Manny Saltiel together with Congregation Anshe Emes in Los Angeles (Mara De’Asra, Rav Yitzchak Summers) sends out a weekly email with that week’s yahrtzeits of Gedolei Torah and important figures along with a brief biography of each. Below is a sample of this week’s email. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe (it’s free of course).
Among those with yahrzeits that fall out next week are:
23 Adar: The Chidushei HaRim
24 Adar: The Nesivos Hamishpat
26 Adar: Sarah Schenirer, mother of the Bais Yaakov movement
28 Adar: The Machtzis Hashekel
29 Adar: Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky
This Shabbos, 23 Adar, Parshiyos Vayakhel/Pekudei
Rav Chaim (ben Shmuel) Cheikel (Chaikel) of Amdur (Indura) (1787). A disciple of the Vilna Gaon, he later became a student of Rav Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mazerich. Rav Chaim became one of the first Chassidic Admorim in 1772-73. He authored Chaim VaChesed. Amdur is about 25 miles south of Grodno (Hrodno). Amdur and Grodno are located in the northwest corner of what is now the independent country of Belarus, close to the Lithuanian and Polish borders. During the Cossack revolt of 1648 against Polish landowners and gentry, over 100,000 Jews, mostly in Ukraine and southern Belarus, were murdered. However, the marauders did not advance north to the Grodno region. Jews comprised 80% of the population in Grodno at that time. Rav Chaim was succeeded by his son, Rav Shmuel of Amdur.
Rav Yitzchak Meir (ben Yisrael) Alter of Ger (Chidushei HaRim) (1799-1866). The founder of Gerer dynasty, grandfather of Sfas Emes, Reb Yitzchak Meir was able to trace his lineage back to Rav Meir ben Baruch (the Maharam) of Rottenberg (1215-1293). His mother, Chaya Sarah, was orphaned early in life and was raised by her relative, the Kozhnitzer Maggid. The Maggid had a great influence on Yitzchak Meir during the latter’s early years. As he grew, he became a disciples of Rebbi Simcha Bunem of Pryschicha and then R’ Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. At the insistence of the Chassidim, the Rim became leader after the death of the Kotzker. At the first Chassi dic gathering over which he presided he declared, “Reb Simchah Bunem led with love, and R’ Menachem Mendel with fear. I will lead with Torah!” He had 13 children and outlived them all , a tremendous personal tragedy. Yet, he accepted it all with love.
Rav Refael Shapira of Volozhin, author of Toras Refael (1899) [Adar II]
Rav Yitzchak Yaakov (ben Nosson Dovid) Rabinowitz of Biala (Divrei Bina) (1905). A direct descendent of the Yehudi Hakadosh of Peshis’cha.
Rav Raphael (ben Aryeh Leib) Shapiro, the Toras Raphael, Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin (1837-1921). After the Volozhin Yeshiva was closed down in 1892 by order of the Russian government, he reopened it, on a smaller scale in 1899. He was also a son-in-law of the Netziv and the father-In-Law of Rav Chaim Soloveichik of Brisk
Rav Michel Dovid Rozovsky (1869-1935). Born in Svarjen, near Stoibetz, he learned in Mir and Volozhin. After his marriage, he was appointed Rav in Grodna, in which capacity he remained for 40 years. He was the father of three sons: Rav Yehoshua Heschel, who served as Rav in Grodna, until he was murdered by the Nazis; Rav Yosef, who served as Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Yisrael in Petach Tikva; and Rav Shmuel, who would become Rosh Yeshiva in Ponevezh in Bnai Brak.
Rav Shlomo Zafrani (1970), born in Aram Soba (Aleppo). He became a close disciple of Rabbi Ezra Sha’in. Together with Rav Moshe Tawil, he founded the Degel HaTorah yeshiva. His community supported him as well as the yeshiva. At the age of 68, he moved to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Tel-Aviv. He lived there for nine years, until his death.
Rav Yehuda Moshe Danziger (Danzcyger), Alexandria Rebbe of Bnai Brak (Emunas Moshe) (1973)
Rav Aharon Zilberfarb of Koidenov (1994)
Rav Yisrael Grossman (1922-2007). Born in the old city of Yerushalayim, Reb Yisrael studied at the yeshiva of Rav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, where he learned meseches Kiddushin 30 times. He later learned at Yeshivas Kaminetz. After Rav Baruch Shimon Schneerson became Rosh Yeshiva in Tchebin, Reb Yisrael replaced him as Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Chabad, where he remained for 30 years. He also served as a dayan for the beis din of Agudas Yisrael for over 40 years and later opened a beis din for monetary laws with Rav Betzalel Zolti and helped found Mifal Hashas. He was also very involved with Chinuch Atzmai.
