). He learned in the Ger mesivta in Warsaw, and lost his entire extended family during the Holacaust. He served as baal koreh and baal toke’ah at Yagdil Torah’s beit kenesset of Chassidei Ger for over 30 years.
HaRav Zelig Epstein, zt”l, (2009). Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah (Grodna) in Queens, NY.
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14 Av 4396 - 636 C.E.:
Arabs took control of Eretz Yisrael from the Byzantines.
14 Av - August 4, 1278:
Jews were ordered to attend conversion sermons, delivered by christians, according to an edict issued by Pope
14 Av - 1298:
The Jews of Bischofsheim, Germany were massacred by Rindfleisch troops, Hy"d. Rindfleisch was a German knight who was unable to repay a loan to the Jewish community, so he concocted a slander and claimed to have received a mission from heaven to exterminate "the accursed race of the Jews." Rindfleisch stirred up a mob, and his band of his Juden-schachters (Jew-slaughterers) marched through Austria and Germany, from city to city, pillaging, burning, and murdering Jews along the way (except those who accepted Christianity). Within six months, thousands of Jews were murdered (many were burned at the stake) and 146 Jewish communities were decimated. Rav Mordechai ben Hillel (1240-1298), author of the Mordechai commentary on Talmud, and his entire family were among those murdered. The Jews of Germany, having repeatedly rebuilt their communities after such attacks, lost heart, and many migrated to the Land of Israel (then under Islamic rule). Rav Asher Ben Yechiel, a great sage known as the Rosh, survived the Rindfleisch massacres and moved to Spain. Rindfleisch was later arrested and hanged, and the cities in which Jews had been killed were required to pay fines.
14 Av 5701 - August 7, 1941:
The Nazis murdered 407 Jews of Zhitomir (western Ukraine), Hy'd.
rosh14 Av 5702 - July 28, 1942:
The Nazi S.S. murdered 10,000 Jews in the ghetto of Minsk, Byelorussia. Hy'd.
14 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shlomo of Toledo, zt”l, (5109 / 1349), grandson of the Rosh.
HaRav Meir (ben Yitzchak) Aramah, zt”l, (1460?– c. 1545), (Others 1522). Son of the Akeidat Yitzchak, he served as Rav of the Argonese community in Salonica, Greece, and is cited by gedolei Torah of the time (including Rav Yosef Caro). He wrote Urim Vetumim on Yeshaya and Yirmiyahu, Meir Iyov on Iyov, and Meir Tehillot on Tehillim. Rav Meir’s son, Jacob, was a dayan in Salonika, while his grandson, Rav Asher Hakohen ibn Ardut, was Rosh Yeshiva of the Argonese community in Salonica, Greece, and was considered one of the great Torah scholars of his generation.
He also wrote a letter accusing the Abrabanel of plagiarizing the works of his father (published in Ha-Maggid, 1858), and in which he testifies that Abrabanel visited his father's house in Naples and copied his writings.
HaRav Yitzchok of Mezritch, zt"l, (1826), talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin.
HaRav Tzvi Hirsch Friedman of Liska, Hungary, zt”l, (5550 / 1790 - 5634 / 1874), author of Ach Pri Tevua and Hayashar Vehatov.
Harav Tzvi Hersh was born in Iyar 5550 / 1790 in Ujhely, Hungary. His father, Harav Aharon, a tzaddik nistar who was niftar when his son Tzvi Hersh was a mere eight years old.
His mother, Rebbetzin Sarah, was an exceptional tzaddeket and was commonly known as “Sarah the Bekkerin,” for she would bake for the household of Harav Moshe Teitelbaum, the Yismach Moshe. Harav Tzvi Hersh would often refer to the greatness of his parents, particularly his mother, whom he would consult regarding many issues.
From his youth, he was an ardent talmid of the Yismach Moshe, who became his primary Rebbe.
After a period of time, at the behest of his mother, he traveled to Dembitz, where he learned under the auspices of Harav Avraham of Dembitz, zy”a, a venerated talmid chacham and Rebbe of many gedolim. Thereafter, he traveled to learn under Harav Tzvi Hersh of Bonihad.
After returning to Ujhely, he devoted himself to uncompromising avodat Hashem, even while suffering from extreme poverty.
The Yismach Moshe asked him to join the shiur that he learned with his grandson, the Yetev Lev, and so he did.
Harav Tzvi Hersh, aside from being a primary talmid of the Yismach Moshe, frequented the courts of many other great Rebbes of his time as well, including Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin, Harav Meir of Premishlan, Harav Shalom of Belz, Harav Asher of Ropshitz, Harav Tzvi Hersh of Rimanov, Harav Eliezer of Dzikov and the Divrei Chaim of Sanz.
These tzaddikim, especially the Divrei Chaim and Harav Meir of Premishlan, encouraged Harav Tzvi Hersh to become a Rebbe and leader of Klal Yisrael.
He established his court in Liska (Olaszliska), Hungary, and thousands of Yidden streamed to his beit medrash for guidance, blessing, and spiritual uplifting.
Rav Tzvi Hersh was known for his sincere love of his fellow Jews, his extreme humility and the joy and tremendous mesirut nefesh of his avodat Hashem. He dispensed huge amounts of tzedakah to orphans, widows and Torah scholars.
One of the most famous of his talmidim was Reb Yeshaya’le of Kerestir, zy”a, who would affix to his signature the words “meshamesh bakodesh eitzel Harav Hakadosh miLiska,” (who served the holy Rav of Liska), referring to his years as Reb Tzvi Hersh’s gabbai.
Harav Tzvi Hersh wrote Ach Pri Tevuah on the Torah and Hayashar V’hatov containing drashot and chiddushim on Shas.
Harav Tzvi Hersh passed away on 14 Menachem Av 5634 / 1874, and is buried in Liska.
His son and successor was Rav Chaim Friedlander of Liska.
HaRav Yosef Naftali Stern, zt”l, (5731 / 1971), Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivat Pressburg in Yerushalayim.
HaRav Yitzchak Friedman, zt”l, the Bohusher Rebbe, (5663 / 1903 - 5752 / 1992).
Harav Yitzchak of Bohush was born in Shpikov, Russia, on 26 Iyar 5663 / 1903. His father was Reb Shalom Yosef of Shpikov, whose lineage went back to Reb Yisrael of Ruzhin. Reb Yitzchak’s mother was the daughter of Reb Mordechai of Shpikov.
Reb Yitzchak lost his parents when he was 20 years old. He was immediately elected to lead his father’s Chassidim. A few months later he stole across the border to Bohush, Romania, where his great-uncle, Reb Yisrael Shalom Yosef of Bohush, the Pe’er Yisrael, was Rebbe.
Reb Yitzchak soon married his first cousin, Yocheved Feige, a”h, daughter of Reb Menachem Mendel of Bohush.
Reb Yitzchak remained with his in-laws until 5690/1930, when he moved to Bucharest and founded a court of his own. Upon his father-in-law’s petirah, in 5703/1942, he was called upon to fill his place.
During World War II his home was a shelter for many refugees. Among the gedolim who hid there were the Vizhnitzer Rebbe and his sons, Dayan Weiss (the Minchat Yitzchak), the Bobover Rebbe, and others.
In 5711/1951, the Bohusher Rebbe emigrated to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Tel Aviv.
The Rebbe treated every human being with respect. His home was open to the homeless, the coarse, and the mentally disturbed.
The Rebbe once told a Chassid that there were three things that could be said about him after he was gone: he never got angry, he never told an untruth, and he never made the slightest effort to acquire Chassidim.
It was the Rebbe’s great joy to see the rebuilding of the courts of Ruzhin and Bohush after the churban in Europe. In 5732/1972 he bought a large plot of land in Bnei Brak on which he planned to build a center for Torah and Chassidut in memory of the Rebbes of Bohush and Peshkan.
At the laying of the cornerstone, the Rebbe quoted the first Bohusher Rebbe, who said that he had brought the holiness of Eretz Yisrael to Bohush and that the prayers of anyone who davened in the kloiz in Bohush would be answered.
In 5746/1986, the Rebbe moved to Bnei Brak, where he opened a yeshivah and kollel.
The Rebbe traveled to Switzerland for medical treatment on 13 Menachem Av 5752/1992. That evening he called his son-in-law to say that he had arrived safely, and he added a brachah that Hashem should show the family kindness and compassion just as He had conducted his journey with kindness and compassion. Then the Rebbe added that his mesirut nefesh should be a salvation for Klal Yisrael, a statement that became clear only the next morning.
The Rebbe arose at 5:00 a.m., washed his hands and asked his shamash how much time was left before davening. The shamash answered that there were another two hours. “No, there is only one hour left,” the Rebbe replied. Just before six, the Rebbe asked for a cup of water and said the blessing of Shehakol. Then, at six o’clock, the Rebbe’s soul departed.
His aron was returned to Eretz Yisrael that very day, and he was buried in the Ruzhiner section of the Nachalas Yitzchak cemetery in Tel Aviv.
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15 Av (Tu B'Av)
The Mishna in Masechet Taanit (Perek 4, Mishnah 8) enumerates a number of significant events that occured on this day:
1) In 2488 - 1273 B.C.E. The decree of death for the Dor Hamidbar, the generation that came out of Mitzrayim under Moshe Rabbeinu's leadership, came to an end after 38 years of wandering through the wilderness; when no more died after this day.
2) "The Day of the Breaking of the Ax"
In the times of the Beit Hamikdash, the last of the nine wood offerings (cutting of firewood by prestigious families) for the Mizbeiach was concluded on the 15th of Av.
The event was celebrated with feasting and rejoicing, as is the custom
upon the conclusion of a holy endeavor, and included a ceremonial
breaking of the axes which gave the day its name. .
3) In ancient Israel, it was the custom that on the 15th of Av "the daughters of Yerushalayim would go out in borrowed linen garments (so as not to embarrass those without beautiful clothes of their own)... and dance in the vineyards" and "whoever did not have a wife would go there" to find himself a bride (Talmud, Taanit 31a).
4) In 2504 - 1257 B.C.E. The requirement that daughters had to marry only within their shevet / tribe was lifted once the shevatim were settled in Eretz Yisrael. This restriction was in place in order to ensure the orderly division of Eretz Yisroel.
5) In 2533 - 1228 B.C.E., Shevet Binyamin, (which had been excommunicated for its behavior in the incident of the Pilegesh B' Giv'ah)
was readmitted into the community of Israel (as related in Shoftim 19-21).
The decree had prohibited girls from marrying any man from Shevet Binyamin.
The event occurred during the judgeship of Othniel ben Knaz.
6) In 3187 - 574 B.C.E. Hoshea ben Eilah, the last king of the Northern Kingdom, removed the roadblocks installed by Yeravam ben Nevat, ruler of the breakaway Northern Kingdom of Israel, which had prevented the
Jews of Israel from making the thrice-yearly pilgrimage to the Beit HaMikdash / Holy Temple in Yerushalayim, (capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judea) for more than 200 years.
7) In 3908 - 148 C.E., The Romans finally permitted the Jews to bury Bar Kochba's supporters who had fallen at Beitar, (the last holdout of
the Bar Kochba rebellion), after fifteen years in which their remains were left scattered on the battlefield.
After the Romans had destroyed the Second Beit HaMikdash, the emperor Hadrian planned to transform Yerushalayim into a pagan city-state with a shrine to Jupiter on the site of the Beit HaMikdash. This led to the great Jewish revolt of Simon Bar Kosiba (Bar Kochba), whose guerilla army succeeded in actually throwing the Romans out of Eretz Yisrael and establishing, albeit for a brief period, an independent Jewish state. It required large numbers of Roman troops to crush the revolt. Bar Kochba made his final stand in the city of Beitar, located southwest of Yerushalayim. It was estimated that hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in Beitar, and they were all massacred "until their blood flowed into the Mediterranean Sea." Further, the Romans did not allow the Jewish bodies to be buried. An additional bracha / blessing (HaTov VehaMeitiv) was added to Birchat HaMazon / the Grace After Meals in commemoration of this event.
For more info on Tu B'Av, click here.
15 Av 4972 - 1212:
The power of the Almohads, a fanatic anti-Jewish Muslim sect in Spain, was
broken in battle.
15 Av - 1541:
Jews of Great Poland were authorized to elect a Chief Rabbi.
15 Av 5446 - August 5, 1686:
Jews of Cochin, India, received a large shipment of sifrei Torah and other tashmishei kedushah (Judaica) from Amsterdam. The day was celebrated annually as a Yom Tov.
15 Av 5618 - July 26, 1858:
Baron Lionel de Rothschild became the first Jew to serve in the British Parliament
after a new version of the oath of office was agreed upon containing no reference to Christianity.
15 Av 5642 - July 31, 1882:
Rishon Letzion was founded by a group of 10 families. Later that year, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, in response to the Russian pogroms and a plea by Rav Samuel Mohilever, agreed to help the new moshav. The settlement marked the beginning of the secular aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, more than 70 years after the arrival of the talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov and the Vilna Gaon.
15 Av 5702 - July 29, 1942:
A secret religious youth center, Tiferet Bachurim, was opened in the Kovno
15 Av Yahrtzeits
Nachum Ish Gamzu, Rabi Akiva’s rebbi for 22 years, buried in Tzefat.
HaRav Shimon ibn Lavi of Tripoli, zt”l, (5348 / 1588), author of Kesem Paz and composer of the piyut “Bar Yochai.”
Born in Spain a few years before geirush Sepharad in 5252 / 1492. As a result of the expulsion his family fled to Fez, Morocco. There, young Shimon learned Torah, both niglah and nistar, under the local talmidei chachamim.
All his life Harav Shimon longed to settle in Eretz Yisrael. In 5309/1549, when he was close to 60, he set off for the Holy Land. En route to Eretz Yisrael, Harav Shimon stopped over in Tripoli, Libya. Noting the low levels of Torah and mitzvah observance among the local population — many weren’t even fluent in the most basic tefillot — Harav Shimon decided to stay there and be mechazek them. “It is better to help be mekarev these Jews to the Torah than to travel to Eretz Yisrael,” he said.
Harav Shimon was accepted without question and his every word was revered.
He wrote Kessem Paz on the Zohar and composed the piyut “Bar Yochai,” in which the first letter of each stanza spells out his name, Shimon Lavi.
He was niftar on 15 Av 5348/1588, at close to 100 years of age. His kever in Tripoli was known as a place of tefilla.
HaRav Nissim Shmuel Yehudah Auroetz or Arvatz, zt”l, (5420 / 1660), author of Darchei Ish.
HaRav Amram ben Divan, zt”l, (1782). One of the great holy men of Morocco, many thousands would come to pray at his gravesite in Asjan.
He was born in Chevron, and came to Morocco in the beginning of the 18th century as an emissary. The Muslims in Morocco also visit his grave and the government used to share in the expenses of the Hilula. Three times in a year there was a Hilula: Lag B’Omer, the 15th of Av (his yahrtzeit) , and Rosh Chodesh Elul. His Hilula is still observed to this day in Morocco.
HaRav Meir Noson ben R' Chaim (Divrei Chaim) Halberstam, zt"l, (1855). The father of the first Bobover Rebbe.
HaRav Asher of Stolin, (the 2nd), zt”l, (5633 / 1873), son of Reb Aharon II of Karlin. He was raised by Rav Shlomo Karliner after his father’s petira. Rav Asher later settled in Stolin.
HaRav Yaakov ben R' Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Ishbitza, zt”l, (5638 / 1878), Admor of Radzhin, author of Beit Yaakov and Sefer Hazemanim.
Harav Yaakov Leiner was the son of Harav Mordechai Yosef, the Tiferet Yosef. He was born while his father lived in Tomashov.
He was a talmid of his father and of Harav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. As a young child, he traveled with his father to the courts of Peshischa and Kotzk.
He was known for his hasmadah and devotion to learning, despite hunger and poverty.
Reb Yaakov was married young to the daughter of Harav Dovid of Tishibitz, a Chassid of the Rebbe Reb Bunim of Peshischa. He lived at first near his father-in-law, but when his father opened his own court and settled in Ishbitza, Reb Yaakov moved there. As the oldest son, he was his father’s right-hand.
On 7 Shevat 5614/1854, Reb Mordechai Yosef was niftar. The vast majority of the Ishbitza Chassidim appointed Reb Yaakov as their new Rebbe. The court in Ishbitza grew under the leadership of Reb Yaakov, but the principles remained the same.
Reb Yaakov was very warm to the Chassidim, and would discuss everything with them, both relating to avodat Hashem and personal matters.
At one point Reb Yaakov abruptly left Ishbitza and moved his court to Radzin. He didn’t explain the reason for the move, which bewildered the Chassidim. He lived in Radzin for the last 13 years of his life, and the dynasty thrived until World War II.
On the last Rosh Hashanah of his life, in 5638/1877, Reb Yaakov’s tallit fell off his shoulders during Mussaf; the Chassidim took this as an ominous sign from Heaven. During the winter he got sick, and a few weeks after Shavuot he went to Droznick in Lithuanian Poland, where he was niftar on 15 Av 5638/1878. He was buried in Rotnica, Lithuania; an ohel was built over his kever.
Reb Yaakov’s divrei Torah, written down mainly by his son and successor, Harav Gershon Henach, were published under the name Beit Yaakov.
HaRav Avraham ben Chassin, zt”l, (1901). One of the Torah leaders on Mekenas, Morocco.
HaRav Tzvi Hirsch Halberstam, zt”l, (5606 / 1846 - 5678 / 1918), Rav of Rudnik.
Born in 5606/1846 to Rav Baruch Halberstam of Gorlitz (the son of Rav Chaim of Sanz - the Divrei Chaim). His mother was the daughter of Harav Yekusiel Yehudah Teitelbaum, the Yitav Lev of Sighet.
At the age of fifteen, Rav Tzvi Hirsch married the daughter of Harav Yisrael Horowitz of Barnov, son of Harav Eliezer of Dzikov, and he lived with his in-laws for the next three years. Afterwards he moved to Sanz, to the court of his illustrious grandfather, who cherished him.
In 5635/1875, less than two years before his petirah, the Divrei Chaim called in Reb Tzvi Hirsh and said to him, “I am old and sick and have no more strength. Go to your other grandfather, the Yitav Lev in Sighet, and learn Torah from him.” The Divrei Chaim was niftar a year later, on 25 Nisan 5636/1876. He moved to Sanz, to learn with his other grandfather, the Yitav Lev in Sighet, who cherished him and gave him semichah.
Afterwards, he became the Rav of the Polish town of Niska for ten years. In 5647/1887, his father, Reb Baruch, moved to Gorlitz and handed over his rabbinical post in Rudnick to Rav Tzvi Hirsh. Rudnick was a small town on the banks of the San River in southern Poland, near Russia.
Four members of the illustrious Sanzer dynasty served as Rabbanim there: the Divrei Chaim; Harav Yechezkel Shraga, later of Shiniva; Reb Baruch of Gorlitz; and his son Reb Tzvi Hirsh. This rabbinic dynasty in Rudnick began in 5572/1812, when the community approached Harav Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz to help them, and the Divrei Chaim was appointed Rav.
After Reb Baruch of Gorlitz’s petirah on 1 Adar 5666/1906, Reb Tzvi Hirsh became Rebbe in his place.
Reb Tzvi Hirsh’s zivug sheini was the daughter of Harav Meir Meshulam Shapira, a grandson of Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov. During World War I, Reb Tzvi Hirsh fled to Hungary, settling in Kleinvardein. In 5676/1916 he fell ill and went to Vienna for medical care. He was niftar on 15 Av 5678/1918 in Kleinvardein, and his aron was brought to Gorlitz, where he was buried next to his father, Reb Baruch.
His most famous son, Reb Yekusiel Yehudah (later Rav and Rebbe of Klausenburg), only 14 at the time, delivered an hours-long hesped. He founded his own court in Klausenburg, Transylvania, in 5687/1927. He survived World War II and founded Kiryat Sanz and the Laniado Hospital in Netanyah, Israel. He was known as the Sanz-Klausenburger Rebbe, zy”a.
The other sons were Rav Avraham, who was Rav in Rudnick, and (from his first zivug)Rav Naftali; he also had a daughter who married Harav Moshe Halberstam of Bochnia.
HaRav Moshe Shmuel (ben Chaim Shlomo) Halevi Rottenberg, zt"l, (5721 / 1961), the Kossoner Rebbe.
