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1 Nisan - Rosh Chodesh Nisan
The first of Nisan is Rosh Hashanah for melachim and regalim (Rosh Hashanah 2). The Gemara in Shabbat (81b) enumerates "ten crowns” with which this day was adorned.
Creation of man (in thought) (3761 B.C.E.). The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 10b-11a) cites two opinions as to the date of Hashem's creation of the universe: according to Rab' Eliezer: "The world was created in Tishrei" (i.e., the sixth day of creation--the day on which Adam and Eve were created--was the 1st of Tishrei, celebrated each year as Rosh Hashanah). According to Rab' Yehoshua, "The world was created in Nisan." As interpreted by the Kabbalists and the Chassidic masters, the deeper meaning of these two views is that the physical world was created in Tishrei, while the "thought" or idea of creation was created in the month of Nisan.
1 Nisan 1656 - 2105 B.C.E.:
According to Rab' Yehoshua the earth was dried out after the Mabul.
According to the Talmud, the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people - Avraham / Abraham (1812-1637 BCE), Yitzchok / Isaac (1712-1532 BCE) and Yaakov / Jacob (1652-1505 BCE) - all were born and passed away in the month of Nisan.
Blessing on Blooming Trees
A special mitzvah, which can be fulfilled only once a year, is to recite the beracha ("blessing" or prayer) made upon seeing a fruit tree in bloom: (as mentioned in Brachot 43b).
"Blessed are you Hashem our G-d, king of the universe, who left nothing lacking in His world, and created within it good creatures and good trees with which He gives pleasure to people."
Today, 1 Nisan, is the first opportunity to make this blessing, but it can be done anytime during the month of Nisan (referred to by the Torah as "the month of spring" ). Many visit botanical gardens during this time, so as to avail themselves of an opportunity to observe this beautiful mitzvah.
1 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
The Jewish Calendar was inaugurated. Two weeks before yetziat Mitzrayim / the Exodus, Hashem showed Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon the crescent new moon and told them, "This month shall be for you the head of months, the first of the months of the year” (Shmot 12:1-2). When you see the moon like this, sanctify [the new month]." This ushered in the first Jewish month, and commenced the lunar calendar Jews have been following ever since. This was the first mitzvah given to Bnei Yisrael. On that occasion Hashem also commanded them regarding the korban Pesach and the various other observances of the Yom Tov.
1 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
On the eighth day following a 7-day training and initiation period, the portable Mishkan ("Tabernacle" or "Sanctuary")
that accompanied the Jewish people in the Sinai desert following their Exodus from Egypt was completed,
8 parshiyot from the Chumash were read
Moshe Rabbeinu completed the consecration rites of Aharon and his sons, and they began serving as Kohanim.
HaKohain performed the first service of the Korbanot for the first time.
The Shechina (Divine Presence) came to dwell in the Mishkan; special offerings were brought, including a series of gifts by Nachshon ben Aminadav, the Nasi / Prince of the Shevet / Tribe of Yehuda / Judah (similar offerings were brought over the next 11 days by the Nesiyim of the other tribes of Israel).
All These events are recorded in Vayikra / Leviticus chapters 9-10.
1 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
The tragic deaths of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon HaKohain.
On the day the Mishkan was inaugurated (see above), "Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, took each of them his censer, and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered strange fire before Hashem, which He commanded them not. A fire went out from Hashem, and consumed them, and they died before Hashem." (Vayikra / Leviticus 10:1-2). It is a taanit tzaddikim, as mentioned in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 180:2).
1 Nisan 3300 - 370 B.C.E.:
Yechezkel HaNavi received the nevuah / prophecy that the Persian empire would soon overtake
1 Nisan 3390 - c. 360 B. C. E.:
Cyrus was crowned “King of Bavel”, leading to the restoration of a new Jewish autonomy in Eretz Yisrael and the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash. Ezra, the leader of the fledgling Jewish community and his followers, left Bavel for Eretz Yisrael on the anniversary of Cyrus’ coronation.
1 Nisan 3406 - 355 B. C. E.:
The plot of Bigtan and Teresh (Bigsan and Seresh) to assassinate Achashveirosh
was uncovered by Mordechai Hatzaddik.
1 Nisan - 352 B. C. E.:
The second Beit Hamikdash was dedicated under King Chizkiyahu (Ezra 6:15-18) and special offerings were brought similar to the dedication of the Mishkan.
1 Nisan - March 21, 1329:
Many Jewish communities were destroyed during the Black Death Persecutions.
The people: of Muhlhausen, Thuringia, were advised by Count Fredrick to kill
all the Jews in the town, as "they had set out to destroy all Christendom."
Subsequently, all of the Jews in the town were massacred, Hy"d.
1 Nisan - 1564:
The Pope authorized the printing of the Talmud in Mantua on condition that the word Talmud be omitted.
1 Nisan 5700 - April 9, 1940:
Germany invades Norway and Denmark..
1 Nisan 5708 - April 10,1948:
The Jews of Mishmar HaEmek, Israel were attacked by their Arab neighbors.
1 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Avihu, two sons of Aharon
(2450 / 1310 B.C..E.). see above.
HaRav Yeshayah Basson, zt"l, author of Lachmei Todah, (5499 / 1739).
Harav Basson was the son of Harav Yisrael Chizkiyahu Basson. He was one of the foremost Torah leaders of the Italian community towards the end of the 5400s.
A talmid of Harav Yehudah Brielle, he married the daughter of the mekubal Harav Binyamin Hakohen Vitiali, who served as Rav in Reggio. Later, he replaced his father-in-law as Rav.
In his capacity as Rav, Rav Yeshayah answered the many halachic she’eilot addressed to him from across Italy. These were later collected and published under the name Lachmei Todah. Some of his teshuvot were published in the sefarim of his contemporaries.
Among his famous talmidim was the Ramchal, Harav Moshe Chaim Luzzato. Rav Yeshayah defended this talmid when he was attacked for his philosophical works.
Rav Yeshayah was niftar on Rosh Chodesh Nisan 5499/1739 in Reggio.
His son Harav Yisrael Binyamin published Lachmei Todah after his father’s petirah.
HaRav Moshe of Vitebsk-Teveria, zt"l,
(5559 / 1799),
According to some, this is also the yahrtzeit of Harav Shmuel Kelen, zt"l, the Machatzit Hashekel. According to another opinion, his yahrtzeit is on 28
HaRav Yosef Hochgelerenter. zt"l, (5500 / 1740 – 5566 / 1806), Rav of Zamoshtz, author of Mishnat Chachamim on the Rambam.
Harav Yosef was born in 5500/1740. He was the son of Harav Yaakov Yitzchak, the Rav of Zamoshtz, who was the son of Harav Moshe Chaim, Rav of Lvov. Due to his greatness in Torah and his renowned sharp mind, he was also known as Reb Yosef Charif.
When he was 17, his chiddushim were already being published in the Zera Aharon.
At the age of 18, Harav Yosef was appointed to his first rabbinic post in Yompala, and in 5532/1772, after the petirah of his father, he was asked to replace him as Rav in Zamoshtz.
There, Reb Yosef served as Rav for no remuneration. His wealthy father-in-law supported him, and under the circumstances he felt it would be wrong to burden the communal coffers. Although he was unwilling to accept money from the community, Reb Yosef would still take the customary meat that the shochtim brought to the Rav each week. He explained that in case a Rav without financial backing would be appointed there in the future, he wanted to ensure that the shochtim would still be in the habit of bringing meat to the Rav.
During his tenure as Rav in Zamoshtz, the Maggid in the city was Harav Yaakov Krantz, later to become famous as the Dubno Maggid.
Reb Yosef taught many talmidim; Harav Shlomo Kluger of Brodie is among the more famous ones. Reb Shlomo attested that the years he learned under Reb Yosef were the best years of his life.
Reb Yosef was niftar on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, 5566/1806, at the age of 66. Before his passing, upon realizing that his end was near, Reb Yosef began reciting Tehillim. When he reached the passuk, “V’sam derech ar’enu b’yeisha Elokim — and who orders his way, I will show him Hashem’s salvation” (Tehillim50:23), his neshamah returned to its Maker.
Among his many writings, the sefer Mishnat Chachamim was printed. In includes four sefarim:Yavin Shmuah, pilpulim in the words of the Rishonim and Acharonim; Tzafnat Panei’ach, halachot from Reb Yosef;
Maalot Hamiddot; and Chut Hameshulash, chiddushim on the Shas.
HaRav Menachem Nachum of Skver-Shpikov,zt"l
(5646 / 1886).
HaRav Elimelech (ben Chaim Meir Yechiel) Shapiro of Grodzensk, zt"l,
(5584 / 1824 - 5652 / 1892), author of Divrei Elimelech and Imrei Elimelech.
Harav Elimelech was born in 5584/1824. His father was Harav Chaim Meir Yechiel of Mogelnitza, the son of Harav Avi-Ezri of Grenitz, who was the son-in-law of the Kozhnitzer Maggid. His mother was the daughter of Harav Elazar of Lizhensk, son of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech. Young Elimelech was named after this grandfather.
He married the daughter of Harav Yerachmiel of Peshischa, the son of the Yehudi Hakadosh.
After his father’s petirah in 5609 / 1849, Reb Elimelech initially refused to lead and, instead, traveled to Sadigura, where the Ruzhiner Rebbe, Harav Yisrael, lived. Reb Yisrael rebuked him for not wanting to lead the Chassidut and said, “What is so hard about leading the Chassidut? If a Yid — Avraham ben Sarah — asks for a yeshuah, just daven for him and Hashem will help!”
When Reb Elimelech returned home, the first person who came to him with a kvittel bore the name Avraham ben Sarah! Reb Elimelech saw in this a sign from Heaven that he should accept the yoke of leadership.
Reb Elimelech of Grodzisk experienced much suffering in his life; many of his children died young. In 5648 / 1888, his first Rebbetzin was niftar. He subsequently married the daughter of Harav Chaim Shmuel of Chentchin, a descendant of the Maor Vashemesh of Cracow. Two sons were born to him and his second Rebbetzin in his old age; one of which was Harav Klonimus Kalman, the Piaseczna Rebbe, Hy"d, mechaber of Chovat Hatalmidim, Eish Kodesh and other sefarim. However, Reb Elimelech did not merit to raise these sons, as he was niftar on 1 Nisan 5652 / 1892.
The sefarim Imrei Elimelech and Divrei Elimelech are unusual in that they were printed during Reb Elimelech’s lifetime, uncommon for the works of Chassidishe Rebbes of his generation. In the introduction to one of his sefarim, he humbly writes that after many Gedolim gave their haskamah to the sefer, he felt obligated to print it.
HaRav Moshe Yosef Hoffman, zt"l, (5688 / 1928), the Dayan of Pupa and author of Mei B'eir Mayim Chaim.
HaRav Elya Svei, zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, (5769 / 2009). Born in Slabodka, Lithuania, Rav Elya arrived in the United States with his family in the mid-1930s and learned at Yeshiva Torah Vodaat under Rav Shlomo Heiman. After the end of World War II, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael and learned with the Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, and under Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer. In the late 1940s, Rav Elya continued his learning at the fledgling Yeshiva Govoha in Lakewood under Rav Aharon Kotler. He married in 1951. In 1953, Rav Aharon sent Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rav Dov Schwartzman to start a yeshiva in Philadelphia. When Rav Schwartzman left two years later to found a yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael, Rav Aharon asked Rav Elya to replace him. He arrived a year later and became a fixture for the next 53 years. A primary student of Rav Aharon Kotler, he was regarded as one of the foremost leaders of Charedi Jewry, and was a member of the Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah. He was a son-in-law of Rav Avraham Kalmanovitz, the founder of the Brooklyn branch of the Mir Yeshiva, and a brother-in-law of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum
HaRav Asher Yeshaya (ben Moshe Shmuel) Halevi Rottenberg, the Kossoner Rebbe, zt"l, (1915-2010). Grew up in the town of Kosson, he moved with his family to the United States in late 1938 and to Eretz Yisrael in 1961. He moved back to New York towards the end of his life and estabvlished Beis Midrash Ohr Malei of Kosson, named after the sefer of his uncle, with whom he learned in his early years.
2 Nisan 2450 - 1310
First Parah Adumah (Red Heifer) prepared in the Midbar, one day after the inauguration of the Mishkan, as Moshe Rabbeinu performed the first purification using this Parah Adumah. This was used to ritually purify the Jewish nation in preparation for the bringing of the Paschal Lamb in the newly erected Sanctuary.
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Nesanel ben Tzuar, the Nasi / Prince of the Shevet / Tribe of Yissachar / Issachar for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
2 Nisan 5043 - 1283:
Jews of Mayence, Germany, were
2 Nisan 5252 - 1492:
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
of Spain signed a decree expelling all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity. It was ultimately carried out on Tisha B'Av of that year.
Tomas de Torquemada served as "Grand Inquisitor," charged with uncovering those who continued to practice Judaism in secret (called Conversos or Marranos -- "pigs"). In the ensuing Inquisition, an estimated 32,000 Jews were burned at the stake in elaborate public ceremonies, Hy"d, and another 200,000 were expelled from Spain. At the time, Jews held many prominent posts in Spain; Rabbi Don Yitzhak Abrabanel, who served as finance minister, reportedly offered Queen Isabella the astronomical sum of 600,000 crowns to revoke the edict. Abrabanel was unable to prevent the expulsion and was exiled along with his people.
2 Nisan 5641 - April 1, 1881:
broke out in Yerushalayim.
2 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Rabbeinu Baruch, zt”l, father of the Maharam of Rottenberg (5035 / 1275).
HaRav Eliyahu Kalmankash, zt”l, Rav of Lublin (5393 / 1633).
HaRav Nesanel (ben Binyamin Wolf) Emreich, zt”l, (5594 / 1834), Rav of Illawa.
Harav Nesanel was the son of Harav Binyamin Wolf, Rav in Neustadt, who wrote Amtachat Binyamin on Masechet Kreisut.
The father of Harav Binyamin Wolf was Harav Zalman Emreich, Rav in Prague, who wrote Shishah Zaronei Arugah.
When his grandson was born, Reb Zalman instructed that he be named Nesanel after his rebbi, Harav Nesanel Weill, zt”l, the author of Korban Nesanel. Reb Zalman blessed his grandson after the brit that he grow up to become a Gadol baTorah like Harav Weill.
This brachah came to pass as Reb Nesanel went on to become a talmid chacham and serve as Rav of Illawa.
Some of his chiddushim were published as Sfichei Amarim, printed as an appendix to his grandfather’s sefer Shishah Zaronei Arugah.
HaRav Shalom Dov Ber Schneerson, zt"l, the Rebbe RaShaB, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe (1860 - 5680 / 1920). He is the author of hundreds of major tracts in the exposition of Chassidic thought.
HaRav Nachman Shmuel Yaakov Meyudesar, zt”l, (1872-1948). Born in Warsaw, he became Rav and Rosh Yeshiva in Brok, Poland. While there, he published his sefer Amudei Yehonasan, named after his grandfather, Rav Yehonasan Eibishitz. After thirty years, he realized his dream to move to Eretz Yisrael and became the second Rav of Bnai Brak.
HaRav Yaakov Yosef Twersky, the Skverer Rebbe, zt”l, (5659 / 1899 – 5728 / 1968).
Harav Yaakov Yosef was born in Skver on 15 Tammuz 5659 / 1899. His father, Harav Dovid, was the Skverer Rebbe, and his mother, Tzipporah, was the daughter of Reb Elyakim Getzel of Ostra’a.
In the summer of 1919, because of the pogroms in the Ukraine that followed the Bolshevik Revolution, the family moved to Kiev. A few months later, on 15 Kislev, his father, Rav Dovid, the Skverer Rebbe, was niftar, and the following fall, the remaining family left for Kishinev, Bessarabia (Moldavia).
On 2 Adar 5685 / 1925, Reb Yaakov Yosef married the daughter of Harav Pinchas Twersky of Ostilla and moved to Belz, where he was supported by Reb Pinchas’ father-in-law, Reb Yissachar Dov of Belz.
After the Belzer Rav’s petirah, Reb Yaakov Yosef moved to Ostilla, to his father-in-law’s home. The townspeople tried to appoint Reb Yaakov Yosef Rav of Ostilla, but he refused to accept it.
After two years in Ostilla, he was forced to return to Romania, where he acceded to the request of the Skverer Chassidim of Kolorash to lead them as Rebbe.
After his home burned down in 5694 / 1934, he moved temporarily to Yass, Romania. There, he was extremely vigilant with the chinuch of his children, and would often spend hours upon hours with his daughters in order that they should not be influenced by the street.
Reb Yaakov Yosef suffered terribly during the war, particularly during the Nazi attack that devastated his town. Afterward, in the winter of 5705 / 1945, he moved to Bucharest, from where he planned to leave Europe. Three years later he traveled to America, stopping in Budapest, Prague, Antwerp and London, before arriving in the United States on 29 Adar I.
He first established his court in Boro Park, then in Williamsburg, and finally in New Square, a chassidic village he founded with great mesirut nefesh a moderate distance from New York City (near Monsey). On 4 Nisan 5717 / 1957, he moved to New Square, which quickly became a model chareidi community and a center of Torah and Chassidut for all Jewry. Many would flock to his humble home in New Square to be inspired, and seek his counsel and brachot.
Reb Yaakov Yosef was niftar on 2 Nisan 5728 / 1968 and was buried in the beit hachaim of New Square. He was succeeded by his son, the current Skverer Rebbe, shlita. His sons-in-law are the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, shlita, and the Rachmastrivke Rebbe of Boro Park, shlita.
3 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
Following the procedure Hashem prescribed, (Bamidbar / Numbers 8:5-22), Moshe Rabbeinu sprinkled the freshly produced Mei Chattat, (from the ashes of the Parah Adumah / Red Heifer, which was prepared the day beforehand), on the members of Shevet Levi, (the Tribe of Levites) to Induct them into Tabernacle Service.
3 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Eliav ben Cheilon, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Zevulun / Zebulun for the inauguration of the Mishkan. The Shinever Rebbe said tht this day is a propitious day to pray for parnassa.
3 Nisan 5252 - 1492:
The decree expelling Jews form Spain and Sicily was issued, after King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed it.
3 Nisan 5608 - April 6, 1848:
Jews of Prussia were granted equality
3 Nisan 5651 - April 11, 1891:
Ritual charges resulted in pogroms on the island of Corfu.
3 Nisan 5704 - March 27, 1944:
The Nazis, ym"s, perpetrated the Children's Action in the Kovno Ghetto. That day and the next,
German soldiers conducted house-to-house searches to round up all children under age 12 (and adults over 55) - and sent them to their deaths
at Fort IX, Hy"d. Eventually, the Germans blew up every house with grenades and dynamite, on suspicion that Jews might be in hiding
in underground bunkers. They then poured gasoline over much of the former ghetto and incinerated it. Of the 37,000 Jews in Kovno before the Holocaust,
less than 10 percent survived. One of the survivors was Rabbi Ephraim Oshri, who later published a stirring collection of rabbinical responsa,
detailing his life-and-death decisions during the Holocaust. Also on this date, in 1937, American Jews held a massive anti-Nazi rally in New York
City's Madison Square Garden.
3 Nisan 5764 - March 25, 2004:
The United States vetoed a UN Security Council Algerian and Libyan draft resolution condemning Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin and six civilians.
3 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Efrayim Ashkenazl, zt”l, (5532 / 1772).
HaRav Binyamln Zev (Wolf) of Zhbariz, zt”l, (5582. / 1822.)
Harav Binyamin Zev was the son of Harav Yechiel Mechel of Zlotchov, zy”a. He was the third of five brothers: Harav Yosef of Yampola, Harav Yitzchak of Radivill, (Harav Binyamin Zev of Zbariz,) Harav Moshe of Zhvil, and Harav Mordechai of Kremenitz. The five brothers were referred to by their holy father as the five Chumashim of the Torah.
He embodied extreme humility, traveled to the Chozeh of Lublin (who was also his father’s talmid), and to Harav Menachem Mendel of Riminov. He was known for his astonishing love for every Yid.
He married the daughter of Harav Asher Tzvi Zhack, the Rav of Sharigrad. His son, Harav Yechiel Mechel, was niftar during his lifetime. His sons-in-law were Harav Shlomo Eliezer; Harav Yitzchak Menachem Auerbach, a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov; and Harav Meshulem Zusha of Lublin, a grandson of the Chozeh of Lublin.
He led an eidah of Chassidim in Zbariz, and some of his talmidim later became great chassidic luminaries. Among them were Harav Tzvi Hersh of Ziditchov; Harav Dovid Shlomo Soroka, author of Arvei Nachal; and Harav Naftali of Ropshitz, who came to Zbariz with his son, Harav Eliezer. Reb Binyamin Zev also met with Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, the Bnei Yissaschar, with whom he spent many hours in discussions of Torah and Chassidut.
Many tales were told of his great ahavat Yisrael, of which we will recount a few. Reb Binyamin Zev would call everyone who came to him a tzaddik. Once a rasha, a Jew who had converted to Christianity, came to him and the Rebbe called him “tzaddik”! An onlooker tried to convince the Rebbe that this particular Jew was not a tzaddik, but Reb Binyamin Zev insisted: “The passuk states, ‘V’ameich kulam tzaddikim — And your nation are all tzaddikim.’ I would rather have the person’s behavior cast in doubt than to doubt the words of the passuk!”
In another story, his poor housekeeper once broke a valuable object in their home. When the Rebbetzin said she wanted to take the hapless woman to a din Torah, the Rebbe asked her to wait for him to join her. When the Rebbetzin questioned the Rebbe’s intent, he explained that he was coming along to defend the poor housekeeper.
And once, on Pesach, a Yid sitting at Reb Binyamin Zev’s table ate matzah peshutah (as opposed to matzah shemurah). The Chassidim were appalled at the man’s audacity. But in an incredible display of ahavat Yisrael, in order not to embarrass the hapless Jew, the Rebbe asked him if he, too, could share a piece of that matzah.
Reb Binyamin Zev’s Torah thoughts were published posthumously in the sefer Tiferet Tzvi Zev, published in 5656 / 1896, and in Razin D’Oraysa, which appeared in 5663 / 1903. The sefarim are rather similar, but the publishers claimed that the latter was printed from a better manuscript. Many of his divrei Torah are based on concepts taught by his holy father; but he also constantly elaborates on what was his own specialty, ahavat Yisrael and middot tovot. His sefarim were recently combined into one volume and published under the name Malki Bakodesh.
Reb Binyamin Zev was niftar on 3 Nisan 5582 / 1822, and was buried in Zbariz.
. HaRav Eliezer Yerucham Baron of Radoshitz-Cracow, ,zy"a, son-in-law of the Divrei Chaim, (5645 / 1885).
Harav Eliezer Yerucham was the son of Harav Yisrael Yitzchak, who was the son of Harav Yissachar Ber, the Saba Kadisha of Radoshitz.
Reb Eliezer Yerucham married Rebbetzin Yuta, daughter of Harav Chaim Halberstam of Sanz, the Divrei Chaim.
Known as a Gadol baTorah, Reb Eliezer Yerucham was well respected in Sanz. The Divrei Chaim cherished him, and appointed him to be in charge of the money and the many letters that were sent to the Rebbe’s court.
Reb Eliezer Yerucham published Duda’im BaSadeh by his maternal great-grandfather, Harav Reuven Horowitz of Zarnovtza.
After the petirah of his first wife, Reb Eliezer Yerucham married the daughter of Harav Yissaschar Schiff of Brigel, grandson of Harav Nosson, the brother of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. But he remained in Sanz even after remarrying.
With the petirah of the Divrei Chaim in 5636/1876, Reb Eliezer Yerucham left Sanz. After the passing of his zivug sheini, he married the daughter of Harav Nissan, a Dayan in Shinev.
He later settled in Cracow, where he was named Rebbe.
Reb Eliezer Yerucham was niftar on 3 Nisan 5645/1885.
His sons were Harav Mendel of Yaslow and Harav Yonah of Yaslow. His sons-in-law were Harav Mordechai Yaakov Horowitz of Oleinov; Harav Pesach Dovid Miller of Bukovsk; and Harav Elazar Meir Kleinman of Teshin. (Others 5652 / 1892)
HaRav Yosef Yonah Zvi Halevi Horowitz, zt”l, the Unsdorf-Frankfurter Rav, (5730 / 1970).
Harav Yosef Yonah Zvi Halevi was born in 5652/1892 in the town of Unsdorf, Czechoslovakia. His father was Harav Yehudah Horowitz, son-in-law of the former Unsdorfer Rav, Harav Shmuel Rosenberg, zt”l, mechaber of Be’er Shmuel.
Reb Yehudah Horowitz was a direct descendant of the Baal Haflaah, Harav Pinchas Halevi Horowitz, zy”a, Av Beit Din and Rav of Frankfurt.
The influence of Reb Yosef Yonah Horowitz’s grandfather, the Be’er Shmuel, powerfully influenced his upbringing, along with the input and strong chinuch of his own parents. Even at a young age, while in his grandfather’s renowned yeshivah in Unsdorf, he excelled in his understanding of Gemara.
He received semichah from both his grandfather, the Be’er Shmuel and the Radomishler Rav, Harav Shmuel Engel, zt”l.
Reb Yosef Yonah became the son-in-law of Harav Yeshayah Zilberstein, zt”l, the Veitzener Rav and mechaber of Maaseh L’melech.
During World War I, when the Be’er Shmuel was already weak due to his advanced age, Reb Yosef Yonah assisted him with the yeshivah and in all facets of the Rabbanut in Unsdorf. When the Be’er Shmuel was niftar in 5679/1919, his talmidim immediately appointed Reb Yosef Yonah as his successor.
Reb Yosef Yonah fulfilled the role successfully.
In 5689/1929, Reb Yosef Yonah moved on to the Rabbanut in Frankfurt, Germany. It was this position that became the stepping-stone to a narrow escape from the Nazi reign of terror.
In that prewar decade, as Rav of Frankfurt, Reb Yosef Yonah established the only reliable beit din in Germany, to which the most complex halachic issues were referred. During that time, he accepted, as well, the exalted position of Nasi Agudat Yisrael.
He relocated to Holland, where his family later joined him. He became a Rav in England to families who had relocated from London to the suburb of Letchworth.
Friends from America urged him to resettle in that country. Thus, in 1950, Reb Yosef Yonah spearheaded the building of Yeshiva and Mesivta Be’er Shmuel of Boro Park.
In 1965 he moved on, leaving ybl”c his son Harav Moshe Horowitz at the helm of the yeshivah and of Khal Unsdorf, Be’er Shmuel d’Boro Park. He followed his heart to Bnei Brak in Eretz Yisrael. He turned down many offers to build an Unsdorfer yeshivah there — as he wanted to be a simple Yid, able to serve Hashem.
On 3 Nisan 5730/1970, after five years in Eretz Yisrael, Reb Yosef Yonah was niftar.
HaRav Aryeh Leib Grossnass, zt"l, author of Lev Aryeh (5756/1996).
HaRav Eliyahu Meir Finkel, zt"l, Nasi Yeshivat Mir, Yerushalayim, (5757/1997),.father of the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l, who was niftar 5772 / 2011.
HaRav Levi Yitzchak Slonim, zt"l, son of Rebbetzin Menuchah Rochel, daughter of the Mitteler Rebbe.