Sunday, 24 Adar
Rav Yitzchak Eizik Margulies of Prague (1525).
Rav Chaim Algazi of Kushta, author of Nesivos Hamishpat. Student of Rav Shlomo Algazi Rabbi of Rhodes. [Dr. Fred Rosner cites Rav Chaim Yitzchak Algazi in Responsa Derech Aitz Chaim.]
Rav Eliyahu (ben Shlomo Avraham HaKohen) Ha’Itamari of Izmir, author of Shevet Mussar (according to some – 22 Adar) (c1650-1729). According to family tradition, he is descended from Itamar ben Aharon HaKohen. In his book, Ve’lo Od Ela, Rav Eliyahu describes the earthquake that shook Izmir, on a Shabbos in 1688, and the many miracles that occurred to the Jews of the city. All of the synagogues and batei medrash in the city remained intact, while all of the Moslem mosques collapsed. An hour after the earthquake, a huge fire burst forth and spread throughout the city, destroying what remained of it. However, the fire ceased at the Jewish Quarter, and did not penetrate it. His other works included Me’il Tzeddakah on the importance of giving tzeddakah, Medrash Talpiyot, Yado BaKol, Medrash Eliyahu, Aggadas Eliyahu, a two-volume commentary on the aggados of the Talmud Yerushalmi, Chut shel Chessed on the Chumash, Dana Peshara, on Shir HaShirim, Rus and Esther, almost 40 sefarim in all.
Rav Betzalel Yair Danziger of Lodz (1761).
Rav Binyamin Diskin of Horodna and Vilna (1844)
Rav Yitzchak (ben Chanoch Henach) Meyer of Alesk (1829-1904). Born in Belz to the Lev Sameyach and his Rebbetzen Freide, daughter of the Sar Shalom of Belz. After learning with his maternal grandfather, he became a chasid of Rav Yisrael of Ruzhin, and later of his son, Rav Dovid Moshe of Chortkov. With his father’s petira in 1884, Rav Yitzchak became Rav in Alesk. He had one daughter, and his son-in-law succeeded him.
Rav Rav Yitzchak (ben Moshe) Horowitz of Stutchin (1861-1940). Born in Dzikov, his maternal grandfather was the Yetev Lev. Appointed Rav of Stutchin at the age of 22, he succeeded his father as Rebbe upon the latter’s petira in 1894. After World War I, he established his court in Tarnow.
Rav Chaim Asher (ben Eliezer Dovid) Finkler of Radoshitz (1941). He was appointed Rebbe after the petira of his father in 1927. In 1933, he was appointed Rav of the nearby city of Volshtzve. An ascetic, he was also a great masmid, never sleeping more than two hours per night; his daily learning seder began at 12 midnight. He also headed yeshivos in Radoshitz and Lodz. His son, Rav Yaakov, also was murdered in the Holocaust.
Rav Yehoshua Menachem Ehrenberg [Ahernberg] (1904-1976). Born in Kemesce, Hungary. In 1921, he moved to Tarnow to learn in the yeshiva of Rav Meir Arik. Living in Cracow, Rav Ehrenberg published his first sefer, Rashei Besamim on the Rokeach, in 1937. During WWII, he was interned in the Cracow ghetto. He was included in the “Kastner train,” escaping to Switzerland. In 1945, he moved to Yerushalayim. In November of 1947, he heeded the request of Rav Herzog to be the Chief Rabbi of the internment camp on Cyprus; he stayed until the camp was entirely dismantled and came back to Eretz Yisrael on the last ship. He was appointed Av Beis Din in Yaffo. When Yaffo was joined to Tel Aviv, he served as a specialist on Gittin, and was widely regarded as the foremost posek in this area. He wrote the sefer Teshuvos Dvar Yehoshua. [Adar II]
Rav Gad (Godel) Eisner (1985), taught at the Talmud Torah of Rav Gershon Eliyahu Liz in Lodz before WWII, and for many years as maggid shiur and Mashgiach ruchani at Yeshivas Chidushei haRim in tel Aviv
Monday, 25 Adar
Rav Avraham Gershon (ben Efrayim) Kitover (1696-1761). His father was a Rav and Av Beis Din in one of the four batei din in Brody, Poland. Rav Gershon had become known as one of the gedolei hador. When his sister married the Besht, he was at first opposed to it. However, with time, he became a suuporter of the his brother-in-law, a watershed moment in Chassidus. In 1747, he moved to Eretz Yisrael (becoming the first of the talmidim of the Besht to do so), living first in Chevron and then in Yerushalayaim. He was Buried on Har Hazeisim.