HaRav Bentzion (Goldberg) Yadler, zt”l, (5632 / 1872 - 5722 / 1962), the Maggid of Yerushalayim and author of B’tuv Yerushalayim.
Harav Bentzion was born in the Old City of Yerushalayim. He was the son of Rav Yitzchok Zev (Goldberg) Yadler, originally from the town of Yadel, a suburb of Vilna and author of Tiferet Zion, a commentary on Midrash Rabbah. Bentzion's mother was Malka, the daughter of a Rabbi from Grodno.
He lived in the old Yishuv and learned in Yeshivat Etz Chaim.
Reb Bentzion became famous as a maggid at the age of 30. In 5662 / 1902 Harav Shmuel Salant, Rav of Yerushalayim, invited him to speak in the Rav Yehudah Hachassid Shul on Shabbat Parashat Zachor. The crowd was spellbound by his drashah, delivered in his expressive voice. He became well loved by the community. It was said about him that if one hadn’t heard him, he wouldn’t believe that in Yerushalayim there was such a talented speaker.
Reb Bentzion was moser nefesh to fight any breach in Yiddishkeit. He fought against the haskalah, and he opened a girls’ school al taharat hakodesh.
The Rabbanim of Yerushalayim placed on Reb Bentzion’s shoulders the responsibility of separating terumot and maasrot in the city, as well as supervision of the eruv. This showed the vast respect they had for him. He went to the provincial towns to take care of their terumot and maasrot, also setting up mikvaot and establishing chadarim.
At the beginning of 5674 / 1913, Reb Bentzion arranged for many Rabbanim to make a joint trip to the communities in the Galil and the Shomron, to strengthen them in their Torah commitment. Among those who took part in this historic trip were Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Harav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Harav Yaakov Moshe Charlap and Harav Moshe Kliers, zichronam livrachah.
Reb Bentzion traveled to Chutz laAretz several times on behalf of the Yishuv. At the outbreak of World War I he was sent to Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, to ask for relief for the residents of Yerushalayim.
In 5683 / 1923 he was sent to the Knessiah Gedolah of Agudat Yisrael as a representative of the Yishuv. He met with many Gedolei Yisrael there, including the Chofetz Chaim, Harav Yissachar Dov of Belz and Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, zichronam livrachah.
But Reb Bentzion was best known as the Maggid of Yerushalayim, a post he held for many years. His emotional depth made his drush unique. He was familiar with many Midrashim, to the extent that he barely had to prepare a drashah before speaking.
Reb Bentzion lived a very long and productive life. He was niftar on 15 Av 5722 / 1962 at the age of 90.
HaRav Boruch Halberstam, zt”l, (5742 / 1982), Gorlitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak.
Son of Rav Elisha Halberstam of Gorlitz (who was the son of Rav Boruch Halberstam who was the son of Rav Chaim of Sanz - the Divrei Chaim).
HaRav Chanoch Henich Dov (ben Eliezer) Padwa, zt”l, (1906 - 5760 / 2000), Rav of London. Born in the town of Busk, near Alesk, Galicia, as a young man he studied in Tzelim, and then in the Belz shteibel in Cracow. In time, his family moved to Vienna. There, he studied under Rav Chaim Pinter, the Rav of Bukovsk, who became his rav muvhak. From 1940 to 1955, he served as the Rav of the Botei Rand neighborhood of Yerushalayim. His first wife was niftar in 1946, leaving him with five children. In 1947, he married Yehudit, the daughter of Rav Avraham Aharon Sonnenfeld, the eldest son of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, and she raised his children as her own, even marrying them off. He served as Rav in London for almost 50 years.
He authored three volumes of Responsa; Cheishev HaEifod.
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16 Av 5706 - August 13, 1946:
The British government ordered all illegal immigrants bound for Palestine to be deported to camps on the island of Cyprus. According to the terms of the British White Paper of 1939, immigration to Palestine was limited to 75,000 Jews over a period of 10 years. Following the end of World War II, many Holocaust survivors had nowhere else to go, so they crammed onto old ships bound for the Holy Land. Some ships succeeded in slipping through the British naval blockade and unloading their human cargo on desolate beaches. Several ships sank in tragic circumstances. Other ships were apprehended and the passengers sent to British detention camps -- complete with barbed wire, military towers and guards. The Exodus is the most famous immigrant ship from this era. Today, one of the ships, the Af-Al-Pi ("in spite of it all"), stands in a museum in Haifa.
16 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yehudah Leibush (ben Avraham) Pesach, zt”l, (5528 / 1768), (Others 5625 / 1865), Rav of Lifsk (Lipsk), a town in Augustów County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, in north-eastern Poland, on the border with Belarus, about 60 miles north of Białystok.
HaRav Menacham Mendel of Strizov, zt”l,
(5548 / 1788 - 5591 / 1831), author of Sova Semachot al HaTorah and Sova Semachot al Masechet Kiddushin.
Born in 5548/178 in Tarnow to Rav Moshe Avraham Dovid.
From childhood he excelled in Torah studies and outshone his peers. Aside from his great geonut, he served Hashem with a unique inner fire, and was a mushlam in Torah and avodat Hashem.
His Rebbe was Harav Mendel of Rimanov, who cherished him. He also traveled to the Kozhnitzer Maggid and the Chozeh of Lublin.
Reb Mendel served as the baal Mussaf in the Rimanover court, famous for his fiery davening as well as for being a great tzaddik. He had the privilege to help the Yamim Nora’im tefillot of the holy Rimanover Rebbe reach the highest celestial spheres.
One Yom Kippur the Rimanover Rebbe suddenly banged his machzor shut in the middle of Mussaf. After davening, the Rebbe explained to the perplexed chassidim that Reb Mendel was trying to have the kavanot of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, and because he was so young the Rebbe feared that it would harm him!
Reb Mendel served as Rav in Strizov for a while, where he wrote many responsa in halacha — especially on the topic of agunot. After serving as Rav in Strizov he returned to Tarnow, the city of his birth, where he led an elite group of chassidim to higher aspirations in avodat Hashem. Unfortunately, he was niftar at the young age of 43.
This is how his passing came about: During his last year, 5591/1831, a terrible plague erupted in his town and many Yidden tragically succumbed. It was only after Reb Mendel offered himself as a kappara that the dying stopped...
Sova Semachot al HaTorah, a collection of divrei Torah that he told his talmidim on Shabbotot and Yamim Tovim, was revered by all as a holy sefer. It was reprinted with a lengthy foreword in 5759 / 1999. Another of Reb Mendel’s sefarim is Sova Semachot al Masechet Kiddushin.
The famed philanthropist and Jewish advocate, Sir Moses (Moshe Chaim) Montefiore, z”l, at age 101, (1784 - 5645 / 1885). (See 13 Av).
HaRav Moshe ben Raphael Pardo, zt”l, (1888), was born in Yerushalayim. After serving as Rav in Yerushalayim for many years, he left the city in 1870, traveling to North Africa on a mission on behalf of Yerushalayim. On his return trip in 1871 he stopped at Alexandria and accepted an offer to serve as the Rav of the Jewish community there, a post which he retained until his death. R’ Pardo was the author of Hora'ah de-Veit Din (Izmir, 1872), on divorce laws; Shemo Moshe (ibid., 1874), responsa; and Tzedek U’Mishpat (ibid., 1874), novellae to Hoshen Mishpat.
HaRav Bechor Aharon Elchadif, zt”l, (1909). Rav of Tverye, and author of “Mipi Aharon.
HaRav Yehoshua (ben Binyomin) Klavan, zt"l, (1884-1953). Born in Yanishok, Lithuania; at the age of 17, he left to learn at Keneset Beit Yitzchak - Slabodka, near Kovno, Lithuania, studying under Rav Chaim Rabanowitz (Reb Chaim Telzer), and later Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz. Married in 1907, his first position was Rav of Zaskevitch, near Vilna. In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, he and many members of his community were forced into Central Russia, finally establishing residence in the city of Kursk. In September of 1924, he emigrated, together with his entire family, to the U.S., settling in the Bronx. In 1926 he was appointed as a Rav in Burlington, Vermont. In 1936 he was appointed as the Rov of the larger Southwest Talmud Torah Congregation as well as the head of the Agudat Hakehilot of Washington D.C. He was to remain in this position until his passing. In 1943 he was among the founders of the Hebrew Academy. Throughout the war years he was very involved in the work of the Vaad Hatzaloh. His son, Rabbi Hillel Klavan succeeded him as Rabbi of the shul.
HaRav Yitzchak Meir Levin, zt”l, (1893 - 5731 / 1971), Chairman of the World Agudat Yisrael Organization. Born in Ger, he was a member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, representing Agudat Israel, between 1937 and 1939. He emigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1940. He was elected to the first Knesset in 1949. He remained a member of the Knesset until his death.
HaRav Mordechai Ganzweig, zt”l, (2000). The son and successor of Rav Yonah Ganzweig, Rav Mordechai had a major influence on the development and growth of the Los Angeles religious community. His shul served as the home of the Lakewood Kollel in Los Angeles for the latter’s first 13 years. Rav Ganzweig also played an important role in kashrut supervision. His brother, Rav Chaim Ganzweig, is menahel ruchani of Mesivta Tiferet Yerushalayim in New York.
HaRav Shaul (ben Shmuel Aharon) Rubin, zt"l, (1937-2001), author of Tzionei HaDerech on Shas and tefillah. Born in Yerushalayim, he learned in Slobodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. After marrying Rebbetzin Shifra, he joined the Volozhin Kollel in Bnei Brak, Kollel Chazon Ish and the Rodomsky Kollel. Later he was appointed Rosh Kollel of the Torah Center in Afula, until he was called to be rosh kollel of Tal Torah in the Tel Ganim neighborhood of Ramat Gan. After that he was named rosh kollel of the Tal Torah kollel in Bnei Brak.
The Ner Maaravi, the Western Lamp of the Menorah in the Beit Hamikdash which lit all the other lamps of the menorah was extinguished during the reign of King Achaz, c. 570 C.E. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2). According to others, the date is tomorrow 18
Av. A taanit tzaddikim on both days commemorates the event (see Mishna Berura).
17 Av - 1533:
The Queen of Poland granted the Jews of Pinsk all the rights already granted to the Jews of Lithuania.
17 Av 5642 - August 2, 1882:
Riots break out in Yekaterinoslav (Dnipropetrovsk) and spread throughout Russia.
17 Av 5649 - August 14, 1889:
120 Jewish families (800 people) arrived in Buenos Aires, establishing the seeds of todays modern Argentinean Jewish community. These immigrants were fleeing poverty and pogroms in Russia, and moved to Argentina because of its open door policy of immigration. By 1920, more than 150,000 Jews were living in Argentina. Juan Peron's rise to power in 1946 was an ominous sign, as he was a Nazi sympathizer with fascist leanings. Peron halted Jewish immigration to Argentina, introduced mandatory Catholic religious instruction in public schools, and allowed Argentina to become a haven for fleeing Nazis. (In 1960, Israeli agents abducted Adolf Eichmann from a Buenos Aires suburb.) Today, Argentina has the largest Jewish community in Latin America numbering between 250,000 and 300,000 Jews, maybe as many as 200,000 in Buenos Aires. Terror attacks have prompted many young people to emigrate. In 1992, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 32 people. In 1994, the Jewish community headquarters in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 87 people. The perpetrators have never been apprehended.
17 Av 5689 - Aug. 23, 1929:
began their rioting and attacks on Jews on Friday afternoon, throughout Eretz Yisrael, killing and wounding many, Hy"d. See 18 Av.
17 Av 5698 - August 14, 1938:
Anti-Jewish riots in Bransk, Poland.
17 Av 5718 - August 3, 1958:
Oil pipeline from Eilat to Haifa was completed.
17 Av 5750 - August 6, 1990:
Iraq annexes Kuwait, prompting the first Gulf War which resulted in a barrage of 39 SCUDs attacking Israel.
17 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shimshon Wertheimer, zt”l, (1658 - 5484 / 1724).
Born in Worms, Germany, he learned in the yeshivas of Worms and Frankfurt. After marrying the daughter of the Rav of Manheim in 1684, he moved to Vienna. Within a few years, he became the wealthiest Jew of his day. He served as finance minister for Austrian emperors Leopold I, Josef I and Karl IV. In exchange for his services, Reb Shimshon requested better treatment for his fellow Jews throughout the Austrio-Hungarian Empire. He negotiated the Jews’ right to live in major cities, including Vienna and Frankfurt, he saved the Jews of Rothenberg from expulsion, and he intervened to save Jews of Worms and Frankfurt.
He was also a talmid chacham and helped to establish 40 kehillot in Hungary.
He founded and endowed a yeshiva in Frankfurt, setting up his son-in-law, Rav Moshe Kann, as Rosh Yeshiva. In Vienna, he set up a beit din.
In 1712, he rebuilt the city of Nikolsburg, which had burned down. Reb Shimshon was also in charge of transferring monies to Eretz Yisrael from all of Europe.
He also left behind kisvei yad on Torah, Midrash, and Kabbala. (Others 5485 / 1725).
HaRav Asher, zt”l, (5564 / 1804), author of Mayim Adirim.
HaRav Avraham Mordechai (ben Binyamin Zev Yaakov) Horowitz of Pintchov (Pinczow), zt”l, (5584 / 1824), a chassid of the Chozeh of Lublin. His stories of the Baal Shem Tov appear in a sefer called Maaseh Hashem, written by his talmid and son-in-law, Rav Yitzchak Yeduah Yechiel Safrin of Komarno.
HaRav Shmuel Eibschutz, zt”l, (5514 / 1756 – 5600 / 1840), Rav of Apta. Son of Harav Naftali Hertz, he was related to Harav Yonasan Eibschutz, and a descendant of the Megaleh Amukot. Reb Shmuel learned under Harav Akiva Eiger for a number of years.
After settling in Vorka, he was attracted to the ways of Chassidut and traveled to the court of the Maggid of Kozhnitz.
As was customary among Chassidim, they didn’t wear woolen clothes due to the suspicion that they contained shaatnez, an issur d’Oraisa. Reb Shmuel, who came from a non-Chassidic background, wore woolen clothing, but upon joining the Chassidim, he changed to silk garments.
Later, in Posen, he met Rav Akiva Eiger, who asked him why he wore silk and not wool. Reb Shmuel explained the opinion of the Chassidim. At once, Rav Akiva Eiger ripped off his woolen garment, exclaiming that he was shocked that he hadn’t thought of this issue himself. It is related that Rav Akiva Eiger waited there until he was brought new garments free of any halachic issues.
Reb Shmuel also went to the court of the Chozeh.
He was appointed Rav in Vorka, where he served for 38 years. Later, in 5595/1835, he became Rav in Apta, a post he held until his petirah. Reb Shmuel was niftar on 17 Av 5600/1840, at the age of 86. He was buried in Apta.
His sons were Harav Berish, Rav in Zelichov; Harav Ephraim, Rav in Piaseczna and Sulifa; Harav Mordechai; and Harav Simchah. Among his famous talmidim were Harav Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz and Harav Yaakov Aryeh of Radzimin, who grew up in Reb Shmuel’s home.
From the many manuscripts of his chiddushim, only the one on Torah was published, under the name Torat Shmuel. His chiddushim on Shas were never published, except those on the sugya of Kavsah in Masechet Shabbat, which were printed at the back of Torat Shmuel. The sefer was highly regarded by many of the generation’s Gedolim and received many glowing haskamot.
HaRav Shlomo Chaim Perlow of Koidenov, zt”l, (5622 / 1862).
Harav Shlomo Chaim was the son of Harav Aharon of Lechovitch. His mother was Rebbetzin Perel, a daughter of Harav Asher of Stolin. A grandon of Rav Mordechai Yaffe of Lechovitch, they were direct (ben acher ben) descendants of the Levush.
Harav Aharon, Rav Shlomo Chaim’s father, was tragically niftar when Shlomo Chaim was 10 years old, and he grew up in the home of his maternal grandfather Harav Asher Perlow of Karlin Stolin. He assumed his maternal grandfather’s name, Perlow.
Despite advanced age, his paternal grandfather, Harav Mordechai of Lechovitch, attended Harav Shlomo Chaim’s wedding to the granddaughter of Harav Shlomo of Karlin. He was niftar a few days later and buried in Stolin.
Harav Shlomo Chaim was supported by his Stoliner grandfather for about eight years.
At the age of 20, at the behest of his grandfather, he became Rav in Stolin, and after a few years there he became the Rav of Torov.
When his uncle Harav Noach of Lechovitch was niftar, Harav Shlomo Chaim established a court in Koidenov (currently Dzyarzhynsk, Belarus), all the chassidim flocked to Rav Shlomo.
Harav Shlomo Chaim encouraged his followers to dedicate their lives to avodat Hashem and never to waste a moment.
The Rebbe’s sichot and shmuessen drew Chassidim like a magnet. He would often quote the Chazal, “Yafeh sichasan shel avdei avot, mitorasan shel banim,” and would comment, “The reason that the seemingly mundane talk of the slaves of the forefathers is so beloved is that every word of theirs was steeped in Torah.”
The Koidenover Rebbe loved every single Yid; he would go out of his way for any Jew at any time. In his tzavaah, he warns to shun machloket and urges the promotion of peace and harmony. He also urges staying away from haughtiness and anger, as they lead to machloket.
At the time of his yetziat neshamah, it was morning, 17 Av, and he was reciting the Birchot Hashachar. He began reciting Ana B’koach with all his might and that is how his neshamah departed. He requested not to be eulogized and that no titles be engraved on his matzeivah.
One of Harav Shlomo Chaim’s sons-in-law was Harav Shimon of Zavochist, whose son, Harav Yaakov, was the founder of the Novominsker dynasty.
His brother Harav Shalom of Brahin published Divrei Shalom, in which many of Harav Shlomo Chaim’s divrei Torah are collected. Additional chiddushim are found in Erez BaLevanon, and in the Koidenover Siddur Ohr Hayashar, which was just recently reprinted. The Koidenover Rebbe, Harav Yaakov Tzvi Meir Erlich, published Haggadah shel Pesach Siach Avot, a collection of divrei Torah of all the Koidenover Rebbes.
He had several sons that became great Rebbes in their own right.
HaRav Yehuda Levi, zt”l, (1783 - 1879). Born in Sarajevo to Reb Menachem Levi, he emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, and became Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim in 1845. He passed away in Yaffa.
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The Ner Maaravi, the Western Lamp of the Menorah in the Beit Hamikdash which lit all the other lamps of the menorah was extinguished during the reign of King Achaz, c. 570 C.E. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2). According to others, the date was yesterday 17
Av. A taanit tzaddikim on both days commemorates the event (see Mishna Berura).
18 Av - 1255:
A child named Hugh of Lincoln disappeared, and the Jews were accused of murdering him for ritual purposes. Ninety Jews were arrested and held in the Tower of London; eighteen of them were hanged, Hy"d.
18 Av - 1321:
160 Jews of Chinon, France were burned to death on charges of well-poisoning, Hy"d.
18 Av 5689 - Aug. 24, 1929:
Yahrtzeit of 113 victims of the Chevron pogrom in 1929 Hy"d.
Arab riots and assaults against Jews break out in Yerushalayim and spread throughout Eretz Yisrael killing 133 Jews, Hy”d. False rumors -- fueled by inflammatory sermons in the mosques -- declared that the Jews were preparing to take control of the holy places, and that Jews were carrying out "wholesale killings of Arabs." Muslims mobs went on the attack, killing 17 Jews in Yerushalayim and 20 in Tzefat. The worst atrocities occurred in Chevron, where the Arabs rioted for three days amid cries of "Slaughter the Jews." Only one British policeman guarded the entire city and was powerless to stop the rampage. 67 Jews including 12 Americans were murdered in the massacre in Yeshivat Chevron while hundreds of others, were injured and maimed. They also burned down many homes, and burned and damaged sifrei Torah and Tashmishei Kedushah (Judaica). The remaining Jews fled to Yerushalayim, and the ancient Jewish community of Chevron, which had lived in relative peace in the city for hundreds of years, was not revived until after Israel's capture of Hebron in the 1967 Six Day war. The Kaf Hachaim records that without rachamei Shamayim (heavenly mercy) the Arabs would have killed all the Jews in Eretz Yisrael.
