THE DAY YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT
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- Rosh Chodesh Tevet -
Sixth or Seventh day of Chanukah.
Sometimes Rosh Chodesh Tevet is only one day, namely the sixth day of Chanukah. This makes the last three days of Chanukah the first, second and third of Tevet. Other times, however, Rosh Chodesh Tevet is two days: the sixth and seventh days of Chanukah. In that case, the seventh day of Chanukah is 1 Tevet and the eighth day is 2 Tevet.
Chanukah from 140 B.C.E. and on
In 140 BCE, the Maccabees defeated the vastly more numerous and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, who had tried to forcefully uproot the beliefs and practices of Yiddishkeit / Judaism from Klal Yisroel / the people of Israel. The victorious Jews repaired, cleansed and rededicated the Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim to the service of Hashem. All the Beit HaMikdash's oil had been defiled by the pagan invaders; and when the Jews sought to light the Beit HaMikdash's Menorah (candelabra), they found only one small cruse of ritually pure olive oil. They lit the Menorah with the one-day supply, which miraculously, burned for eight days, until new, pure oil could be obtained.
Also on this day -- 1,100 years earlier -- Moshe Rabbeinu and the Jewish people completed construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that accompanied them during 40 years of wandering in the desert. The Mishkan was not dedicated, however, for another three months; Our Sages tell us that the day of 25 Kislev was then "compensated" 12 centuries later -- when the miracle of Chanukah occurred and the Beit HaMikdash was rededicated.
In commemoration, the Sages instituted the 8-day festival of Chanukah, on which lights are kindled nightly by Jews around the world to recall and publicize the miracle of the oil, and its message that continues to illuminate our lives today.
2124 - 1638 B.C.E.:
Avraham Avinu according to some sources (Bava Basra 91a). [According to others, Avrohom Avinu's Yartzeit is 1 Tishre, or Nissan [Moed Katan 28a].
1 Tevet - 1312 B.C.E.:
After being warned by Moshe, the
Egyptians were visited by the (seventh) plague of Barad (hail).
1 Tevet 3400 - 362 B.C.E.:
Esther, after having won a kingdom-wide beauty pageant, was forcibly taken to King
Achashverosh's palace (after spending a year in the palace).
"And Esther was taken to King Achashverosh, to his palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tevet, in the seventh year of his reign. ...... He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in Vashti's stead" (Megillat / Scroll of Esther 2:16-17). Esther's presence in the
king's palace enabled her to advocate on behalf of the Jews, and gain a
reversal of Haman's decree to annihilate the Jewish people, and set the stage for the miracle of Purim six years later, on the 13th and 14th of Adar. All these miraculous events are recorded in Megillat Esther, and
commemorated each year on the holiday of Purim.
1 Tevet 5413 - December 1 , 1652:
Portuguese Jewish statesman Manuel Fernando de Villareal executed by the Inquisition, Hy"d.
1 Tevet 5569 - December 20, 1808:
Several restrictions on Jewish ownership of land went into effect in Russia, 1808.
1 Tevet 5707 - December 24, 1946:
US General MacNarney grants 800,000 “minor Nazis” amnesty instead of prosecuting them.
1 Tevet 5708 - December 14, 1947:
Thirteen defenders of the Jews in
Palestine - members of the Haganah - were killed in an ambush in Ben Shemen, Hy"d.
1 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Avraham Avinu (2124 - 1638 B.C.E.:), according to some sources (Bava Basra 91a). [According to others, Avrohom Avinu's Yartzeit is 1 Tishrei, or Nissan [Moed Katan 28a].
HaRav Yosef Hamaaravi, zt”l, baal mofes, talmid of the Arizal, buried in Kfar Elchamama in Tunisia. (5300 / 1539).
Harav Yosef ibn Tabul, or Harav Yosef Hamaaravi, as he was known, was born in North Africa. According to some sources, his birthplace was Dara, Morocco.
It is assumed that he moved to Tzefat, where he was one of the 10 prized talmidim who learned Kabbala from the Ari, together with Harav Chaim Vital.
It is related that when the Ari gathered his talmidim in Meron, he himself sat where Rabi Shimon bar Yochai had sat and taught Torah.
He had one of his talmidim sit in the place of Rabi Elazar, the son of Rabi Shimon; a second was told to sit in the place of Rabi Yehudah, a third in the seat of Rabi Abba and Rav Yosef was seated in the place of Rabi Yossi, as the Ari said that he emanated from the soul of Rabi Yossi.
Among Rav Yosef’s talmidim, following the petira of the Ari, were Harav Shimshon Bak and Harav Yisrael Binyamin.
Later, Rav Yosef was exiled to Tunisia, settling in El Chamamah, where he disseminated the Torah of his mentor. He was appointed Av Beit Din in the city.
Since he had come from Eretz Yisrael to the west, he was called Hamaaravi.
When he felt his day of passing drawing near, Rav Yosef gathered together his family and members of the community and told them that if he would be niftar on a Friday, they shouldn’t push off the levaya until Motzoei Shabbat but bury him yet on Friday. He also asked that no large matzeiva be built on his kever.
And so it was. Rav Yosef was niftar on a winter Friday, (a short Erev Shabbat), 1 Tevet 5300/1539, and was buried that same day. Many felt as if the sun was waiting for them to finish the kevura before setting.
His yahrtzeit is marked even today at his kever in Kfar El Chamama in Tunisia.
Rav Yosef did not leave any writings or chiddushim.
HaRav Yair Chaim Bachrach, zt”l, (1638-1702), The Chavot Yair. Born in Leipnik (Others Mezritch), in 5388/1628, in the Moravian province of Austria, today part of the Czech Republic. His father was Harav Moshe Shimshon, author of Shemen Hamaor and Rav in Worms.
Reb Yair Chaim quickly became fluent in all aspects of Torah.
At only 23, he received semichah and the title of “Moreinu,” something very rare at the time. About a year later he became Rav in Coblenz and afterwards in the famous kehillah of Mainz. In 5430/1670 he moved back to the city of his ancestors, Worms, where he stayed until the French decimated the kehillah in 5449/1689, when he moved to Frankfurt.
Yidden from all over the European continent sent him their she’eilot, and he soon became recognized as one of the leading halachic authorities of the time.
His best-known sefer, Chavot Yair, is named after his grandmother Chava, a granddaughter of the Maharal of Prague, who was renowned for her unusual scholarship and piety. Her husband, Rav Samuel, (Reb Yair Chaim’s paternal grandfather), author of Chut Hashani, was the Rav of Worms. He was murdered during a pogrom in 5375 / 1615, and she never remarried. Chava lived in Worms until her grandson Yair Chaim’s thirteenth birthday at which time she undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land but died on the way. R Yair Chaim held her in such high esteem that he named his most famous work, Chavot Yair, after her.
One of his works, Mekor Chaim, a major commentary on the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim was ready to be printed when the commentaries of Taz and Magen Avraham were printed. Sadly, Rav Yair Chaim withdrew his own commentary from the printer intending to rework it in accordance with the Taz and the Magen Avraham. Sadly, he never finished it.
Besides his halachic expertise he had complete mastery of all the sciences, music and had a deep interest in history. He also wrote poetry. He compiled a 46 volume encyclopedia on many topics.
In 1689 the Worms community was decimated by the French. Gradually, it was rebuilt. In 5459 / 1699 he was finally appointed Rav of Worms where his father and grandfather had served before him.
He served for only three years until his death in 1702. (Others have the date as 5462 / 1701).
HaRav Masoud Refael Alfasi, zt”l. Born in Fez, Morocco. Leader of the Tunisian Jewish community. Died in Tunisia (5535 / 1774).
HaRav Avraham Moshe of Peshischa, zt”l, (5589 / 1828), son of Reb Simcha Bunim.
HaRav Yitzchak Eizik Langner, sixth Strettiner Rebbe (1906-1979). Born to Rav Moshe Langner, the fifth Strettiner Rebbe, his sister became the Tolner Rebbetzin. In 1921, his father moved the family from Galicia to Toronto. He married in 1929, but he and his wife never had children. In 1959, he succeeded his father.
HaRav Mordechai Shlomo Berman, zt"l, (1931-2004). Born in Russia to the mekubal, Rav Yehuda Leib Berman, who authored a commentary to the Arizal’s Eitz Chaim, Rav Mordechai Shlomo and his family moved to Tel Aviv when he was still young. He attended Yeshiva Chabad before his Bar Mitzvah and learned under Rav Dovid Povarsky. When his teacher became Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh, he took his little talmid with him. When the Chazon Ish found out about the young illui, he had him move into his home and cared for him as a son. At Ponevezh, he became the talmid muvhak of the Roshei Yeshiva, Rav Dovid Povarsky and Rav Shmuel Rozovsky. In time, the Chazon Ish married him off to his niece, the daughter of the Steipler Gaon. He became Rosh Mesivta of Ponevezh at the age of 20, and later became Rosh yeshiva.
2 Tevet -
7th or 8th ( last) day of Chanukah ("Zot Chanukah")
Chanukah from 140 B.C.E. and on
In 140 BCE, the Maccabees defeated the vastly more numerous and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, who had tried to forcefully uproot the beliefs and practices of Yiddishkeit / Judaism from Klal Yisroel / the people of Israel. The victorious Jews repaired, cleansed and rededicated the Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim to the service of Hashem. All the Beit HaMikdash's oil had been defiled by the pagan invaders; and when the Jews sought to light the Beit HaMikdash's Menorah (candelabra), they found only one small cruse of ritually pure olive oil. They lit the Menorah with the one-day supply, which miraculously, burned for eight days, until new, pure oil could be obtained.
Also on this day -- 1,100 years earlier -- Moshe Rabbeinu and the Jewish people completed construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that accompanied them during 40 years of wandering in the desert. The Mishkan was not dedicated, however, for another three months; Our Sages tell us that the day of 25 Kislev was then "compensated" 12 centuries later -- when the miracle of Chanukah occurred and the Beit HaMikdash was rededicated.
In commemoration, the Sages instituted the 8-day festival of Chanukah, on which lights are kindled nightly by Jews around the world to recall and publicize the miracle of the oil, and its message that continues to illuminate our lives today.
2 Tevet - 37
King Herod captured Yerushalayim. (others date it as 10 Tevet).
2 Tevet 5643 - December 12, 1882:
The Jewish city of Rosh Pina, Palestine, was
founded in the Galilee by 130 Romanian Jews who arrived in Beirut on a ship named the “Titus”.
2 Tevet 5698 - December 6, 1937:
Nazi German youth leader Baldur von
Schirach, accompanied by a large entourage, was visiting Damascus. There was
little doubt that the Syrian Arab youth seemed to be particularly vulnerable
to this latest Nazi effort to spread their propaganda throughout the entire
Middle Eastern area. Shots were fired at the Beit Alfa and Kfar Baruch settlements.
2 Tevet 5702 - December 22, 1941:
Weeks of rampage ended with the deaths
of 32,000 Jews who were killed in Vilna, Poland, Hy"d.
2 Tevet 5708 - December 15, 1947:
The Jordanian Arab Legion laid siege to Yerushalayim
The Arab Legion surrounded Yerushalayim and isolated
its 100,000 Jews from the rest of the Israeli population. By March 1948
the city was under full siege, and in May, Jordan invaded and occupied
east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and
driving thousands of Jews into exile. The Arabs proceeded to destroy
all 58 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, and used Jewish gravestones on
the Mount of Olives to build roads and latrines. The Western Wall would
be off-limits to Jews (in spite of the cease-fire agreement granting
freedom of access to holy places), restored again with Israel's victory
in the 1967 war.
2 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yaakov ibn Tzur of Fez, Morocco, zt”l, (5513 / 1752), author of Mishpat U’Tzedaka B’Yaakov.
HaRav Mordechai Zev Orenstein, zt”l, Rav of Lvov, ( 5547 / 1786). Born in Zlakovah in 5495 / 1735, he was the son of Reb Moshe, the parnass of the kehilla. The other sons of
Reb Moshe included Harav Menachem Mendel of Zlakova and Harav Meshulam Zalman Ashkenazi, Rav of Pomrein.
Reb Moshe was a grandson of the Chacham Tzvi.
Harav Mordechai Zev was a gaon fluent in all facets of the Torah. At the young age of 19, he was appointed Rav in Kaminka; later he was Rav in Yompala. In 5532 / 1772 he was appointed Rav of Satnov, and this appointment led to his being named Chief Rabbi of Poland.
Harav Mordechai Zev married the daughter of Harav Shaul Charif, Rav of Alesk. They had one son, Harav Yaakov Meshulam Orenstein, the Yeshuot Yaakov.
After his wife’s petira, Harav Mordechai Zev married the daughter of the nagid Harav Elyakim Getzel of Lubertov. With his zivug sheini, his second son, Harav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel, Rav of Tarnigrad, was born, as well as several daughters.
His sons-in-law were Harav Aryeh Leib Katzenellenbogen, Rav of Brisk; Harav Yudel Broida, the author of Zichron Yehuda ; Harav Yitzchak Etinga, Rav of Lvov; Harav Avraham Abish Ashkenazi of Broida and Harav Dov Berish Heilprin of Brezhan.
In 5538 / 1778, Harav Mordechai Zev was chosen to serve as Rav of Lvov in place of Harav Shlomo of Chelema, the Mirkevet Hamishna. Harav Mordechai Zev was pleased to be appointed Rav in the same city that his grandfather, the Chacham Tzvi, had earlier lived in, while the kehilla was happy to have such a famous and admired Rav.
In Lvov, Harav Mordechai Zev founded a yeshiva and headed it, teaching many talmidim who went on to become Gedolei Yisrael and Rabbanim. Harav Mordechai Zev served as Rav of Lvov until his petira
on 2 Tevet 5547/1786, at the age of 52.
HaRav Yaakov Tzvi Rabinowitz of Porisov, zt"l, (5649 / 1888).
Harav Yaakov Tzvi Rabinowitz was the oldest son of Harav Yehoshua Asher Rabinowitz, Rav of Zelichov and later of Porisov. His mother was Rebbetzin Leitcha, daughter of Harav Yaakov Yitzchak, the Yehudi Hakadosh of Peshischa.
Harav Yaakov Tzvi married the daughter of Harav Shlomo Menachem Heilprin of Pintchov, son of Harav Menachem of Premyszl..
He traveled to various tzaddikim, including the Sabba Kaddisha of Radoshitz, who was his rebbi muvhak.
After the petirah of his father on 25 Iyar 5622/1862, he became Rebbe.
Thousands soon assembled for his leadership and guidance. Reb Yaakov Tzvi still refused to lead, instead traveling to Harav Nosson Dovid of Shidlovtza for Rosh Hashanah, but Harav Nosson Dovid sent him home and forced him to become a Rebbe. The Chassidut in Porisov grew; on the last Rosh Hashanah of Reb Yaakov Tzvi’s life, 5649/1888, there may have been as many as 5,000 Chassidim in Porisov.
Reb Yaakov Tzvi guided his Chassidim to learn Be’er Mayim Chaim and Maor Vashemesh weekly.
He was a pillar of hora’ah; many poskim consulted him in matters of halachah. He was also knowledgeable in Torat hanistar, and an ascetic.
He was surrounded by an inner group of brilliant Chassidim.
His brachot were known to bear fruit.
It was told that once a gravely ill bachur was brought before him for a brachah. The Rebbe remarked that the Heavenly Court does not punish for any sins until the age of 20. The bachur recovered immediately, but when he turned 20 he suddenly died. After a while, a similar incident occurred and the Rebbe said the same thing. Worried that the Heavenly Court might decide to judge this bachur as well when he turned 20, he appointed a beit din which ruled that the bachur should become well and stay healthy. And so it was.
Some of the elder Chassidim attested that Reb Yaakov Tzvi’s countenance was exactly like that of his grandfather, the Yehudi Hakadosh.
A close Chassid of Rav Yaakov Tzvi, Harav Yisrael Yeshayah Pirowitz, recorded the Rebbe’s divrei Torah and later published them as Atarah L’Rosh Tzaddik. Other divrei Torah were incorporated in sefarim by relatives: Imrei Yehoshua, by his son; Nehar Shalom, by his brother and son-in-law; and Zechusa D’Avraham, by his brother Harav Avraham of Porisov.
Reb Yaakov Tzvi had one son, Harav Uri Yehoshua Elchanan Asher Ashkenazi (he changed the family name from Rabinowitz to Ashkenazi), who replaced his father as Rebbe in Porisov.
Of his 12 sons-in-law, many were Rabbanim in various towns.
Niftar on 2 Tevet 5649/1888, he was buried in Porisov, near his father.
HaRav Yitzchak HaLevi Kroiz, zt"l, Yerushalmi, grandson of Rav Eliezer Yosef, Belzer Rebbe. (year?)
3 Tevet - 8th ( last) day of Chanukah ("Zot Chanukah")
3 Tevet - 321:
The first evidence of Jews along the Rhine was found in a letter from Emperor Constantine to the prefect of Cologne regarding special taxes applied to them.
3 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Avraham Brandwein of Stretyn, zt"l, (5625 / 1864), the second of four sons of Rav Yehuda Tzvi of Stretyn, East Galicia. His father was a talmid muvhak of Harav Uri, the Saraf of Strelisk and one of the famous Rebbes of his time.
Rav Yehudah Tzvi compared his four sons to Dovid Hamelech’s four mightiest warriors. But Rav Avraham was the greatest of them all.
So perhaps it was fitting that after Rav Yehudah Tzvi’s petirah in 5614/1854, he was succeeded not by his eldest son, Rav Chaim, but by his second son, Rav Avraham.
When Rav Yehudah Tzvi fell critically ill at the end of his life, Rav Avraham hurried to Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin, handed him a kvittel, and begged him to daven on his father’s behalf. But to everyone’s amazement, Rav Yisrael began conversing with Rav Avraham about everyday events instead. Even more surprising was Rav Avraham’s response. Every time Rav Yisrael paused for breath, he interjected, “May Hashem help that this be a yeshuah for my father,” or, “May Hashem send my father a refuah sheleimah.”
After Rav Avraham left, Rav Yisrael exclaimed, “A wonder, a wonder! That such a young man should understand everything one says!”
After Rav Yehudah Tzvi’s petirah, Rav Avraham became Rebbe in his stead, crowned by the Ruzhiner Rebbe and Harav Dov Berish of Alesk.
The Strettiner Chassidim were famous for their emphasis on dveikut during davening, and they sang their tefillot with heart-tugging melodies.
Despite his yearning to help every Yid, Rav Avraham was careful to ensure that his brachot never interfered with people’s spiritual rectification. He was powerfully aware that a misplaced blessing can be a terrible curse.
Like his father Rav Yehudah Tzvi, Rav Avraham too had many segulot that he gave to people in need.
Some of his divrei Torah — which were always delivered in a whisper — were printed in Degel Machaneh Yehudah.
Rav Avraham was niftar on 3 Tevet 5625/1864, leaving four daughters. His son-in-law Harav Uri Langner of Rohatyn, who married his daughter Sarah, became Rebbe after the petirah of Reb Avraham. Many of the Stretyner Chasidim followed his son-in-law, Rav Uri Rohatyner, and Rav Uri’s son, Yehuda Tzvi, after him. Other Chasidim of Rav Avraham followed Rav Nachman of Bursztyn, who was niftar in 1914.
HaRav Yaakov HaCohen Gadisha, zt"l, (1851 - 5670 / 1909), Rav and Av Beit Din of Yerba, Tunisia, wrote Kochav Yaakov, Ma’il Yaakov and Halichot Yaakov.
HaRav Yechezkel Ezra Yehoshua, zt"l, Rav of the Iraqi community in Yerushalayim (5702 / 1941). Born in Baghdad, c. 5612 / 1852. As a bachur he learned in the Beit Zilchah beit medrash.
In 5649 / 1889, Rav Yechezkel was appointed to run the organization that collected funds on behalf of the poorer chassanim and kallot in Baghdad.
He moved to Eretz Yisrael in 5657 / 1897 and settled in Yerushalayim. Ten years later, in 5667 / 1907, he and other Rabbanim founded Yeshivat Shoshanim L’David for the Iraqi kehilla. Rav Yechezkel traveled overseas a number of times on behalf of this yeshiva, including to Egypt. He was also the president of the committee of the Iraqi community in Yerushalayim.
In 5682 / 1922, Rav Yechezkel traveled on behalf of the local Iraqi community to Baghdad to solicit support for those who lived in Eretz Yisrael and to encourage more Iraqi Jews to move there.
He was known as a spellbinding darshan; many flocked to his weekly Shabbat afternoon drashot in Beit Knesset Shoshanim L’David.
Harav Yechezkel authored numerous sefarim: Arugat Habosem on the aggadot of Shas; Tehilla v’Tiferet on Tehillim; Simchat Yom Tov on the Haggadah shel Pesach; Shirot v’Tishbachot, piyutim and poems; Minchat Ani, a mussar work; and others. Some of his works remain in manuscript form.
Harav Yechezkel was niftar on 3 Tevet 5702/1941.
HaRav Chaim Leib Shmulevitz, zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of the famous Mir Yeshiva for more than 40 years, who was known for his boundless love of G-d and humanity, (5663 / 1902 - 5739 / 1979). Born on Motzoei Rosh Hashanah 5663/1902, in Stutchin, Poland, where his father, Rav Alter Raphael, was Rosh Yeshiva. His mother, Ettel, was the daughter of Rav Yosef Yoizel Horowitz, the Alter of Novardok. In 1920, both of his parents suddenly died. As the oldest, he undertook to support his younger brother and two younger sisters and would spend his day in the marketplace to earn some money towards this end. At night, he would write the chiddushei Torah that occurred to him during the day. Indeed, he was capable of learning and thinking in Torah under all circumstances.
At the age of 18, Reb Chaim was invited by Harav Shimon Shkop, zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva in Grodno, to give the third level shiur in the yeshivah ketanah in Grodno.
Within three years, Reb Chaim was appointed to a lecturing post in the yeshiva.
In 1924, he transferred to Mir, where he would remain for the rest of his life. His thirst for Torah was unquenchable; he wanted to know even the small comments of young talmidim.
Five years later he married the daughter of Harav Eliezer Yehudah Finkel, zt”l, the Mirrer Rosh Yeshivah. A few years later, at the relatively young age of 31, Reb Chaim himself was appointed as a Rosh Yeshivah, delivering shiurim that combined great depth and breadth.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the yeshivah went into exile, accompanied by open hashgachah. HaRav Shmulevitz and his students miraculously obtained transit visas, issued at great risk by Vice-Consul Chiune Sugihara of the Japanese Consulate. This allowed them to travel out of war-torn Lithuania, via the trans-Siberian railroad, to a safe haven in Shanghai, China where the Mirrer Yeshiva remained for five years. Living conditions were extremely difficult, but the yeshivah prospered.
Rav Finkel had gone to Eretz Yisrael to obtain visas for the yeshivah and was forced to remain there; in his absence the yeshivah was directed by Rav Shmulevitz and the Mashgiach, Harav Yechezkel Levenstein, zt”l. Rav Shmulevitz would note often in his shmuessen that the yeshivah’s remaining together was a major factor in its miraculous salvation.
After the war, in 1947, he lived for a short while in America when the yeshivah relocated to the United States. With the establishment of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, by his father-in-law, he immigrated to Eretz Yisrael and served as its Rosh Yeshiva. For over 30 years he would impart Torah in the yeshivah, where his yegia baTorah and his personality would inspire thousands of talmidim.
In 1964, with the petirah of the Mashgiach, his brother-in-law Harav Chaim Zev Finkel, zt”l, Rav Shmulevitz started to deliver shmuessen. Many of these appeared later in his classic Sichot Mussar, ethical discourses, many of which have been published in English, and are considered classics.
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4 Tevet 5700 - December 16, 1939:
Jews were excluded by the Nazis from all employment benefits.
4 Tevet 5738
- December 14, 1977:
The Cairo Peace
Conference commenced with the participation of Israel, Egypt, the United States
and the United Nations.
4 Tevet 5755 - Dec. 7, 1994:
PLO chairman Yassir Arafat, ym"s, meeting
with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Gaza City, pledged to protect
Israelis from militant extremists. [Stop laughing, it's not nice!]
4 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe Zev of Bialystock, zt”l, author of Marot Hatzovot and Agudat Aizov (5490 / 1729). He was the founder of Gemilat Chassadim Beit Medrash, Bialystock's most prominent Torah center, where Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk learned after his marriage.
HaRav Yehoshua Eizek Shapiro, known as Reb Eizel Charif ("The Sharp One") of Slonim, zt”l, (5651 / 1801 - 5633 / 1872). Born in Glovanka, near Minsk, Lithuania.
His father, Harav Yechiel, was a talmid chacham and a community leader.
Reb Eizel began studying Gemara with a private tutor at age six. Within two years he knew a few masechtot so well that his father took over his education, but Rav Yechiel soon saw that he could not keep up with his son’s questions. He enrolled him in Blumke’s Yeshivah in Minsk, where the young boy was supervised by its brilliant Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Avraham Dvaritzer, zt”l.
There, the “Genius from Glovanka” blossomed into a true scholar. He became a son-in-law of Harav Yitzchak Fein, who promised to provide for the young couple so that Reb Eizel could study Torah undisturbed.
The young iluy’s fame spread quickly. Reb Eizel engaged the leading sages of Minsk in Torah discussions and began a correspondence in matters of halachah with the greatest Rabbanim and Gedolim of the age. His brilliance and proficiency gave weight to the chiddushim he penned in all areas of Talmud and poskim.
Community leaders from around Europe tried to recruit Reb Eizel as Rav for their towns, but for many years his father-in-law opposed his accepting any such position. Finally, After many years of learning under the enthusiastic support of his father-in-law, Reb Eizel became Rav of Kolovaria, where he wrote his first sefer, Emek Yehoshua, which publicized his depth and brilliance in she’eilot u’teshuvot. Later, Reb Eizel became Rav of Kutno, and then he moved to Slonim, near Grodno, where he served as Rav for the rest of his life.
Most of his numerous sefarim were written in Slonim. Some of his other chibburim include Nachalat Yehoshua, Noam Yerushalmi, Sefat Hanachal and Atzat Yehoshua.
He was known for his sharp intellect (that’s why he was called “charif”), as well as for his ability to refute his opponents, among them maskilim, with wit and humor. There are many witty vertlach repeated in his name.
The story is told that when his daughter was ready to get married, Reb Eisel sought out the top yeshiva student. He entered the study hall and announced: "I have a very difficult question on a passage in the Talmud. Whoever can supply the correct answer will have my daughter's hand in marriage."
Soon a long line formed, and one by one the students tried to provide the answer. And one by one, Reb Eisel explained how the answers were incorrect. This went on for days, but when no one came up with the correct answer, Reb Eisel packed up and left.
He had just reached the edge of the city, when he heard a voice shouting after him: "Reb Eisel, Reb Eisel!" He turned around to see a young man running in his direction. The student explained: "I know I wasn't able to satisfy the condition for marriage, but just for my own sake, could you please tell me the correct answer?"
"Aha!" shouted Reb Eisel. "If you have such a desire to know the truth, then you will be my son-in-law!"
Reb Eizel Charif was niftar from a sudden illness on 4 Teves 5633/1872, at the age of 72. (Others have the date as 5634 / 1873).
HaRav Gershon Henoch (ben Yaakov) Leiner of Radzin, zt”l, (5599 / 1839 -1891), the Baal Hatecheilet.
Harav Gershon Henoch was born in 5599 / 1839 in Tomashov. His illustrious father was Harav Yaakov Leiner, the Rebbe of Izhbitza, son of Harav Mordechai Yosef, the first Izhbitzer Rebbe, founder of Ishbitz chassidut after leading a group of disciples from the Court of Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. He replaced his father as Rebbe of Ishbitz after the former's petira in 1878.
Reb Gershon Henoch was very close to his grandfather and considered himself his talmid muvhak.
By bar mitzvah age, Reb Gershon Henoch had already authored a sefer on the entire Shulchan Aruch.
His mother passed away in 5614/1854, when Reb Gershon Henoch was 15, and soon his grandfather, the Izhbitzer Rebbe, followed.
Reb Gershon Henoch married the daughter of Harav Yosef Gelerenter, Rav of Horvishov. At age 22, he was chosen to be Rav of Radzin.
After his father’s petirah in 5638/1878, Reb Gershon Henoch succeeded him in Izhbitza and became known as the Radziner Rebbe.
Reb Gershon Henoch’s most famous project was his research to identify the techeilet which the Torah commands us to use to dye our tzitzit; its source had been unknown for at least 1,000 years. He wrote three sefarim on the subject, listing 10 requirements that an animal must have to be the chilazon. These include the following: its body is blue like the sea, it resembles a fish without actually being a fish, it has veins, bones and a hard shell, its blood is black and it sometimes emerges onto dry land.
The next step was to travel from Radzin to the Bay of Naples, Italy, one of the richest breeding grounds of marine life in the world in search of the Chilazon, the marine source from which the dye of techeilet was obtained. The Chilazon carried the dye in a special sac located in its pharynx.
In the famed aquarium at Naples he saw the Chilazon (cuttlefish) and studied the way in which the dye was removed and prepared. He discovered that it was used by artists in their paintings because it would never fade.
He returned to Radzin with a supply of cuttlefish and conducted experiments in two wooden huts near his house that he used as laboratories. It took two years of research to discover how to transform the dark brown blood into blue techeilet. On Chanukah 5649/1888, the first batch of techeilet-colored “strings” was produced.
Although he had presented his case in an extremely convincing manner, most Gedolei Yisrael did not support his theory. Ein Hatecheilet was published by Reb Gershon Henoch to refute those who disagreed with him and to convince others of the validity of his approach.
Although the Maharsham wore a tallit (in private) using Rav Gershon Henoch's
techeilet, in the end, only Radziner Chassidim and some Breslovers wear this techeilet.
In recent years, several other species of fish have been suggested as the genuine source of techeilet.
Two years after his discovery of techeilet, Reb Gershon Henoch became ill. Early in the morning of 4 Tevet 5651 / 1890, Reb Gershon Henoch placed his right hand to his lips and his left hand over his heart, and his neshamah returned to Shamayim.
Among his sefarim are Sod Yesharim on the Torah and Yamim Tovim, Orchot Chaim a commentary on the tzavaah of the Tanna Rabi Eliezer ben Horkinus, and Tiferet Hachanochi on the Zohar. He also compiled and published the work of his father (Beit Yaakov) and grandfather (Mei Hashiloach). (Others 5651 / 1890)
HaRav Chaim Shaul Dueck, zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva Hamekubalim of Yerushalayim and author of Eifah Shleima (5693 / 1933).
Harav Chaim Shaul Hakohen Dweck, zt”l, was born in Aleppo, Syria, on 14 Cheshvan 5618/1858. His father, Rav Eliyahu, was the Rav of Aleppo and author of Emet Me’Eretz.
Chaim Shaul learned under Harav Mordechai Abadi, a Dayan in Aleppo. In his formative years, young Chaim Shaul already displayed a phenomenal memory.
A talmid chacham and a leading mekubal, Rav Chaim Shaul wrote a commentary on Eitz Chaim by Harav Chaim Vital, which he called Eifah Sheleimah.
In 5647/1887, before he reached the age of 30, Rav Chaim Shaul was appointed Rav of Aleppo.
At 32, Rav Chaim Shaul delivered a fiery drashah regarding tzniut. When he saw that the people were not acting in accordance with his requests, he spoke again the next Shabbat, adding that if they would not strengthen tzniut, the town would be punished. That Motzoei Shabbat, Rav Chaim Shaul left Syria and moved to Eretz Yisrael.
A few weeks later a fire broke out and devoured most of the city’s homes.
When Rav Chaim Shaul was only 46 years old he lost his eyesight. For the last 30 years of his life he continued to learn Torah, mainly from memory and with the help of his talmidim. Rav Chaim Shaul even served as the baal tefillah in the minyan of the mekubalim, despite his blindness.
Many talmidei chachamim and leading mekubalim were among the talmidim of Rav Chaim Shaul. Some of the more famous ones were Harav Yom Tov Yedid Halevi; Harav Salman Eliyahu, who replaced Rav Chaim Shaul as Rosh Yeshivat HaMekubalim; Harav Yaakov Chaim Sofer, mechaber of Kaf HaChaim; Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Rav of Yerushalayim; and Harav Asher Zelig Margulies.
Rav Chaim Shaul was niftar on 4 Tevet 5693/1933.
HaRav Shalom Rokeach, zt”l, Rav of Skohl (5722 / 1961).
Mr. Yitzchak Meir (Irving) Bunim (1901-1981). Born in Volozhin, Lithuania to Rav Moshe and Esther Mina Buminowitz, Irving moved to the Lower East Side of New York with most of his family in 1910. (His father moved in 1905.) He and his two brothers were enrolled in Yeshiva Yaakov Yosef, and his father joined the family of Torah Vodaas. As a youth, he joined the fledgling Young Israel movement and made significant inroads from within. In the 1940s, he accepted the presidency of Yeshiva Yaakov Yosef, a position he held for 30 years. He threw himself in the founding of Beit Midrash Govoha and Kollel in Lakewood. He also devoted much time and energy to Chinuch Atzmai and Torah Umesorah. He and his wife, Blanche, raised three children, Rav Amos, Chana, and Judith.
HaRav Yaakov Shaul Katzin, zt”l, head of New York Aleppo community (1900-1994). Born in Yerushalayim, he learned at Yeshiva Ohel Mo'ed and at Yeshiva Porat Yosef. Yaakov was an orphan at 16 and married at 18. He was appointed Rosh Yeshiva in the then-newly-erected Yeshiva Porat Yosef building. During the course of his life, Yaakov wrote several books on Kabbalah. In 1925, he published Ohr HaLevanah, a commentary with novella from the teachings of Rashash. He also wrote Yesod Ha'Emunah, which included arguments that dispelled doubts about the authenticity of Kabbalah, as well as responsa. In 1931, he published Pri Eitz Hagan, which included biographies of prominent tzadikkim and discussions of their ethical teachings. From 1928 to the end of 1932, he served as a Dayan in the Supreme Beit Din of the Sephardic Community of Yerushalayim. In 1933, he accepted an offer from Magen Dovid Congregation of Brooklyn, New York to serve as Chief Rabbi and Chief Dayan.
Rebbetzin Recha Schwab, A"H, (1908-2003). Married in 1931, she moved with Rav Schwab to the United States in 1936, and settled in Washington Heights in 1958. She left this world with 180 descendents, all Torah-observant.
HaRav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, zt”l, Rav of Elizabeth, NJ. (5668 / 1908 - 5756 / 1995)
Harav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz was born on 8 Tammuz 5668/1908, in Subat, Latvia. His father was Harav Binyamin Avraham, zt”l. He was to become the family’s twentieth-generation Rav in a row.
Rav Binyamin Avraham served as the Rav of both the Chassidic and non-Chassidic communities of Subat. His ability to successfully lead people of varied backgrounds was passed on to his son, Rav Mordechai Pinchas.
When Mordechai Pinchas was 7 years old the family moved to Livinhoff which was near Dvinsk, the home of two Gedolim: Harav Meir Simcha Hakohen, the Ohr Same’ach, and Harav Yosef Rosen, the Rogatchover Gaon, zecher tzaddikim livrachah. His father had a close relationship with the Rogatchover, who respected him greatly. When people came to the Rogatchover for his brachah he would often refer them to the Rav of Livinoff, saying, “Go to Binyamin HaTzaddik.”
At 14 Pinchas made his first trip to Dvinsk and developed a close relationship with both Rav Meir Simcha and the Rogatchover.
Rav Mordechai Pinchas responded to the request of the Telshe Roshei Yeshivah and in 1933 he accompanied Harav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zt”l, to the U.S. to raise funds for the Telshe Yeshivah. This was a turning point in Rav Teitz’s life. During his travels in America, someone suggested a shidduch with the daughter of Harav Elazar Meir Preil, zt”l, the late Rav of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Rav Preil had left instructions that if the person who married his daughter would be qualified, he should succeed him as Rav of Elizabeth.