HaRav Dovid Stavsky, zt"l, (1930-2004), served in the Columbus (Ohio) Jewish community for the last 47 years of his life, including as Rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation. He graduated from Yeshiva in 1952, ordained at the RIETS in 1955, and earned a Masters degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University in 1966. Served as Chaplain in the United States Army as a First Lieutenant at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital and was the Post-Chaplain at Fort Carson in Denver, Colorado from 1955-1957. He helped found Columbus Torah Academy in 1958, led the effort to build a mikvah in Columbus in 1970, helped found the Columbus Community Kollel in 1994.
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4 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Elitzur ben Shedei'ur, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Reuven for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
4 Nisan - 1302:
Decree passed ordering the Jews of Barcelona to kneel when meeting a priest with the sacraments.
4 Nisan - 1484:
Local farmers, led by monks, attacked the Jewish neighborhood in Arles, France. A number of people were killed and 50 men were forced to accept Christianity, Hy"d.
4 Nisan 5698 - April 5, 1938:
riots broke out in Dabrowa, Poland.
4 Nisan 5708 - April 13, 1948:
A civilian convoy of physicians, nurses, and guards, was ambushed by Arab forces on the way to the Hadassah Hospital in the Jewish enclave on Har Hatzofim / Mt. Scopus in Yerushalayim. Of the ten vehicles in the caravan, five escaped. The other five vehicles, however, which included two buses and an ambulance, were riddled with machine gun fire and later set ablaze. Altogether 77 Jewish civilians were massacred on that day, Hy”d. The ambush cut off the hospital from the rest of Israel and forced Hadassah Hospital to relocate to the western part of Yerushalayim, eventually opening a larger medical center in 1961 at Ein Kerem. The Mount Scopus facility would reopen after Yerushalayim was reunited in the 1967 Six-Day War. Primarily staffed by Israeli doctors, it is the largest and best equipped hospital in the eastern section of Yerushalayim.
4 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yaakov Tzvi (ben HaRav Gamliel) Mecklenberg, (Kelenberg), zt”l, author of HaKtav V’hakabalah (5545 / 1785 – 5625 / 1865). Harav Yaakov Tzvi was born in 5545/1785. He was a talmid of Rav Akiva Eiger. In 5590 / 1830, Rav Yaakov Tzvi was appointed Rav of Kenigsberg, Germany.
He fought against the Reform movement and battled against their “rabbis” convention, held in 1844. He opposed any change in halachah, and refused to officiate at any chuppah where the basic halachot were not heeded by the couple being married. When he was once forced by the government to officiate at such a wedding, he added at the chuppah that the kiddushin was “k’dat Kaiser Wilhelm,” in reference to the Prussian king at the time, and not in accordance with “dat Moshe v’Yisrael.”
After such insult, the couple agreed to take upon themselves the halachot that Rav Yaakov Tzvi requested and he later held the chuppah again, k’dat Moshe v’Yisrael.
Rav Yaakov Tzvi was known as one of the foremost commentators on the Torah. His work, Haktav v’Hakabbalah, is a commentary on the Torah based on drush and halachah. His explanations often shed new light on the pesukim. He based much of his work on the Vilna Gaon’s teachings.
Rav Yaakov Tzvi printed his sefer first in 5599 / 1839 as a separate sefer. It was only in 5620 / 1880 that it was printed together with the Chumash, as it has appeared ever since.
In addition to his most famous work, he also wrote Iyun Tefillah, his explanations on tefillah, which was printed together with Derech Hachaim by HaRav Yaakov of Lisa, the Nesivot Hamishpat, also on tefillah.
Harav Yaakov Tzvi was niftar on 4 Nisan 5625/1865, at the age of 80.
HaRav Yochanan Twersky (the first) of Rachmistrivka, zt”l, (5576 / 1816- 5655 / 1895), His father, Harav Mordechai, was known as the Maggid of Chernobyl. His mother was Rebbetzin Feige, the daughter of Rav David Leikes, a talmid of the Baal Shem Tov.
Rav Yochanan was the youngest of eight brothers, each of whom was a Rebbe. They were Harav Aharon of Chernobyl; Harav Moshe of Koristchov; Harav Yisrael Yaakov of Cherkass; Harav Nachum of Makarov; Harav Avraham, the Maggid of Trisk; Harav Dovid of Tolna; and Harav Yitzchak of Skver.
From early childhood Reb Yochanan was known for his righteousness, humility, devoutness and precision in Torah and mitzvot.
When asked whether he was named after Rabi Yochanan ben Zakkai he would answer humbly, “Yes. My name is indeed Yochanan and my father is zakkai [worthy].” Despite his protestation, his father, the Maggid of Chernobyl, said that Reb Yochanan indeed possessed the neshamah of Rabi Yochanan ben Zakkai.
Reb Yochanan married Rebbetzin Chana, the daughter of Harav Pinchas Landau of Kolk.
When the Maggid of Chernobyl was niftar, his sons gathered to divide his spiritual inheritance. One took his kind heart, another took his sharp mind and so on. Reb Yochanan wanted to take his father’s gornisht, meaning his nothingness — his father’s deep humility. But when his brother, Harav Moshe of Koristchov, took the gornisht, Reb Yochanan was left with gor gornshit, absolutely nothing, and he was pleased. Indeed, he was distinguished by his profound humility and self-negation.
Unlike his brothers, Reb Yochanan did not begin to lead Chassidim immediately upon his father’s petirah; instead, he stayed at his brother’s court in Chernobyl. But a few years later he succumbed to the entreaties of the Chassidim and set up a court in Rachmastrivka, in order to strengthen Yiddishkeit and Chassidut in that area.
Rachmastrivka was a town in Western Russia (now located in Eastern Ukraine). The town was also known as Ratmastrivka. Rav Yochanan would travel to his Chassidim in the surrounding villages to give them chizuk and accept their kvitlach.
Every year on Erev Pesach, Reb Yochanan made a siyum on all of Shas and Shulchan Aruch. He began this practice when his eldest son was young and he was obligated to make a siyum so that the boy would be able to eat on Taanit Bechorot. But even after his son was grown, Reb Yochanan continued this custom.
He once arrived in a certain town where almost all the townspeople came out to greet him. One resident, however, resented the honor being shown the Rebbe. He approached Reb Yochanan and challenged him: “You claim to be humble. Why do you think you deserve all this honor?” The Rebbe replied, “I really don’t know why people give me all this honor. But if they do, it must be retzon Hashem, and if it is retzon Hashem, it is the right thing for people to respond to me as they do.”
He survived all of his brothers and was revered and beloved
by the Chassidim of the Chernobyler dynasty.
He was niftar on 4 Nisan 5655 / 1895 and buried in Rachmastrivka.
He had four sons. Harav David of Zlotipoli led an eidah in his father’s lifetime. The other three sons, Harav Mordechai, Harav Nachum and Harav Zev, succeeded their father in Rachmastrivka where they led his court together. The current Rachmastrivka Rebbes are descendants of Harav Nachum.
HaRav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Mezhibuzh-Tanipol, zt”l, (5703 / 1943).
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5 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Shlumiel ben Tzurishadai, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Shimon for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
5 Nisan 2488 / 1272 B.C.E.:
Two days before the conclusion of the thirty-day mourning period following the passing of Moshe Rabbeinu on 7 Adar, Yehoshua / Joshua sent two scouts -- Calev (Caleb) and Pinchas - across the Jordan River to Yericho (Jericho) and the surrounding territory to gather intelligence in preparation of the Bnei Yisroel's battle with the first city in their conquest of the Holy Land, Eretz Yisrael. In Yericho, they were assisted and hidden by Rachav / Rahab, a woman who lived inside the city walls. (Rachav later married Yehoshua).
The mission was risky in the sense
that 40 years earlier, Moshe had sent scouts to Eretz Yisrael, only to have
them recommend against entering the land. This time the mission was
successful, and in the ensuing siege, Yehoshua's troops -- amidst shofar
blasts -- encircled Yericho seven times until its walls came down. The
events are recorded in the biblical Book of Yehoshua / Joshua, chapters 2 and 6.
5 Nisan 5248 - March 25, 1488:
Rabbeinu Ovadia MiBartenura, famous for his commentary on Mishnayot, arrived in Yerushalayim,
after a three year journey. (see 13 Nisan)
5 Nisan 5561 - March 19, 1801:
The community of Karentan, France, was miraculously saved from a blood libel.
5 Nisan 5653 - March 22, 1893:
Rehovot was attacked by Arabs.
5 Nisan 5677 - March 28, 1917:
Jews of Tel Aviv and Yaffo were expelled by the Turks.
5 Nisan 5679 - April 5, 1919:
The Polish army executed 35 young Jews who had helped distribute packages sent by the Joint to the Jewish community of Pinsk, Hy"d.
5 Nisan 5693 - April 1, 1933:
The official Nazi boycott of German Jewish
5 Nisan 5702 - March 23, 1942:
2,500 Jews of Lublin were killed Al Kiddush Hashem, Hy"d, and the rest were deported.
5 Nisan 5713 - March 21, 1953:
Dr. Jonas Salk announced his polio vaccine.
5 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt, zt”l, the Ohev Yisrael (5508/1748 [others 1755] - 5585 / 1825). He was born in 5508/1748 in Zhemigrod to Harav Shmuel, who descended from an esteemed lineage of Rabbanim and Gedolei Yisrael.
Rav Avraham Yehoshua was brought to the Rebbe Harav Elimelech of Lizhensk by the Rebbes Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Harav Moshe Leib of Sassov. He became one of the Noam Elimelech’s prime talmidim and was one of the four who inherited his spiritual virtues: the Chozeh of Lublin, who received Reb Elimelech’s vision; the Maggid of Kozhnitz, who received his heart; Harav Mendele of Riminov, who received his ruchniyut intelligence; and the Apta Rav, who received his power of speech.
He also learned under Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov.
While in his early 30s, Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel became Rav in Kolbosov. It was there that he also first began to lead Chassidim, after the petirah of his Rebbe, Reb Elimelech, in 5546 / 1786.
In 1800 he accepted the post of Rabbi of Apta. Although he held many other rabbinic positions, to the chasidim he remained always the Apter Rav. He lived his last years in Mezhibuzh, the birthplace of the Baal Shem Tov.
The Apta Rav lived to the age of 77 and was considered the elder tzaddik of his generation.
The day before his petirah, Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel walked through his house, taking leave of every object. He kissed each sefer and took leave of all his talmidim. He is buried near the kever of the Baal Shem Tov in Mezhibuzh.
HaRav Shneur Zalman Ashkenazi of Lublin, zt”l, Rav of Polotzk, Lublin; author of Torat Chessed (1830 - 5662 / 1902).
HaRav Malkiel Tzvi HaLevi Tannenbaum of Lomza, zt”l, (5670 / 1910), author of Divrei Malkiel
HaRav Tzvi Elimelech (ben Dovid) Spira of Bluzhov, zt”l, (5601 / 1841- 5684 / 1924). Harav Tzvi Elimelech, known as the Tzvi laTzaddik, was born in 5601/1841. His father was Harav Dovid of Dinov, the Tzemach Dovid, who was the son of Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, better known as the Bnei Yissaschar.
From his youth he was known for his exceptional sharpness, and he was erudite in all aspects of the Torah. His father occasionally took him along when he traveled to Harav Chaim of Sanz; he was close to him in his later years as well.
At the age of 16, he married the daughter of Harav Moshe of Razvadov, who was the son of Harav Eliezer of Dzikov, who in turn was the son of Harav Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz. After his chasunah, he moved into his father-in-law’s home, where he continued to reach ever-greater madreigot.
First Reb Tzvi Elimelech was appointed Rav in Ribetitch, and later in Bluzhov, located in southeastern Galicia, where he eventually established his court after the petirah of his father in 5634/1874.
In addition to his greatness in Torah, he was venerated in the world of Chassidut. His heartfelt tefillot and his avodat Hakodesh were awe-inspiring, including waking at chatzot every night to mourn the Churban and serving his Creator every minute with great diligence.
Thousands flocked to him for advice and counsel. Among his prominent talmidim was Harav Aharon Roth, zt”l, author ofShomrei Emunim.
His older brother, Rav Naftali Hertz, became Rebbe of Dinov, but with his passing a few years later, most of the Chasidim followed Rav Tzvi Elimelech, who then became known as the Bluzhover Rebbe.
During WWI, Reb Tzvi Elimelech fled to Budapest. After the war he returned to Galicia; in 5680/1920 he reached Premiszyl. During that era, he stood as a beacon guiding his flock.
Eventually he returned to Reisha, where he was niftar in 5684/1924. His Torah thoughts were published in Tzvi laTzaddik, a sefer that contains responsa and chiddushim al haTorah
HaRav Moshe (ben Shlomo) Rokeach, zt”l, (1939), Kiev-Zlotchover Rebbe. He is a descendent of Rav Elazar of Amsterdam. He is buried in Mount Judah Cemetery in Queens, NY.
HaRav Reuven Yosef (ben Avraham Yitzchak) Gershonowitz, zt”l. (1915 - 5755 / 1995) Born in Lapitsh in the Minsk area of the Ukraine, he was taken by his father to the yeshiva katana in Lida at the age of 10. He continued his learning at Kamenitz in 1931, under Rav Baruch Ber. In 1936, Rav Reuven joined his family in Eretz Yisrael; he became a talmid of the Lomza Yeshiva in Petach Tikva. In 1946, he began giving chaburot in the yeshiva. In 1965, he became rosh yeshiva of Chemdas Shmuel in a moshav called Chemed. At first he kept his position at Lomza yeshiva, giving two shiurim be'iyun on two different masechtot every Monday, but the Lomza yeshiva closed a short while thereafter. In 1976, Rav Reuven was called upon to serve as rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Hanegev in Netivot.
HaRav Aharon (ben Alter Baruch) Wider, zt”l, the Linzer Rav (1920-2010). Having survived the horrors of World War II, Rav Aharon returned hom and was appointed Rav of Munkatch. He moved to Linz, Austria, where he served as Rav for three years. In 1949, he and his wife and two children immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Boro Park in 1970. Be served as a Dayan on the Klausenberger Beis Din for much of his life in America.
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6 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Elyasaf ben De'uel, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Gad for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
6 Nisan - 1475:
One of the more notorious blood libels. A Franciscan monk, Bernardinus of Feltre, Italy came to Trent and began preaching against the Jews during Lent sermons. A week before Easter a boy by the name of Simon drowned in the River Adige. The monk charged the Jews with using the body for its blood. The body washed up a few days later near the house of a Jew who brought it to the Bishop Honderbach. 17 Jews were tortured for over two weeks. Some confessed under the torture. 6 Jews were burnt and two more were strangled, Hy"d. Pope Sixtus IV ordered a temporary hiatus, but after five years the trial was reopened and 5 more Jews were executed, Hy"d. The papal inquest agreed with the trial, Simon was beatified, and all Jews were expelled from the province for 300 years. The trial served as the basis for anti-Semitic writings for hundreds of years. Only in 1965 was Simon debeatified and the Church admitted the confessions extracted under torture were false..
6 Nisan - 1526:
Emperor Charles V issued a general safe-conduct to Portuguese "New Christians" and Marranos (though not to those who professed to being Jewish), allowing them to live and work in Antwerp. Although they still had to live under cover, they were safe from the Inquisition which was not allowed to operate in the Southern "Low Countries," though they were under Spanish rule. Only after the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), when Antwerp passed to Austrian rule, were the Jews able to live there openly.
6 Nisan - 1550:
The Jews of Genoa, Italy, were expelled.
6 Nisan 5653 - March 23, 1893:
Shechita was prohibited in Saxony.
6 Nisan 5685 - March 31, 1925:
The town of Afula in Northern Israel was founded. It is located on the presumed site of the tower ("Ophel") mentioned in the Biblical account of an Aramean
general's visit to the Prophet Elisha (Melachim II / II Kings 5:24). Afula's central location in the Jezreel Valley makes
it the market center of the region; it is often referred to as "the Capital of the Valley."
Because of the town's proximity to Judea and Samaria, it has repeatedly been a target of
terrorist attacks following the Oslo "peace process" and during the second Intifada.
6 Nisan 5745 - March 28, 1985:
This date marks the death of Marc Chagall (1887-1985), the greatest
Jewish painter of modern times. Chagall's work depicted biblical and
Judaic themes, as well as village life in eastern Europe. Chagall's
style is dreamlike, relying heavily on symbolism such as fiddlers,
candlesticks and cows. With the German occupation of France during World
War II, and the deportation of Jews to concentration camps, Chagall
fled from Paris to America. (He moved back to France after the war.)
Chagall created a mural for the Knesset, and stained glass windows for
the synagogue of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Today, a Chagall
original can sell for more than $10 million.
6 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shmuel Yehudah Mintz, zt”l, (5357 / 1597), the Maharishak.
HaRav Shmuel Yehuda (ben Meir) Katzenellenbogen, zt”l, (1521-1597). The son of the Maharam Padua, Reb Shmuel was born in Padua. He served on the Beit Din of Venice and became Rav of the city and headed its yeshiva. His sefer, Drashot R' Shmuel Yehuda, also called Shteim Esre Drashot, is sometimes erroneously named Drashot Mahari Mintz.
HaRav Yaakov Temerlis, zt”l, (1668). Borns in Worms, he traveled to Lublin and then Kremenitz, Poland. Late in life, he moved to Vienna. His sefarim included Sifra DiTzniyusa DeYaakov, a kabbalistic commentary on the Torah.
HaRav Chaim Abulafya, zt”l, born in Chevron, Rav of Tzefat, Izmir (Turkey), Teveria (1660-5504 / 1744), known as a miracle worker.
HaRav Shmuel Yechiel of Butchan, zt”l, (5622 / 1862)
HaRav Meir Dan (ben Chaim Yitzchak Ber) Plotsky of Warsaw, zt”l, (1866- 5688 / 1928), the Kli Chemda. Harav Meir Don was born in Kutna in 5626/1866, the son of Rav Chaim Yitzchak Ber Plotzker from Kutno, a chassid of Rav Chanoch Henich of Alexander, and then of the Sfat Emet of Ger.
At the age of three the child fell ill, and Reb Chaim Yitzchak traveled to his Rebbe, Rav Chanoch Henoch of Alexander, who simply told him that his son would “grow to become a Gadol b’Yisrael.” He had a complete recovery.
Reb Chaim Yitzchak eked out a living by working as a clerk for a Jewish timber magnate, but he and his family were continually on the move between various forests. They hired an expert melamed to accompany them wherever they went, to teach their young son Torah. He and his wife were extremely dedicated to maintaining this melamed, to the extent that when times got tough, his wife willingly sold all her jewelry.
At the age of nine, Reb Meir Dan was sent to learn in the yeshiva of Rav Chaim Eliezer Wacks, the Nefesh Chayah, in Kalish. Shortly before his Bar Mitzvah, he became a talmid of Rav Avraham of Sochotchov, the Avnei Nezer, whom he considered his lifelong rebbi muvhak.
He married at the age of 15 and spent the next 10 years in Dvohrt with his in-laws, who lavishly supplied his every need, even providing him with a huge library of sefarim.
In 5651 / 1891, when the Rav of Dvohrt was niftar, Rav Meir Don became Rav in Dvohrt. His love for emet and din was revealed.
Later he helped expose the forged Yerushalmi on Kodshim, claimed to be discovered by Shlomo Yehuda Friedlander, who also claimed he was a Sefardi named Shlomo Yehuda Algazi.
At the age of 36, he published his work on the Sefer Hamitzvot of the Rambam, called Chemdat Yisrael. In 1918, he became Rav of Ostrov-Mozbaisk in eastern Poland.
During World War I, when Dvohrt was beset by all the troubles and suffering of war, Rav Meir Don was offered the prestigious rabbanut of the huge industrial town of Lodz, but he turned it down.
He was voted chairman of Agudat Harabbanim of Poland, a prelude to Agudat Israel. He enthusiastically encouraged every Rav to join its ranks.
In 5683/1923, the Gerrer Rebbe asked Rav Meir Don to accompany the Chofetz Chaim from Radin to the first Knessiah Gedolah in Vienna. Reb Meir Don readily agreed.
At the Knessiah Gedolah, Rav Meir Don was elected a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah.
Rav Meir Don regarded trials and tribulations as a springboard to reach even loftier heights in avodat Hashem.
Three of his children passed away after they were married, leaving him with the responsibility of raising their orphans. He often arrived at his shiurim with eyes red from weeping. But he accepted all of his suffering with ahavah.
At the age of 60, he left rabbanut to head a large yeshiva in Warsaw, known simply as the Mesivta. He taught Hilchot Kiddush Hashem in the Mesivta for close to six months. But in the winter of 5688 / 1928 he contracted an incurable disease.
Shortly before his petirah, he asked his son to tell him a dvar Torah. Rav Meir Don listened without uttering a word, but a while later he told his son where almost everything he had touched upon was discussed in his sefer, Kli Chemda on Chumash. He also wrote Chemdat Shlomo on Orach Chaim.
HaRav Aharon Roth, zt”l, author of Shomer Emunim (1894- 5707 / 1947). HaRav Aharon was born in Ungvar, Hungary, his father was Harav Shmuel Yaakov Roth, zt”l. His righteous mother was a granddaughter of one of the hidden tzaddikim from the times of the Baal Shem Tov.
At the age of nine he went to learn Torah in Kosson under the tutelage of Harav Yehosef Rottenberg, zt”l, and at 13 he went to the yeshivah in Rodvonka. Eventually he went to the yeshivah of Harav Yeshayah Zilberstein, zt”l, of Weitzen, author of Maasei Lemelech on the Rambam.
He was drawn to Chassidut when he met Harav Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro, zt”l, the Tzvi LaTzaddik of Bluzhov. At the outbreak of WWI, Reb Tzvi Elimelech fled Poland and resided in Pest, Hungary, where Reb Aharon became very close to him. He married in Pest.
The Bluzhover Rebbe conferred semichah upon Reb Aharon.
Following the Rebbe's petira in 5685/1925, the Chassidim wanted to appoint Rav Aharon as Rebbe, but he refused. In 1936, he moved from Satmar to Bergsas, where he founded a yeshiva with students of the highest caliber. It was there that he named his followers "Shomer Emunim."
Reb Aharon resolved to travel to Eretz Yisrael. Upon reaching Yerushalayim he tried to conceal his greatness, but without success. Realizing that he could no longer hide his stature, Reb Aharon decided to teach a following of youngsters.
Eventually he established a beit medrash and named it Ohel Elimelech, after the Bluzhover Rebbe, zt”l. After a number of years he named his group Shomrei Emunim (Keepers of Faith).
He was advised by his doctors to travel abroad for his health. Accompanied by many of his students, he set out for the port in Yaffo. They did not leave him until he boarded the ship.
He arrived in Italy and from there traveled by train to Vienna, where he spent Rosh Hashanah in the beit medrash of Harav Yisrael of Tchortkov, zt”l. After Yom Tov he traveled to Satmar.
At the end of the summer of 5699/1939, his students in Eretz Yisrael managed to procure visas for him and his family to return to Eretz Yisrael. His followers were ecstatic upon his return.
On 5 Nisan, despite his weakness, Reb Aharon led a yahrtzeit seudah for his Rebbe, the Bluzhover rebbe. His last hours were devoted to preparations for baking matzot. He davened Maariv at length and worked late into the night, cleaning the mill in which the flour for the matzot was to be ground.
Toward midnight, on 6 Nisan 5707/1947, he requested something to drink, recited the blessing Shehakol and returned his soul to his Maker in holiness and purity.
Reb Aharon was buried on Har Hazeitim in Yerushalayim.
Some of his published sefarim are Igeret Shomrei Emunim, Shomrei Emunim, Shulchan Hatahor, Taharat Hakodesh and No’am Halevavot.
On Chol Hamoed Sukkot in 1940, he set sail for Eretz Yisrael, where he was niftar six and a half years later.
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7 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Elishama ben Amihud, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Efrayim for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
7 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B.C.E.:
The Jewish nation mourned the passing of Moshe Rabbeinu for thirty days. During this time, Yehoshua / Joshua, the new leader of the Jewish nation, sent scouts to spy on the land of Canaan, see 5 Nisan). On the 7th of Nisan, the first day after the mourning period came to an end, Yehoshua instructed the Jews to stock up on provisions and prepare themselves to cross the Yarden / Jordan river and begin the conquest of the Promised Land. This was the first time Yehoshua addressed the nation, and they unconditionally accepted him as their new leader.
(Yehoshua , Ch. 1),
The actual crossing occurred on the 10th of Nisan.
7 Nisan 3332 - 428 B.C.E.:
Yechezkel received Hashem’s nevuah / prophecy concerning the pending demise of Mitzrayim / Egypt through the conquest by Nevuchadnetzar.
7 Nisan 4950 - March 17, 1190:
150 Jews massacred in York, England, Hy"d. Even though the Jews were under special protection from Richard I, because of their wealth that could help fund the Crusades, the mob attacked 150 Jews hiding in the castle at York (Clifford's Castle). Most committed suicide rather than be murdered, but the rest, believing promises that they would be spared if they came out, left the castle and were promptly massacred when they refused to submit to baptism. HaRav Eliyahu Hakadosh of York, Rabbeinu Yom Tov bar Yitzchak of Jouny and several other English Ba’alei Tosfot were among the martyrs.
This tragedy occurred on a Friday night, hence the “Cherem of York.” Due to this cruel massacre, the Jews accepted upon themselves a cherem never to sleep in the city of York overnight which is still in practice. (The names of these Baalei Tosafot appear in. Zevachim 14 and in
(others 8 Nisan 4906 - 1146)
7 Nisan 5245 - 1485:
Rabbeinu Ovadiah MiBartenura arrived in Eretz Yisrael. His journey took three years.
7 Nisan 5685 - April 1, 1925:
Hebrew University opened in Yerushalayim.
7 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Meir Schiff (1608 - 5404 / 1644), commonly known as the Maharam Schiff. Born in Germany, he was a childhood prodigy who became rabbi of a town at age 17. At age 36 he was appointed to the prestigious position of rabbi of Prague, but he died shortly after arriving in Prague. His genius is preserved in a book of talmudic commentary that is studied widely today. (Others 5393 / 1633). (Others 6 Nisan), According to others, his petirah was on 20 Adar 5401 / 1641.
HaRav Pinchas Zelig, zt”l, Rav of Lask and author of Ateret Paz (5430 / 1670).
HaRav Yitzchak of Drohovitch, zt”l, (5504 / 1744). He was the son of Harav Yosef Sprabidlider. The family were descendants of Harav Yitzchak Chayus, Rav of Prague and mechaber of Apei Ravrevai. He was the father of Rav Yechiel Michel, the Maggid of Zlotschov.
Reb Yitzchak resided in Ostroha, and was in the group of 10 avreichim, known as the foremost lamdanim in the city, who were supported by the naggid Reb Yozpe.
In later years, Rav Yitzchak served as the official maggid or "mochiach" (admonisher) and dayan in the beit din of Brod at the time when Rav Yitzchak of Hamburg was serving as the town's rav.
Rav Yitzchak traveled to the Baal Shem Tov, who attested that Rav Yitzchak was a tzaddik hador, and that the entire world rested on his merit.
Reb Yitzchak was also known for his many mofsim.
Many of Reb Yitzchak’s divrei Torah were later published in Mayim Rabbim, a compilation of the divrei Torah of his son Harav Yechiel Michel, the Maggid of Zlotchov.