18 Av 5702- August 1, 1942:
First reliable report of the Nazi plan to murder all the Jews reached the West. The U.S. State Department suppressed the report for several weeks, until Jews in New York received it through other means.
18 Av 5703- August 19, 1943:
The last of 19 transports of Salonika (Greece) Jews departed on its way to Auschwitz, totaling 46,061 Jews of a pre-war total of 54,000 murdered, Hy"d.
18 Av 5716- August 25, 1956:
Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal.
18 Av 5721 - July 31, 1961:
The one millionth oleh (immigrant) since the establishment of the State, arrived in Eretz Yisroel.
18 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Chaim Rephael Asher, zt”l, (5532 / 1772), the Rishon LeTziyon of Yerushalayim and Rosh Yeshivat Yefaer Anavim.
HaRav Avraham (ben Dovid) Korkidi, zt”l, (5645 / 1885), author of Vayikach Avraham.
HaRav Yisrael Zeitun, zt”l, (1921), Rav of Tunisia, and author of Mishpat Katuv.
The 113 victims of the Chevron pogrom, Hy"d, (5689 / 1929).See above.
HaRav Chanoch Chasson, (Chazon), zt”l, Rav of Chevron, zt”l, (5627 / 1867 - 5689 / 1929). Born on 17 Iyar 5627 / 1867 in Chevron. His father, Reb Mordechai, was a successful businessman and one of the prominent residents of the city.
As a young boy, Chanoch was educated in the local Talmud Torah of the Sephardim, and at the age of 15 he was already known for his excellence in learning.
In 5647/1887, at the age of 20, Rav Chanoch married Clara, the daughter of Harav Rachamim Yosef Franko of Yerushalayim. The family later moved to Chevron, where Harav Rachamim was appointed Rav.
For a number of years, Harav Chanoch was a melamed in the Sephardic Talmud Torah. In 5660/1900, he was sent overseas to collect funds for the mosdot.
In the meantime, Harav Chanoch’s father-in-law had passed away, and Harav Chaim Chizkiyah Medini, the Sdeh Chemed, who had recently arrived in Eretz Yisrael, became Rav of the Sephardic community. Harav Chanoch was appointed to the beit din, becoming the right-hand man of the Sdeh Chemed. He also edited the last volumes of his work Sdeh Chemed.
After the petirah of the Sdeh Chemed, Harav Chanoch was appointed Rav of the Sephardic kehilla. Harav Chanoch did much to help strengthen and fortify the community in Chevron materially and spiritually.
In his later years, Harav Chanoch’s children tried to persuade him to come live in Yerushalayim but he refused, saying it would weaken the yishuv in Chevron.
During the summer of 5689/1929, his wife spent much time in Yerushalayim. Sensing the tension, when she returned to Chevron in Tammuz. She implored her husband to come back with her to Yerushalayim. But he remained adamant in his refusal to desert the city.
On Shabbat Parashat Eikev, 18 Av, the infamous day of the Arab massacre in the Chevron yeshiva, Harav Chanoch and his wife were among those who were mercilessly killed. In the fire that raged after the brutal murders, many of his chiddushei Torah were tragically burned. Hy"d.
HaRav Shlomo Chanoch haKohen Rabinowitz, zt”l, Hy”d, (5702 / 1942), the fourth and last Rebbe of Radomsk, Hy”d, and his son-in-law, Harav Dovid Moshe Rabinowitz, Hy”d. Harav Shlomo Chanoch was born in 5652/1892. His father was Harav Yecheskel, the Knesset Yechezkel of Radomsk.
During his early years he was primarily a talmid of Harav Efraim Tzvi Einhorn, Rav of Amstov.
After his chasunah to his cousin, the daughter of Harav Moshe Elimelech, son of the Chessed L’Avraham, he supported himself through trade, in which he was extremely successful.
His father, the Knesset Yecheskel, was niftar in 5671/1911, leaving Rav Shlomo Chanoch to assume leadership of the thriving Chassidut of Radomsk when he was only 29 years old. Initially, Rav Shlomo refused to accept the admorut, but after he traveled to Harav Yissochor Dov of Belz and Harav Yisrael of Chortkov, they convinced him to change his mind.
After WWI, which the Rebbe spent in Germany, he moved to Sosnowiecz, where he continued leading his chassidim until WWII.
The Radomsker Chassidim during the period between the two World Wars, were counted among the three largest Chassidic movements in Poland.
Beginning in 5687/1927, the Rebbe founded many yeshivot, known as the Yeshivah Kesser Torah network, that provided a sheltered environment in which chassidim could achieve high levels of Torah and avodat Hashem.
The yeshivot were headed by his only son-in-law, Harav Moshe Dovid Rabinowitz (who was also his first cousin). Rav Moshe Dovid was a gaon and masmid and, like his father-in-law, strikingly humble. He administered the curriculum, hired Roshei Yeshivah and ensured that life in the yeshivot flowed smoothly.
Before WWII broke out, there were over 40 Radomsker yeshivot scattered over Poland and Galicia, infusing youth with a high level of Torah.
The Rebbe financed the yeshivot by himself, and kept the Chassidut and his yeshivot far from the limelight.
When WWII broke out the Rebbe was in Krenitz, near the Carpathian Mountains, for health reasons. Returning to Poland, he arrived in Lodz and refused to escape despite being offered the opportunity.
On Chanukah of 5700/1939, the Rebbe was transferred to the Warsaw Ghetto, where he continued to conduct tischen and lead his chassidim under the most dire of conditions. Again, the Rebbe refused to leave his chassidim, choosing to remain with his flock until the very end.
On 18 Av, a brigade of Nazis broke into the building at Novolifki 30 and killed 150 people, among them the Rebbe, his Rebbetzin, his daughter, and his son-in-law, Reb Moshe’le. He was brought to kevurah in the Warsaw cemetery. The kever was rebuilt in 5747/1987 by Harav Yecheskel Besser, z”l.
Some of his divrei Torah were published in Birchat Shlomo, a sefer that includes chiddushim of his son-in-law.
HaRav Moshe Bernstein, zt”l, (5716 / 1956), Rosh Yeshivat Kamenitz, Yerushalayim. Born in the town of Turetz, he learned in Mir. He became the son-in-law of Reb Baruch Ber Lebowitz.
He hired Rav Elya Lopian as mashgiach under the recommendation of Rav Moshe Aaron Stern.
The yeshiva that was to continue the tradition of Kamenitz was opened in Yerushalayim in 5702 (1942) by HaRav Bernstein, and his brother- in-law HaRav Yaakov Moshe Leibowitz zt’l, Rav Boruch Ber’s son.
Today, the yeshiva is led by grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Rav Boruch Ber. The current Rosh Yeshiva is HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner, son-in-law of HaRav Moshe Bernstein.
HaRav Tzvi Aryeh Twersky Of Zlatipoli-Tchortkov, zt”l, (5728 / 1968).
Harav Tzvi Aryeh Twersky, born in 5550/1890, was the son of Harav Mordechai Yosef of Zlatipoli. In 5673/1913 he married the daughter of Harav Yisrael of Tchortkov and settled near his father-in-law.
With the advent of World War I, Reb Hershel, as he was fondly called, fled with his father-in-law to Vienna, along with many other Rebbes of the Ruzhin dynasties.
Following the petirah of his father on 26 Iyar 5689/1929, Reb Hershel was appointed Rebbe. He reluctantly accepted but remained in Vienna with his brothers-in-law, Harav Nachum Mordechai and Harav Dov Ber.
When the Nazis took over Austria, Reb Hershel was sent to the Dachau concentration camp together with his nephew, Harav Shlomo Friedman, son of Harav Mordechai Nachum. Following many miracles, they were both freed and able to make their way to Eretz Yisrael, settling in Tel Aviv.
Following the petirah of his nephew, Harav Shlomo, in Cheshvan 5619/1958, Reb Hershel was named Rebbe of the Tchortkover Chassidim as well.
He wrote the sefarim HaTov V’Hatachlit and Emunah V’Daat on Hashkafah.
Reb Hershel was niftar on 18 Av 5628/1968 at the age of 78 and buried on Har Hazeitim.
The Zlatipoli-Tchortkov dynasty is being perpetuated by his only grandson, Harav Chaim Michoel Biberfeld, shlita, in London.
HaRav Dov Ber Eliezrov, zt”l, (5757 / 1997), Rav in Katamon, Yerushalayim.
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19 Av 4969 - July 22, 1209:
200 Jews were murdered in a crusaders massacre of Beziers, a city in southern France, that was an ancient Gallic fortress.
19 Av - 1454:
Jews of Brno (now a city in the Czech Republic ; then a free imperial city of Moravia ) were expelled by King Ladislaus.
19 Av 5674 - August 11, 1914:
Russian authorities in Mitchenick,
Poland, expelled the Jews in the first of a long series of expulsions that uprooted
many Polish and Lithuanian Jewish communities.
19 Av 5701 - August 12, 1941: ·
Nazis began systematic murder of the Jews of Dvinsk, Latvia, Hy"d.
The Nazis established a ghetto in Lomza, Poland, where 11,000 Jews had lived.
19 Av 5715 - August 7, 1955:
Bar Ilan University was founded. Their mission was to blend ancient Torah tradition with modern scholarship. Bar Ilan is currently Israel's largest academic community with 32,000 students, scientists and staff. Bar Ilan has been at the forefront of archeological research, social work, and Torah-dissemination projects. The Bar Ilan Responsa Project places a vast computerized library of thousands of rabbinic commentaries at the easy disposal of scholars around the world. The university's name was chosen in honor of Rabbi Meir Bar Ilan (Berlin), who led Jews from the ashes of Europe to rebirth and renaissance in Israel.
19 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yaakov Kuli, (Culi), zt"l, author of Yalkut Me'am Lo'ez (5449 / 1689 or 5450 / 1690 - 5492 / 1732). Harav Yaakov Kuli was born in Eretz Yisrael in 5449/1689 or 5450/1690. His father, Rav Makir, was a scion of an honored family that had come from either France or Germany. Rav Makir was the son-in-law of Harav Moshe ibn Chaviv, the author of Get Pashut. Rav Yaakov studied with his grandfather.
At this time, the Turkish regime was very cruel to the Jewish yishuv in Yerushalayim, and Rav Yaakov and his family moved to Tzefat. In Tzefat their fate was not much better, and in 5474/1714, they relocated to Constantinople.
Rav Yaakov edited various important sefarim. The first fruits of his literary activity was the publication of the writings of his grandfather. Harav Moshe ibn Chaviv (the Maharam Chaviv) who was niftar in 5456 / 1696, when Rav Yaakov was still a young boy, but the influence he had on his young grandson was immense.
While working on his grandfather’s writings, Rav Yaakov formed a close relationship with the Rav of Constantinople, Harav Yehudah Rosanes, the Mishne Lamelech on the Rambam. He appointed Rav Yaakov as Dayan in Constantinople.
In 5487/1727, Rav Yaakov published his grandfather’s work Shammus Ba’aretz, a three-volume work on a few masechtot: Yom Teruah on Masechet Rosh Hashanah, Tosefet Yom Hakippurim on Yoma, and Kappot Temarim on Sukkah.
After Rav Yehudah Rosanes, the Mishne LeMelech, was niftar in 1727, Rav Yaakov was entrusted with the job of preparing his manuscripts for print. Even for a talmid chacham of his caliber, it meant a task of several years. Rav Kuli published all of his works (which had been in chaotic manuscript form).
The next year, 5488/1728, Rav Yaakov edited the sefer Parashat Derachim. Three years later he finally published the Mishneh Lamelech, one of the most famous commentaries on the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, enriched with numerous notations of his own. To both these works Rav Yaakov wrote a preface.
Rav Yaakov also edited his grandfather’s Ezrat Nashim, at the beginning of which there are two responsa of his own.
The most important work of Rav Yaakov and the one for which he is best known is his commentary on the Torah and Nach entitled Me’am Lo’ez. This work is a very elaborate, encyclopedic commentary in Ladino, dealing with all aspects of Jewish life, with material taken from the Gemara, the Midrash and early Rabbinic literature.
Rav Kuli himself only published Me'am Lo'ez on Breishit and half of Shmot before he was niftar. Because of its overwhelming popularity, other prominent rabbis of Turkey completed the remaining volumes.
Rav Yaakov also wrote a halachic sefer called Simanim L’Oraisa, which remained in manuscript.
Rav Yaakov was niftar on 19 Av 5492/1732.
HaRav Aryeh Leib Balchover of Zaslev, zt”l, (5611 / 1851), author of Shem Aryeh.
HaRav Naftali be R' Yehuda of Nemerov, zt"l, (1860). One of the closest talmidim of Reb Nachman of Breslov and one of the two witnesses to the promise about reciting Tikun HaKlali at R' Nachman's kever.
HaRav Aharon Menachem Mendel Eichenstein of Alesk, zt”l, (5683 / 1923).
Harav Aharon Menachem Mendel was born c. 5620/1860. His father was Harav Sender Lipa of Ziditchov, the eldest son of Harav Yitzchak Isaac of Ziditchov. Orphaned at a young age, Reb Sender Lipa moved into the home of his grandfather, Harav Tzvi Hirsch of Ziditchov, who eventually married him off to the daughter of Rav Aharon Menachem Mendel of Veretzky. Reb Mendele Alesker, as he was called, was named after his maternal grandfather.
Harav Yitzchak Meir of Alesk, the eldest son of Harav Chanoch Henach Dov of Alesk, chose Reb Mendel as a chassan for his daughter Shlomtzi, when he became bar mitzvah.
After his marriage, Reb Mendel settled in Alesk, near his father-in-law, and continued to grow in Torah and avodat Hashem. He became especially close with his wife’s grandfather, the Lev Sameach of Alesk, who saw in Reb Mendel a budding talmid chacham and a dedicated Chassid with much potential. This close connection resulted in the Lev Sameach stipulating that after his son Reb Yitzchak, Reb Mendel should take over leading the Chassidim.
In the year 5644/1884, Reb Mendel suffered two great losses. At the beginning of the year, on Motzoei Yom Kippur, his father, Reb Sender Lipa, was niftar; and at the end of the year, on 2 Elul, the Lev Sameach was niftar. Reb Mendel was barely 24 at the time. After the petirah of the Lev Sameach, his son Reb Yitzchak, Reb Mendel’s father-in-law, was named Rebbe.
Following the petirah of his father-in-law, on 24 Adar 5664/1904, Reb Mendel was crowned Rebbe in his stead.
As Rebbe, Reb Mendel became known for his tefillot and his genius in Torah, both in nigleh and nistar. He was also renowned as a poel yeshuot and as a baal tzedakah who distributed huge sums to the poor. His home was always open, and he helped marry off many orphans, paying all the wedding expenses himself.
When World War I broke out, Reb Mendel was forced to flee, and he settled in Lvov (Lemberg). His Rebbetzin, along with their son, the bachur Asher Anshel, were niftar there. Later, Reb Mendel married Rebbetzin Chavah, the daughter of his brother-in-law Harav Chaim Yechiel Rubin.
Reb Mendel lived in Lvov until his petirah on 19 Av, 5683/1923. He was buried there, near his uncle Harav Shlomo of Sassov, and an ohel was built on his kever.
HaRav Menachem Nachum of Boyan-Tchernowitz, zt”l, (5629 / 1868 – 5696 / 1936). Harav Menachem Nachum of Boyan-Tchernowitz was born in Sadigura on 21 Kislev, 5629/1869. The oldest of four sons of the Pachad Yitzchak, the first Boyaner Rebbe, who was the son of Reb Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura and the grandson of the Ruzhiner Rebbe, zy”a.
Greatness was predicted for Reb Menachem Nachum from a very young age. When he was brought into shul for his pidyon haben, his blanket was kicked aside. Noticing this, his grandfather, Reb Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura, commented, “It seems that he will not be able to conceal his greatness from others.” (Hiding one’s greatness was a trait possessed by most Rebbes of the Ruzhiner dynasty.)
This prediction was ultimately realized, as Reb Menachem Nachum grew famous for his fiery avodat Hashem that burst forth like a holy flame, despite his attempts to constrain it in the way of his forefathers. This was in contrast to the ways of his father, the Pachad Yitzchak, who conducted himself in a restrained, awe-inspiring manner, keeping the emotionality of his avodah hidden under the wrap of humility and reticence.
In 5644/1884 he married his first cousin, the daughter of his uncle Reb Mordechai Shraga of Husyatin. After three years in Husyatin, he returned to live with his family in Boyan.
During WWI, Boyan was totally destroyed. Reb Menachem Nachum escaped with his father to Vienna, along with many other Rebbes of Ruzhiner descent. His father, the Pachad Yitzchak, was niftar there on 17 Adar, 5677 / 1917.
After WWI, Boyaner chassidim built a magnificent edifice in Tchernowitz, Bukovina, for Reb Menachem Nachum, who succeeded his father. From Tchernowitz, Reb Menachem Nachum led the Boyaner Chassidut with royal grace, as his father had done in Boyan.
In 5687/1927 he made a 30-day trip to Eretz Yisrael, where he made an extraordinary impression.
Unlike his father, Reb Menachem Nachum became so caught up in his devotions, so disengaged from the physical world, that no matter how hard he tried to rein in his fervor and zeal, it unfailingly broke through for all to see. During his tefillot and tisch, his face was aflame and his being bespoke love and fear of Hashem.
His appearance at a tisch was a bit frightening, as his countenance was transformed by inner, spiritual fire and thus unrecognizable. He sang the niggunim of his forefathers with dveikut and unconcealed emotion.
The divrei Torah he delivered at his tisch on Shabbat and Yamim Tovim drew the hearts of Yidden to greater awe and love of their Father in Heaven.
Reb Menachem Nachum was niftar in Vienna on Erev Shabbat, 19 Av, 5696/1936.
His two sons, Reb Aharon and Reb Mordechai Shraga, Hy”d, jointly presided as Rebbes after their father’s petira until they and their families were murdered by the Nazis. Their sister was married to Reb Moshenyu of Boyan-Cracow, Hy”d.
Reb Menachem Nachum’s published works include the booklets Zeh Yenachamenu and Devarim Nichumim, and two volumes on Torah and the Yamim Tovim called Tiferet Menachem.
Reb Menachem Nachum’s youngest brother, the Boyaner Rebbe of New York, zt”l, who was his junior by 22 years, wrote in his haskamah to that sefer, “In earlier days, the main thing among chassidim was the Torah sheb’al peh that they heard from their Rebbe… and there was no need to print it, because it was engraved on their hearts. But times have changed so drastically; the handwritten manuscripts possessed by few are quickly being lost. Therefore, although earlier chassidim rejected this idea, we must encourage and support the publication of these divrei Torah, especially since there is no remnant left of his [Reb Menachem Nachum’s] offspring.”
HaRav Shimon Shalom (ben Menachem) Kalish, the Amshinover Rebbe, zt”l, (5623 / 1863 - 5714 / 1954).
Harav Shimon Shalom was born in 5623/1863 to his father, Harav Menachem of Amshinov, zy”a.
Rav Shimon Shalom was a great-grandson of Rav Yitzchak of Vorka, founder of the Vorka-Amshinov dynasty. As a child, Rav Shimele was noted for his unique ahavat Yisrael. During his teens, Reb Shimon was sent to learn with his uncle, Rav Yeshaya of Peshischa, who later took him as a son-in-law for his daughter, Feige Bracha. Afterwards, he returned to Amshinov.
In 1918, Rav Menachem of Amshinov passed away, and his older son, Rav Yosef took his place as Rebbe. Rav Shimon was sent to the resort town of Otvotzk, a suburb of Warsaw, to take advantage of the clear, mountain air. Reb Shimele set up his court.
Reb Shimele’s home was a veritable reshut harabbim. Every day, throngs of Chassidim would come there to consult with him. He also became a member of the Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah.
In 5693 / 1933, he spent a full year in Eretz Yisrael with his son, Rav Yerachmiel Yehuda Meir. During that visit he made the decision to move there, and encouraged Chassidim to move there as well. Although he wished to stay, his obligations forced him to move back to Europe.
After returning to Poland, the Rebbe would often say, “For me, chutz la’Aretz is only an anteroom to Eretz Yisrael. I am an Eretz Yisraeldige Yid.”
Nevertheless, his many responsibilities obligated him to remain in Poland.