With his ascension to the rabbinate of Elizabeth, a new chapter began in his life. At the time American Orthodoxy was losing the young people, partly because the Rabbanim of the time did not speak their language. Rav Teitz knew it was vital to communicate in English. He would sit down with his Rebbetzin, who was American-born, and tell her his drashah. She translated it into English, and then transliterated it into Hebrew letters. When he read the speech, he appeared to be fluent in English.
With Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, Rav Teitz was co-founder of Merkaz Harabbanim in the early 1980’s.
During World War II, his concern for the individual placed him in the forefront of the Vaad Hatzalah, as he worked tirelessly to save European Jewry.
After the war he was one of the Orthodox rabbinate’s representatives to the Displaced Persons camps, helping with European Jewry’s rehabilitation.
He founded schools, a kollel, and five shuls, and pioneered in teaching Talmud on the radio, records and audiotapes. From the 1960s to the 1980s he made twenty-two trips to the USSR to sustain the three million Jews imprisoned there. He was a major force in the work of Ezrat Torah and saved its construction in Israel from bankruptcy. Stories about him can be found in the book "Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah," by Rivkah Teitz Blau (Ktav Publishing House).
Rav Teitz was niftar on 4 Teves 5756/1995. (Others 5 Tevet).
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5 Tevet 3339 - 423 B.C.E.:
"And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, a figure came to me saying: 'The city was conquered.' " Only now had the Navi / Prophet Yechezkel / Ezekiel heard the news of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and of Yerushalayim's conquest by a foreign power, as recorded in the biblical Sefer / Book of Yechezkel / Ezekiel (33:21).
In Jewish law, a period of mourning (for example, upon the death of a loved one) can begin upon "hearing" the bad news. Some Talmudic commentators thus recommended that the 5th of Tevet be instituted as a public fast day. (See Rosh HaShanah 18, according to Rab Shimon Bar Yochai).
Auto-da-fe* at Toledo. More than 900 people were humiliated in a parade from the Church of San Pedro Martir to the cathedral, forced to recant, fined 1/5 of their property and permanently forbidden to wear decent clothes or hold office.
*Public announcement of the sentences imposed by the Inquisition, especially
by burning at the stake.
5 Tevet 5295
Roman Emperor Charles V ordered the
auto-da-fe* of Harav Shlomo Molcho in Mantua, Italy, Hy"d. See below.
*Public announcement of the sentences imposed by the Inquisition,
by burning at the stake.
5 Tevet 5552 - December 31, 1791:
The Pale of Settlement was instituted
by Empress Catherine, limiting Jewish rights in Russia.
5 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shlomo Molcho, Hy”d, (1500-1532). Born in Lisbon, Portugal, a descendant of Portuguese Marranos. He published 22 essays on the topic of redemption according to the secrets of Kabbalah in his work, Sefer Hamefoar. He met with the Pope and asked him to stop the campaign against the Marranos. He also met Rav Yosef Karo in Tzefat and the Kabbalist Rav Yosef Taitzik of Salonica who taught R' Molcho Kabbalah. His speeches inspired many Marranos to publicly return to their faith. Arrested by the officers of the Inquisition, he recited Shema with great joy, as he was burned at the stake by Roman Emperor Charles V in Mantua, Italy. (Others 5295 / 1534)
HaRav Aharon (Uren) of Tityov, zt”l, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov (5589 / 1828).
Harav Uren (according to some: Aharon) was the oldest son of Harav Tzvi Hasofer of Pinsk who, in turn, was the son of the holy Baal Shem Tov, Harav Yisrael. Reb Uren still merited knowing his grandfather in his youth.
After his father’s petirah in 5540/1780, Reb Uren moved to the town of Konstantin. Like his father and grandfather before him, he spent all his time learning Torah and davening. With virtually no source of income, he had no way to purchase food for his family.
One day, the bitter cries of his starving children became too much for him to bear. After davening, Rav Uren got up in shul and cried out, “How do you allow a grandson of the Baal Shem Tov to starve?” (According to another version, he cried out, “How can Jews not worry about a poor family?”)
Rav Uren’s exclamation caused a great tumult among the townspeople. They immediately undertook to fully support this great tzaddik who was a grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. They established a rotation so that each week another of the wealthier members of the community would ensure that all the needs of this family were taken care of.
After the other Jews had left the shul, and Rav Uren was left alone, he began to bitterly regret what he had done. “Instead of relying on Hakadosh Baruch Hu to fill all my needs, I turned to people,” he thought to himself. Rav Uren immediately began to daven, and beseeched Hashem that the townspeople should forget about his outcry.
His tefillot were answered, and the Jews of his town entirely forgot Rav Uren’s outcry, as well as their undertaking of support.
An elderly Yid had been sitting behind the oven when Reb Uren davened to Hashem, and he realized the great tzidkut of Reb Uren.
After a while, an epidemic broke out in nearby Tityov. The elderly Yid who recognized the greatness of Reb Uren told the people of Tityov to beg Reb Uren to beseech the Shaarei Rachamim for them. After relentless pleading, Reb Uren gave in and traveled with the people of Tityov to daven. As soon as his wagon arrived in town, a miracle occurred and the epidemic subsided.
After this incident, Reb Uren moved to Tityov, where Chassidim began flocking to him. He was well known for being a po’el yeshuot for Yidden.
In his later years he moved to Powlitz, a village near Skver. He was niftar there and buried in the village’s beit hachaim.
Rav Avraham Yaakov of Sadiger (1884-1961), named for his grandfather, the first Sadigerer Rebbe. When Reb Avraham Yaakov turned 18, he married Bluma Raizel, the daughter of the Kapischnitzer Rebbe, Reb Yitzchak Meir Heschel. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Rebbe fled to Vienna, Austria, and lived there for 24 years. When the Nazis entered Vienna in 1938, the Rebbe was seized and forced to sweep the streets clean, to the amusement of the onlooking Germans. After WW2, he lived in Tel Aviv, where he continued the Sadigerer line. He authored Abir Yaakov. (Others 5271 / 1960).
HaRav Yerachmiel Tzvi Rabinowitz, zt”l, the Biala-Peshischa Rebbe (5764 / 2003).
The Rebbe of Biala-Peshischa was born in Shedlitz in 5685/1925 to the previous Biala Rebbe, the Chelkat Yehoshua, Harav Yechiel Yehoshua, who named him after his own father, Harav Yerachmiel Tzvi of Shedlitz, zy”a.
The Rebbe began his studies in his father’s court, where he was taught by outstanding Chassidim. Later he went to Lodz and until the outbreak of World War II learned in Yeshivat Darchei Noam under Harav Gad’l Eisner, zt”l, as well as the renowned mechanech Hagaon Harav Gershon Eliyahu Lisz, zt”l.
When WWII broke out he fled with his father to Baranovich in Lithuania, where for close to a year he had the privilege of hearing shiurim from Harav Elchanan Wasserman, Hy”d. As the war progressed and Lithuania was invaded by the Soviets, the Rebbe and his father were exiled to Siberia with countless other refugees.
The Rebbe and his family withstood many hardships until they were finally able to reach Kazakhstan. From there, the Rebbe’s brothers made their way to Eretz Yisrael with the “Tehran children” in 5704/1944, but the Soviets refused to allow the Rebbe to accompany them.
When the war ended, the Rebbe’s father returned to Poland to help the she’eirit hapleitah. When the Rebbe’s father moved to Eretz Yisrael they were forced to part, since the Rebbe was denied a certificate of entrance.
Instead, he traveled to London to his uncle, the Biala-London Rebbe, Harav Nosson Dovid, zy”a. The Rebbe married the daughter of the Chassid and nagid Harav Aharon Moshe Galitsky, zt”l, founder of the kehillah in Lugano, Switzerland.
In 5723/1963 the Rebbe moved to Yerushalayim, where he helped his father expand Biala Chassidut with the establishment of Yeshivat Biala. In 5732/1972 he was appointed Rosh Kollel of the Kedushat Yaakov kollel in his father’s beit medrash, and until his father’s last day the Rebbe continued to work with him toward expanding the beit medrash and the court.
One of the Rebbe’s many endeavors was his effort to reprint sefarim written by members of the Biala dynasty, including several important works that contained lengthy introductions written by his father.
As a scion of the Biala and Peshischa dynasties, he accepted the mantle of leadership after his father’s petirah, in 1982, and opened a beit medrash in the Har Nof section of Yerushalayim.
Not long before his petirah, the Rebbe began arranging his drashot and chiddushim for publication and was eager to see the project through to completion.
On the evening of his petirah, the Rebbe followed his nightly seder limud of halachah, Gemara, Zohar andTanna Dvei Eliyahu, after which he said the full Kriat Shema, slowly and with kavanah. Close to midnight, the Rebbe felt ill and asked for some water. He recited the brachah and was niftar shortly afterward.
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6 Tevet 5249 - 1488:
First edition of the Sefer Mitzvot HaGadol published in Soncino, Italy.
6 Tevet 5626 - December 24, 1865:
Ku Klux Klan founded in Tennessee.
6 Tevet 5???:
Founding of Slabodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak by Rav Eizik Sher, son-in-law of Rav Nosson Nota Finkel, the Alter from Slabodka.
6 Tevet 5710 - December 26, 1949:
Six British RAF warplanes enforcing a UN ceasefire were shot down by Israeli forces over the Israel-Egypt border.
Throughout the 1948 War of Independence, Israel was terribly outnumbered in manpower and weapons -- initially the army did not have a single cannon or tank, and its air force consisted of nine obsolete planes. The United States had imposed an arms embargo on the region, forcing the Israelis to smuggle weapons, mainly from Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, the British provided large quantities of weapons to Arab forces: Jordan's Arab Legion was armed, trained and led by British officers.
6 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Chaim Meidanik, zt”l, (5715 / 1954). Rav in Chicago and author of Mazkeret Chaim and Hegyonei Chaim.
HaRav Yaakov (ben Yosef) Reischer (1661 - 5494 / 1733), zt”l, author of Minchat Yaakov (commentary on Torat Chatat of the Rema), Chok Yaakov on the Shulchan Aruch, Iyun Yaakov (on Eyn Yaakov), and Shevut Yaakov (Sheilot u'Teshuvot). Born in Prague, he served as Rav in Reische, Worms, and Metz. . His brother-in-law was Rav Eliyahu Shapira, the Elya Rabbah. (Others 6 Tevet 5493 / 1732, or 9 Shvat).
HaRav Mattisyahu Straushun of Vilna, zt”l, son of the Rashash (5646 / 1885).
HaRav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, zt”l, the Shineve Rav (1815 - 5660 / 1899). Harav Yechezkel Shraga, the eldest son of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, was born in Tarnograd, Poland, (others - Rudnick, Galicia), on 20 Shevat 5575/1815. His mother was Rebbetzin Rochel Feiga, daughter of Harav Baruch Teomim, the Baruch Taam.
The Divrei Yechezkel, as Reb Yechezkel Shraga came to be called from the name of his sefer, traveled to many tzaddikim, particularly to Harav Tzvi Hirsch of Riminov, Harav Shalom of Belz, Harav Asher Yeshayah of Ropshitz, Harav Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz and Reb Meir of Premishlan, zechusam yagein aleinu. The Sar Shalom of Belz was his primary Rebbe, and the few points of minhag in which he diverged from his father were minhagim adopted from Reb Shalom.
Tragically, he was married and widowed 5 times.
About 5590/1830, when he was 15, he married his first Rebbetzin, the daughter of Harav Aryeh Leibush Lipshitz, the Aryeh D’vei Ilayi, (the grand-daughter of the Yismach Moshe, Rav Moshe Teitelbaum of Mujehly, Hungary). In 5599/1839, she was niftar and left him with two young orphans.
The following year, he married the daughter of Harav Mordechai Zilberstein, Rav of Holoshitz. She was niftar four years later, in 5604/1844.
Three years later, the Divrei Yechezkel married the daughter of Harav Yehudah Tzvi of Razla (Rozdil), upon whose petirah Reb Yechezkel Shraga became Rav of Rozdil and published his father-in-law’s sefarim, Amud HaTorah and Daat Kedoshim.
The Divrei Yechezkel lived in Rozdil for seven years. After his third wife passed away, the Belzer Rebbe proposed that he marry the daughter of Reb Tzvi Hirsch of Leshanov.
Two years later, in 5616/1856, the Divrei Yechezkel was appointed to the rabbanut of Shinev, a post he held for 11 years, until 5627/1867, when he was called upon to assume the rabbanut of Stropkov. It was in Stropkov that the Divrei Yechezkel began to receive Chassidim. There, unfortunately, his fourth Rebbetzin was niftar and he married the daughter of Harav Avraham Gewirtzman of Gorlitz.
Toward the end of 5629/1869, the Divrei Yechezkel spent over a year in Eretz Yisrael, returning to Europe at the beginning of 5631/1870. Five and a half years later, on 25 Nisan 5636/1876, his father was niftar and the Divrei Yechezkel moved to Sanz for the year. His final move, in 5641/1881, was back to Shinev, where he lived for another 18 years.
The Shineve Rav was niftar on 6 Teves 5659/1898 and was buried in Shinev.
(Others 5659 / 1898).
HaRav Chaim Shlomo of Koson, zt”l, (5680 / 1919).
HaRav Alter Yisrael Shimon Perlow of Novominsk, zt”l, (5634 / 1874 (or 1873) - 5693 / 1933), author of Tiferet Ish. Scion of the dynasties of Ustila, Koidanov, Lehovitch, Karlin, Neshchiz, Apt, Czernobyl and Berditchev. Rav Alter was born in Novominsk . His father was Harav Yaakov, the first Novominsker Rebbe, a descendant of the Neshchiz dynasty.
Harav Alter married the daughter of Harav Baruch Meir Twersky of Azarnitz, a scion of the Chernobyl dynasty.
Not long after his wedding, he was appointed by his father as the menahel of the yeshiva that he had founded. The yeshiva had nearly 200 talmidim.
During the last two years of his father’s life, he tended to him, writing down all his divrei Torah from those years.
The Tiferet Ish was renowned for his hasmadah in learning, and for his phenomenal memory.
After the petira of his father on 23 Adar 5662 / 1902, he was appointed Rebbe in Novominsk.
The Tiferet Ish davened with great hislahavut. On the Yamim Nora’im, he was the baal tefillah for all the tefillot. He was accustomed to fast quite often, besides his other ascetic practices.
The Tiferet Ish was known for his ahavat Yisrael; he never criticized another Jew. He was active in communal work.
Reb Alter was close with many of the generation’s Rebbes. Notable was his connection with the Imrei Emet of Ger and the Yismach Yisrael of Aleksander.
During World War I, Reb Alter moved from Novominsk to Warsaw (1917), and he remained there when the war was over.
He knew the whole Mishna by heart and to the end of his life he reviewed eighteen chapters every day.
He was niftar on 6 Tevet 5693/1933, at age 59. After his petirah, his work on the Haggadah shel Pesach, Tiferet Ish, was published, followed by Tiferet Ish on the Yamim Tovim.
Rebbetzin Beila Morgenstern (1908-2006). First-born daughter of the Admor of Ozerov-Chenchin, Rav Moshe Yechiel Epstein, author of Aish Das and Be’er Moshe. She married Rav Tzvi Hershel Morgenstern, a descendent of the Kotzker Rebbe. Her husband served as a principal of the Bronx Beit Yaakov. She always recited the entire sefer tehillim on the yahrtzeit of every one of her noble forefathers and asked Hashem that their merit should protect all of Klal Yisrael. Among her grandchildren are Rav Dovid Altusky and Rav Yechiel Altusky.
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7 Tevet -
Three leaders of Babylonian Jewry were arrested by Persian officials, sparking
a wave of persecution of the Jews of Babylonia. In 468 CE, Rav Amemar, Rav Mesharsheya and Rav Huna, the heads of
Babylonian Jewry, were arrested and executed, Hy"d,
11 days later.
community of Babylon had existed for 900 years, ever since
Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Israel, destroyed the Beit HaMikdash, and
exiled the Jews to Babylon. Seventy years later, when the Jews were
permitted to return to Israel, a large percentage remained in Babylon --
and this eventually became the center of Jewish rabbinic authority.
Things began to worsen in the 5th century, when the Persian priests,
fighting against encroaching Christian missionaries, unleashed
anti-Christian persecutions which caught the Jews of Babylonia in its
wake. Eventually the situation improved, and Babylon remained as the
center of Jewish life for another 500 years.
7 Tevet 5521
- December 14, 1760:
Board of Deputies of British Jews was founded.
7 Tevet 5565
- December 9, 1804:
Supposed liberties granted Russian
Jews by the Czar, actually spelled economic ruin for much of the Jewish community.
7 Tevet 5584
- December 9, 1823:
The Prussian government decreed that
Jewish services must be conducted in strict adherence to Jewish Tradition. The
decree was "solicited" by the Traditional Jewish community in order
to fight against the new Reform movement. Ultimately, however, we suffer much
more harm from governmental intervention than good.
7 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe Dovid Walli (Vally; Vali), zt”l, (1697 - 1777). The foremost student of Ramchal in Padua, Italy, he practiced as a physician in Padova. When the Ramchal was forced to leave Italy, Rav Moshe Dovid was appointed head of his academy in Padova. Also known as the Rama"d Vali, he wrote a commentary on Chumash (Ohr Olam on Breishit; Brit Olam on Shmot; Avodat Hakodesh on Vayikra; Shivtei Kah on Bamidbar; Mishna Lamelech on Devarim), Na"Ch, Likkutim.
HaRav Tzvi Hersh, zt”l, the son of the Baal Shem Tov (5540 / 1779).
Before he revealed who he was, the holy Baal Shem Tov lived for a while in Brod, Galicia, where he married Rebbetzin Chana, the sister of the renowned talmid chacham, Harav Avraham Gershon Kitover, zt”l. A son, Reb Tzvi Hirsh, and a daughter, Udel, were born to the Baal Shem Tov there. Reb Tzvi Hirsh learned Torah from his father and from his uncle Reb Gershon.
Reb Tzvi Hirsh was a faithful emissary of his father in his many missions of saving Jews in trouble. Like his father, he gave away all his money to charity. He was known for his great humility, behaving as a simple man of the people. He was considered a tzaddik nistar; his great acts were hidden from the public eye.
His father, the Baal Shem Tov, instructed him not to speak a superfluous word. Harav Pinchas Koritzer, zy”a, testified that “Reb Tzvi Hirsh knows all that takes place, even in the Heavens, but his silence stems from thinking that all those around him know the same, therefore he has nothing to add….” This was also after he did become Rebbe; he was renowned for his middat hash’tikah.
It is related that in his youth, Reb Tzvi Hirsh once accompanied his father, the Baal Shem Tov, to the house of a wealthy man in Mezhibuzh. The father, seeing his son’s eyes widen at the costly silver ornaments and expensive furnishings, exclaimed: “My son, I see that you envy this man and his costly things while your father’s house is bare of such luxury. But believe me, my son, even were I to possess sufficient wealth to acquire these silver ornaments, I would rather prefer to distribute it all to the poor.”
According to one source, Reb Tzvi Hirsh was appointed leader of the Chassidim to succeed his father. He served in that capacity for just one year. The Chassidim had gathered on Shavuot, the first yahrtzeit of the Baal Shem Tov, and were seated around a table with Reb Tzvi Hirsh at their head. He suddenly rose and said: “Today my father appeared to me and informed me that the Shechinah and Heavenly Assembly that used to be with him have gone over this day to Reb Dov Ber, the Mezritcher Maggid; therefore, from today on, the leadership is his. Let him sit in my place at the head of the table and you, my son, sit in his place.” When he finished speaking, he removed the white bekeshe that he wore which symbolized his being Rebbe and placed it upon the shoulders of the Rebbe Reb Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch.
However, according to most sources Reb Tzvi Hirsh never assumed leadership; the Baal Shem Tov indicated, or specifically instructed that the Maggid should be his successor. All, however agree that Reb Tzvi Hirsh was a spiritual giant who was greatly admired by his father’s talmidim.
Reb Tzvi Hirsh was buried in Pinsk. Later an ohel was built around his kever, at the request of the Beit Aharon of Karlin, zy”a.
HaRav Raphael Shlomo Laniado, zt”l, (1740-1793). Originating from Spain through their progenitor, Rav Shmuel, the Laniado family was among the most famous and well-established in the Syrian city of Chaleb. Rav Raphael Shlomo Laniado was a prolific writer, and he is well-known for the several halachic works: HaMaalot LeShlomo, Beit Dino Shel Shlomo, Lechem Shlomo, and Kisei Shlomo.
HaRav Mordecai Yosef Leiner of Ishbitz, zt”l, (5560 / 1800 - 5614 / 1854), the Mei Hashiloach.
His father Rav Yaakov was an eminent descendant of Harav Yaakov Baal Mofes, zt”l, and Harav Shaul Wohl, zt”l.
Born in Tomashov, Poland in 5560 / 1800, he was a childhood friend of Reb Menachem Mendel Morgenstern, later to become the Kotzker Rebbe, and they studied together in the school of the Chasidic Master, Reb Simcha Bunim of Pshischa.
The child was orphaned of his father at a young age, but since his mother’s family was well-to-do, he didn’t lack for care. As a young boy, Mordechai Yosef showed immense potential, and he was renowned for an outstanding memory and for his hasmadah.
Rav Mordechai Yosef married the daughter of Rav Yosef, zt”l, the Rav of Tomashov. After his marriage, already known as a Gadol baTorah, he began to travel to the court of the Rebbe Reb Bunim of Peshischa, zy”a. This was due to the influence of Harav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, zy”a, who resided at the time in Tomashov.
In Peshischa, Rav Mordechai Yosef was well received, despite his young age. Reb Bunim told Rav Mordechai Yosef, “Now I am older and bigger than you, but [since] you are still young, you can grow.” He compared Rav Mordechai Yosef to the Mei Hashiloach of the Beis Hamikdash, that coursed slowly but seeped in very deep. (It was for this vort of the Rebbe Reb Bunim that Rav Mordechai Yosef’s sefer was named Mei Hashiloach.)
For nine years Rav Mordechai Yosef stayed in Peshischa, returning home only for short intervals. He was considered one of the leading Chassidim.
After the petirah of the Rebbe Reb Bunim, the Kotzker Rebbe became his successor. Rav Mordechai Yosef was one of the first to follow him.
When the Rebbe moved on to Kotzk, Rav Mordechai Yosef stayed behind in Tomashov, but traveled frequently to Kotzk. He was among the leading Chassidim, very close to the Kotzker Rebbe.
He continued traveling to Kotzk for the next few years, until the Kotzker Rebbe began the period of his detachment. It was at this time that Rav Mordechai Yosef left Kotzk. On Simchas Torah of 5600/1839, he broke away with a group of his followers.
They moved to Wengraub, near Kotzk. Rav Mordechai Yosef remained there for a short time, settling ultimately in Izhbitze. He built up his court, attracting a large contingent of Chassidim from Kotzk.
Rav Mordechai Yosef led his Chassidim with compassion, like a father. Aside for his concern for their growth in ruchniyut, he was also involved in their material welfare.
For 13 years Rav Mordechai Yosef led his flock, disregarding the pains he suffered which made him weaker and weaker. In the beginning of 5614 his condition worsened from day to day, until he was niftar on 7 Tevet.
After his petirah, many of Rav Mordechai Yosef’s divrei Torah were compiled under the name Mei Hashiloach.
His sefer. Mei HaShiloach, is considered a fundamental work of Izhbitz and Radziner chasidut. Among his talmidim were Rav Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin and Rav Leibel Eiger. (others 5614 / 1853, 1878, according to others),
HaRav Shalom Yosef Friedman of Husyatin, zt”l, (1879), (1851, according to others). Son of the first Rebbe of Husyatin, Rav Mordechai Shraga (the youngest son of the Rizhiner Rebbe, who had moved to Husyatin in 1865 and was niftar in 1894. He was the father of Rav Moshe of Boyan-Cracow ("Reb Moshenu").
HaRav Yechezkel Paneth of Nitra, zt”l, (5615 / 1854).
HaRav Dovid, zt”l, of Lubin, later of Tzefat, (5653 / 1892).(Others 5654 / 1893)
HaRav Yom Tov Lipman Baslavsky, zt”l,(5581 / 1821 - 5653 / 1892), Rav of Mir and author of Malbushei Yom Tov. Born in Slutzk in 5581/1821. His father, Rav Yehudah Ze’ev, was the son of Harav Shabsi, a Dayan in Slutzk, whose father, Harav Noach, was the author of an important work on the Torah. (Unfortunately, the manuscript was burned in the house of his grandson, Reb Lipa, in Chislavichi when a fire broke out there in 5634 / 1874). The mother of Reb Yom Tov Lipman was a daughter of the famous Rav Betzalel, a son of Harav Yom Tov Lipman, Rav of Kapulya and author of Kedushat Yom Tom, who had been close to the Vilna Gaon.
HaRav Meir Abowitz of Novardok, zt”l, (5701 /1941).
Reb Yom Tov Lipman or, as he was fondly known, Reb Lippele, was known as an iluy while still young.
At 17 he married the daughter of Reb Shimon Zeimel of Slutzk.
His first Rabbanut was in Shumyachi, a position that he held for 11 years. He also headed the local yeshiva, which was the largest in the whole region.
From there he moved to Chislavichi, where he lived for the next nine years (until 5634 / 1874). After his wife passed away there, he married the daughter of Reb Yaakov Leib of Molestoyka.
After the fire that broke out in Chislavichi, Reb Yom Tov Lipman became Rav of Mir, serving also as Rosh Yeshiva. Among his talmidim was Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer, a native-born Mirrer.
Fluent in the works of all the Rishonim, Reb Yom Tov Lipman’s expertise in Torah and halacha was well known, as were his activities for the klal. This resulted in an invitation to take part in the Rabbinical conference in St. Petersburg of 5640 / 1880 under the leading Gedolim of the time: Harav Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor of Kovno, Harav Eliyahu Chaim Meizel of Lodz, and the Beit Halevi of Brisk. The discussions at the conference centered on the needs of the people and the problems of the young generation.
Reb Yom Tov Lipman’s teshuvot and chiddushim in halacha were published as Malbushei Yom Tov.
HaRav Yosef Elyashiyov, zt"l, (2007). Born in the former Soviet Union to Rav Tzion, who was killed by the authorities for his efforts to promote Judaism, he moved from Samarkand to Tashkent after marrying; there he and his wife raised their seven children. While living in Tashkent he had to spend seven years away from home - four years in custody on suspicion of underground religious activity and three years hiding from the KGB, who had him under surveillance for his activities to promote Judaism. In 1971, he managed to secure an exit visa and left his home and his family, traveling to Eretz Yisrael. He opened the first Shaarei Tzion institutions in 1980, naming them after his father. He then started a kollel with the goal of drawing avreichim from Bukharan families as well as a school in Kiryat Ono for Bukharan immigrants. Today, a total of 4,500 students, from kindergartners to avreichim, study at Shaarei Tzion institutions.
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8 Tevet 3515 - 247 B.C.E.:
Torah translated into Greek (the Septuagint).
After an unsuccessful attempt 61 years earlier, the ruling Greek-Egyptian emperor Talmai (Ptolemy) made a second attempt to translate the Torah into Greek. He gathered 72 Torah sages, sequestered them in 72 separate chambers, without revealing to them why they were called. He then ordered each of them to: “Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher.” In other words, produce a translation of the Torah.
Hashem put it in the heart of each sage to translate exactly as all the others did”.
On the 8th of Tevet, the sages produced 72 identical versions of the text, including intentional "mistranslations" - identical changes in 13 places (where they each felt that a literal translation would constitute a corruption of the Torah's true meaning). (Talmud Megillah 9).
This Greek rendition became known as the Septuagint, from the Latin word for “seventy,” (alluding to the 72 Jewish scholars) --- the oldest Bible translation (Though later versions that carry this name are not believed to be true to the originals). Greek became a significant second language among Jews as a result of this translation.
During Talmudic times, 8 Tevet was observed by some as a taanit tzaddikim (a fast day for the righteous), (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2). The translation of the Torah was a tragic moment for the Jewish people, a tragedy Chazal describe in Megillat Taanit as “three days of darkness” descending upon the world. It was viewed tragically by the sages, as it promised to drain Jewish vitality and increase the ability of non-Jewish sects to proselytize the Jews. The project was considered as tragic an event as the day the Jews made the eigel HaZahav / Golden Calf - since it was impossible to adequately translate the Torah, the fast day expressed the fear of the detrimental effect of the translation.
On the positive side, the Septuagint opened up the Torah to the masses -- helping to spread Jewish ideals of monotheism, peace and justice, which became the basic moral standards of the civilized world.
For further detail on the tragedy of the Septuagint, we refer you to the outstanding Sefer HaToda’ah, translated into English as The Book of Our Heritage (Feldheim), by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, zt"l.
8 Tevet 5722 - December 15, 1961:
Adolf Eichmann, ym's, architect of the
Final Solution, was sentenced to death after being tried in Eretz Yisroel.
8 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yisrael Gabrielovitch, zt"I, a talmid of Harav Akiva Eiger, (5647 / 1886).
HaRav Baruch Tzvi Hakohen, zt"I, Rosh Yeshivah of Paks and Rav of Budapest, (5667 / 1906).
HaRav Maatok Atugay Kohen, zt"l, (5691 / 1931). The Rav of Djerba, author of Yakar Ha-Erech.
HaRav Yechezkel Halshtuk of Ostrovtze, Hy"d, the Ostrovtzer Rebbe, (5703 / 1942).
Harav Yechezkel was born in the year 5647 / 1887 in the town of Skrenevitz. His father was the righteous Rav Yechiel Meir, the Ostrovtze Rebbe, author of Meir Einei Chachamim. He married the daughter of Harav Naftali, the Melitzer Rebbe, of the famous Ropshitz dynasty.
He was appointed Rav of the village Inabladz, located near Radom, Poland. From there he went on to be Rav in the city of Nashlask. In the year 5688/1928, following his father’s petirah, he became the Ostrovtze Rebbe. (Ostrovtze is located approximately halfway between Warsaw and Cracow in Poland.)
He was similar to his illustrious father in many ways, blessed with a brilliant memory and spellbinding geonut. He founded a network of yeshivot named Beit Meir, l’zecher nishmat his father. In the yeshivot the learning followed the unique Ostrovtze derech.
His hislahavut in tefillah would melt even a heart of stone. Talmidim attested to the fact that when the Rebbe davened he would totally detach himself from anything physical.
At the onset of WWII Rav Yechezkel was in Warsaw, but he quickly returned home to Ostrovtze so he could immediately hide all the sifrei Torah. After the Nazis caught him and cut off half his beard, he fled to Tzuzamir and hid in a bunker. Eventually, the Nazis caught him and his entire family and killed them al kiddush Hashem. He had seven sons, several of them noted Rabbanim, and one son-in-law.
Some of his writings were published after the war under the name Kodshei Yechezkel, printed together with his father’s sefer, Meir Einei Chachamim. The rest of his many manuscripts were lost in the war. Hashem yinkom damo.
HaRav Asher Zev Werner, zt"I, Rav in Teveria (5718 / 1957), author of Taam Zekeinim, based on
the works of the Arizal and other mekubalim.
Born in 5654 / 1894 in Yerushalayim, his father, Harav Simchah Bunim, was a member of the beit din of Yerushalayim. He learned first under his father and then in Yeshivat Torat Chaim.
He was close with many of the leading Rabbanim of his time, notably Harav Shneur Zalman of Lublin, the Torat Chesed.
He married the daughter of Harav Mattisyahu Senberg, a grandson of the first Slonimer Rebbe, Harav Avraham, and settled in Teveria, where he became close with the elder Slonimer chassidim and with Harav Moshe Kliers, Rav of the city.
Reb Asher Zev was a talmid chacham in Shas and poskim as well as in Kabbalah.
When World War I broke out, Reb Asher Zev left Eretz Yisrael, settling first in Cyprus and then moving to Alexandria in Egypt. He considered staying in Egypt, but following the advice of Harav Shmuel of Slonim, Reb Asher Zev set off for America.
From America, Reb Asher Zev helped the many Torah institutions in Eretz Yisrael.
He was Rav in several towns; his final position was in Providence. His house was a place of hachnasat orchim and chessed for overseas guests.
In 5694 / 1934, after the petira of Harav Meir Kliers, Reb Asher Zev was asked to return to Teveria and take the position of Rav. The local community was pleased to have Reb Asher Zev as their Rav; even when away he had maintained contact with the community and the mosdot.
In his house the whole community found an open door and a listening ear. Many guests sat at his table, and he secretly supported tens of talmidei chachamim.
Reb Asher Zev was niftar on 8 Tevet 5718/1957.
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9 Tevet 3442 - 320 B.C.E.:
Yahrzeit of Ezra HaSofer and Nechemiah ben Chachaliah.
In Megillat Taanit we are taught that 9 Tevet is a taanit tzaddikim (a fast day for the righteous), for an “unspecified tzarah.” (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2) . See Taz and Magen Avraham who write that we fast on this day because it is the Yahrzeit of Ezra HaSofer and Nechemiah ben Chachaliah, as mentioned in the Selichot of Asara B’Tevet. (See also Mishna Berura, Seif Katan 13).
Ezra HaSofer, 23rd-generation direct descendant of Aharon HaKohen, was the son of Shraya HaKohen. The passuk tells us, “And he set his heart to acquire the Torah of Hashem, to do mitzvot and to learn with Klal Yisrael chok u’mishpat” (Ezra 7). He was a talmid of Baruch ben Neriah who, in turn, was a talmid of Yirmiyahu Hanavi.
The Gemara relates (Sanhedrin 21): “Ezra was as suitable for the Torah to be given through him as Moshe Rabbeinu, had Moshe not preceded him.” Chazal relate that Ezra “returned the Crown of Israel to its former glory.” In his days the Torah was nearly forgotten in Eretz Yisrael, but then Ezra returned from Bavel and re-established the study and observance of Torah.
In the first year of the reign of King Koresh (Cyrus) of Persia (70 years after the beginning of Nevuchadnetzar’s reign), many Jews traveled to Eretz Yisrael from Bavel and started rebuilding the Beit Hamikdash. But, due to the king’s reluctance and the slander of non-Jews residing in Eretz Yisrael, building was halted.
Eighteen years later, after the nes of Purim and after Achashverosh died, his son Daryavesh (Darius) became king. The son also of Esther Hamalkah, he allowed the Jews to resume building the Beit Hamikdash. After many hardships, the Second Beit Hamikdash was completed, in the sixth year of Daryavesh’s reign.
In 3413/349 B.C.E., Ezra ascended to Eretz Yisrael, escorted by many Kohanim, Leviim and others (an estimated total of 1,500). He did not want to go until then because his rebbi, Baruch ben Neriah, was still alive. At the time, Ezra was about 80 years old.
As soon as he arrived and saw the spiritual decline of Eretz Yisrael, he called on Jews to do teshuvah. He instituted many decrees to preserve the Torah way of life, and mounted a campaign against intermarriage among those who had returned with him from the Babylonian exile.
Ezra HaSofer canonized the 24 books of the Holy Scriptures ("bible") and, as founder and head of the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah "The Great Assembly," a body of 120 prophets and sages who legislated a series of laws and practices (including formalized prayer - the standard text found in Jewish prayer books today), which left a strong imprint on Judaism to this very day. He was an outspoken critic of assimilation, particularly of the masses of Jews who preferred to stay in Babylonia rather than return to Eretz Yisroel. He issued 10 takanot that are still in force today. One example is the public reading of the Torah every Monday and Thursday, as well as Shabbat during Minchah.
Also under his guidance, the Ktav Ashurit was reestablished (Sanhedrin 22a).
His life and times are recorded in the biblical Book of Ezra.
Ezra passed away, at the age of 120, on the 9th of Tevet of the year 3442 from creation (320 B.C.E. -- exactly 1000 years after the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai). The passing of Ezra marked the end of the "Era of Prophecy."