Rav Yitzchak was niftar on 7 Nisan 5504/1744. (Others say the date was 5510 / 1750). He was buried in Charkov.
Rav Yitzchak was survived by his son Harav Yechiel Michel, the Zlotchover Maggid.
Rav Yitzchak's name is specifically attached to Drohobitch, a town that lies 40 miles south of Lvov and today is a major petroleum refining center. Like many towns in this region, the town switched nationalities periodically during its history, starting off as a Ukrainian village before becoming part of Galicia. In the 14th century Drohobitch became Polish when King Kazimierz annexed Galicia to Poland. Then Austria seized the town in 1772 during a partition of Poland. Poland grabbed it back for 20 years just before World War II and, today it is once more under Ukrainian control, minus its Jewish population. In 1939 Drohobitch had about 10,000 Poles, 10,000 Ukrainians and 15,000 Jews.
HaRav Aryeh Leib Yelin (ben Shalom Shachna) of Bialystock (1820-5644 / 1884 [or 5646 / 1886]). Born in Yasinovka, He is the author of Yefeh Einayim, which lists sources, parallel passages, and variant readings in midrashim and in the aggadah of the gemara and draws attention to differences between the Bavli and Yerushalmi. He was also the author of Mitzpeh Aryeh, short notes on the Rif, and of Kol Aryeh, further drashot on the Mitzpeh Aryeh. The Pnei Aryeh is a comprehensive commentary on the Yerushalmi.
HaRav Aryeh Yehuda Leib (ben Yechiel Chaim) Epstein (Leibush the 2nd) of Oztrov [Ozhorov], zt”l, (1852-1928), grandson of Rav Aryeh Yehuda Leib HaLevi (Leibush HaGadol), founder of the Oztrov dynasty. In his early teens, he married Rebbetzin Draizel, who herself learned Gemara and personally tested their five sons. Rav Leibush succeeded his father as Rebbe in 1888. His most famous follower was Rav Meir Yechiel HaLevi Halshtok of nearby Ostrovtza. Rav Leibush was succeeded by his oldest son, Rav Avraham Shlomo, whom in turn was followed by his son Rav Moshe Yechiel HaLevi Epstein (the Aish Dat of Oztrov, 1890-1971). Save for its 350-year old cemetery, nothing remains today of the town of Oztrov. [Others say 5674 / 1914]
HaRav Yosef Tzvi Carlebach of Hamburg, Hy”d, (5702/1942).
Rav Yosef Tzvi Carlebach was born in the winter of 5643/1883. His father, Harav Shlomo Carlebach, was Rav of Lubeck; his mother, Esther, was the daughter of Harav Alexander Adler, previously Rav of Lubeck.
As a child he attended public school and was tutored in Torah studies, but his main Torah influence was his father, a prime talmid of Harav Samson Raphael Hirsch and Harav Ezriel Hildesheimer. After his bar mitzvah, Reb Yosef Tzvi organized the Hashkamah society to encourage teenagers to attend shul.
In 5678/1918, Reb Yosef Tzvi married Lotty (Elisheva Chana) Preuss in Berlin. A few months later, his father, Rav Shlomo, passed away and Rav Yosef Tzvi was called to succeed him as Rav of Lubeck. At first he refused, preferring to remain in Lithuania, but when his mother passed away in 1920, he acquiesced. Together with Harav Shmuel Nassan Rabinov and three students of the Slabodka yeshivah, he started a yeshivah in Lubeck.
In 5682/1922, Reb Yosef Tzvi moved to Hamburg to become principal of the community’s Talmud Torah. In 1926 he moved on to Altona to serve as Rav, staying there for ten years.
In 5696/1936, Reb Yosef Tzvi returned to Hamburg, this time to serve as its Rav. Under the shadow of Nazi persecution, he acted tirelessly on behalf of Germany’s Jews. His house was always open to the many refugees of Nazi oppression. When he heard that Nazis were about to burn Hamburg’s main shul on Kristallnacht, he hurried into the street. He begged them to allow him to save the sifrei Torah. He was beaten mercilessly until he managed to flee.
Although he possessed papers allowing him to emigrate to England, Reb Yosef Tzvi refused to flee. His wife escorted a boatload of children to England, including her five oldest, but she then returned to share her husband’s fate. When the Jews were forced to wear yellow patches, he explained to the community that they were being singled out in recognition of their exalted status as the Chosen People.
In December 1941, Hamburg’s Jews were interned in Jungfernhof.
On Shabbat Hagadol, 7 Nisan 5702/1942, a large group of Jews, including Rav Yosef Tzvi, his wife, and four youngest children were shot to death in the Riga forest, Hy”d.
Dr. Moshe Wallach, z”l, founder of Shaarei Tzedek hospital (5717 / 1957).
Dr. Moshe (Morris) Wallach, the son of Joseph and Marianne Wallach, was born in 5626/1866 in Cologne, Germany. He studied there in a Jewish school run by the Orthodox community and earned his doctor of medicine degree in 5649/1889.
The Rabbanim of the Old Yishuv in Yerushalayim wrote to Harav Samson Raphael Hirsch and Harav Ezriel (Azriel) Hildesheimer in Germany, asking them to send medical help. They turned to Dr. Wallach and asked him to travel to Eretz Yisrael. Dr. Wallach left Germany for Yerushalayim in 5652\1892, at the age of 26.
At first Dr. Wallach served as a doctor in the Bikur Cholim Hospital in the Old City. However, the Rabbanim saw a great need for a large hospital and turned to the charity Kollel Poland/Deutchland (K.P.D.), whose members responded generously to Yerushalayim’s appeal for help.
They decided to build a hospital near Shaar Shechem, but the Arabs and the Turks would not hear of it. So Dr. Wallach went back to Germany to collect funds for the new hospital and bought land on Jaffa Road, two miles outside the Old City; the old Shaare Zedek Hospital building stands there to this day.
Dr. Wallach was scrupulous in his mitzvah observance. He also engaged a teacher to study with him and spent much time learning with Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, leader of the Old Yishuv. Whenever he traveled to make a house call, he took along a sefer Tehillim. Having never married, Dr. Wallach resided in rooms in the hospital until his final day.
Dr. Wallach was niftar in Yerushalayim on 7 Nisan 5717 / 1957 and is buried in the cemetery adjacent to the hospital.
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8 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Gamliel ben Pedahtzur, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Menashe for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
It is recorded in Megillat Taanit: “From the eighth day of the month until the end of the festival (Pesach), a Yom Tov was declared; fasting and lamenting is forbidden.”
The reason for this is because on this day the Chachamim won the battle with the Tzedokim to declare the Yom Tov of Shavuot 50 days from Pesach, not from Shabbat, as they wanted.
8 Nisan 3404 - 356 B.C.E.:
The grand feast hosted by King Achashveirosh in Shushan came to an end after 180 days. Achashveirosh miscalculated the start date of Yirmiyahu's prophecy which promised the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash after 70 years of Babylonian exile. When, according to his calculations, the seventy years had passed and the Jews were not redeemed, he orchestrated this grand party to celebrate the "demise" of the Chosen Nation. During the course of the party he brazenly displayed many of the vessels looted from the Beit HaMikdash by the Babylonian armies.
8 Nisan 5532 - April 11, 1772:
First rabbinic opposition to Chasidism was announced in Vilna..
A cheirem, endorsed by the Vilna Gaon, was published in 1777 and again in 1781.
8 Nisan 5574 - March 29, 1814:
Denmark grants citizenship to Jews.
8 Nisan 5675 - March 23, 1915:
The Zion Mule Corps, a Jewish militia, was formed. Zev Jabotinsky had proposed that Jewish volunteers fight to liberate Palestine from the Turks, but the British resisted the idea of Jewish soldiers on the Palestinian front. So instead Jabotinsky established the Zion Mule Corps, whose 650 Jewish volunteer members were commanded by the famed one-armed fighter, Joseph Trumpeldor.
It was the forerunner of the Jewish Legion, which was formed in 1918 and essentially the first organized Jewish fighting force since Roman times, and a precursor to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
8 Nisan 5704 - April 1, 1944:
Hungarian Jews were forced to begin wearing the infamous yellow Star of David under Nazi occupation. (Others 10 Nisan 5703 / 1943)
.8 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Eliyahu Hakadosh of York, Rabbeinu Yom Tov (ben Yitzchak), and several other English Tosafists, who perished at Clifford's Tower, during the Crusades, 1146 [or 4950 / 1190], Hy”d. (The names of these Baalei Tosafot appear in Zevachim 14 and in Yoma 48.) See 7 Nisan,
HaRav Eliyahu (ben Binyamin Wolf) Shapiro of Prague, zt”l, the Eliyahu Rabba on Shulchan Aruch, and Eliyahu Zuta on the Levushim. He was a student of the Magen Avraham in his youth (1660 - 5482 / 1712).
HaRav Mordechai of Neshchiz, zt”l, (5508 / 1748 – 5560 / 1800).
Harav Mordechai was born in 5508 / 1748. He descended from the Maharal of Prague and Don Yitzchak Abarbanel. His father, Harav Dov Ber, was a grandson of Harav Nosson Nota Shapira, the Megaleh Amukot, and the Rebbe Reb Heschel of Cracow.
Reb Mordechai was taken as a chassan by Harav Yosef of Leshnov. Initially, Reb Mordechai served as Rav in Leshnov. When the Rav of the city of Neshchiz was niftar, the community leaders approached Reb Mordechai and offered him the position; his ancestors had also held the position of Rav in Neshchiz.
Reb Mordechai was a close talmid of Harav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, zy”a. It was only after the latter’s petirah that Reb Mordechai was willing to assume leadership and become Rebbe in Neshchiz, a position he held for 11 years.
Reb Mordechai’s court attracted thousands of talmidim and Chassidim, most notable among them Reb Naftali of Ropshitz.
Reb Mordechai of Neshchiz was renowned for his love and mesirut nefesh for mitzvot. Although he was extremely poor, he would put aside a little money each week to be able to buy a beautiful esrog for Sukkot.
Once, on the way to make his purchase, he met a Yid crying bitterly. The man explained that he was a driver and his horse had died. He couldn’t afford to buy a horse and he didn’t know how he would support his family.
Reb Mordechai immediately gave the man all the money he had saved for his esrog. Then he turned to the heavens and said, “There are different ways of beautifying a mitzvah. Whereas other people will recite a brachah on a beautiful esrog, my mitzvah will be beautified by a horse!”
In another sign of his rarefied middot and respect for every Yid, it has been recorded that Reb Mordechai never uttered a negative word about another Yid.
Rav Mordechai was niftar on 8 Nisan and buried in Neshchiz. His divrei Torah were collected in the sefer Rishpei Eish.
He was succeeded by his son, Rav Yitzchak of Neshchiz.
HaRav Yaakov Tzvi Yales of Premezyl, zt”l, author of Melo Haroim and Kehillat Yaakov (1825)
Harav Yaakov Shimshon (Shimon?) Shapiro of Zaslav, zt"l, (5532 / 1772. - 5591 / 1831).
Harav Yaakov Shimon was born in the year 5532/1772. His father, Harav Pinchas Shapiro of Koritz, was one of the first Rebbes and a very close disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. On his way to Eretz Yisrael he was niftar in Shpitkov, Ukraine, and buried there.
Reb Yaakov Shimon married the daughter of Harav Yissachar Dov Ber of Zaslov, a talmid of the Baal Shem Tov. After his marriage he moved to Zaslov where his in-laws resided.
He was appointed Rav of the town, most of whose residents had joined the ranks of the newly-founded movement of Chassidut.
His divrei Torah are quoted in sefarim of that time, such as Shem Aryeh, who cites many praises of his tzidkut. His holy words are also mentioned in Pri Deah, Midrash Pinchas, Mekor Chaim and more.
His son, Reb Pinchas of Zaslov, succeeded him as Rav of Zaslov. He also had another son, Reb Dov.
Harav Tzvi Hersh Orenstein of Lvov, zt"l, (5648 / 1888).
HaRav Yechiel Michel (ben Aharon) Tikochinsky, zt”l, (5634 / 1874 - 5715 / 1955),
Harav Yechiel Michel was born on 15 Tevet 5634/1874 in Lechovitz, Lithuania. His father, Rav Aharon, was niftar when he was a young boy, and he was brought up by his mother.
In 5642/1882, at the age of eight, he moved to Eretz Yisrael. He settled in Yerushalayim, moving in with his grandfather Rav Moshe Pizitzer. He learned in the famous Yeshivat Eitz Chaim.
In 5657/1897, Reb Yechiel Michel was given semichah by the Rav of Yerushalayim, Harav Shmuel Salant, who was the grandfather of his wife.
Besides authoring many sefarim, Reb Yechiel Michel was active in Yeshivat Eitz Chaim. The yeshivah, founded in 5601/1841 by Harav Shmuel Salant in the Old City of Yerushalayim, moved to Rechov Yaffo in 5668/1908. At that stage, a kollel was also founded alongside the yeshivah. Reb Yechiel Michel, being married to a granddaughter of Harav Salant, was appointed Rosh Yeshivah.
Reb Yechiel Michel was the pioneer and first to publish a calendar that itemizes and specifies the daily zmanim and halachot relevant to each day. It was first published in 5665/1905 and was a compilation of the halachot and minhagim, accustomed by the Prushim, the talmidim of the Vilna Gaon who had settled in Eretz Yisrael.
The zmanim in the calendar were figured out by Reb Yechiel Michel, based on his calculations. This calendar is known as Luach Eretz Yisrael and is still published annually.
Reb Yechiel Michel also wrote other famous sefarim: Gesher Hachaim, on the halachot relevant to aveilim and to the mourning period; Tekufat Hachamah U’birchasah, on the halachot relating to birkat hachamah; Hashemittah, on the halachot of Shemittah; and Sefer Eretz Yisrael, on the mitzvot relevant to Eretz Yisrael.
Reb Yechiel Michel was niftar on 8 Nisan 5715/1955 at the age of 81. He was buried in the cemetery in Sanhedria.
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9 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Avidon ben Gidoni, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Binyamin for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
9 Nisan 3404 - 356 B.C.E.:
Following his 180 day feast for all his international subjects, which ended a day earlier, King Achashveirosh began a seven-day feast for his subjects living in Shushan, his capital. This feast ended with the death of his queen, Vashti.
9 Nisan 4950 - March 18, 1190:
The crusaders murdered 57 Jews in Bury St. Edmund. England, Hy"d.
A day or two earlier these same
crusaders massacred more than 500 Jews in York Hy"d.
A tremendous amount of money
was plundered by the murderers. which helped to finance their trip to the "holy
9 Nisan 5151 - 1391:
Anti-Jewish riots broke out in Seville, Spain. (The riots took place on Ash Wednesday and initiated a wave of violence which spread rapidly over the Iberian Peninsula, claiming 50,000 Jewish victims before the year was up, Hy"d. A substantial number of Jews escaped with their lives only because they converted. This marked the emergence of Marranos, said to number 200,000, in the kingdoms of Aragon and Castille. They were to provide tens of thousands of martyrs in the Old, and New Worlds for centuries to come. Others have the date as 5251 / 1491.
9 Nisan 5181 - March 12, 1421:
The Vienna Persecutions began under the reign of Albert V, Archduke of Austria,
Emperor of Germany and King of Bohemia.
The Jews were falsely accused of "desecrating
120 men and 92 Jewish women were burned at the stake in Vienna.
The Jewish community of 1,400 hundred was erased, Hy"d.
9 Nisan 5701 - April 6, 1941:
Germany invaded Yugoslavia and Greece. Yugoslavia and Greece were partitioned among the Axis allies. Germany annexed most of Slovenia, and occupied northwestern Yugoslavia, Serbia, and the region around Salonika in northern Greece (home of most Greek Jews at the time). Germany also established the pro-German, fascist state of Croatia in northern Yugoslavia. Germany and Italy jointly occupied Athens, the Greek capital. The Prime Minister of Greece, General Ioannis Metaxas, attempted to maintain neutrality until the war began. On October 28, 1940, however, the Italians invaded his country. Metaxas died in January 1941
9 Nisan 5701 - April 6, 1941:
The Nazis established two ghettos in Radom, Poland.
9 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Yozfe Norlingen, zt"l, author of
Yosef Ometz, (5397 / 1637).
HaRav Yaakov Tzvi Yalish of Premezyl, zt:l, (1778 - 5585 / 1825), the Melo Haro’im. He was born in Premezyl, but moved in with his grandfather, the Rav of Mezhibuzh, after his mother passed away at an early age. He was a chassid of the Chozeh of Lublin. Rav Yaakov Tzvi served as Rav in Dinov, and later of two other cities, but decided to devote himself to full-time learning and left Rabbanut. He also authored Beit Vaad Lechachamim on the history of the Tana’im and Amora’im, Emet Le’Yaakov on Torah, Chinuch Beit Yehudah (named for his grandfather) on Chanukah, Parashat Derachim Zuta, Kol Yaakov (on Torah and Nach), and his most famous sefer Melo Haro’im.
HaRav Binyamin Zev Rappaport, zt"L, (5514 / 1754 - 5597 / 1837).
Harav Binyamin Zev Hakohen Rappaport was born in 5514/1754. His father was Harav Yitzchak, the Rav of Leipnik. Reb Yitzchak was descended on his mother’s side from the Rebbe Reb Heshel of Cracow. The mother of Reb Binyamin Zev was the daughter of Harav Gershon Pulitz, who served as Rav in Nikolsburg.
In his youth, Reb Binyamin Zev learned under the tutelage of his father and grandfather.
At the age of 27 he was appointed Rav in Pupa, Hungary, where he served for the next 56 years, until his petirah.
When Reb Binyamin Zev was 34 years old he published his first sefer, Simlat Binyamin U’bigdei Kehunah, on the halachot of nedarim and shevuot.
Twelve years later, Reb Binyamin Zev published the second part of his sefer, under the name Simlah Shniyah, covering many sugyot in Shas.
On 9 Nisan 5597/1837, Reb Binyamin Zev was niftar, at the age of 83.
He was survived by his son Harav Menachem, who was known as a talmid chacham of stature.
HaRav Tzvi Hirsch Orenstein, zt"l, Rav of Lvov, (5648 / 1888). Beginning in 1861 (or 1865), he served as Rav in Brest Litovsk, Rzeszow, and - after the death of Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson - Lvov. He published teshuvot in Birchat Retseh and drashot in Ohr HaTzvi. He also authored Brachot Tzvi Hirsch.
HaRav Aryeh (ben Binyamin Beinish) Levine, zt"l, (5545 / 1885 ‑ 5729 / 1969); affectionately known as the Tzaddik of Yerushalayim. Born on 6 Nisan 5545/1885 in the town of Urla, near Bialystok in northern Lithuania, to Harav Binyamin Beinish and Ethel Levin. From his father, Aryeh acquired a love of Torah learning.
Reb Aryeh studied under the local melamdim until the age of 12, and then he left home to learn in the yeshivas of Slonim and Slutsk, where he was considered an iluy.
Initially he wasn’t accepted to the Volozhiner yeshivah because he was too young, but after learning in Slonim and Slutsk he was accepted. Reb Aryeh was a close talmid of Harav Chaim Berlin, the Rosh Yeshivah.
Rav Aryeh emigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 5665 / 1905, where he continued his learning at Yeshivat Torat Chaim.
He received semichah from Harav Chaim Berlin; Harav Shmuel Salant, Rav of Yerushalayim; and Harav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. In Yerushalayim,
Reb Aryeh married the daughter of Harav Dovid Shapira, also the father-in-law of Harav Tzvi Pesach Frank, zt”l.
He became Mashgiach at Yeshiva Eitz Chaim. He was renowned for his exalted middot chessed.
After the establishment of the State of Israel, Rav Aryeh founded Yeshivat Beit Aryeh, appointing his son-in-law, Rav Eliezer Platzinsky, as Rosh Yeshiva.
Rav Levine exemplified the ideal of identifying with another person's pain. Once, when his wife's foot became infected, Rabbi Levine explained to the doctor: "Our foot is hurting us."
During the pre-state era, Rabbi Levine served as volunteer chaplain for Jewish prisoners imprisoned by the British authorities. He brought them food, clothes and love -- walking to see them through blinding rain and searing heat. In 5691/1931, at the request of the British Mandatory government, Harav Kook appointed Reb Aryeh the official Jewish Prison Chaplain, the position he filled informally for some time already.He accepted on the condition that he receive no pay.
He would walk from his home in Nachlaot to visit the Jewish prisoners held in the Russian Compound on charges of arms possession or smuggling.
The inmates were overwhelmed by Reb Aryeh’s warmth and sincerity, and the respect with which he treated them.
His selfless devotion made a great impression on the prisoners: Once when Rav Levine's daughter became dangerously ill, the prisoners made a deal with G-d -- donating a portion of their own lifespan so that Rabbi Levine's daughter should live.
Reb Aryeh was also known for his visits to the sick, especially patients who had no family of their own. He would sit for hours near the beds of the sick at Bikur Cholim Hospital.
Rav Aryeh was niftar on 9 Nisan 5729 / 1969. It was Erev Shabbat Hagadol, and Reb Aryeh was buried in the Sanhedriah cemetery after chatzot. His explicit request not to have any hespeidim said about him was fulfilled, since it was both the month of Nisan and Erev Shabbat.
His sons were Harav Chaim Yaakov Levin, who served as Rav in Pardes Chanah; Harav Refael Levin, renowned for his acts of chessed; and, ybl”c, Harav Simchah Shlomo, a Rosh Kollel in Yerushalayim.
His sons-in-law were Harav Shmuel Aharon Yudelevitz, author of Me’il Shmuel; Hagaon Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv; Harav Aharon Yakobovitz; and Harav Eliezer Platzinsky.
HaRav Chaim Meir (ben Yisrael) Hager, zt"l, the Imrei Chaim, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, (5648/1888 - 5732 / 1972).
Harav Chaim Meir was born on 15 Kislev 5648/1888. His father was Harav Yisrael, the Ahavat Yisrael of Vizhnitz, and his mother was the daughter of Harav Meir, the Imrei Noam of Dzikov.
He was named Chaim after his great-grandfather the Torat Chaim of Kossov, and Meir after his grandfather the Imrei Noam.
From his youth, he was an intense masmid. He was very close to his father, who once called him a “Baal Shem Yid.” He went on to receive semichah from the Geonim Harav Shmuel Engel of Radomishla, Harav Meir Arik, and Harav Shalom Mordechai Hakohen Schwadron, zichron tzaddikim livrachah. The Imrei Chaim married Margulia, the daughter of Reb Zev Wolf Twersky of Rachmastrivka.
In 5670/1910, the Imrei Chaim became Rav in Vilchovitz, Romania. In 5696/1936, his father was niftar and the Imrei Chaim succeeded him as Rebbe, along with his other four brothers. He held court in Grosswardein, where he also established a yeshivah. His older brother, Harav Menachem Mendel, became Rebbe in Vishiva; Harav Eliezer became Rebbe in Vizhnitz; and Harav Baruch in Seret.
In 5704/1944, when the ghettos were established in Hungary, he procured a permit to work in the forests on behalf of the army, and from there he miraculously escaped to Romania and settled in Bucharest.
After the war, the Imrei Chaim returned to Grosswardein to aid the survivors, supporting them financially, emotionally and spiritually. Before the communist takeover of Romania, he left and settled in Antwerp, Belgium.
At the end of Elul 5707/1947, he moved to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Tel Aviv, adjacent to the yeshivah that had been established by his brother, the Damesek Eliezer, who was niftar in 5706/1946. The Imrei Chaim assumed the leadership of Vizhnitzer Chassidut.
He worked fervently to rebuild Vizhnitz and its institutions, and to establish Kiryat Vizhnitz in Bnei Brak.where he rebuilt Chassidut Vizhnitz as Rebbe for 35 years.
Reb Chaim Meir was known for his kind heart and passionate ahavat Yisrael; he was always ready to listen to every brokenhearted Yid and eager to help anyone in need.
He was known for his heartfelt and fiery tefillot. People from far and wide would come to be inspired by the Imrei Chaim’s davening all year, and especially on the Yamim Nora’im.
The Imrei Chaim was niftar on 9 Nisan 5732/1972. He was buried in the Vizhnitz ohel in the Zichron Meir cemetery in Bnei Brak, near his father and brothers. His published work is Imrei Chaim on Chumash and mo’adim.
10 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
On the Shabbat before Yetziat Mitzrayim (the Exodus) - 10 Nisan on that year - the first-born of Egypt, who occupied the senior positions in the priesthood and government, fought a bloody battle with Pharaoh's troops, in an effort to secure the release of the Israelites and prevent the Plague of the Firstborn.
The Jews in Egypt took the Egyptian gods--their sheep - away and bound them to the bed to check for Mumin (blemishes), before Shechita four days later for the Korban Pesach. This was an act of tremendous faith by Bnei Yisroel, not only in taking them for slaughter, but also in holding them this way for four days.
Miraculously, the Egyptians ended up being powerless to stop Bnei Yisroel or harm them. This "great miracle" is commemorated each year on the Shabbat before Pesach / Passover, which is therefore called Shabbat HaGadol, "The Great Shabbat," since on that particular year the tenth of Nisan was on Shabbat. (This is one of the rare instances in which a commemorative date in the Jewish calendar is set by the day of the week rather than the day of the month. See the commentaries of Shulchan Aruch, Hilchot Pesach, as to why the miracle is commemorated on Shabbat and not on the date it occurred.)
10 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Achiezer ben Amishadai, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Dan for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
10 Nisan 2487 - 1273 B.C.E.:
Miriam, the sister of Aharon and Moshe passed away at the age of 126, 39 years after yetziat Mitzrayim (the Exodus) and exactly one year before the Children of Israel entered the Holy Land.
Miriam means "bitter sea," because she was born at a time when the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Jews. Despite the hardships, Miriam remained strong, and it was she who convinced her parents to remarry and have more children, in the face of Pharaoh's decrees. The result was the baby Moshe. It was Miriam who watched over Moshe as he was set afloat in the Nile River. Miriam is also noted in the Torah for leading a victory song after Pharaoh's army was drowned in the Red Sea.
The be'er shel Miriam (Miriam’s well) which miraculously accompanied the Jews during the 40 years of wandering in the desert, dried up when Miriam died.
It was later restored in the zechut (merit) of Moshe and Aharon. This well is located today in the Kineret (Masechet Shabbat 35). In Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 580:2 it states that today is a Taanit Tzaddikim in commemoration of her yahrtzeit.
It is in deference to her passing that the "Great Shabbat" is commemorated on the Shabbat before Pesach rather than the calendar date of the miracle's occurrence, 10 Nisan.
10 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B.C.E.:
Three days after the two spies dispatched by Yehoshua scouted the city of Yericho / Jericho (see entry for "Nisan 7" above), the Bnei Yisrael were ready to enter the land promised by Hashem to their ancestors as their eternal heritage.As they approached the river with the Aron Hakodesh carried by the Kohanim, the river split for them.Yehoshua led the Bnei Yisrael across the Yarden (Jordan River) and erected 12 monuments
at Gilgal. As they approached the Jordan with the Aron HaKodesh / Holy Ark carried by the Kohanim(priests) in their lead, the river parted for them, as the waters of the
Red Sea had split when their fathers and mothers marched out of Egypt
40 years earlier.