Rav Menachem Mendel (ben Yisrael) Hager (1885-1941). Son of the Ahavas Yisrael of Vizhnitz, he became Rebbe of Visheva (Visiva) for fourteen years. He published a monthly journal “Degel HaTorah.”
Rav Dovid Shfarber, Rav of Brashov and author of Teshuvos Afarkasta d’Anya (1962)
Rav Yitzchak Abuchatzeira, known as the Baba Chaki (1970)
Rav Salman Chugi Avudi, Raavad of the Sephardic kehilla in Yerushalayim (1973)
Rav Yaakov Yisrael (ben Aharon) Fischer (1925-2003), head of the Eidah HaHareidis Beis Din in Yerushalayim. Rav Fischer was born in Yerushalayim on the 21st of Tamuz, the day that Yisrael Yaakov Dehaan was killed in what many said was the first political assassination in modern Israeli history. Dehaan changed his lifestyle and became a chareidi Jew, and Rav Aharon Fischer named his newborn son Yaakov Yisrael after him. Rav Aharon’s father was Rav Shlomo, av beis din of Karlsburg, Hungary, and author of Neiros Shlomo and Korbanei lachmi. Rav Yaakov Yisrael learned at Etz Chaim under Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, who became his chavrusa. In 1961, he was appointed moreh hora’ah in the Eidah Hachareidis, and in 1975 he joined its beis din. In 1963, he was appointed Rav of the Zichron Moshe shul, a position he kept for 40 years.
Rebbetzin Zahava Braunstein (2005)
Tuesday, 26 Adar
Sarah (bas Betzalel) Schenirer, mother of the Bais Yaakov movement (1888-1935)
Rav Eliezer Lippa (ben Elimelech) of Chelminik, Poland (1813). The son of the Rebbe Reb Meilich, he wrote Orach Latzadik.
Rav Avraham Chaim (ben Mordechai Dovid) Brim of Yerushalayim (2002), author of Shirah Chadashah
Rav Shmuel Tzvi Lichtenstein (1929-2009). Born on the Lower East Side of Manahattan, he was a talmid at Torah Vodaas and Beis Midrash Elyon in Monsey. He was Rav in Norfolk, Virginia, before founding Beis Midrash Nachlas Dovid in Flatbush in 1981, where he stayed for his final 28 years. It was said of him that “his best friends were the Shaagas Aryeh and the Meshech Chachmah.”
Wednesday, 27 Adar
Tzedkiah ben Yehoyakim, last king of Yehuda, died in captivity, in Bavel (561 BCE). [Hamodia 2005 says 396 BCE; Hamodia 2006 says 380 BCE]
Rav Yosef Shaul (ben Aryeh Leibush) HaLevi Nathanson (1810-1875 or 1878 [Yated]). Born in Brezhan, Galicia, he was married at the age of 16. His father was a descendant of the Chacham Tzvi, the Maharsha, the Rema, the Bach, and Rashi. Reb Yosef Shaul became very close to his brother-in-law, Rav Mordechai Zev Ettinger, and together they authored several sefarim including Mefarshei Hayam and Magen Giborim on Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Ma’asei Ilfas on the Rif, Sheves Achim (responsa), Me’iras Eynayim on hilchos bedikas hareiah, and Ner Maaravi on the Yerushalmi. Many years before he became Rav, he founded a yeshiva in Lvov whose purpose was to train dayanim and rabbanim. In 1856, he was appointed Rav in Lvov, a position he held for almost 20 years. Sadly, his Rebbetzen was niftar in 1857. He married one year later but was never zocheh to have children with either wife. He founded a communal kitchen, and he himself would walk around town collecting tzedaka from the city gevirim. For this tzedaka, he wanted to take an active role. He is most famous for his sefer Hashoel Umaishiv, but he authored many other sefarim, including Divrei Shaul on the Hagadadah, Divrei Shaul Yosef Daas, Yodos Nedarim, Divrei Shaul al Hatorah, and Divrei Shaul al Aggados haShas. He also authored a kuntres entitled Bitul Modaa, in which he argued that machine-made matzos are more mehudar than hand matzos. [Hamodia 2007 states his yahrtzeit is 26 Adar]
Rav Yeshayah (ben Moshe) Schorr (1879). His primary teacher was Rav Mordechai of Kremnitz, the son of the Maggid of Zlotchov. Rav Schorr’s last rabbinical post, and the one for which he is best remembered, was in Iasi (on the present-day border between Rumania and Moldova). His best know sefer is Klil Tiferes on chumash. He also wrote responsa Kanfei Nesharim.