The date of Nechemiah’s petirah is not specified.
One can review the Takanot that Ezra instituted in Talmud, Tractate Bava Kamma, 82a.
Others disagree and say that the Yahrtzeit of Ezra HaSofer and Nechemiah is on 10 Tevet. Still others hold that the reason for fasting is due to the tragic murder al Kiddush Hashem of Rabeinu Yosef Hanagid of Girondo, killed with 1,500 members of his kehillah by an Arab pogrom in 4827 – 1066, Hy"d. There also those who believe that the 9th day of Tevet was the day that oso Ha’ish was born.
9 Tevet - 1066:
Rabeinu Yosef Hanagid, the son of Shmuel
Hanaggid, and son-in-law of Rav Nisan Gaon of Kirouan was murdered in
an Arab pogrom with another 1500 Jews in Muslim Spain, Hy"d. (4827 / 1066). (Others have 1067).
9 Tevet - 1158:
Avraham Ibn Ezra begun work on his Iggeret HaShabbat, a work defending the traditional reckoning of Shabbat and Yom Tov against the trend to begin them only at day break rather than the previous night.
9 Tevet - 1235:
Ritual murder massacre at Fulda resulted in the death of 32 Jews, Hy"d. Following this event, Emperor Frederick II declared that since Jews are prohibited from eating animal blood, they would surely be banned from using human blood. He forbade anyone from accusing Jews of this charge.
9 Tevet - 1420:
The Pope bans conversion of Jewish children without consent of their parents, a ban which was often ignored.
9 Tevet 5655 - January 5, 1895:
The Defamation Ceremony of Alfred Dreyfus took place. Dreyfus was a Jewish french army captain falsely accused by French anti-semites of having sold classified documents found in the German embassy in Paris, to the Germans. He was court martialed for treason, demoted and humiliated
by the French Army and sent into exile to Devil’s Island.. Known today as the Dreyfus Affair, a worldwide campaign to vindicate his name eventually led to Dreyfus's pardon.and complete exoneration.
9 Tevet 5700 - December 21, 1939:
Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich name Adolf Eichmann leader of “Referat IV B” (in charge of transport of Jews for Final Solution).
9 Tevet 5752 - December 16, 1991:
The United Nations repeals the Zionism is Racism proclamation.
9 Tevet 5767 - December 30, 2006:
Deposed Iraqi leader, Sadam Hussein, was executed by hanging.
9 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Ezra HaSofer and Nechemiah ben Chachaliah. (See above).
Rabeinu Yosef Hanagid, the son of Shmuel
Hanaggid, and son-in-law of Rav Nisan Gaon of Kirouan was murdered in
an Arab pogrom with another 1500 Jews in Muslim Spain, Hy"d. (4827 / 1066). (Others have 1067).
HaRav Ezra of Gerona, zt"l, (1227), the Ramban's teacher in Kabalah. He himself learned Kabbalah from Rav Yitzchak Sagi Nahor, son of the Ravad III.
(Others 4824 / 1063 or 4).
HaRav Avraham Chaim Schorr, zt”l, (5392 / 1631), author of Torat Chaim. Harav Avraham Chaim Schorr was the son of Harav Naftali Tzvi Hirsch Schorr of Brisk, son of Harav Moshe Efraim Zalman from Mehrin (Moravia), who was a descendant of Rabbeinu Yosef of Orleans (the Bechor Shor), a talmid of Rabbeinu Tam and other baalei Tosafot.
Harav Avraham Chaim served as Rav in Stanow and later in Belz. His grandson, Harav Efraim Zalman Margulies, author of Beit Efraim, writes that he either heard or saw that his grandfather was also Rav in Kremnitz (Kremnica) in central Slovakia.
In all the cities that he served as Rav, Reb Avraham Chaim left his mark, strengthening Torah observance and teaching many talmidim.
In a generation richly endowed with talmidei chachamim and Gedolim, Reb Avraham Chaim was considered a leader. He was a mekubal and a baal mofet.
Although best known for (and called after) his sefer Torat Chaim (chiddushim on nine masechtot), Harav Avraham Chaim had earlier written with Harav Mordechai, Rav of Berzan, the sefer Tzon Kodashim on Zevachim, Menachot, Temurah and Bechorot. This sefer is a basic work for learning Kodashim, which corrected textual errors in this Seder. The Chofetz Chaim printed it anew in his Asifat Zekeinim on Masechet Zevachim.
Torat Chaim, his chiddushim on nine masechtot, is, as the name suggests, the living Torah. Many poskim quote Torat Chaim in their responsa. Harav Avraham Chaim’s son-in-law Harav Tzvi Hirsh of Dubna writes that Reb Avraham Chaim published it only after receiving the assent of the Yeshiva shel Maalah.
In his hakdama (introduction) to Torat Chaim, Harav Avraham Chaim explains that in the rare instances that he disagrees with Rashi, the learner should not take it as his own chiddush — as who am I to argue with Rashi? — rather, he will notice that it is always based on another of the Rishonim, such as the Rambam.
Harav Avraham Chaim was niftar in Belz on 9 Tevet, 5392 / 1631. Some list the day of his petira as 19 Tevet, saying that the letter yud was not legible on the matzeiva. As he requested, he was buried in Lvov among the Rabbanim of the city.
Harav Avraham Chaim had a son, Harav Tzvi Hirsh of Cracow, who was the son-in-law of Harav Nosson Nota Shapira, the Megaleh Amukot. He had two sons-in-law, Harav Asher Zelig Halevi Horowitz and Harav Tzvi Hirsh, Rav in Dubna.
HaRav Shmuel Helman, zt”l, (5525 / 1765), Rav of Metz, France
HaRav Yehoshua Basis, zt"l, (5621 / 1860). Chacham and Chief Rabbi of Tunisia for many years.
HaRav Yaakov Bokei , zt”l, (5661 / 1900). The Posek (authority in Jewish Law) of Beirut.
HaRav Yehuda ("Reb Yiddel") Weber, zt"l (1920-2006). Born in Vodkert, Hungary to Rav Yissachar Weber, a descendent of the Bach, and of Rebbetzin Chana, a niece of the Arugat HaBosem.
After his Bar Mitzvah, Yehuda was sent to learn in Pupa under Rav Yaakov Yechezkel Grunwald, the Vayaged Yaakov, the Pupa Rebbe, who was his rebbi muvhak for 7 years.
Rav Yehuda then served as mashgiach of Pupa. When the yeshiva was closed in 1944, Rav Yehuuda spent 6 months in the local work camps before being deported to Bergen Belsen.
In 1946, his sister introduced him to his Rebbetzin, Batsheva. A year later, his sister, Miriam, married the Pupa Rebbe. Both families settled in Antwerp, then moved to Williamsburg, in New York, in 1950.
In 1952, he was appointed Rosh Yeshiva of the newly established Pupa Yeshiva, first located in Queens, then in Ossining, in Westchester County. Although his family stayed in Williamsburg, Reb Yiddel made the 40-mile drive for four decades.
10 Tevet - Fast
of Asara B'Tevet.
One of the four
commemorative fasts mentioned by Zecharia HaNavi.
For more info, click here.
10 Tevet 3336 - 426 B.C.E.:
The armies of Nevuchadnetzar, the Babylonian emperor, began the siege of Yerushalayim. The siege lasted thirty months. On 9 Tammuz 3338 – 423 BCE, (the 17th day of Tammuz was designated to commemorate this event), the walls of the city were breached, and on the 9th of Av of that year the first Beit HaMikdash was destroyed. The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia for 70 years.
The 10th of Tevet is still observed today by Jews as a public fast day, as mentioned by the prophet Zechariah (8:19).
10 Tevet 3337 - 423 B.C.E.:
One year after Nevuchadnetzar's siege of Yerushalayim, Yirmiyahu Hanavi bought a field and prophesized that "Houses, fields and vineyards will yet again be bought in this land [Eretz Yisroel]." (Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 32:15). This gave hope to generations of Jews for a return to the Holy Land, Eretz Yisroel -- a prophecy that we have seen fulfilled in modern times.
10 Tevet 3442 – 320 B.C.E.:
Yahrtzeits of Zachariah ben Berachya ben Ido Hanavi and Malachi Hanevi’im (some say 3448 – 313 B.C.E.). According to the Midrash, Malachi is the same person as Ezra Hasofer. (See yesterday’s notes on Ezra.) Their passing marked the end of the "Era of Prophecy."
10 Tevet -
Yechezkel's wife dies.(24:18)
10 Tevet -
Beneyahu son of Yehoyada of Kavtze’eil struck down the two commanders of Moav, and slew a lion in the middle of a well on a snowy day. (Targum Rav Yosef on Divrei Hayamim I 11:22).
10 Tevet - 37
King Herod captured Yerushalayim. (others date it as 2 Tevet).
The first masechta — Gemora Brachot — was printed by Joshua Soncino. It included Rashi, Tosefot, Piskei Tosefot, and the meforshim of the Rambam and Mordechai ben Hillel.
10 Tevet 5700
- December 22, 1939:
The decree for the elimination of Jews from German economic life took effect. (Others have it as 20 Tevet).
10 Tevet 5701
- January 9, 1941:
3,000 Jews were killed in Bucharest riots, Hy"d.
10 Tevet 5701
- January 9, 1941:
Warsaw Jews were forbidden to greet a German in public.
10 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Zachariah ben Berachya ben Ido Hanavi and Malachi Hanevi’im (3442 – 320 B.C.E.:) (Others 3448 – 313 B.C.E.). According to the Midrash, Malachi is the same person as Ezra Hasofer. (See yesterday’s notes on Ezra.) Their passing marked the end of the "Era of Prophecy."
HaRav Yehuda Eilenberg, zt"l, author of Minchat Yehudah (5371 / 1610).
HaRav Nosson Sternhartz of Breslov, zt"l, author of Likutei Halachot, (5605 / 1844). Born on 15 Shevat 5540/1780 in the town of Nemirov, Ukraine. His father, Harav Naftali Hertz Sternhartz, zt”l, was a talmid chacham and was an important, wealthy merchant. As a young man, he lived in Nemirov, nine miles north of Breslov.
He was well-known for his Torah scholarship and was called the “iluy – genius – of Nemirov.” At the age of 13 he married the daughter of Harav Dovid Tzvi Orbach, zt”l, who was Rav in Mohilev, Sharograd, and Kremenetz.
Rav Nosson felt that something was lacking in his ruchniyut. He began to frequent the courts of Rebbes, including Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Harav Shalom Shachna of Prohobitch.
In 5562/1802, when Rav Nachman moved to Breslov, Ukraine, just south of Nemirov, Rav Nosson went to get acquainted with him. Though Rav Nachman was only eight years his senior, Rav Nosson became Rav Nachman’s lifelong devoted talmid and chassid.
Rav Nosson’s family members were initially opposed to his association with Chassidut, but relented when they saw that his Torah learning and yirat Shamayim only improved under the influence of Rav Nachman.
Rav Nosson was responsible for preserving the teachings, stories and everyday conversations of his Rebbe, and for the dissemination of Breslov Chassidut after Rav Nachman’s petirah. He recorded Reb Nachman's thoughts, edited his writings and wrote the early history of the Breslover Hasidim.
Rav Nosson carefully noted whether a lesson was edited and approved by Rav Nachman himself, or was a less formal script not specifically approved by him. He also makes a clear distinction between Rav Nachman’s actual words and any comments he added himself.
He authored the Likutei Halachot, Likutei Moharan, Sefer HaMidot, and Likutei Tefillot.
Before Reb Nachman passed away he himself testified about Reb Nosson and said the following "without Reb Nosson none of my teachings would have remained". Taking a spiritual accounting of one’s life and keeping one’s purpose in life in the forefront of one’s mind were the guiding principles that brought him to his Rebbe’s door. He worked with great self-sacrifice to bring Jews closer to Judaism and spread his Rebbe’s Torah, despite the opposition. Reb Nosson was known to be very punctual and careful with his time, and had many clocks in his home. He used to say: “There’s no man who doesn’t have his time” (Ethics of our Fathers) - someone who isn’t on time isn’t a man.”
After Rav Nachman’s petirah on 17 Tishrei 5571/1810, Rav Nosson moved to Breslov and came to be known as Rav Nosson of Breslov. He became the leader of the Breslover Chassidim, but not Rebbe, because Rav Nachman did not officially appoint a successor or establish a dynasty.
He threw all his energies into strengthening the Breslover movement while maintaining his own rigorous schedule of Torah learning. He purchased a printing press and published all of Rav Nachman’s writings, as well as all the conversations he and others had had with Rav Nachman that people could remember.
He corresponded with Breslover chassidim across the Ukraine, and visited them several times a year.
Rav Nosson was also responsible for making Uman, Ukraine — the city in which Rav Nachman is buried — into a focal point of Breslover Chassidut. Before Rosh Hashanah 5572/1811, he organized the first kibbutz at the tziyun; it later became an annual pilgrimage.
In 5581/1821, Rav Nosson visited Eretz Yisrael, as Rav Nachman had done many years earlier.
Rav Nosson was niftar in Breslov on 10 Tevet, 5605/1844.
In addition to publishing the works of Rav Nachman, Rav Nosson wrote several sefarim of his own. Among them are Alim L’Terufah, a collection of his letters; Chayei Moharan, biographical material on Rav Nachman; Likutei Eitzot; Likutei Halachot; and Likutei Tefillot.
HaRav Meir Shalom Rabinowitz of Kalushin, zt"l, (5611 / 1851 - 5662 / 1901). Born to Rav Yehoshua Asher of Zelichov, the son of the Yid Hakadosh of Peshischa, he became a son-in-law of his older brother, Rav Yaakov Tzvi of Porisov, author of Atarah L'Rosh Tzadik.
Reb Meir Shalom, whose lineage was esteemed, reached great heights in avodat Hashem. He learned and absorbed Chassidut under the tutelage of his brother/father-in-law, under Reb Yitzchak of Neshchiz, and under Reb Yechezkel Shraga of Shinova.
As a Rav he was accorded the utmost honor and respect. He served as Rav in the kehillot of Porisov, Gravlin and Kalushin, the town with which his name became associated.
He became Rebbe after the petira of his brother / father-in-law in 5649 / 1889, thus continuing the unbroken chain of his ancestors.
Reb Meir Shalom’s humility was outstanding. When he was accepted as Rav in Kalushin, the town arranged a great reception in his honor. He later commented, “I did not feel the honor at all. It meant so little to me that I did not have to break my heart in order not to become haughty.”
He is credited with many intricate Torah thoughts and insights into Chassidut. In the introduction to Nahar Shalom, his son and successor, Reb Yehoshua Asher, describes at great length the elaborate divrei Torah he heard from his holy father, little of which was printed.
Reb Meir Shalom was niftar on Erev Shabbat, Asarah B’Tevet 5662, before licht bentchen. Immediately before his petirah he recited a passuk from the weekly parashah, “Velo yachol Yosef le’hisapek” — and Yosef could not contain himself any longer,” after which his holy neshamah departed.
HaRav Noach of Hordishitz, zt"l, (5664 / 1903).
HaRav Yechezkel Halshtuk, the Ostrovtzer Rebbe, Hy"d, (1887-1942). Born to Rav Meir Yechiel, founder of the court of Ostrovtze (Ostrowiec), a town which lies along the Kamienna River , a tributary of the Vistula, and which is situated in the Polish highlands just north of the Swietokrzyskie Mountains . At 18, Reb Yechezkel married Rebbetzin Beila Mirel, daughter of Rav Naftali of Meilitz, who was a grandson of Rav Naftali of Ropshitz. In 1911, he was appointed Rav of the town of Inovlodz , and 10 years later, he was appointed Rav of Nashelsk. He succeeded his father as Rebbe after the latter’s petira in 1928. He founded a yeshiva named Beit Meir, in honor of his father. He and 20 of his Chasidim were murdered by the Nazis during davening on the night of Asara B'Tevet. His Rebbetzin, 7 sons, and one son-in-law were all murdered by the Nazis.Some of his writings were published after the war under the name Kodshei Yechezkel.
Memorial day for the six million
Jews killed by the Nazis, Hy"d.
Harav Meir Chaim Ungar, zt”l, Rav of Lakenbach, (5718 / 1957). Born in 5665 / 1905 in Tzehlem. His father Rav Yaakov was renowned for his acts of tzedaka and chesed; his home was always open to guests, especially the talmidim of the yeshiva in Tzehlem. Within a few short years, Reb Meir Chaim became fluent in most of the masechtot of Nashim and Nezikin, as well as Shulchan Aruch, notably Yoreh De’ah.
Reb Meir Chaim married the daughter of Harav Yehudah Krausz, Rav of Lakenbach. Lakenbach was one of the famous seven Jewish communities, the sheva kehillot, in Burgenland, Hungary (now Austria).
A few years after he settled in Lakenbach, when his father-in-law moved to Eretz Yisrael in 5695 / 1935, Reb Meir Chaim was appointed Rav in Lakenbach. He led the city with great devotion.
Alas, the good years were not to last; the Nazi regime raised its evil head, forcing Reb Meir Chaim to flee.
He settled in Yerushalayim, where Harav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky appointed him to serve as a Rav.
Reb Meir Chaim devoted most of his time to Torah, learning alone from the early morning hours until Shacharit and then delivering a host of shiurim throughout the day. Reb Meir Chaim helped people in many ways, collecting tzedaka for them, advising them about shalom bayit, visiting the ill and the like.
In the winter of 5718 / 1957, Reb Meir Chaim became ill. When he was able, he continued to learn and do chesed.
On 10 Tevet, Reb Meir Chaim was niftar at the age of 53.
Reb Meir Chaim was survived by his only daughter, who was married to Hagaon Harav Nosson Gestetner, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivat Panim Me’irot. Harav Gestetner published the sefarim of his father-in-law under the name Me’or HaChaim.
HaRav Shabsai Yogel, zt"l, born in Piask , Russia (1875 - 5718 / 1957). After studying in Eishishock as a youngster, he learned at Volozhin until it was closed by the Russian authorities, at which time he returned to Piask until he married Liba Kletzkin from Slonim. He then moved to Slonim and learned in one of the Novardok kollelim. In 1906, he was asked to head the Slonim yeshiva, founded by Rav Shlomo Zalman Kahana in 1816. The yeshiva’s first rosh yeshiva was Rav Avraham Weinberg, who later became the founder of the Slonimer chassidic dynastry. In 1929, Rav Shabsai visited Eretz Yisrael for the first time; two months later, his son Shlomo perished in the Chevron massacres. During the early years of WW2, Rav Shabsai and his family moved to Eretz Yisrael. Since the yeshiva in Slonim was destroyed by the Nazis, he decided to rebuild in Ramat Gan, which at that time was a spiritual wasteland.
HaRav Avraham Abba Leifer, zt"l, the Pittsburgher Rebbe, the Admor of Petersburg-Ashdod (5750 / 1990). Author of Emunat Avraham, son of Rav Yosef (Tzidkat Yosef), and son-in-law of Rebbe Issamar of Nadvorna. His son, Mordechai Yissacher Dov Ber Leifer of Pittsburg, is author of Pisgamei Oraisa.
HaRav Raphael Wexelbaum, zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of Itri, (5757 / 1997).
11 Tevet 5251 - 1491:
100,000 Jews of Sicily, Italy were expelled. [listed as 2 Tevet ; 10 Tevet elsewhere].(Others 5252 / 1492).
11 & 12 Tevet 5408 - January 6 & 7, 1647:
The Jews of Mezhibuzh were saved from pogroms by the Cossacks during Gezeirot Tach V'Tat, thanks to a Jew named Mordechai (his wife's name happened to be
Esther). Henceforth, it was established as "Purim Mezhibuzh."
The Ohev Yisrael of Apt, zt"l, who later in his life lived in Mezhibuzh, would not recite Tachanun on this date. Some chassidim have a custom not to say Tachanun today.
11 Tevet 5428 - 1667:
Jews were expelled from Austria. (5430 / 1670)
11 Tevet 5622 - December 14, 1861:
In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln pledged to amend a federal law granting only Christian clergy the right to serve as military chaplains. During the Civil War (in which 6,500 Jews served for the North, and another 2,000 for the South), a religious Jew named Michael Allen had been elected as the non-denominational chaplain of his army regiment. When Allen's Jewishness became "publicized," rather than subject his family to the humiliating ordeal of his dismissal, Allen resigned, citing poor health. The regiment then elected Rabbi Arnold Fischel as its chaplain, in order to test the constitutionality of the "Christian-only" law. Much lobbying ensued, including Fischel traveling to Washington to meet with Lincoln. Six months later, the law was amended to permit Jewish clergy to become military chaplains. It is regarded historically as the first case of American Jews successfully challenging federal legislation.
11 Tevet 5682 - January 11, 1922:
Vladimir Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
11 Tevet 5712 - January 9, 1952:
Yiddish writers and other Jewish cultural figures were executed in the Soviet Union on the "Night of the Murdered Poets", Hy"d.
11 Tevet 5712 - January 9, 1952:
Germany agrees to provide Holocaust reparations.
11 Tevet 5712 - January 9, 1952:
Operation Coresh begins immigration of Iranian Jews.
11 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe of Ostraha, zt”l, author of Arugat Habosem, (5545 / 1784).
HaRav Shlomo Eiger, zt"l, son of Harav Akiva Eiger and author of the Gilyon Maharsha, (5612 / 1852)(Others 1851).
Harav Shlomo Eiger, the second son of Harav Akiva Eiger, was born in 5545/1785 in Lisa.
Rav Akiva Eiger settled in Markisch Friedland after a fire in Lisa in 5551/1791. Earlier, Reb Shlomo learned in his father’s famous yeshivah. He quickly became known as an iluy, one of the top talmidim in the yeshivah.
In 5561/1801, at 16, Reb Shlomo married the daughter of Rav Yisrael Hirshzohn, the son of the naggid Rav Tzvi Hirsh of Warsaw.
In the home of his father-in-law, Reb Shlomo continued to excel in learning. Later, he helped his father-in-law in business.
Although he ran a business, Reb Shlomo dedicated most of his time to learning. He also wrote many halachic teshuvot.
When, for business reasons, he was forced to spend time with ministers and governors, he couldn’t wait to return to his learning and would continue exactly where he had left off.
Reb Shlomo lived in Warsaw for 35 years, and was very active in the local kehillah. He utilized his business connections for the good of the community.
In 5591/1830, there was an uprising in Poland against the Russian Czar and, as a result, Reb Shlomo lost most of his fortune. He was forced to seek a ¬rabbinic post to support his family, and became Rav in Kalisch, settling there in 5595/1835.
After the petirah of his father, in 5598/1837, he reluctantly assumed the position as Rav of Posen.
He was niftar after a short illness on 11 Teves 5612/1851. He was 66 years old.
Reb Shlomo wrote the famous sefer Gilyon Maharsha al HaShas, and She’eilot U’teshuvot Rabbi Shlomo Eiger. He also wrote Sefer Haikarim.
HaRav Shlomo Zalman Ullman, zt"l, of Makava, author of Yeriot Shlomo (5626 / 1865). Son of Rav Shalom Charif, Rav Shlomo Zalman served as Rav of Rendick for two years and of Makova , Hungary , for 39 years. He fought against any inroads of the Reform movement for much of his life. At the end of his sefer, Rav Shlomo Zalman added Kuntres Beit Yad, where he expounds on fourteen differences in the sugya of eid echad neeman b’issurim. This kuntres is the basis of many of the halachot of issur ve’heter.
HaRav Yehoshua of Dzikov, zt”l, the Ateret Yeshua, (5673 / 1912).
Reb Yehoshua was born on Shushan Purim 5608 / 1848. His father was Harav Meir Horowitz of Dzikov (Galicia, Poland), the Imrei Noam, son of Harav Eliezer of Dzikov, who was the son of Reb Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz.
He was taught primarily by his illustrious father, and in his teens already conducted serious correspondence with Gedolim and Rabbanim. At the age of 18, he completed his first work, Emek Halachah on Shas, and at the age of 20 he had completed learning the Zohar twice.
Reb Yehoshua married the daughter of Harav Leibush Reich of Reisha. Before long, his father, the Imrei Noam, appointed him Rav in Dzikov, a position he filled meticulously.
Upon his father’s petirah on 8 Tammuz 5637 / 1877, Reb Yehoshua, at the age of 29, assumed leadership of the Chassidim.
It soon became known that he was an exalted tzaddik, in addition to being one of the greatest geonim of the generation.
Thousands came to him for brachot and advice and to hear his stirring davening and the dveikusdig niggunim that he composed.
The Ateret Yehoshua, as he was known, would send people to America at a time when most tzaddikim were strongly opposed to settling in the goldene — yet treifene — medinah.
When someone mentioned this to the Ateret Yehoshua, he said, “If they saw what I see, they would also send people to America.”
He constantly spoke of his fear of the impending First World War. While people tried to convince him that it might be averted, he refused to be calmed.
Reb Yehoshua was niftar on Shabbat, Parashat Vayigash, 11 Tevet 5673 / 1912, and was buried in Dzikov. His levayah was attended by thousands from all over Poland and Galicia.
His sefarim are Emek Halachah; Ateret Yehoshua on Torah and mo’adim, and halachic responsa; and the booklets Tosefot Mitzvah, Derech Melachim and Kedushah Meshuleshet.
His son, Harav Alter Yechezkel Eliyahu, assumed the mantle of Dzikover Rebbe. He was also survived by three daughters.
HaRav Dovid Twersky of Zlatipoli, zt"l, (5675 / 1914). The oldest son of Rav Yochanan of Rachmistrivke, the son of Rav Mordechai of Chernobyl . Reb Dovid married Rebbetzin Bat-Tzion Tzipora Feiga, daughter of Rav Aharon of Karlin. With his father’s petira, Rav Dovid became Rebbe in Rachmistrivke, along with his brothers, but moved his court to Zlatipoli.
HaRav Dovid Kronglass, zt"l, Mashgiach of Yeshivat Ner Yisroel in Baltimore (1973). He was one of the very top Talmidim of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Poland. During the World War II Holocaust, he traveled with the yeshiva across the Eurasian continent to Kobe, Japan and Shanghai, China. After the war, he came to the United States and was given the position of Mashgiach of the (relatively) new 12 year old Yeshivat Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. He delivered a weekly Sichat Mussar and taught the highest daily Gemara Shiur. He authored the sefer Divrei Dovid: a collection of Iyunim on Seder Zeraim, and a set of five Kuntraisim of essays on various Torah topics.
HaRav Moshe Bergman, zt"l, (5738 / 1977), Rosh Yeshivat Avi Ezri-Rashbi in Bnei Brak,. (1977). He was succeeded by his son, Rav Meir Tzvi Bergman.
HaRav Yaakov Yosef Shlomo Halperin, zt"l, (5662 / 1902 - 5745 / 1984), the Vasloi Rebbe. Harav Yaakov Yosef Shlomo was born on 5 Elul 5662 / 1902 in Rendken, near Vasloi, Romania, where his father, Harav Chaim Dov, was living at the time near his own father, Harav Shalom, first Vasloier Rebbe.
As a young child, Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo had a very close relationship with his grandfather the Rebbe, and cherished the chance to learn with him. Even when he got older, their connection remained strong.
As a bachur, Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo learned in the yeshivah of Harav Menachem Mendel of Vishiva.
Harav Yaakov Shimshon Kanner of Tchechov, son-in-law of Harav Moshe Halberstam (son of Harav Yechezkel Shraga of Shinev), chose Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo as his son-in-law. After the wedding, the couple settled in Vasloi.
In 5699 / 1939, following the petirah of his grandfather, Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo was appointed Rebbe, upon which he moved from Vasloi to Galatz.
Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo’s reign as Rebbe in Galatz coincided with the beginning of World War II. He fortified the spirits of the Yidden and encouraged their observance of the mitzvot.
Time after time, b’derech nes, he managed to escape the long arm of the Nazis.
After the war, Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo moved to Bucharest, from where he planned to go to Eretz Yisrael.
Finally, in 5710/1950, he reached the shores of Eretz Yisrael and joined his father, who had settled in Haifa a short while earlier.
A year later he moved to Nahariyah. Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo wanted to live in a city with shomrei Torah u’mitzvot, so he traveled to Bnei Brak to ask the opinion of the Chazon Ish as to where he should settle. The Gadol’s reply took him by surprise: The Chazon Ish did not allow him to leave Nahariyah, where Yiddishkeit needed to be strengthened.
In 5715 / 1955, Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo settled in Tel Aviv. Many Rebbes of the Ruzhin dynasty lived there.
Following the petirah of his father on 22 Sivan 5717 / 1957, in accordance with the tzavaah, Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo was appointed Vasloier Rebbe.
Every free moment was utilized for limud haTorah; he could be seen bent over his sefer until very late at night.
On Friday, 11 Tevet 5745 / 1985, Reb Yaakov Yosef Shlomo was niftar. He was buried in the Nachalat Yitzchak cemetery in the chelkah of the Ruzhiner Rebbes.
Rav Yaakov Yosef was succeeded by his son Rav Avraham Shimshon Shalom, who lives in Bnei Brak.
HaRav Shmuel Dovid Tzvi Mayer (known as Rav Dovid Hersh), zt"l, menahel of Yeshiva Beis Binyamin in Stamford, Connecticut, (2003).
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12 Tevet - 587 B.C.E.:
prophesied the downfall of Egypt and the triumph of Bavel.
"In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth of the month, the word of Hashem came to me, saying: Son of Man, direct your face towards Pharaoh, king of Egypt ... who has said, 'Mine is my river, and I have made myself [powerful]'...Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am Hashem... It will be the lowest of the Kingdoms..." (Yechezkel 29). (Others 3339 / 423 B.C.E.)
12 Tevet 4763 - 1002:
A violent earthquake rocked Eretz
Yisroel, causing serious damage to the chomah / walls of Yerushalayim and to Migdal / Tower of
David. (others 1033).
12 Tevet 5571 - January 8, 1811:
The New Duchy of Frankfurt passed a law granting Jews civil rights and privileges equal to other citizens, following a request by Meyer Anschel Rothschild.
12 Tevet 5697 - December 26, 1936:
The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performed its inaugural concert, consisting of 75 Jewish musicians from major European orchestras who had made aliyah. The opening concert (of the "Palestine Orchestra," as it was then known) was conducted by the great Arturo Toscanini, who had escaped the rise of fascism in his native Italy. Said Toscanini: "I am doing this for humanity." The IPO has earned a reputation as one of the pre-eminent orchestras in the world: over the decades it has featured Isaac Stern, Leonard Bernstein, Yehuda Menuhin and Itzhak Perlman. One profound moment came in 1991 when Zubin Mehta conducted the orchestra during a Scud missile attack.
12 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Harav Moshe Margulies, zt"l, of Amsterdam, author of Pnei Moshe on the Yerushalmi (5541 / 1780) or (1781)
Harav Moshe of Pshevorsk, zt"l, the Ohr Pnei Moshe.(1805) or (5566 / 1806).
Harav Moshe of Pshevorsk was born c. 5480/1720 to Harav Yitzchak (according to others, Harav Levi). In his youth he became a devoted talmid of the Maggid of Mezritch, the Rebbe Reb Ber. After the Maggid’s petirah, Reb Moshe became a Chassid of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech. He resided in Pshevorsk (south of Lizhensk) in Galicia, a province of Poland.
In Reb Moshe’s early years he was a melamed tashbar. He was known as an exceptional sofer and wrote sifrei Torah and tefillin for many tzaddikim and Rebbes. The Rebbe Reb Elimelech ordered tefillin from him while he was still a melamed, but he would not take away time from his talmidim; Reb Elimelech sent his son, Reb Elazar, to fill in for him as melamed so he could write the tefillin.
The Rebbe Reb Zusha said that when Reb Moshe studied Torah, his face would look like the face of a malach, and that when he wrote sta”m, “a spark would fly from the osiyot.”
Reb Moshe refused to accept any rabbinical position. He was exceedingly humble and hid his ways in avodat Hashem, as the holy Chozeh of Lublin writes: “He was ‘hatzneia lechet’ to the point that no one knew that he was a learned man. I knew him; in my youth I was a talmid of his, and I drank from his well. I knew that everything he did was l’shem Shamayim … He was on such an exalted madreigah that the holy Alshich used to reveal himself to him.”
Reb Moshe’s sefer, Ohr Pnei Moshe, has over 50 haskamot from the greatest tzaddikim of that generation, all of whom attest to Reb Moshe’s greatness and extraordinary tzidkut. The sefer, based on the works of the holy Alshich, was printed posthumously.
He was niftar in Pshevorsk on 12 Tevet, and is buried there.
Harav Binyamin Aryeh Weiss, zt"I, Rav of Tchernowitz. He wrote a number of sefarim: on the Torah, on Shas, and his she'eilot u'teshuvot, Even Yekarah, (5673 / 1912).
Harav Mordechai Chaim Kastelanitz of Teveria, known as “Reb Mottel Slonimer” of Slonim, zt"l, (5714 / 1953).
Harav Mordechai Chaim of Slonim was born in Kriniki, near Grodno, on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 5628/1868. His father, Reb Yehudah Leib, was a renowned, G-d-fearing Chassid of Slonim and a scion of leading Chassidim of Lechovitz and Kobrin. His mother was a niece of the Yesod Ha’avodah of Slonim.
As a small child, Reb Mordechai Chaim would travel to the Yesod Ha’avodah with his father. The Yesod Ha’avodah once told Reb Yehudah Leib that the boy was destined to illuminate the world with his Torah and holiness.
When Mordechai Chaim was about seven years old, the Yesod Ha’avodah told his father to move to Eretz Yisrael to join the community of outstanding Chassidim in Teveria. A true Chassid, Reb Yehudah Leib immediately moved with his family.
In Teveria, Reb Mottel, as he was fondly called, became close to the elder Chassidim.
Reb Mottel followed the study method propounded by the Maharal, of constant review and memorization. He would repeat the words of each Mishnah and Gemara until he knew them perfectly.
When he was about 20, Reb Mottel married the daughter of Reb Eliezer Katz, a descendant of the Semichat Chachamim. The couple settled in Tzfat, and Reb Mottel quickly found his place among the illustrious scholars of the city.
In 5660 / 1900, Reb Mottel traveled to Slonim, Russia, to the Divrei Shmuel, who received him with great love. His second visit, a decade later, coincided with the Bolshevik Revolution. On his return, he moved his family back to Teveria, near his father and the elder Chassidim he had known in his childhood.
In Teveria, the Rav of the town and Reb Mottel’s brother-in-law, Harav Moshe Kliers, appointed him Dayan, hence his appellation — Reb Mottel Dayan. Reb Mottel focused primarily on deciding issues of shechitah and the kashrut of meat, which was a serious problem in Teveria at the time.
When the Beit Avraham became the Rebbe of Slonim, Reb Mottel accepted him as his Rebbe.
After World War II, Slonim was left without a leader. The broken community in Eretz Yisrael turned to Reb Mottel, who was then living in Yerushalayim, to fill this void. He accepted the leadership of the kehillah but still remained “Reb Mottel Dayan,” refusing to be called Rebbe. Still, when he peered at a kvittel, it was obvious by his demeanor that the weight of responsibility for the community sat heavily on his shoulders.
On 12 Teves 5714 / 1953, he was called to the yeshivah shel maalah and buried before Shabbat on Har Hamenuchot.
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13 Tevet 5387 - 1626:
First issue of the the Siddur by the Hebrew printing
press of Amsterdam was published. (others 1627).
13 Tevet 5505 - December 18, 1744:
Empress Maria Theresa ordered the expulsion of all the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia.The decree was dropped everywhere but in Prague.
13 Tevet 5559 - December 21, 1798:
First Jewish censor was appointed by the Russian government to censor all Hebrew books printed in Russia or imported from other countries.
13 Tevet 5559 - December 21, 1798:
Anti-Jewish riots in Ancona , Italy..
13 Tevet 5628 - January 8, 1868:
Romanian Jews were barred from
the medical profession.
13 Tevet 5699 - January 4, 1939:
Hermann Goering appoints Reinhard Heydrich head of Jewish Emigration.