(Yehoshua / Joshua ch. 4)
Tradition also has Yehoshua's composing the second paragraph
of Birchat haMazon.
10 Nisan 5702 - March 28, 1942::
1,500 Jews were deported from Drohobycz, Poland to the Belzec murder camp,
where they were killed, Hy"d.
10 Nisan - April 29, 1948:
The Hagana liberated Tiberias (Teverye).
10 Nisan - 1984:
Hizbullah operatives bombed a restaurant near the U.S. Air Force base in Torrejon, Spain, killing 18 American servicemen.
10 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Miriam HaNavia (1395-1272 or 1270 BCE) See above.
HaRav Shmuel Shmelke, zt"l, Rav of Ostra'ah, (5440 / 1680)..
HaRav Betzalel Hacohen, zt”l, (5638 / 1878), Rav of Vilna, author of Mareh Kohen and Shu"T Reishit Bikkurim.
Harav Betzalel Hakohen was born on 27 Tevet 5580 / 1820 in Vilna. His father, Harav Yisrael Moshe, taught him Chumash and Rashi, and later Gemara. By age 11, he was fluent in two sedarim of Shas. This earned him the title iluy, genius.
Due to his fame, he was taken as a chassan by Harav Aharon Rosenthal from Vilna, for his daughter Batyah Hadassah. He put down a huge dowry for a chassan of such stature. The wedding was held shortly after Rav Betzalel became bar mitzvah, and on the same day, he made a siyum on the entire Shas, giving the Hadran at the seudah, in front of all of Vilna’s Gedolim.
At 18, Rav Betzalel was fluent in Shas Bavli, Rif, Rambam,Shulchan Aruch and Poskim. That year, Harav Yaakov of Karlin honored him with a copy of his Mishkenot Yaakov. Harav Wolf Halevi of Zittel asked Rav Betzalel to review his Emek Halachah before it went to print.
When Rav Betzalel was 20, he delivered a drashah in the main beit medrash on the first day of Shavuot, which gained him much acclaim.
That same year, his wife passed away, leaving no children. His zivug sheini was Rachel, the daughter of Harav Yitzchak Zverintzer.
In 5690/1830, Rav Betzalel was appointed Rav in Vilna. From then on, every Rav and Gadol who traveled through Vilna stopped at his home to discuss Torah and halachah with him.
In 5612/1852, he suffered the petirah of his second wife, who left him with one son. He then married the daughter of Reb Tzvi Hirsh Bairain.
He immersed himself in writing his chiddushim and answering halachic she’eilot.
Rav Betzalel wrote Reishit Bikurim, a collection of his she’eilot t’teshuvot. He is probably most famous for his Mareh Kohen,chiddushim on the Shas, which were printed in the back of every standard edition of Shas.
On Shabbos Hagadol 10 Nisan 5638/1878, Rav Betzalel was niftar. He was buried the next day in Vilna.
HaRav Shalom Mashash, zt”l, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim (1909 - 5763 / 2003). Born the Moroccan city of Meknes, a city of Torah known as the Yerushalayim of Morocco. His father, Hagaon Harav Maimon, zt”l, came from a long line of Rabbanim and Dayanim.
Even as a child, his talents and abilities stood out and the Moroccan Rabbanim called him “Holy from the Cradle.” Rav Shalom learned under Rav Meir Toledano until the age of 14. His father, then sent him to learn at the Keter Torah Yeshiva headed by his rebbi, Hagaon Harav Yitzhak Sabag (or Tzaban), zt”l. He was an outstanding student, known for his dedicated learning, his outstanding grasp of Torah and his unusual talents. He advanced in the yeshiva until he was appointed Rosh Yeshiva. In this position, which he held for many years, he developed many outstanding students, some of whom currently serve as Rabbanim and dayanim in Sephardic communities. As a Rav in Morocco and Yerushalayim, he ordained many young rabbis.
Writing in his sefer, Tevuot Hashemesh, Rav Shalom declares, "The fact that I was able to grow in Torah may be credited to my father, who did not yield to the pressures and offers that I pursue lucrative positions in banks....Thus, all the credit for my Torah learning is his, too." His other main mentor was his relative from both his paternal and maternal sides, Rav Yehoshua Birdugo, the raavad of Meknes.
In 1960 with the petirah of the chief rav and dayan of Casablanca, Rav Dovid Ibn Sussan, Rav Shalom became its raavad and chief rav, serving there for thirty (35?) years. All the halachic queries from throughout Morocco were brought to him. Loved by both Jews and gentiles, he was also close to Morocco’s King Hassan.
When a search was launched in 5738/1978 for a Sephardic Rav for Yerushalayim to serve with Rabbi Bezalel Zolti, the city’s Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, local leaders decided to ask Harav Mashash to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael to be both the Sephardic Chief Rabbi and head of the beit din. He agreed, and in 1978, he moved to Yerushalayim, where he lived until his petirah.
Questions in halachah from all over the world reached him in Yerushalayim, many of them dealing with difficult issues regarding agunot. He had frequent exchanges with the leading poskim of the generation, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, and was also in close contact with
his fellow Rabbanim of Yerushalayim: Harav Zolty, and later Harav Yitzchak Kolitz.
HaRav Mashash published
many sefarim including She'eilot U'teshuot Shemesh U'magen, Mimizrach Shemesh, and Tevuot Hashemesh. He was a quick and erudite author whose wrltlngs deal with all facets of theTorah.
Despite his mastery, he was never quick to give out a psak but would spend days and nights reviewing relevant halachic rulings.
His davening was awe-inspiring. Those standing nearby saw him pronounce each word as if he were counting his money. Once, when he was asked about those who davened quickly, he said in amazement, “How can anyone daven Minchah without proper kavanah? It is something I’ve never done.”
His community work was accomplished with graciousness and kindness. He was steadfast in maintaining the holiness of Yerushalayim, and would not allow anything to undermine the observance of Shabbat in the city. He was a leader of the battle against Reformists, standing firm against giving them even the slightest foothold in religious institutions.
Harav Mashash distanced himself from discord and politics, and made every effort to work well with Yerushalayim’s various communities.
In addition to serving as the Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, he was considered the leader of the Moroccan Jewish community and frequently appeared at gatherings of Moroccan Jews both in Israel and abroad, especially in France.
His Torah activities continued until his petirah. In fact, it was in the last week of his life that he completed writing V’cham Hashemesh. He was niftar at age 95, after serving more than 50 years as Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim..
HaRav Alter Chanoch Henoch Leibowitz, zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva in New York (1918 - 5768 / 2008). Born in the town of Selechnik, on the border between Poland and Lithuania.
Rav Henoch came to America in 5686/1926 when his father, Rav Dovid, was hired by Mesivta Torah Vodaath as a teacher.
The yeshiva was started by Rav Leibowitz's father, HaRav Chaim Dovid Hakohen Leibowitz, in 5693/1933, and was named after the latter's great uncle, the Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, who was niftar that year. Still in his twenties, Rav Hencoh Leibowitz became rosh yeshiva after Rav Dovid’s petirah in 5681/1941.
The Rosh Yeshiva's methodology closely followed that of the Alter of Slabodka, his father’s Rebbi, placing an emphasis on the rebbi-student relationship and inculcating in students the importance of mussar. He also encouraged capable alumni to start yeshivot in communities with little or no formal yeshiva instruction in place. There are some two dozen affiliate yeshivas in the United States, Canada and Israel. There are also three affiliate girls' schools.
Rav Henoch's first wife, Rebbetzin Pesha Leibowitz, passed away in 5762/2002. He had no children, and was survived by his second wife Rebbetzin Danielle Leibowitz, and all his talmidim who considered him like their father.
11 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Pagiel ben Achran, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Asher for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
11 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B.C.E.:
Following Bnei Yisroel's crossing of the Yarden / Jordan river into the land of Canaan (see 10 Nisan), and in preparation for the bringing of the Pesach / Passover Offering, all the men were circumcised under the guidance of Yehoshua (Yehoshua,
Due to the weather conditions in the desert which were not conducive for the healing of wounds, throughout the forty year desert sojourn only the Tribe of Levi circumcised their sons.
11 Nisan - 1279::
London Jews were martyred following ritual charges, Hy"d.
11 Nisan 5405 - April 7, 1645::
The Dutch West India Company allowed a Jewish lawyer named Michael Cardozo to practice law in Brazil, a privilege no other Jew enjoyed at that time anywhere else. (12 Nisan?)
11 Nisan 5424 - April 6, 1664:
A massive gathering of the Va'ad Arba Aratzot was held in Lublin. Rabbanim of the four major countries in Eastern Europe convened to strengthen vital Yiddishkeit issues.
11 Nisan 5510 - April 17, 1750:
The Prussian ruler Frederick the Great imposed oppressive restrictions upon Jews. His anti-Jewish policies were proof that anti-Semitism would survive in the age of “Enlightenment”.
11 Nisan 5693 - April 7, 1933:
The first two Nazi anti-Jewish decrees, barring Jews from public service and law, went into effect.
11 Nisan 5701 - April 8, 1941:
The Nazis establish the Kielce ghetto.
11 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe ben Nachman Girondi, zt"l, (4954 / 1194 - 5030 / 1270), known as Nachmanides, and by the acronym of his name, Ramban, (Rav Moshe ben Nachman). - Torah scholar, Kabbalist, philosopher, physician and Jewish leader.
Born in Gerona, Spain, he remained there most of his life.
He was the grandson of Rabbeinu Yitzchak ben Reuven of Barcelona.
He was a student of the Ramah (Rabbeinu Meir ha’Levi Abulefia). His rebbi muvhak was Rabbeinu Yehudah ben Yakkar. He also learned under many of the Gedolim of his generation, including Rabbeinu Nassan ben Meir and Rabbeinu Yeshayah HaBavli.
He was a physician by trade, but was best-known for authoring brilliant commentaries on the Chumash, Talmud, and philosophy.
He began to write his sefarim at the age of 16.
Many talmidim flocked to learn under the Ramban, including Rabbeinu Shlomo ben Aderet, the Rashba; Rabbeinu Yonah; Rabbeinu Nissim, the Ran; Rabbeinu Aharon Halevi, the Ra’ah; and many others.
His commentary on Chumash is multi-dimensional including all methods of interpretation from simple pshat to esoteric Kabbala.
He authored the Milchamot Hashem on t he Rif Alfasi against the critique of the Baal HaMaor, Rabbeinu Zerachiah Halevi, and Sefer Hazechut, in defense of the Rif against the criticism of the Raavad.
He also wrote a work defending the Bahag against the Rambam’s criticisms of his classification of mitzvot.
In 1263, King James of Spain authorized a disputation (religious debate) between Nachmanides and a meshumad (Jewish convert to Christianity), Pablo Christiani, in an attempt to make the Jews abandon their religion and convert. Nachmanides reluctantly agreed to take part, only after being assured by the king that he would have full freedom of expression. For four days he debated with Pablo Christiani in the presence of the king, the court and many churchmen.
Nachmanides won the debate, which earned the king's respect and a prize of 300 gold coins.(He later wrote an account of his public disputation). But his victory incensed the Church: Nachmanides was charged with blasphemy and he was forced to flee Spain. So at age 72, Nachmanides left Aragon and sojourned for close to three years somewhere in Castile or southern France.
In 5027/1267, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael, to Yerushalayim. He was struck by the desolation in the Holy City -- there were so few Jews that he could not even find a minyan to pray. Nachmanides immediately set about rebuilding the Jewish community. The Ramban Synagogue stands today in Yerushalayim's Old City, a living testimony to his efforts. At that time, two brothers were the only Jewish inhabitants of the city. But by Rosh Hashanah, just three weeks later, they davened in Yerushalayim with a minyan and read from the sefer Torah he had brought with him.
His halachic works include Mishpetei Hacherem, the laws concerning excommunication; Hilchot Bedikah, on the examination of the lungs of slaughtered animals; Torat Ha’adam, on the halachot of aveilut, in 30 chapters, including Shaar Hagemul.
He also wrote Iggeret Hamussar, an ethical letter addressed to his son; and Iggeret Hachemdah, a letter addressed to the French Rabbanim in defense of the Rambam.
The Ramban held that the mitzva of Yishuv (settling) Eretz Yisrael applies even today.
The Ramban was niftar on 11 Nisan, 5030/1270.
He was buried in Haifa.
HaRav Yeshayah Halevi Horowitz, zt"l, (5320 / 1560 - 5390 / 1630), noted kabbalist known as the "Shelah Hakodosh" (the saintly Shelah) the acronym of his magnum opus, Shnei Luchot Habrit.
The Shelah Hakadosh was born in Prague c. 5320 / 1560. His father, Harav Avraham Halevi, was a Dayan in Prague, Cracow and Lemberg. The illustrious Horowitz dynasty, known for its exceptional yichus, could be traced back to Shmuel Hanavi.
The Shelah Hakadosh married Rebbetzin Chaya, daughter of Rabbi Avraham Moyal, one of the prominent members of the Vienna kehillah.
Over the years, the Shelah was Rav in various communities. In 5366 / 1606 he took over the rabbanut of Frankfurt, leading this prestigious kehillah and establishing a thriving yeshivah until the Jews were expelled from the city on 27 Elul 5374 / 1614. While in Frankfurt he served as a pillar of the Vaad Arba Aratzot and a member of its governing board. When the Shelah was exiled from Frankfurt together with his flock, he returned to Prague, where he was appointed Dayan in 5375 / 1615.
His Rebbetzin passed away on 4 Adar 5380 / 1620. At that time the Shelah Hakadosh decided to realize his dream of living in Eretz Yisrael. He settled in Yerushalayim and was appointed Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael.
Appalled by the poverty of the settlers in the Holy Land, the Shelah sent messengers throughout the golah, particularly to the communities where he had served as Rav, initiating a tzedakah campaign that he called “Yachatz” — a Hebrew acronym for
Yerushalayim, Chevron and Tzfat. Later, he himself traveled back to Europe to collect money for the destitute Jews of Eretz Yisrael, and spent a Pesach in Constantinople.
The Shelah Hakadosh was niftar in Tverye / Tiberia, on 11 Nisan 5390 / 1630 and is buried in the old cemetery in Teveria, close to the kever of Rabi Yochanan ben Zakkai. In his will he wrote explicitly that no hespeidim should be said over him.
His holy sefarim, which he completed in Eretz Yisrael, were accepted and beloved by Jews the world over, as is evident by the number of times his great sefer, Shnei Luchot Habrit, had to be reprinted. His famous siddur, Shaar Hashamayim, is also world renowned.
In his haskamah, the Bach wrote, “I guarantee that whoever davens from this siddur will have his tefillah accepted.” In addition, the Shelah Hakadosh authored Sheimot Hagittin, Mitzvat Tefillin and Bigdei Yesha.
The Shelah is one of three tzaddikim — the others are the Alshich and the Ohr Hachaim — who are known by the title “Hakadosh.”
HaRav Shlomo Zalman Lipshitz, zt"l, the Chemdat Shlomo, (5599 / 1839).
HaRav Betzalel Hakohen of Vilna, zt"l, author of Reishit Bikkurim, Tosefet Bikkurim and Mareh Kohen and more, (5580 / 1820 - 5638 / 1878).
Harav Betzalel Hakohen was born on 27 Tevet 5580 / 1820. His father was Harav Yisrael Moshe. The family was descended from Harav Moshe Hakohen of Kammai, a kohen meyuchas.
As a young boy, Reb Betzalel was known for his phenomenal memory; at 11, he already knew the Sedarim of Moed and Nashim by heart. On the day he turned bar mitzvah, he made a siyum on the entire Shas, and concluded with a lengthy pilpul as his bar mitzvah drashah.
At 18, he was known as a budding talmid chacham, fluent in all facets of the Torah. A drashah that he delivered at this time was later published in Reishit Bikkurim, and consisted of over 20 pages.
After his marriage, Reb Betzalel continued to grow in learning.
Following the petirah of Harav Yosef Shashkes, he was appointed Dayan in his stead.
On 23 Adar 5603 / 1843, Reb Betzalel became Rav of Vilna. He corresponded with many of the Gedolim of his generation in halachah.
Fluent in the intricacies of the calendar, he compiled a complete list of zmanim for Vilna.
He was an activist for shemirat Shabbat, going out to the market on Friday afternoons to warn the shop owners to close their businesses.
He headed a yeshivah, and used to encourage the bachurim to be diligent in their learning.
Reb Betzalel wrote many sefarim, among them She’eilot U’teshuvot Reishit Bikkurim and Tosefet Bikkurim. His marginal notes called Mar’eh Kohen are printed in every edition of the Vilna Shas.
Reb Betzalel was niftar on 11 Nisan 5638 / 1878 at the age of 58. (Others 5634 / 1874).
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12 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
A Special offering / Korban, was brought, including a series of gifts by Achira ben Enan, the Nasi / Prince of Shevet / the Tribe of Naftali for the inauguration of the Mishkan.
12 Nisan 3213 - 547 B.C.E.:
On this day, King Chizkiyahu / Hezekiah, the greatest of all the Judeaen kings, fell critically ill, (3 days before Sancheriv's downfall - Seder Olam 23), and was informed by the Navi / Prophet Yeshayahu / Isaiah that he would die, for Hashem was displeased with the fact that Chizkiyahu refused to have children. Chizkiyau had refused to get married because he had prophetically foreseen that his children would lead the Jewish people to sin. Yeshayahu countered: "You have a mitzvah to have children -- let Hashem worry about the rest." Chizkiyahu asked the Navi to pray on his behalf, but he refused, insisting that the Heavenly decree was final. The king asked the Navi to leave, saying that he had a tradition from his ancestors that one should never despair, even if a sharp sword is drawn across one's throat. The king turned his face to the wall and prayed to Hashem, (Talmud Berachot 10b), and his prayer was accepted. Hashem sent Yeshayahu to tell him that he would recover and that his life would be extended for fifteen years. Chizkiyahu recovered three days later, on the first day of Pesach. The King later married the Navi Yeshayahu's daughter. (Melachim II / II Kings, ch. 20).
12 Nisan 3413 - 347 B.C.E.:
Ezra HaSofer and his followers departed from the River Ahava on their way to Yerushalayim. A year following the building of the second Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim, Ezra gathered many of the Jews who had remained in Babylon and began a journey to the land of Israel. Though he certainly wanted to go earlier, his teacher, Baruch ben Neriah was too frail to travel, and Ezra refused to leave him until his passing. Ezra was the head of the Sanhedrin, who all traveled together with him. On this day, Ezra departed from the River Ahava, the beginning of the long journey to the land of Israel which would last for nearly five months.
12 Nisan - April
The Jews of Spain were ordered to bow down upon seeing a priest.
12 Nisan 5599 - March 27, 1839:
Jews from Mashad, Iran were forcibly converted and a pogrom was perpetrated
12 Nisan 5677 - April 4, 1917:
The Russian revolutionary government granted equality to all Russian Jews for the first time in Russian history. (In the first decade of the 20th century Russia had about 50 percent of the total world Jewish population under its effective control and domination. The grant of equality by the Russian revolutionary government thus affected a major part of world Jewry. By the end of the second decade Russia had only about 18 percent of the total Jewish population under its jurisdiction.)
12 Nisan 5701 - April 9, 1941:
Three days after entering Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, Germany occupied Salonika, which had a Jewish population of 54,000. Within a week, the members of the Jewish community council were arrested, Jews' dwellings were expropriated, and the Jewish hospital was requisitioned for the use of the Wehrmacht. In April-May 1941, Einsatzstab Rosenberg (Rosenberg Operational Staff), aided by units of the Wehrmacht, systematically looted 500-year-old literary and cultural treasures in dozens of private and public libraries and synagogues in this city. Most of the booty was taken to Frankfurt, where the Nazis were establishing a library for the study of Judaism.
12 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Aryeh Leib, Rav of Kovle and Slutzk, zt”l, (5482 / 1722).
HaRav Shlomo Zalman Lifshitz, zt"l, Rav of Warsaw, author of Chemdat Shlomo (1839) [11 Nissan according others]. Rav Shlomo was born in Posen, which was part of Poland at the time. Rav Shlomo learned under the son-in-law of the Noda bi’Yehuda. After being supported by his father-in-law for 22 years, he took up the yoke of rabbanut in about 1804. His first position was in Nashlask, Poland. After 15 years, Rav Shlomo moved to the Warsaw neighborhood of Praga, and in 1819 he became the first chief rav of Warsaw, which boasted 5,000 Jewish families and was the largest and wealthiest kehillah in Poland. An official 1826 census found that 2,500 talmidim were studying in 215 chedarim. However, an 1827 government report estimated that 25% of Polish Jews had no livelihood. After serving as rav of Warsaw for 25 years, Rav Shlomo fell ill and passed away. Rav Shlomo was survived by his son Rav Yoel from his first marriage.
HaRav Shmuel Heschel of Krilovitz, zt”l, (5622/1862).
Harav Shmuel Heschel was the son of Harav Meshulam Zusia Heschel of Zinkov, who was the grandson of Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, the Ohev Yisrael of Apta, zy”a.
Reb Shmuel married the daughter of Harav Avraham Twersky of Trisk.
Reb Shmuel was appointed Rebbe in his father’s lifetime, holding court in Krilovitz (in the Podolya region), Ukraine. The local nobleman invited Reb Shmuel to his city, hoping that a Rebbe’s court would bring an influx of visiting Chassidim and thus increase his income.
Reb Shmuel built a large beit medrash, but he didn’t have all that many Chassidim.
He was niftar during the lifetime of his father, on 12 Nisan 5622 / 1862, and his younger brother, Harav Yechiel, became Rebbe in Krilovitz in his stead.
Reb Shmuel’s son was Harav Yitzchak Meir, who was the son-in-law of Harav Efraim of Matzov.
His father, Rav Meshulam Zusia, was niftar on 3 Elul 5624 / 1864, a year and a half after the petirah of Reb Shmuel.
HaRav Shlomo Zalman Ulman, zt”l, (5625 / 1865), mechaber of Yeriot Shlomo.
HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt"l, Rav of Ofakim, (1944 - 5761 / 2001). Born to Rav Chaim Avraham and Chava Leah Pincus in the United States, he learned at Brisk in Yerushalayim. He married Chaya Mindel, daughter of Rav Mordechai Man, Rosh Yeshiva of Kenesset Chizkiyahu, and continued his studies in Bnei Brak. Then, in 1981, upon the request of the Steipler Gaon and Rav Shach, he moved into the Negev to start up the community at Ofakim
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13 Nisan 2044 - 1717 B.C.E.:
According to one account in the Midrash, Hashem appeared to Avram / Abram, changed his name to Avraham / Abraham ("father of a multitude of nations") and commanded him to circumcise himself and all members of his household - and all future descendents at the age of eight days--so that "My covenant (brit) shall be in your flesh, as an eternal covenant." On 13 Nisan, Avraham Avinu was 99 years old when he circumcised himself and his son Yishmael / Ishmael who was 13. (Yitzchok / Isaac, who was born a year later, was the first Jew to be circumcised at eight days).
13 Nisan 2450 - 1310 B.C.E.:
After reading the "Nasi" describing the gifts brought by the princes of the 12 Tribes of Israel for the dedication of the Mishkan / Tabernacle during the first 12 days of Nisan, today we read the passage (the opening verses of the Torah portion of Bahaalotcha) describing Hashem's instructions to Aaron regarding the lighting of the Menorah, which represents the contribution of the "13th tribe" of Levi.
13 Nisan 3214 - 546 B.C.E.:
Chizkiyahu Hamelech became sick 3 days before Sancheriv’s downfall (Seder Olam 23) and Yeshayahu HaNavi came to visit him and predicted his death. Chizkiyahu davened facing the wall (Brachot 10b) and Hashem granted him 15 more years of life.
13 Nisan 3403 - 357 B.C.E.:
In the 12th year of his reign, King Achashveirosh of Persia endorsed Haman's plan "to destroy, kill and annihilate all Jews, from young to old, infants and women, on a single day, on the 13th day of the 12th month, the month of Adar."
On 13 Nisan, (11 months before the date chosen for the massacre), proclamations of the annihilation decree were drafted and dispatched to all 127 countries of the Persian Empire, (Esther 3:12-15).
Mordechai donned sackcloth and told Esther to go before the king and plead for her people. Esther asked all the Jews of Shushan to fast three day (Nisan 14, 15 and 16--including the first two days of Pesach / Passover) in which all Jews would repent and pray for the success of her mission. (According to Esther Raba 8, beginning today; according to Rashi in Talmud Megilla, beginning on the 14th of Nisan.)
.13 Nisan 5248 - 1488:
Rabbeinu Ovadya MiBartinuro arrived in Yerushalayim / Jerusalem. (see 5 Nisan).
13 Nisan 5677 - April 5, 1917:
British troops were halted in the first Battle of Gaza after 17,000 Turks blocked their advance during World War I..
13 Nisan 5680 - April 1, 1920:
The emergence of the Nazi Party
13 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yosef Karo, zt”l, (1488 - 5335 / 1575), Author of Beit Yosef, Shulchan Aruch ("Code of Jewish Law"), Kesef Mishneh, Magid Meisharim, and Avkat Rochel.
His first major work, the Beit Yosef is a comprehensive encyclopedic commentary on the Tur; written and refined over 30 years, In it, he gathered the opinions and decisions of all the major authorities up until his time and cross-referenced them.
He ruled between differing views on the basis of a consensus between the three preeminent halachic authorities, the Rif, the Rambam, and the Rosh.
The work was completed in 1542, (20 years), but he continued to refine it for the next 12 years, and published a second edition.
After he had completed the Beit Yosef, Rav Karo made a summary of his rulings in the form of an index without reference to sources and titled it Shulchan Aruch (”Laid Table”). It was completed in 1555 in Tzefat, Israel where he settled after he was forced to flee Spain at the time of the expulsion; it was first published in Venice in 1565.
Eventually, the Rama’s gloss (called HaMapa — “The Tablecloth”) was published together with the Shulchan Aruch in Cracow in 1578, and together they became the universally recognized Code of Jewish Law.
The Rambam had published his Mishneh Torah without references for his rulings. The Maggid Mishna, a commentary on Mishneh Torah written by Rabbi Vidal di Tolouse, had referenced six of the fourteen sections of the work, and Rav Karo set out to complete the references, while at the same time explaining the Rambam’s view and defending it from the Raavad. The Kesef Mishneh, as it was called, was published in Venice between the years 1574-76.
He is best known for his Shulchan Aruch, which covers the gamut of practical Jewish law; almost all Jewish legal discussions to this day stem from this code.
Rabbi Karo also had kabbalistic leanings (he was a contemporary in Tzfat of the great Arizal). In his Sefer Maggid Mesharim, he records his discussions with an angel.
Rabbi Karo is affectionately referred to as the "Mechaber" ("the Author"), i.e. the rabbinic author par excellence. Some of Rav Karo's Teshuvot can be found in the sefer Avkat Rochel.
HaRav Moshe ben Chaim Alshich, zt"l, (1508-1593) [others say 1522-1570]. Born in Adrianople, Turkey, student of Rav Yosef Karo in Adrianople and Rav Taitatzak in Salonica. He authored Torat Moshe. His students included Rav Chaim Vital and Maharitatz (Rav Yom Tov ben Moshe Tzahalon). He became a member of the Beit Din in Tzefat and is buried in Tzefat
HaRav Chaim Shabsai, zt”l, (5407 / 1647), one of the Rabbanim of Salonika..