When World War II broke out, , Reb Shimele fled from Otvotzk to the city of Chelm with his family, just moments ahead of the Nazi takeover.
Eventually, the Rebbe and his family, made their way to Vilna.
Through open miracles, the Rebbe and his family, together with a group of talmidim from Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, joined the Mirrer Yeshivah and succeeded in escaping Vilna with Curacao visas, traveling across Russia until they arrived in the city of Kobe, Japan.
The Japanese government, suspicious of the Jews, invited Jewish leaders to Tokyo for a meeting, Reb Shimele and Harav Moshe Shatzkes among them.
During the meeting the Japanese General Pogamzi asked, “Why do the Germans hate the Jews so much? They must have a rational reason.”
Reb Shimele did not lose his equilibrium. He explained, “The Germans hate us because they possess the deepest disgust for nations of ‘Asian’ descent. They believe the Aryan nation from Europe is the master race and all others are subhuman. The Nazis despise all Asian people, not just Jews. Even the most cursory reading of the writings of Nazi philosophers on race and Aryan superiority will show that all that I have just said is clearly written there.”
The Rebbe’s answer made a profound impression on the officials.
Eventually, the Japanese government sent the Jews to Shanghai, and it was there that those fortunate Yidden lived out the war years.
After the war, Reb Shimele emigrated, together with all the other refugees, to the United States, from where he sought to procure a certificate to immigrate to Palestine. In the meantime, the Rebbe realized that there was much to be done in America and became involved in communal matters affecting American chareidi Jewry.
He spent 8 years in America. In the spring of 5714/1954, he decided that the time had come to move back to Eretz Yisrael. Tragically, during the final weeks of preparation, the Rebbe took ill and, in a matter of three days, on 19 Av, he was niftar. Reb Shimele was buried in the ancient cemetery of Teveria.
He was the author of the sefer, Mashmia Shalom. His son, Rav Meir, became the Amshinover Rebbe in Bayit Vegan and was niftar in 1976.
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20 Av 5318 - 1558:
First printed edition of the Zohar, the fundamental work of the Kabalah (Jewish esoteric and mystical teachings), authored by
the Talmudic sage, Rab Shimon Bar Yochai, was published. This led to
an explosion of interest in the study of Kabalah.
20 Av 5643 - August 23, 1883:
Anti-Jewish riots erupted in Zola-Egerszeg, Hungary.
20 Av 5761 - August 9, 2001:
In one of the worst of a series of suicide bombings, an Arab terrorist detonated a guitar case filled with explosives at the downtown Yerushalayim Sbarro's pizzeria at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road, the busiest area of downtown Yerushalayim. The heinous attack killed 16 people and wounded more than 130. Among the dead were five members of the Schijveschuurder family, and Mrs. Shoshana Yehudit (Hayman) Greenbaum, (1970-2001), an American who was pregnant with her first child. Following their tragic loss, her parents set up the Ner Shoshana Fund to support special education for the Etta Israel Center in Los Angeles.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility. A few months later, Al-Najah University in Nablus opened a public exhibition, a gruesome reenactment of the Sbarro bombing, strewn with fake blood and body parts.
20 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yosef Steinhart of Feurth, zt"l, (5536 / 1776), author of She’eilot U’teshuvot Zichron Yosef.
Harav Yosef Steinhart, son of Rav Menachem, was born in 5460/1700. He was a talmid of Harav Yaakov Poprosh, the Shev Yaakov.
Rav Yosef became the son-in-law of Harav Leib Mochiach of Pressburg, the father of Harav Yeshayah Pik-Berlin. The wife of Rav Yosef, Kreindel, was known for her erudition, and her chiddushim and insights are quoted by both her husband and her brother in their respective sefarim.
Rav Yosef became Rav of Fuerth, where he founded a yeshivah and taught many hundreds of talmidim. Among the more famous is Harav Mordechai Banet, Rav of Nikolsburg.
The Chida visited Fuerth as a shaliach from Eretz Yisrael, and was extended much honor by Rav Yosef. It is related that at that season, fish was available in Fuerth markets only for exorbitant sums. In honor of their guest the Chida, Rav Yosef’s Rebbetzin went to much trouble to find fish lichvod Shabbat, paying 10 gold coins for the fish. When the Chida heard that she spent so much on the fish in his honor, he said that in his opinion this was a chillul Hashem.
On Shabbos morning, after davening, a large crowd gathered. The Rebbetzin served them a unique delicacy from the liver of the fish, but she did not serve it to the Chida. When he asked why, she answered, paraphrasing a maamar Chazal, “When there is a chillul Hashem, one does not give kaved (‘kavod’ is literally ‘honor,’ but using a play on words, she said ‘kaved’ — liver) to the Rav.”
Rav Yosef was niftar on 20 Av 5536/1776, at the age of 76.
HaRav Yaakov Dovid (ben Yisrael Isser) Biderman of Koznitz and Vishigrad, zt”l, (1808 - 5623 / 1863).
Harav Yaakov David Biderman was born in 5568/1808. His father Harav Yisrael Isser, a talmid of the Yid Hakadosh, lived in Mezritch.
Rav Yaakov David was a Chassid of Harav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, Harav Shlomo Leib of Lentchna and the Chiddushei Harim of Ger. When Rav Yaakov David was in his early 30s, Harav Shlomo Leib of Lentchna, zy”a, remarked about him to Harav Yitzchak of Vorka, zy”a, “This yungerman is like a cupboard full of sefarim.”
He was a Dayan in Mezritch from about 5591/1831, later becoming Rav in Kozhnitz and finally in Vishograd.
Harav Yaakov David was always mekabel Shabbat at chatzot on Friday.
Niftar on 20 Av, 5623/1863, at the age of 55, he was buried in Warsaw.
After his petirah, his sons found among his effects the Sifra with the commentary of the Rash of Shantz, with his own thoughts in the margins. These comments were published under the name Hagahot Maharid.
Rav Yaakov David was survived by his sons, Rav Yechezkel, who succeeded him as Rav in Vishograd; Rav Nosson Shlomo Betzalel, Rav in Bizon and Loivitch, and father of Harav Yaakov Meir Biderman, son-in-law of the Sfat Emet of Ger; and Harav Chaim Yehoshua, Rav of Lentchna.
HaRav Eliezer (ben Yehuda Tzvi) of Azipalle, zt”l, (1865), youngest son of Rav Yehudah Tzvi of Stretin and a grandson of Rav Uri of Strelisk.
HaRav Aharon Twersky of Skver-Kiev, zt”l, (5677 / 1917).
HaRav Yehudah Zarachiyah Azulai, zt”l, (1870). The great-grandson of the Chida, Rav Chaim Yosef David Azuali.
Harav Aharon was born in 5632 / 1872. His father was Harav Dovid of Skver, a son of Harav Yitzchok of Skver, the founder of the Skverer dynasty, and the son of the Chernobler Maggid, Harav Mordechai.
Rav Aharon, as he was known, married Rebbetzin Bracha, the daughter of Harav Yitzchok Friedman of Bohush, the founder of the Bohush dynasty, and grandson of Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin.
Rav Dovid of Skver, father of Rav Aharon, fled the notorious Communist Revolution in 5679/1919 and traveled with his family to Kiev. The Rebbe was severely weakened by the plight of thousands of Jews, among them many of his family members, who were uprooted from their communities throughout Russia or killed during those terrible years. In 5759 / 1919 Rav Dovid was niftar and was buried in Kiev.
His son, Rav Aharon, had come to Kiev before his father’s arrival. While there, he was a devoted Rebbe to the local chassidim. To everyone’s sorrow, however, he was niftar at a very young age, 45.
Rav Aharon’s brothers, Harav Mordechai, Harav Moshe and Harav Shlomo were all niftar during the years 5679-80 / 1919-20. They, too, are buried in Kiev. Their youngest brother was Harav Yaakov Yosef of Skver, who later emigrated to America.
Another brother, Harav Menachem Nachum, moved to New York and is buried in the Beth David cemetery in Queens.
A son, Harav Shlomo, z“l, who lived in Yerushalayim, survived Reb Aharon.
HaRav Levi Yitzchak (ben Baruch Schneur) Schneerson, zt”l, (1878 - 5704 / 1944). Born to the oldest of the seven sons of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Menachem Mendel (the Tzemach Tzedek). He was a devoted chasid of Rav Shalom Dov Ber Schneerson, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Rebbe Rashab). After the Rebbe Rashab passed away, Rav Levi Yitzchak became equally dedicated to his successor, Rav Yosef Yitzchak (the Rebbe Rayatz). Rav Levi Yitzchak and his wife, Rebbitzen Chana had three sons. The oldest, Rav Menachem Mendel, became the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rav Levi Yitzchak was Chief Rabbi of the major Ukrainian city Yekaterinoslav (today called Dniepropetrovsk) until his arrest and exile to Kazakhstan, where he was niftar.
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21 Av - 339 C.E.:
The second set of Latin Christian anti-Jewish laws were passed. The Laws of Constantius forbade intermarriage between Jewish men and Christian women, and a generation later, in 388, were extended to all marriages between Jews and Christians. Constantius also did away with the right of Jews to possess slaves, thereby arresting conversion to Judaism at the same time as it dealt a blow to the Jews’ economic life.
21 Av 5694 - August 2, 1934:
German President Paul von Hindenburg died, paving the way for Adolf Hitler ym”s', complete takeover, when the Reichstag appointed him head of state and commander in chief of the German armed forces.
21 Av 5702 - August 4, 1942:
First train with Jews deported from Belgium to Auschwitz.
The German SS murdered 2,750 jews of Lancut Poland in the Falkinia Forest. Hy"d.
21 Av 5712 - August 12, 1952:
24 of the foremost Yiddish writers of Russia were executed by the Soviet Government, Hy"d.
21 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Alexander Sender (ben R' Yitzchok Issac) of Komarna, zt"l, (5578 / 1818).
A talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin
HaRav Dovid ben Menachem Mendel Hager of Kosov - Zablatov, zt”l, author of Tzemach Dovid (5557 / 1797 – 5608 / 1848).
Harav Dovid, born in 5557 / 1797, was the son of Reb Menachem Mendel of Kossov, founder of the Viznitz dynasty and mechaber of Ahavat Shalom.
Reb Dovid was taken as a chassan by Reb Moshe Leib of Sassov, marrying his daughter Pessia Leah.
After the petirah of his father on 17 Cheshvan 5586 / 1825, Reb Dovid succeeded him as Rebbe in Zablatov. He was also named Rav of the city.
Reb Dovid was renowned for his intense avodat Hashem, dedicating all his time to Torah and tefillah.
He was close with all the leading Rebbes of his time and discussed important issues with them. He was known for straight and profound thinking; Reb Yisrael of Ruzhin called him “the wisest man on earth.”
Reb Dovid was especially close with Reb Meir of Premishlan. Once, when Reb Dovid visited Reb Meir, the latter sent all the Chassidim who had traveled to his court to ask for a brachah from Reb Dovid, explaining that Reb Dovid’s brachot had a special zechut because of his forefathers and they would come true.
Reb Dovid’s divrei Torah were printed in Tzemach Dovid.
Reb Dovid was niftar on 21 Av 5608 / 1848, at the age of 51.
His sons were Reb Yaakov, who succeeded his father as Rebbe in Zablatov; Reb Tzvi Hirsh of Pichinzen; Reb Menachem Mendel of Damitsch; Reb Yechiel Michel of Strozhnitz; and Reb Alter, who was niftar in his youth.
Reb Dovid’s sons-in-law were Rav Yisrael Horowitz, Rav in Barnov; Reb Yitzchak of Bohush; and Harav Yosef Babad, author of the famous Minchat Chinuch.
HaRav Chaim (ben R’ Yosef Dov) Halevi Soloveitchik of Volozhin and Brisk, zt”l, (5613 / 1853 - 5678 / 1918), a Talmudic genius who developed the "Brisker" approach to Torah study, an approach that conquered the study halls of the Yeshivot until today. This is a method of highly analytical study, with emphasis on the legal writings of the Rambam / Maimonides.
Son of the Beit Halevi, R’ Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik, Rav Chaim was born in 5613/1853 in Volozhin, where his father, the gaon Harav Yosef Dov, zt”l, was serving as Rosh Yeshiva. The family moved to Slutzk while Rav Chaim was still quite young, when his father became Rav of the city and where Rav Chaim received his earliest education.
As a young boy he was recognized for his extraordinary talents. His quick clear grasp, his sharp wit and his ability to penetrate to the heart of the matter were evident in Torah and in worldly matters.
When Rav Chaim was 20, he married Lifsha, the daughter of HaRav Raphael Shapira, son of Harav Leibele Shapira of Kovno and the son-in-law of the Netziv of Volozhin. Since Rav Raphael was a Rosh Mesivta in Volozhin, the center of Jewish scholarship at the time, Rav Chaim moved there and his unique method of learning had an immediate impact on the yeshivah.
When Rav Raphael moved away, Rav Chaim took the post of Rosh Mesivta in Volozhin in 5640 / 1880, at the young age of 27 and began to deliver the remarkable Gemara shiurim that made him instantly renowned in the Torah world. For 12 years he gave shiurim and guided thousands of students, many of whom later became famous Torah leaders.
During the last years of the yeshivah’s existence, when the queries and complaints, surveillances and edicts of the Russian government increased, nothing was decided without Rav Chaim.
In 5652 / 1892, following the closing of the Volozhin Yeshiva, Rav Chaim moved to Brisk where he succeeded his father as the community Rav. He guided the community with a warm, loving hand and opened his home to all the unfortunate ones of the city.
As Rav of Brisk, he devoted himself to administrating the large community, refusing to deviate even a hair’s breadth from his stringencies, even as others were looking for heterim.
The Brisker Rav vehemently opposed the evolving Zionist movement, as well as other popular new factions that did not totally adhere to the dictates of Torah and yirat Shamayim. The leaders of those movements knew well that only with Rav Chaim’s support would they succeed, and they tried to win him over, but in vain.
His influence on Torah learning, which had first been felt mainly in Volozhin, increased in Brisk. Torah leaders recognized him as the gaon of the generation, and yeshivah students all over saw him as their teacher.
The Brisker Rav was the embodiment of Torah, hasmadah, and geonut; his non-stop engagement in Torah study was legendary.
The Brisker Rav’s derech halimud was a revolutionary breakthrough in the yeshivah world. In Brisk one breaks down the many components of a sugya and discerns their minute differences in order to resolve seeming contradictions.
Rav Chaim headed the rabbinate in Brisk for over 20 years. When World War I broke out and the residents of Brisk were forced to leave the city, Rav Chaim traveled to Minsk.
In 5678 / 1918 he was permitted by the authorities to travel to Warsaw and from there, with his health declining, he headed for Otvotzk, a suburb of Warsaw that also served as a health resort. That same year he was niftar on Tuesday, 21 Av, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, adjacent to his grandfather-in-law, the Netziv.
His oldest son was Rav Moshe, who was the father of Rav Yosef Dov and Rav Ahron Soleveitchik. His other famous son was Rav Yitzchak Zev (the "GRIZ"), also known as Reb Velvel, the Brisker Rav of Yerushalayim. He wrote a commentary on the Rambam, - “Chidushei Reb' Chaim HaLevi.”
HaRav Yaakov Chai Zareihen, zt”l, (1953). Author of Bikurei Yaakov.
HaRav Aharon Rokeach, zt"l, fourth generation Belzer Rebbe (1880 - 5717 / 1957).Rav Aharon’s glorious future as fourth Belzer Rebbe was apparent even during his youth, when his humility and piety were evident. After his father’s petirah in 5687/1927, he succeeded him as Rebbe. He was an inspiration in Torah and avodah to thousands of Chassidim, as well as to the hundreds of talmidim who learned year-round in his beit medrash. He was the most prominent Admor of Galitzia in his day, a figure of holiness and purity.
In Elul of 5699/1939, during the worst of the battles on Polish soil, Belz was an island of quiet. The Poles had retreated and the Germans were busy elsewhere.
When one part of Poland fell to the Germans, the people of Belz were, for a short while, left alone. A local militia, manned by more Jews than Poles, in proportion to their numbers in the town, kept order and assisted the thousands of refugees who began arriving due to the relative peace in that region.
The Rebbe acquired a horse and carriage to be kept ready so that he could flee at a moment’s notice.
Even in such tense times, the Rebbe’s concern was for the finest details of the halachah. Every evening, when his gabbai brought him his coffee for “breakfast” (his first meal of the day), the Rebbe asked him if had fed the horses, in accordance with the halachah to feed one’s animals before oneself.
Eventually, Rav Aharon fled with his family to Premishlan, where all were killed except for the Rebbe and his brother, Harav Mordechai of Bilgoray, zt”l, father of the current Belzer Rebbe, shlita. Afterward, Rav Aharon hid in the Bochnia ghetto near Cracow before escaping with Rav Mordechai to Budapest.
Budapest did not prove to be a refuge either, and the pair fled to Eretz Yisrael, where efforts began to rebuild the devastated court of Belz.
Rav Aharon established a beit medrash in Tel Aviv that became a source of life for the olam haChassidut in Eretz Yisrael. Rav Aharon was cherished as a torch rescued from the blaze of Churban Europa, a beacon of kedushah and avodat Hashem during those trying times.
In Eretz Yisrael, Rav Aharon reluctantly took a role in communal affairs, his love of Klal Yisrael overcoming his deep humility and distaste for the public eye. He founded the Belzer Yeshivah in Yerushalayim.
The Rebbe was known as a great po’el yeshuot, and many people merited yeshuot through his brachot.
Rav Aharon spent summers in Yerushalayim and was niftar there on 21 Av 5717/1957. Tens of thousands attended his levayah, and he was mourned by all of Klal Yisrael.
The fascinating story of his escape can be read in Rescuing the Rebbe of Belz. His Torah is saved in the sefer Mahara.
The current Belzer Rebbe is his nephew.
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22 Av 4261 - July 23, 501 C.E.:
A violent earthquake rocked Eretz Yisroel, completely destroying the city of Acco (Acre).
22 Av 5248 - 1488:
16 Jews were burned to death in Toledo, Spain. Hy"d. Although the Inquisition was first introduced at Seville, in Jan. 6, 1481, the largest number of autos da fé in Spain during the existence of the Jews there were held at Toledo.
22 Av 5315 - 1555:
First printing of Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim in Eretz Yisrael.
22 Av 5430 - August 8, 1670:
After evicting the Jews from Vienna, Leopold I sold the Jewish Quarter, which was then renamed Leopoldstadt in his honor, for 100,000 florins. The shul and the beit medrash were turned into St. Margaret’s Church.
22 Av 5704 - August 11, 1944:
Joop Westerweel, Dutch poet and educator was executed by the Nazis, for helping Jews escape.
22 Av 5704 - August 11, 2003:
An Arab terrorist blew himself up on the #2 bus leaving the Kotel (Western Wall) in Yerushalayim and approaching Rechov Shmuel Hanavi, killing 23 people and wounding 136, many of them children.
The attack occurred on a double-length bus crowded with families on a summer vacation outing, and became known as the "family massacre."
Among those murdered were Goldie Taubenfeld of Rockland County and the youngest of her 12 children, Shalom Mordechai Reinitz, a Rosh Mesivta in Sanz, and his 9 year old son, Yissacher Dov, Reb Chanoch Segal, a rebbi in Bnei Brak’s Torat Emet for 40 years, Mrs. Liba Schwartz, a 57 year-old wife of a dayan in Yerushalayim, Mrs. Feiga Dushinski, a 50 year-old woman who - together with her husband - would host 100 yeshiva boys every Shabbat, Mrs. Fruma Rachel Weitz, 73 years old, of Mattersdorf, Mrs. Lilach Kardi, a 22 year old whom lost her father at 12 and her mother at 18, and who adopted her younger brother, Yosef, and made his Bar Mitzvah, Menachem Leibel, a 24 year old talmid of Mir Yeshiva, Miriam Eisenstein, a 20 year old who just graduated teachers’ seminary, Chava Nechama Rechnitzer, a 19 year old daughter of a magid shiur in Belz, Reb Shmuel Wolner, 52, who ran a sefarim shop in Meah Shearim, Binyamin Bergman, 15 years old, and Tehilla Nathanson, formerly of Monsey, Hy”d.