Rav Moshe Meir Rosenstein of Berditchev (1821-1902). A chassid of the Rizhuner Rebbe in his youth, Rav Moshe Meir moved to Eretz Yisral and settled in Tzefas in 1853, living there for several decades. At the end of his life, he settled in Teveria. His insights have been published recently in a sefer called Avodas HaLevi’im.
Rav Yitzchak (ben Dovid) Abuhab (Aboab), Kabbalist, Av Beis Din in Amsterdam (1605-1693). Born in in Castro Daire, Portugal, his family escaped the Inquisition in Portugal and settled in Amsterdam. His father died when Yitzchak was only seven. In 1626, at the age of 21, he was nominated Chacham. In 1642, he migrated to Brazil. He returned to Amsterdam three years later after the war between the Portugese and Dutch. . He was a member of the court that excommunicated Espinoza. Ten years later (1666) he defended Shabtai Tzvi. Descendent of Rav Yitzchak Abuhab of Toledo, author of Menorah HaMaor, c1320). He was also a grandson of Rav Yitzchak Abuhab of Castille, among whose leading talmidim were Rav Shmuel Balansi (Valenci) and Rav Avraham Zacuto (Sacut), author of Sefer Yohassin. In 1492, he left Spain along with Rav Zacuto to Lisbon and died several months later.
Rav Shlomo (ben Chaim Chaikel) Elyashiv (1841-1925). He was a great Kabbalist whose vast knowledge of all aspects of Torah and exceptional ability to clarify complicated concepts resulted in a few several Kabbalistic works, including Drushei Olam HaTohu (“Dayah”) and Hakdamos V’Sha’arim (“HaKadosh”), which – along with Sefer HaKelalim and Biurei Etz Chaim – comprise the four volumes of Leshem Shvo Ve’Achlama. More recently, the more philosophical and less Kabbalistically technical sections of his works were assembled into a single book called Niglos Leshem Shvo Ve’Achlama, as well as Shearei Leshem Shevo Ve’Achlama. He is the grandfather of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. (24 Adar, per Hamodia 2011)
Rav Moshe Neuschloss, av beis din of New Square. New Square is the anglicized form of Skvira, a village in Ukraine, where the Skver Hasidim dynasty of Chasidism had its roots. The community began in 1954, when twenty Skver families moved from Williamsburg to a 130 acre farm north of Spring Valley, under the leadership of their Rebbe Rav Yakov Yosef Twersky. In 1961 New Square became the first village in New York state to be governed by a religious group. Over the years annexations have increased its size. Its population increased 78% between 1990 and 2000.
Rav Chaim (ben Yichya) Sinuani (1898-1979). Born in Sinuan, Yemen, to Chacham Yichya, of the eminent Bida family. As a youth, he left home for Jabal, to study in the yeshiva of Rav Shlomo ben Yosef Tabib and Rav Dovid Ya’ish Chadad. Both of the roshei yeshiva passed away in 1919. In 1921, at the age of only 23, Rav Chaim became Rav and Av Beis Din of Sinuan. He and his family participated in Operation Magic Carpet in 1949. He is buried in Yehud.
Rav Yisrael Bergstein (1912-1998), born in the Lithuanian city of Suvalk, studied in Grodno under Rav Shimon Shkop and Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz from age 11, then at age 14, under Rav Avraham Grodzinsky and the Alter of Slabodka at Chevron. Taught at Chafetz Chaim in Baltimore and founded a yeshiva in White Plains.