Harav Chaim Shabsai was the son of Rav Shabsai. He was born in Salonika.
He learned under the Gedolim in his city, among them Harav Aharon Sasson, author of She’eilot U’teshuvot Torat Emet, and Harav Shlomo Cohen, author of She’eilot U’teshuvot Maharshach.
Rav Chaim married at a relatively young age, but his wife passed away leaving no children. He remarried, and from his zivug sheini he had four sons, all talmidei chachamim.
Rav Chaim was appointed Dayan and also founded a yeshivah in Salonika.
In 5375/1617, following the petirah of Harav Shmuel Florentin, Rav and Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Shalom, Rav Chaim was appointed to both positions.
In 5398/1738, Rav Chaim was appointed Chief Rav of Salonika. During his tenure he enacted many takanot for the betterment of Yiddishkeit in the city.
Thousands of halachic she’eilot were sent to him from distant kehillot; his teshuvot were printed in various sefarim of his era. He also wrote chiddushim on nearly the entire Shas, which he wished to publish during his lifetime, but this was not to be. His sons published part of his writings after his petirah, though unfortunately many of his manuscripts were lost. Among the published sefarim were Iguna D’itsa and Modaah V’oness, on complex halachot.
Rav Chaim served as Rav of Salonika until his petirah and was actively involved in halachic rulings in the city even near the end of his life.
On 13 Nisan, at the age of 72, Rav Chaim was niftar. He was buried in Salonika.
He was succeeded as Rav by his son Rav Moshe, who with his younger brother Rav Shabsai published She’eilot U’teshuvot Maharchash in 5411/1651.
HaRav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt"l, the Tzemach Tzedek, third Lubavitcher Rebbe (1789 - 5626 / 1866).
Harav Menachem Mendel was born on 29 Elul 5549 / 1789 in Liazna. His parents were Reb Shalom Shachna and Rebbetzin Devorah Leah, daughter of the Baal Hatanya. He was named after Reb Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk.
At the age of four, Reb Menachem Mendel lost his mother and was taken in by his grandfather, who raised him and taught him. As a child, the Tzemach Tzedek began writing chiddushim, both in the revealed part of the Torah as well as the concealed part, based on what he had learned from the Baal Hatanya, as well as his own.
In 5563 / 1803 Reb Menachem Mendel married his cousin, the daughter of Reb Dov Ber, later the Mitteler Rebbe of Lubavitch. During the Napoleonic wars, he fled with his grandfather the Baal Hatanya to the village of Pyena, and was with him when the Baal Hatanya was niftar there on 24 Tevet 5573 / 1813.
After the Mitteler Rebbe’s petirah, the Tzemach Tzedek was pressed by the Chassidim to lead them, but for a long time he refused, until he finally relented and became the third Lubavitcher Rebbe. He soon acquired thousands of Chassidim, including Gedolei Torah, who flocked to him for his Torah and tzidkut.
A great tragedy of Jewish history was the Cantonist decree that called for the capture of Jewish boys who were kept against their will until the age of 20 and were then forced into 25 more years of service in the Russian army. This occurred during the Tzemach Tzedek’s reign as Rebbe, and he worked tirelessly to defeat this evil scheme. He prevented the kidnapping of many young boys and sent emissaries to bring comfort, Jewish identity and education to many who had been caught. His door was always open to these unfortunate soldiers, even at hours when he would see no one else.
Reb Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch used to tell the story of how his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, had wanted to see the Baal Hatanya in a dream after the Baal Hatanya’s petirah.The Tzemach Tzedek took every possible measure to attain his desire, davening and fasting and so on, but to no avail. Then, one day, beforeShacharit, a man came to him asking for a loan of 50 rubles to take to a market fair. The Tzemach Tzedek went home to get the money, came back and warmly wished the man, “My dear one, be successful.”
That night, the Baal Hatanya came to the Tzemach Tzedek in a dream. “Which goes to show,” said Reb Yosef Yitzchak, “that supporting a Jew did more than all the tefillot.”
Reb Menachem Mendel’s divrei Torah are published in She’eilot U’teshuvot Tzemach Tzedek and Derech Mitzvosecha.
The Tzemach Tzedek was niftar on Thursday, 13 Nisan 5626 / 1866, and was buried in Lubavitch. As per his request, his matzeivah reads only, “He restored many from sin.”
HaRav Yoel Moskovitz of Shatz, zt"l, (5646 / 1886), great-grandson of Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov. He was betrothed at the age of thirteen to Rebbetzin Miriam, the youngest daughter of Rav Meir of Premishlan. Rav Yoel served as a rav in Vornika and Solitza and, after Rav Meir’s passing in 1850, he set up his court in Shatz, a town in the Bukovina district of Moldavia, an area that straddled modern-day Romania, Ukraine and Hungary. Shatz is now called Suceava or Suczawa. Although Shatz was Moldavia’s capital between 1388 and 1565, it was a provincial backwater of the Austrian Empire by the 19th century. According to a 1880 census the town had 3,750 Jews who constituted 37% of the town’s total population of 10,104. Today’s population of over 100,000 people includes almost no Jews.
Fast of the Firstborns,
Passover Seder Tonight
14 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
The Jews in Mitzrayim / Egypt bring the first Korban Pesach, the Passover Lamb,
to be eaten later that night at the first Pesach Seder. This was an act of great courage, as sheep were regarded as idols in Egyptian
society, and the Jews were technically still subject to Egyptian slavery. This was Hashem's way of emphasizing the idea that Egyptian society was in a state of collapse. In times of the Beit HaMikdash, the Passover Lamb would be offered by every Jewish family; many thousands of lambs would be processed and prepared in the Beit HaMikdash during the afternoon hours preceding the Pesach / Passover holiday.
14 Nisan - c. 1100 B.C.E.:
Naomi and Rus / Ruth arrive in Beit Lechem.
14 Nisan 3833 - 73 C.E.:
Massada fell to the Romans.
14 Nisan 4895 - March 30, 1135:
Birthday of the Rambam.
Rab' Moses ben Maimon, Talmudist, Halachist, physician, philosopher and
communal leader, known in the Jewish world by the acronym "Rambam" and to the world at large as "Maimonides", was born in Cordova, Spain,.
14 Nisan - 1389:
3,000 Jews of Prague were massacred, Hy"d.
14 Nisan 5632 - April 22, 1872:
· The Jews of Bavaria were granted equality.
14 Nisan 5678 - March 27, 1918:
The British Army with the help of the Jewish Brigade, captured Amman..
14 Nisan 5703 - April 19, 1943:
The Warsaw Ghetto uprising began on this date.
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of the Jewish ghettos established by Nazis during the Holocaust. It initially held 400,000 people (30% of the entire population of Warsaw), crammed into a tiny area. In its three years of existence, some 100,000 Jews died of disease and starvation, before the Nazis deported some 265,000 Jews to the Treblinka death camp. When the Nazis decided to liquidate the ghetto, Jewish resistance fighters took action, digging hundreds of bunkers under the houses, connected through the sewage system. The final battle started on the eve of Passover 1943. Some 750 Jewish partisans shot and threw grenades at German patrols from alleyways, sewers and buildings. The Nazis responded with tanks and flamethrowers, rounding up or killing any Jew they could capture. After several days without quelling the uprising, the Nazis ordered the ghetto burned to the ground. The uprising ended after one month; approximately 300 Germans and 7,000 Jews were killed in the fighting. The remaining 30,000 Jews were sent to Treblinka for extermination, Hy"d. Several dozen fighters escaped through the sewers, and a number of these survivors went on to found Kibbutz Lohamei HaGetaot, located near Acco in Israel.
14 Nisan 5703 - April 19, 1943:
Belgium Jewish underground aided by Christian railroad men derailed a train with Jewish deportees bound for the extermination camps. Several hundred Jews were saved.
14 Nisan 5762 - March 27, 2002:
Twenty-eight people are killed and 134 injured when a suicide bomber blows himself up at a Pesach seder in a Netanya hotel, Hy"d.
14 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Asher Yeshaya of Ropshitz, zt"l, (1845), the main rebbi of Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, the Shinover Rav.
HaRav Avraham Yaffen, zt"l, Rosh Yeshivat Novardok (1897-1970). Educated as a youth in the Pinsk Talmud Torah, he then learned under Rav Isser Zalman Melter in Slutzk. In 1913, he was apppointed rosh yeshiva of the main Novardok yeshiva by Rav Yosef Yoizel Horowitz and became his son-in-law. From then on, he assisted his father-in-law with all aspects of Novardok’s yeshivas. By 1939, there were over 80 Novardok yeshivas throughout Poland, serving over 4000 students. He moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1964.
HaRav Yosef Tzvi Halevi Dunner, zt"l, Rav and Av Beit Din of London (1913-2007). Born in Cologne, Germany, he was named after his uncle, Rav Yosef Tzvi Dunner, the Av Beit Din of Amsterdam, who had passed away the previous year. His father, Rav Baruch Chaim was a descendant of the Aruch LaNer, and his mother of the Maharal of Prague and the Chavot Yair. He learned at the Berlin Beit Medrash l’Rabbonim headed by the Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, the Sridei Eish. In 1936, at the age of 23, he was sent to the Konigsberg kehilla to become Chief Rabbi of East Prussia. He married a year later. In 1938, he was awakened by the sound of shattering glass. Anti-Semites had thrown a torn sefer Torah through his window, scattering shards of glass over the bed of his one-year-old son. A German policeman shackled him in hand-cuffs, and led him to jail on a route by his shul so that he should see it going up in flames. After the War, he became Rav to a congregation comprised mainly of refugees of the London blitz in Leicester. In 1946 Rav Yosef Tzvi moved to London where he established the first English “Beit Yaakov” for post high school students. Rav Yosef headed the institution until the mid 90s, educating two generations of post war women. Rav Yosef Tzvi was appointed Rav of the Adas Yisrael of London. In 1960 he succeeded Rav Schonfeld as head of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations based in Stamford Hill.
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15 Nisan, 1st Day of Yom Tov Pesach
14 Nisan 0 - 3760 B.C.E.:
Kayin's and Hevel's sacrifices were offered tonight,15 Nisan, the Seder night (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer).
15 Nisan - 1716 (or 1740) B.C.E.:
Sara was kidnapped and brought to the house of Pharaoh.
Abraham Battles Four Kings. When Lot was taken captive by the four kings who conquered the "five cities of the plain" (Sodom, Gomorra, Admah, Zevoim and Zoar), Abraham, aided only by a small band of loyal servants, went to battle to rescue his his nephew; "the night divided for them, for him and his servants, and they defeated them, pursuing them to Hovah, which is to the left of Damascus... And he recovered all the property; also his kinsman, Lot, and his property were recovered, and also the women and the people" (Bereishit / Genesis 14:15-16).
15 Nisan 2018 - 1742 B.C.E.:
Hashem made a brit bein Habsorim (Covenant Between the Parts) with Abraham, in which the destiny of the Jewish people was foretold: Hashem granted Abraham and his descendents the Land of Israel, as their eternal heritage, but first they would have to experience galut -- exile and persecution. "And He said to Abram: 'Know surely that your descendents shall be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved to them, and they will afflict them four hundred years... and afterwards they shall come out with great wealth.' And when the sun went down and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace and a burning torch which passed between those pieces... On that day Hashem made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'To your seed I have given these land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates'" (Bereishit / Genesis 15:13-18).
As Abraham lived at a time of widespread idolatry and corruption, and took upon himself the mission of spreading ethical monotheism to the world. In response, Hashem set aside the Land of Israel as a laboratory where Abraham's descendants could create a model society, "a light unto the nations." Unlike other nations who claim land because their army was able to conquer it from someone else, Israel's claim to the land is based on Divine authority.
15 Nisan - 1713 B.C.E.:
On the 3rd day following his circumcision at age 99 (see 13 Nisan) three Malachim / angels visited Abraham: Rephael healed him, and Michael informed Avraham and Sarah that in exactly one year, a son
(Yitzchok / Isaac)
will be born to them.
(The third angel, Gabriel, proceeded to Sodom to destroy the wicked city). (Bereishit / Genesis 18:10).
15 Nisan 2048 - 1712 B.C.E.:
Birth of Yitzchak / Issac.
"Hashem remembered Sarah as He had said; and Hashem did to Sarah as He had spoken. And Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which Hashem had spoken to him... Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Yitzchak was born to him. And Sarah declared: 'Hashem has made laughter for me, so that all that hear will laugh ('yitzchak') with me'" (Bereishit / Genesis 21:1-6).
15 Nisan 2171 - 1589 B.C.E.:
Yitzchak summoned Eisav and requested that he prepare a tasty meal for him
and receive his bracha / blessing. [This tradition was apparently based on the wording
of Yitzchak's blessing: "May Hashem give you of the dew of heaven". The
Talmud fixed 15 Nisan as the beginning of the harvest season and the end of
the rainy season. Thereafter rain is harmful but dew is beneficial.
15 Nisan - 1556 B.C.E.:
Yaakov / Jacob wrestles with Esav / Esau's Angel. "And Yaakov was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Yaakov's hip became dislocated as he wrestled with him. And he (the angel) said, 'Let me go, for dawn is breaking,' but he (Yaakov) said, 'I will not let you go unless you have blessed me.' So he said to him, 'What is your name?' and he said, 'Yaakov.' And he said, 'Your name shall be called no more Yaakov, but Yisrael / Israel; for you have contended with Hashem and with men, and have prevailed'" (Bereishit / Genesis 32:25-29). It was the eve of 15 Nisan. The next morning, Yaakov confronted Esav in the flesh.
Esav, who had come with a band of armed men with the
intention to kill his brother, "ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept". Esav invited Yaakov to join him in his mountain kingdom of Se'ir, but Yaakov replied, "Please, let my lord go on ahead before his servant; and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that goes before me and the children, until I come to my lord to Se'ir" -- a promise yet to be fulfilled (ibid., 33:4-14).
15 Nisan 2230 - 1532 B.C.E.:
Yahrtzeit of Yitzchak Avinu .
Yahrtzeit of Yehuda ben Yaakov Avinu.
15 Nisan 2447 - 1313 B.C.E.:
Moshe sees the Burning Bush.
Exactly one year before the Exodus - Moshe was shepherding the flocks of his father-in-law, Yisro / Jethro, at the foot of Mount Sinai, when Hashem appeared to him in a "thornbush that burned with fire, but was not consumed" and instructed him to return to Egypt, come before Pharaoh, and demand in the name of Hashem : "Let My people go, so that they may serve Me." For seven days and seven nights Moshe argued with Hashem , pleading that he is the wrong person for the job, before accepting the mission to redeem the people of Israel and bring them to Sinai.
15 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
Yetziat Mitzrayim / The Exodus
At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nisan, 210 years after Yaakov / Jacob settled in Egypt and 430 years after the "Covenant Between the Parts," Hashem visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. Earlier that evening, the Children of Israel conducted the first "seder" of history, eating the roasted meat of the Pesach / Passover offering with matzot and maror / bitter herbs, and sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice on their doorposts as a sign that Hashem will "pass over" their homes when inflicting the plague upon the Egyptians. Pharaoh's resistance to free them was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. Several million souls - 600,000 adult males, plus the woman and children, and a large "mixed multitude" of non-Hebrews who joined them - left Egypt on that day, and began the 50-day trek to Sinai and their birth as Hashem's chosen people. The Haggadah Shel Pesach recounts all the events of this day.
Composition of the piyut, "vayehi bachatzi halaila," said at the
end of the Seder.
15 Nisan 3213 - 547 B.C.E.:
The Assyrian army of Sancherev, which had threatened Yerushalayim / Jerusalem, was destroyed.
Yahrzeit of Iyov / Job.
15 Nisan 3388 - 372 B.C.E.:
Daniel is thrown into the lions' den.
Daniel was cast into a den of hungry lions by Darius I of Persia for violating a royal edict that no man may pray to any god save the king for 30 days. Miraculously, the lions did not touch him, and he emerged from the den unscathed (Daniel 6:5-29).
15 Nisan 3404 - 356 B.C.E.:
Queen Vashti was executed by order of Achashveirosh.
On the seventh day of his royal feast (see 9 Nisan), King Achashveirosh demanded that the Queen Vashti appear unclothed to display her beauty before all the attending guests. When Vashti refused this obscene request, the king had her executed.
Her ignominious death on Shabbat was divine retribution for her penchant to force Jewish girls to work on Shabbat, and paved the way for Esther to become queen and save the Jewish nation from Haman's plot.
15 Nisan 3405 - 355 B.C.E.:
Esther appeared before Achashveirosh to plead for the Jews.
15 Nisan 3833 - 73 C.E.:
The last pocket of Jewish resistance to the Roman conquest of Eretz Yisroel and the Churban Bayis Sheini, came to an end when Masada fell to the Romans.
15 Nisan - 1497:
An order to seize of all Portuguese Jewish children, ages 4-14 for forced conversion.
15 Nisan - 1506:
Massacre of Marranos of Lisbon, Hy"d.
15 Nisan 5480 - April 25, 1720:
The Vilna Gaon is born.
· 15 Nisan 5559 - April 20, 1799:
Napoleon “promised” the Jews of Eretz Yisrael the “reestablishment of ancient Yerushalayim”, coupled with a plea for their support.. This was the first promise by a modern government to establish a Jewish state.
15 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Yitzchak Avinu (1713-1533 BCE)
Yehuda ben Yaakov Avinu.
HaRav Yona Teumim Frankel, zt"l, (1595-1669), Av Beit Din in Metz. He was the son of Reb Yeshia Teumim. He is the author of Kikayon DeYona. In it, he explains the commentaries of Rashi, Tosafot, the Maharsha and the Maharshal on Gemara.
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Second Day Yom Tov Pesach (Diaspora)
16 Nisan - 1714 B.C.E.
Sodom overturned. The wicked cities of the Sodom valley, including Sodom, Gemorrah, Admah and Zevoim, were overtuned in punishment of their sins. Only Lot, his wife and two daughters were saved. Lot's wife, however, turned into a pillar of salt when she failed to heed the Divine warning not to look back at the burning cities.
16 Nisan 2332 - 1428 B.C.E.:
Birthday and Yahrtzeit of Levi who was born to Leah and Yaakov.
16 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B.C.E.:
Six days after the Children of Israel entered the Holy Land under the leadership of Yehoshua / Joshua, their remaining supply of the miraculous "bread from heaven," which had sustained them since shortly after their exodus from Egypt 40 years earlier, ran out. (The manna had ceased falling on the previous 7 Adar, the day of Moshe' passing.) After bringing the "Omer" offering at the Sanctuary they erected at Gilgal, the people prepared their (unleavened) bread for the first time from the produce of the land.
16 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B.C.E.:
The Jews crossed the Yarden / Jordan river into Eretz Yisroel.
The Omer was offered in the Beit Hamikdash for the
first time by the Jews in Eretz Yisroel.
16 Nisan 2883 - 877 B.C.E.:
The two sons and five grandchildren of Shaul Hamelech were killed and hung
to avenge the Givonim (Yerushalmi Kiddushin 4:1). (Others 23 Nisan).
16 Nisan - 550 B.C.E.:
Chizkiyahu HaMelech completed the rededication of the Beit HaMikdash.
16 Nisan 3405 - 355 B.C.E.:
Esther Appears Before King Achashveirosh. On the 3rd day of the fast proclaimed by Mordechai at her behest (see 13 Nisan), Queen Esther appeared unsummoned before King Achashveirosh--a capital offence. The king, however, extended the royal sceptre to her, signifying his consent that she approach him. Esther requested that Achashveirosh attend a private wine party with her and Haman (according to one opinion in the Talmud, her plan was to make Achashveirosh jealous of her apparent friendship with Haman so that he would kill them both, thus saving the Jewish people from Haman's decree).
16 Nisan 3405 - 355 B.C.E.:
Haman, the villain of the Purim story, was hanged along with his 10
7:10). Mordechai was then chosen to be chief of staff to King Achashveirosh, replacing
At the 2nd wine part she made for King Achashveirosh and Haman, Queen Esther revealed her identity to the king and began to plead for her people, pointing to Haman as the evil schemer plotting to destroy them. When Charvonah, a royal servant, mentioned the gallows which Haman had originally prepared to
hang Mordechai, the king ordered that Haman be hanged on them, opening the door for the Jews' salvation from Haman's decree (Book of Esther, chapter 7).
16 Nisan 4933 - 1173:
The alleged murder of William of Norwich, leads to the first blood libel in
the Middle Ages. (1144?)
16 Nisan - April 12, 1550:
The Jews were expelled from Genoa, Italy.
16 Nisan 5608 - April 19, 1848:
Anti-Jewish violence broke out in Budapest, Hungary.
16 Nisan - April 4, 1920:
Scores of Jews were killed or wounded by their Arab "neighbors" during anti-Semitic
riots in Yerushalayim, Hy"d.
16 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Levi ben Yaakov Avinu, 1567 BCE
HaRav Nosson Ordman, zt"l, Rosh Yeshivat Etz Chaim London for more than 50 years. Born in Tavrik, Lithuania and educated in Telz, he came to London in 1936 (1906-1996).
HaRav Mordechai Dov Ber Twerski of Tomashpol, zt"l, son of Rav Nachum, son of the Mitteler Rebbe, 1920.
HaRav Chaim (ben Eliezer) haKohen Charif, zt"l, (1864-1932). Rav in Greiding and of Adas Yeshurun, Izyaslav (Podalia Province), Russia before arriving in the United States.
HaRav Simcha Zissel Brodie (Broyde), zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron, 2000.
17 Nisan 5542 - 1782:
Solomon Etting, prominent businessman of Lancaster,
Pa., was the first native American Jew to receive a limited authorization to
function as a shochet..
17 Nisan 5746 - April 26, 1986:
The world's worst nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine). An explosion and fire killed at least 31 people and sent a plume of radioactive fallout over Scandinavia, the British Isles, and the eastern United States. The disaster was ten times more powerful than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
17 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Avraham Reuven Hakohen Katz of Prague, zt"l, (1673), author of Yalkut Reuveni, a collection of kabbalistic material, arranged according to the verses in the Torah.
HaRav Yitzchak of Skver, zt"l, (1885).
HaRav Yirmiyahu Lev, zt"l, the Divrei Yirmiyahu (1811-1874). Born to Rav Binyamin Zev Lev (the Shaarei Torah), he received smicha from Rav Mordechai Banet, the Rav of Nicholsburg, at the age of 17. He served as Rav of Magendorf from 1844 to 1851, then succeeded his father in Verbau. Finally, he took a position in Ujhel (Hungary).
HaRav Moshe Mordechai Heschel, zt"l, succeeded his father, Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, as Kapischnitzer (Kopycznitzer) Rebbe, until his sudden petirah in 1975.
HaRav Meir Abuchatzeira of Ashdod, zt"l, son of Baba Sali (1983).
HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, zt"l, the beloved master of ethical (Mussar) teachings in Yerushalayim.mashgiach of Yeshivat Givat Shaul in Yerushalayims Sanhedria neighborhood (1916 - 5765 / 2005). Born in Berlin, Rav Wolbe’s early education was in the Yeshiva of Frankfurt and in Rav Botchko’s yeshiva in Montreux, Switzerland. In the 1930s, he spent several years in Mir, where he became a close talmid Rav Yerucham Levovitz and Rav Chatzkal Levenstein.
Rav Wolbe spent the war years in Sweden. After the war, Rav Wolbe moved to Petach Tikvah, where he married the daughter of Rav Avraham Grodzinsky, hy”d, the last mashgiach of Slobodka. Through her, he became a nephew of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, and a brother-in-law of Rav Chaim Kreisworth. In 1948, Rav Wolbe became mashgiach at Yeshivah Gedolah of Be’er Yaakov, a position he held for over 35 years. Later, he served as mashgiach in the Lakewood Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael and he opened Yeshivat Givat Shaul.
Rav Wolbe is best known for his discourses on Jewish ethics, published in a two-volume work, Alei Shur which provides today’s yeshiva student with a basic guide to assist him to become a ben Torah. Rav Wolbe stressed the importance of self-scrutiny and self-knowledge as a way to achieve one's maximum potential. He also stressed the attribute of self-control -- thinking before speaking, eating in moderation, and concentrating for long periods without distraction.
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18 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
Pharaoh was informed that the Jews had escaped. Following the Jewish nation's grand exodus from Mitzrayim / Egypt, Pharaoh, who only gave official permission for the Jews to to leave for three days, was informed by secret agents whom he sent together with the Jews that they had no intention of returning. Pharaoh decided to mobilize his army and pursue the Jews, with the intention of bringing them back to Mitzrayim. This led to the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea (see 21 Nisan).
18 Nisan - 1279:
A number of London Jews suffered martyrdom following ritual charges, Hy"d.
18 Nisan - 1464:
Anti-Jewish riots broke out in Seville, Spain.
18 Nisan 5556 - April 26, 1796:
Purim of the Bomb was celebrated by the Jews of Fossano, south of the Alps,
to commemorate their escape from massacre. See 19 Nisan.
18 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Meir (ben Todros HaLevi) Abulafia, zt”l, the Yad Rama, 1244.
HaRav Meir Berlin, zt”l, later Hebraized to Meir Bar-Ilan (1880-1949). Born in Volozhin, Lithuania, he joined the Mizrachi movement in 1905, representing it at the Seventh Zionist Congress, voting against the “Uganda Proposal” to create a “temporary” Jewish “homeland” in Uganda in East Africa, as suggested by Great Britain. In 1911 he was appointed secretary of the world Mizrachi movement. In 1913 he came to the United States and in 1915 became president of the U.S. Mizrachi, holding the position until 1928. He founded the Mizrachi Teachers Institute in 1917. In 1925 he became a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish National Fund devoted to financing the rebuilding of the Jewish homeland in the then British Mandate of Palestine. In 1923 he moved to Jerusalem. He opposed the Palestine partition plan in 1937, and of the British White Paper of 1939. He was the founder and editor of Hatzofeh in 1939. He authored: Fun Volozhin biz Yerushalayim (an autobiography), Bishvil ha-Techiah. Along with Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin, he was also the editor of the Talmudical Encyclopedia. He wrote articles on Talmudic subjects for various periodicals. He inspired the founding of Bar Ilan University in Israel which is named for him.
HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveichik, zt”l, (1903 - 5753 / 1993). Son of Rav Moshe Soloveichik, and older brother of Rav Ahron Soloveichik. Rav Soloveichik, descended from the famous Soloveichik Lithuanian rabbinic dynasty -- grandson of Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik, great-grandson of Rabbi Yoshe Ber Soloveichik, the Beit HaLevi 1820- 1892, nephew of the Brisker Rav, Rav Velvel. and great-great-grandson of Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv). Known to many as "The Rav." Born in Pruzhan, Poland on 30 Shvat, Rav Soloveichik earned a Ph.D. from the University of Berlin, and then settled in Boston in 1932. He became Rosh HaYeshivah (dean) of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University in New York City, and over the course of five decades ordained some 2,000 rabbis. He was a great thinker who authored many volumes on Jewish thought and law, and a great Talmudic scholar and educator. His regular classes were attended by hundreds, and many thousands still enjoy their recordings. He inspired many students to delve into the study of the Talmud and Jewish law.
HaRav Moishe Ellinson, zt”l, Rav of Ohel Torah Manchester [after Jan. 2001]
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19 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
Pharaoh set out
in pursuit of the Jews.