13 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yitzchak Eizik of Ostraha, zt”l, (5495 / 1734).
HaRav Moshe ben Dovid Biderman, the Lelover Rebbe (1776 - 5611 / 1850 or 1851). Born in Lelov, Poland, circa 5537/1777 in abject poverty. His holy tendencies were apparent even in his early youth. He was a tremendous masmid, with an insatiable thirst for Torah.
After his first wife passed away, Reb Moshe married Rachel Rivka, a daughter of the Yid Hakadosh of P’shischa.
Reb Dovid’l commented to his daughter-in-law, “I have presented you with a kosher mezuzah. You must be careful not to blemish it, chalilah.”
After his wedding, Reb Moshele refused to profit from his Torah knowledge and opened a store to sell salt, but it brought in so little money that he was soon forced to close it.
After theYid Hakadosh’s petira in 1813, he became a chasid of Rav Simcha Bunim of P’shischa, along with his friend, Rav Yitzchak of Vorki. In 1843, he finally agreed to a leadership position, agreeing to be rav of the community of Przedborz, Poland.
Reb Moshele was known and praised for his deep attachment to Eretz Yisrael. He hoped he would be granted the opportunity to approach the Kotel Hamaaravi and pour out his heart before the One Above.
In the last years of his life, he decided to move to Eretz Yisrael. He and many of his Chasidim arrived at Acco on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan.
He traveled to Yerushalyim, but immediately took ill.
Broken in body from the travails of the journey, it was impossible for him to walk to the Kotel the day he arrived. Instead, he said, he would make the trip to the Kotel after he had rested for several days and his strength had returned. However, that day he was overcome by illness and took to his bed. Shortly thereafter, feeling that his end was near, he informed the members of his household that he must be taken to the Kotel Hamaaravi at any cost. In fact, he asked to be carried there on a couch.
His sons, Reb Yitzchak Dovid and Reb Elazar Mendel, were the couch-bearers. They left the house and turned into a side street leading to the Kosel. Suddenly, local Arab residents pelted them with a torrent of stones. The brothers tried to continue, but the rock-throwing increased, becoming a genuine threat to the Rebbe’s life. Having no choice, unable to reach the Kotel, they retraced their steps.
Tragically, between the illness and the Arabs, he was never able to daven at the kotel, his life-long dream.
That same day Reb Moshele took leave of his sons and talmidim and promised that he would guard his descendants and assist anyone who came to their support even after death. As soon as he concluded his words, his holy soul ascended to Heaven. It was 13 Tevet 5611, exactly 74 days after his arrival on the shores of Eretz Yisrael. He was 74 years old. He was buried on the lower slopes of Har Hazeisim; the exact location of his kever is unknown.
He was succeeded by his son, Rav Elazar Mendel, and a vibrant community of Lelover Chasidim still exist in Eretz Yisrael today. Sadly, the community in Przedborz - about 4500 Jews - was liquidated at Treblinka, Hy"d
HaRav Nosson Nota Segal Landau, zt”l, author of Kerem Nota (5667 / 1906).
HaRav Shraga Feivel (Feivish) Hager of Zelitchik, zt”l, (5697 / 1936).
Born c. 5630 / 1870 to Harav Baruch of Vizhnitz, the Imrei Baruch.
He married the daughter of Harav Chaim Menachem of Zinkov, a grandson of the Ohev Yisrael of Apta. In his zivug sheini, Reb Shraga Feivish married the daughter of Harav Moshe of Kossov, a relation.
After his father’s passing, Reb Shraga Feivish was appointed Rebbe in Zelistchik. He fled during World War I and settled in Chernowitz.
Although most of his father’s chassidim traveled to the courts of his older brothers, Harav Yisrael of Vizhnitz and Harav Moshe of Antiniya, his court had a large following.
Among his sons-in-law were his nephew, Harav Baruch Hager, son of his brother Harav Yechiel Michel of Horodenka; Harav Dovid Moshe Friedman of Sadigura-Gvodzhitz; and Harav Moshe Tzvi Twersky of Tolna -Philadelphia.
Reb Shraga Feivish was niftar on 13 Tevet 5697/1936, in Vizhnitz.
Reb Shraga Feivish’s son Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, zy”a, served as Zelischiker-Kossover Rebbe of America. He in turn was succeeded by his sons, Harav Shraga Feivel Hager, Kossover Rebbe, and Harav Chaim Hager, Zelischiker Rebbe in Boro Park.
HaRav Menachem Mendel Hager of Vishiva, the She’erit Menachem. (5701 / 1941).
Harav Menachem Mendel Hager was the eldest son of Harav Yisrael of Vizhnitz, the Ahavat Yisrael. He was born in Bedwalla, Marmorosh, in 5645 / 1885, and was named for his illustrious great-grandfather the Tzemach Tzaddik of Vizhnitz.
His father, the Ahavat Yisrael, called him a “sefarim shelf,” alluding to his outstanding memory.
Reb Menachem Mendel was given semichah by Harav Shalom Mordechai of Brezhan and Harav Binyamin Aryeh Weiss of Tchernowitz.
At age 17, Reb Menachem Mendel married the daughter of Harav Mordechai Chodorov of Tolna, his uncle (brother-in-law of the Ahavat Yisrael).
When the Ahavat Yisrael founded the yeshivah in Vizhnitz, he appointed Reb Menachem Mendel maggid shiur.
In 5668 / 1908, Reb Menachem Mendel became Rav in Vizhnitz, but with the outbreak of World War I he fled with the rest of the Rebbe’s family.
In 5681 / 1921, Reb Menachem Mendel was appointed Rav in Vishiva, where he also founded a yeshivah. He rejected the custom of “essen teg,” where students would eat at people’s homes. He traveled abroad to raise funds for the yeshivah. At its peak, the yeshivah had 400 talmidim.
Reb Menachem Mendel was renowned for his drashot, holding his audience spellbound for long periods.
With the petirah of his father on 2 Sivan 5696 / 1936, Reb Menachem Mendel was chosen to succeed him as Rebbe in Vishiva.
The burden of the yeshivah took a toll on Reb Menachem Mendel’s health. Five years after being appointed Rebbe, he fell ill, and on the advice of his doctors went to the hospital in Klausenburg for surgery.
On his last day, Shabbat, he served as sandak at a brit. He was niftar that Motzoei Shabbat, 5701 / 1940, at 56.
He was buried in Vishiva.
Reb Menachem Mendel was succeeded by his sons Harav Baruch and Harav Chaim Yehudah Meir, who re-established the Vishiva court after the war, in Tel Aviv.
Reb Menachem Mendel’s divrei Torah were published many years after his petirah, under the title She’eirit Menachem.(Others 14 Tevet)
HaRav Yechiel Mordechai (ben Moshe Aharon) Gordon, zt"l, Rosh Yeshivat Lomza (5643 / 1882 - 5725 / 1964). Born in Troki, near Vilna, he joined the Slabodka Yeshiva under Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, following his Bar Mitzvah. After his marriage ten years later, he moved to Kelm and learned under the Alter for a year. After his first wife died, he remarried and became the Rosh Yeshiva of Lomza, a position he maintained for 60 years. Some years later, a second branch of the yeshiva opened, in Petach Tikvah. In 1938/9, just before the outbreak of World War II, Rav Gordon left for the United States on a fund-raising trip. That trip saved his life, but he lost his wife , three sons, his daughter and son-in-olaw, and many talmidim. His youngest and only remaining son was murdered in Eretz Yisrael.by Arabs in 1939 while standing guard in Yerushalayim. (Among the roshei yeshivot who travelled to the United States to raise funds during WW2 were Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel from Mir, Rav Aaron Kotler from Kletzk, Rav Shimon Shkop from Grodno, Rav Elchanan Wasserman from Baranowitz, and Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz from Kamenetz).
Rav Gordon's shiurim were published under the name Netiv Yam on the Shas.
For more about the life of Rav Gordon, see:
http://www.chareidi.org/archives5765/BO65features.htm part 1 and
http://www.chareidi.org/archives5765/BSH65features2.htm part 2.
HaRav Yitzchak ben Harav Asher Anshel Hakohen Huberman, the tzadik of Raanana, zt”l, (5656 / 1896 - 5737 / 1977). He was born in Tomashov (Tomaszow Lubelski), near Lublin . An 1895 census reveals that out of a population of 6,077, over half the citizens, 3,646 were Jews. The first shul in this town was built in 1594, but after the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648-49, only 18 of the original 200 families still remained. The most famous Jew of the town was the Kotzker Rebbe, Rav Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Tomashov, who lived here until he left for Kotzk.
From an early age he was known as an outstanding masmid. At the age of 10, he was already learning with the older bachurim in the beit medrash. In 5771/1911, he went to learn in the yeshivah of the Shem MiShmuel of Sochatchov, where he learned until the outbreak of World War I in 5774/1914.
At the age of 17, Reb Yitzchak began to learn horaah, beginning with Gemara Chullin and the Rishonim, and from there continuing with the Poskim, Shulchan Aruch, and Tur with Beit Yosef.
Reb Yitzchak would travel to the Imrei Emet of Ger, zy”a. He became a follower of the Imrei Emet of Ger and, after his mentor’s petira, of his son, the Beit Yisrael.
He learned under Harav Menachem Shachna Rutshbul, the author of She’eilot U’teshuvot Shem Olam and, after his petirah, under Harav Tzvi Glickson.
In 5687/1927, Reb Yitzchak had already written a work on the Torah and on Shas.
In 1940, Josef Stalin deported 200,000 Polish Jews, including Rav Yitzchak, to forced labor camps in Siberia and elsewhere. This saved their lives, since most of those left behind were murdered by the Nazis when they invaded Russia , a year later.
He kept Torah and mitzvot in the camp with mesirut nefesh. In the camp, Reb Yitzchak was given a job to chop wood. When he was once instructed to work on Shabbat, he chopped off the tip of his finger, thus exempting him from the work.
He even found time to write chiddushei Torah. He also kept a shofar in his pocket at all times, in case he wouldn’t be able to obtain one in time for Rosh Hashanah.
After the war, Rav Yitzchak served as a rav for six years in Waltzer, Germany before moving to Eretz Yisrael, and settling in Raanana.
Many people would visit Reb Yitzchak for his brachot and sage advice.
During the year 5736 / 1976, Reb Yitzchak began to talk a lot about the coming of Moshiach, adding that if he were to come in that year, he might still be zocheh to greet him.
In his last weeks, Reb Yitzchak became very weak. On the day of his petirah, he asked one of his attendants to dress him in Shabbat clothes. That night, an emissary of the Beit Yisrael came to visit Reb Yitzchak. An hour later, on the night of 13 Tevet 5737 / 1977, Reb Yitzchak was niftar. He was buried on Har Hamenuchot.
Rav Yitzchak wrote a collection of chiddushim on Megillat Esther and entitled it Higidah Esther, in his mother’s memory. He wrote many sefarim, the most famous of which is his work on the Chumash, Brachah Meshuleshet, which is known as a segulah to keep in one’s house.
Because he was childless, the public is asked to learn Mishnayot in memory of Reb Yitzchak ben Asher Anshel.
RETURN TO TOP
14 Tevet 5275 - 1515:
The Jews of Laibach, Austria were expelled.
14 Tevet 5501 - January 2, 1741:
Window Purim or (Purim
Chevron or Purim Taka) in Chevron (Hebron), commemorating the miraculous discovery
of a sack with 50,000 gold coins on a window sill in the synagogue, the exact
amount the Pasha demanded in exchange for abrogating his expulsion order.
14 Tevet 5731 - January 11, 1971:
Population of Eretz Yisroel
reached three million.
14 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Reuven ben Yaakov Avinu.
HaRav Levi Yitzchak of Stefin, zt”l, (5634 / 1874).
HaRav Raphael Meir Penijel (1804 -1894). Born in Bulgaria , he moved with his family to Eretz Yisrael when he was 3 years old. When he was 15, his father died. In the early 1940s, he was chosen as one of the “shadarim” (sheluchei de’rabbanan) and sent to Northern Africa to collect funds for the yishuv. Following stints in Morocco and Tunisia , he traveled to Italy . While there, he befriended the Pope, who offered to show him the Vatican ’s archives. There, he saw some of the sacred vessels that Titus had stolen from the Beit Hamikdash. The visit is described in his sefer, Lev Hamarpei. When he returned to Eretz Yisrael, he founded the Doresh Tzion Yeshiva in 1868 and was instrumental in helping to found the Tiferet Yerushalayim institutions. In 1881, he succeeded Rav Avraham Ashkenazi as Yerushalayim’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi, the Rishom LeTzion. In addition to the sefer noted above, he also authored Sheilot U’Teshuvot Leshon Marpei.
HaRav Reuven Dov Dessler (1863 -1935), father of Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, the Michtav M’Eliyahu. Born in Libau , Lithuania . When he was 12, Rav Reuven Dov was sent to Rav Simcha Zissel’s yeshiva and stayed there for 11 years. When it closed, he moved to Kelm to continue learning with the Alter. In 1891, he married the daughter of a leading dayan in Vilna and granddaughter of Rav Yisrael Salanter. She gave birth to Rav Reuven Dov’s only son, Rav Eliyahu Eliezer. Sadly, she was niftar 4 years after they wed, and Rav Reuven Dov remarried. Although he was very successful in business, he maintained a rigid learning schedule, and he took off every Elul and Tishrei to travel to Kelm to learn. In 1923, the Communists gained control of the area, and Rav Reuven Dov lost all of his assets. His final years were trying. In 1931, he moved into his son’s home in London and immersed himself in Torah study.
HaRav Alter Elazar Menachem of Lelov (1935 - 5761 / 2001).
Harav Alter Menachem Mendel Biderman, the fourth son of the Lelover Rebbe, Harav Moshe Mordechai, was born on 4 Av 5695/1935. He was born into a home steeped in Torah and yirat Shamayim. The eagerness with which he served his Creator became apparent when he was very young, and remained with him all his life.
As a young man, he would daven fervently, moving his body from side to side. Someone once asked him jokingly why he prayed in this fashion, when shaking one’s head sideways would seem to indicate no. Why, the person asked, didn’t he pray with a more common forward and backward motion, which would be more suggestive of yes. His father, the Lelover Rebbe, heard this question and said, “You shall not teach my Alter how to daven!”
In his youth, he learned at Yeshivat Tiferet Tzion in Bnei Brak, the Chazon Ish’s yeshivah, and became close to the Chazon Ish. He used to walk with the Chazon Ish, discuss Torah with him and ask him questions regarding halachah.
In 5718/1958, Harav Alter married the daughter of Harav Shimon Aharon Hershkowitz, zt”l, the ga’avad of Slavita. In the early years of his marriage he learned at the Breslover kollel and also studied Kabbalah regularly with otherGedolei Torah during the early morning hours.
He was always exceptionally careful in matters of sanctity and made sure not to look at forbidden things. Once, he traveled on a bus, and there was a problem with regard to modesty. He told the person who was with him, “I am prepared to sell all I have, even my last piece of bread, but I shall never travel by bus again.”
After he founded a beit medrash on Rabi Akiva Street in Bnei Brak in 5725/1965, his father moved from Tel Aviv to Bnei Brak and davened there until his petirah.
Harav Alter was very attached to his father and accompanied him wherever he went. He was meticulous in the respect he showed him, and after his father was niftar, he referred to him as Der Rebbe, z”l, instead of as Der Tatte, to honor his memory.
He was particularly close to the previous Belzer Rebbe and would visit him every Motzoei Shabbat, attending the Rebbe’s melaveh malkah.
Harav Alter’s love for Torah knew no bounds. After his mother passed away in 5738/1978, he set up the Ohr Menachem Kollel, where dozens of avreichim still learn every day.
Harav Alter also founded the Ateret Moshe Lelov community in the United States, which is led by his oldest son, Harav Dovid Zvi Shlomo.
Following the petirah of his father on 24 Tevet 5747/1987, Harav Alter was appointed one of his successors as Rebbe, in Bnei Brak.
After conducting a yahrtzeit tisch on the yahrtzeit of his grandfather, Harav Moshe of Lelov, on 14 Tevet, 5761/2001, close to 2:00 a.m., he suddenly felt ill, and asked for a cup of water. After he recited Shehakol, his pure heart stopped beating. He had returned his neshamah to its Maker. He was 65.
Reb Alter was buried on Har Hazeitim, near the other Rebbes of the Lelover dynasty.
HaRav Aryeh Leib Bakst, zt"l, founding Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Gedolah Ateret Mordechai, Detroit, (5675 / 1915 - 5764 / 2004).
Born in Polish Lithuania, as a child he studied at the yeshiva of Hagaon Harav Yaakov Neiman, zt”l, in Lida. When Reb Aryeh Leib was still a young bachur of bar-mitzvah age, the world-renowned Gaon Reb Chaim Ozer of Vilna advised his father to bypass the yeshivot for younger students and send the young prodigy straight to the Mirrer Yeshiva of Poland. Thus, with a letter of recommendation from Reb Chaim Ozer, Reb Aryeh Leib Bakst was admitted to “the mother of yeshivot — der Mir.”
Reb Aryeh Leib was considered one of the “lions of Mir” and became close with its great mentors, including the Rosh Yeshiva, Hagaon Harav Eliezer Yehudah Finkel, and the Mashgichim — first Hagaon Harav Yerucham Levovitz, zt”l, and later Hagaon Harav Yechezkel Levenstein, zt”l. He commanded the respect and admiration of his esteemed Roshei Yeshiva as well as of his peers. He also studied with the Brisker Rav and Rav Baruch Ber Leibovitz in Kaminetz.
In 5699/1939, Polish Jewry began experiencing the onslaught of the Nazi terror. In anticipation of the imminent danger, the Mirrer Yeshiva’s leadership planned an escape from Central Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Harav Bakst was chosen, along with 29 other foremost scholars and leaders, to be part of the first group to leave Poland for an as-yet-undesignated destination. After months of travel through Siberia with limited food and provision for housing, the group of Mirrer talmidim reached Kobe, Japan, via Vladivostok. Eventually, the entire Mirrer Yeshiva was reunited in Shanghai, China, to study in relative solitude for the remainder of the war years.
The arrival of the Mirrer talmidim in North America in 5707 / 1947 was heralded as a sign of a new beginning. It wasn’t long before Harav Bakst became known across North America for his brilliance in Torah. Soon, community leaders and Rabbanim from Detroit met with Harav Bakst and invited him to become the dean of Yeshiva Beth Yehuda.
From then on, Rav Bakst dedicated his life to building Jewish education in Detroit. In 5745 / 1985, he embarked on a plan to revitalize formal Jewish education in Detroit by creating an independent yeshiva for high-school age bachurim. The yeshiva was named Yeshivah Gedola Ateret Mordechai after Harav Bakst’s esteemed father-in-law, Hagaon Harav Mordechai Rogow, zt”l former Rav of Sjny, Poland and Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash LaTorah in Skokie, Illinois.
As Rosh Yeshiva in Detroit, Harav Bakst was known for his expertise in the entire Torah. Transplanted in America, Reb Leib, as he was affectionately known, never compromised on the rigorous European standards of learning in which he had been trained — not for himself and not for his talmidim. He demanded the highest dedication to limud haTorah, ameilut (toiling in Torah) and depth in Torah. To watch him smile as he expounded on a sevara was to watch a soul rejoice. The fire of Torah that he exuded as he argued a knotty Talmudic topic left a profound impression on generations of talmidim who sought to emulate him, at least in a small way. His sharp and incisive daat Torah served as a guide to countless students and members of the community.
Harav Bakst represents a generation that exuded greatness in Torah. His recognized scholarship, his life experiences and his subsequent years of teaching and leadership in Detroit have stimulated a resurgence of local and national interest in the Detroit Jewish community.
15 Tevet 5248 - 1487:
The first printed edition of Sefer
Mitzvot Gadol, was printed in Soncino, Italy.
15 Tevet 5724 - December 31, 1963:
Israel's first desalinization water facility opened in Eilat.
Israel is inherently poor in water bodies -- about 90% of the land area
is dry land, and 60% of the country is covered by the Negev desert.
Desalinization is a process of producing water from salty and/or
contaminated water. Today, Israel's national water company, Mekorot,
operates 29 desalinization plants, mainly in the south of the country.
15 Tevet 5738 - December 25, 1977:
Menachem Begin met with Anwar Sadat
at Ismilia, Egypt.
15 Tevet Yahrtzeits
The Amora, Mashrisha bar Pekud of Bavel.
HaRav Mordechai, zt"l, Rosh Mesivta of Levov, .(5495 / 1734).
HaRav Raphael of Bershed, zt”l, a talmid of Rav Pinchas of Koritz, (5587 / 1827).Harav Refael ben Harav Yaakov Yukel was born c. 1751 / 5511. Although his father had no connection to Chassidut, Rav Refael was attracted to its ways.
Rav Refael traveled to Harav Pinchas of Koritz, zy”a, and burst out, “I wish to serve Hashem with emet, but I am not saying this truthfully, and that last statement too is not said truthfully!” After his emotional outburst, he fell to the ground in a faint.
Rav Pinchas told him to remain in Koritz, which he did, staying for three years and benefiting immensely from Rav Pinchas’s teachings.
Rav Refael eventually established his own Chassidic court in Bershad, Ukraine.
Three middot that Rav Refael learned from Reb Pinchas Koritzer and taught to his Chassidim were emet, anavah and complete ahavat Yisrael.
Rav Refael was renowned for his absolute love of every Jew, to the extent that Rav Pinchas declared of him, “My Refael can love even the lowest, most wicked resha’im.”
Rav Refael demanded the same from his Chassidim, instructing them not to see evil in anyone but themselves. He insisted that the spark of righteousness could be rekindled in even the biggest resha’im.
Rav Refael was very particular that every word that passed his lips be true. The night before he was supposed to take an oath to help a Yid who had smuggled avoid harsh judgment, Reb Refael broke out in tears. Lifting his hands to the heavens, he cried out, “Ribbono shel Olam! Never has a word of sheker passed my lips. Now in my old age, should I lie? I therefore beseech of You to take me from this world, so I shouldn’t have to lie. Once I am gone, the judge will rely on Rav Moshe Savraner’s words.” (Rav Moshe Savraner was the second Rav asked to swear on the Yid’s behalf.)
That night, as he lay down to sleep, Reb Refael’s neshamah returned to its Maker in kedushah and taharah.
At the end, even Reb Moshe Savraner was not forced to swear, and the Yid was let off without any testimony.
Rav Refael was niftar on 15 Tevet 5587/1827 and was buried in Sarashah.
Harav Shmaryahu Noach Schneerson of Bobroisk, zt”l, (5607 /1847 - 5683 / 1923), son of Harav Yehudah Leib of Kapust, who was the son of the Tzemach Tzedek Lubavitch.
Harav Bentzion Moshe Meir Mandelbaum, zt"l, author of Ohr Moshe, (5747 / 1987).
Reb Shmaryahu Noach was the youngest child of his father, who cherished his youngest son. His father taught him Torah and educated him in the ways of Chassidut. Reb Yehudah Leib instructed his oldest son, Reb Shlomo Zalman, to learn Chassidut with Reb Shmaryahu Noach.
The brother of Reb Yehudah Leib, Harav Yisrael Noach of Niezin, found Reb Shmaryahu Noach to be a worthy bachur. He set his eye on his nephew in his early years, hoping to take him as chassan for his daughter, and eventually did so.
After the petirah of the Tzemach Tzedek, Reb Shmaryahu Noach moved to Kapust to live near his father. Following the petirah of his father, on 3 Cheshvan 5627/1866, Reb Shmaryahu Noach moved to Lubavitch, settling there with his mother. The oldest son of Reb Yehudah Leib, Reb Shlomo Zalman, succeeded him as Rebbe in Kapust.
When Reb Shmaryahu Noach was 23, he was chosen to be Rav of the chassidim in Bobroisk, near Minsk. He would deliver Chassidic talks every Shabbat.
From time to time, Reb Shmaryahu Noach would travel to Kapust, to the court of his brother.
After the petirah of his father-in-law, in 5643/1883, the chassidim in White Russia asked him to come to Niezin, in place of his father-in-law. Unfortunately, this never came about.
After the petirah of Reb Shlomo Zalman, on 27 Iyar 5600/1900, the chassidim asked Reb Shmaryahu Noach to take his place in Kapust. He traveled to Kapust for Tishrei 5661/1900 and resided there for the entire month. Later, Reb Shmaryahu Noach returned to Bobroisk, where the chassidim continued to flock to his court.
In 5661/1901, Reb Shmaryahu Noach founded a yeshivah in Bobroisk, headed by his son Reb Menachem Mendel. Many bachurim flocked to this yeshivah, and they were later tested by Rabbanim for smichah. After the upheaval in 5665/1905 the only yeshivah that remained in the Lithuania region was this one. The number of bachurim in the yeshivah grew drastically.
Reb Menachem Mendel, the son of Reb Shmaryahu Noach, was killed on 2 Av 5679/1919 by anti-Semites, in the train
station in Sinelnkovo, near Yekaterinoslav.
Reb Shmaryahu Noach was also actively involved in the many battles of the local Jews. He attended the gathering of Rabbanim in St. Petersburg in Adar 5670/1910, and stood at the forefront of the battle against the socialists and the Zionists.
Reb Shmaryahu Noach was niftar on 15 Tevet 5683/1923, after serving as Rav of Bobroisk for 53 years. He was 76 at his petirah.
In 5724 / 1964, his grandson published Shemen Lamaor, Reb Shmaryahu Noach’s work on the Torah.
HaRav Chaim Mordechai Rosenbaum of Nadvorna, zt”l, (5663 / 1903 – 5738 / 1977). Born on 24 Iyar 5663 / 1903, in the town of Chernowitz. His illustrious father, Rav Issamar Rosenbaum of Nadvorna, was the son of Harav Meir of Kretchenif who, in turn, was the son of Reb Mordechai of Nadvorna and a descendant of Reb Meir (Hagadol) of Premishlan, the Be’er Mayim Chaim, and Reb Naftali of Ropshitz. He was named after his great-grandfather Harav Mordechai of Nadvorna.
He learned with his father in his youth, and married a first cousin, the daughter of his uncle, Reb Eliezer Ze’ev of Kretchenif, at age 18 (or 19), then learned full-time, supported for six years by his father-in-law. At the time of his chasunah, he was already a noted talmid chacham; in fact, he made a siyum haShas b’iyun at his chasunah, and was fluent in many works of Rishonim and Acharonim at a very young age. He also compiled chiddushim on various subjects, some of which still remain unprinted. One of the works from his youth, written on Masechet Kesubot, was lost in the Second World War.
When he was 25, his father and father-in-law sent him to the town of Seret to serve as Rebbe for the Nadvorna Chassidim there. There he revived the town’s ruchniyut and led the people with great dignity and fervor.
In 1941, Romania allied itself with Germany . Of the 420,000 Jews of Romania, 160,000 were murdered by German and Romanain soldiers, and another 150,000 were shipped by cattle cars to Transnitra in the Ukraine ; 10,000 died on the trip and another 80,000 died in the camps there. In 1942, Rav Chaim Mordechai and his family escaped the town and fled, but eventually ended up in the Djurin (Z’urin) concentration camp in Transnistria. Although he suffered greatly, he did not give up any of the various chumrot and minhagim he had previously undertaken.
After undergoing various hardships and nisyonot, Reb Chaim Mordechai survived the war and settled in Chernowitz
In 5708 / 1948 he immigrated to Eretz Yisrael and settled temporarily in Yerushalayim. He would have liked to remain there, but due to the political unrest following Israel’s War of Independence, he moved to Yaffo. In Yaffo, Reb Chaim Mordechai established the Nadvorna court and in 5710/1950, Yeshivat Ma’amar Mordechai.
The Rebbe’s mesirut nefesh for his yeshivah was astounding. Once, when some talmidim arose at a very early hour to learn, they were surprised to see the Rebbe walking in with hot tea, which he had prepared especially for them!
In 5720/1960, when the yeshivah building in Yaffo had become much too small, the foundation for the new yeshivah was laid in Bnei Brak. There, the yeshivah and mosdot of Nadvorna expanded and prospered greatly.
People from all sects would come to hear the Rebbe’s heartfelt tefillot, in which he would pour out his heart to Hashem with a fiery hislahavut.
For 17 years, the Rebbe lived in Bnei Brak. A week before his petirah he fell ill. He asked for Kohanim to recite Birchat Kohanim for him a few days before he was niftar at the age of 74. He was buried on Har Hazeitim.
He was succeeded by his only son, Harav Yaakov Yissocher, zt"l. He also had three daughters.
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16 Tevet 5399 - December 23, 1638:
Baghdad Purim. The Turkish leader
Sultan Morad IV conquered the city of Baghdad for the second time from the Persians with the help of the
Jews. The day was celebrated as a Yom Ness (a day of miracles) by the Baghdad Kehillah. Tachanun was not recited. In general,
when the Ottomans ruled the city, life for its Jewish residents improved. When
the Persian Shiites ruled the city the situation was very difficult to say the least. (Others have it as 1639 or 1640).
16 Tevet 5542 - January 2, 1782:
Emperor Joseph II of Austria issued
an Edict of Toleration which repealed most restrictions on Jews that had been
imposed by the Church. Unfortunately, it also led to assimilation.
16 Tevet 5623 - January 7, 1863:
In 1863, General Ulysses S. Grant was instructed to revoke Order No. 11, which had called for the expulsion of all Jews from Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. During the Civil War, smugglers were illegally selling southern cotton to the northern textile factories. Grant, commander of U.S. Army forces, believed that Jews were primarily behind this illegal cotton trade, and he decided to expel all Jews from southern territory. Grant wrote: "No Jews are to be permitted to travel on the railroad southward from any point... The [region] must be purged of them." Based on Grant's orders, Jews were expelled from their homes, including 20 families from the town of Paducah alone. Some Jews were denied rail transportation and had to flee northward on foot. Those who did not cooperate were thrown into prison. Jewish community leaders immediately arranged a meeting at the White House with President Lincoln, who cancelled the expulsion order. Grant, who would later become U.S. president, never offered any explanation or apology.
16 Tevet 5708 - December 29, 1947:
The ship, “The 29th of November”, with illegal Jewish immigrants, was driven off the coast of Eretz Yisrael by the British.
16 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Avraham Zorach Aryeh Yehudah of Berzhan, zt”l, (5568 / 1808)
HaRav Yaakov Tzvi Walkin, zt"l, father of the Beit Aharon on Shas..(yr?)
HaRav Yonah Halevi Furst, zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivat Nitra, (5743 / 1983). Born in Vienna, Austria, in 5676 / 1916 to Rav Yisrael. The family had fled Galicia and settled in Vienna during World War I.
Reb Yonah was a serious and intense oved Hashem, who fasted every Monday and Thursday. Only in his later years in America, due to his weak state, did he agree to have a hatarat nedarim to be allowed to eat on those days.
From his youth, it was already apparent that Reb Yonah was destined for greatness. He learned in the local Talmud Torah Yesodei HaTorah, and the melamdim were truly impressed with his capabilities and middot.
At the age of 16, Reb Yonah was sent by his father to learn in the yeshiva of Harav Shmuel David Unger, the Ne’ot Deshe, who served as the Rosh Yeshiva. Initially the yeshiva was in Tyrnau, but when Reb Shmuel David became Rav in Nitra, Slovakia, Reb Yonah accompanied him there. He continued on to the prestigious yeshiva of Harav Meir Shapira, Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, where he was among the choice bachurim.
Besides his hasmadah and Torah attainments, Reb Yonah was renowned for his generous nature and middot. It is related that he once sold his mehudar tefillin and bought regular ones, to aid a needy bachur.
After the petira of Harav Meir Shapira, on 7 Cheshvan 5694 / 1933, Reb Yonah became deathly ill for many months. His close companion and fellow talmid, Harav Shmuel Wosner, shlita, tended to him. Although, baruch Hashem, he recovered and returned to the yeshiva in Nitra, Reb Yonah remained in a wheelchair, unable to walk. He returned to the yeshivah in Nitra, often seen late at night in the beit medrash, asleep in his wheelchair.
It is astounding to think that a disabled person was able to survive World War II. When World War II broke out Reb Yonah suffered immensely, but was zocheh to nissim.Whenever the Nazis reached the yeshiva in Nitra, all the bachurim fled, except Reb Yonah who, miraculously, was never sighted by the Nazis. Some bachurim called him “ro’eh v’eino nireh — he sees but is not seen.
One Shabbos the Nazis entered the yeshivah and rounded up all those who didn’t have Slovakian citizenship, taking them to the Hungarian border. Among them was Reb Yonah. Since he couldn’t enter Hungary either, Harav Shmuel Dovid and Harav Michoel Ber Weissmandl pleaded for Reb Yonah to be allowed to stay on in Slovakia. A certificate issued then made it possible for him to remain until 5705/1944.
On the Thursday before Rosh Hashanah of 5705/1944, all the Jews were rounded up and sent off to concentration camps. Reb Yonah hid in the house of a non-Jew until he too was caught. He was sent to Theresienstadt without his wheelchair. When he returned home, his friends could hardly believe his experiences. Reb Yonah miraculously survived and was able eventually to immigrate to America, where he helped re-establish the prestigious Nitra Yeshivah in Mount Kisco, New York, together with Harav Shalom Moshe Unger, the son of Reb Shmuel Dovid, and Harav Michoel Ber Weissmandl, the son-in-law. (Reb Shmuel Dovid was niftar during the war.) Reb Yonah served as mashgiach in the yeshiva.
His influence and authority were not limited to the yeshiva itself; Reb Yonah was active in chinuch and attended many meetings on how to improve the generation.
To many, Reb Yonah was the address for a warm word of advice. He gave chizuk to numerous downtrodden widows and orphans and helped marry off youngsters from problematic homes.
Unfortunately, Reb Yonah was not zocheh to biological children, but his many talmidim were all “only children” to him.
Reb Yonah was niftar on 16 Tevet 5743/1983, at the age of 67.
HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, zt"l, (1920 - 5762 / 2001),.Rav and Av Beit Din of Antwerp.
Harav Chaim was born in the town of Voinitch in 5679/1919. His father was Harav Avraham Yosef, a descendant of many esteemed Rabbanim.
His father sent him to learn in the town of Tarnow, and he learned there diligently. His bar mitzvah was held in the Belzer shtiebel in Tarnow, where Harav Aharon of Belz put on his tefillin for the first time.
In 5694 / 1933–4, he was accepted to Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin. There he developed a close relationship with the famed Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Shimon Horowitz of Zhelichov. At 17 he moved to Cracow, and at 18 he was delivering a daily shiur at the Tchechoiv-Sanz beit medrash; he became known as the “Iluy of Cracow.” Rav Chaim was well-known to have memorized Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi, as well as Rishonim and Acharonim.
Subsequently he transferred to Warsaw and was accepted as Rosh Yeshivah in the yeshivah of the Piaseczna Rebbe, zt”l. At the outbreak of World War II, he fled to Kovno, Lithuania. He married the daughter of Harav Avraham Grodzenski, Hy”d, the Mashgiach of the Slabodka yeshivah. Soon afterwards they were forced to flee to Vilna and miraculously survived.
In 5701 / 1941, Harav Chaim reached the shores of Eretz Yisrael, where he was able to devote himself to learning. In 5707 / 1947, he accepted a position as Rosh Yeshivah in Chicago, Illinois. There, he attracted huge numbers of talmidim, who went on to become marbitzei Torah throughout the world.
In 5713 / 1953, Harav Kreiswirth became Rav of Antwerp, a position he held for 50 years. He became the acknowledged Mara d’Asra, rebuilding the once-thriving community that had been decimated by the Holocaust. Over the years, Harav Kreiswirth strengthened the basis of Yiddishkeit in his city, supervising kashrut and mikvaot. The effects of his work were felt all over Europe.
Twenty years before he was niftar he fell victim to a malignant disease. It was at this time that he decided to dedicate himself wholly to chessed, offering relief to orphans and widows, the poor and the downtrodden, and he traveled far and wide for this purpose.