The bomber, from a Hamas cell in Hebron, was apparently disguised as an Orthodox Jew. Following the attack, the Israeli government decided to wage an all-out war against Hamas and other terrorist elements, and to freeze the diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority.
22 Av Yahrtzeits
Rabbeinu Mordechai ben Hillel Hakohen Ashkenazi, zt"l, (~1230?1250- 5058 / 1298), author of the Mordechai, Hy"d.
Rabbeinu Mordechai ben Hillel was born c. 5010/1250 into a family of famous talmidei chachamim in Germany. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Rav Hillel, was a grandson of Rav Eliezer ben Yoel Halevi, who was in turn a grandson of the Raavan, Rabbeinu Eliezer ben Nosson. Rabbeinu Mordechai was also a relative of Rabbeinu Asher, the Rosh.
Little is known of Rabbeinu Mordechai’s early life.
He learned under the Maharam miRothenburg and other contemporary Gedolim. When his rebbi, the Maharam, was imprisoned and held for ransom, since nothing could be done to help him (as a result of his own expressed wish), Rabbeinu Mordechai moved to Goslar, in central Germany, in about 5051/1291.
But his right of residence there was disputed by the local Rabbi, Moshe Tako, so he left Goslar and settled in Nuremberg.
Soon talmidim from all over Europe — from France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Bohemia and Hungary — began to flock to Nuremberg to learn under him.
For seven years Rabbeinu Mordechai conducted his great yeshivah. Then a terrible catastrophe occurred in the wake of a civil war.
After the death of Emperor Rudolf of Hapsburg, lawlessness and disorder reigned. As usual, the defenseless Jews were the first victims. Unruly mobs robbed, killed, and pillaged whole Jewish communities.
The spring and summer of 5058/1298 witnessed one of the most harrowing events in Jewish history. Tragedy befell the Jews of Germany at the hands of the notorious Rindfleisch, a fanatical Jew-baiter from Franconia, Germany.
Rindfleisch first appeared when a rumor was spread that the Jews had desecrated a church. He gathered a mob around him and declared that he had received a “mission from heaven” to kill all the Jews in order to avenge the “desecration.” The mob attacked and killed the entire Jewish community of Roettingen, and then swept through southern Germany, going from town to town, leaving a trail of bloodshed while murdering over 100,000 Jews.
When Rindfleisch reached Nuremberg, the Jews fought, with the aid of some decent citizens. They were offered a reprieve if they would accept the religion of their attackers. But the Jews fought heroically for their faith. When the battle was over, 628 martyrs lay dead. Among them were Rabbeinu Mordechai ben Hillel, his wife Zelda, and their five children. Hashem yinkom damam.
The major work of Rabbeinu Mordechai, on the entire Shas, is a great halachic work which was widely accepted and was one of the sources for the Shulchan Aruch of Harav Yosef Caro. Since the Soncino edition of 1482, it has been printed as an appendix to the Gemara. The work is written as a compilation of existing halachic material, and also provides conclusions of long discussions in other halachic works. The Mordechai cites views of French and German authorities and brings the piskei halacha of the Tosefot without the discussion.
HaRav Moshe Katzis (Kazis or Kozis), zt"l, (~1550 - 5377 / 1617). (Maharam Katzis (Kazis or Kozis)).
Harav Moshe Kazis was born around 5310/1550 in Mantova. His father, Rav Shmuel, was one of Mantova’s foremost Rabbanim.
The Kazis family, through the generations, was known for its greatness in Torah. Rav Shmuel wrote numerous sefarim, and other Rabbanim with the name Kazis are mentioned in halachah sefarim. Rav Shmuel was niftar on 29 Elul, Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5333/1577.
Rav Moshe was a talmid of Harav Menachem Azariah, the Rama of Pano.
Those were years of harsh decrees against the Jews in general, and against the learning of Talmud in particular. On Rosh Hashanah 5314/1753, the non-Jews burned many sefarim and gemaras in Rome; later that year in all the other cities across Italy they burned copies of the Gemara.
The Gedolim of that era had to manage without gemaras to look into. Despite this, they continued to learn and write sefarim, many commenting that a ruling was based on memory or their understanding of a particular Gemara which was unfortunately not available.
Rav Moshe was among those who fought against this decree. He is mentioned in the group of Rabbanim who traveled to Rome in 5349/1589 to try to rescind the decree, but they were unsuccessful.
His Chidushei Rabbeinu Moshe Katzis was written using the sifrei Rishonim that he had - the Rambam, the Rif, the Ran, and Piskei HaRid - without the aid of a gemara.
Rav Moshe was niftar on 22 Av 5377/1617 while still in middle of writing his chiddushim on Masechet Bava Metzia. At the end of the commentary it says, “Up to here is the commentary of Rav Moshe Kazis, zt”l,for he was requested to the Heavenly yeshivah on the night of 22 Av 5377, and the last halachah he learned was about returning the lost article of the king (see Bava Metzia 28).”
HaRav Rafael Meyuchas ben Shmuel, zt”l, (1695 – 1771). Rishon L’Tzion, Sephardi Chief Rabbi in Yerushalayim, (1756-1771), and Rosh Yeshiva of Beit Yaakov. In 1721 he was sent to Kushta (Istanbul) Turkey on a mission to cause the removal of the evil ruler Yussaf Pecha who persecuted the Jews. As a result of miracles on his way home he fixed the 16th of Adar as a “Purim Yuchsin” for all his descendents. Author of Minchat Bikurim and Peri ha-Adama.
HaRav Meir Hagadol ben R' Yaakov "Tam" of Premishlan, zt”l, (5533 / 1773 others 5541 / 1781). One of the closest Chasidim of the Baal Shem Tov, Rav Meir was born in 5471 / 1711 to Harav Yaakov of Premishlan, known as “Yaakov Ish Tam.” Reb Yaakov traced his yichus to Harav Yaakov of Korbil, the Rishon who wrote She’eilot U’Teshuvot Min HaShamayim. Reb Meir’s son was Harav Aharon Leib, who was the father of the well-known Reb Meir’l Premishlaner, who became more famous than he. Reb Meir’s other sons were Reb Dovid of Kalisch and Reb Pesach Chassid.
In his younger years, Reb Meir supported himself by selling goods for various vendors. Even among the local gentiles he gained a reputation as “Meir the trustworthy,” for his fair business practices and ehrlichkeit.
After a while, Reb Meir gave up working so he would be free to sit and learn in the beit medrash all day. He suffered debilitating poverty but stood steadfast in his decision to devote himself entirely to the service of Hashem.
One day a merchant showed up in town with a honeycomb, insisting that he would only sell it to “Meir the trustworthy” and no one else. In no hurry to conclude his shiurim, Reb Meir made the merchant wait until the end of the day. Later that night, after returning from the beit medrash, Reb Meir paid a high price for the honeycomb (his ehrlichkeit would not let him buy it for cheaper), even though he was forced to borrow money to do so.
Taking it apart, the Rebbetzin discovered that there was barely any honey in the honeycomb; but then, inspecting it more closely, she found that it concealed a huge sum of money. Reb Meir refused to derive benefit from his metziah without further investigation. In the end, after satisfying himself that this was indeed yad Hashem, he kept the money.
When his grandson, Reb Meir’l of Premishlan, told this story, he added, “Great malachim put the money there, because of his strong middat habitachon.”
According to a mesorah, Reb Meir Hagadol wrote a sefer called Ohr Toraso shel Reb Meir, but the sefer was burned.
The Nadvorna dynasty, with its many offshoots descended from him.
HaRav Eliyahu ben Harav Yosef Hakohen Dushnitzer, zt”l, (5636 / 1876 - 5709 / 1949), Mashgiach of Yeshivat Lomza, Petach Tikva.
Harav Eliyahu was born in a small village near Lomza in 5636/1876, to Harav Yosef.
He learned in Telshe and Slabodka, but mainly in the yeshiva of the Chofetz Chaim in Radin. Reb Eliyahu also learned in the Kodshim Kollel under the Chofetz Chaim, along with other Gedolim including Harav Elchanan Wasserman, hy”d.
During these years, as he grew in Torah, Reb Eliyahu garnered treasures of yirat Shamayim and sheleimut in middot. These special attributes stayed with him all his life, and he instilled them in his talmidim.
In 5686 / 1926, with the establishment of the Lomza Yeshiva in Petach Tikvah, Reb Eliyahu was asked to be maggid shiur and Mashgiach. He moved to Eretz Yisrael and served in these capacities until his petira.
Besides his mussar shmuessen, Reb Eliyahu delivered a Gemara shiur twice a week, quoting chiddushim he had heard from Harav Shimon Shkop, zt”l, Harav Elchanan Wasserman, zt”l, and Harav Naftali Trop, zt”l.
Many future Gedolei Yisrael were among his talmidim. To name a few of the more famous ones: the Maggid Harav Shalom Schwadron, zt”l; Harav Elazar Menachem Shach, zt”l; and, ybl”c, Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita.
He authored Nachalat Eliyahu.
Reb Eliyahu used to go around imploring the storekeepers to close for Shabbat.
He was so particular concerning bitul Torah that he scheduled the levaya of his Rebbetzin for bein hasedarim.
Reb Eliyahu was niftar on 22 Av 5709/1949 at the age of 83.
The Chazon Ish is reported to have said that he was one of the 36 "hidden tzadikim".
As a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim he was one of the ones chosen to get the dibbuk out of a woman, in a story told over by R' Elchonon Wasserman.
.23 Jews died and over 130 were injured due to a suicide bomber in the number 2 bus leaving the Kosel and approaching Rechov Shmuel Hanavi, (5704 / 2003). Hy"d.
HaRav Gershon Yankelewitz, zt"l, senior rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon in New York City (1909-2014). Born in Lubcza, Poland. Rav Yankelewitz studied in the Radin Yeshiva under the Chofetz Chaim until the latter’s petirah. He then joined the Mir Yeshiva, before being forced to flee from the Nazis at the start of World War II. He fled with the yeshiva to Kobe, Japan, before eventually settling in Shanghai, China, where the yeshiva remained until 1947. He was a talmid muvhak of Rav Yerucham Levovitz, the Mirrer mashgiach. Rav Yankelewitz was appointed as a rosh yeshiva at RIETS and was embraced by his fellow talmidei chachomim and by his hundreds of talmidim. He gave a daily shiur at RIETS for semichah and college students for nearly 60 years.
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23 Av 5665 - 1905:
A pogrom took place in Zhitomir, Ukraine, Russia, resulting in the loss of many Jewish lives, Hy"d, plus the life of a
Russian student who tried to help the Jews.
23 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Binyamin Aharon Solnik of Podheitz, zt”l, (5370 / 1610), author of Mas’at Binyamin.
Harav Binyamin Aharon Solnik, son of Rav Avraham, was a talmid of the Rema and of the Maharshal, and one of the leading talmidei chachamim in Cracow.
After the Rema’s petirah, Harav Binyamin Aharon moved to Silesia and later to Podheitz. He corresponded in halachic matters with many Gedolim of his time, notably the Maharam of Lublin; Harav Yosef Steinhart, the Zichron Yosef; and Harav Mordechai Yaffe, the Levush.
His sefer Mas’at Binyamin includes 112 teshuvot.
Harav Binyamin Aharon’s sons were all Gedolim. His son Harav Yaakov Yukel was the mechaber of Nachalat Yaakov on Rashi’s commentary on the Torah. Harav Avraham was Rav of Tarnopol and later Rav in Brisk.
His son-in-law was Harav Menachem Mann, Rav in Vienna and later Chief Rabbi of Austria.
Harav Binyamin Aharon was niftar on 23 Av 5370/1610.
HaRav Dov Berish Gottlieb of Shinova, zt”l, (5554 / 1794), author of Yad Haketanah.
HaRav Dov Berish Weinberg of Przedborz, zt”l, (5633 / 1873). Son of Harav Tzvi Hirsh Treitel-Weinberg, a descendant of Rabbeinu Yehudah (son of the Rosh).
He married the daughter of Harav Yeshayahu Weltfried of Przedborz, zy”a, one of the leading talmidim of the Chozeh of Lublin.
A devoted chassid of Harav Yissachar Dov the Saba Kaddisha of Radoshitz, zy”a, Reb Dov Berish was zocheh to become a mechutan twice with his Rebbe as both his daughters married grandsons of the Saba Kaddisha: His daughter Sarah Kreindel married Harav Menachem Mendel Baron of Gombim, son of Harav Meir the son of Harav Yissachar Dov. (Her zivug sheini was Harav Chaim Meir Yechiel Shapira, the Saraf of Moglenitza, son of Harav Avi Ezra Zelig of Grenitz the son-in-law of the Kozhnitzer Maggid.) His daughter Rivka married Harav Yaakov Dovid Baron, the son of Harav Yisrael Yitzchak, the son of Harav Yissachar Dov who later succeeded his father as Radoshitzer Rebbe.
Reb Dov Berish served as Rav in a few kehillot, but due to conflicts he was forced to return to Przedborz, where he served as Dayan and Rav. His sons were Harav Meir Zev of Przedborz, a chassid of the Tiferet Shlomo of Radomsk; Harav Yisrael Alter of Oshpitzin, a chassid of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz; Harav Klonimus Kalman of Przedborz; Harav Meshulam Zusha of Gumbin; and Harav Moshe, Rav of Walbraum and author of Ohel Moshe.
Some of chiddushim of Reb Dov Berish on Shas were printed in the kuntres Halach Devash, which was printed together with Ohel Moshe by his son Harav Moshe.
HaRav Dovid Sutton Dabbah, zt”l, (1885-1949). Born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, he married in 1910, and was asked to serve as the Rav of Killis, Turkey, near the Syrian border. He returned to Syria in 1916, but his wife died at the age of 25 one year later. He remarried in 1918, and left for Yerushalayim in 1924, as daily life for Jews in Syria became quite difficult. Settling in the Bucharim neighborhood, he studied at the Yeshiva Porat Yosef. Several years later, he traveled to Argentina, hoping to raise funds for the Jews of Yerushalayim. Shortly after his arrival, the leader of the Syrian community in Argentina, Rav Shaul Sutton, was niftar, and Rav Dovid was asked to succeed him. He became Rav and Av Beit Din of Buenos Aires and authored Yaaleh Hadat, chidushim on gittin and mishpatei beit din.
HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (1899 - 5745 / 1985), zt"l, the Steipler Gaon.
Harav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky was born to Reb Chaim Peretz, a local shochet, in 5659/1899 in Hornsteipel, the town for which he gained the appellation of “the Steipler Gaon.” Reb Chaim Peretz was an ardent Chassid of Harav Mordechai Dov of Hornsteipel, zt”l (a son-in-law of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz), and he named his son after Harav Mordechai Dov’s grandfather, Harav Yisrael Yaakov of Cherkass, zt”l.
When Reb Chaim Peretz was 60 years old, his wife died, leaving him with three daughters. He asked his rebbe, Rav Mordechai Dov, the son-in-law of the Divrei Chaim, whether he should remarry. On the latter’s recommendation, he married a young woman, and he fathered three sons. The oldest was Rav Yaakov Yisrael.
At a young age, Rav Yaakov Yisrael went to learn under the Alter of Novardok in Homel, Russia, where he devoted himself to learning Torah. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 5677/1917, the yeshivah was persecuted severely by the Communists, and the bachurim suffered.
Nonetheless, the talmidim maintained their schedule of learning and even advanced in Torah and yirat Shamayim, to the dismay of the Communists, who retaliated by drafting the yeshivah students into the Russian army, including Rav Yaakov Yisrael.
Despite the harsh conditions in the Russian army he continued his strict Jewish observance. When he was discharged, the Steipler devoted himself completely to teaching Torah in the Novardok tradition. He traveled widely throughout Russia, setting up yeshivot wherever he went. This soon put his life in danger, though, so he fled to Bialystok, Poland, to the yeshivah of Harav Avraham Yoffen, zt”l.
In 5685/1925, the Steipler published his first sefer, Shaarei Tevunah, on various topics in Shas. When the Chazon Ish saw it, he was highly impressed by the depth of its chiddushim and suggested a match between its author and his sister, the daughter of Harav Shmaryahu Karelitz, Rav of Kosova.
After his chasunah, the Steipler taught in the yeshivot in Semiatitz and Pinsk. Then in 5694/1934, he immigrated to Eretz Yisrael with his brother-in-law, the Chazon Ish. At first, he taught in Yeshivat Novardok in Bnei Brak, but eventually dedicated himself to writing his sefarim, the multi-volume Talmudic commentary, Kehillot Yaakov, which is widely studied today.
The Steipler’s devotion to Torah was remarkable. When his young son, Chaim, began to speak, the Steipler taught him the names of the mashechtot of Shas. Likewise, he taught him the names of many of the sefarim in his bookcase. Thus, when the mashgiach of the yeshivah stopped in to speak to the Steipler one day, and jokingly asked the one-and-a-half-year-old Chaim where the Midrash Rabba was, the child was able to point it out with no difficulty.
After the petirah of the Chazon Ish, the Steipler became his unofficial successor as manhig and posek.
The Steipler was niftar on 23 Av 5745/1985.
Though he held no official position, he was consulted by individuals from all walks of life on every imaginable issue -- business, marriage, health, and matters of Torah law. His son, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, is a leading Torah authority in Eretz Yisrael today.
HaRav Shimon Goldstein, zt”l, (1942-2005). Born in Williamsburg to Reb Dovid and Rochel Goldstein, he learned in Yeshiva Torah Vodaat, and was orphaned of both his parents at a young age. He resided with his grandmother for a few years. After her petira, he moved into the Chaim Berlin dormitory as a young teenager. He became very close to the rosh yeshiva, Rav Yitzchak Hutner, who had a major hashpa’ah on his derech halimud and hashkafa. Despite his difficult situation, he was one of the happiest talmidim in the yeshiva. After his marriage, Rav Shimon continued learning in the yeshiva, and joined the staff as a rebbi three years later. Rav Shimon never left the koslei beit medrash for any other employment until the day of his petira, a beloved eighth grade rebbi for decades.
The Steipler zt"l
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24 Av (circa 100 BCE):
According to Megillat Taanit, the Chashmonaim reinstated the rule of Jewish civil law, replacing Hellenic secular law, and declared this day a Yom Tov. According to the Talmud, however, (Bava Basra 115), this incident took place on 24 Tevet.
24 Av 5435 - August 16, 1675:
Death of Bogdan Chmielnicki, ym"s, Cossack leader whose 1648-49 brutal attacks in Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia resulted in the deaths of 300,000 Jews, Hy"d.
24 Av 5698 - August 21, 1938:
Jewish Teachers were barred from practicing their skills in Italian schools, by order of the Fascist Italian government. A few months later, Italian leader Benito Mussolini formed an axis with Adolf Hitler. Discrimination continued against thousands of Italian Jews, and in 1943 many were deported to German camps. Fortunately, 80% of Jews in Italy were spared during the war, having been interned in small camps in Italy or rescued by righteous Gentiles. Recently, anti-Semitism has again flared in Italy; in 2003, Holocaust archives were destroyed at a school in Varese, and school walls were painted with graffiti such as "burn the Jews."
24 Av Yahrtzeits
24 Av 5588 - August 4, 1828:
HaRav Aharon of Terebeli, zt”l, (5501 / 1741), author of Machneh Aharon.
.HaRav Ephraim Zalman (ben R' Menachem) Margulies, zt"l, (1762 - 5588 / 1828), Rav of Brod.
He was a brother of Rav Chaim Mordechai Margulies (author of Sha'are Teshuva, a peirush on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim).
He established a banking-house which proved so successful that within a short time he became quite wealthy. He opened a yeshivah in his house and headed it himself.
He was a prolific writer - author of Mateh Ephraim, (halachot pertaining to chodesh Elul, Yamim Noraim, and Sukkot), Beit Ephraim, (responsa on the four parts of the Shulchan Aruch), Olelot Ephraim, Yad Ephraim (commentaries on Orach Chayim), Shaarei Ephraim (on hilchot kriyat hatorah), Shem Ephraim (commentary on the Torah), and Zera Ephraim.
HaRav Yitzchak Kobo HaSheni, zt”l, (1770 - 1854). Rishon L’Tzion, Sephardi Chief Rabbi.
HaRav Moshe Malka , zt”l, (1900). Head of the Beit Din of the Adat HaMaarivim in Yerushalayim.