19 Nisan - April
Governor Peter Stuyvesant - well known anti-Semite - was thwarted
in his attempt to expel Jews from New Amsterdam (early New York City) by the directors of Dutch West India
Company. This put an end to official efforts to bar Jews from North America. The Dutch West India Co. also specified
that no restriction of trade be imposed upon the Jewish settlers. Thus it guaranteed not only the physical inviolability
of the Jews but also their economic development and progress. The only condition contained in the directive provided that
"the poor among them shall be supported by their own nation." This gave further impetus to the growth of the
Jewish population in the New World.
19 Nisan 5556 - April 27, 1796:
The Jewish community of Fossano, Italy was miraculously saved from the hands of a murderous mob by a French bomb which landed just in time to scare away the attackers. This day was established as "Purim Fossano" in commemoration of the miraculous salvation.
19 Nisan - April 19, 1919:
Polish Legionnaires looted and burned the Jewish section of Vilna during a
four-day pogrom, a generation before the Holocaust! Hundreds of Jews were murdered
and hundreds more were arrested and tortured, Hy"d.
Adolf Hitler, y'ms, made his first appearance on the anniversary of the day on which the first anti-Semite
in Jewish history set out in pursuit of the Jewish people.
19 Nisan 5754 - April 30, 1994:
Israel-PLO agreement on Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) is reached. 160 observers (35 Danish, 35 Italian, 90 Norwegian) are deployed to Hebron, have their mandate renewed every year and were later found to be helping terrorists.
19 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yehoshua Falk Katz, zt”l, author of Meirat Einayim, the Derisha and Perisha on the Tur, the Sema on Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat (1614). As a youth, he learned under the Rema (to whom he was related) and the Maharshal. He later served as Rosh Yeshiva in Lemberg. He is the grandfather of the Pnei Yehoshua.
HaRav Aharon Hagadol of Karlin, zt”l, (1736-1772). Student of the Maggid of Mezritch, founder of Chasidut in Belarus and the Karlin-Stolin dynasty. Rav Aharon left behind a son, Rav Asher of Stolin who was the father of Rav Aharon Karlin II (1808-1872).
19 Nisan 5703 - April 24, 1943:
HaRav Menacham Ziemba, Hy"d, (also known as R’ Menachem Prager) (1883-1943), spiritual leader of the Warsaw Ghetto during the uprising against the Nazis. He was born in Praga, a suburb of Warsaw, Poland along the right bank of the Wisla River. Rav Menachem was only nine years old when his father, R’ Elazar Ziemba died. He then lived and learned with his grandfather, R’ Avraham Ziemba. He married Mindel, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, R’ Chaim Yeshaya Tzederboim, when he was 18. When his father-in-law died, he wrote a treatise on carrying on Shabbat and entitled it Totza’at Chaim in his honor. He became a follower of the Gerrer Chassidic dynasty, led at that time by the Imrei Emet. He was a great genius and Torah scholar, who was appointed Chief Rabbi of Warsaw in 1935, and was recognized as a leading rabbinic figure in pre-war Eastern Europe. He became close to Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, and through him, his son-in-law, Rav Avrame’le Luftbir of Warsaw. When the latter died childless in 1919 Rav Menachem published his sefer Zera Avraham, based on their many correspondences. Rabbi Ziemba was a prolific writer who wrote more than 10,000 pages of Torah novella. In the ghetto, he wrote an entire work on the laws pertaining to the sanctification of Hashem's Name (Kiddush Hashem). Unfortunately, most of his scholarly manuscripts were torched in the Warsaw Ghetto. His few works which were authored before the war are still studied by Torah scholars world-wide.
HaRav Ziemba was a moral force in the Warsaw Ghetto, always striving to infuse the community with hope. In the darkest days of the ghetto, he strove to bring a note of optimism by arranging clandestine locations in cellars, attics and bomb shelters where girls and boys would study Torah. Although afforded opportunities to escape the ghetto, he elected to remain in the ghetto, insisting that his presence was needed by the Jews in the ghetto. Rav Ziemba was a strong supporter of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, donating personal funds for ammunition and giving his whole-hearted blessing for the endeavor. Five days after the fighting begun, on Shabbat, the house were Rav Ziemba was hiding was set afire by the SS. When attempting to escape, Rabbi Ziemba was shot dead by the Nazis, while holding his 5-year-old grandson. May Hashem avenge his blood. The Rav was buried in the Ghetto, and in 1958 his body was flown to Eretz Yisrael where he was buried in Yerushalayim amid a great funeral procession, Hy'd.
HaRav Shlomo Leib of Lentche, zt”l, 1843.
HaRav Yaakov Yosef (ben Yisrael Chaim) Weiss of Sprinka, zt”l, (1916-1988). The grandson of Rav Yitzchak Isaac Weiss (1875-1944), Spinka Rebbe and author of Chakal Yitzchok, Rav Yaakov Yosef survived the Holocaust and established Spinka institutions in America and in Israel. He is the author of Siach Yaakov Yosef..
HaRav Shmuel Alexander (ben Shlomo Zalman) Unsdorfer of Montreal and Petach Tikva, zt”l, (2002). He served as Rosh Yeshiva of the first Mesivta of Canada, founded in 1948 by the Klausenberger Rebbe. In 1956, he was sent by the Canadian Rescue Committee in Montreal to Vienna to help refugees from Hungary. He later moved to Eretz Yisrael and served as Rav of the Chassidei Tzanz Beit Hamedrash in Petach Tikvah.
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20 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
Pharaoh and his pursuing army caught up with the Jews encamped at Pi-HaChirot by
the Red Sea. A terrified Jewish nation divides into several factions. Some advocate mass suicide, others want to surrender and return to Egypt, the bolder ones prepare to battle the Egyptians, while others advise the nation to pray.
Hashem instructs the Jews to do none of the above, but simply proceed onwards -- despite the sea which stood in their path.
The Jews comply, and the entire following night they go through the parted waters of the Red Sea
20 Nisan - 1593:
The first Jewish settlers arrived in Amsterdam, Holland. .
20 Nisan 5642 - April 9, 1882:
A blood libel began when a servant girl went missing in Tiza-Eszlar (Hungary). Although no evidence was found that Jews were involved, the young son of the janitor of the shul was interrogated - whereby he described full details of the "murder." The Jews were accused of having the girl kidnapped for ritual murder purposes. Fifteen people were brought to trial despite the protests of the non-Jewish leader of the Hungarian Independence Movement and the fact that the girl's body was found in the river. A year later all of them were acquitted..
20 Nisan - March 31, 1899:
Jews in Rumania were blacklisted from professional, agricultural schools and
20 Nisan - April 11, 1909::
Tel-Aviv, Palestine was founded.
20 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Hai bar Sherira Gaon, zt"l, (969 - 4797 / 1038), Rosh Yeshivat Pumpedita,
the last of the Babylonian Talmudic sages called the "Geonim." He had succeeded his father Rav
Sherira Gaon, as the head of the yeshiva at Pumbedita, Babylonia, Rav Hai Gaon authored a commentary on
the Talmud as well as a collection of responsa. The death of Rav Hai Gaon marked the end of Babylon's 800-year reign as the center of Jewish life; the focus was then split
between North Africa and Europe, giving rise to the customs of Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewry.
HaRav Yitzchak Chori, zt”l, (yr??), dayan in Djerba.
HaRav Yechezkel (ben Yosef) Panet of Karlsberg, zt”l, author of Mareh Yechezkel, 1845.
HaRav Yitzchak Dov Ber (ben Chaim Schneur Zalman) of Liadi, zt”l, (1835-1910, grandson of the Tzemach Tzedek, author of Siddur MaHaRiD. He also served as Rebbe in Liadi around the time of the Rebbe Rashab.
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21 Nisan - Shvii Shel Pesach / Seventh Day of Pesach
21 Nisan 2206 - 1556 B.C.E.:
Yaakov left Lavan's home for the Holy Land.
Paroh's decree against Jewish male infants was canceled.
21 Nisan 2446 - 1314 B.C.E.:
Moshe Rabbeinu leaves Midian. After seven days of contention with Hashem at the burning bush (see 15 Nisan), Moshe assumed the mission of taking the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Taking leave of his father-in-law, Yitro / Jethro, he placed his wife and children on a donkey and set out for Egypt to demand of Pharaoh, "Let My people go!"
21 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
On the eve of the seventh day after the Exodus from Mitzrayim / Egypt, the Children of Israel found themselves trapped between the Egyptian army and cavalry pursuing them from behind and the waters of the Red Sea before them. Hashem commanded Moshe: "Speak to the Children of Israel, that they should move forward!" Nachshon ben Aminadav of the tribe of Yehudah was the first to jump into the sea; the water split, and "the children of Israel walked across on the dry land in the midst of the sea." All that night, a pillar of fire intervened between the Egyptians and the Israelites. When the Egyptians followed, the waters returned to their natural state and place drowning Pharaoh's
troops. The Children of Israel sang the Shira - "the Song at the Sea" in praise and gratitude to Hashem. To this day, the final days of Pesach are a special holiday,
commemorating the splitting of the sea. The people of Israel then entered the Shur desert.
21 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B.C.E.:
After crossing the Yam Suf Bnei Yisrael entered the Shur desert.
21 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B.C.E.:
Bnei Yisroel couldn't find water to drink at the end of the 40 years in the
desert, and they gathered and complained against Moshe Rabbeinu.
21 Nisan - April 19, 1283:
Jews were prohibited from repairing their synagogues due to a decree issued
by King Philip The Bold of France.
21 Nisan 5704 - April 14, 1944:
The first transport of Jews of Athens, Greece, left for Auschwitz, Hy"d.
21 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shimon Yisrael Posen, zt"l, the Shoproner Rav, author of Torat Aleph, 1969.
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22 Nisan - Eighth Day of Pesach - Diaspora
22 Nisan 2048 - 1712 B.C.E.:
Eight days following his birth on the first day of Pesach, the 15th of Nisan, Yitzchak Avinu / Issac was circumcised, thus becoming the first Jew to fulfill the commandment
of brit mila according to halacha, entering the covenant with Hashem,
on the 8th day following his birth.
22 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B.C.E.:
Shortly after crossing the Yarden / Jordan River and entering the Land of Canaan, the Jews set their sights on conquering the walled and heavily fortified city of Yericho / Jericho. Following Yehoshua / Joshua's instructions, the Jews begin a seven-day encirclement of
Yericho. The Jews marched around the city walls one time each day, for six days, led by the priests who carried the Aron Hakodesh / Holy Ark, and sounded the shofar (ram's horn). On the seventh day, they marched around Yericho seven times until the walls collapsed. This constituted the first
Jewish military action in ancient Eretz Yisroel, and the beginning of its conquest.
See 28 Nisan. (Yehoshua / Joshua ch 6)
22 Nisan 5608 - April 25, 1848:
The new Austrian constitution guaranteed freedom of religion for Jews.
22 Nisan 5700 - April 25, 1940:
First enclosed and guarded ghetto established by the Nazis in Lodz.
In Croatia -- as Ustashe were killing fast before closing down the Jasenovac camp -- 87 inmates escaped. 1000 others were recaptured or shot while fleeing. Brother Satan, who took part in a World War II massacre of 2,000 Serbs by Ustashe troops and whose real name was Tomislav Filipovic Majstorovic, was defrocked in 1943 but stayed on in the camp, known as "Auschwitz of the Balkans," where he was said to have killed freely. Independent historians put the number of victims executed there at between 80,000 and 100,000.
22 Nisan 5746 - April 25, 1986:
Operation Grapes of Wrath, retaliation against Lebanon for Hizbollah terrorists' attacks on northern Israel.
22 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yehuda Rosanes of Constantinople, zt”l, undisputed leader of Sephardi Jewry in the early 1700s; author of Mishneh Lamelech, (1658-1727). He also wrote Parashat Derachim. Rav Yehuda appointed Rav Yaakov Culi (the Me'am Loez) to his Beit Din.
HaRav Yitzchak Kalish, zt”l, (1779-1848), founder of the Vorki dynasty, father of Rav Yaakov Dovid (founder of the Amshinov dynasty) and Rav Menachem Mendel, who continued the Vorki dynasty. Through his travels with his teacher, Rav Dovid of Lelov, he became a disciple of Rav Yaakov Yitzchak (the “Chozeh”) of Lublin and of Rav Simchah Bunim of Peshischa. Some of his teachings and stories involving him appear in Ohel Yitzchak and Hutzak Chein, others in Shemu’at Yitzchak. He was also brother of Rabbi Meir of Premishlan.
Dr. Nathan Birnbaum, z”l, 1864-1937. A leader in the early Zionist movement, he is credited for coining the word “Zionism” in 1890. He played a prominent part in the First Zionist Congress (1897) and was elected Secretary General of the Zionist Organization. However, ideological differences with Theodore Herzl led to his leaving the movement. In the years preceding World War I he gradually abandoned his materialistic and secular outlook, eventually embracing full traditional Judaism. He may be seen as the forerunner of the modern Baal Teshuvah movement. His most famous book of this period was Gottesvolk (”G-d’s People”) first published in German and Yiddish in 1917 (translated into English in a shortened form by J. Elias in 1947 titled “Confession”). In 1919, he became the first Secretary General of the new Agudath Yisrael Organization. He lived in Berlin 1921-1933. After the rise of Nazism, he left Germany for Scheveningen, Netherlands, until his death.
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23 Nisan 2883 - 877 B.C.E.:
The two sons and five grandchildren of Shaul Hamelech were killed and hung
to avenge the Givonim (Yerushalmi Kiddushin 4:1). (Others 16 Nisan).
23 Nisan 4907 - 1147:
A fast-day was observed by the Jewish community of Cologne, Germany, in commemoration
of anti-Jewish violence and massacre during the Second Crusade, Hy"d.
23 Nisan - 1556:
Portuguese Marranos who had reverted back to Judaism were burned to death in Ancona, Italy, Hy"d.
23 Nisan - 1906:
A devastating earthquake struck San Francisco, followed by destructive fires; estimates of the final death toll were more than 3600.
. 23 Nisan 5681 - May 1, 1921:
Arab mobs attacked Jewish residents of Jaffa and stormed the
Zionist Immigration Center, killing 47 Jews. Hy"d.
The Arabs used rioting as a
political tool: After each outbreak, a British commission of inquiry
would pin the cause of the violence on the Arabs' fear of being
displaced by Jews. To stop the rioting, the commission would recommend
that restrictions be placed on Jewish immigration. In this particular
case, the Arabs won the battle -- to scare the Jews out of Jaffa -- but
lost the war: The riots spurred Jewish settlement in neighboring Tel
Aviv, which left Jaffa nearly devoid of Jewish commercial interests.
Again in 1929, rioting caused Jews to leave Jaffa, and before long Tel
Aviv had overshadowed Jaffa as Israel's main commercial center.
23 Nisan 5708 - May 2, 1948:
Haganah captured the strategic village of Katamon near Yerushalayim.
23 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe ben Yosef MiTrani, zt”l, the Mabit (5625 / 1505 - 1585). Son of Harav Yosef of Trani (the elder), a descendant of the famous family named after the Italian city of Trani, whose forebear was Harav Yeshayah Hazaken diTrani.
The Mabit’s father was known as the “Baal Tosafot,” for his ability to reach the point of view of Tosafot though his own reasoning.
Rav Moshe was born in Salonika, Greece.
He was sent to sent to Adrianople (Italy) as a boy to pursue his studies under the supervision of his uncle, Harav Aharon diTrani. At the age of 16 he went to Safed and completed his studies under Yaakov Mahari Beirav, the Baal Hasemichah.
He was one of four people to receive the special semicha from him in 1538, in Safed, along with Rav Yosef Karo, Rav Moshe Cordovero, and Rav Yosef Sagis.
In 1525, at the age of 20, he was appointed a Dayan in the city of Tzefat, where he constantly engaged the Beit Yosef in halachic discussions. They would often disagree on halachah, and conduct heated debates about various fine points. But as Chazal tell us, “Es vahev besufah,” from arguing in Torah one only gains more ahavah towards a fellow Jew; they were actually on quite good terms.
He was ever-vigilant to strengthen kvod haTorah and Yiddishkeit, as he dedicated every waking moment to limud haTorah and avodat Hashem.
He selflessly devoted himself to the Sephardic community of Tzefat, caring for their physical and spiritual needs and leading the kehillah with great strength.
In 1535, he moved to Yerushalayim, where he lived until 1585.
The Mabit conducted extensive correspondence with contemporary Torah greats. Among them were the Shittah Mekubetzet, the Mahari Kurkus, the Ri Abuhav, the Radbaz and the Alshich Hakadosh.
When he was niftar, his son, Rav Yosef, later called the Maharit, was only 12 years old. Rav Yosef developed into a great talmid chacham, and it was he who published his father’s many writings. He published She’eilot U’teshuvot Mabit, which contains 841 teshuvot; Kiryat Sefer, a commentary on Rambam’s Yad Chazakah; Beit Elokim - a thematic discussion of the elements of prayer, mussar and derashot; and a peirush on Perek Shirah.
In the hakdamah to one of these sefarim Rav Yosef wrote the following: “At one point I gave a large cache of manuscripts to someone to transfer it. The person died in the middle of his mission, and only through a miracle was I able to find the manuscripts.”
The Mabit was niftar on 25 Nisan 5340/1580, five years after the Beit Yosef’s petirah.(others 5340 / 1580, others 25 Nisan).
HaRav Manachem Mendel Margules of Pshemishel,
zt"l, (5412 / 1652).
HaRav Aharon Dovid Deitsch, zt”l, author of She'eilot U’Teshuvot
Goren Dovid, (5638 / 1878).
HaRav Avraham Loftiver, zt'"l, author of Zera Avraham (5678 / 1918).
HaRav Yisrael Shalom Yosef Friedman of Bohush, zt"l. (5683 / 1923). (Bohush is a village south of Sarny and Klesiv, in the Ukraine) He was born on 13 Tishrei 5616 / 1856. (Others 1863).
His father was Harav Yitzchok, son of Harav Shalom Yosef of Sadigura, who was the eldest son of Harav Yisrael, the holy Ruzhiner Rebbe. He was also a descendant of the Ohev Yisrael of Apta, and of Harav Yechiel Mechel of Zlotchov. His mother, Rebbetzin Sheina, was a descendant of the Ahavat Shalom of Kossov and of Harav Moshe Leib of Sassov. He was named after his grandfather Harav Shalom Yosef and his great-grandfather Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin.
His father, Harav Yitzchak, led a court in Bohush which attracted many Chassidim. The chassidut was a direct continuation of the holy Ruzhiner dynasty, and its influence spread through Romania and surrounding areas. An aura of uplifting kedushah would be felt during every Yom Tov, when throngs of Chassidim made their way to the town of Bohush, Romania. Bohush was one of the largest Chassidic courts in Romania at the time.
It was in this rarified atmosphere of kedushah that Reb Shalom Yosef continued to grow spiritually, and even after his marriage to Rebbetzin Malka, the daughter of Harav Moshe Avraham of Rashkov, he remained under his father’s holy influence, reaching ever greater heights in avodat Hashem.
When Reb Shalom Yosef’s father was niftar in 5656 / 1896, he was the memalei makom. He led the many Chassidim with a strong hand, and established a thriving yeshivah, Yeshivah Beit Yisrael in Bohush; actually the first such yeshivah in that entire area. More than 120 bachurim learned there, including many of the
future Rabbanim and talmidei chachamim of Romania.
During WWI, he fled Romania temporarily, taking refuge in Galicia and Hungary.
The Rebbe had an inspiring hadrat panim, which reflected his intense kedushah and geonut. A medical expert, he wrote prescriptions that the pharmacies honored. He also did much tzedakah and chessed, especially for Kollel Romania in Eretz Yisrael. During those years, many Bohusher Chassidim lived in Eretz Yisrael, and the Rebbe’s activities back home in Europe benefited them greatly.
On the last day of Pesach 5683 / 1923, simchah permeated Bohush. That morning the Rebbe danced with the thousands of Chassidim after kiddush, an unusual occurrence. On Motzoei Yom Tov, when the Chassidim wanted to go take leave of the Rebbe, the gabbai went in to verify the time they should arrive. Instead of answering, the Rebbe asked for a glass of water so he could recite the brachah of Shehakol, and also asked for his new hat. After the Rebbe donned the hat he asked his gabbai if he looked good; he recited Shehakol, and was niftar.
His Torah thoughts were collected in Pe’er Yisrael, printed in Yerushalayim in 5739 / 1979. He was survived by his sons-in-law, Harav Menachem Mendel Friedman and Harav Dovid Twerski of Bohush.
One of his disciples, Rebbe Eliezer Zusia of Skulen (1898-1982), was the author of Noam Eliezer.
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24 Nisan 2448 - 1312 B. C. E.:
Bnei Yisroel paused at Marah, (literally "bitter," because the water there was bitter), two days after crossing the Yam Suf.
The people complained and Moshe miraculously made the waters turn sweet. The Talmud, Sanhedrin 56b relates: In Marah, Hashem commanded the Jews to observe ten Mitzvot; the seven Mitzvot Bnei Noach, plus monetary laws, Shabbat, and kibbud Av Va'eim. Thus, the first Shabbat which the Jews kept according to halacha, was after they had
reached Marah. A talmudic
passage elsewhere implies that the Shabbat laws dated from their arrival in
the "wilderness of Sin" on 15 Iyar.
24 Nisan 3412 - 349 B. C. E.:
Daniel saw a vision by the Euphrates (Daniel 10:2). The verse says, (Ibid 10:5-12):
"On the shore of the Chidekel river, a man clothed in linen - his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches....was revealed to Daniel. [According to most commentators, the man was Gavriel.] And the people [Chaggai, Zecharia and Malachi] did not see him. .... And the man confronted him:"Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to fast before your G-d, your words have been heard." "
(See commentators there for further explanation).
24 Nisan - 1615:
Christians in France were forbidden, under pain of death, to shelter or converse with Jews, by order of Louis XIII.
24 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe of Premishel (Premishlan), zt”l, author of Mateh Moshe (5366 / 1606).
HaRav Yisrael Dovid Margulies-Yaffe, zt"l, Rav of Pesing, (5562 / 1802 - 5624 / 1864).
Harav Yisrael Dovid was the son of Harav Mordechai Yaffe, a ninth-generation descendant of the famed Harav Mordechai Yaffe, the Baal HaLevushim.
As a young bachur he learned in the yeshivah of the Chatam Sofer in Pressburg.
Noted for his greatness in Torah and his profound oratorical skills, Reb Yisrael Dovid began to deliver shiurim while still a bachur.
After his marriage he was appointed Dayan in Semnitz, a position he held until 5592/1832.
Later he became Rav of Pesing. He led his kehillah with a strong hand and was at the forefront of the battle against those who sought to uproot traditional Yiddishkeit.
Reb Yisrael Dovid wrote many sefarim: Chazon Lamoed, on Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh of the Rambam; She’eilot U’Teshuvot Mecholat Hachasanim; She’eilot U’teshuvot Har Tavor; and others which were not published.
He wrote several works on Kabbalah as well, which he instructed should not be printed.
On the second day of Pesach, 5624/1864, Reb Yisrael Dovid fell ill. He was niftar just after Pesach, on 24 Nisan, at the age of 62.
HaRav Chaim Menachem Heschel of Zhinkov, zt”l, (5597 / 1837- 5653 / 1893). After the petirah of his father, Rav Meshulam Zusya, (grandson of the Ohev Yisrael of Apta, zt”l), on 3 Elul 5624/1864 he became Rebbe, and expanded the Chassidut throughout Russia, Ukraine, and Serbia. Reb Chaim Menachem was the son-in-law of Harav Dovid of Tolna; and in his second marriage, of Harav Shmuel of Hashyuka.
Reb Chaim Menachem was considered one of the greatest and most influential Rebbes of the time in Russia. There were many Zhinkover shtieblach scattered over Ukraine, Russia, and Serbia.
Harav Aharon of Karlin called the Zhinkover Rebbe “Gevurah Shebigevurah,” indicating his great power and influence on his Chassidim, and his fiery avodat Hashem.
Reb Chaim Menachem left over 1,000 pages of divrei Torah in manuscript. Unfortunately, little of it was ever printed. Some of his divrei Torah are found in the sefer Shemuot Tovot.
His sons were Harav Moshe and Harav Pinchas; his sons-in-law were Harav Yeshayahu of Makarov and Harav Feivush of Zelitschek.
HaRav Yosef Friedman of Rimanov, zt”l, (5673 / 1913).
Harav Yosef was born to his holy father, Harav Tzvi Hersh Hakohen Meshores of Riminov, and his third wife. After losing many children, the only children of Harav Tzvi Hersh who survived were Harav Yosef and a sister, who was about three years older than he.
Harav Tzvi Hersh was niftar in 5607/1847, when young Yosef was a mere child of three.
Harav Tzvi Hersh’s Rebbetzin then married Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin, and Yosef moved into the holy Ruzhiner’s home. When the Ruzhiner’s grandchildren stood in a row to wish their grandfather “Gut Shabbat,” three-year-old Yosef also got in line. When his turn came, his stepfather kissed him on the head and said, “You are actually named after Yosef Hatzaddik.”
When Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin was niftar four years later, Rav Yosef was raised by his son, Harav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura. (He adopted the name Friedman, the family name of the Ruzhiner dynasty).
In 5627/1867, when Rav Yosef was 23, his mentor and Rebbe, Harav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura, instructed him to return to Riminov and to inherit his father’s chassidut. He even provided him with the financial support to build a magnificent beit medrash. Rav Yosef complied, and with his return to Riminov the Chassidim once again flocked to the bastion of chassidut that they had once known. The Sadigura Rebbe traveled to Riminov for a Shabbat to personally install Rav Yosef as Rebbe.
The Riminover led his flock with utmost devotion for 46 years, until his petirah on 24 Nisan 5673/1913.
HaRav Eliyahu Akiva Rabinowitz of Poltava, zt”l, (5621 / 1861- 5677 / 1917). Born in Silale, Lithuania, he was the son of Harav Dov, who was Rav of Schillel and Pontnitza.
As a young boy, he was already known as the iluy of Wackshne.
He was the brother-in-law of Harav Eliyahu Dovid Rabinowitz Teumim, the Aderet.
He succeeded his father in 1888 as Rav of Pyantiza. In 1893 he was appointed Rav of Poltava, where he remained until his death.
Renowned for his firm opinions and a flowing pen, Rav Eliyahu Akiva used his strong Torah hashkafot to fight all those who tried to raise a hand against the Torah-true way of life. His style was fierce and unafraid, and he was always ready and willing to defend the kodshei Yisrael that were constantly under attack.
He became famous as a result of his attitude toward Zionism and the resulting controversy. Influenced by Rav Samuel Mohilewer, he attended the first Russian Zionist Conference in Warsaw in 1898 and was a delegate to the Second Zionist Congress in Basle in the same year. Uneasy about associating himself with Zionism, he urged that it confine itself to political and economic activity, and that if it did deal with religious matters it should at least be under rabbinic supervision. When his proposal was rejected, he launched a vehement attack against the Zionist Movement. Thereafter he became one of the leading opponents of Zionism.
Acting upon the deathbed request of his father, Rav Eliyahu Akiva refrained from entering into arguments to try to explain himself and the opinions he supported, even in cases where he was right; anyone who wanted his opinions could glean them from his articles in the weekly Jewish newspaper Hamodia and the periodical Hapeles.