Harav Kreisworth is buried on Har Hamenuchot.
Tevet - 1312:
Anti-Jewish riots in different parts of Austria.
Tevet 5285 - 1524:
The organization of the Jewish community
of Rome was approved by the pope.
Tevet 5436 - January 3, 1676:
Frederick William of Brandenburg
issued a decree safeguarding the privileges of the Jews of Berlin.
17 Tevet 5488 - December 30, 1727:
Congregation Shearith Yisroel purchased a lot in lower Manhattan to erect the first structure ever designed and built as a shul in New York (and for that matter, in continental North America). At the time, New York had the only Jewish community in the country; it would be some two decades later before organized Jewish settlement began in Philadelphia, Lancaster and Charleston.
Shearith Israel was the only Jewish congregation in New York City from Rosh Hashana 1654 (then New Amsterdam) (others 5445 /1684) until 1825, having been founded by Brazilian Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin that fled the Inquisition.
Governor Peter Stuyvesant, known for his anti-Semitic views, had initially denied Jews the right to worship in a public gathering; these Jews fought for their rights and won permission.
Today, Shearith Israel occupies a grand structure at 70th Street and Central Park West.
17 Tevet 5565 - December 18, 1804:
The yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yaakov Wolf Krantz, zt"l, (1740-1804), the Maggid (itinerant preacher) of Dubno, particularly known for the parables (meshalim) he employed in his sermons and writings.(See below).
17 Tevet 5708 - December 30, 1947:
Arabs killed 40 Jews at the Haifa
oil facility, Hy"d.
Tevet 5739 - January 16, 1979:
The Shah fled Iran, never to return. Khomeini reached Iranian soil on February 1. Revolutionaries and sympathizers in the army ousted the Bahktiar government on February 11, 1979.
17 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Aharon Zelig of Ostroh, zt”l, (5514 / 1754), author of Toldot Aharon.
HaRav Yaakov Krantz, zt"l, Dubna Maggid (1741 - 5565 / 1804). Born in a province of Vilna, Yaakov ben Zev (Wolf) Kranz showed exceptional homiletical and Kabbalistic talents at an early age, and by the age of twenty became the darshan of his city. From there he began preaching through the cities of around Lublin in Poland, finally settling in Dubnow. His reputation as a maggid spread, bringing him in contact with the great rabbis of the period, including the Vilna Gaon. The majority of his works were in homiletics, using stories and parables to transmit deeper ethical and moral teachings.
Some of the Maggid’s Mesholim have been collected in English in The Maggid of Dubno and His Parables by Dr. Benno Heinemann (Feldheim Publishers).
HaRav Ephraim Fishel Shapira of Strikov, zt"l, (1743 - 5582 / 1822). A disciple of the Magid of Mezritch, the Rebbe Elimelech and the Chozeh of Lublin, he was called the “Oleh Temimah.”
HaRav Aryeh Leibish Lipschitz of Vishnitza, zt"l, (1849), the Aryeh d’Bei Ilai. (Others 5606 / 1846 or 5610 / 1850). Born in Yaroslav in 5527 / 1767, to Harav Chaim Asher; the family was descended from the Maharshal and Harav Mordechai Yaffe, the Levush.
Reb Aryeh Leibish was the talmid of Harav Yitzchak Charif of Sambour and of Harav Aryeh Leib, the Ketzot HaChoshen. Known for his quick, sharp mind, he was aptly called Reb Leibish Charif.
When he married the daughter of Harav Moshe Teitelbaum, the Yismach Moshe, he asked his father-in-law for permission to continue to travel to his Rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin. At the time the Yismach Moshe was opposed to Chassidut, but he granted permission. Subsequently, after joining Reb Leibish once on a trip to Lublin, the Yismach Moshe himself was drawn to Chassidut, becoming one of the most devoted chassidim of the Chozeh.
The first rabbinic post of Reb Aryeh Leibish was in Krashov. When his father-in-law left Shinev and settled in Ujhel in 5568 / 1808, Reb Aryeh Leibish was named Rav of the city in his place.
In 5575 / 1815 Reb Aryeh Leibish moved to Vishnitza, where he began to lead chassidim. He was also appointed Rav of Vishnitza. But in spite of being an outstanding talmid chacham and a Rebbe, when Reb Aryeh Leibish voiced his opinion in regard to who should serve as gabbai of the chevra kaddisha, he was asked to leave the city.
He decided at that time to move to Eretz Yisrael, but pressure from the chassidim and from his father-in-law caused him to change his mind and stay on. In 5598 / 1838 he moved to Brigel, where he lived until his petirah at age 79 on 17 Tevet. He was buried in Brigel.
Reb Aryeh Leibish wrote a number of sefarim: She’eilot U’Teshuvot Aryeh D’bei Ila’i, correspondence with many Gedolei Yisrael; Chiddushei Aryeh D’bei Ila’i on many masechtot; Ari She’b’chaburah, on Masechet Kesubot; and others.
Many of his divrei Torah and divrei Chassidut were printed in Yetev Lev and Yetev Panim, sefarim by his nephew Harav Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum.
His sons were Harav Chaim Dov of Yanov, Harav Meshulam Zalman of Brigel and Harav Aharon of Vishnitza.
HaRav Pinchas Epstein, zt"l, Av Beit Din of Yerushalayim (1887 - 5730 / 1969). Born in Griva, Lithuania, his primary teacher was R’ Zalman Sender Kahana Shapiro in Bialystok. In 1904, he settled in Eretz Yisrael with his father and began studying at Yeshiva Torat Chaim in the Old City of Yerushalayim. R’ Epstein was one of the founders and early leaders of the Eidah HaChareidit, a group which split from the established Yerushalayim community in 1919 in response to the growing influence of the Zionists on the existing religious council. In 1949, he was appointed to head the Eidah HaChareidit.
HaRav Suleiman (Salman) Mutzafi of Yerushalayim, zt"l, (5735 / 1974).
Harav Salman Mutzafi was born in Baghdad, Iraq, on 27 Shevat 5660 / 1900.
His father, Rav Tzion Meir, descended from an illustrious family of Torah scholars who first arrived in Baghdad during the Spanish expulsion, and was an outstanding talmid chacham and tzaddik who earned his living as a jewelry manufacturer.
The person who had the greatest influence on Harav Salman during his childhood, and whom he aspired to emulate, was the Ben Ish Chai.
Every Shabbat, the young Salman accompanied his father to Baghdad’s main shul to hear the Ben Ish Chai’s drashah, which lasted for two hours and was attended by over 2,000 people. After the drashah, Salman would kiss the tzaddik’s hand, while the tzaddik would bless him that he should become a Gadol baTorah. This blessing inspired him to study even more diligently.
After completing Talmud Torah, Harav Salman entered Beit Midrash Beit-Zilka under the famed mekubal Harav Yehudah Patiah. Although he was the youngest in the yeshivah, he surpassed all of the others and quickly advanced until he reached the highest shiur. Harav Patiah, had a profound influence on his spiritual development.
Harav Salman and his rebbi, Rav Yehudah, remained very close throughout their lives, learning together for many years.
After his marriage, he began to work as a secretary for the wealthy and charitable Menachem Daniel. Nonetheless, he spent most of his time engaged in Torah study.
As Menachem Daniel’s secretary, Rav Salman made a profound kiddush Hashem and used his influence to help the Jews of Baghdad and Eretz Yisrael.
In 5694 / 1934, (others 5695 / 1935) Harav Salman Yisrael, together with Harav Yehudah Patiah, moved to Eretz Yisrael, where he spent most of his time studying in yeshivot for mekubalim. Although he tried to remain unknown, Yerushalayim’s great Torah sages soon learned of his profound spiritual stature and vast Torah knowledge.
Harav Mutzafi is best remembered for the many asifot tefillah and tikkunim he conducted on behalf of Am Yisrael, as well as for his personal asceticism, humility and uncompromising dedication to mitzvot and Torah study.
Together with Harav Yehudah Patiah, they jointly wrote Beit Lechem Yehudah on the entire Etz Chaim.
Harav Salman later went back to Baghdad to bring his mother, brother, and wife to Eretz Yisrael. Upon his return, he bought a one-and-a-half room apartment in Geulah. Every night he would rise at chatzot and go to the Emet V’Shalom Yeshiva where he would recite Tikkun Chatzot and learn until the netz.
Throughout his life, Rav Salman was careful not to derive benefit from another Jew in any manner whatsoever.
During Israel’s 1948 war, Yerushalayim was under siege. Food was scarce, and the city’s water supply was cut off. During Arab attacks, Harav Mutzafi remained in the Tawig shul, where he conducted round-the-clock prayer services. He was joined by the mekubal Harav Ephraim Hakohen, who lived in the Old City.
Harav Mutzafi instructed the young children present at these asifot tefillah to recite the alef-beit again and again, telling them that even though they couldn’t recite Tehillim, Hashem would take the letters of their alef-beit and form them into sacred Names, which would ward off all evil.
Our history is replete with accounts of the few who vanquished the many, the pure who overcame the contaminated. Harav Salman Mutzafi was one of those pure neshamot who dedicated every vestige of his strength to employ Am Yisrael’s most potent weapon — tefillah — for its benefit.
On Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5735 / 1975, Rav Salman fell ill in the middle of Shacharit. When he returned home, his family told him that a doctor had been summoned, but he waved his hand to indicate that nothing could be done.
On Friday night, 17 Tevet, he returned his soul to its Maker. He was buried on Har Hazeitim.
HaRav Chanina Shiff, zt"l, (1928-2007). A descendant of the Noam Elimelech of Lizhensk, he was sent off in cattle cars to concentration camps where his parents were murdered. His older brother, Rav Elazar Shiff, later a prominent Belzer Chassid, also survived, as did two of their sisters. They arrived in Haifa on erev Tisha B’Av, 1945. Chanina Shiff went to learn in Yeshiva Sfat Emet. He served four generations of Ger Admorim as gabbai, he called out the kibbudim at every Gerer chasunah, and he composed and sang grammen at each Gerrer chasunah.
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18 Tevet 4231 - 470 C.E.:
Rav Huna bar Mar Zutra, the
head of Babylonian Jewry (called the Exilarch ["Reish Galuta"], and Rav Mesharshya bar Pekod were arrested by the Persian authorities and killed al
kiddush Hashem in Pumpedita. Rav Ameimar bar Mar Yenuka, was also arrested with them, he was killed two months later. These events led to the demise of the Rabbanan Svora'i (who succeded the Amora'im in leading Babylonian Jewry), and eventually to the decline of Torah in Bavel.
18 Tevet - 1369:
King of Sicily requires Jews to wear a special badge.
18 Tevet - December 23, 1420:
Because the practice had become rampant,
Pope Martin V ordered an end to converting Jewish children (under 12) to Christianity,
without their parents' permission.
18 Tevet 5409 - January 2, 1649:
Chmielnicki entered Kiev in triumph. Most of the Jews were massacred, Hy"d, and the more fortunate Jews were taken captive by the Tartars and ransomed in Constantinople.
18 Tevet 5496 - January 2, 1736:
The last Auto-da-Fe in the New World took place in Peru. Dona Ana de Castro was accused of Judaizing and burned at the stake, Hy"d.
18 Tevet 5596 - January 8, 1836:
Violent earthquake kills 2000 in Tzefat and 700 in Teveria. (See 24 Tevet).
18 Tevet 5673 - December 28, 1912:
The first meeting of the National
Council of Young Israel convened.
18 Tevet 5699 - January 9, 1939:
Three river boats with 1,210 Jewish refugees aboard from Vienna and Prague, were stopped on the Danube near the Iron Gates gorge and the town of Kladovo on the Romanian-Yugoslavian border. The British government had protested to the Yugoslavian government the intention of the refugees to get to Eretz Yisrael. Two hundred children received travel permits, the rest were turned back.
18 Tevet 5706 - December 22, 1945:
The Lebanese government issued orders of expulsion against Palestinian Jews in Lebanon. The Palestine Post of December 22, 1947 carried a report about harsh measures that the Arab League was considering taking against Jews in Arab lands. They would first be denaturalized, their property confiscated, their bank accounts frozen, and they would be treated as enemy aliens.
18 Tevet 5707 - January 10, 1947:
Two ships loaded with Jewish Holocaust survivors were stopped by the British; their passengers
were taken to Cyprus. Only two years later - to the day - did
the British announce their intention to release the Cyprus internees.
18 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Rav Huna bar Mar Zutra, the
head of Babylonian Jewry (called the Exilarch ["Reish Galuta"], and Rav Mesharshya bar Pekod were arrested by the Persian authorities and killed al
kiddush Hashem in Pumpedita. Rav Ameimar bar Mar Yenuka, was also arrested with them, he was killed two months later. These events led to the demise of the Rabbanan Svora'i (who succeded the Amora'im in leading Babylonian Jewry), and eventually to the decline of Torah in Bavel. H'yd, (4231 - 470 C.E.:)
HaRav Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dinov, zt"l, the Bnei Yissaschar, (5543 / 1783 - 5610 / 1850), was born in 5543 / 1783 in Jawornik, Galicia. His father, Reb Pesach, was a descendant of Harav Shimshon of Ostropolia; his mother, Rebbetzin Ita, was a niece of the holy brothers the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk and the Rebbe Reb Zusha of Anipoli.
Reb Tzvi Elimelech was born after his parents lost a few children in childhood, so his mother traveled to Lizhensk to beseech her uncle the Rebbe Reb Elimelech for a brachah before this child was born. The Rebbe Reb Elimelech promised her a son who would survive, and added that he was destined to illuminate the world with his Torah and his kedushah.
He also said that when the time came, they should name the boy Elimelech after him. Reb Pesach and his wife were shocked to hear these words from the Rebbe since it is the custom not to name a baby after a live person. When the baby was born they named him Tzvi Elimelech instead.
Later, during his tenure as Rav in Ribititch, Reb Tzvi Elimelech made the acquaintance of the Chozeh of Lublin and became one of the Chozeh’s most devoted Chassidim.
R' Tzvi Elimelech was told by the Chozeh that he was from Shevet Yissascher, which explained his special feelings towards Chanukkah, as it is known that the Sanhedrin of the Chashmonaim had many members from Shevet Yissascher. This is the source of the name of his sefer, Bnei Yissaschar, discourses on the Torah and Festivals as viewed from a kabbalistic prospective.
In 5610 /1850, the last year of his life, he gave a number of signs that he was preparing to leave this world. During the last Shabbatot of his life, he said many divrei Torah about Olam Haba. He was niftar at the relatively young age of 58.
A brilliant scholar, kabbalist, and leader of Polish Jewry, Rav Tzvi Elimelech worked vigorously to strengthen the Jewish community in light of the assimilationist trends brought about by the Enlightenment.
Rav Tzvi Elimelech authored a large number of sefarim, among them: Agra d’Kallah on Chumash, Bnei Yissaschar on the moadim, Derech Pikudecha exposition on the 613 mitzvot of the Torah; Chiddushei Mahartza on Chanukah, Rei’ach Duda’im on Masechet Megillah, Brachah Meshuleshet on Mishnayot, Likutei Mahartza on Nach, Hagahot Mahartza on Zohar, Agra d’Pirka, Maggid Taalumah on Brachot, and more works that were lost.
The Merchant-philanthropist Judah Touro. (5614 / January 18, 1854). Touro left behind large foundations for various philanthropic purposes, including completing the Bunker Hill monument, enclosing the Jewish Cemetery in Newport , Rhode Island . His fund combined with Montefiore’s to help build the first housing complex outside the walls of the old city of Yerushalayim, Mishkenot Shananim. (Others 13 or 19 Tevet).
HaRav Moshe of Korestchov, zt"l, (5626 / 1866). Born to Reb Mordechai, the Chernobyler Maggid; Rav Moshe was the grandson of the Meor Einayim of Chernobyl on his father’s side and Rav Aharon HaGadol of Karlin on his mother’s side. His brother was Rav Yochanan of Rachmistrivka.
Reb Moshe basked in the exalted atmosphere of his father’s court, where he acquired great madreigot in avodat Hashem. He married the daughter of Harav Tzvi Aryeh Landau of Malik, zt”l. In his second marriage he married Rebbetzin Chanah, daughter of Harav Yakov Yosef of Ostraha.
Upon his father’s petirah, he initially refused to lead a kehillah.A few years later he abided to the urging of the Chasidim and set up his court in Korestchov.
Reb Moshe was known for his profound humility and pashtus. Reb Yochanan of Rachmastrivka, his brother, related the following anecdote which illustrates the humility of these great tzaddikim: 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 Korestchov, took the gornisht, Reb Yochanan was left with gor gornisht, absolutely nothing, and he was pleased.
Once, two Chassidim came to him for a brachah and the Rebbe blessed both of them. One experienced a yeshuah while the other, unfortunately, did not. The Chassid came to the Rebbe to inquire why his friend had been helped while his tzarah remained. The Rebbe replied, “The first Chassid answered ‘Amen’ after my brachah, thereby displaying emunah that it would come true; you, however, did not say ‘Amen.’”
Reb Moshe was niftar in Korestchov in 5626 / 1866 and was buried there.
He was succeeded by his son, Rav Mordechai.
HaRav Chaim Shmuel Horowitz of Chentchin, zt"l, (5676 / 1915 or 5677 / 1916).
Harav Chaim Shmuel Halevi was the son of Harav Eliezer. He was born in Neustadt in 5603/1843, and was descended from the Chozeh of Lublin.
Orphaned of his father at a young age, he was brought up by his grandfather, Harav Yosef Baruch, the “Gutte Yid” of Neustadt, son of the Ma’or V’shemesh.
From his youth, Reb Chaim Shmuel was noted for his outstanding hasmadah; he spent most hours of the day learning.
Reb Chaim Shmuel married the daughter of Harav Yehoshua Heshel Frenkel-Teumim, the son of the Baruch Ta’am.
Reb Chaim Shmuel was the founder of the Chentchin dynasty, named for a small city near Kielce (Keltz), Poland. He was famed for his yeshuot and ruach hakodesh, and many would travel to his grand court.
Reb Chaim Shmuel was distinguished for his sharp mind and lamdanut. He would finish the entire Shas every year, as well as all four sections of the Shulchan Aruch.
Reb Chaim Shmuel was known for his love of Eretz Yisrael, and would make Kiddush on wine from Eretz Yisrael. He would also send sums of tzedakah money for the poor of the Land.
With the outbreak of World War I, the local Jews were forced to evacuate their properties and to leave Chentchin. Reb Chaim Shmuel and his Chassidim moved to nearby Kielce; he was niftar there during the war on 18 Tevet 5676/1915.
His sons were Harav Eliezer, Harav Shalom and Harav Yehoshua Heshel — all of whom were appointed Rebbes.
His sons-in-law were Harav Elimelech Shapira of Grodzisk, Harav Avraham Shlomo Epstein of Ozherov, Harav Yechiel Yeshayahu Weinberg of Yendizhov, Harav Yitzchak Shlomo Shapira of Sobkov, Harav Yitzchak Shlomo Goldberg of Kielce and Harav Shimshon Yosef Hauberbrand.
HaRav Tzvi Hirsch Grodzinski, zt"l, (5618 / 1858 - 5707 / 1947). Born in the small town of Tavrig, a suburb of Vilna. His father, Rav Meir, was a descendant of a prestigious rabbinical family.
His first teacher was Harav Gershon Mendel Ziv, the town’s Rav. Soon after, he began studying with his younger cousin, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in the nearby town of Ivye. he then went to learn in the Kovner Kollel under Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector, Rav of Kovno, who gave him semichah.
He later returned to Vilna to continue learning with Harav Chaim Ozer. From Vilna he traveled to Volozhin, where he was soon recognized as one of the Netziv's (Harav Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin) most outstanding talmidim.
In 1891, the Russian government demanded that Volozhin include secular studies in its curriculum. Recognizing the impending danger, Harav Tzvi Hirsh left Europe for the United States and eventually settled in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was appointed the city’s Chief Rabbi. Within a short period the Rav’s reputation spread far and wide.
In 1902, Harav Tzvi Hirsh traveled to NY, where he became one of the 58 charter members of the Agudath Harabbanim. (United Orthodox Rabbis of America).
Although he was recognized as Omaha’s Chief Rabbi, the Rav waged constant battles with Reformers trying to modernize the Orthodox community. He also fought to stop the blatant chillul Shabbat in America and worked tirelessly on behalf of European agunot whose husbands had “escaped” to America.
Harav Tzvi Hirsh published many articles in rabbinical journals in the U.S. and Eretz Yisrael, amomg them Hapardes, Knesset Chachmei Yisrael, and Hame’assef.
Among his printed sefarim are Mikveh Yisrael on hilchot mikvaot, Likutei Tzvi on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, Milli d’Brachot on mesechet Brachot, and Mikra’ei Kodesh (3 volumes on hilchot kriat haTorah). Thousands of manuscripts on his commentaries on Yoreh De’ah and every mesechta in Shas and she’eilot u’teshuvot remain unpublished. They are stored in the Otzar Haposkim lnstitute in Eretz Yisrael.
Shortly before his petirah, the Rav mailed a copy of Mikra’ei Kodesh to every Jewish family in Omaha to commemorate the more than 50 years of service he provided to the Cornhusker State.
Harav Tzvi Hirsh was niftar on 18 Tevet 5707/1947, at the age of 89. He was buried in the Pleasant Hill (Temple Israel) Cemetery in Omaha.
In accordance with his wishes, no hespeidim were delivered. At the time of his petirah he was considered one of the foremost Rabbanim in the United States and Canada.
On the day after his passing, Der Morgen Zshurnal wrote:
“Harav Grodzinski spent his entire life on Torah and righteous works. He made his night like unto day in his quest for knowledge. He became known as an extraordinarily creative scholar and original thinker. His fame spread far and wide as a genius in early youth.”
It is reported that Harav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav, zt”l, once commented that had Harav Tzvi Hirsh stayed in Europe he would have been just as famous as his younger cousin, Harav Chaim Ozer.
HaRav Moshe Chalfon, zt"l, of Djerba, Tunisia, author of Sho’el Venish’al and Brit Kehunah, (1874 - 5710 / 1950).
Harav Moshe Shatzkes, zt”l, Rav of Lomza, and successor to Rav Shimon Shkop (1958)
HaRav Mendel Geffner, zt"l, (5748 / 1988), initiator of mass Chol Hamoed Birchat Kohanim at the Western Wall, Yerushalayim, and author of Midrashei Tehillim.
Moshe Heller of Yerushalayim; only son of Rav Refoel Tzvi Mechel Heller (2002).
HaRav Aryeh Leibish Halberstam, zt"l, the Zhmigrader Rebbe (1912-2007). Two of his sons succeeded him - the Sanz-Zhmigrader Rebbe of Boro Park and the Sanz-Zhmigrader Rebbe of Europe.
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19 Tevet 5398
- January 5, 1637:
The Catholic Church
in Recife, Brazil closed Recife's two shuls. (Others 1638).
19 Tevet 5495
- January 13, 1735:
The battle against the Ramchal's kabbalah writings reached a new critical stage when the Frankfurt beit din issued a psak forbidding the Ramchal to write seforim on kabbalah.
The Ramchal was the 7th in a direct line of Italian mekubalim who had received their knowledge of kabbalah from the ARIZAL. He had been suspected of Shabtai Tzvi type tendencies since 1729, when Rav Chagiz of Altona had convinced the Frankfurt rabbanim to prohibit the Ramchal from disseminating the revelations he claimed to have heard from a malach min hashomayim and Eliyahu Hanavi. After agreeing to this, the Ramchal went on to write 50 seforim on kabbalah until 1735, when the Frankfurt beit din forbade this as well. The Ramchal accepted this decree with humility, and undertook never to teach kabbalah again from a sefer or orally, including the teachings of the ARIZAL and Sefer HaZohar, and never to write such teachings for himself or for others.
The Frankfurt beit din assumed control of the box which held the Ramchal's teachings and supervised over the next few months the collection of all the Ramchal's works which had been widely distributed due to their popularity. Most, of these are lost to us today. Despite the Ramchal believing that the Frankfurt beit din had acted in error, he fully observed the ban they placed on his writings.
In 1735 he moved to Amsterdam, but refused numerous requests to teach kabbalah. For his living, he ground lenses to make glasses. He spent the following years writing famous classics of mussar and philosophy, such as Mesilat Yeshorim, Derech Hashem, Sefer HaHigayon, Derech Tevunot, and Leyeshorim Tehilla until he moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1743 where he died three years later in an epidemic.
19 Tevet 5614 - January 19, 1854:
Yahrtzeit of American Jewish philanthropist Judah Touro (1775-1854). (See 18 Tevet).
19 Tevet 5631 - January 12, 1871:
A new German constitution gives German Jews full legal equality.
19 Tevet 5649 - December 23, 1888:
Death of Laurence Oliphant, (1829 - 1888), a British MP and world member of Chovevei Zion (The Lovers of Zion), who suggested establishing agricultural Jewish settlements in Eretz Yisrael. He contacted the Turkish authorities and in 1880 published a book, "Eretz HaGilad" (The Land of Gilead - Hebrew translation by Nahum Sokolow as Eretz Chemdah, 1886), in which he called for the establishment of a Jewish region in the north of Transjordan. The Turks were not interested.
19 Tevet 5658 -
January 13, 1898:
"J' Accuse" by Emile Zola
was published regarding the Dreyfus trial. In defense of the French Jewish captain Dreyfus, Zola claimed that the French military leaders were making him into a scapegoat.
19 Tevet 5662 - December 29, 1901:
The Jewish National fund was established. In 1901, the Jewish National Fund was founded for the purpose of purchasing settlement land in Israel. JNF had the idea of placing a collection box in every Jewish home, and by the 1920s about one million of the famous "Blue Boxes" were in Jewish homes throughout the world. Besides purchasing land throughout Israel, JNF expanded into afforestation, water projects, agricultural innovation, roadworks, schools, and immigrant services. JNF operates under the principle that the Land of Israel belongs to the entire Jewish people; based on this, the Israeli Knesset later adopted a law stating that JNF lands cannot be sold, but only leased for periods of 49 years at a time. Over the past century, JNF has planted over 220 million trees throughout Israel -- the only nation in the world to end the 20th century with more trees than it had at the beginning.
19 Tevet 5762 - January 3, 2002:
Israel captures Karine-A, a ship laden with 50 tons of weapons from Iran bound for the Palestinian Authority.
19 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Aryeh Leib HaKohen Heller, the Ketzot HaChoshen, zt”l, (5505 / 1745 - 5573 / 1812) (Others 1813).
The Ketzot Hachoshen, Harav Aryeh Leib Heller, was born in 5505/1745 in the town of Kalisch, Galicia. His father, Reb Yosef, was a direct grandson of the Tosafot Yom Tov, making Aryeh Leib a fourth-generation direct descendant. He was the third of four sons.
In his youth, after being recognized as an iluy, Aryeh Leib was sent to learn in the yeshivah of Harav Meshulam Igra of Tysmienica, Poland. During those years he wrote his brilliant work Shev Shmatsa. It explains intricate halachic topics, and the practical ramifications of halachot dealing with sfeikot, doubts.
After his marriage, Harav Aryeh Leib sat and learned unhindered by the yoke of earning a livelihood, as he was supported by his younger brother. When his brother lost his fortune, Harav Aryeh Leib was forced to take a rabbinic position, in the city of Rozniatow, (Rozhintov) near Ziditchov.
When Rozniatow invited Harav Aryeh Leib to be Rav of their community, the community was small and poor. The members of the community earned a livelihood with difficulty; and the community couldn’t sustain the Rav in an honorable fashion.
There were no major talmidei chachamim in the city, and even those who came to the Rav didn’t bother him greatly with deep and time-consuming she’eilot, so he was able to sit in quiet and dedicate himself to his studies without interruption. He lived a difficult life, but he accepted everything unquestioningly. It was then that he compiled his world-acclaimed sefer, Ketzot Hachoshen.
Only the first volume of the Ketzot Hachoshen was published in Lvov, many years later, in 5548/1788. Due to his difficult economic circumstances, Rav Aryeh Leib was not able to publish the second volume. His grandson, Reb Asher Mordechai, son of his son Reb David, published it in Lvov in 5586/1826.
The Ketzot is a deep and profound work, which explains difficult passages in the Choshen Mishpat with novel ideas proposed by Harav Aryeh Leib. It is one of the most widely used works in the Yeshiva world until this day.
As soon as the sefer was released, many Gedolim attested that they didn’t put it down until they had finished it from cover to cover.Familiarity with this sefer is considered mandatory for any talmid chacham or Dayan. It has since become a fundamental sefer for understanding many sugyot in Shas, not just in Shulchan Aruch.
Unlike his other sefarim, his sefer on Even Haezer, Avnei Miluim, was printed after his petirah.
The reasoning process Harav Aryeh Leib employs in all his sefarim to analyze and resolve basic conflicts and contradictions in the Gemara is considered the basis for the analytical method used in Talmudic study until today.
It is told that once one of the householders came to him to ask him a question, and found him writing his sefer with the inkwell held under a blanket so that the ink would not freeze in the icy room!
Harav Aryeh Leib’s works became widely disseminated throughout Europe.
In 5548/1788, Harav Aryeh Leib was appointed Rav in Stry (Setry), a post he held until his petirah in 5573/1813. He set up a yeshivah, disseminating Torah to multitudes of talmidim, many of them later becoming Rabbanim and Dayanim. At that point his fame spread among Gedolei Yisrael; many of whom sent their complex she’eilot to Harav Aryeh Leib. He was considered one of the greatest Rabbanim of Galacia, an authority in Halacha and known for the depth of his Torah insights.
He was also admired and respected by the Chassidic Rebbes who called him a “prince of the Torah.” An especially close relationship existed between him and Harav Yitzchak Eizik of Komarna, who visited Harav Aryeh Leib quite often.
Harav Aryeh Leib Heller was niftar on 19 Tevet, 5573/1813.
HaRav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer, the Ktav Sofer (1815 - 5632 / 1871). (Others 1872). Born and died in Pressburg, Hungary, oldest son of the Chatam Sofer and grandson of Rav Akiva Eiger via his mother, Rebetzen Sorel. After his father’s death in 1839, the Ktav Sofer succeeded him as Rav and Rosh Yeshiva in Pressburg, at the unusually young age of 24. He was famous as the greatest Torah educator in Hungary. He fought against Reformers and ‘assimilationists,’ and encouraged the settlement in Eretz Yisrael. He founded the Kollel Shomrei HaChomot in 1862 for the immigrants from Hungary to Eretz Yisrael. He served Pressburg for 33 years, the exact number of years his father had served before him. His works include the Responsa Ketav Sofer and the Ketav Sofer on the Torah.
HaRav Yaakov Horowitz of Melitz, zt”l, (5599 / 1839).
HaRav Elimelech of Rudnik, zt”l, (5609 /1849).
HaRav Yeshua Basis, zt”l. One of the great Rabbis of Tunisia, author of “Avnei Tzedek.”(5620/1860).
HaRav Yaakov Landau of Yezov, zt”l, (5654 / 1893).
HaRav David Peretz, zt”l, One of the great Torah scholars of Morocco, author of Magen David, (5681/1901)
Harav Moshe Sokolovski, zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva in Brisk in Lita, author of Imrei Moshe, (5691 / 1931).
HaRav Menachem Mendel Zaks, zt”l, son-in-law of the Chafetz Chaim, (5734 / 1974).
HaRav Shalom Leifer of Nadvorna, zt”l, (5740 / 1980).
Harav Shalom was born in 5654/1894 in the city of Bochnia. His father was Harav Bertche of Satmar, the second son of Harav Mordechai of Nadvorna. He was educated by his father, who imbued him with a striving for Torah, holiness and purity.
Sadly, Rav Shalom was orphaned at the tender age of 11. This, however, did not deter him from achieving a life of spiritual greatness. From a very young age, Rav Shalom exhibited the blessings of outstanding talents and refined middot, reflecting his holy lineage.
As a bachur Rav Shalom went to learn in the yeshivah of Harav Eliyahu Klein in Holmin, where he studied with great diligence and excelled. He later joined the yeshivah of Harav Yehudah Greenwald, the Rav of Satmar.
At 16 he took it upon himself to sleep only three hours at night and one hour during the day, and even then he only slept on a bench in the shul. So devoted was he to his learning that many times, because of great fatigue, he resorted to dabbing at his eyelids with alcohol in order to avoid dozing off.
Rav Shalom married the daughter of the tzaddik Harav Dov Ber Teumin, the Dayan of Pshevorsk and the son-in-law of the Pshevorsker Rav, Rav Chaim Hersh Ashkenazi.
After the wedding the young couple settled in Satmar. There Rav Shalom served Hakadosh Baruch Hu in kedushah and taharah.
The brothers decided to travel to America in 5686/1926 to collect money for their sisters’ dowries. In those days, it was very uncommon for a Chassidishe Rebbe to travel to America. The Jews in America showered the two tzaddikim with considerable honor, and asked the two brothers to stay and help establish authentic Jewish life in America, promising them that they would cover all costs.
Happy to have been given the zechut of making an impact on the lives of Torah-thirsty Yidden, Rav Shalom settled on the East Side of Manhattan, where he lived for many years. Later the Rebbe moved to the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, where he reestablished his Beit Hamedrash Khal Chassidei Nadvorna. His brother, Harav Yosef, settled in Pittsburgh and revived Yiddishkeit there.
Rav Shalom came to realize the extent of the worldly temptations that beset Americans at that time. He spent all of his time in a small room learning Torah in order to insulate himself from the mundane, material aspects of America. He ate little and barely slept, and he followed the tradition of his holy ancestors in living a life devoid of any luxury or comfort.
Like his holy ancestors, the Rebbe was renowned for hachnasat orchim. His home was always open to all.
When his older son, Chaim Mordechai, Hy”d, reached the age of bar mitzvah, Rav Shalom sent him to Europe (at that time the U.S. had no suitable yeshivot). When World War II broke out, Rav Shalom tried to bring Chaim Mordechai back to America, but sadly, this did not come to pass. He was killed al kiddush Hashem, Hy”d. The Rebbe grieved for his beloved son, but accepted the gezeirah with ahavat Hashem and rededicated himself to his avodat hakodesh.
The Rebbe was niftar on 19 Tevet, 5740/1980. His son, Harav Shlomo Leifer, shlita, succeeded him.
HaRav Avraham Yaakov Friedman, the Sadigura Rebbe, zt”l, (5773 / 2013).
Born in Vienna, Austria, on 5 Elul 5688 / 1928. His father was the Knesset Mordechai of Sadigura, Harav Mordechai Shalom Yosef, and his mother was Rebbetzin Mira Reizel, daughter of Harav Yisrael Shalom Yosef Heschel, the Mezhibuzher Rebbe.
The Chortkover Rebbe, Harav Yisrael, was sandak at the brit.
When he was five years old, the family moved back to Pshemishel, Poland.
In Adar 5699 / 1939, when the Knesset Mordechai traveled to Eretz Yisrael for a visit, his uncle, Harav Yisrael, the Rebbe of Husyatin, who had emigrated there several years earlier, instructed him not to return to Europe. That Elul, weeks before the outbreak of World War II, Rebbetzin Mira Reisel and her 11-year-old son, Avraham Yaakov, left Europe for Eretz Yisrael.
There the young boy basked in the presence of his father, who was also his Rebbe and mentor, and with whom he had an extraordinarily close relationship.
When he turned 13, he merited that his great-uncle, the Husyatiner Rebbe, zy”a, laid tefillin on him. The Husyatiner Rebbe also led a special tisch in honor of the simcha.
From his early childhood, his hasmadah was evident, and to his final day his life revolved around Torah study. He was a close talmid of Harav Reuven Tropp, and later of Harav Yehoshua Menachem Ehrenberg, the Dvar Yehoshua, from whom he later received semicha.
At the age of 18 he began to study Kabbalah as well, and had a chavrusa every Friday for several hours in kisvei Arizal.