HaRav Dovid (Dudia) Ortinberg of Berditchev, zt”l, (5670 / 1910), the Tehilla LeDovid. He was the son of Harav Yisrael Tzvi, who was one of the inner group of Chassidim of the Saraf of Strelisk. Reb Yisrael Tzvi was a descendant of Harav Zev Wolf of Zhitomir, the Ohr Hameir.
After the petira of the Strelisker Rebbe, Reb Yisrael Tzvi traveled to the court of the Ruzhiner Rebbe. His son, Reb Dudia, as he was called, was a devoted Chassid of the Ruzhiner and later of his children.
Shortly after his marriage at age 18, Reb Dudia was asked by the kehilla of Berditchev to serve as Dayan in their city. This was just 40 years after the petira of the Kedushat Levi of Berditchev, whose influence was still strong in the city. (After the petira of the Kedushat Levi, no one was ever named Rav of Berditchev, only Dayan; no one, it was agreed, could replace the Kedushat Levi.) This was a prestigious position, as the city was home to many talmidei chachamim.
Even as Rav, Reb Dudia continued to travel to the Ruzhiner Rebbe, and, after his petirah, to his son, Harav Avraham Yaakov, the Sadigura Rebbe, and later to his son, the Boyaner Rebbe. He was noted for his bitul to his Rebbes, despite his being a Rav and talmid chacham or, as some Chassidim said, because he was a Rav and talmid chacham.
Reb Dudia wrote several well-known halacha sefarim: Tehilla LeDovid on Hilchot Shabbat and Shoham Veyoshpeh on Rambam.
Reb Dudia was niftar on 24 Av 5670/1910, and was buried in Berditchev.
HaRav Shalom Halperin, the first Vaslauer (Vasloi) Rebbe, zt”l, (5616 / 1856 - 5699 / 1939).
Harav Shalom Halperin was born on Tu B'Shvat 5616/1856 in Sadigura, to Harav Dovid, son-in-law of Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin.
As a young child, Rav Shalom was known for his extraordinary mind and character, remarkable hasmadah and the energy he invested in his learning and avodat Hashem. Most of his waking hours were spent delving deep into Shas and Poskim; he had a considerable reputation as a talmid chacham.
When Rav Shalom turned 17, he married his cousin Chanah Sarah, the daughter of the first Bohusher Rebbe, Harav Yitzchak.
After his chasunah he stayed in Bohush learning without interruption. When Rav Shalom was nearing 40, the Bohusher Rebbe decided that it was time for his son-in-law to emerge and begin to lead his own court.
To this end, the Bohusher Rebbe sent him to the town of Radukan, Romania. The Yidden of the town rejoiced at having Rav Shalom in their midst and opened a large beit medrash for him.
For more than 13 years Rav Shalom lived in Radukan. In 1909 a school was opened by the maskilim of the area.
Reb Shalom warned the community leaders that if the school were not shut down immediately he would move out of Radukan. His words were not heeded, so when he was invited by his Chassidim in nearby Vasloi to move to their town, he left Radukan.
In Vasloi, a large court and beit medrash were built. Although many had flocked to Rav Shalom before, in Vasloi even more came.
Despite his fierce opposition to anything that was deemed a threat to Torah-true Yiddishkeit, he led his flock like a faithful shepherd. Every broken heart was sure to find consolation. Even those who had strayed from the path of Yiddishkeit would be given his care and attention.
On his last Shabbat, he made Kiddush in the beit medrash as every week. The following Friday, 24 Av 5699/1939, Rav Shalom’s holy neshamah ascended to its Maker. He was buried in Vasloi.
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25 Av - 531:
The final in a series of Latin anti-Jewish Laws were passed. The Law of Justinian Concerning Heretics and Manichaeans and Samaritans forbade a Jew to bear witness in court against an orthodox Christian.
25 Av 5013 - July 23, 1253:
Pope Innocent IV allowed the expulsion of the Jews from France.
25 Av 5014 - 1254:
Jews previously expelled from France by the pope are invited to return by King Louis IX. (Others 1249)
25 Av - 1315:
King Louis X of France called back the Jews who had been expelled a few decades earlier by King Louis IX. This marked a theme in Jewish-French life: expulsions and subsequent invitations to return. The French monarchy was trying to establish their land as the "new Jerusalem," and to fulfill this mission attempted several crusades to Israel. In 1615, King Louis XIII ordered that Christians were forbidden to speak with Jews, upon penalty of death. Eventually, in 1683, King Louis XIV expelled the Jews from the colony of Martinique.
25 Av 5415 - August 28, 1655:
Peter Stuyvesant barred Jews from military service.
25 Av 5567 - 1807:
Many Jews of Copenhagen were killed when the British bombarded the city during the Anglo-Russian War that raged between 1807 and 1812. Hy'd.
25 Av 5615 - August 9, 1855:
Alexander II abolished the Cantonist Decree in his Manifesto. It forbade pressuring Cantonist soldiers to accept baptism and reduced the draft quotas for Jews to a proportion of the population equal to that required of non-Jews. A decree later that year reduced the term of army service for Cantonists to 15 years.
25 Av 5651 - August 29, 1891:
A Jewish agricultural colony was established in New Jersey. This was one of several attempts at Jewish settlement in the Americas.
25 Av 5701 - August 18, 1941:
5,000 Jews from the Dunaburg ghetto were shot and killed in Zolotaja Gorka, Hy'd.
The Nazis took 500 Jews from the Kovno Ghetto to be killed, Hy'd.
25 Av 5704 - August 14, 1944:
15 year old Anne Frank was arrested with her family in the loft where they were hiding in Amsterdam, Netherlands. They were deported to Auschwitz. In December, Anne was moved to Bergen-Belsen where she was killed in March 1945. (See 13 Cheshvan - October 30, 1944).
25 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yeshayahu Menachem ben Yitzchak of Cracow, zt"l, (5359 / 1599), the originator of the Heter Iska and author of Be’Urim Kabdu Et Hashem.
HaRav Yissachar Dov of Zlotchov, zt”l, (5555 / 1795), author of Bat Eini and Mevaser Tzedek. (Others 7 Av - See 7 Av).
HaRav Avraham Chaim Horowitz of Linsk, zt”l, (5591 / 1831).
Reb Avraham Chaim Horowitz was the oldest son of Reb Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz, zy”a. He was born in 5549 / 1789. Reb Avraham Chaim married the daughter of his uncle, Harav Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz.
Following the petirah of his father on 11 Iyar 5587 / 1827, Reb Avraham Chaim was appointed Rav and Rebbe in Linsk, the city in which his paternal grandfather, Reb Menachem Mendel, had served as Rav. Sadly, Reb Avraham Chaim was Rebbe for just over four years; he was niftar on 25 Av 5591 / 1831, at the age of 42.
The Sar Shalom of Belz, who held Reb Avraham Chaim in high esteem, would send Chassidim to daven at the kever of Reb Avraham Chaim, saying that after davening there, “one’s yeshuah is close at hand.”
Reb Avraham Chaim’s son, Reb Menachem Mendel, replaced him as Rebbe in Linsk.
His sons-in-law were: Harav Avigdor Halberstam of Dukla; Harav Meshulam Zalman Yonason Lifshitz of Brigel; Harav Moshe Chaim Efraim, Rav of Blugrad; Harav Yisrael Horowitz, Rav of Barnov; Harav Tzvi Hirsh Hager of Patshinzin; and Harav Mendel Weinfeld of Gorlitz.
HaRav Yaakov Meshulam Orenstein, zt”l, (about 5530 / 1770 - 5599 / 1839), author of Yeshuot Yaakov. The Yeshuot Yaakov was born about 5530/1770 to Harav Mordechai Zev, a noted mekubal who was Rav of Alesk, and his Rebbetzin, both descendants of the Chacham Tzvi.
He learned first under his great father but unfortunately not for long, as Harav Mordechai was niftar in Yaakov’s youth. Soon after he was orphaned he was engaged to the granddaughter of the renowned Harav Naftali Tzvi of Yarislav. After his chasuna, he moved into his father-in-law’s house, where he found both a wellspring of Torah and a warm welcoming home. Under the influence of his father-in-law, he grew in Torah and, after a while, talmidim were drawn to him.
In 5561 / 1801, Harav Yaakov Meshulam was asked to fill the rabbinical vacancy in the city of Zalkava and its environs, replacing Harav Tzvi Hersh Meisels, zt”l. In the introduction to Yeshuot Yaakov, Harav Yaakov Meshulam writes about the satisfactory condition of the city, whose residents were bnei Torah and strictly adhered to mitzvot.
After the petirah of Harav Tzvi Hersh Rosen, zt”l, author of Teisha Shittot, in 5580 / 1820, Harav Yaakov Meshulam was called to replace him as Rav in the large metropolis of Lvov (Lemberg). There, the Yeshuot Yaakov realized his dream of disseminating Torah on a large scale, attracting many talmidim, and came in contact with contemporary Gedolim.
In 5569 / 1809 Harav Yaakov Meshulam published Yeshuot Yaakov, the 10-volume intricate peirush on all four parts of the Shulchan Aruch. It soon became the sefer of choice, as it gained recognition among contemporary scholars. In the sefer, Harav Yaakov Meshulam solves the most difficult problems in halacha, using his great strengths in pilpul and iyun. The Divrei Chaim of Sanz, zt”l, once remarked that all sefarim up to and including Yeshuot Yaakov were written with ruach hakodesh.
The Yeshuot Yaakov had an open house and an open heart for whoever was in need. He was at the forefront in dealing with the issues facing the city. He fought the “enlightenment” movements that plagued Europe at that time and which threatened the very existence of Torah-true Yiddishkeit. He was successful in his efforts, and haskala did not take firm root in his lifetime.
At one point, the maskilim wished to negotiate with him and come to some kind of compromise. The Yeshuot Yaakov adamantly refused, saying that compromising with haskala is like compromising on the Shema Yisrael, the fundamental tenet of Yiddishkeit.
The Yeshuot Yaakov had a son, Mordechai Zev, whom he cherished and whose chiddushim he frequently quotes in his sefarim. This son was tragically niftar in the prime of his life on 17 Cheshvan 5597 / 1836. Harav Yaakov Meshulam was beside himself. In his hesped he mentioned a maamar Chazal that states that when a man is put into the position of eulogizing his son, even the sun above is affected. As he uttered those words, torrential rains suddenly came pouring down, as if the skies literally agreed with that pshat.
After this incident the Yeshuot Yaakov knew no peace as he lamented his beloved son. Three years later he himself was niftar, and he was buried in Lvov.
The Yeshuot Yaakov, along with such greats as the Chatam Sofer, was considered one of the leaders of his generation. The Chatam Sofer held him in the highest esteem and delivered a tearful hesped at his levayah. (The hesped is printed in Drashot Chatam Sofer, and it is the date mentioned there that determined 25 Av as the yahrtzeit; others seemed to have erred by saying it was 21 Av).
HaRav Shmuel Baruch Eliezerov, zt”l, (5739 / 1979), Rosh Yeshiva of Preshburg, author of Dvar Shmuel.
HaRav Moshe Hager of Antiniya–Bnei Brak, zt”l, (5754 / 1994).
HaRav Avraham Magence, zt”l, (1920-2003). Born in Poland, where his father and grandfather were rabbis, he studied with many of the luminaries of the pre-war yeshiva world of Eastern Europe. Rabbi Magence spent the war years as a fugitive from Nazi and Soviet persecution and most of his family was killed in the Holocaust.
He came to St. Louis in 1950 and began a career as a mohel, teacher, and rabbi that touched literally thousands of lives. He served as Rav of Beit Abraham Congregation in St. Louis from 1975 until his death. He was legendary for his warmth, devotion to Yiddishkeit, and genuine love for all Jews regardless of affiliation.
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26 Av - 1291:
The Crusader kingdom comes to an end when Akko fell into the hands of Khalil al Ashraf of the Mamluk dynasty in Egypt.
26 Av - 1391:
Pogroms break out in Barcelona, and hundreds of Jews are killed and hundreds others forcibly converted, Hy"d. This marked the end of the Jewish community.
26 Av 5363 - August 3, 1603:
Frei Diogo Da Assumpcao, a young, partly Jewish Franciscan friar who was attracted to Judaism, was burnt alive in Lisbon at the age of 25, Hy"d. When he tried to flee to England, he was arrested, imprisoned and subjected to constant attempts to force him to renounce Judaism. During his imprisonment, he lit candles Friday night. His arguments against Christianity were published and gained wide popularity.
26 Av 5569 - August 8, 1809:
A group of 70 "Perushim" Talmidim / Students of the great Lithuanian sage, the Vilna Gaon, arrived in Eretz Yisroel, after traveling via Turkey by horse and wagon.
The group, led by HaRav Yisroel of Shklov, zt"l, experienced many hardships.
The Vilna Gaon, himself, set out for the Holy Land in 1783, but for unknown reasons did not attain his goal. However, he inspired his disciples to make the move, and they became pioneers of modern settlement in Eretz Yisroel. (A large contingent of chassidic Jews arrived in Tzefat around the same time.) HaRav Yisroel of Shklov, the leader of the 1809 group, settled in Tzefat, and six years later moved to Yerushalayim where he founded the modern Ashkenazic community. Many minhagei Yerushalayim derive from the traditions they brought with them.
The early years were fraught with Arab attacks, earthquakes, and a cholera epidemic. Rav Yisroel authored, Pe'at Hashulchan, a digest of the Jewish agricultural laws relating to Eretz Yisroel. (He had to rewrite the book after the first manuscript was destroyed in a fire.) The location of his grave remained unknown until it was discovered in Tverye / Tiberias, 125 years after his death. Today, the descendants of that original group are amongst the most prominent families in Yerushalayim.
26 Av 5595 - August 21, 1835:
England allowed Jews to hold the ancient and important office of Sheriff.
26 Av 5680 - August 10, 1920:
The Turkish government renounced its sovereignty over Eretz Yisroel and recognized
the British Mandate.
26 Av 5702 - August 9, 1942:
In the first mass deportation of Jews to the gas chambers, 10,000 Jews were
sent from the ghetto of Borislav, Ukraine to Belsen. Hy"d.
26 Av 5702 - August 9, 1942:
200 young Jews escaped from the Mir, Poland ghetto and fought the Nazis from
a base in the forest.
26 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Maatuk Chadad, zt”l, (1876). Chief Rabbi of Jerba, Tunisia.
HaRav Yihye Karah, zt”l, (1840 – 1881),a Yemenite Torah scholar and Kabbalist, author of Marpeh Lashon, a commentary on Targum Onkeles.
HaRav Noach Naftali of Kobrin, zt”l (5596 / 1836 - 5649 / 1889). Son of Reb Yisrael Yaakov, who was the son of the famed Reb Moshe of Kobrin. He was the son-in-law of his uncle, Reb Baruch Chaim Levin, a son-in-law of Reb Moshe of Kobrin.
Following the petirah of his grandfather, Reb Moshe of Kobrin, on 29 Nisan 5618 / 1858, Reb Noach Naftali was appointed Rebbe by a group of his grandfather’s chassidim. (Most of the chassidim accepted Reb Avraham of Slonim as their Rebbe.)
Reb Noach Naftali was known as an outstanding talmid chacham. His appearance was regal.
On 26 Av 5649/1889, at the age of 63, Reb Noach Naftali was niftar in Komin while cutting the bread at his table.
His sons, Reb Dovid Shlomo of Kobrin and Reb Aharon Levi of Diamatshcve, succeeded him as Rebbe.
Many of Reb Noach Naftali’s divrei Torah were printed in the sefer of his grandfather, Amarot Tehorot, under the title Maamarim Tehorim.
HaRav Yissachar Atzraaf, zt”l, (1892). Served as the Head of the Beit Din of the Adat HaMaarivim in Yerushalayim.
HaRav Tzion Cohen Yehonatan, zt”l, (1931). Served as the Head of the Beit Din of Djerba, and author of Shaarei Tzion.
HaRav Yehudah Petayah (Fatiyah), zt”l, (5619 / 1859 - 5702 / 1942), Noted Mekubal, author of Numerous Seforim on Kabbalah, and the foremost student of the Ben Ish Chai.
Harav Yehudah was born on 2 Shevat 5619/1859 in Baghdad. His father was Harav Moshe Yeshuah. He learned in Baghdad’s Medrash Talmud Torah, founded by Harav Abdallah Somech, zt”l. It developed rapidly to become the top Torah institution in the city, where over three thousand students studied free of charge. Among those who learned there were Harav Eliyahu Mani (the Chief Rav of Chevron), the Ben Ish Chai and Harav Salman Mutzafi.
From Medrash Talmud Torah, Rav Yehudah proceeded to its adult division, Beit Zilcha, where he became one of the finest students. He learned under the Ben Ish Chai and under the famed mekubal Harav Shimon Agassi, zt”l, author of Shem MiShimon.
At 17, he received semichah from Harav Abdallah Somech, zt”l.
The Ben Ish Chai, said of Rav Petayeh, that he was the reincarnation of the “Noda B’Yehuda.” He said that he had to come back to the earth for although in his last lifetime, he was a tzaddik, he did not fulfill his Torah obligation to study Kabbalah. So in this life, the study of Kabbalah was his main focus and tikkun. Rav Yehudah delved in the works of Kabbalah, and was famous in Baghdad and later in Yerushalayim for being the uncontested master of the area of kameyot (amulets) and their writing.
Rav Yehudah visited Eretz Yisrael three times: in 5665/1905, in 5683/1923 and in 5694/1934, when he finally settled in Yerushalayim until his petirah.
A leading Kabbalist, Rav Yehudah authored many works of Kabbalah among which three are well known: Yayin Harekach, Minchat Yehudah and Beis Lechem Yehudah. The first is a commentary on the two Idras of the Zohar, the second incorporates Kabbalistic interpretation of Tanach through his encounter with spirits, one of the most revelatory works about demons, how they act and deceive people. He was an expert in exposing these demons and casting them out.
The third, his major work, is the authoritative commentary on Etz Chaim of Harav Chaim Vital, zt”l.
He was known for the tikkunim he would give to people and for his interpretations of dreams.
Of his many talmidim, notable are Harav Salman Mutzafi, zt”l, and Harav Yehoshua Moshe, zt”l.
He was niftar at the age of 83 on 27 Av 5702/1942 and buried on Har Hazeisim.
(Others 27 Av).
HaRav Meir Ashkenazi, zt”l, (1891 - 5714 / 1954), Rav of Shanghai. Born in Tcherikov, in Russia’s Pale of Settlement., to Lubavitcher Chassidim. At the outbreak of the First World War, his family — together with many others — fled Russia to Manchuria. It was there, in the city of Harbin, that Rav Meir and Toiba Liba were married. Rav Ashkenazi and his family moved to the port-city of Vladivostok on the eastern coast of Russia. Not long afterwards, in 1918, the community there appointed Rav Ashkenazi as their rav. After seven years, he moved to assist the small Jewish community in Shanghai, China. Deteriorating conditions in Europe in the 1930’s led to a slow stream of German, Austrian, and Russian Jews into the Far East, which increased considerably at the outbreak of the Second World War. By the end of 1941, there were 18,000 Jewish refugees in Shanghai, ten times the number of Jews in Shanghai just ten years earlier.
HaRav Aharon Moshe Chaim Harari Raful, zt”l, (1962). Torah scholar of Aram Tzovah.
HaRav Menachem Shlomo Borenstein of Sochatchov, zy”a, (5695 / 1935 - 5729 / 1969).
Harav Menachem Shlomo was born in 5695/1935. He was the son of Harav Chanoch Henoch Borenstein, son of the Shem MiShmuel.
At his brit, he was named Menachem Shlomo after his paternal great-grandfather, Harav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, and his maternal ancestor, Harav Shlomo Hakohen Rabinowitz, the Tiferet Shlomo of Radomsk.
As a young child, Menachem Shlomo was noted for his intelligence and his ability to express himself.
He learned at the Knesset Chizkiyahu Yeshivah in Zichron Yaakov in 5710/1950, showing great diligence in learning. The Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Noach Shimonowitz, arranged chavrusot for him with the yeshivah’s top bachurim, as well as with the Rosh Yeshivah himself.
Two years later, when Harav Elyah Lopian entered the yeshivah as Mashgiach, he developed a very close relationship with him.