From 1901 to 1905 he edited Hapeles and from 5670 / 1910 to 1914 Hamodia which were the main vehicles for his polemics. He invested enormous efforts to ensure that these publications led the way with a clear-cut vision of what responsibilities faced European Jewry at the time and Klal Yisrael in general.
In 1912 Rav Rabinowitz participated in the founding conference of the Agudath Israel in Kattowice.
On Erev Pesach 5677 / 1917, during the baking of the matzot, Rav Eliyahu Akiva collapsed. He was niftar shortly afterwards, on 24 Nisan, at the age of 56.
Among his many sefarim and other works was his sefer Chessed Limeshicho, a commentary on Megillat Rus.
HaRav Yehoshua Heshel Rabinowitz of Manestritsh, zt”l, (5698 / 1938).
HaRav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel Weinberg, zt”l, the Slonimer Rebbe of Tel Aviv, author of Otzar Arachei HaTorah B’ohalei Yissachar (5658 / 1898 – 5738 / 1978).
His father was Harav Yissachar Leib of Slonim, son of the Divrei Shmuel and grandson of the Yesod HaAvodah.
He was raised in the court of his grandfather, the Divrei Shmuel, in Slonim.
He married the daughter of Harav Dovid Weidenfeld of Warsaw, a talmid chacham who was also the father-in-law of the Beit Yisrael of Ger in his zivug sheini (after the War). After his marriage, Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel settled in Warsaw, near his father-in-law, but upon his father’s petira on 28 Nissan 5688 / 1928, he was asked to return to Slonim and succeed him. However, he did not agree to become Rebbe until the petira of his father’s brother, Rav Avraham, who was Rebbe in Bialystock (and later Baranovich) on Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5693 / 1933. Two years later, in 5695 / 1935, he moved to Tel Aviv and opened a Beit Midrash for Slonimer Chassidim there.
He wrote an encyclopedic work, on all topics mentioned in Tanach, based on Chazal in the Gemara and Midrashim, seven volumes of this monumental work have thus far been published as Otzar Arachei HaTorah B’Ohalei Yissachar, named for his father.
He is buried in Bnei Brak, near the kever of the Ozherover Rebbe.
He had two sons: Harav Shmuel, who was deputy mayor of Bnei Brak, and Harav Aryeh, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Shuvu Banim.
(25 Nisan according to some, others 5740 / 1980).
HaRav Chaim Yitzchak Chaikin, rosh yeshiva of Aixs-les-Bains, France, (5653 / 1893 - 5755 / 1995 (or 1993)). In 1938, Rav Chaikin - a disciple of the Choftez Chaim - replaced Rav Simcha Wasserman as Rosh Yeshiva of Neudorf (Strasbourg), then the only yeshiva in France, having been established in 1933. He worked closely with Rav Gershon Cahen (1923-2001), director of the Chachmei Tsorfat institutions in Aix-les-Bains. One of his talmidim, Rav Monsonego, left for Morocco to lead the talmud Torah in Casablanca for 1500 students in 1952. Another talmid, HaRav Yaakov Kohn, started a kollel in France under the instruction of the Steipler Gaon.
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25 Nisan 2450 - 1312 B. C. E.:
Bnei Yisroel arrived at Eilim, where they discovered 12 springs of water . They
remained there for 20 days.
25 Nisan - 4th Century B.C.E.:
Egyptian representatives appeared in the court of Alexander the Great, demanding that the Jews pay restitution for all the Egyptian gold and silver they took along with them during the Exodus.
Gevihah the son of Pesisa, a simple but wise Jew, requested the sages' permission to present a defense on behalf of the Jews.
Gevihah asked the Egyptians for evidence that the Jews absconded with their wealth. "The crime is clearly recorded in your Torah," the Egyptians gleefully responded.
"In that case," Gevihah said, "the Torah also says that 600,000 Jews were unjustly enslaved by the Egyptians for many, many years. So first let us calculate how much you owe us..." The court granted the Egyptians three days in which to prepare a response. When they were unable to do so they fled on the following day, the 25th of Nisan, and never returned.
In Talmudic times, the day when the Egyptian delegation fled was celebrated as a mini-holiday. For more details, click here.
25 Nisan - 1464:
30 Jews killed in riots in Cracow, Hy"d.
25 Nisan - 1570:
The Chumash with Yiddish translation was published in Cremona, Italy.
25 Nisan - 1801:
Soldiers, incited by ritual charges, riot and kill 128 Jews in Bucharest, Hy"d.
25 Nisan 5631 - April 16, 1871:
All civic limitations imposed on Jews of the German Empire were lifted. This brought medieval anti-Semitism to a conclusion but ten years later, almost to the day, Germany opened a new epoch of modern anti-Semitism. (See 26 Nissan 1881)
25 Nisan 5693 - April 21, 1933:
King Christian X of Denmark attended the 100th anniversary celebration of a synagogue in Copenhagen, to demonstrate his solidarity with the Jews. During the Holocaust, King Christian served as a rare example of refusal to cooperate in the murder of Jews. Almost all of the Jews of Denmark survived the war, while those in almost every other Nazi-occupied nation had their ranks decimated. In September 1943, the Nazis decided to deport all Danish Jews to the death camps -- but overnight a rescue organization was established and Danes from all walks of life helped to ferry some 6,000 Jews to safety in Sweden. Remarkably, less than two percent of the Jewish population of Denmark perished -- and Denmark later apologized for sending 19 Jews to concentration camps. One story (probably apocryphal, and popularized by Leon Uris in his book, Exodus) says that King Christian X bravely promised to wear a yellow star if the Jews would be forced to.
25 Nisan 5693 - April 21, 1933:
Shechita is banned in Germany by the Nazi government.
25 Nisan 5696 - April 17, 1936:
Anti-Jewish riots broke out in Eretz Yisrael.
25 Nisan 5698 - April 17, 1938:
An embargo went into effect on the property of Austrian Jews.
25 Nisan 5721 - April 11, 1961:
The trial of Adolph Eichmann, ym”s, on charges of genocide opened in Yerushalayim.
25 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe ben Yosef MiTrani, zt”l, the Mabit (5625 / 1505 - 1585). (See 23 Nisan)
HaRav Dan of Radvil, zt”l, (5598 / 1838).
HaRav Chaim Halberstam, zt”l, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, (5553 / 1793 (or 5557 / 1797) – 5636 / 1876), founder of the Sanz Chasidut. Born in Tarnograd, Poland. His father was Harav Aryeh Leib Halberstam, known as Reb Leibush, Rav of Tarnigrad; his mother was the tzaddeket Miriam. The family traced its roots to Harav Tzvi Hersch, zt”l, the Rav of Halberstat, and Harav Tzvi Hersh Ashkenazi, zt”l, the Chacham Tzvi.
When Reb Chaim was a young child, his father took him along to the Chozeh of Lublin. The Rebbe of Lublin declared upon seeing Reb Chaim, “I have nachas from him. He will one day be a leader in Klal Yisrael.”
During his childhood, Reb Chaim learned under the guidance of Harav Yehoshua Heschel Orenstein, author of the Yam Hatalmud, who gave him semichah at the age of 13, and Harav Eliezer Horowitz, author of the Noam Megadim. Later he learned under Harav Yosef of Tarnigrad, a brother of the Chozeh of Lublin.
Young Chaim’s hasmadah knew no bounds, and before long he became known as the illuy of Tarnigrad. Despite the fact that he was physically weak, he continued learning relentlessly.
The Baruch Taam, Harav Baruch Frankel, zt”l, took the illuy of Tarnigrad as a son-in-law.
After his chasunah, the Divrei Chaim lived with his father-in-law for a year in Leipnik, where they spent most of their time learning together. The Divrei Chaim later wrote in the foreword to his father-in-law’s sefer Baruch Taam, “Together we learned the entire Shas with Rishonim, and through it all he showed me gadlus in his pilpul.”
The Divrei Chaim became very attached to his father-in-law and his way of learning; he cited the Baruch Taam in his pesakim. Subsequently, he received semichah from his father-in-law, as well as from Harav Yaakov of Lisa, the Nesivot Hamishpat.
At the age of 18, he was appointed Rav of the small town of Rudnick, where he became a close talmid of Rav Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz, zy”a, who ultimately became his rebbi muvhak.
In the court of the Ropshitzer Rebbe, he became acquainted with many tzaddikim and talmidim of the Ropshitzer. Among them were Harav Meir’l of Apta, Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta, Harav Tzvi Hirsch of Ziditchov, Harav Meir of Premishlan, Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin, Harav Tzvi Hirsch of Rimanov, Harav Shimon of Yaraslov, Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, and Harav Sar Shalom of Belz.
After Reb Naftali’s petirah, Rav Chaim traveled to his successors, Harav Eliezer of Dzikov and Harav Asher Yeshayah of Ropshitz. In addition, he traveled to the Ateres Tzvi of Ziditchov and to Rav Sar Shalom of Belz.
In Rudnik his livelihood was meager, even with the help of his Rebbetzin who sold salt and other items.
In 5588 / 1828 he was accepted as Dayan in the city of Sanz (Tzanz), and two years later, in 1830, he became Rav of Sanz, where he stayed for 46 years.
His movement eventually became the largest Chassidut in Galicia, and all the tzaddikim of the generation accepted his opinion in all matters.
Aside from his gadlut in Torah and avodah, the Divrei Chaim was known for his mesirut nefesh in helping the poor and the downtrodden. He would donate enormous sums of money for tzedakah, often out of his own pocket, placing himself in debt to help others.
In 5627 / 1867, the Divrei Chaim’s health began to deteriorate. He turned the Rabbanut in Sanz over to his son, Reb Aharon, and concentrated on writing teshuvot.
In 5636 / 1876 Rav Chaim hinted in many ways that his petirah was drawing near. During Pesach he became ill, and on 25 Nisan he returned his holy soul to its Maker. The entire Klal Yisrael was thrust into a state of mourning.
The Divrei Chaim was buried in Sanz.
He had 15 children, five from his first Rebbetzin and another 10 after he remarried. Most of his children led Chassidim of their own. They include Rav Yechezkel of Shinov. His third son, Rav Meir Nosson, died of an epidemic at an early age; his only son was Rav Shloime, who would become the first Bobover Rebbe. Another scion of Sanz, Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam, the Klausenburger Rav, has erected several towns, yeshivot, and a modern medical center in Israel, as well as yeshivot in New Jersey and New York. The Sanz Chassidim have a yichus document showing how they are descended via the Maharal of Prague from Rav Yosef I of Rome and back to King David.
His divrei Torah are published in sefer Divrei Chaim on the Torah and in She’eilot U’Teshuvot Divrei Chaim.
HaRav Moshe Ulman, zt”l, (5659 / 1899), author of She’eilot U”teshuvot Yeriot Shlomo..
HaRav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel Weinberg, zt”l, the Slonimer Rebbe of Tel Aviv, author of Otzar Arachei HaTorah B’ohalei Yissachar (5658 / 1898 – 5738 / 1978).
(See 24 Nisan)
HaRav Nachum Tzvi (ben Kalman Avraham) Goldberg, zt”l, (1922-2006). Born to the Rav of Vasilkov, he moved with the family to America in 1926. As a bachur, he learned with Rav Shlomo Heiman for 5 years, then moved to Lakewood to learn with Rav Aharon Kotler for 9 years (1943-1952). As a married man, he moved back to the East Side and taught at Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef (RJJ) for over 20 years. After his father was niftar in 1968, he replaced him as Rav of Adas Yisrael. In 1973, he also became administrator of Ezrat Torah and made out the checks for all the yungeleit.
26 Nisan 2516 - 1245 B.C.E.:
The traditional Yahrtzeit of Yehoshua bin Nun / Joshua (1355-1245). Yehoshua was born in Egypt, and he led The Jews in the first decisive battle
against Amalek (Shmot / Exodus ch. 17). Yehoshua was Moshe Rabbeinu's prime disciple, and
accompanied him partway up Mount Sinai. He was also one of the 12
spies sent by Moshe to explore the land of Canaan. Before Moshe Rabbeinu died,
Hashem had him appoint Yehoshua as his successor.
Assuming the leadership of the Bnei Yisroel after Moshe's passing, Yehoshua led the Jewish people into the Holy Land,
where the Jordan River miraculously split. Yehoshua's first
conquest was Yericho / Jericho; after circling the city for seven days and blowing
shofars, the city walls collapsed. These and other events are described
in the Book of Yehoshua. He passed away at the age of 110, in the 28th year of his leadership. He was buried on his own estate in Timnat-Serach, in Mount Efraim.
26 Nissan 5641 - April 25, 1881:
A petition signed by 250,000 Germans, was presented to the government requesting the barring of foreign Jews from admission into Germany. This petition marked the opening of modern German anti-Semitism.
26 Nissan 5703 - May 1, 1943:
130,000 Jews of Amsterdam were deported to Sobibor and Auschwitz.
The deportation continued until 30 Av of that year.
26 Nissan - 1955:
Death of Albert Einstein, Princeton, NJ. Almost President of Israel.
26 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Yehoshua bin Nun - Buried in Timnat Serach in Har Ephraim, See above.
HaRav Ephraim (ben Aharon) Navon, zt"l, the Machaneh Efraim (1677- 5495 / 1735). Born in Andrinople, he married the daughter of Rav Yehuda Ergaz. He served as Chief Rabbi of Constantinople.
HaRav Moshe Betzalel Luria of Suvalk, zt”l, (5664 / 1904).
HaRav Yosef Levinstein, zt”l, (5600 / 1840 - 5684 / 1924), Rav of Srutzk.
Harav Yosef was born in Lublin. His father, Harav Abish, a leading talmid chacham of the city, was a fourth-generation descendant of the famed Rav Avraham Abish, Rav of Frankfurt.
After marrying the daughter of Harav Yitzchak Nislesh of Prague, a Vorka Chassid, Rav Yosef settled in Prague. There he continued to grow in Torah. At that time he was given semichah by Harav Yehoshua Heschel Ashkenazi, Rav of Lublin.
At just 18, Rav Yosef was appointed Dayan in Chorzhil. Later he became Rav in Zaklibkov, near Lublin.
As his fame as a Gadol baTorah spread, Rav Yosef was much sought after and he was chosen to be Rav of Srutzk. There he served for more than 50 years, and there he wrote his sefarim and encyclopedic works on the history of Gedolei Yisrael.
Rav Yosef was a walking encyclopedia; he could be asked for the source of any quotation. Using his phenomenal memory, Rav Yosef published Dor Dor Vedorshav, a chronological work on all Gedolei Yisrael from Adam Harishon. He put much effort into commemorating those who, while they may have been known during their lifetimes, had been forgotten in later generations. Rav Yosef also helped others who wrote historical and biographical works.
Rav Yosef contributed to the many Torah periodicals of his time: the Me’asef, Torah MiTzion, Shaarei Torah, Ha’peles, and others. He also helped publish Birkat Avraham, Kanah Avraham and Machazeh Avraham, authored by his forebear Harav Abish of Frankfurt. To all these sefarim, Rav Yosef added his own chiddushim.
There are also some teshuvot of his in Sdei Chemed.
Rav Yosef was niftar in Srutzk.
HaRav Yehoshua Heshel Rabinowitz of Manestritsh, zt”l, (5698 / 1938).
Harav Yehoshua Heshel was born in Zinkov on 24 Adar 5620/1860. His father, Harav Yitzchak Yoel of Kontikozva, was a scion of the Linitz dynasty.
Reb Yehoshua Heshel married his cousin, the daughter of his uncle Harav Pinchas Rabinowitz of Sokolovka, and settled near his father-in-law. However, in 5640/1880 he returned to his father’s town.
After the petirah of Reb Yitzchak Yoel on 25 Tammuz 5645/1885, his sons Reb Yehoshua Heshel and Reb Pinchas were appointed Rebbes.
In 5646/1886, Reb Yehoshua Heshel left Kontikozva and settled in Manestritsh, Ukraine, and he is known after this city.
He suffered much persecution, especially from the government.
Many Chassidim flocked to his court. He also traveled across the country visiting and giving chizuk to his Chassidim.
In 5659/1899, Reb Yehoshua Heshel published the first section of Divrei Yehoshua. The sefer was adorned with haskamot of many of the Gedolim of the generation. The second cheilek was published in 5667/1907.
In 5670/1910, Reb Yehoshua Heshel moved from Manestritsh to Uman.
During World War I, Reb Yehoshua Heshel suffered terribly. Rioters entered his house and threatened to kill him, but he was saved by way of a bribe of tens of thousands of rubles. His Rebbetzin and his son Rav Gedalyah Aharon were killed in an uprising in 5679/1919.
In Elul 5683/1923, Reb Yehoshua Heshel left Uman; after a long, weary journey via Kiev, Moscow, Riga and London, he arrived on the shores of America on 24 Tevet 5684/1924. He settled in New York, where he established a beit medrash.
Reb Yehoshua Heshel was niftar in New York on 26 Nisan 5698/1938, at the age of 78.
HaRav Moshe (ben Yaakov) Halberstam, zt"l, (1932-2006). Born in the town of Tshakawe, Galicia, he was a great-great-great grandson of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. As a youth, he studied at Yeshivat Beit Avraham Slonim under the Nesivot Shalom of Slonim. His rebbi muvhak was Rav Shmuel Wosner. He delivered shiurim for decades in a kollel for halacha that he headed. He was a member of the Eida Chareidit Beit Din and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Tshakawe. In 1997, he was appointed a member of Badatz. He published a collection of responsa called Divrei Moshe. He founded the Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Tzedaka, and was the head of the charity Chibat Yerushalayim Kupat Rebbe Meir Baal Hannes. His son-in-law Rav Mattisyahu Deitch founded the Yad Ramah Institute under the guidance of the greatest halachic authorities of today, and it deals with solutions for problems in halacha and medicine.
HaRav Moshe (ben Chaim Tzvi) Teitelbaum, zt"l, Satmar Rebbe (1914-2006). Born the second son of the Atzei Chaim, in Ratzfert, Hungary, he was orphaned at the age of 11 and raised by various relatives. Following his marriage in 1936, he served as Rosh Yeshiva at Karecska. In 1939, he became the rabbi of Zenta, Yugoslavia (now Serbia).In 1944, Rav Moshe and his wife were sent to Auschwitz; his wife and their three children died. Moshe was then transferred to Theresienstadt, from where he was liberated in 1945. Following the War, he remarried and moved to New York, first settling in Williamsburg, then in 1966 in Boro Park. He succeeded his uncle Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, as Satmar Rebbe in 1979. He is the author of Beirach Moshe, a 5-volume Chassidic commentary on Chumash.
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26 Nissan - 1435:
Jewish residents of Speyer, Germany, were expelled.
27 Nisan 5703 - May 2, 1943:
Warsaw Ghetto uprising. In the summer of 1942, about 300,000 Jews were
deported from Warsaw to Treblinka. When reports of the mass murder in the killing
center leaked back to the Warsaw ghetto, an organized resistance began forming,
which managed to smuggle a modest chache of arms into the ghetto. On the 14th
of Nissan of 1943, the remaining 35,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto (from an original
450,000) staged an organized uprising, and drove back the Nazis with a rain
of bullets when they came to begin the final removal of all Jews. The Jewish
resistance lasted 27 days. A heroic stand was made in an underground bunker
under 18 Mila Street, where hundreds of fighters, including the 24-year-old
leader of the uprising, Mordechai Anilevitch, met their death. Although the
Ghetto was burned to the ground by Iyar 3, a few stray survivors hid in the
rubble and fired at the Nazis for two months longer. In tribute to the uprising,
the Israeli government designated the 27th of Nisan as its official "Holocaust
Memorial Day"; in many Jewish communities, the day is observed as an annual
Holocaust remembrance day. Because of the halachic prohibition to conduct eulogies
and other mournful events in the festive month of Nisan, the chief rabbinate
of Israel, and many Jewish communities, observe the 10th of Tevet as a day to
mourn and remember the six million, which include many whose yahrtzeit (date
of passing) remains unknown.
27 Nisan 5711 - May 3, 1951:
By a resolution of the Knesset, Israel, this day was designated Holocaust Memorial Day, in commemoration of the martyred six million Jews and the fighters of the ghetto.
27 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yichya Tzalach of Taimon, zt”l, (5565 / 1805), author of Eitz Chaim and Pe’ulat Hatzedek
HaRav Yitzchak Ashkenazi, zt”l, (5567 / 1807), ,author of Taharat Hakodesh.
HaRav Yehuda Kahana, zt”l, the Kuntres Hasefeikot (5579 / 1819).
HaRav Tzvi Aryeh Frommer,(Frumer), Hy”d, (5703 / 1943), the Koziglover Rav.
Rav Aryeh Tzvi was born in 5644/1884 in Tcheldasz, a small shtetl in the vicinity of Bendin, Poland, to Reb Chanoch Hendel and Rebbetzin Miriam Kayla.
Reb Chanoch Hendel took pride in his great lineage; he was a descendant of Harav Dov Berish of Ushpitzin, a talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin, who in turn was a descendant of the Maginei Shlomo of Cracow.
Reb Aryeh Tzvi was orphaned of his mother at a very young age. With four children to care for, Reb Chanoch Hendel remarried. Since there was no local cheder for the young Aryeh Tzvi, he traveled to Velbrom where he stayed with an uncle, learning with great diligence.
At the age of 12, Aryeh Tzvi left his uncle’s home and traveled to Amstov, where there was a yeshivah.
In his quest for shleimut, he turned to the great court of Sochatchov, led by Harav Avraham, the Avnei Nezer. Within a short time, the Sochatchover Rebbe realized his talmid’s great capabilities.
When Reb Aryeh Tzvi turned 18 he married Esther, the daughter of Reb Yehudah Shraga Schweitzer of Milovitz. After his wedding, Reb Aryeh Tzvi moved in with his in-laws.
In 5670/1910 his revered Rebbe was niftar and was succeeded by his son, the Shem miShmuel. The Shem miShmuel decided to appoint the 26-year-old Reb Aryeh Tzvi to run the yeshivah while he focused on leading the Chassidim. Reb Aryeh Tzvi left his in-laws’ home and assumed the position of Rosh Yeshivah. He revealed profound abilities in both teaching and leadership, and talmidim arrived from all over Poland.
With the outbreak of World War I, the yeshivah ceased to exist, and Reb Aryeh Tzvi was forced to seek a new parnassah.
When his uncle, Harav Yitzchak Gotenstein, zt”l, Rav of Kozhiglov, was niftar, Reb Aryeh Tzvi was offered the post.
After a number of years in Kozhiglov, Reb Aryeh Tzvi moved to Z’eveirtze, where he was supported by the Sochatchover shtiebel.
Eventually he moved to Sosnowitz, where he continued to teach talmidim, and where he was appointed a member of the Vaad Harabbanim. Then he was contacted by Harav Meir Shapiro, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, to serve as a Rosh Yeshivah in his newly founded makom Torah. At first Reb Aryeh Tzvi refused, but after the tragic petirah of Rav Meir Shapiro he was asked again to assume the mantle of leadership, which he accepted.
In 5673/1913 he published his first sefer, Siach Hasadeh; and in 5799/1939, right before World War II, he publishedShe’eilot U’teshuvot Eretz Tzvi.
With the outbreak of World War II, Reb Aryeh Tzvi and his family fled to Warsaw, from where he was transferred to Maidanek and killed al kiddush Hashem on 27 Nisan 5703/1943. Hashem yinkom damo.
HaRav Yeshayah Asher Zelig Margulies, zt”l, (5729 / 1969), a mekubal of Yerushalayim and author of many sefarim, one of which is Kumi V’Roni
HaRav Levi Yitzchak (ben Moshe) Greenwald, zt”l, the Tzelemer Rav (5740 / 1980).
He arrived in America in 1939, just before the onset of World War II, after his Beit Medrash was destroyed on Kristellnacht, and he re-established his Beit Medrash in Williamsburg. He also established one of the first Chasidishe yeshivot in America, Arugat Habosem, named after his father, the Chuster Rav, who was known as the Arugat Habosem. He is buried in New York.
HaRav Avigdor Miller, zt"l, (5669 / 1909 - 5761 / 2001), Rav of Kehillat Beit Yisrael in Flatbush and one of America's leading Torah educators.
Born in 5669 / 1909 in Baltimore, Rav Miller attended public school like all the other Jewish boys from religious homes, and he studied Torah with his grandfather and other local rabbonim.
His diligence was evident even as a youngster. At the age of 14, he left to study at Yeshivat Rabbenu Yitzchak Elchonon, which at the time was the only Jewish high school offering high-level Jewish studies in the U.S.
It was there where he progressed tremendously and it was there that he met future leaders of US Jewery, such as Rav Nosson Wachtfogel, Rav Yehuda Davis and Rav Mordechai Gifter.
During the 1920s, Hagaon Harav Aizik Sher, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of the Slabodka Yeshiva, came to America to raise funds. In 1932, Rav Miller followed Rav Aizik Sher to the famed Slobodka Yeshiva in Europe, where he spent six years learning and was imbued with the unique Slabodka derech in mussar.
In 1935 he married his life partner for 64 years, Chana Ethel Lessin, the daughter of Rav Yaakov Moshe Lessin, Rav of Neishtat and later the mashgiach ruchani of Yeshivat Rabbenu Yitzchok Elchonon in New York. Their two oldest children were born in Slabodka. But in the 1930s, when it looked like war was inevitable, the Miller family decided to return to America.
The first rabbinical position which Rav Avigdor accepted was in Chelsea, Massachusetts where, besides shepherding his flock, he devoted himself to the children’s chinuch.
After close to a decade, Rav Miller realized that for the sake of his own children’s education he would have to move to New York. Divine Providence decreed that on the very day he made this decision, he received a call from Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Hutner, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, inviting him to become the menahel ruchani of his yeshivah.
Rav Miller accepted the post at Chaim Berlin, where he stayed for 20 years. In Chaim Berlin he could be seen learning most of the day; during that period he would complete the entire Shas each year.
He was then invited by the Young Israel of Rugby to be their unofficial Rav. The shul, located at East 49 street in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, a position which became official in 1946-47.
He was one of the first to record his shiurim so they could be widely distributed. As his thousands of Hashkafah tapes spread worldwide, Jews from all over became his talmidim.
In 1964, when Yeshivat Chaim Berlin moved to Far Rockaway, Rav Miller left Chaim Berlin to devote himself full time to his congregation and his writing.
He produced a series of groundbreaking books on Jewish thought, at a time when rabbinic works in English were almost unheard of. He began writing the first book, Rejoice O Youth, in 1963. Behold a People appeared in 1968 and Sing, You Righteous in 1973, all trailblazing works that articulated many aspects of Torah ideology in English for the first time.
His books on Jewish history clearly demonstrated how world events had been orchestrated by Hashem for the sake of the Jewish people. He was particularly skillful at connecting secular phenomena to the Divine. For example, before eating an apple he exclaimed, "Almighty G-d, look at this magnificent apple that You created! The wisdom of its waterproof enclosure, the beauty of its tantalizing red color, and the temptingly delicious aroma with which it is perfumed. How can I even begin to thank You!"
In addition to several English-language books, Rav Miller's greatness is preserved on audiotape, in the form of a 2,000-part lecture series on Jewish ethics and history, enjoyed by newcomers and veterans of Torah learning alike..