In 5713 / 1953 he married Rebbetzin Tzipporah, a”h, the daughter of Harav Yosef Aryeh Feldman, z”l. She predeceased him by six years.
Three years later his father decided to move to the United States, where he established a court in Crown Heights.
In 1965, the Rebbe moved to Eretz Yisrael, where he established the Ruzhiner Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and served as Rosh Yeshiva. His father also moved back to Tel Aviv.
He went to great efforts to preserve Shabbat in Tel Aviv, and spread much Torah to the Tel Aviv residents.
In 5755 / 1995, the Rebbe began to suffer from a serious illness, but refused to allow his physical limitation to interfere with his avodat Hashem. In 5765 / 2005, he moved his court to Bnei Brak.
A ben acher ben from the Ruzhiner Rebbe and the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Rebbe would constantly quote divrei Torah from his ancestors.
The Rebbe was an active and enthusiastic supporter of Agudat Yisrael.
The Rebbe was niftar on 19 Tevet 5773 / 2013, at the age of 84. He was buried in the Ruzhiner chelkah of the Nachalat Yitzchak cemetery.
His only son, Harav Yisrael Moshe Friedman, shlita, succeeded him as Rebbe.
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20 Tevet 4965 - December 13, 1204:
Yahrzeit of Rabbeinu Moshe ben Maimon, zt"l, the Rambam (Maimonides) (1135 - 4965 / 1204), Talmudist, Halachist, physician, philosopher and communal leader, known in the Jewish world as the "Rambam" (an acronym for his name, Rabbeinu Moshe ben Maimon), and to the world at large as "Maimonides."
Maimonides was born in Cordova, Spain, where he received his rabbinical instruction at the hands of his father, Rav Maimon. He was only thirteen years old when Cordova fell into the hands of the fanatical Almohades, and Rav Maimon and the other Jews were compelled to choose between Islam and exile. Rav Maimon and his family chose the latter course, and for twelve years led a nomadic life, wandering throughout Spain.
In 1160 they settled at Fez, Morocco. In 1165 they went to Acre, to Jerusalem, and then to Fostat (Cairo), where they finally settled. After the death of his father, Moses’ brother Dovid supported the family by trading in precious stones. Dovid perished at sea, and with him was lost not only his own fortune, but large sums that had been entrusted to him by other traders. These events affected Maimonides’ health, and he went through a long sickness. After several years of practice, the Rambam’s authority in medical matters was firmly established, and he was appointed private physician to Saladin’s vizier, who recommended him to the royal family.
Between the years 1158 and 1190 Maimonides wrote his magnum opus – ‘Mishneh Torah,’ a comprehensive 14-volume code of Jewish law which has since been the subject of more than 300 commentaries. Maimonides' great philosophical treatise, “Moreh Nevuchim, - Guide for the Perplexed," explains Jewish theology in light of Aristotelian philosophy and science. He also wrote a commentary on the Mishnah,
A popular saying is that "from Moses [of the Torah] to Moses [Maimonides], there has never been one like Moses."
Maimonides is recognized today as the greatest medieval Jewish philosopher. He is buried in Tverye / Tiberias, Israel.
(According to the Tzemach Dovid, the Rambam’s yahrtzeit is 24 Tevet. Most others disagree).
Tevet 5243 - 1482:
On the 279th yahrzeit of the
Rambam, the first printed
edition of Gemara Brachot was published in Soncino, Italy. It contained
Rambam's commentary on Mishna.(Others 1483)
20 Tevet 5243 - 1482:
The first volume of the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), Masechet Brachot (tractate Berachot), was printed in Soncino, Italy. (Others 1483).
Tevet 5450 - January 1, 1690:
The Jewish community of Ancona, in
the Papal States of Italy, miraculously escaped unharmed from an earthquake.
They declared a fast day in commemoration, and the following day, 21 Tevet, was celebrated as a Purim. (Other sources give this date as
4 Tevet 5451-Dec. 6 1690).
Tevet 5700 - January 1, 1940:
The Nazis prohibited Jews from congregating
in shuls and private homes for davening (prayer). So too, did they forbid Jews from changing
residences - this, a precursor of the ghettos. The Jews of Poland were forcibly
moved to the old city and the Baluty quarter.
20 Tevet 5701 - January 19, 1941:
As many as 6000 Jews, were murdered during
pogroms in Bucharest, Rumania, Hy"d.
20 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Rabbeinu Moshe ben Maimon, the Rambam (1135 - 4965 / 1204). See above.
HaRav Yaakov Abuchatzeira, zt"l, the Abir Yaakov, (5640 / 1880), grandson of the founder of the Abuchatzeira family, Rav Shmuel (Elbaz), and son of Rav Masoud, who was Rav of Tafelaletch (Taflilat), Morocco.
Although there are many accounts of the origin of the name Abuchatzeira, the most commonly accepted one is that of the Baba Sali (Harav Yisrael Abuchatzeira).
According to the Baba Sali, his ancestor Rav Shmuel was given the name Abuchatzeira as a result of a miracle that occurred for him on his way to Morocco to collect funds for Yerushalayim’s needy. While at sea, his boat capsized. Seizing a straw mat, he managed to seat himself on it and float to his destination. When he reached the shore, those who saw him called out, “That’s the abu-haseira — ‘the man of the straw mat.’”
Before Rav Yaakov was born, Rav Shmuel came to his daughter-in-law in a dream and said that her child would eventually become a great Torah luminary. Her husband, Rav Mas’ud, had a similar dream.
When Rav Yaakov was still very young, he displayed signs of greatness and kedushah rarely seen in children his age. While his peers played games, he would retreat to a corner of the beit medrash and pore over his Torah studies.
His father, Rav Masoud, the Rav of Tafilalet, taught him all of Tanach with the taamim, later moving on to all of the Shishah Sidrei Mishnah and then the whole of Shas. He received semichah and then, following the petirah of his father, became Rav of Tafilalet.
He did not leave the beit medrash all week, day and night, except on Leil Shabbat.Describing Rav Yaakov’s schedule, his grandson Rav Aharon writes, “Every night he would study 18 chapters of Mishnah and then trace their development in the Gemara. Shortly before chatzot he would nap for a while, and then he would arise and recite Tikkun Chatzot. After that he would study the Kabbalistic works Eitz Chaim and Mevo She’arim until dawn, when he would proceed to shul to be first for the vasikin minyan. When he ended davening, he would eat a light meal and then resume his studies.”
Due to his diligence and exertion in Torah, Rav Yaakov amassed a vast amount of Torah knowledge. His chiddushim testify to his brilliance and greatness in Torah.
His grandson, the Baba Sali, relates, “Once, my grandfather asked to see Rav Chaim Vital’s sefer, Arba Mei’ot Shekel Kessef. When he received it, he noticed that 30 pages had been ripped out. Then and there he filled in those missing pages by heart and clipped them to the book.”
Any spare money he had would be given immediately among the poor and not set aside. He did this also with his personal belongings; whenever he felt a household item was extraneous, he would give it to the poor.
He took his father’s position in Tafelaletch (Taflilat), Morocco upon the latter’s petira and built the yeshiva there, which produced thousands of students.
Rav Yaakov made three attempts to ascend to Eretz Yisrael. The first two times, Morocco’s Jews prevented him from leaving as they could not bear to part with him. He made his third attempt in 5638/1878, when he was 70 years old. He set out for Eretz Yisrael via the Algerian Sea, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
It took him two years to reach Egypt; wherever he went people detained him, seeking advice and blessings.
In 5640/1880, he reached the Egyptian city of Damanhur. A few days after his arrival, he fell ill, He told those with him that it had been revealed to him in a dream that he would be niftar after Shabbat, and that he accepted the decree upon himself. He was niftar on Sunday, 20 Tevet 5640/1880. He is buried in Damanhur, Egypt.
Among his many writings on all aspects of the Torah are Abir Yaakov; She’eilot U’teshuvot Yoru Mishpatecha L'Yaakov; a collection of halachic responsa; Pituchei Chotam on Torah; and Machsof Halavan, both on the Torah; Maaglei Tzedek on Nach (mainly perek 119 in Tehillim); Alef Binah on Tehillim; Bigdei Hasrad on the Haggadah; Levonah Zakah on Shas; and the mussar works Shaarei Teshuvah and Shaarei Aruchah.
His great-grandson is Rav Meir Abuchatzeira. (Others 21 Tevet)
HaRav Simcha Yissachar Dov Halberstam of Chetchenov, zt"l (5629 / 1869 - 5764 / 1914).
Harav Simcha Yissachar Dov (Ber) Halberstam was the son of Harav Yechezkel Shraga of Shiniva. He was born in 5629/1869 in Stropkov. He was cherished by his father, who said of him: “He is my chiyut.”
Once his mother took the child to his grandfather, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, who promised her that her son would enlighten the world. Reb Simcha Yissachar Ber would later say that he was pleased that he knew his grandfather, since while the Gemara (Bava Metzia 85a) says that a talmid chacham whose son and grandson are talmidei chachamim is guaranteed that the Torah will never forsake his descendants, this only applies if the first three generations actually see one other.
In 5646/1886, Reb Simcha Yissachar Ber married the daughter of Harav Yehoshua of Belz, zy”a.
In 5653/1893, Reb Simcha Yissachar Ber was appointed Rav in Chetchanov. After the petirah of his father on 6 Tevet 5659/1898, Reb Simcha Yissachar Ber became Rebbe in Chetchanov. Even though he was a younger son of his father, his court attracted thousands, among them many prominent Rabbanim.
Reb Simcha Yissachar Ber was known as a Gadol baTorah and a kana’i. He fought against the Zionist movement.
The divrei Torah and letters of Reb Simcha Yissachar Ber were collected as Divrei Simcha.
Reb Simcha Yissachar Ber was niftar on 20 Tevet 5674/1914 at the age of 44. He was buried in Chetchanov.
He was survived by his son, Harav Yechezkel Shraga of Chetchanov, and two sons-in-law: Harav Meshulam Zusha Twersky and Harav Aryeh Leib Rubin of Chetchanov-Tomashov.
HaRav Yisrael Reich of Budapest, zt"l (5629 / 1869 - 5693 / 1933).
HaRav Raphael Eliyahu Eliezer Mishkovsky, zt"l, (1917 - 1981). Rav of the town of Rechasim and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Knesset Chizkiyahu in Kfar Chassidim, both in northern Eretz Yisrael). Yeshivat Knesset Chizkiyahu was founded in 1949 at the behest of the Chazon Ish. It was first located in Zichron Yaakov and was headed by Rav Noach Shimanowitz. Six years later, it moved to its permanent residence in Kfar Chassidim, under the guidance of the mashgiach, Rav Eliyahu Lopian and the rosh hayeshiva, Rav Mishkovsky. Author of Mishnat Eliyahu (others 5741 / 1980) (others 21 Tevet).
HaRav Elimelech (Meilich) Izak, zt"l, (1943-2006). He was named after his mother’s ancestor, the Noam Elimelech. He was born in Yerushalayaim, learned at the Chayei Olam yeshiva, and became a leading chassid of Karlin-Stolin. In his later years, he was appointed director of the Karlin Talmud Torah and Yeshiva and gabbai of the Beit Medrash.
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2195 - 1566 B.C.E.:
Birthday of Shimon, second son of Yaakov
Avinu and Leah, and the progenitor of the Israelite Shevet / tribe of Shimon. He was also born on this date in 2195/1566 B.C.E. According to another opinion, he was born on 28 Tevet. He was Niftar (died) on 21 Tevet 2075 - 1686 B.C.E.
21 Tevet - 1485:
The first printed edition of Rabbi Yosef Albo's Ikkarim was published -- an exposition on the Jewish fundamentals of faith. Israel Nathan Soncino had founded the first Hebrew printing house in Soncino, Italy 24 years after Gutenberg brought movable type to the world's attention. Soncino's first publication was a volume of the Talmud, (20 Tevet 1482), and over the next 70 years more than 130 Hebrew books were printed by the Soncino family. In 1988, an Italian postage stamp was issued to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the printing of the Soncino Bible.
5450 - January
Purim Ancona, followed the fast day
mentioned above, (see 20 Tevet).
21 Tevet 5548 - January 1, 1788:
Emperor Joseph II ordered all Jews in Galicia to take permanent family names. Some of the names that the Jews were forced to choose from were degrading.
21 Tevet 5672 - January 11, 1912:
A Russo-U.S. trade treaty, originally ratified in 1832, was abrogated by President Taft in 1912 because of Russian discrimination against Jews who were American citizens.
21 Tevet 5727 - January 3, 1967:
The Bahalul-Minkovsky Commission of Inquiry was given its mandate by the Israeli government to investigate the disappearance of at least 1,700 Yemenite children brought to Israel between 1948 and 1954. Its findings exonerated the government of all wrongdoing.
21 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Shimon, second son of Yaakov Avinu and Leah, and the progenitor of the Israelite Shevet / tribe of Shimon. (2075 - 1686 B.C.E.). He was also born on this date in 2195/1566 B.C.E. (According to another opinion, it was 28 Tevet).
HaRav Shmuel Segal of Brodt, zt"l, (5436 / 1675).
Harav Shmuel, zt”l, (5551 / 1790), Av Beit Din of Vilna.
HaRav Shlomo, zt"l, Rav of Vilna at the time of the Vilna Gaon (5552 / 1791).
HaRav Yisrael Avraham of Tcharni-Ostraha, zt"l, son of the Rebbe Reb Zusha of Anipoli. (5534 / 1774 - 5574 / 1814).
Reb Zusha, who was over 50 at the time of R' Yisrael’s birth, commented that his son had the neshama of Chizkiyahu Hamelech.
Reb Yisrael Avraham married the daughter of Harav Zev Wolf of Tcharni-Ostroha and settled near his father-in-law. When his father-in-law moved to Eretz Yisrael in 5550 / 1790, Reb Yisrael Avraham was appointed Rav of Tcharni-Ostroha in his stead. He was 26 at the time.
Following the petira of his father, on 2 Shevat 5560 / 1800, Reb Yisrael Avraham became Rebbe. Reb Yisrael Avraham was famed for his humility, and for his loft level of avodat Hashem.
He wasn’t a Rebbe for long; Reb Yisrael Avraham was niftar on 21 Tevet 5574 / 1814, at the age of 40.
His Rebbetzin later joined her parents in Eretz Yisrael, settling in Tzfat. She was killed in the earthquake of 5597 / 1837.
Reb Yisrael Avraham was survived by four sons. His son-in-law was Harav Dovid of Tolna, the son of Harav Mordechai of Chernobyl.
HaRav Yisrael Dov Ber of Vilednik, the She’eirit Yisrael, zt"l, (1789-1849 [or 5610 / 1850]).
Harav Yisrael Dov Ber of Vilednik was born in Katelna, near Berditchev, Ukraine. His father, Reb Yosef, was a melamed.
Yisrael Dov was orphaned of his father at a very young age (4 or 5), and it was largely the inspiration and enthusiasm of his mother that catapulted him onto the path of greatness.
When Yisrael Dov was about 10 years old, his mother became critically ill and realized that her days were numbered. She asked her son to bring her a sefer.
Since his mother couldn’t read Lashon Hakodesh, Yisrael Dov was surprised by the request. He asked which sefer she wanted, to which she replied that it made no difference. He brought her a large volume of Rif, and she grasped it in her two hands and cried out, “Holy letters! Please beseech Hashem that my son Yisrael should grow up to be an ehrliche Yid!”
“This was the most she could do to help me before she passed away,” wrote Reb Yisrael Dov.
After his mother’s passing, Yisrael Dov remained in his home town, where the local Jews cared for him. Because of this, he was able to devote himself to learning Torah day and night, and even before his bar mitzvah he became known as the “iluy of Katelna.”
His first wife was the daughter of Reb Moshe Chetz, a renowned nagid; his zivug sheini was Rebbetzin Esther, the daughter of Harav Chaim.
Reb Yisrael Dov traveled to many of the Rebbes of his generation. As a young bachur, he still was able to go to Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, zy”a. His primary Rebbe was Harav Mordechai Twersky (1770-1837), the Chernobler Rebbe. zy”a, to whom he often traveled even after he had established his own court.
Also known as the Maggid of Vilednik, the ultimate goal of Reb Yisrael Dov was to inspire people to do teshuvah. Reb Yisrael Dov helped many childless couples in need. However, he was not zocheh to have children of his own.
He left behind the sefer She’eirit Yisrael, which is his work of Torah and Chassidut. The sefer is divided into three parts: Shaar Hiskashrut (about connecting to tzaddikim), Shaar Hazmanim, and Shaar Hashovavim, all of which contain both short and long articles and drashot.
His sefarim were published after his petirah in 5625/1865 in Lvov. The publisher writes in his introduction that he published it upon the advice of Harav Aharon of Chernobyl, who said it was eminently worthy of appearing in print. He also received the brachah of Harav Dovid of Tolna, zy”a.
During his lifetime, thousands journeyed to the She’erit Yisrael for blessing, inspiration, and consultation. Before he passed away, he told his disciples that whoever would reach out and touch his door seeking help would be aided. Today, even thousands of non-Jews come to pray at his gravesite in their times of need. The She’eirit Yisrael’s reputation continues to endure amongst generations of Gentiles in the area, and many Jews from around the world travel to his kever on his yahrtzeit.
HaRav Yaakov Abuchatzeira, zt"l, (5640 / 1880), See 20 Tevet.
HaRav Matzliach Mazuz, the Ish Matzliach , Hy"d, (1912- 5731 / 1971). Born on the island city of Djerba, he was accepted into the yeshiva of Rav Rachamim Chai Chavitah HaKohen at the age of eleven. After his marriage in 1930, Rav Matzliach moved to Tunis, where he served as a mashgiach ruchani in the Chevrat HaTalmud yeshiva for 13 years. He was later appointed to the position of dayan in the beit din of Tunis. 600 couples came to him for divorces between the years 1955-1958, and he managed to make shalom bayit between 75% of them.
He founded the Kisei Rachamim yeshiva in Tunis, named after his mentor, Rav Rachamim Chai Chavitah. Years later, his sons reestablished this yeshiva in Bnei Brak. In 1971, while Rav Matzliach was returning from a pre-dawn minyan, clad in tallit and tefillin, a number of Arabs attacked and killed him.
Among Rav Matzliach’s writings are: Shu”t Ish Matzliach, on the four parts of Shulchan Aruch, three of which have appeared until now; Kuntress HaMaarachot, which discusses the rules of issuing halachic decisions; Matzliach Yeshuah, a collection of chiddushim on the Shas; and Magen u’Tzinah, answers to questions on the Maharsha. The rest of his writings are still in manuscript form.
Rav Matzliach is survived by his sons: Rav Mayer, rosh yeshiva of Kisei Rachamim in Bnei Brak and the leader of the Tunisian community in Eretz Yisrael; Rav Yosef Tzemach, the director and mashgiach ruchani of the yeshiva; and Rav Rachamim, also a mashgiach ruchani. One of Rav Matzliach’s daughters is married to Rav Yitzchak Barda, author of Yitzchak Yeranen, and another to Rav Chanan Kablan, a dayan.
Rebitzen Bracha Etel, (bat R' Menachem Zalman Briskman), Shimanowitz, A’H, (5770 / 2010), wife of HaRav Shaya Shimanowitz zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Rabbenu Yaakov Yosef (RJJ). She devoted her entire life and shared his lofty ambition, and gladly sacrificed so that her husband could achieve greatness in Torah.
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22 Tevet - 1331:
Death of Bernard Gui, inquisitor and bishop in the area of Toulouse, France. He was the author of “Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness.” It advises how to spot a Jew or a “backsliding convert” and how to intensify the suffering of the interrogated by flame, rack, whip and needle. One tactic suggested was martyring children in front of their parents.
22 Tevet - 1570:
Inquisition established in Peru.
22 Tevet 5383 - December 25, 1622:
Prague Jews celebrated this day, when the shamash
of the kehilla was freed. Every year the community read its Megilla
Pur Haklaim or Purim Forha ngen - "Purim of the curtains" - in commemoration of the miraculous salvation of the Jewish ghetto after the shamash had been charged with stealing the governor's priceless curtains.
5558 - January 10, 1798:
Anti-Jewish riots erupted in Ancona,
day after a "local" Purim which had been celebrated there since 5451 / 1691. Roman mobs attempted to set fire to the Jewish ghetto and to sack it, but rains put out the fire. The day was then designated as a holiday by Roman Jews. . (see 20 and 21 Tevet).
(The Roman Ghetto had been in existence since 1555, when the Pope segregated the Jews in a walled quarter with three gates that were locked at night. The Jews were also subjected to various restrictions and degradations, including having to attend compulsory Catholic sermons on Shabbat. During Rome's annual carnival, scantily-clad Jews were forced to race along the main street, while the crowd mocked them, threw trash, and reigned heavy blows. (The event often proved fatal.) Hygienic conditions inside the ghetto were terrible, and there was constant flooding from the nearby Tiber River. Outside the ghetto, Jews were required to wear identifying yellow clothing. When Napoleonic forces occupied Rome, the ghetto was legally abolished in 1808, and the city of Rome tore down the ghetto walls in 1888.)
22 Tevet 5721 - January 10, 1961:
43 Maapilim (would-be emigrants) were drowned as they were secretly helping Jews escape from Morocco to ascend to Eretz Yisroel on the ship Egoz, Hy"d.
In 5753 / 1993 the bodies of the victims of the Egoz were retrieved and finally brought to Eretz Yisroel for burial.
22 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Hillel Hertz, zt"l, author of Beit Hillel, (5450 / 1689).
HaRav Avraham Tiktin, zt”l, Rav of Breslau and author of Pesach HaBayit (5581 / 1821).
Harav Avraham Tiktin was the son of Harav Gedaliah. He was born in Schwersenz.
His father was niftar when Avraham was seven years old. He was brought up by his brother-in-law Harav Mordechai, who was Rav in Gridtz.
In 5570/1810, Reb Avraham was appointed Rav in Galona, and later, in 5574/1814, he was appointed Rav of Breslau and its environs.
Reb Avraham was known as an outstanding gaon in Torah, and also for his tzidkut.
Together with Harav Shlomo Zalman, his son and successor as Rav, he waged a vicious but successful war against those groups who wished to uproot Yiddishkeit in those years in Germany.
Reb Avraham authored over 20 works, on all facets of Torah: Gemara, Halachah, Aggadah, Rambam and much more. Sadly, only his sefarim on Choshen Mishpat,Pesach Habayit, Ginat Bisan and Pinot Habayit,were published.
Reb Avraham was also known as a hidden mekubal.
He was niftar on 22 Teves 5581 and was succeeded as Rav of Breslau by his son Harav Shlomo Zalman.
HaRav Yosef (Yozpe) Stern of Zolkov, zt”l, author of Yad Yosef.
(5587 / 1827)..
HaRav Shlomo of Strerelisk, zt”l. (5587 / 1827).
HaRav Reuven Chaim Klein, zt"l, (1826-1873). Born in Cracow, he studied in the yeshiva of the Chatam Sofer in Pressburg and in the yeshiva of the Imrei Aish. He served as Rav in the area of Davidoff. He was the author of the Shenot Chaim (a sefer on the Rabbenu Yerucham - Yerucham ben Meshulam, a talmid of the Rosh, who went into exile from Provence to Spain, in the 14th century). The Chida (18th Cent) in his Shem Hagdolim states that there exists a tradition that anybody who publishes a commentary on Rabbenu Yerucham is destined for an early grave. Interestingly, Rav Reuven Chaim Klein was niftar at the age of 47 years.
HaRav Shmuel Heller, zt”l, Ashkenazi Rav of Tzefat for 40 years (5644 / 1884). On the 24th of Tevet in 1837, he was discovered buried up to his neck in stones. He had been standing under the lintel of the Beit Midrash Ari at the moment of the earthquake. His wounds were so severe that he was bedridden for six months, and lost the use of one arm for the rest of his life. Rav Shmuel was a disciple of Rav Avraham Dov Auerbach of Avritch [1765-1840], who spent ten years as Rav in Tzefat.
HaRav Yehuda Leib Eiger , zt”l. (1816-1888). A grandson of Rav Akiva Eiger, Reb Leib was born in Warsaw. He learned under Rav Yitzchak Meir Alter, the Chiddushei Harim in Warsaw. At 20, he married and moved to Lublin where he davened at the Shul of the Chozeh. There, he befriended Reb Yisrael, the Chozeh’s son. He then moved to Kotzk. He became a rebbe after the Rebbe of Izbitza passed away in 1854. After his death his son, Rav Avrohom, printed his sefarim Torat Emet and Imrei Emet.
HaRav Avraham Eiger, zt"l, the Shevet M'Yehudah of Lublin (5674 / 1914).
Born in 5606/1846, Harav Avraham Eiger was the son of Harav Yehudah Leib Eiger, founder of Lubliner Chassidut and known as the Torat Emet, who was the son of Harav Shlomo who, in turn, was the son of the famed Gaon Harav Akiva Eiger.
When he was yet very young, Harav Avraham was taught Torah by his saintly father, and he was also a talmid of Harav Mordechai Yosef, the Ishbitzer Rebbe, author of Mei Hashilo’ach. He married the daughter of Harav Yehudah Leib Silberberg, a staunch Lubliner Chassid, in the year 5627/1867. After his chasunah, he continued learning under his father’s guidance and rose to great heights in Torah and avodah.
In 5648/1888, his father was niftar. Many Chassidim wanted him to assume the mantle of leadership, since before his petirah his father had hinted that Reb Avraham should succeed him. He, however, refused vehemently, suggesting that the Chassidim should rather accept the leadership of Harav Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin, the Pri Tzaddik. The Chassidim did not relent, and his mother joined them in insisting Reb Avraham become Rebbe.
In the end, Reb Avraham acceded to their pleas and was crowned as Rebbe, continuing his father’s legacy while expanding and spiritually elevating the Chassidut.
Many of his father’s Chassidim also followed Harav Tzadok Hakohen, and they both lived in Lublin in great harmony. Under Reb Avraham’s leadership, a cheder was founded in Lublin that succeeded in minimizing the number of children who strayed from Yiddishkeit during those trying times.
Reb Avraham led a very holy and sanctified life, even though he was weak and sickly by nature. At the end of each day, he partook of a meager meal, while conducting fasts on many days. His humble nature was astounding. He was revered by people from all walks of life.
In his will, he requested that no hesped be said at his levayah, and he wrote for himself a very simply-worded matzeivah. During the printing of his sefer “Shevet MiYehudah,” he explicitly did not allow his name to be mentioned at all. He also begged his Chassidim not to call him Rebbe, but the “Lubliner” — as if he were just a simple man of Lublin.
On the day of his petirah, he suddenly became ill, and right before his passing he requested that Kohanim leave the room. When he was niftar, his will was not adhered to: the entire city of Lublin closed down to participate in his levayah, and many hespeidim were delivered.
His sons Harav Shlomo and Harav Ezriel Meir succeeded him as Rebbes. His other children were Reb Yisrael Noach, Reb Yehoshua and Reb Dovid, and a daughter Kaila who married the Modzhitzer Rebbe, Harav Shaul Yedidya Taub.
Harav Shalom Moskowitz, the Shotzer Rebbe, zt”l, (5718 / 1958). Born in Suceava, Romania, on 17 Kislev 5638 / 1877. His father was Harav Mordechai Yosef Moshe of Sulitza. He was a fifth-generation descendant of Harav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, and a great-grandson of Reb Michel of Premishlan. He was named after his mother’s great-grandfather, the Sar Shalom of Belz.
After learning in Shotz, (a Romanian town in the Bukovina district), he traveled to the famed Maharsham, Harav Shalom Schwadron of Berzhan, to learn; later he received semicha from his Rebbe. He stayed in the home of the Maharsham for practical experience in psak halacha.
He married the daughter of his father’s brother, Rav Meir. In 5663 / 1903, Reb Shalom was appointed Rav in Shotz, a position he held until 5679 / 1919. Among his talmidim during these years was Harav Meir Shapiro, zt”l, Rav of Lublin and founder of Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin.
During World War I, Reb Shalom moved to Cologne, Germany, where a group of Chassidim who had also settled there gathered round him. After World War I, he moved to Tarnow, Galicia. In 5687/1927, Reb Shalom arrived in England, settling in Stamford Hill, a part of London where not many chassidic Jews lived then. He established his beit medrash and became known as the Shotzer Rebbe. Many of London’s leading talmidei chachamim visited the home of Reb Shalom to discuss Torah and present halachic queries.
Reb Shalom was renowned for hachnasat orchim; he hosted tens of people at a time. He was also noted for his warm and heartfelt tefillot. Reb Shalom was fluent in both the revealed Torah and in Kabbala. His lifestyle was one of holiness and simplicity.
His sons were Harav Yitzchak, Harav Yaakov, and Harav Yechiel Michel. All were niftar in his lifetime. His sons-in-law were Harav Yoel of Shotz-Yerushalayim; Harav Yissachar Ber Rottenberg of Voidislav; and Harav Yaakov Halberstam of Tchakava.
Reb Shalom wrote several volumes of Daat Shalom, which were arranged according to the order of Perek Shirah.
He was niftar in London and buried in the Adath Yisrael cemetery in Enfield where an ohel was built over his grave. The lines that have become famous in the tzava’ah of the Rebbe read: “Should a person be in need of a refuah or any other yeshuah, for himself or on behalf of another person, he should visit my kever, light 3 candles (a tradition mentioned in Sefer Tikunim), and make his request. He must undertake an addition or improvement in his avodat Hashem. I will then beseech my heilige Zeides that they intercede on his behalf before the Kisei Hakavod.” Many people testify that their tefillot were answered. Every Erev Shabbat, as well as on the day of the Rebbe’s yahrtzeit, the Ohel is full of mispallelim.
HaRav Shlomo Miller, zt"l, (1924-2002). Born in the German city of Duisberg, he moved with his family to Antwerp during World War II. The family later moved to Eretz Yisrael. After marrying in 1948, he moved to Petach Tikvah where he learned at Kollel Torat Eretz Yisrael with Rav Chaim Shaul Karelitz. He published several important works on the halachot of milah of the Rambam, including Tsemach Dovid and Melechet Shlomo. He also published learned works about the lives of Rav Akiva and Rav Yochonon.
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23 Tevet 5256 - 1496:
Just four years after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, on this date a decree was issued in Portugal giving the Jews one year to either convert to Christianity or leave the country.
Following the death of King Joao of Portugal in 1494, his son King Manuel I ascended the throne. When his legitimacy as heir to the throne was challenged, Manuel wished to marry Princess Isabel of Spain, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, in order to solidify his position. As a precondition to the marriage, the Spanish monarch demanded that Portugal expel its Jews—many of whom were refugees from the 1492 Spanish Expulsion who found refuge in the neighboring country of Portugal. Manuel agreed, and five days after the marriage agreement was signed, on Tevet 23, 5256, he issued a decree giving Portugal's Jews one year to leave the country. Appreciating the Jews' economic value, Manuel was unhappy with the potential loss of this economic asset, and devised a way to have the Jews stay in Portugal—but as Christians. Initially, he instructed the Jews to leave from one of three ports, but soon he restricted them to leaving from Lisbon only. When October of 1497 arrived, thousands of Jews assembled there and were forcibly baptized. Many Jews decided to stay and keep their Jewish faith secret; they were called “Marranos” or Crypto-Jews.
Over the next 350 years, the infamous Inquisition persecuted, tortured and burned at the stake thousands of "marranos" throughout Spain, Portugal and their colonies for continuing to secretly practice the Jewish faith.
23 Tevet 5465 - January 19, 1705:
"Purim Sharif" (or Tripoli Purim) was established in Tripoli, Libya, to commemorate deliverance from Ibraham al-Sharif, the cruel dictator who had laid siege to the town, who miraculously and suddenly died. With his death the siege ended and the town's citizens were saved. It was commonly known as "Purim kedivna," the False Purim, to distinguish it from the regular Purim. See 24 Av.
23 Tevet 5471 - January 14, 1711:
A fire which started in the home
of Naftali Katz, the rabbi of Frankfort-on-the-Main nearly destroyed the whole Jewish ghetto. (See 24 Tevet).
23 Tevet 5471 - January 14, 1711:
Alexander I forcibly moved the Jews
of Mogilev and Vitebsk to other cities.
23 Tevet 5536 - January 15, 1776:
Francis Salvador, 29, was the first Jew to die in the American Revolution.
23 Tevet 5585 - January 13, 1825:
Alexander I of Russia, expelled all the Jews from Mohilev and Vitebsk.
23 Tevet 5691- January 12, 1931:
Yahrtzeit of Nathan Straus (1848-1931).
An American merchant and philanthropist, Straus was a co-owner of R.H. Macy & Co., yet he never amassed personal wealth because he was always using his money to help people. For example, in New York's winter of 1893, he gave away more than two million five-cent tickets good for coal, food and lodging. His greatest devotion, however, was to Israel. He gave more than two-thirds of his fortune and devoted the last 15 years of his life to this cause. The Israeli city of Netanya and the Israel Center's street are both named for "Nathan" Straus.
23 Tevet 5701 - January 22, 1941:
The Iron Guard revolt in Romania led to the first massacre of Jews there in World War II.
23 Tevet 5701 - January 22, 1941:
Three thousand Jews were deported
from Piaseczno, to the Warsaw Ghetto.
23 Tevet 5709 - January 24, 1949:
France recognized Israel.
23 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Yaakov Hakohen Paperash, zt”l, (5500 / 1740), author of Shov Yaakov.
HaRav Yitzchak Zerachyah (ben Harav Yeshayah) Azoulay, zt”l, father of the Chida. (5462 / 1702 - 5525 / 1765). Born in Yerushalayim, he was a talmid in the beit medrash Beit Yaakov in Yerushalayim which was founded by Harav Chezkia da Silva, the Pri Chadash. He learned Kabbalah under Harav Avraham Yitzchaki, mechaber of Zera Avraham, towards the end of the latter’s life (he was niftar in 5489/1729).
Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah was among the leading Rabbanim of Yerushalayim in his day, and his name appears on many letters and haskamot. He served on the beit din of Harav Eliezer Nachum and Harav Meyuchas Bachar Shmuel. He and another representative of the kehillah in Yerushalayim traveled to Europe on behalf of the kehillah in 5501/1741, but he was forced to return to Eretz Yisrael in the middle of the trip.
Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah is best known through his eldest son, Harav Chaim Yosef David Azoulai, the Chida, who was born in 5484/1724 in Yerushalayim.
Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah left many manuscripts, some of which were published and others referenced by his son the Chida in his many works.
Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah was niftar on 23 Tevet 5525/1765.
HaRav Yehuda Aryeh Leib HaLavi Epstein, zt"l, know as Reb Leibush of Ophla (5597 / 1837).
He was the son of Harav Yechiel Mechel. He later became the son-in-law of Harav Reuven Halevi of Zhanrnovtza, the Duda’im Basadeh.
Orphaned of his father and mother at a young age, Reb Leibush and his two younger brothers were supported by a simple Jew of Ostrovsta.
His primary Rebbe was the holy Chozeh, Harav Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz of Lublin, zy”a, but he was also a talmid of the Yehudi Hakadosh, Harav Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowitz of Peshischa, zy”a. After the Chozeh’s petirah, Reb Aryeh Leib traveled to Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, the Ohev Yisrael of Apt, and to Harav Meir of Apt, the Ohr Lashamayim.
The talmidim of the Chozeh revered him. Harav Yeshayah of Pshedburzh declared that his neshamah was that of the Ran, while the Yehudi Hakadosh said that both of their neshamot originated with the Baalei Tosafot.
In 5572 / 1812, Reb Aryeh Leib was asked to serve as Rav in Ozorov, Poland. After Harav Meir of Apt was niftar in 5587 / 1827, Reb Aryeh Leib became Rebbe, and many Chassidim of Harav Meir became his ardent followers. Later, Reb Aryeh Leib moved to the town of Ophla, where he served as both Rav and Rebbe. His son, Harav Yechiel Chaim, succeeded him. His Torah thoughts were published in the sefer Birchat Tov.