Reb Menachem Shlomo married the daughter of Harav Daniel Movshowitz, one of the leading Rabbanim of Tel Aviv and a descendant of the Lechovitz dynasty.
Afterwards, his father, the Sochatchover Rebbe, who lived in Yerushalayim, dispatched him to Tel Aviv to oversee the Sochatchover shtiebel there. Reb Menachem Shlomo settled in Tel Aviv and learned in Kollel Beit Yehudah under Harav Yechiel Michel Feinstein, son-in-law of the Brisker Rav.
In 5720/1960, he was appointed Rav of the Sochatchover shtiebel on Rashi Street in Tel Aviv. He established times for shiurim, most of which he delivered himself, drawing large crowds from the neighborhood. He also worked to convince secular families to send their children to yeshivot.
When the Rav of Tel Aviv’s Yad Eliyahu neighborhood was suddenly niftar, a new Rav was sought. Although he was only 30 years old, Reb Menachem Shlomo was unanimously selected and became the Rav in 5725/1965. As such, Reb Menachem Shlomo supervised the renovation of old shuls, the expansion of shiurim, and the establishment of tzedakah and chessed organizations.
At the same time, Reb Menachem Shlomo led the Radomsker Kollel Keter Torah in Bnei Brak, founded by his late uncle, Harav Dovid Moshe Rabinowitz.
With the sudden petirah of his father, Harav Chanoch Henoch, in Elul 5725/1965, Reb Menachem Shlomo was asked by the Sochatchover Chassidim to become their Rebbe. As a descendant of the Radomsker dynasty, Reb Menachem Shlomo was asked by the Radomsker Chassidim who had survived the Holocaust to become their Rebbe as well. His first move as Rebbe was to establish a yeshivah.
On 26 Av 5729/1969, as Reb Menachem Shlomo was heading home from a visit to an elderly Chassid hospitalized in Tel Aviv, an army vehicle crashed head-on into his car, throwing him from the car. Twenty-four hours later he was niftar, as a result of his injuries, at the young age of 34.
HaRav Shlomo Chaim Friedman of Sadigura, zt”l, (5732 / 1972).
HaRav Yoel Teitelbaum of Sighet, the Satmar Rebbe, zt”l, (5647 / 1887 - 5739 / 1979).
Harav Yoel Teitelbaum was born on 18 Tevet 5647 / 1887. A descendent of the Yismach Moshe (Rav Moshe Teitelbaum of Ihel (Ujhely), Hungary), “Reb Yoilish” traced his ancestry to the Maharsha and the Rema. He received his early training from his father, Rav Chananya Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, Rav of Sighet and author of Kedushat Yom Tov.
From childhood, the Satmar Rebbe was a paragon of holiness and purity. Throughout his life, his face shone with the purity of an innocent child, and until his final days no creases marked his countenance.
When the Divrei Yechezkel of Shineva saw the nine-year-old Yoelish at the wedding of his brother, the Atzei Chaim, the Divrei Yechezkel commented, “That child has holy eyes.”
At his bar mitzvah he stunned the entire assemblage by delivering a two-hour drashah, replete with deep and meaningful chiddushim. His father’s ensuring his immersion in the depths of Torah in his young years would yet be of inestimable benefit to Klal Yisrael.
His father, the Kedushat Yom Tov, was niftar when Reb Yoel was only 17 years of age, after which Reb Yoel moved to Satmar.
He became a chasid of Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam in Shineva (the Divrei Yechezkel).
At the age of 17, he was appointed Rav of Musza in Czechoslovakia.
He married the daughter of Harav Avraham Chaim Horowitz, Rav of Plantch. In 5671/1911, when he was in his early twenties, Reb Yoel was appointed Rav of Orshiva. Thirteen years later he became Rav of Kruly, where he founded a yeshivah. In 5694/1934, after the petirah of the Keren LeDovid of Satmar, Harav Eliezer Dovid Greenwald, zt”l, he became Rav of Satmar from 1935 to 1944 and transferred his yeshivah there.
The Satmar Rebbe endured his share of suffering during the Holocaust. Dr. P. Kennedy, a Hungarian Zionist leader who was with the Rebbe for five months in Bergen-Belsen, relates that the Rebbe’s beard was unskillfully concealed with a kerchief on the pretext of a toothache. The Nazis nearly cut it on several occasions, but it was miraculously saved and remained intact.
He was one of 1684 Hungarian Jews saved from the Nazi killing machine as a result of the negotiations of Rav Michael Ber Weissmandl with Adolf Eichmann, ym’s. With rachamei Shamayim, Reb Yoel made it out of Hungary during the war, and after a brief stay in Switzerland he arrived in Eretz Yisrael.
In 1946, he arrived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and rebuilt the Satmar community.
He was a Gaon whose almost unparalleled genius was respected by all. His piety and sanctity were viewed with awe; indeed, his lifetime was a saga of kedushah. He stood as a bastion of Torah, unswerving and uncompromising through all the raging tempests of the anti-Torah rebellions of his turbulent times.
The Satmar Rebbe vehemently opposed Zionism and secularism in all forms, and was a great kana’i when it came to matters of kiddush Shem Shamayim. He fought the founding of the State of Israel, predicting that it would lead to the destruction of many spiritual values.
His unrelenting search for truth was not reserved for public issues alone, but was also uncompromisingly applied to himself.
Reb Yoel wrote a series of sefarim on Chumash, mo’adim and various subjects in Shas, as well as she’eilot u’teshuvot entitled Divrei Yoel. He also wrote the sefer Vayoel Moshe and a kuntres, Al Hageulah Ve’al Hatemurah.
The Satmar Rebbe was niftar on 26 Menachem Av 5739/1979 and was buried in the beit hachaim in Kiryat Yoel in Monroe, New York.
HaRav Eliyahu Baruch Goldschmidt, zt”l, (1935-2000). Rav Elya was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where his parents had moved in 1938, along with their three-year-old son, in flight from Nazi Germany. Rav Elya moved to Lakewood in 1960 and drew close to Rav Aharon Kotler. He spent 20 years at Lakewood, followed by another 20 years as mashgiach ruchani at Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Moshe of South Fallsburg. Rav Elya was suddenly niftar while working on a new sefer on Shalom bayit entitled Dear Son, planned as a counterpart to his best- selling Dear Daughter on the same subject.
RETURN TO TOP
27 Av - 1533:
Queen Bona Sforza of Poland confirmed upon the Jews the same rights that the
Jews of Lithuania had been granted.
27 Av 5628 - August 15, 1868:
S.A. Bierfield was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in Franklin, Tennessee, the first such incident involving a Jew.
The KKK was created at the end of the American Civil War, and quickly adopted violent methods, murdering some 1,300 people in 1868. Enemies of the KKK included African Americans, Jews, homosexuals and others, scapegoated to explain the lack of economic success among whites. Even today, the KKK lists among its enemies the Jews, who they believe secretly operate the New World Order.
27 Av 5692 - August 29, 1932:
Adolf Hitler, yimach shemo, rejected the post of vice-chancellor of Germany, saying he wanted “all or nothing.”
27 Av 5705 - August 6, 1945:
The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, resulting in an estimated 140,000 deaths. President Truman agreed to the tactic only after six months of intense firebombing of 67 other Japanese cities did not produce the desired surrender of Japan. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was launches, this one on Nagasaki. Six days thereafter, on August 15, Japan surrendered.
Prior to the decision to drop
“the bomb,” President Truman was evaluating “operation Downfall, consisting of two massive
American invasions of Japan; it has been estimated that the invasion would have resulted in 1 million American and 3 million Japanese lives.
27 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yehoshua Charif of Cracow (5408 / 1648), zt"l, author of Maginei Shlomo, an attempt to resolve the questions of the Baalei Tosefot against Rashi.
Harav Yehoshua Charif was born in 5353/1593 (or 5337/1577) to Harav Yosef and Rebbetzin Hutzel, in Vilna. Their distinguished family traced its yichus to Rabbeinu Yosef Bechor Shor, one of the Baalei Tosafot. He was the great-grandfather of the Pnei Yehoshua.
From his earliest youth, Reb Yehoshua was renowned for his hasmadah and his sharp mind. He was taken as a chassan by Harav Shmuel of Brisk.
Initially, Reb Yehoshua learned in the yeshivah of Harav Shmuel, the Rav of Premisla. Later, he excelled in the yeshivot of the leading Gedolim: the Maharam of Lublin; Harav Yehoshua Falk,mechaber of the Sma, (under whom he learned together with Harav Meir, father of the Shach); and Harav Shmuel Zanvil, Rav of Neshauz.
In time, Reb Yehoshua opened his own yeshivah, where his greatness in Torah was evident. He served as Rav in the communities of Horodna, Tiktin, Premisla and Lvov (Lemberg).
Even earlier, Reb Yehoshua had acquired fame and prestige. In 1640, after the petirah of Harav Nosson Nota Shapira of Cracow, mechaber of Megaleh Amukot, Reb Yehoshua was brought in to replace him as Rosh Yeshivah in Cracow. A few months later, after the petirah of Harav Yoel Sirkes (the Bach), Reb Yehoshua was appointed Rav of Cracow. He accepted this prestigious position while stipulating that he was not to receive a salary. He held the position until Rav Yom Tov Lipman Heller (the Tosefot Yom Tov) became Rav in 1643.
In Cracow, Reb Yehoshua started a yeshivah, whose famous talmidim included Harav Shabsi Hakohen (the Shach), Harav Gershon Ashkenazi (the Avodat Hagershuni), and Harav Menachem Mendel Auerbach (the Ateret Zekeinim).
The Maginei Shlomo was niftar on 27 Av, 5408/1648, in Cracow. He was buried on 28 Av, in Cracow, near the kever of the Bach.
HaRav Avraham Mordechai Alter, zt”l, (5613 / 1853), son of the Chidushei Harim and father of the Sfat Emet, he was niftar when his son was only 7 or 8 years old. (Others 5615 / 1855).
HaRav Menachem Nachum Dov Ber (ben Shalom Yosef) Friedman of Sadigur, zt”l, (1883).
HaRav Rafael Ochanah, zt”l, (1850, Morocco – 1902, Tzfat). Rav and an emissary to Persia, Morocco, and India from Eretz Yisrael. Author of Mareh HaYeladim, Shir Chadash, and more.
HaRav Yehuda Petayah (Fatiyah), zt”l, (5702 / 1942), Iraqi Gadol and mekubal, author of Minchat Yehudah and Beit Lechem Yehuda. (See 26 Av).
HaRav Chavita Sheli, zt”l, (1953). Torah scholar of Djerba, author of Brit V’Torah.
HaRav Yitzchak Shechiber, zt”l, (1990). Head of a Beit Din in Argentina.
HaRav Shmuel Tzvi Hersh Horowitz of Spinka, zt”l, (5681 / 1921 - 5757 / 1997), Spinka Rebbe of Williamsburg, grandson of the Chakal Yitzchak of Spinka, Rav Isaac Weiss (1875-1944).
HaRav Meshulem Feish Lowy zt”l, (5682 / 1922 - 5775 / 2015), the Tosher Rebbe, who presided over his kehillah in Kiryat Tosh, located in the suburb of Boisbriand, Quebec.
Reb Hershele, as he was fondly called, was born in 5681/1921 to Harav Avraham Abish of Kruly. His mother was a daughter of the Chakal Yitzchak of Spinka.
Reb Hershele was cherished by his grandfather, the Chakal Yitzchak. He would often watch as his grandfather accepted kvitlach from Chassidim. On one occasion, his grandfather called him over and insisted that he read one. “You will need to know how to read kvitlach one day,” he said.
During WWII he was sent to Auschwitz, where he found a true chaver, Lipa, Hy”d, the son of the Klausenburger Rebbe, zy”a. These two bachurim were moser nefesh for Torah and Yiddishkeit under the most dire situations. They learned pages of Gemara from memory and maintained a high level ofYiddishkeit, inspiring all those around them.
After the war, Reb Hershele main concern was his devotion to the Bashefer. He would sway back and forth over his Gemara in the beit medrash that the Klausenburger Rebbe founded in the DP camp. Elderly Chassidim recognized his greatness and, soon enough, despite his young age, people with broken hearts and shattered souls began streaming to him.
Soon after, he married his Rebbetzin, Esther Rachel, a”h, the daughter of Harav Berish Weinberger, a prominent talmid chacham.
Eventually he settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where he gained renown as an exemplary ohev Yisrael, and could usually be found deeply immersed in learning Torah.
During the last period of his life, the Rebbe was extremely weak. Nevertheless, he made a tremendous effort to read all of the numerous kvitlach that were brought to him.
He was niftar on Shabbat, 27 Av 5757/1997.
Rav Meshulim Feish Lowy was born in 5682/1922 in the village of Nirtosh, known as Tosh to the Jewish population. His parents were Harav Mordechai Segal Lowy, the eldest son of Harav Elimelech of Tosh, and Rebbetzin Tzirel, the daughter of Harav Yaakov Fekete of Nirbator. Rav Mordechai was the third rebbe in the Tosher dynasty which had strong links to the Chozeh of Lublin, Reb Elimilech of Lizhensk, the Magid of Mezeritch and the Baal Shem Tov.
According to one source, the Tosher Rebbe was able to trace his patrilineal ancestors all the way back to Rashi.
In 5690/1930, his father (Harav Elimelech) was appointed Rav of nearby Demetcher.
At the age of 12, the Rebbe traveled to Kalov, to the yeshivah headed by his great uncle, the Rav of the city, Harav Menachem Braude, the Be’er Menachem. At that young age he was noted for his hasmadah and devotion to his learning and was recognized as an iluy.
On 23 Kislev 5703/1943, his grandfather passed away, and his father, Rav Mordechai, was appointed Rebbe.
In 1943, the Rebbe was drafted to the forced labor brigades in Hungary and sent to camps in Koschitza and Margita. The overseers treated him as if he were crazy, because of his piety, and that made it possible for him to maintain a religious lifestyle.
In March 1944, Hungary was captured by the Germans. In April, the Jews of the region were assembled, among them the members of the Lowy family, into the Nirgehaze ghetto, and from there they were sent to Auschwitz. Most of the Rebbe’s extended family perished there, and his father, the Rebbe, was murdered on Rosh Chodesh Elul 5704/1944.
After the Red Army entered Margita, the Rebbe was released from the labor camp. He then traveled to Arad, Mako, and finally to Kleinwardein.
In 5706/1946 he married Rebbetzin Chava, the daughter of Harav Yehudah Weingarten of Yerushalayim, a direct descendant of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk.
He was appointed by the survivors of Tosher Chassidut to serve as the Rebbe in Nirgehaze, where he stayed for two and a half years. He served there as a Dayan on the special beit din that helped agunot remarry after the war. At that point, fear of the communist regime led him to instruct his community to leave the country.
After two years in Austria, in Adar 5711/1951 the Rebbe arrived in America. He first resided in Williamsburg, and later moved to Montreal, Canada, where his older brother, Reb Chaim Yosef, lived. Their sister Fraidel, the wife of Harav Shmuel Meir Leifer, also survived the war.
As soon as he arrived in Montreal, the Rebbe decided to establish his community outside the city in order to avoid the influences of the outside world.
In 5723/1963, the Rebbe established a chassidic neighborhood named Kiryat Tosh in the Boisbriand suburb, about 30 kilometers from Montreal. Over the years many Chassidim flocked to him, and there are also Tosher communities in Brooklyn, Monroe, London, Israel and Belgium.
A full range of institutions was established in Tosh, including schools for boys and girls, a yeshivah gedolah and ketanah, and anything else a Jewish community needs. Today, some 400 families live there.
The Tosher Rebbe loved peace and harmony and would pursue it; he avoided discord like it was fire. He was known for his ahavat Yisrael and disbursed tremendous sums for tzedakah. He was admired by all, and people from across the spectrum streamed to his court. Thousands of Chassidim from the United States and Canada, from Eretz Yisrael and from Europe, visited him regularly, especially for Shabbatot and Yamim Tovim, to witness his holy visage and to receive a brachah from him. Among those who came were many Chassidim of other courts, as well as Litvishe Yidden, businessmen, Sephardim and Ashkenazim.
The Rebbe’s avodat hakodesh was carried out with tremendous mesirut nefesh, the Chassidim relate, and note that until his final days he made sure to complete the entire sefer Tehillim every day, no matter what. He spent most of his day davening, as each tefillah took many hours. Only after an exhausting tefillats Maariv did he allow himself to eat something — a meal that was breakfast, lunch and supper in one.
The Rebbe was widowed on 21 Elul 5756/1996 of his Rebbetzin Chava, a”h. In 2007, he subsequently married Rebbetzin Malka Lowy,shetichyeh.
On 18 Teves 5758, the Rebbe’s oldest son, Harav Mordechai, son-in-law of Harav Yechezkele Mertz, zt”l, was niftar at the age of 50. The petirah occurred in the middle of Shacharit, when Rav Mordechai was saying Kriat Shema. Since it was on a Friday, the Rebbe carried on his avodah throughout Shabbat as if all were regular, to the astonishment of the Chassidim.
The Rebbe’s other son, Harav Elimelech, shlita, serves as the Rav of Kiryat Tosh. His surviving daughters are Rebbetzin Tzirel Fish, Rebbetzin Fradel Katz, and Rebbetzin Sossie Kahana. The Rebbe’s daughter Rebbetzin Bracha Chana Mayer, a”h, was niftarabout three years ago.
The Rebbe is also survived by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
His divrei Torah and stories were printed in the six volume set of sefarim titled “Avodat Avodah.” Avodat Avodah features the Rebbe’s discussions of the parsha, yomim tovim and other insights, in both Yiddish and Hebrew, as well as a Yiddish/Hebrew collection of the Rebbe’s teachings about yahrtzeits of various tzadikim.
The current leader is Grand Rabbi Elimelch Segal-Loewy, who succeeded his late father.
28 Av 2449 - 1312 B.C.E.:
Moshe Rabeinu descended Har Sinai after the second (of three) 40-day periods. According to other opinions, this occured on the next day, 29 Av. (See the Sefer Devar Yom Beyomo)
28 Av 3334 - 427 B.C.E.:
The days of Yechezkel HaNavi lying in bed ended. His subsequent nevuah (prophecy) was on 5 Elul. (Others 29 Av)
28 Av - August 22, 1454:
Jews were expelled from Moravia, by an order issued by King Ladislaus.
28 Av 5522 - August 17, 1762:
The Vaad Arba Aratzot, (Council of Four Countries), the autonomous governing body of Polish Jewry,
met for the last time in Piltz after 200 years of functioning. (Others 29 Av).
28 Av 5674 - August 20, 1914:
German forces occupied Brussels, Belgium, during World War I.
28 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yosef Dovid Landau of Alik, zt”l, (5609 / 1849).
The Netziv zt"l
HaRav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, zt”l, (5577 / 1816 - 5653 / 1893), a leader of Lithuanian Jewry, known by the acronym of his name, (the) Netziv (which also means "pillar"). Born in Mir on Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev. His parents were Reb Yaakov and Basya Miriam Berlin.
Legend says that as a child he was in danger of dropping out of school, but he applied himself diligently to his studies and emerged as the star student.
At age 13 he was chosen as a son-in-law by Reb Itzele of Volozhin,zt”l, marrying the granddaughter of Rav Chaim of Volozhin when he was 14 years old.
For his first 20 years in Volozhin, the Netziv learned privately. He wrote his masterworks: Haamek She'elah on the She'eltot of Rav Achai Gaon; Emek Hanetziv on Sifri; commentaries on Torat Kohanim and Mechilta (still in manuscript). He also authored Rinah shel Torah, a commentary on Shir Hashirim.
One day, Reb Itzele found a bundle of his son-in-law’s correspondence with one of the Gedolei Hador, and was delighted to discover the treasure living under his roof. From then on, starting in 5607/1847, he obligated the Netziv to give a shiur in the yeshivah, and the young gaon’s gadlut was revealed.
Two years later, in 1849, Reb Itzele was niftar, and the reins of the yeshivah were taken up by his elder son-in-law, Reb Eliezer Yitzchak Fried of Horodno. In 5613/1853, when Reb Eliezer Yitzchak was niftar, the Netziv took over as Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Volozhin, a position he held for 40 years.
The yeshiva became the worldwide center of Jewish scholarship, and it was said that 10,000 students studied there during the Netziv's tenure.