HaRav Shalom Moshe (Shmuel Dovid) Ungar, zt”l, a descendent of the Abarbanel (who was himself a descendent of Dovid Hamelech). (1916-2003) Born in Krumpach, Slovakia. In 1941, he married the daughter of Rav Simcha Greenberg, an ardent Munkatcher chasid. Supported by his father-in-law, Rav Shalom Moshe learned bechavrusa with his brother-in-law, Rav Meir Greenberg, later to become the Kezmarker Rav of New York. Rav Shalom Moshe worked with another brother-in-law, Rav Michoel Ber Weissmandl, in rescue operations during the War. Deportations from Nitra began in Elul of 1944. The Nitra yeshiva (of 200 bachurim) was the last yeshiva in Europe to remain open and was liquidated on the 17th of Elul. Hiding in the forest for the remainder of the War, Rav Shalom Moshe lost his father, his wife, and his three children. In 1947, he was officially named Rav of Nitra. In 1948, the Nitra kehilla was established in Mount Krisco, Westchester County, NY.
HaRav Uri Shraga (ben Reuven) Hakohen Hellman, zt”l, (2008). Menahel Ruchani of Beit Yaakov Boro Park for 62 years. Born in Dinslaken, a small town of about forty Jewish families, located near Cologne, Germany, he learned in Frankfurt under Rav Yosef Breuer and at Mir under the Mashgiach Rav Yeruchom Levovitz.
28 Nisan 2488 - 1272 B. C. E.:
Eighteen days after entering Eretz Yisrael, Bnei Yisroel marched around the walls of the fortified city of Yericho / Jericho for seven days, carrying the Aron HaKodesh / Holy Ark, proceeded by kohanim sounding the shofar (Ram's horn). On the seventh day, 28 Nisan, which fell on Shabbat, the walls crumbled and the city was conquered. (Yehoshua / Joshua 6) (see 22 Nisan)
In honor of the event,
Yehoshua composed the tefillah / prayer of Aleinu L'Shabe'ach.
28 Nisan 5641 - April 27, 1881:
A tavern dispute in Elisabethgrad, Russia on blood libels spawned massive pogroms against the Jews (in which soldiers often joined) in Odessa and Kiev. In all, over a hundred and sixty riots occurred in southern Russia. Ignatyev, the Minister of the Interior, insisted that the Jews caused the pogroms. General Drenbien refused to endanger his troops by sending them in "for a few Jews".
28 Nisan 5672 - April 15, 1912:
The RMS Titanic sank after crashing into an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The Titanic was the largest passenger and most luxurious steamship in the world at the time, accommodating over 2,000 passengers. Promoters bragged that it was "the ship that even G-d couldn't sink." The sinking resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, ranking it as one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history, and by far the most famous. Many wealthy Jewish magnates drowned in this tragedy.
Here is a unique Jewish angle: As the ship began to sink, and passengers struggled for one of the few spots in a lifeboat, Leah Aks carried her baby Frank to the deck, trying to get on line to be rescued. In the pandemonium, one man grabbed Leah’s baby and threw him overboard into a lifeboat. Leah was hysterical at having lost her precious baby, but she also managed to get into a lifeboat and was saved. Two days later, she saw a woman holding a child -- her baby Frank! An argument ensued and the other woman refused to give up the baby, claiming it as her own. Leah said, "I can prove this is my child -- he is circumcised." (In Europe at that time only Jewish children were circumcised.) Baby Frank was duly reunited with his mother – and he lived till 1991.
28 Nisan 5696 - April 20, 1921:
3 Jews killed and many wounded by Arabs in Petach Tikva, Hy"d. (Others 29 Nisan)
28 Nisan 5696 - April 20, 1936:
An Arab attack on Petach Tikva was repelled by the Jewish settlers.
28 Nisan 5698 - April 29, 1938:
Anti-Jewish riots broke out in Vilna, Poland.
28 Nisan 5703 - May 3, 1943:
Jews from Eretz Yisrael bound for Malta died when their ship was sunk by a German plane, Hy"d.
28 Nisan 5705 - April 11, 1945:
U.S.forces liberated Buchenwald with its 20,000 inmates.(See 29 Nisan)
28 Nisan Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shabsai Sheftel Horowitz, zt”l, (1590 – 5420 / 1660). The son of Harav Yeshayah Horowitz, the Shelah Hakadosh. He was named for his paternal great-grandfather Harav Shabsai Sheftel Horowltz, author of Yesh Nochalin and Emek Brachah.
Reb Shabsai studied under his illustrious father, the Shelah, who taught his son works of Kabbalah. He was also the talmid of Rav Shlomo Ephraim Lunshitz, Rav of Prague (the Olelot Efraim).
Reb Shabsi Sheftel married the daughter of Harav Moshe Charif, Rav of Lvov. He served as Rav in Fiorira, Frankfurt, Posen, Vienna and Prague.
After his father left for Eretz Yisrael, Reb Shabsi Sheftel remained in constant contact with him via letters. When Rav Yeshayah completed Shnei Luchot Habrit (after which he is named, Shelah being an acronym of the name of the sefer), he sent a copy of the set to his son.
And he became dayan of Prague. He then became Rav of Fuerth, then Frankfurt am Main, then Posen, where he founded a yeshiva. In 1654, he was appointed Rav of Vienna.
In 1649, he published his father's work, Shnei Luchot HaBrit, along with his own extensive introduction to Shnei Luchot Habrit, called Vavei HaAmudim — based on six amudim (pillars): Torah, avodah, gemilut chassadim, din, emet and shalom — as the title of the sefer implies: Hakdamah Vavei HaAmudim.
Reb Shabsi Sheftel also wrote other chiddushim, but these were never published.
He was niftar on Erev Shabbat, 28 Nisan 5420 / 1660, in Vienna, and is buried there. and was survived by his son, Harav Yeshayah Horowitz, Rav in Frankfurt.
HaRav Yichiyeh ben Yosef Tzalach, zt"l, the Maharitz, founder of the Baladi community of Yemen (1713-1805). He is described as "without question,....the greatest rabbi and exponent of Jewish law ever to have been produced by Yemen." By 1795, he served on the Beis Din of Sanaa.
HaRav Yehoshua of Ostrova, zt”l, son of Rav Shlomo Leib of Lentcha, and author of Toldot Adam (1819 - 5633 / 1873).
Harav Yehoshua was the son of Harav Shlomo Leib of Lentchna.
In his youth, he learned under the tutelage of his father. He also traveled to the court of the Sar Shalom of Belz.
Reb Yehoshua frequented the courts of many of the generation’s Rebbes. Among them were Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin, Harav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, Harav Yitzchak of Vorka, Harav Meir of Premishlan and others. His father noted that it was no wonder he traveled to so many Rebbes, as his neshamah was that of the Tanna Rabi Yehoshua ben Perachyah, who says in Pirkei Avot that one should make a Rav for himself.
After the petirah of his father, on 19 Nisan 5603/1843, Reb Yehoshua succeeded him as Rebbe in Lentchna. Later he moved to Sosnowiec, and from there to Ostrova.
Reb Yehoshua served as Rebbe for 30 years. He was niftar on 28 Nisan 5633/1873 in Warsaw and was buried there. His kever was refurbished in recent years.
His divrei Torah were published under the nameToldot Adam, a year after his petirah. At the end of the sefer there were also some of the divrei Torah of his father, Reb Shlomo Leib, and of Rav Yerachmiel of Peshischa.
Reb Yehoshua’s only daughter married Harav Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowitz of Biale — a descendant of the Yehudi Hakadosh — who succeeded his father-in-law.
HaRav Yosef Yozke (or Yozpe) Rosenberg of Zalkava, , zt”l, author of Yad Yosef (on the first three perakim of Bava Metzia) and Revid Hazahav (5665 / 1905).
HaRav Yehoshua Pinchas Bombach, zt”l, of Ushpetzin (or Oswiecim) (5681 / 1921). [note: according to a frequently told story of the brothers Reb Elimelech and reb Zusia, this city would later be called Auschwitz.
HaRav Yissacher Leib Weinberg of Slonim, zt”l, (5688 / 1928).
HaRav Aryeh Shapira, rosh yeshivat Volozhin [also known as Valozhyn, Volozhy'N, Wolozyn, Volozine, and Wolozine; note: perhaps this is a typo, and is instead referring to Rav Raphael Shapira, the son-in-law of the Netziv, who successeeded him until 1881; or possibly Rav Yaakov Shapira (d. 1936).
HaRav Shem Klingberg, zt”l, the Zaloshitzer Rebbe of Cracow, Hy”d, (5703 / 1943).
HaRav Aharon Hakohen Rosenfeld, the Pinsk-Karliner Rebbe, zt”l, (5687 / 1927 - 5761 / 2001). The Pinsk-Karliner Rebbe’s father, Harav Yitzchak Menashe Hacohen, zt”l, arrived in Yerushalayim from Lodz, Poland, at the age of 13 and became a Karliner Chassid. He named his son, “Aharon” because his brit took place on Yom Kippur, when the Kohel Gadol would perform his sacred avodah.
The young Aharon attended the Chayei Olam cheder until his bar mitzvah, after which he studied in the Karliner yeshivah in Yerushalayim.
Reb Aharon married the daughter of Harav Chaim Yisrael Halitovsky, z”l, a prominent Karliner Chassid.
The tenet he held most dear was the importance of time and the prohibition against wasting it. There was nothing he abhorred more than indolence.
For many years, he served as a maggid shiur in the Eitz Chaim yeshiva, and then in the Belz yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael and Belgium. He was an outstanding marbitz Torah who, over a period of 50 years, left an indelible impression on all his talmidim, infusing them with yirat Shamayim.
When he was only thirty his wife was niftar, leaving him a widower with five small children.
During this challenging period, he showed his loving acceptance of Hashem’s decree but did not reduce his punctuality. In spite of the heavy burden that had been thrust upon his inexperienced shoulders, he was careful not to miss any of his sedarim or shiurim. The mussar he gave to others always achieved its goal, since he practiced what he preached.
He later married the widow of Rav Chaim Tzvi Halberstam, zt"l, who raised the orphans and brought them to marriage.
He shared in the experiences of others, living their joys and sorrows, and he became famous for bringing about yeshuot. Even before he became a Rebbe, whenever someone voiced the need for a yeshuah he would immediately open a sefer Tehillim and then, daily, he would recite heartfelt, tearful perakim until he heard that that person had merited a yeshuah.
On Pesach 5751 / 1991, at the yahrtzeit of his grandfather, Rav Aharon of Karlin, he was appointed Admor of Pinsk-Karlin.
He was like a father to his Chassidim, a spiritual shepherd who humbly and lovingly tended his flock.
The Rebbe was meticulous regarding curriculum and chinuch. Every so often he would assemble the staff of melamdim and maggidei shiur and offer them guidance and encouragement. He would talk about the role of the mechanech in our generation, and how to instill Torah and yirat Shamayim in both young and teen-aged boys.
A year and a half before his petirah he underwent open-heart surgery, after which he remained in critical condition. His uncomplaining acceptance of pain, and his efforts never to offend anyone made a strong impression.
Friday night, parashat Acharei Mot, he led his final tisch and at 2:00 a.m. he felt ill and was rushed to the hospital. All efforts to save his life were futile and he returned his soul to his Maker.
He was buried on Har Hamenuchot in Chelkat Hachassidim.
HaRav Yissochor Dov (ben Shaul) Rubin, zt"l, author of Tallelei Orot (1962-2008). After learning at Yeshiva L'tze'irim Ruzhin in Bnei Brak, he joined the Ponevezh Yeshiva and later continued his studies in the Kollel Avreichim of Yeshivas Ponevezh. He was hired as a maggid shiur in Yeshiva Karlin Stolin L'tze'irim and later as mashgiach in Yeshivas Beis Chilkiya. In 1988, he began writing his divrei Torah on the parsha which was printed weekly in Yated Neeman. Thus began the seeds for his sefer, Tallelei Orot on the Parsha. Thereafter came volumes on Sukkot, Pesach, Purim, Tisha B'av, and the Yomim Noraim. In the last few years, Rav Yissochor Dov invested much effort in publishing the Tallelei Orot on tefilla-prayer. He produced five volumes. In addition the these seforim, Rav Yissochor Dov also published Sefer Orot HaGra, as well as the popular version of Sefer Nefesh Hachaim with his elucidations, footnotes, and references. He also (anonymously) printed two volumes of Sefat Emet al Hatefilla.
29 Nisan - April 12, 1945:
The Buchenwald concentration camp was founded in 1937 near the town of Weimar, Germany. Approximately 250,000 prisoners were incarcerated in this camp until its liberation in 1945. Weimar is a German city known for its highly cultured citizenry. It was the home of many of the upper class intellectual members of Europe’s society. Among others, Goethe, Schiller, Franz Liszt, and Bach lived in Weimar. Though technically not an extermination camp, approximately 56,000 prisoners were murdered in Buchenwald (not including many others who died after being transferred to other extermination camps). They died from vicious medical experiments, summary executions, torture, beatings, starvation, and inhuman work conditions. The camp was also known for its brutality. German officers would force inmates to eat their meager soup ration off the mud on the ground; would keep them standing in the cold until they froze to death; and they would even use skin of dead inmates to make lamp shades. On the 29th of Nisan 1945 the Sixth Armored Division of the United States Third Army liberated the camp. Among the more famous inmates who spent time in Buchenwald are Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel. Elie Wiesel, who went on to write stirring accounts of the Holocaust, for which he earned the Nobel Peace Prize, was also an inmate at Buchenwald. Toward the end of the war, the Nazis evacuated inmates from Buchenwald to Flossenberg, where they were liberated.
29 Nisan Yahrtzeits.
HaRav Chaim Vital, zt”l, (1542? - 5380 / 1620), principal talmid of the Ari Hakadosh, author of the mystical work Eitz Chaim. HaRav Vital was born in Tzefat, two years after his family moved there from Calabria, Italy.
From the age of 14, he studied under the great Rav Moshe Alshich and Rav Moshe Cordevero, the Ramak.. In 1570, when the famed kabbalist, the Arizal (Rav Isaac Luria - the "Holy Ari," 1534-1572), came to Tzefat from Egypt, and after the petira of the Ramak, Rav Chaim became his primary disciple. The Arizal, who died at age 38, taught Rav Vital for only two years. But Rav Vital diligently transcribed,
edited and organized
all the Arizal's teachings,
today know as Kisvei Arizal, which have served as the basis for all subsequent study of "Lurianic" kabbalah. His other works are Shaarei Hakanot, and Shaarei Kedusha (a guide to achieving ruach ha-kodesh and nevuah).
He died in Damascus. His kever was later moved to Kiryat Malachi. (Others have the Yahrtzeit as 30 Nisan.)
HaRav Yehudah Meir Shapiro of Shepetovka, zt”l, (5520 / 1760 - 5589 / 1829). Son of HaRav Pinchas of Koritz. His father told his other sons to respect him, not only as their older brother but also because he was born during the lifetime of the Baal Shem Tov.
He was originally called just Meir. During his youth, a plague broke out in the city. Reb Pinchas davened and the plague ceased, but his young son, Meir, was deathly ill. The people saw this as a sign that he would be taken as a kapparah (atonement) for them, and asked Reb Pinchas to alleviate the decree. They decided to add the name Yehudah, and he became well.
He married Rebbetzin Sarah, the daughter of Rav Yaakov Shimshon of Shipitovka. Following the move of his father-in-law, Reb Yaakov Shimshon, to Eretz Yisrael, Reb Yehudah Meir succeeded him.
When Harav Pinchas Koritzer was niftar on 10 Elul 5551 / 1891, Reb Yehudah Meir was appointed Rebbe by Harav Chaim of Krasna. His court in Shipitovka attracted a large crowd of chassidim.
After he became Rebbe, his tefillot took many hours. He was known as a poel yeshuot, and many instances of ruach hakodesh were reported.
Some of the divrei Torah of Reb Yehudah Meir were published in Sifsei Tzaddik, by his grandson Harav Menachem Mendel of Vizhnitz.
His sons were Harav Dov Ber of Tlust, and Harav Yosef Yoske and Harav Pinchas of Shipitovka. Two of his sons passed away in his lifetime.
His sons-in-law were Harav Yosef Katzenelenbogen of Ostilla; Harav Chaim Hager of Kossov, forebear of the Vizhnitz dynasty; Harav Aryeh Leib Wertheim of Bandry; and Harav Michel of Kashivka.
HaRav Yehudah Bachrach, zt”l, author of Nimukei Hagriv and Torat Chatas, (5606 / 1846).
HaRav Dan Landau of Plotzk, zt”l, father in law of Reb Avraham Tchechenover, (5609 / 1849).
HaRav Moshe Pallier of Kobrin, zt”l, (1784 - 5618 / 1858). A close follower of the Rebbe, Rav Mordechai of Lechovitch and his son, Rav Noach, he became the first Rebbe of the Kobrin dynasty in 1833. His teachings are collected in Imrot Taharot.
HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok of Makrov, zt”l, (5652 / 1892).
HaRav Mordechai Shalom Yosef Friedman of Sadigura-Przemysl, zt”l, Sadigerer Rebbe, the Knesset Mordechai (5656 / 1895 – 5739 / 1979).
Harav Mordechai Shalom Yosef was born on 17 Kislev 5656/1895 in Sadigura. His parents were Rav Aharon, son of Rav Yisrael, the Ohr Yisrael of Sadigura, and Rebbetzin Sarah Sheindel Roiza, daughter of Reb Shalom Yosef, son of the first Rebbe of Husyatin.
Reb Mordechai Shalom Yosef studied under his father until the age of 10. When he was 12, he was spending untold hours learning, determined to finish all of Shas twice before becoming bar mitzvah.
At that time, he became engaged to Mirel Mira, daughter of Rav Yisrael Shalom Yosef of Mezhibuz. The chasunah took place five years later. By then, both the chassan and the kallah had lost their fathers.
After his wedding, he became Rebbe and led his flock with wisdom, kindness and nobility. However, this idyllic period lasted only two years, until the outbreak of World War I, when the Rebbe was forced to flee to Vienna. There, he opened his home to all, and upon the conclusion of the war took an active part in the reconstruction of authentic Jewish life.
As soon as travel became possible after WWI, the Rebbe began making circuits throughout Poland and Galicia to visit the kevarim of his ancestors and to attend to his Chassidim. Reb Mordechai Shalom Yosef decided in 5683/1923 to open a yeshivah gedolah in Przemysl, in addition to the yeshivah ketanah, naming it Yeshivat Meshivat Nafesh. In time the yeshivah opened a branch in the town of Yosepov-Lubalsky. Finally, in 5694/1934, the Rebbe moved to Przemysl himself, his last stop in the Diaspora before moving to Eretz Yisrael.
Throughout the years, the Rebbe encouraged his Chassidim to settle in Eretz Yisrael. A few months before the outbreak of World War II, the Rebbe made a second trip to Eretz Yisrael. His uncle, Reb Yisrael of Husyatin, who had settled there a few years earlier, urged him to stay. Reb Mordechai Shalom Yosef agreed, and was able to bring his entire family over at the last moment before the outbreak of war. He settled in Tel Aviv and founded a beit medrash.
The Rebbe suffered poor health in his later years, but continued his avodat hakodesh until his petirah on 29 Nisan 5739/1979. During his last evening, he recited Viduy and the Kriat Shema of the Ari. In the morning he arose, washed his hands, recited Asher Yatzar, asked for some water to say Shehakol, lay down and returned his soul to his Creator.
The Rebbe was buried in the Nachalat Yitzchak cemetery in Tel Aviv.
30 Nisan - 1st Day Rosh Chodesh Iyar
According to some opinions, today is the last day one may recite Birchat Ha'ilanot.
30 Nisan - 1559:
Sixtus Senesis, an apostate Jew who became a Dominican, tried to convince the governor of Cremona, Italy, to burn the Talmud. The governor demanded witnesses before he would give the order. Vittorio Eliano, the converted grandson of Elias Levita and one Joshua dei Cantori, bore witness that the Talmud was full of lies about Christianity. A few days later approximately 10,000 seforim were burned. The Zohar was not touched since the Pope and the Catholic church was interested in its publication, believing that it would supplant the Talmud and make it easier to convert the Jews. Ironically, Eliano himself who wrote the preface to the Cremona Zohar.
30 Nisan 5419 - April 23, 1659:
Eight Jews were killed Al Kiddush Hashem at Przemysl, Poland, Hy"d.
30 Nisan 5693 - April 26, 1933:
Jewish students were barred from all German schools.
30 Nisan 5693 - April 26, 1933:
The notorious Gestapo was established.
30 Nisan 5742 - April 23, 1982:
Demolition of Yamit completed.
30 Nisan 5762 - April 12, 2002:
A female suicide bomber blows herself up at the Mahane Yehuda market, Yerushalayim's main outdoor market, killing six people and wounding over 104 just hours before Shabbat. Among those killed was Rivka Fink, 74, grandmother of nine.
30 Nisan Yahrtzeits
Rabbeinu Yosef Halevi ibn Migash (the Ri Migash), zt"l, talmid of the Rif (1077 - 4901 / 1141). As head of the famous academy of Lucena, Spain, Rabbeinu Yosef taught numerous disciples including Rabbi Maimon, father of the Rambam. The Rambam's praise of the R’ Yosef is uncharacteristically ecstatic. "The depth and scope of his wisdom astound all who study his words" said the Rambam. Having absorbed Rabbeinu Yosef's teachings from his father, Rambam refers to him as "my teacher".
HaRav Chaim Vital, zt"l, (1542? - 5380 / 1620), principal talmid of the Ari Hakadosh, author of the mystical work Eitz Chaim.(See 29 Nisan.)
HaRav Avraham Broide, zt"l, Rav of Frankfurt, zt"l, (5477 / 1717).
Harav Avraham Broide was the son of Harav Shaul.
In his youth he was the talmid of Harav Yitzchak Isaac Charif.
Rav Avraham served as a Rosh Yeshivah in Prague. His yeshivah attracted many talmidim because of his unique derech halimud of comparing and contrasting sugyot with one another.
His love of his talmidim was boundless; Rav Avraham paid all the expenses of those who came from impoverished homes.
Rav Avraham replaced Harav Naftali Hakohen Katz as Rav of Prague. Later on he was appointed Rav of Metz, and his last rabbanut was in Frankfurt.
Printed in his sefer Toldot Avraham is a description of the end of his life. The passuk “Adam ki yamus atzmo baohel [shel Torah]” was truly fulfilled; less than half an hour before his petirah he was still discussing a complex sugya.
Rav Avraham was niftar on 30 Nisan, the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5477/1717.
Among his sifrei chiddushim are Eshel Avraham on Pesachim, Chulin, Bava Kama, Bava Metzia and Gittin; Toldot Avraham on Kiddushin and Kesubot; and Shmata Chadata on Kesubot.
Many of his teshuvot were also published in contemporary sifrei she’eilot u’teshuvot such as Chacham Tzvi and Me’il Tzedakah.
HaRav Nesanel Weill, zt"l, Av Beit Din of Karlsruhe and author of Korban Nesanel (5529 / 1769). On October 17, 1750, he was elected to be Oberland- rabbiner for both Markgrafschaften of Baden-Durlach and Baden- Baden, and also all of the Unterlande. His son, Rav Yedidya Taya Weil, is the author of the Hagadah Marbeh Lesaper.(others listed as 15 Iyar)
HaRav Yaakov (ben Tzvi) Emden, zt"l, (5458 / 1698 - 5536 / 1776), known by the acronym Yaavetz (Yaakov ben Tzvi), son of the great Chacham Tzvi and a great-great-grandson of Harav Eliyahu Baal Shem of Chelm.
. Born on 15 Sivan in Altona, Germany, and until the age of 17 he learned under the tutelage of his father, first in Altona and then, from 5470/1710 to 5474/1714, in Amsterdam.
In 5475/1715, Rav Yaakov married the daughter of Harav Mordecai Katz, Rav of Ungarish-Brod, in Moravia, and continued his studies in his father-in-law’s yeshivah. (She was a granddaughter of Rav Naftali Katz (the Baal Semichot Chachamim). In 1716, he settled in Breslau. Trying to avoid any official rabbinic position, he finally took his first such position in 5488 / 1728, in the city of Emden, from which he took his surname. He resigned after four years and moved back to Altona. A few years later Reb Yaakov obtained from the king of Denmark the privilege of establishing a printing press in Altona. . He was soon attacked for his publication of the siddur Amudei Shamayim. His opponents did not cease denouncing him even after he had obtained for his work the approbation of the Chief Rabbi of the German communities.
In many communities this siddur remains the final arbiter of hilchot and minhagei beit haknesset; centuries after his petirah, the teachings and rulings of this great Gaon continue to have enormous influence in the Torah world.
HaRav Emden was a controversial figure who relentlessly opposed the Shabbatai Tzvi messianic movement, and was involved in a famous controversy over an amulet (kameya) written by the great Rav Yonason Eibeshutz, Rav Yaakov claiming that the amulet demonstrated an acceptance of Shabsai Tzvi. and accused Rav Eibeshutz of being a follower of that movement. Shabbatai Tzvi was a dangerous character who had declared himself the Jewish messiah, and predicted that 1666 would be the year of Israel's redemption. When the prediction did not come true, Shabbatai Tzvi converted to Islam, leaving behind a distraught Jewish community.
Among Rav Yaakov's most well-known sefarim are She'eilat Yaavetz (responsa), Siddur Tefillah, Eitz Avot (on Pirke Avot), Luach Erez (notes on tefillah), Lechem Shamayim (commentary on Mishna), Tzitzim u'Prachim (on Kabbalah), and Mor u'Ketziah (commentaries and chidushim on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim).
HaRav Chaim Meir Yechiel Shapiro of Drohbitch, zt"l, (5624 / 1863 - 5684 / 1924).
His father was Harav Aviezri Zelig, who, in turn was the son of Harav Chaim Meir Yechiel of Moglenitze. He was born on 10 Kislev in Sadigura while his father was still living in the court of his father-in-law, Harav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura.
From Sadigura the family moved to Stry, where Reb Avriezri Zelig was niftar on 19 Av 5645 / 1885.
Reb Chaim Meir Yechiel married the daughter of Harav Yitzchak of Bohush. After the petirah of his father, he moved to Drohbovitch, where he founded a large beit medrash that served as a refuge for all those who didn’t have lodgings.
With the outbreak of World War I, Reb Chaim Meir Yechiel fled Drohbovitch to Hungary, and from there to Vienna.
Following the war, in the summer of 5682 / 1922, Reb Chaim Meir Yechiel fulfilled his life’s dream by moving to Eretz Yisrael with his entire family (except his elderly mother). They settled in Yerushalayim.
Unfortunately, shortly after his arrival in Eretz Yisrael he took ill. He returned to Vienna for surgery but went back to Eretz Yisrael after the doctors gave up all hope.
Reb Chaim Meir Yechiel lived in Eretz Yisrael only two years; he was niftar on 30 Nisan 5684 / 1924, at the age of 60.
His son, Harav Avraham Yaakov, succeeded him as Rebbe. He also had a son-in-law, Harav Avi Ezra Zelig Shapiro of Gvodzitz.
HaRav Moshe Hershler, zt"l, editor of Talmudic Encyclopedia and publisher of many sifrei Harishonim. (5751 / 1991)
There is no 31 Nisan
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