His most famous descendent was Rav Moshe Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein, the Aish Daat of Ozerov.
HaRav Hillel of Radoshitz, zt"l, (5662 / 1901). He was succeeded by his son Rav Eliezer Dovid as Rav and Rebbe of Radositz.
HaRav Gedalia Hertz (1914-1977). Born in Ujazd, near Tomashov, Poland, he left for Lubavitcher Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim in Warsaw after his Bar Mitzvah. After some years, he went to Grodno to the yeshiva of Rav Shimon Shkop. After marrying in 1935, he moverd to Eretz Yisrael and entered the Yeshivat Sfat Emet in Yerushalayim. The following year, the Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emet, decided to open a branch in Tel Aviv, which was later named Yesahivat Chidushei Harim; Rav Gedalia was chosen Rosh Yeshiva while still in his early 20s. After the founding of the state of Israel, he was chosen to be the representative of the Vaad of Yeshivot to government officials and was instrumental in getting Ben Gurian to accept a deference for all yeshiva students. In 1955, Rav Gedalia became the Rav of the newly established "yeshiva' kehilla in Sydney, Australia. In 1963, he returned to Eretz Yisrael.
HaRav Mordechai Gifter, zt"l, (5674 / 1913 (Others1915) - 5761 / 2001), Rosh Yeshiva, Telshe, Cleveland. He was born on 7 Cheshvan 5674 / 1913 in the small town of Portsmouth, Virginia. His father, Reb Yisrael Gifter, was a G-d-fearing Jew. While he was still a child, the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where there was a more organized Jewish community. when his father noted the difficulty in teaching his son in a city not noted for its strong Torah resources.
At a very young age, Rav Gifter already displayed an unusual drive to achieve greatness in Torah. He once recounted that when he was nine years old, Hagaon Harav Shimon Shkop, zt”l, the great Rosh Yeshivah of Grodno, visited Baltimore. The Rav gave him the blessing “Er zol kenen lernen — he should be able to learn.” For the rest of his life Rav Gifter, in his great humility, attributed any success that he had in learning to this brachah from Rav Shimon.
In the early 1920s there was no full-time Jewish day school in Baltimore, so Rav Gifter attended public school and spent his afternoons learning Hebrew studies in the local Talmud Torah. He recalled that at his bar mitzvah, when it is customary for the bar mitzvah bachur to deliver an intricate pshetl, he recited page 26b of Bava Metzia. “It was the most advanced thing I knew then,” he said.
Soon after his bar mitzvah, his desire to further his Torah studies was so intense that he traveled to New York to learn in Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan
Upon his arrival, the only thing he knew for the entrance exam was that same page in Bava Metzia. His lack of knowledge did not deter him; rather, it made him even more determined to succeed. His unusual capabilities and diligence were soon recognized and he was quickly promoted from one shiur to the next until he was in the highest shiur, given by the Rosh Yeshivah, Hagaon Harav Moshe Soloveitchik, zt”l, the son of Hagaon Harav Chaim Soloveitchik, zt”l, of Brisk.
Whie in the yeshiva, HaRav Gifter studied together with many future American Torah giants, including Hagaon Harav Nosson Wachtfogel, zt”l, future mashgiach of Lakewood, Hagaon Harav Moshe Bick and Hagaon Rav Avigdor Miller of Flatbush, zecher tzaddikim livrachah.
On the advice of his uncle, Rav Yehuda Leib Zer, one of the directors of the Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Yeshiva, Rav Gifter went to study in the Telz yeshiva of Lithuania in the winter of 1932.
On literally hundreds of occasions, he emotionally recounted the scene that unfolded before his eyes the first time he stepped over the threshold of the yeshivah’s beit medrash in Telshe. The sight of hundreds of students so completely immersed in their learning that not even one talmid picked up his head to see who had entered left a lifelong impression on him. In Telshe, his every waking hour was utilized for Torah study.
He became very close to the rosh yeshiva, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Bloch.
In the summer of 1939, Rav Gifter became engaged to the daughter of Rav Zalman Bloch. The wedding date was set for a year later. The couple married in the United States. With the expansion of the Ner Yisrael yeshiva in Baltimore by Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, Rav Gifter was asked to deliver chaburot to the students. In 1943, Rav Gifter became rav of the chareidi community in Connecticut, and one year later, his uncles, Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch and Rav Chaim Mordechai Katz founded the Telz yeshiva in Cleveland. They asked him to join them as Ram and mashgiach.
He moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1976, founding the Telz yeshiva in Kiryat Telz-Stone near Yerushalayim. However, three years later, the rosh yeshiva of Telz in Cleveland, Rav Baruch Sorotzkin, was niftar, and Rav Gifter returned to Cleveland to succeed him. There he remained until his own petira.
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Rab' Yochanan ben Zakai defeated the Tzedokim and returned certain inheritance laws to the authority of the Chachamim. (Masechet Bava Basra 115b). (See Tosafot Chadashim on Megillat Taanit Ch 5, where it says that it happened on 24 Av, it actually happened in Tevet.)
24 Tevet - 1413:
Religious disputation at Tortosa arranged by Pope Benedict XIII. between Geronimo de Santa F. and Rav Yosef Albo.
24 Tevet 5387 - January 12, 1627:
The first Jewish printing press in the Netherlands was set up by Menashe ben Yisrael.
24 Tevet 5471 - January 15, 1711:
A fire that started in the home of HaRav Naftali Katz, the Semichat Chachamim, Rav of Franfort-am-Main, nearly destroyed the entire Jewish ghetto. Interestingly, he was niftar on this same date in 5479 -1719. (See below).
24 Tevet 5545 - January 6, 1785:
Haym Solomon, superintendent of finance
during the Revolutionary War, died.
24 Tevet 5597 - January 1, 1837:
A devastating earthquake struck northern Eretz Yisrael, killing at least 2,000 Jews in Tzfat and over 700 Jews in Teveria / Tiberias. Many of the survivors migrated to Chevron. (See 18 Tevet)
24 Tevet 5612 - January 16, 1852:
One of the first hospital in America under Jewish auspices, Mount Sinai Hospital, was founded in New York. (See 25 Tevet).
24 Tevet 5709 - January 25, 1949:
Israel held elections for its first
24 Tevet 5734 - January 18, 1974:
Israel and Egypt sign and agreement for the disengagement of forces in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war, 1974. Israel agrees to withdraw from the Suez Canal.
24 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Naftali Katz, zt"l, author of Semichat Chachomim (5420 / 1660 - 5479 / 1719). Born in Ostracha, Ukraine and died in Istanbul. His father was Harav Yitzchak Katz, zt”l, who was a grandson of Harav Yitzchak Katz, the son-in-law of the Maharal of Prague, and a direct descendant of Aharon Hakohen. His father was a Rav in Stefan and a darshan in Prague, who died in 1670.
In his youth, he learned together with Harav Eliezer Charif, zt”l, who later became Rav in Mezritch.
His name as a budding talmid chacham, along with his renowned hasmadah, grew with him and he was taken as a chassan by Harav Shmuel Shmelka Zack, zt”l, the Rav of the city, for his daughter, Rebbetzin Esther Sheindel. His father-in-law appointed him as Rosh Yeshivah, and after his petirah, in 5447/1687, he was named Rav of the city, in his father-in-law’s stead.
Before he reached the age of 30, Reb Naftali was appointed Rav of Posen, in 5449/1689. During his tenure in Posen, he initiated a beit vaad, making this building the only place where one could judge a din Torah. The future Dayanim in Posen, as well, heeded his ruling and only paskened in that building.
In 1704 he became Rav of Frankfurt until 1711, when a fire broke out in his home and spread from there burning down several hundred homes. Rav Naftali was jailed and accused of setting the fire. When he was released, he left for Prague and Breslau and stayed with Rav Zvi Ashkenazi (the Chacham Zvi). They both excommunicated Nechemia Chayun who wrote a book in favor of Shabetai Zvi.
He soon returned to his native Ostroha, where his son Harav Betzalel was Rav. When Harav Betzalel, zt”l, was niftar in his lifetime, on 21 Sivan 5477/1717, Reb Naftali decided to move to Eretz Yisrael.
In 5478/1718, on his journey to Eretz Yisrael, during a stop in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, he took ill. During his short illness he revealed many sublime things, among them that his neshamah was a gilgul of Chizkiyahu Hamelech. He was niftar in Istanbul on 24 Tevet 5479/1719 and buried there.
Reb Naftali wrote numerous sefarim, the most famous of which is Semichat Chachamim. He also wrote Pi Yesharim, an expounding on the first word of the Torah, Bereishit, according to Kabbalistic sources, Kedusha u’Vracha on Masechet Brachot, and Shaar Hahachana on Viduim and tefillot for the sick.
He had 14 children, 7 sons and 7 daughters. Rav Yaakov Emden, the son of the Chacham Zvi, married Rav Naftali’s daughter Rachel.
HaRav Yosef of Yampola, zt"l, son of the Zlotchover Maggid (5572 / 1812).
HaRav Shneur Zalman of Liadi (5505 / 1745 - 5573 / 1813), the Alter Rebbe, founder of the Lubavitch (Chabad) dynasty and author of Tanya, .zt"l.
He was born in the White Russian town of Liozna on 18 Elul 5505 / 1745, which was the 47th birthday of the founder of Chassidut, Reb Yisrael Baal Shem Tov. His father was Reb Baruch of Liozna. He married Shterna, the daughter of Reb Yehudah Leib Segal from Vitebsk.
In 5524/1764 Reb Shneur Zalman traveled to Mezheritch to study under the Baal Shem Tov’s successor, Harav Dov Ber, the Mezheritcher Maggid. Despite his youth, he was accepted into the inner circle of the great Rebbe’s talmidim. He also learned under Harav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and Harav Pinchas of Koritz.
When Reb Shneur Zalman was barely 25 years old, the Maggid chose him, the youngest of his disciples, to write an expanded Shulchan Aruch, which became known as the Shulchan Aruch Harav.
In 5527/1767 Reb Shneur Zalman was offered the position of Maggid in his hometown, Liozna. He accepted this post, which he held for the next 30 years until he moved to Liadi.
He became the leader of Chasidut in Lithuania following the Maggid’s petira in 1772 when he founded the Chabad court and formulated his distinct “Chabad” (an acronym of chochmah, binah, daat) philosophy and approach to life.
For 20 years he labored on the Tanya, in which he outlined the Chabad philosophy and ethos. Tanya is considered the sefer hayesod, the fundamental text, of Chabad Chassidut.
Soon the Baal HaTanya’s influence had spread throughout White Russia and Lithuania, where a significant part of the Jewish population regarded him as their Rebbe and leader.
In 5558 / 1798, Reb Shneur Zalman and some of his leading Chassidim were denounced to the Russian authorities in Petersburg as traitors to the Tsar.
The fact that Reb Shneur Zalman collected funds to support the needy in Eretz Yisrael (then part of the Turkish Empire) was used as “evidence” that he was an “enemy” of Russia.
On the day after Simchat Torah 5559 / 1798, the Rebbe was arrested and imprisoned in the Peter-Paul Fortress in Petersburg. Although a special commission was set up by the Tsar to investigate the charges, Reb Shneur Zalman was able to convince his investigators that his movement was purely a religious one and had nothing to do with political matters.
Fifty-three days after his arrest, Reb Shneur Zalman was informed that he had been found innocent and that nothing illegal could be imputed to his movement. He was released on 19 Kislev.
However, false charges were again brought to the authorities in Petersburg, and once again the Rebbe was summoned to the capital to defend himself and his teachings. This time it took over nine months until he won a complete victory over his slanderers. In the meantime, Tsar Paul was murdered and his son, Tsar Alexander the First, ordered the case dismissed.
Reb Shneur Zalman did not return to Liozna. At the invitation of Prince Lubomirsky, he took up residence in the town of Liadi. It was there that the Baal HaTanya spent the remainder of his life.
In the late summer of 5572/1812, Reb Shneur Zalman fled the approach of Napoleon’s armies, which were advancing through White Russia in their push toward Moscow (the Rebbe actively supported the Tsar in the war against Napoleon). After many weeks of wandering, he arrived, in the dead of winter, in the town of Pyena. There he fell ill and, on 24 Tevet, Motzoei Shabbat Parashat Shemot, was niftar.
(others have 1812).
HaRav Nissim Zerachyah Azoulai, zt”l, (5597 / 1837), author of Shulchan Hatahor.
HaRav Meir Eisenstadt, zt"l, also known as Meir Ash or Maharam Ash. (Dec. 2, 1861). His responsa were published by his son under the title Imrei Eish. He was one of the early talmidim of the Chasam Sofer, and his greatest talmid in Mattersdorf. He was born in Shusberg and grew up in Eisenshtadt, from whence he derived his surname. He died at Ungvár.
(others 5612 / 1852).
HaRav Avraham Dov Berish Flamm, zt"l, (1804-1873). R’ Flamm is considered to be the leading disciple of the Dubno Maggid, R’ Yaakov Kranz, although, in fact, the two never met. R’ Flamm was, however, the leading student of the Maggid’s writings, and it was he, together with the Maggid’s son, Rav Yitzchak Kranz, who edited these and prepared them for publication.
R’ Flamm was himself a popular maggid, and he held that post in several Polish and Lithuanian cities. Besides publishing the Dubno Maggid’s Ohel Yaakov and Sefer Hamiddot, R’ Flamm wrote several works of his own. His Yeriot Ha’ohel and Sefat Ha’yeriah were printed together with Ohel Yaakov, while his Shemen Ha’mor is a free-standing work.
HaRav Moshe Yosef Teitelbaum, zt"l, (1842-1897). The son of Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, he was was appointed Rav and Av Beit Din of Stropkov when Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam returned to Sienawa in 1880. In 1891, he left the town for a post in Ujhely, Hungary.
HaRav Shmuel Borenstein, the Shem MiShmuel from Sochatchov, zt"l, (1855 - 5686 / 1926). He was born in Kotzk to Rav Avraham Borenstein, the Sochatchover Rebbe and author of Avnei Nezer. His grandfathers were Rav Nachum Ze’ev of Biala, the Agudat Eizov and Rav Menachem Mendel, the Lotzker Rebbe. Rav Shmuel considered Rav Chanoch Henoch of Alexander to be his Rebbe. After the petira of the Alexander Rebbe in 1870, the Avnei Nezer was made Rebbe, and his son followed him as his Rebbe. He was married in 1873, but his wife died in 1901. He remarried in 1903. Rav Shmuel served as maggid shiur in his father’s yeshiva in Sochatchov and helped him write Eglei Tal on the 39 malachot of Shabbat, as well as Avnei Nezer. After his father was niftar in 1910, the Chassidim crowned Rav Shmuel their Rebbe. His sefer contains the thoughts of his famous father.
HaRav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer, the Divrei Sofer, zt"l, (5708 / 1948).
Son of Harav Moshe Sofer, the author of Yad Sofer, who was the son of Harav Shimon Sofer, the Hisorerut Teshuvah, Rav in Erlau, the son of the Ktav Sofer, after whom Reb Avraham Shmuel Binyamin was named. He was born shortly after the petira of the Ktav Sofer.
Reb Shimon Sofer led the Jewish community in Erlau for about 64 years. As Reb Shimon aged, he appointed his son, Reb Moshe, to be the active Rav and Dayan in Erlau. Reb Moshe authored many works on the Torah, most of which were lost during the war. Remaining today is his responsa on the Shulchan Aruch, named Yad Sofer.
The Erlau Jewish community was deported to Auschwitz by the Nazis in 1944. On 21 Sivan 5704 / 1944, at the age of 94, Reb Shimon Sofer was murdered by the Nazis together with his son, Reb Moshe Sofer, and many others from the city of Erlau. Hashem yinkom damam.
Some of Rabbi Shimon’s children survived the Holocaust. Rabbi Moshe’s wife and four daughters were murdered by the Nazis, but he was survived by his sons, Reb Avraham Shmuel Binyamin and, ybl”c, Harav Yochanan, the Erlau Rebbe, shlita.
Reb Avraham Shmuel Binyamin was noted as an iluy, and he received semichah from Harav Chaim Mordechai Roller, the author of Be’er Chaim Mordechai of Piatra Neamt, Romania.
Due to his humility, he refused an offer to head the renowned Chasam Sofer Yeshivah in Pest, Hungary, or to assume the mantle of leadership of the remaining Erlau community, most of which found refuge there. He bequeathed this task to his younger brother, Harav Yochanan.
After the war they returned to Erlau, where Rav Yochanan was appointed Rav. Reb Avraham Shmuel Binyamin took an active role in reestablishing the community and the yeshivah, together with his brother; he supported this endeavor with personal savings from the business he established.
Reb Avraham Shmuel Binyamin was niftar on 24 Tevet 5708/1948 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Erlau.
His chiddushim, named Divrei Sofer, were later published by his brother, the Erlau Rebbe.
HaRav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, zt"l, (1892 - 5714 / 1953). The Michtav M’Eliyahu.
An influential philosopher and Mashgiach at the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael. His father, Rav Reuven Dov Dessler, was a talmid muvhak of Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv, the Alterof Kelm, and his mother was a grand-daughter of Rav Yisrael Salanter and a niece of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski.
HaRav Dessler was born in Homil, Russia (Lithuania) in 5652 / 1892.
Young Eliyahu was taught by his father and excelled in Torah at a young age. At 13 he was sent to the renowned Kelm Yeshivah Talmud Torah, where he continued learning for many years. His primary rebbeim were his father; Harav Tzvi Hirsch Broide; and his future father-in-law, Harav Nachum Zev Ziv, son of Harav Simchah Zisel.
During WWI he fled back to Homil, where he continued learning in a temporary yeshivah set up for the fleeing bachurim. In 5678/1918 he returned to Kelm, a year later he married the daughter of Harav Nachum Zev Ziv.
At that time the Bolsheviks came to power, and the sources of the family parnassah were ruined. His uncle, Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, offered him a rabbanut, but he declined. Subsequently, he moved to Riga and tried his hand at various trades, but for the most part was unsuccessful.
In 5687/1927 he accepted the rabbanut of a beit knesset in London (1927). Eventually, he was asked to serve as Rav in a prominent kehillah and was also put in charge of the Jewish day school. He selected a small group of suitable talmidim and ingrained in them the principles of halachah and mussar, seeing this as a mission to build Yiddishkeit in London.
At the outbreak of WWII, Reb Eliyahu’s wife and daughter were visiting in Lithuania. Miraculously, they were saved. Reb Eliyahu’s concern for others knew no bounds. He felt that he had survived to encourage, revive and rebuild.
In 1941, he founded the Gateshead kollel. In 1948, he was asked by Rav Yosef Kahaneman to join the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnai Brak.
In 5711/1951 his Rebbetzin passed away. In 5713/1953, Rav Eliyahu contracted a foot ailment. He hid his suffering for a long while, but finally succumbed to illness.
He was a student of the Mussar (ethics) movement, while also drawing from mystical teachings of the Maharal of Prague. Rav Dessler's legacy is recorded in the six-volume Michtav M'Eliyahu (translated in English as 'Strive for Truth'), which illuminate ideas such as the Jewish philosophy of love: "The more you give to another, the more you will love that person."
HaRav Moshe Mordechai Biederman, the Lelover Rebbe, zt"l, (1904 - 5747 / 1987). Son of Rav Shimon Nosson Nota Biederman, Moshe Mordechai was born in Yeryshalayim. When he was just 10 years old, his mother passed away and his father moved to Krakow, Poland, leaving him to the care of his grandfather, Rav Dovid. Five years later, after the petirah of his grandfather, he traveled to Europe and established his place of learning at the Radomsker shtiebel in Krakow. He became very close to the Stoliner Rebbe, the Yenuka. When his father was niftar 1930, the Chassidim looked to Moshe Mordechai to become their new Rebbe. He stayed in Poland until right before the onset of the War, settling in Tel Aviv in 1944.
HaRav Moshe Akiva Tikochinsky, zt"l, (1988). Mashgiach of Slobodka Yeshiva.
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25 Tevet 3442 - 320 B.C.E.:
A historic meeting occurred between Shimon HaTzaddik and Alexander ('the Great") of Macedonia. The Cuthim (Samarians), bitter enemies of the Jews, had convinced Alexander that the Jews' refusal to place his image in their Beit HaMikdash was a sign of rebellion against his sovereignty, and that the Beit HaMikdash should be destroyed. The Kohen Gadol ("High Priest") at the time was Shimon HaTzaddik, the last of the "Men of the Great Assembly" who rebuilt the Beit HaMikdash and revitalized Judaism under Ezra.
Alexander marched on Yerushalayim at the head of his army. Shimon HaTzaddik, garbed in the bigdei kehunah, (vestments of the High Priest), and accompanied by a delegation of Jewish dignitaries, went forth to greet him. The two groups walked towards each other all night; meeting at the crack of dawn.
When Alexander beheld the visage of Shimon HaTzaddik , the Kohen Gadol, he made the rare move of dismounting from his horse and bowing respectfully; to his men he explained that he often had dreams and visions of Shimon HaTzaddik leading him into battle. Shimon HaTzaddik brought the emperor to the Beit HaMikdash and explained to the king how concerned the Jews were for his safety and prosperity. He also explained that Judaism prohibits the display of any graven image; he offered to name all the male children born to priests that year "Alexander" as a demonstration of loyalty to the emperor (which is how "Alexander" became a common Jewish name).The king retreated, and the Cuthim’s (Samarians) plot was rebuffed. The Jews destroyed the Cuthian temple and this day was declared a Yom Tov. (Talmud Yoma 69a).
According to an alternative version, this episode occurred on 21 Kislev. Called Yom Har Gerizim (in Megillat Taanit) to celebrate the victory over the Samarians.
25 Tevet 5072 - 1311:
Anti-Jewish riots erupted in various parts
of Austria. (Others 1312).
Tevet 5319 - 1559:
The first critical edition of Chovot
HaLevavot (The Duties of the Heart), the classical work on Jewish ethics, authored by Rabbeinu Bechaye ben Yosef Ibn Pakudah,
(the first "Rabbeinu Bechayei") on or before 1161, and translated into Hebrew from the original Arabic by the famed translator R. Judah idn Tibbon in 1167, was published in Italy.
Tevet 5430 - January 17, 1670:
Raphael Levy, a respected member of the Jewish community, was arrested for ritual murder libel, tortured and burned alive in an effort to have the local government expel the Jews in Metz. The effort was unsuccessful, Hy"d.
25 Tevet 5478 - December 29, 1717:
Frankfurt's Jewish streets and shuls were burnt down and many Jewish valuables were destroyed or confiscated. This date was declared a public fast day in Frankfurt. (Others 1718).
25 Tevet 5612 - January 17, 1852:
The first Jewish hospital in the U.S. was founded by a group of mostly German Jewish immigrants. Originally known as Jews' Hospital of New York, it is now called Mount Sinai Hospital. (See 24 Tevet).
25 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Moshe Tzvi Gitterman of Savran, zt"l, (5535 / 1775 - 5598 / 1838).
Harav Moshe Tzvi was the oldest son of Harav Shimon Shlomo, the Maggid of Savran, who was a talmid of the Mezritcher Maggid.
Known as a genius as a boy, he was fluent in all of Seder Nezikin at the age of twelve. He learned chassidut from Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Rav Baruch of Mezhibuzh.
The name of his first Rebbetzin is not known; in his second marriage, his wife was the daughter of Harav Dovid Halevi of Stefin, the son-in-law of the Zlotchover Maggid.
After his father's petira in 5562 / 1802, he succeeded him as maggid of Savran. After the petirah of the Ohev Yisrael, he became the foremost Rebbe in all of the Ukraine. When the Berditchever Rebbe was niftar, Reb Moshe Tzvi was appointed Rav in Berditchev, only to return to Savran some years later.
Eventually, he became the Rav of the two kehillot of Uman and Keshinov, When Rav Baruch of Mezhibuzh was niftar in 5571 / 1811, Rav Moshe Tzvi took on the mantle of Admorut, and officially began leading Chassidim.
Reb Moshe Tzvi was greatly honored by, and was very close with, many of the generation’s leading Rebbes and Rabbanim.
In 5591 / 1831 he moved to Chichelnik, where he was niftar six years later, on 25 Tevet 5598 / 1838.
Reb Moshe Tzvi was buried in Chichelnik, and an ohel was built on his kever. The kever of Reb Moshe Tzvi is known as a mekom tefillah where tefillot are answered. The Ribnitzer Rebbe, zy”a, a Chassid of Reb Baruch of Chichelnik, said that the most famous kever he knew for having prayers answered was that of Reb Moshe Tzvi, especially for banei, chayei u’mezonei (children, life and livelihood). The ohel attracted the biggest nesiah in Ukraine, especially on the yahrtzeit of Reb Moshe Tzvi.
His Divrei torah are recorded in Likutei Shoshanim, of which a new expanded edition was published in 5746 / 1986.
HaRav Yosef Rosen, Rav of Telshe and Slonim, zt"l (5645 / 1885), author of Edut B'yehosef and Porat Yosef.
Harav Yosef Rosen was the son of Harav Yitzchak. He was one of the leading Torah authorities and poskim in Lithuania in his time.
Rav Yosef was appointed Rav in Telshe, and later Rav of Slonim.
He wrote the sefer Edut BiYehosef, a compilation of his responsa on Yoreh De’ah, while Rav in Telshe. Later, during his tenure as Rav in Slonim, he wrote another sefer, Porat Yosef, his responsa on Choshen Mishpat.
Rav Yosef chose Harav Yitzchak Yaakov Reines of Lidah, author of Edut L’Yaakov, as his son-in-law.
It is related in the sefer Hizaharu Bichvod Chavreichem that once Rav Yosef visited Ponevezh together with Rav Yitzchak Yaakov. They were honored visitors of Harav Moshe Yitzchak Segal, the Mara D’Asra, who greeted them together with the tovei ha’ir and the leading talmidei chachamim of the city. They began with a Torah discussion. Rav Yosef raised a difficult question. Rav Moshe Yitzchak answered, opening an entire debate over the question, but the question remained unanswered in the end.
As they were leaving to the home of their host, Rav Yitzchak Yaakov turned to his father-in-law and asked him, “What has the Rav done?”
Rav Yosef asked him, “Regarding what?” To this, Rav Yitzchak Yaakov replied, “The Rav asked a question of the local Rav, in the presence of the talmidei chachamim of the city, and the result was that the Rav couldn’t answer it…”
“Oy,” exclaimed Rav Yosef in fright, “with that I have embarrassed him publicly…” As he was speaking, he fell in a faint.
Rav Yosef was niftar on 25 Tevet 5645/1885.
HaRav Moshe Levi Ehrenreich (1818-1899), zt"l, chief rabbi of Rome. Through his efforts and under his direction, the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano was reopened in 1887. Rav Ehrenreich was also instrumental in translating part of the Bible into Italian.
HaRav Eliyahu Meir Feivelsohn of Yekatrinoslav, zt"l, (5688 / 1928).
HaRav Yechiel Michel Tukatchinsky (Tikochinsky), zt"l, (1871-1954), mashgiach of Slabodka in Bnai Brak, and founder of Yeshivat Mekor Chaim in Yerushalayim. His wife was the granddaughter of Rav Yisroel Salant.
In 1925, he published a sefer called Tekufat Hachamoh Uvirchosoh, in preparation for the bracha made when the sun returns to the point at which it began upon Creation. He wrote a sefer called Bein Hashmoshot, published in 1929, which dealt with the International Date Line. In 1941, he changed his mind altogether, as documented in his sefer, Hayomam Bekadur Haaretz, in which he shows that the new day begins 12 hours to the east of Yerushalayim. He also wrote the classic work Gesher HaChaim, on Aveilut. He also wrote Ir Hakodesh vehaMikdash, and a defense of the Heter Mechirah among other seforim.
When he lay on his death bed,
Reb Yechiel bent over and asked for a glass of tea with his last bit of
strength. He then made a bracha, took a sip and expired.
This may not seem like anything unusual. However, one of his talmidim was very troubled. How could it be that such a great person should concern himself with a glass of
tea at the last moment? It would seem as if someone of his
stature would use his last moments to recite Torah or
Years later, the talmid found among Reb Yechiel's writings
the opinion that one should make a bracha even on the act of dying. Since there is no mention of a special bracha on death in the Gemara, the opinion continued, it is best to include it in the general bracha of Shehakol said on food or drink. The talmid then realized the great stature
of his Rebbi who had timed the bracha on his own death to the second.
HaRav Shlomo Mazuz, zt"l, (5742 / 1982), author of Sho'el U'meishiv, Kerem Shlomo and Cheshek Shlomo.
26 Tevet 5129 - December 25, 1369:
By an order issued by King Frederick
III of SiciIy, Jews of Sicily were forced to wear a special badge indicating they were Jewish. The badge consisted of a piece of red material, not smaller than the largest royal sea. Men were required to wear it under the chin, and women on the chest.
26 Tevet - 1424:
Barcelona granted the right to exclude Jews for all time.
26 Tevet - 1436:
A riot ensued in In Aix-en-Provence when a crowd felt that a Jew who insulted a holy saint received too light a sentence.
26 Tevet - 1569:
Phillip II of Spain orders the establishment of the inquisition in the New World. The first Inquisition Tribunal opened in Mexico five years later.
26 Tevet 5532 - January 2, 1772:
Harav Pinchus Horowitz, the Ba'al Hafla'ah, was appointed Rav of Frankfurt.
26 Tevet 5586 - January 5, 1826:
Maryland adopted a law, called the “Jew Bill,” which allowed Jews to hold public office, on condition that they accept the concept of reward and punishment in the afterlife. Maryland was founded as an asylum for Catholics in 1634, and in the early days the denial of Christianity was a capital crime in Maryland. Anyone speaking negatively about Catholicism was subject to a fine or public whipping. The practice of Judaism was finally legalized in Maryland in 1776, but other restrictions remained in place. It was not until 50 years later that Jews became qualified for public office.
26 Tevet 5713 - January 13, 1953:
Pravda article touched off a wave of virulent anti-Semitism throughout Russia.
26 Tevet 5728 - January 27, 1968:
Israeli Naval submarine Dakar disappeared at sea.
26 Tevet Yahrtzeits
Rabbeinu Avraham bar Dovid miPosquires (Ra’avad), author of Hasagot on the Rambam and the Rif 1198 CE
HaRav Avraham Chaim of Zlotchov, zt”l, author of Orach L’Chaim (5510 / 1750 - 5576 / 1816).
His father was Harav Gedalyah, who served as Rav of the town of Zolkova and was the son of Harav Binyamin Zev, a descendant of the Maharsha.
In his first marriage, which ended in divorce after many childless years, he was the son-in-law of Harav Pinchas Horowitz, the Ba’al Hahafla’ah. In his second marriage, he was the son-in-law of Harav Yissachar Dov of Zlotchov, mechaber of Bat Eini. Sadly, he did not merit having children with his second wife, either.
Reb Avraham Chaim was a devout talmid of the Rebbe Reb Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, and after his petirah he learned from Harav Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz of Nikolsburg (an uncle of his first wife) and Harav Yechiel Mechel of Zlotchov.
He served as Rav in Zbarov until the year 5553 / 1793 when his father-in-law, Harav Yissachar Dov, ascended to Eretz Yisrael. Reb Avraham Chaim, replaced him as Rav in Zlotchov.
Harav Efraim Zalman Margulies writes about Reb Avraham Chaim in the introduction to the sefer, Orach L’Chaim: “He was a great man in Torah and in Chassidut … and was fluent in the secrets of the Torah.” He would spend most of the day davening and learning with extraordinary devotion and holiness. He also dedicated a lot of time to tzedakah and chessed.
His sefer, Orach L’chaim, bears haskamot of great Torah luminaries such as Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Maggid of Koshnitz, the Chozeh of Lublin and the Apter Rav, among others. This sefer, one of the distinguished sifrei Chassidut, was printed by his stepson after his petirah. He also was mechaber of Pri Chaim on Avot and Haggadah shel Pesach, and a number of his chiddushim are printed in the sefer Hafla’ah.
Reb Avraham Chaim was niftar in Zlotchov.
[Note: Not to be confused with Rav Chaim Leib Epsztein who was Rav and Av Beit Din at Czyzewo from 1729, then at Czyzewo, and finally at Kolszyn. He was also author of a sefer called Pri Chaim. There was also a Rav in Sokolow named Rav Chaim Leib from Kaluszyn who was also author of a sefer called Pri Chaim.]
Harav Baruch Bendit Glicksman, zt”l, Rav of Tureck (5608 / 1848).
Harav Hillel Finkler of Radoshitz, zt"l, (5661 / 1901).
Harav Hillel of Radoshitz was the son of Harav Yitzchak Finkler, Rav of Radoshitz and son of Harav Eliezer, whom the Yehudi Hakadosh of Peshischa called one of the 36 hidden tzaddikim. He was a direct descendant of Harav Meir Eisenstadt, the Panim Me’irot.
In his youth, Reb Hillel was a close talmid of his grandfather, father and uncle in Radoshitz. His grandfather held him especially close because he was orphaned from his mother. He would travel to Rebbes, among them the Saraf of Moglenitza, Harav Moshe of Lelov, but mainly to the Tiferet Shlomo of Radomsk. He was dearly beloved by the Tiferet Shlomo, who even had a special private shiur with this talmid.
After the petirah of his Rebbe, the Tiferet Shlomo, Reb Hillel began leading a flock of his own. He served as Rav and Rebbe in Radoshitz for many years, during which he led his kehillah with utmost devotion. Reb Hillel was sought after from all corners of the globe, particularly for yeshuot. He was known as a great baal mofet, and other Rebbes would often send their Chassidim to him.
The Rebbe of Radoshitz conducted himself with extreme measures of kedushah and taharah. He would immerse in the mikveh frequently, sometimes many times in one day.
Reb Hillel would say that if one has fear (of Hashem) during his lifetime, he has nothing to fear upon death. But if one lives without fear, then he does have something to fear upon his death.
Reb Hillel was niftar on 26 Tevet 5661/1901, and buried in the ohel of his father and grandfather in Radoshitz.
Harav Alexander Shmuel of Lvov, zt"l, author of Rosh Hamizbei’ach (5665 / 1905).
HaRav Mattisyahu (ben Aharon Tzvi) Weitzner (1952-2010). Av Beit Din of Pshemisheler, he succeeded his father as Rav of the kehilla in 2007, after the latter was niftar at the age of 102.
HaRav Shlomo Brevda zt”l, (5773 / 2013).
Rav Brevda was a reknown maggid shiur who authored numerous seforim and traveled to many parts of the world delivering mussar and words of encouragement to people of all ages. He was well known as one of the greatest baalei mussar of our times and for his research of the Vilna Gaon, publishing many of his writings. Hundreds of Rav Brevda’s shiurim on topics ranging from Jewish values, to yomim tovim and parshat hashavua have been recorded for dissemination to the public.
Rav Brevda was born in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 1931. His father, Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak Brevda, had brought his family to the United States from Baranovich, Poland shortly before Shlomo’s birth. Growing up as an average American boy, he attended Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) with plans to pursue a college education. However, he was advised by RIETS’s Rav Yeruchim Gorelik to pursue his learning elsewhere; thus, he joined the Mir Yeshiva that came to New York following its miraculous escape from the Holocaust. At Mir, Rav Brevda became a disciple of Rabbi Chatzkel Levenstein, the yeshiva’s mashgiach.
Rav Brevda was a student of some of the greatest leaders of his generation. After learning in Mir, he attended Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, N. J. under the tutelage of Ravi Aharon Kotler. In the 1950s, in Eretz Yisrael, he became a ben bayit by the Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik. In fact, the Brisker Rav founded his illustrious yeshiva upon learning that Rav Brevda did not have a place to learn. Additionally, Rav Brevda often traveled to Bnei Brak to visit the Chazon Ish, who expressed bafflement that an American young man born and raised in the lap of luxury would travel to Eretz Yisrael to study Torah.