The maskilim tried every avenue to undermine the kehillah in Volozhin, which was known as a fortress of Torah. In 5618/1858, the maskilim succeeded in having the yeshivah officially closed. However, it continued to operate afterwards with no government opposition.
In 5640/1880, the Czarist regime decided to crack down on Yiddishkeit. It insisted that Volozhin teach at least two hours of secular studies a day to every student, without exception, or be closed by force.
The Netziv managed to keep secular studies out of the yeshivah for another 12 years. However, in 5652/1892, hundreds of peasants and police surrounded the yeshivah. A few officers entered the beit medrash and ordered the talmidim to stop learning. The head of the gendarmes read the closure order to the Netziv and then ordered the bachurim to leave the building, which they proceeded to lock and seal.
The yeshivah owed 10,000 rubles to creditors, so the Netziv distracted himself from his pain by trying to raise money to pay off the debt. He traveled from town to town seeking help on behalf of the yeshivah.
The traveling took its toll, and within half a year he began to feel ill. On 27 Av 5653 / 1893, the Netziv davened Minchah and Maariv from his bed and then called over his oldest son, Harav Chaim Berlin, to dictate his will.
Before dawn of the next day, 28 Av 5653 / 1893, the Netziv’s soul left this world in the presence of his entire family. The levayah took place the following day, Erev Shabbat. He was buried in the old Warsaw cemetery on Geneshe Street.
He wrote Haamek Davar, a commentary on Chumash, and Meshiv Davar, a collection of his responsa. His oldest son, Ravi Chaim Berlin, was Chief Rabbi of Moscow, and his youngest son was Rav Meir Bar-Ilan, (born to two different mothers), after whom Israel's Bar Ilan University is named.
HaRav Avraham Chaim Ades, zt"l, (5617/1857 (Others 1848) - 5685 / 1925). Born in Halab (Aram Soba (Aleppo)), Syria, among the most ancient Jewish communities in the world. According to tradition, Jews lived there even before the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash.
His father, Rav Yitzchak Hadas, was a textile merchant, but he devoted all of his spare time to learning Torah and was known as a yerei Shamayim. Every night, he would rise to recite Tikkun Chatzot, and then say Tehillim until dawn, completing it during the day. Their home was steeped in kedushah and love of Torah.
As a youngster, Rav Avraham studied under Rav Mordecahi Abadi and Rav Ezra Tawill Hakohen. At the age of 20, he married the daughter of Rav Moshe Swed, Rav of Aram Soba and author of She’eilot U’Teshuvot Emet U’Mishpat and Shalom V’Emet. After his marriage he immersed himself in Torah.
While still a young man, Rav Avraham began to teach Torah in Aram Soba. Many of his students later became Gedolim, including Harav Yosef Yedid Halevi, Harav Shlomo Raphael Laniado, Harav Ezra Chamawi, Harav Ezra Attia (later to become rosh yeshiva of Porat Yosef), and Harav Yaakov Katzin.
He imbued his talmidim with a deep love of Torah, helping to produce generations of great talmidei chachamim.
In turn, many outstanding talmidim of these Rabbanim later helped to spiritually revive Sephardic Jewry.
In 5655/1895, Rav Avraham immigrated to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Yerushalayim. Soon after his arrival, he founded Rechovot Hanahar, a kabbala yeshiva in the Bucharian neighborhood.
Rav Avraham was exceptionally kind and genial and greeted everyone warmly. His encouraging words profoundly impacted people, bringing many to teshuvah.
In Yerushalayim, Rav Avraham was a member of the beit din of the Aram Soba community, presiding in that position alongside Rav Yosef Yedid Halevi and Rav Ezra Harari-Raful. This beit din fought all attempts to undermine Yahadut in the city.
Rav Ades suffered from many physical ailments but accepted his suffering with love.
One day, as he was crossing the street, he was struck by a bus. He fought for his life for three days. During his final hours, he made valiant efforts to pore over Shir Hashirim. Then, his face glowing, he said: “I fully forgive the bus driver who struck me. The accident was an act of Hashem. May Hashem in His kindness bless the driver with a long life and good years.”
Rav Avraham returned his neshamah to its Maker on 28 Av, 5685/1925. He was buried on Har Hazeitim.
.HaRav Avraham Yaakov HaKohen Pam, Zt"l, (5673 / 1913 - 5761 / 2001), Rosh Yeshivah of Torah Vodaath. Harav Pam was born in Tammuz 5673 / 1913 to Harav Meir, a noted talmid chacham, a former talmid of Slabodka and Radin. It was thus in a Torah-steeped home that Harav Pam’s unique personality was fashioned.
Young Avrohom Yaakov displayed distinct signs of being destined for greatness. He constantly sought to grow in Torah and rise in spirituality, and his diligence, greatness, refinement and purity of thought were evident even when he was still young.
As a child, Rav Pam studied in Kovna. His family later moved to the United States, where his father was appointed to the faculty of Yeshivat Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin. Once in America, the thirteen-year-old began to study in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. He became very close with the rosh yeshiva, Rav Dovid Lebowitz, zt”l, and Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz, zt”l. He was known for his outstanding diligence as well as for working on his middot and his study of mussar.
After his marriage to Rebbetzin Sara, he was asked to serve as R”M in the yeshivah ketanah of Torah Vodaath, and later he went on to become Rosh Yeshivah of the yeshivah gedolah. For more than 60 consecutive years, he delivered shiurim and mussar shmuessen to the yeshivah students. He was the very essence of a mechanech and living proof that Torah and yirat Shamayim are the core of life. The impression he made on his talmidim was remarkable; the image of his derech in avodat Hashem remained with them long after they left yeshivah.
His appearance at various assemblages and conventions had a tremendous impact. His speeches were accepted with tremendous reverence by all Torah-true circles. He spoke calmly, with measured, well-chosen words that penetrated the hearts of his listeners.
His profound, weekly shiurim in parashat hashavuah at Torah Vodaath were well attended. These shiurim provided the contents of his sefer, Atarah LaMelech.
After the petirah of Rav Moshe Feinstein, he was appointed president of Chinuch Atzmai in the United States. He was also a member of the presidium of the largest Torah organization in America, Torah Umesorah.
He founded the Shuvu organization for the chinuch of Russian children in Eretz Yisrael. He addressed thousands of participants at one Agudah convention with a stirring, tear-filled speech, making them aware of the urgent need to rally to the aid of Russian immigrant children. Then and there, he set up a special committee for rescue activities, and in that manner Shuvu was born. He was its loyal patron until his final day.
Two months before he was niftar his health began to deteriorate. Despite his difficult condition, three weeks before his passing he participated in Shuvu’s annual parlor meeting, setting out for the meeting by ambulance, on a stretcher. Once there, he spoke for five minutes about the tremendous importance of providing Jewish children with a Jewish education. At that, his final public appearance, he conveyed the message that every Jew, under all circumstances, is obligated to do his maximum for the sake of the education of Jewish children.
He was niftar on Thursday night, 28 Av. The levayah left Torah Vodaath on Friday morning, and was attended by thousands of mourners. As per his final request, no hespedim were delivered.
He is buried in Mount Judah Cemetery in Queens, NY.
HaRav Moshe Finkel, zt”l, (1909-2004), born in Mir to Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel. He grew up with his great-grandfather, Rav Baruch Kamai, the Rav of Mir. He learned at Slobodka under his grandfather, Rav Nosson Zvi Finkel, the Alter of Slobodka, then at Kelm, where he learned bechavrusa with Rav Povarsky, then at Baranovitch, under Rav Elchanan Wasserman and Rav Shlomo Heiman. Shortly before WW II, he immigrated to Yerushalyim and married the daughter of Rav Mordechai Dovid Levin, author of Darchei Dovid. There, he worked diligently under his father for the Mir Yeshiva.
29 Av 2449 - 1312 B.C.E.:
Moshe Rabeinu descended Har Sinai after the second (of three) 40-day periods. According to other opinions, this occured on 28 Av. (See the Sefer Devar Yom Beyomo)
According to this opinion, Moshe Rabeinu cut a new pair of Luchot - two tablets - made out of sapphire, in preparation
Hashem's writing the Aseret HaDevarim again.
each a cube measuring 6x6x6 tefachim (a tefach, "handbreadth", is approximately 3.2 inches) -- were to replace the two divinely-made tablets, on which Hashem had inscribed the Aseret HaDibrot / Ten Commandments, which Moshe had smashed 42 days earlier upon witnessing Israel's worship of the Golden Calf.
The Midrash says that Moshe was allowed to keep the extra scraps of sapphire, and from that he became personally wealthy. The second set of tablets was placed in the Aron / Ark of the Covenant, along with the first broken set. This second set symbolizes the ability of every person to make amends and rebuild anew.
29 Av 3334 - 427 B.C.E.:
The days of Yechezkel HaNavi lying in bed ended. His subsequent nevuah (prophecy) was on 5 Elul. (Others 28 Av)
29 Av - 1453:
17 Jews were burned at the stake in Silesia (now Poland and/or Czech Republic).
29 Av 5502 - August 29, 1742:
The Jews were evicted from Russia, by Empress Elisabeth.
29 Av 5556 - September 2, 1796:
50,000 Jews of Holland were emancipated.
29 Av 5599 - August 9, 1839:
Public whipping of the brothers Rav Shmuel Abba and Rav Pinchas Shapiro, proprieters of the Salvita Printing Press, on trumped-up charges of murdering a fellow Jew. Badly beaten, they both survived. They were released from prison in 1857, when Czar Alexander II assumed power.
29 Av 5698 - August 16, 1938:
Nazis passed a law requiring all Jews to take the names Israel and Sara.
29 Av Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe of Zaloshen, zt”l, (5591 / 1831), author of Mishpat Tzedek.
HaRav Yaakov Berdugo, zt”l, (1783 - 1843), author of Shufrei D’Yaakov.
HaRav Shmuel Salant, zt"l, Rav of Yerushalayim (5576 / 1816 - 5669 / 1909). Born in Bialystok, then part of Russia, on 2 Shevat 5576 / 1816.
Harav Shmuel Salant, son of Rav Tzvi, displayed a phenomenal memory as a young child. His father passed away when he was a young boy, and he was sent off to study in Salant, Lithuania, where it had already been arranged that he would eventually marry Toiba, the oldest daughter of Rav Yosef Zundel of Salant, from whom Rav Shmuel took his surname.
At the age of eight he went to learn in Kaidan under Harav Tzemach Shapira, a leading talmid chacham, where he was known as the “iluy of Kaidan.”
When he reached the age of bar mitzvah, Reb Shmuel returned to Kaidan, where his bar mitzvah was held together with his wedding.
Soon after his marriage, Rav Shmuel moved to Volozhin, where he was appointed magid shiur.
At the age of 25, he suffered lung damage. Doctors suggested that he should move to Italy where his condition would, at least, not get worse.
Reb Shmuel traveled to the Sar Shalom of Belz who placed his hands on Reb Shmuel’s shoulders and kept them there until he felt that the problem was gone. In addition, the Rebbe advised him to move to Eretz Yisrael, at least in part for its warmer climate.
In the summer of 5600/1840, Reb Shmuel moved with his family to Yerushalayim.
En route, in Constantinople, Reb Shmuel met and became friendly with Sir Moses (Moshe) Montefiore, then on his way to defend the Jews falsely accused in the Damascus blood libel. Reb Shmuel also met Harav Moshe Rivlin, who was sent there by Gedolei Yerushalayim to serve as a Maggid.
The family arrived in Yerushalayim in Shvat 5601 / 1841. They settled in a small, two-room apartment with little air or light, in the Churvah courtyard. In this apartment Reb Shmuel lived for the rest of his life.
From 1848 to 1851, Rav Shmuel served the Yerushalayim community as a meshulach.
When Harav Meir Auerbach, Rav of Kalisch and author of Imrei Binah, arrived in Yerushalayim in 5620 / 1860, Reb Shmuel appointed him Av Beit Din. Reb Meir served without pay, for he was well-to-do; in fact, he distributed money to the poor. Together, they saw to all the needs of the Ashkenazic community.
He founded a Talmud Torah with two classes, one for younger boys and one for bachurim, and a shechitah house for the Ashkenazic community.
Until then there was only Sephardic shechitah. A problem came up: what was to be done with the animals that were rendered treif. The Arabs ate only halal meat, but they were willing to take from the Sephardic shechitah because the Sephardim were also descendants of Avraham Avinu, thus their shechitah was allowed, while the Ashkenazim’s were not!
Reb Shmuel met with the leader of the Muslims in Yerushalayim, and proved that Ashkenazim were also descendants of Avraham. Jews do not intermarry, he said; yet we see weddings between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, showing that they are all related. The Kadi bowed to his logic, and the new shechitah was accepted with no further problems.
In 1878, he was voted as the chief Ashkenazi rav of Yerushalayim to replace Rav Meir Auerbach who had just passed away. Rav Shmuel Salant managed to unify the many groups of Azhkenazim of Yerushalayim, and to lead them successfully for 50 years.
In 5648 / 1888, Reb Shmuel’s vision began to fail, and a few years later he became nearly blind. But this did not interfere with his extensive activities in communal affairs.
When he turned 80, however, he requested an assistant.
The position was filled by Harav Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teomim, better known as the Aderet, a leading talmid chacham from Russia. The Aderet worked in tandem with Rav Shmuel leading Yerushalayim. Unfortunately, he was niftar in 5665/1905, just four years after his arrival in Yerushalayim, leaving Rav Shmuel alone again.
Reb Shmuel encouraged people to move into new neighborhoods outside of the Old City walls; in fact, during his tenure the population of Yerushalayim grew from 5,000 to 30,000 Jews.
Reb Shmuel was niftar on 29 Av, 5669/1909 and buried on Har Hazeitim.
HaRav Yisrael Shalom Yosef Heschel, zt”l, of Mezhibuzh, (5613 / 1853 - 5671 / 1911). Born in Zhinkov in Cheshvan 5613/1853, his father was Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, son of Harav Meshulam Zusha of Zinkov. He was named for his maternal grandfathers, Yisrael after the Ruzhiner Rebbe and Shalom Yosef after the Ruzhiner’s oldest son, Harav Shalom Yosef, his mother’s father.
In Elul 5626/1866, he married the daughter of his great-uncle Harav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura.
Following the petira of his father in 5641 / 1881, Reb Yisrael Shalom was appointed Rebbe in Mezhibuzh. It is related that his father-in-law, the Sadigura Rebbe, was asked how he allowed him to serve as Rebbe in Mezhibuzh, for it was known that the Rebbes in Mezhibuzh were niftar young. The Sadigura Rebbe answered that “just as the Baal Shem Tov lived in Mezhibuzh for 30 years, so will Reb Yisrael Shalom”… Reb Yisrael Shalom was niftar 30 years later, in 5671 / 1911.
After the petira of his first wife on 25 Sivan 5647/1887, Reb Yisrael Shalom married the daughter of Harav Yaakov Shimshon Chodorov of Bahapli. They had four sons and five daughters. The sons were Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Mezhibuzh-Tarnipol, Hy”d; Harav Yitzchak Meir of Mezhibuzh and later Haifa; Harav Moshe of Mezhibuzh, Hy”d; and Harav Pinchas, zt”l. The daughters were Rebbetzin Chavah Sarah, wife of Harav Mordechai Shlomo of Boyan, zy”a; Rebbetzin Mirel, wife of Harav Mordechai Shalom Yosef of Sadigura-Pszemishel; Rebbetzin Leah Rochel, wife of Harav Shmuel Feiner of Cracow; Bluma Reizel, who passed away young; and Chayah Miriam Sima, who was killed in the War.
Reb Yisrael Shalom was niftar on 29 Av, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5671/1911, in Dvenzhkeh near Vizhnitz and buried in the ohel in Vizhnitz near the Tzemach Tzaddik. He was 58.
HaRav Yosef Meir Twersky of Machnovka, zt"l, (5620 / 1860 - 5677 / 1917). Reb Yosef Meir was born in 5620/1860 (Others 5617 / 1857) in Skver. He was the son of Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Skver.
Reb Yosef Meir married Basya Rivkah Twersky and was the son-in-law of Reb Menachem Nachum Twersky of Loyav, like him a descendant of the Chernobyl dynasty.
After the petirah of his father in 5246/1886, Reb Yosef Meir was appointed Rebbe in the village of Machnovka in Ukraine.
His court attracted many thousands of chassidim, and his influence was tremendous. Reb Yosef Meir was revered by his generation; many tzaddikim said that he was worthy of being among the talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov.
Reb Yosef Meir was known as a baki in sifrei Kabbalah. He endured fasts and other self-inflictions.
During World War I, many Yidden found refuge in his beit medrash, despite the mesirut nefesh this demanded of him.
Reb Yosef Meir was niftar on Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul 5677/1917 in Machnovka. He was 57.
His son, Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heshel, succeeded him as Rebbe. He later moved to Eretz Yisrael, where he rebuilt the Machnovka court in Bnei Brak.
Reb Yosef Meir’s sons-in-law were Reb Dovid Leib Twersky; Reb Nachum Twersky of Zlotipoli, the son of Rav Dovid of Skver; and Reb Yehoshua Rokeach of Yaroslav.
Machnovka is located in western Ukraine, 13 miles SSE of Berditchev and 96 miles SW of Kiev. It is situated along the west bank of the Gnilopyat River. It was within the “Pale of Settlement” of the Russian Empire. In the census of 1897, the village of Makhnovka had 2,435 Jews out of a total population of 5,343 (about 45%). In 1939, the Jewish population of Makhnovka was 843. The Germans captured the town on July 14, 1941 and on the 9th of September executed 835 Jews in the Zhezhlevsk forest. A ghetto was then set up for the few hundred Jews still in the area. They were all murdered in a number of “Aktions” in 1942.
HaRav Menachem Mendel Alter HY"D, (5702 / 1942), Rav of Paviniecz (Pavinitz). Son of the Sfat Emet, Rav Yehuda Aryeh Leib.
HaRav Avraham Dov of Rachmistrivke, zt”l, (5705 / 1945).
HaRav Eliezer Zusia Portugal, the Skulener Rebbe, zt"l, (1897 - 5742 / 1982), from a small town, Sculeni (Skulen), in what was then northeastern Romania (now Ukraine). Just 18 years of age when his father died, he became Rav of the town, a position he held for 20 years. The Sadigerer Rebbe persuaded the Rebbe to relocate to the large Jewish center of Chernovitz, home to a Jewish population numbering many thousands, to oversee Jewish education there. Toward the end of World War II, in March of 1945, he found himself, along with other holocaust survivors and displaced persons, in the Russian-governed town of Czernovitz, Bukovina. Rav Portugal was particularly known for his work on behalf of Holocaust orphans and for his spiritual resistance against Romania's communist government. In 1962, he launched the crowning glory of his life's work - the Torah network of Chesed L'Avraham in Eretz Yisrael, which eventually expanded to four Chesed homes and schools for hundreds of children from various tragic backgrounds, as well as a countrywide network of afternoon programs for children in public schools. More than 50,000 children have gone through its ranks. He is buried in the Vizhnitzer Cemetery in Monsey, NY. His son, R' Yisroel Avrohom,is the present Skulener Rebbe.
HaRav Shmuel Sperber, zt"l, (1905-1985). Born in Brasov, Transylvania, where his father, Rav Dovid, was the rabbi. As a youth, Shmuel studied in the yeshivot of Oyber-Visheve, Hungary under the tutelage of Rav Eliezer Dovid Gruenwald and Rav Mendel Hager. After receiving semicha and marrying, Rav Sperber lived in Iasi, Romania. In 1931, after being attacked by anti-Semites, he decided to leave Romania and settle in England. There, he enrolled in law school at the University of London and also founded a yeshiva, Ohr Torah. With the arrival in England of the large transports of German-Jewish children on the eve of the Holocaust, Rav Sperber became actively involved in comforting and educating them. At this same time, Rav Sperber became active in the Mizrachi movement, and he opened a camp in North Wales to prepare approximately 200 children for life on a kibbutz. Later he moved to Manchester, where he continued to work with youth, and then back to London to become an adjunct professor at the University of London. In 1971, Rav Sperber settled in Israel. One of his sons is the author of a multi-volume work on the history of minhagim and of unusual ritual objects.
HaRav Eliyahu Shlomo Raanan, hy"d, murdered in Chevron by an Arab terrorist, (5758 / 1998).