Rav Brevda recalled the following miracle that happened to him in Yerushalayim when he was a young man while he was learning in Brisk in Yerushalayim:
One night, he decided to run to a relative’s house. While he was approaching the house there was a sudden blackout, which made the street turn pitch black. He suddenly remembered that right next to the relative’s house was a very long steep and slippery staircase built into the street, which one had to navigate very carefully in order to avoid slipping and falling down its sharp and circuitous route.
Stopping immediately to get his bearings, he tried to locate the staircase in the darkness, when he was absolutely stunned to find that the stairs where at the edge of his right foot, and had he continued running for just a fraction of a second more, he would have certainly been seriously injured..
He was hoping that the next morning he would daven and thank Hashem with his full heart, better then ever, after his life was saved by a split second, but davening Shacharit was just like any ordinary day, it bothered him tremendously.
So Rav Brevda traveled - four hours each way - to Bnai Brak to discus this matter with the Chazon Ish. He related the miracle to the Chazon Ish. Rav Brevda asked the Chazon Ish, “Why is it that I do not feel any different and closer to Hashem Yisborach since I woke up today than when I woke up yesterday or any other day of my life? I was privileged to have an open miracle happen to me, yet I do not feel like I am on my way to serving Hashem any better today then yesterday! Or the day before! How can this be?”
The Chazon Ish paused and thought for a few moments before he answered. “There is a special yeitzer hara called “The yeitzer hara after an open miracle” that tries to weaken a person when he is stirred to serve Hashem after experiencing a miracle.”
Toward the end of his life, he traveled to many different yeshivot and kollelim and was considered by many as their personal mashgiach. His inspiration to others was credited for making many ba’alei teshuvah.
Rav Brevda, a mechutan of of R’ Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt"l, is survived by his wife and six children, Reb Chaikel, Reb Velvel, Reb Aharon, Mrs. Rachel Altusky, Mrs. Frume Yasolvsky and Mrs. Esther Druk
RETURN TO TOP
27 Tevet 3680 - 81 B.C.E.:
Rab' Shimon ben Shetach ejected the Tzedokim (Sadducees) who had dominated the Sanhedrin, replacing them with his Torah loyal dayanim. (See 28 Tevet).
27 Tevet 5416 - January 24, 1656:
The first Jewish doctor in US, Jacob Lumbrozo, arrives in Maryland.
27 Tevet 5450 - January 8, 1690:
A major earthquake hit Ancona, Italy. B'chasdei HaShem, there was little damage and no loss of life A local Purim was established by the local Jewish community..
27 Tevet 5626 - January 14, 1866:
The Jews of Switzerland were granted civic equality after pressure was exerted by the United States, which had interceded on behalf of American Jewish citizens..
27 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Shamshon Raphael (ben Raphael Aryeh) Hirsch, zt”l, talmudist, scholar, philosopher, prolific author and Rav of Frankfurt am Main, Germany (5568 / 1808 - 5649 / 1888).
The Father of modern Jewish orthodoxy, he was instrumental in revitalizing German Jewry, bringing thousands back to the teachings of the Torah at a time when assimilationist trends threatened to extinguish Jewish life in Western Europe.
His father, Rav Raphael Aryeh (1777-1857), who changed the family name to Hirsch, was the son of Rav Menachem Mendel Frankfurter of Altuna (1742-1823). Rav Menachem Mendel was a talmid of Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz and was the Rav of three communities of Altuna, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck (”AHU”).
Harav Samson Raphael Hirsch was born in Hamburg on 24 Sivan 5568 / 1808.
He added his father's name (Raphael) to his own as was a custom of the time.
Rav Hirsch learned Torah from Harav Yitzchak Bernais, Rav of Hamburg, and a staunch opponent of the town’s assimilationists. From Rav Bernais, Rav Hirsch received his foundation in limud haTorah, his zealousness and even his style of public speaking.
At the age of 18, Rav Shamshon Raphael went to Mannheim to learn at the yeshiva of Rav Yaakov Ettlinger, author of Aruch La'ner. Rav Hirsch received smicha from Rav Ettlinger after learning there for a year. Thereafter, he attended the University of Bonn. That education would serve him well later in life as he combated the forces of Reform with eloquence.
In 5591 / 1831, at the age of 23, Rav Hirsch was appointed Rav of the principality of Oldenburg, on the recommendation of Harav Nosson Adler, the Nesinah LaGer. There, he married Chana Judel.
In those days, Reform Judaism was wreaking destruction in every Jewish community, and Rav Hirsch set out to battle it with all his might.
Within five years he had published his sefer, Iggeret Tzafun (The Nineteen Letters), under the pen name Ben Uziel, in which he answered the questions that were troubling the youth of his time. The leaders of Reform felt it was a powerful blow to their ideology.
Another sefer Rav Hirsch wrote was Chorev, a philosophical analysis of the 613 mitzvot; and an etymological analysis of the Hebrew language.This work established a solid foundation for German Jewish youth, who had been on the verge of being lost to Yiddishkeit.
At 30, Rav Hirsch wrote Naftulei Naftali, in which he demolished all the arguments of Reform and showed how they distorted the words of Tanach. This unleashed another fierce battle. Undaunted, he founded a boys’ school in Emden. By this time his reputation was established as the foremost Rav in Germany.
In 5601/1841 he was appointed Rav of the Osenbrik region, and settled in Emden.
In 5603/1843, Rav Hirsch was appointed Rav of Nikolsburg. Wherever Rav Hirsch served as Rav, he raised the standard of Yiddishkeit. He established schools, organized community life, founded yeshivot and built mikvaot.
In 1847, he became Chief Rabbi of Moravia, a region of 50,000 Jews in 52 communities, and which is now the Czech Republic. In 1851, he became the Rav of Frankfurt am Main, which he transformed into a Torah bastion.
It has often been said that if not for Rav Hirsch’s dominant leadership, the future of German Jewry would have been dimmer.
Rav Hirsch battled Reform unceasingly in his speeches and in writing, through his sefarim and his journal, Yeshurun.
Rav Hirsch stressed ethical perfection in every facet of life and demonstrated it to the day of his petirah. His salary as Rav was paid quarterly; long before his petirah he had instructed his family to return to the community chest whatever balance would remain from the day of his petirah until the end of the quarter. But there was no balance at all: he died on the very day his salary was due.
Rav Hirsch argued that the era of Enlightenment meant not that Jews should abandon Jewish practice, but that religious freedom was an opportunity to observe Judaism without persecution and ridicule. He promoted a philosophy of "Torah im Derech Eretz" -- combining Torah with the modern world.
Rav Hirsch's best known works are the classic six-volume commentary on the Torah.
HaRav Avrohom Shlomo (ben Eliyahu Eliash), zt"l, the Rebbe of Szamosujvar (1874-1930). The town of Szamosujvar was near Dej in Transylvania and modern day Romania (at times it was part of Hungary). Rav Avrohom Shlomo was a talmid and gabbai of the Arugot Habosem and a chasid of the Belzer Rebbe and he was very close friends with the Dejer Rav. He was appointed Dayan of Szamosujvar in 1895, and was one of the three member Beit Din that appointed Rav Yoel Teitelbaum as Rebbe in Satmar. He became Rebbe in 1920. He was a well-known expert in the halachot of choshen mishpat and wrote many seforim, most of which were destroyed in the Shoah.
HaRav Pinchas Hirschprung, zt”l, Chief Rabbi of Montreal (1915 - 5758 / 1998). At the age 15, he published a Torah journal, Ohel Torah, along with his friend, Rav Yeshaya Yosef Margolin, in Galicia. He then joined Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, learning under Rav Meir Shapiro. At the outbreak of War World II, Rav Pinchas fled to Vilna, which was still neutral territory. In 1942, he acquired a visa to travel to Canada with a group of students from Mir and Lubavitch. When he arrived in Montreal, he was offered the position of Rav Kehillat Adat Yisrael. When Yeshiva Merkaz Hatorah was established, Rav Pinchas was made its Rosh Yeshiva. Eventually, he was Rav Ha’Ir of Montreal.
HaRav Shmuel Hillel Shenker, zt”l, (1956). His father, Rav Avraham Shenker, was one of Rav Yisrael Salanter’s greatest disciples. Reb Shmuel spent his early years in Slobodka, but he was orphaned of his father at an early age. He then traveled to the Talmud Torah in Kelm and learned under the Alter, Reb Simcha Zissel. After a number of years, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael with his relative, Reb Tzvi Pesach Frank, who later became chief rabbi of Yerushalayim. In 1895, Reb Shmuel Hillel married the oldest daughter of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. On 9 Iyar 1944, his beloved son Reb Mendel Shenker passed away when he was only forty-six. A year later, another son - Yisrael - passed away on 27 Teves 1945.
HaRav Kalman Avraham Goldberg, zt”l, (1895-1968). A devoted disciple of the Alter of Novardok, he became Rav in Vasilkov. He moved to America in 1926. In 1928, he was hired to head the beit din for Adat Yisrael, under Rav Velvel Margulies. After Rav Velvel’s petira, he became Rav.
HaRav Menashe Yitzchak Meir (ben Asher Yeshaya) Eichenstein of Ziditchov, zt”l, (5731 / 1971). Son of Harav Asher Yeshayah of Prochnick, a scion of the Ziditchover dynasty.
Reb Menashe Yitzchak Meir married the daughter of Harav Shimon Shiff of Lizhensk, a descendant of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk.
He traveled to many Chassidic courts, and was close with the Rebbes of his era. He was especially close with Harav Yissachar Dov of Belz, zy”a.
He was named Rebbe of Ziditchov after the petira of his father.
After World War II, he moved to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Petach Tikvah.
Reb Menashe Yitzchak Meir was niftar on 27 Tevet 5731/1971. He was buried on Har Hamenuchot in Yerushalayim.
He was succeeded as Ziditchover Rebbe in Petach Tikvah by his nephew Harav Yissachar Berish Eichenstein, shlita.
HaRav Avraham Simcha HaKohen Kaplan, zt”l, (1990). Chief Rabbi of Tzefat.(others 5749 / 1989).
28 Tevet 2195 - 1566 B.C.E.:
Birthday of Shimon, second son of Yaakov Avinu and Leah, and the progenitor of the Israelite Shevet / tribe of Shimon. According to another opinion, he was born and was Nftar (died) on 21 Tevet. He was Nftar on 28 Tevet 2075 - 1686 B.C.E.
28 Tevet 3680 - 81 B.C.E.:
Rab' Shimon ben Shetach successfully completed the expulsion
the Tzedokim (Sadducees) from the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court), which they had dominated. He replaced them with his Torah-loyal Pharisaic disciples. The day was subsequently
celebrated as a holiday. The Sadducees denied the Oral Torah and the authority
of the Sages. Similar to the positions adopted later by the Karaites and still
later by the Reform Movement. This marked the triumph of Pharisaic (Perushim)
Judaism, which subsequently evolved into normative Rabbinic Judaism. (See 27 Tevet).
28 Tevet - 1012:
Jewish mourners were attacked at a funeral in Egypt.
28 Tevet 5568 - January 28, 1808:
Jews of Westphalia were given their
28 Tevet 5626 - January 15, 1866:
Jews of Switzerland were given their
civil rights, upon pressure exerted by the United States, interceding on behalf
of its American Jewish citizens. (See 27 Tevet).
28 Tevet 5708 - January 10, 1948:
Kefar Szold was invaded by the Arab
28 Tevet 5714 - January 3, 1954:
"Kastner trial" opens in Yerushalayim District Court. (Malkiel Gruenwald was sued for libeling Dr. Rudolf Kastner regarding his alleged collaboration with Adolf Eichmann in Hungary, in 1944 but evidence proved Gruenwald right).
28 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Avraham Entebi, zt"l, Rav of Aram Tzova (Aleppo), Syria, (5525 / 1765 - 5618 / 1858).
Harav Avraham was born in 5525/1765. His father, Rav Yitzchak, one of the Gedolim of the generation, was a member of the elite group of Rabbanim in Aram Tzova, which included Harav Tzadkah Chutzin, Harav Yehudah Yom Tov Katzin and Harav Yitzchak Brachah, among others.
Rav Avraham was a student of his father.
Harav Chaim Abulafia writes in his haskamah to Rav Avraham’s Yoshev Ohalim that upon his visit to Aram Tzova during the lifetime of Rav Yitzchak, the greatness of Rav Avraham was already apparent. He adds that in his second visit to Aram Tzova many years later (5580/1820), he saw Rav Avraham in full bloom, knowledgeable in all facets of Torah.
Rav Avraham stood out among the many Torah leaders in his generation for the sharpness and clarity of his learning and his psak. Halachic she’eilot were addressed to him from across the Torah world.
Rav Avraham was the Rosh Yeshivah and Rav in Aram Tzova for over 40 years. As Rav, he never feared ruling in favor of the underdog, even against affluent members of the kehillah.
Rav Avraham wrote many sefarim:, a number of which were published. These include Yoshev Ohalim on the Torah; Pnei Habayit. on the Torat Habayit of the Rashba, Pnei
Habayit on the commentary of
the Beit Yosef on Choshen Mishpat; She'eilot U'teshuvot Mor Ve'ohalot on the four sections of Shulchan Aruch: O'hel Yasharim; Chachmah U'mussar, his mussar work; and Pnei Ohel
Moed on Even Ha'ezer. Many of his other sefarim were never published. Rav Avraham was niftar on 28 Tevet 5618/1858 at 93.
. HaRav Gedalyah Shmelkes of Pshemishel, zt"l, (5688 / 1928).
HaRav Elya Meir Bloch, zt"l, (5655 / 1894 - 5715 / 1955), Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe Yeshiva, Cleveland. Born on Simchat Torah in the small Lithuanian city of Telshe to Rav Yosef Leib, Rav and Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe, having assumed the helm of the yeshiva from his father-in-law, Rav Eliezer Gordon, the founder of the Yeshiva. After his marriage, he spent 12 years as a Rosh Yeshiva at Telshe. When it became clear that the Yeshiva could not continue under the Soviets, the administration sent Reb Elya Meir and his brother-in-law, the late Rosh Yeshiva Reb Chaim Mordechai Katz on a mission to the United States, to raise funds to move the Yeshiva to either America or Eretz Yisrael. When they arrived, they learned of the Nazi invasion. They decided to restart the Yeshiva in Cleveland.
HaRav Yerachmiel Eliyahu Botchko, Rosh Yeshiva, Montreux, Switzerland, zt"l, (5648 / 1888 - 5716 / 1956).
Harav Yerachmiel Eliyahu Botchko was born on Tu B'Shvat, 5648 / 1888, the youngest son of Harav David Yehudah and Rebbetzin Miriam Leah Botchko.
His father learned all day, while his mother undertook to support the family. At a young age, his father noticed in the young Yerachmiel Eliyahu signs of future greatness, especially his quick mind; at the tender age of 12 he sent him to the Lomza Yeshivah.
It is related that a week before his bar mitzvah, Yerachmiel Eliyahu received a package from home containing a pair of tefillin and a home-baked cake, with instructions from his parents not to come home to celebrate the bar mitzvah, but rather to stay in yeshivah and not miss even one day!
A week after his bar mitzvah, young Yerachmiel Eliyahu was orphaned of his father, and not long afterwards, from his mother. This only inspired him to continue learning Torah.
From Lomza, he continued on to Novardok, where he advanced under the watchful eye of the Alter of Slabodka, zt”l. It was there that his leadership qualities were molded.
Yerachmiel Eliyahu married Rivkah, the daughter of Harav Naftali Sternbuch of Basel. The couple settled in Basel.
When Rebbetzin Rivkah took ill, her doctors suggested they move to a more mountainous area, such as Montreux, in the famous Swiss Alps. Reb Yerachmiel Eliyahu decided, with the chinuch of his young children in mind, to open a yeshivah in the town and thus bring Yiddishkeit to the area. Yosef Yehudah Leib Bloch, Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe, urged him in this direction and promised to send a few top talmidim.
The new Eitz Chaim yeshivah started with five Telshe bachurim and four local Swiss bachurim in Iyar 5687/1927.
The yeshivah drew many bachurim from all over Switzerland until the building was too small to contain them all. A new, impressive, four-story mansion was purchased in one of Montreux’s prime areas. The yeshivah became one of Europe’s most prestigious; many bachurim from all over Europe flocked to its doors.
In the winter of 5716/1956, the yeshivah planned a kinus for its alumni for Shevat, to be held in America, with the participation of the Rosh Yeshivah, Reb Yerachmiel Eliyahu. On his way to America he stopped off in Ireland, where he had a sudden heart attack and was unfortunately niftar at the age of 68.
The aron was taken to Yerushalayim, and the levayah attracted a large crowd, headed by many Gedolei Yisrael.
HaRav Yissachar Dov Ber Rosenbaum of Strozhnitz, zt"l, (5741 / 1981).
HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Mir in Brooklyn (5680 / 1920 or 21 - 5768 / 2008). Born in the small Polish-Lithuanian town of Kinishen, Reb Shmuel began his formal learning at Yeshiva Ohel Torah of Baranovitch in 1935 under the leadership of Rav Elchonon Wasserman, Hy'd.
Already as a young talmid, Reb Shmuel was famed as an extraordinary matmid, and this hasmadah continued into his last years. It was known among the talmidim that it was impossible to conduct sichat chulin with Reb Shmuel during the sedarim, no matter how important the matter might be.
After studying in Ohel Torah, Reb Shmuel moved to the Mir Yeshivah in Mir, Lithuania, During his years in the Mirrer Yeshiva, he became very close with the famed Mashgiach of the Mir, Rav Yechezkel Levenstein. Rav Shmuel escaped from Europe together with the Mirrer Yeshiva and spent six years with the yeshiva in exile in Shanghai. He arrived in the United States with the yeshiva led by the mashgiach, Rav Chatzkel, in 1947, and continued to learn in the yeshiva.
In the early 1950s, Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz, who had sustained and saved the yeshiva in Shanghai and rebuilt it in America , took Rav Shmuel as a son-in-law. After his marriage, Rav Shmuel joined the kollel of the Mirrer Yeshiva. In 1964, with the passing of Rav Kalmanowitz, Rav Shraga Moshe Kalmanowitz, oldest son of Rav Avraham, together with Rav Shmuel, became roshei yeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva. He delivered long shiurim that were based on the Brisker derech halimud.
Yissurim that he suffered throughout his life had minimal effect on his learning. This included tragically losing two children during his lifetime, one who was killed as a bachur in Eretz Yisrael many years ago, and the other, Harav Leibel, who was niftar after an illness.
Reb Shmuel was also active in klal activities, especially in raising money for tzedakah. He established a tzedakah fund for bnei Torah in Eretz Yisrael, personally distributing tzedakah to thousands before every Yom Tov.
Reb Shmuel lived his life in the yeshivah, and spent most hours of the day and night learning there. Even his children were raised in the yeshivah, since he was practically never at home.
Harav Berenbaum was very devoted to his talmidim and kept up a connection with them even after they left yeshivah.
He would deliver shiurim on Shabbat in halachah and Minchat Chinuch for those talmidim who had already left yeshivah.
His mussar shmuessen were based on the importance of Torah study, as well as tikkun hamiddot and chessed.
Talmidim said that he was “very down to earth and we could discuss any issue with him.” Reb Shmuel was niftar on 28 Tevet 5768/2008, just short of 88. Reb Shmuel was buried in the Sanhedria beit hachaim in Yerushalayim, where his two sons are buried.
According to Rabbi Yehudah (Talmud, Bava Metzia 106b), 29 Tevet marks the end of winter. (As per Bereishit / Genesis 8:22, the year consists of six 2-month "seasons": seedtime, harvest, cold, heat, summer and winter.)
29 Tevet - 1466:
Earliest authorization for the establishment of a university, including medical
and law studies, under Jewish auspices granted, Sicily. (It never happened
because the Jews of Sicily were expelled some years later.)
29 Tevet 5360 - January 16, 1600:
The 400 Jews of Verona, Italy, completed their shul after moving into their ghetto and being given the keys to the ghetto gates.
29 Tevet 5373 - January 22, 1613:
A taanit tzibur was declared in Vermeiza (Worms), marking the return of the Jews, who had previously been expelled. (Others 5374 / 1614).
29 Tevet 5376 - January 19, 1616:
The Jews are readmitted to the city of Worms under orders of the Bishop of Speyer and with the backing of Frederick 's troops.
29 Tevet 5414 - January 18, 1654:
Recife, Brazil was conquered by Portugal, ending the legal existence of the flourishing Jewish community there. Forced to flee, the Jews left for the northern American hemisphere where they were the first Jews to settle New Amsterdam whose name was later changed to New York.
29 Tevet 5540 - January 7, 1780:
The Rhode Island Assembly cancelled the "rights and property" of three members of the Hart family for supporting the British. Isaac Hart was put to death for the same offense.
29 Tevet 5553 - January 13, 1793:
Purim Burgel was established in Tripoli, commemorating the downfall of the Burgel Pasha. (Others 5555 / 1795).
29 Tevet 5568 - January 29, 1808:
Ezekial Hart, (1767-1843), was the first Jew elected to the Canadian parliament. He was denied his seat when he swore the oath of inauguration on a Jewish Bible and the oath of office required one to swear "upon ... Christian faith." At the time, British laws prohibited Jews and Roman Catholics from such positions, and Hart was expelled from the assembly. Hart returned to private life and enjoyed success as a businessman until his death in 1843.
29 Tevet 5699 - January 20, 1939:
Hitler proclaims to German parliament his intention to exterminate all European Jews.
29 Tevet 5701 - January 28, 1941:
The Iron Guard revolt in Romania led to the first massacre of Jews there in World War II.
29 Tevet 5750 - January 26, 1990:
Beginning of First Gulf War. Eretz Yisrael went into a state of alert as war broke out. Over the next month and a half until Purim, 39 SCUDs fell on Eretz Yisrael causing major damage but with only one human casualty.
29 Tevet 5758 - 1998:
Death of Reb Leibel Rudolph, A"H, (1942-1998). After a successful career as a Hollywood producer, Leibel began producing Aish Hatorah banquets. Soon, he began a program designed to give every young Jew in Los Angeles a chance to try Shabbat, calling it “The Bart Stern Shabbat Experience.” He was also instrumental in developing a successful One-On-One Learning Program in Los Angeles.
29 Tevet Yahrtzeits
HaRav Alexander Margulies of Stanov, zt"l, (5562 / 1802).
HaRav Marcus (Nosson) Hakohen Adler, zt"l, author of Nesina L'ger (5562 / 1801 - 5650 / 1890).
Harav Nosson Adler was born on 21 Tevet, 5561/1801. His father, Harav Mordechai, Rav of Hanover, named him after Harav Nosson Adler, zt”l, Rebbi of the Chatam Sofer and a relative of theirs, who had been niftar childless.
In his youth, Rav Nosson was a talmid of his father. Later, he learned in the yeshivah of Harav Avraham Bing in Wurzburg, who (with the Chatam Sofer) was also one of the leading talmidim of Harav Nosson Adler (I). Rav Nosson was later given semichah by Harav Avraham Bing, zt”l, in 5588/1828.
Rav Nosson was Rav of Oldenburg for a short while, (1829-1830), until the petirah of his father, when he replaced him as Rav in Hanover and held that position for 15 years, (1830-1844). Hanover was politically connected to the U.K. and he formed a close connection with the English leadership.
After the petirah of London’s Rav, Harav Shlomo Zalman Hirschel, zt”l, Rav Nosson was offered the post.
On 4 Tammuz 5605/1845, Rav Nosson settled in London, as the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, 1845-1890.
As in the other cities where he served as Rav, he was actively involved in the battle to improve the local kashrut systems and their upkeep. He was also active on behalf of the greater Jewish community: He battled against the Reform movement and helped establish a Jewish hospital in London.
He was also very concerned about the material welfare of the Jews and corresponded with Sir Moshe Montefiore about these issues.
Rav Nosson gained fame through his work on the peirush of Onkelos on the Chumash, called Nesinah LaGer. It is one of the leading and most complete commentaries on Targum Onkelos.
Rav Nosson was known for his sterling middot and his vast humility. He was wont to say that there are two types of anavah — humility. There are those who see themselves and all others as worthless; this is false humility. Real anavah is only when one considers others to be far better than oneself.
When he was elderly, Rav Nosson left his post as Rav and handed over the responsibilities to his son Harav Naftali Tzvi, zt”l, while he moved to Brighton.
Rav Nosson was niftar on 29 Tevet 5650/1890. He was buried in London.
HaRav Moshe Yehoshua Yehudah Leib Diskin, zt"l, (1818 - 5658 / 1898). Son of Rav Binyamin Diskin, Rav of Volkovisk. The Maharil Diskin, Rav of Brisk - Yerushalayim, was born in Horodno. Reb Yehoshua Leib was engaged before his bar mitzva and at the age of fourteen he married the daughter of Rav Brode and lived with his father-in-law in Wolkowitz. He became Rav in various cities such as Lomza, Mezritch, Kovno, Shklov, and finally in Brisk. He moved to Eretz Yisrael after Yom Kippur in 1878 (1876?). Rav Diskin's second wife, Sarah, was known as the "Brisker Rebbetzin." She descended from the Nodah b'Yehudah and brought 40,000 rubles into their marriage, with which the couple established the Diskin Orphanage in Yerushalayim in 1880. She died in 1907. Rav Diskin also established the Ohel Moshe Yeshiva and held the line against attempts by maskilim to introduce secular institutions to Yerushalayim.
HaRav Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak (ben Yechiel) of Alexander, zt"l, the Yismach Yisrael (1853 - 5670 / 1910).
Born in 5613 / 1853 to the first Rebbe of Alexander (Poland), Reb Yechiel Danzinger, he was named after the Vorka Rebbe, Reb Yisrael Yitzchak, who was known as Reb Yitzchak of Vorka. At the tender age of seven, his father took him along to Rav Menachem Mendel of Vorka for Shavuot.
After the Vorka Rebbe’s passing, Reb Yisrael’s father took him to Reb Yaakov Aryeh of Radzimin, who foretold Reb Yisrael Yitzchak’s greatness, and to Reb Beirush of Biala. After the Biala Rebbe’s passing, his father became Alexander Rebbe and led the Chassidim.
He married the daughter of Harav Dov Ber Chetchik of Poltosk.
He reached a very high level in Torah and avodah while yet a child. By the time he was a young man he knew all of Shas, Midrash and Zohar by heart. The Brisker Rav met him in those years and said he was one of the foremost lamdanim of Poland.
After his father’s passing on 14 Shevat 5654 / 1894, the Yismach Yisrael was chosen as Rebbe by the Chassidim. He initially refused vehemently, and claimed that he wanted to leave for Eretz Yisrael, but the Chassidim did not yield and he eventually acceded. In his humility, he refused to admit any claim to the position except yerushat avot. He refused to take money from his Chassidim; he lived on the salary that he received as Rav of Alexander.
The Yismach Yisrael was renowned for his ahavat Yisrael and for his wisdom. His advice was sought by thousands from all over Poland, and in his later years he was receiving Chassidim most of the day. When he fell sick, the Avnei Nezer, who was asked to daven for him, said, “It is no surprise that the Yismach Yisrael is sick; he is a Rebbe 17 hours a day!”
Once, a man came to him for a yeshuah in parnassah. The Rebbe knew that he kept his store open on Shabbat, and therefore his parnassah did not have blessing. The Rebbe turned to the man and said, “I can give you a brachah on condition that you will take me in as a partner in the business.” The person happily agreed. Then the Rebbe exclaimed, “Good! Now my portion of the partnership will be for Shabbat, and therefore the store shall remain closed.” The man was caught off guard, but of course agreed.
The Yismach Yisrael passed away on Erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5670 / 1910 at the age of 57, and was buried in Alexander.
Sadly, he did not merit having any children; his brother, the Tiferet Shmuel, succeeded him.
HaRav Eliyahu Moshe Peniel, zt"l, Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, (5679 / 1919).
HaRav Meir Halevi Chodosh, zt"l, mashgiach of Yeshivat Chevron, Ateret Yisrael, and Ohr Elchanan (5658 / 1898 - 5749 / 1989).
Harav Meir Halevi Chodosh was born on 27 Shevat 5658/1898 in Patrich, Lithuania. His father, Reb Ben Tzion, and his mother, Machla, were very pious people.
When Rav Meir was 11 he began to learn with his older cousin Leibele Lebowitz, a talmid at the Slabodka yeshivah. Leibele soon returned to yeshivah, though, and Meir was left without a chavrusa.
On his next visit home, Leibele took Meir back with him to Slabodka, hoping to register him in the yeshivah. However, the Mashgiach, Harav Ber Hirsch Heller, zt”l, refused to accept him because of his age, but he decided to remain in Slabodka and prove that he was worthy of becoming a full-fledged talmid.
Since he hadn’t been accepted, Meir had no place to sleep or eat. Despite these hardships, he learned with outstanding hasmadah. Word of his accomplishments reached the Mashgiach. He decided to test Rav Meir, and accepted him into the yeshivah despite his youthful age.
During his years in Slabodka, Rav Meir became a close talmid and confidant of Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l, the Alter of Slabodka. It is said that Rav Meir not only absorbed the Alter’s teachings, but also resembled him in all his traits and manners.
In 5685 / 1925, the Alter, accompanied by Rav Meir and a group of students, set out for the already established yeshivah in Chevron. The yeshivah flourished, and Rav Meir became the Alter’s right-hand person.
In 5686/1926 he married Tzivia Leah, the daughter of Harav Naftali Menachem Hutner, a niece of Harav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Chevron.
After his marriage, Rev Meir was appointed as a maggid shiur in the yeshiva and served as one of the spiritual overseers, alongside Rav Yehuda Leib Chasman. After Rav Chasman's petirah, he was appointed mashgiach. He lived through the Arab massacre of Chevron's Jews on Shabbat morning, 16 Av, 5689 / 1929, as he and his young Rebbetzin hid under the blood-stained bodies of two of the korbanot.
Afterwards, the yeshivah moved to Yerushalayim, settling first in the Achvah neighborhood and then in Geulah. During that period, Rav Meir served as the yeshivah’s Mashgiach alongside Harav Chasman.
Once a week, Rav Meir held a vaad in his home. Every week the bachurim had to request that it take place, as Rav Meir wished to train his students to actively pursue mussar.
Another highlight of Rav Meir’s role as Mashgiach were his famous shmuessen.
In addition to serving as the Mashgiach of Chevron, Rav Meir founded Yeshivat Ateret Yisroel with his son-in-law Harav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, shlita, and Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon with his son Rav Moshe Mordechai, zt”l. He served as Mashgiach in both. He also founded the Chevron Yeshivah’s famous kollel, Yeshivas Beit Midrash leTorah.
On 29 Teves he was niftar at the age of 91. He was buried on Har Hazeisim, near the kever of the Alter of Slabodka, in the plot of the Roshei Yeshivah of Chevron.
It is interesting to note that several years after the yeshiva moved to Yerushalayim, Rav Meir was offered a position as Rosh Yeshiva of a new yeshiva in Warsaw. Rebbetzin Chodosh was firmly opposed to this plan; the churban of Europe proved her advice correct.
HaRav Asher Anshel Kraus of Ratzfert, zt"l, (5757 / 1997). Born in Ratzfert, Hungary, on 6 Tishrei 5687 / 1926. His father, Harav Shmuel Dovid, later served as Rav of Udvari (niftar 5696 / 1935); his mother, Rebbetzin Breindel, was a daughter of Harav Yisrael Dov Stein of Ratzfert. When the Satmar Rebbe came to Ratzfert he would stay in the home of Harav Yisrael Dov Stein; when the Belzer Rav came to Ratzfert, he bought an aliyah for Harav Stein because he had the great zechut of hosting the Satmar Rebbe.
As a bachur, Reb Asher Anshel learned under the Levush Mordechai, Harav Mordechai Winkler. When he was still a bachur he delivered brilliant drashot in the large shul in Ratzfert.
Reb Asher Anshel married the daughter of Harav Menachem Yosef Heimlich of Mishkoltz, the author of Sheloshah Sefarim Niftachim on masechet Shabbat.
When World War II reached Hungary, Reb Asher Anshel experienced many of the travails that befell the Yidden across Europe. He succeeded in getting on the famous Kastner transport, which was diverted from Auschwitz and taken instead to Switzerland.
After the War, Reb Asher Anshel served as Rav in Linz, Austria, and did much to help refugees there. Later, Reb Asher Anshel moved to Argentina to be Rav of Khal Anshei Ungarin in Buenos Aires.
After several years, Reb Asher Anshel moved on to New York, settling in Williamsburg, where he founded the Ratzferter beis medrash and served as Ratzferter Rebbe.
Reb Asher Anshel wrote Birur Halachah, a sefer to strengthen shemirat Shabbat, in which he decries the use of sefarim that were printed through chillul Shabbat. He also published Yalkut Haro’im, a collection of several more obscure Midrashim.
Reb Asher Anshel lived simply, shunning luxuries. He was known for his sterling middot and kindness; every member of his shul was treated with fatherly love.
Reb Asher Anshel was niftar on 29 Tevet 5757/1997, at the age of 70. He was buried in the beit hachaim in Deans, New Jersey.
HaRav Daniel Levy, zt"l, (1935-2004). Born the youngest of nine children in Petersfield, England, he learned at Gateshead Yeshiva and Kollel before and for 12 years after his marriage. Following a trip to America, where he learned from Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, he was chosen as Rav of the Khal Adat Yeshurun of Zurich.
HaRav Chaim Shamshon Swiatycki (1914-2004), nephew of the Chazon Ish and scion of the Karelitz dynasty, whose patriarch and matriarch - Rav Shemaryahu Yosef and Rasha Leah, had 15 children. Her third child, Henya Chaya, married Rav Abba Swiatycki, who became Rav of Kosova, after the petira of Rav Shemaryahu Yosef during WW I. Their only child was Rav Chaim. Rav Chaim's mentor was his uncle, Rav Yitzchak Zundel Karelitz, brother of the Chazon Ish. At the age of 14, he left for Mir, then learned with Rav Baruch Ber Lebovitz in Kaminetz, where he stayed for six years. In 1934, he followed his uncle to Eretz Yisrael to escape conscription. He learned at Yeshiva Chevron in Yerushalayim and Yeshivat Volozhin in Tel Aviv. He then moved to America in 1938 where he joined the faculty at Mesivta Tiferet Yerushalayim.
HaRav Yitzchak Kaduri, zt”l, (1901 / - 5766 / 2006). Known in recent years as "the eldest of the Kabbalists," in the Holy Land, he was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1898 to Rab Zeev Diva. As a youth, he studied under the great "Ben Ish Chai" (Rav Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, 1840-1913) and was regarded as an illui (prodigy) by the sages of the venerable Baghdad Jewish community. Upon his second visit to Eretz Yisrael in 1923, he changed his last name from Diva to Kaduri and fixed his place of study at Yeshivat Porat Yosef in the Old City joining the ranks of the Yerushalayim Kabbalists, even as he earned his living for many years as a bookbinder. He studied Kabbalah under the tutelage of Rav Ephraim Cohen and Rav Salman Eliyahu (father of former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu). After marrying his first wife, Sarah, HaRav Kaduri lived in Shechunat Habucharim, one of Yerushalayim's first neighborhoods built outside the Old City walls. He would stay at the yeshiva all week, coming home shortly before Shabbat. Following the petira of Rav Ephraim Hakohen, head of Yerushalayim's mekubalim, toward the end of 1949, Rav Kaduri was selected to head the group. Over the years his fame grew, and thousands flocked to him to receive his counsel and blessing. He found a new institution called Yeshivat Nachalat Yitzchak. Graced with a phenomenal memory, he was said to have known the entire Babylonian Talmud by heart. His closest students say that the blessing of the Ben Ish Chai and that of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - both of whom blessed him that he might live to see the Final Redeemer - came true. The students say that Rav Kaduri told them he met the Messiah on Cheshvan 9, 5764 (Nov. 4, 2003). He reportedly said that the Messiah is not promoting himself, and that a study of his [Rav Kaduri's] words in recent months would provide hints of his identity. Rav Kaduri passed away at the age of 108. Hundreds of thousands attended his funeral in Yerushalayim.
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