Thursday, 28 Adar
Rav Shmuel Halevi Klein (Kellin) of Boskowitz, author of Machtzis Hashekel, a super-commentary on the Magen Avraham on the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim (1738-1827) [Hamodia 2006 and 2007 says 1 Nissan]
Rav Mordechai Kastelanitz of Lecovitz, the father of the Slonim Chassidic dynasty, immigrated to Chevron in 1844 (1837-1916).
Rav Moshe Chevroni, rosh yeshiva of Chevron (1986). He authored Mas’eis Moshe and was a son-in-law of R’ Moshe Mordechai Epstein (rosh yeshiva in Slobodka, Chevron)
Rav Yechiel Michel Gutfarb, gabbai tzedaka of Yerushalayim (2002)
Friday, 29 Adar
Rabbeinu Yitzchak (ben Asher) of Speyer. Grandson of the Riva, he was murdered with numerouis other Jews because of a blood libel (1196).
Rav Shlomo (Dov Tzvi Hakohen) Rabinowitz of Radomsk, first Rebbe of the Radomsk dynasty (1803-1866). Born in Volotchova, he learned with the Bris Avraham of Pietrikov and became a chassid of the Ohr Lashamayim of Apt. He first took the position of Rav of Radomsk in 1834 and later took on the yoke of Rebbe. His chassidus grew significantly after Reb Moshe of Lelov moved to Eretz Yisrael and instructed his Chassidim to follow Rav Shlomo. He was the author of Tiferes Shlomo on Chumash and the moadim.
Rav Chaim Shmuel Birnbaum, son-in-law of Rav Akiva Eiger and author of Maseh Choshev (1887).
Rav Chaim Welfried of Lodz (1942).
Rav Yaakov (ben Binyomin) Kamenetsky (1891-1986). Born on the 21 Adar, in hamlet of Kalushkove (from which his family moved to Dolhinov), he left for Minsk at the age of 11. Among his friends there were the future Rav Reuven Grozovsky, and the young Aaron Kotler. Shortly after Pesach in 1905, Reb Yaakov and Reb Aaron traveled to Slobodka to learn under the supervision of the Alter of Slobodka. Reb Yaakov also learned in Slutzk. During World War I he took refuge in Lomza in the yeshiva of Reb Yechiel Michel Gordon. On 22 Sivan, 1919, he married the Rebbetzin Ita Ettel. On 11th Av 1937, he left for America and was appointed Rav in Toronto. In 1945, he accepted the request of Reb Shraga Feivel Mendelovitz that he take up the position of Rosh Yeshiva in Mesivta Torah Vodaas. He stayed there for the rest twenty years, after which he moved to Monsey, officially “retired” but working tirelessly for US and world Jewery. His chidushim were printed in his seforim Emes LeYaakov, on Torah and on Shas. As he requested, he was buried in Mt. Judah Cemetery on the Brooklyn/Queens border, since he pointed out that most of his family live in America and would not always be able to travel to his kever in Eretz Yisrael. From this, his last request we learn yet another chapter of his feelings for others.
Rav Moshe Rubin (1996). Born in Slonim, Moshe Rubin learned in the Lubavitch Yeshiva of Otwock, near Warsaw, and spent the war years in Shanghai. Emigrating to Montreal in 1947 where he served as a shochet, he was known among all Jewish circles for his long, warm, passionate and dedicated davening each day, and the many inspiring Torah vertlach and stories that he shared with young and old. He is included in Torah U’Mesorah’s “Shanghai” documentary as one who helped revive Yiddishkeit in Canada after the war. His son, Rav Yisrael Rubin, is the head shaliach Chabad in upstate Eastern New York and Rosh Yeshiva of the Maimoniides Hebrew Day School in Albany.
Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky (1911-1999). Born in Brooklyn, he attended Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, and later Talmudical Academy High School on East Broadway. After high school, he became a member of the very first class of Yeshiva College, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1932. He later earned his doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University. When he began his tenure at Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, in 1946, he set as his goal that every town and city with a Jewish population of at least 5,000 have a Jewish day school. In those days, there was only a handful of yeshivos and day schools; there are now 600 such schools with 170,000 students all over the United States. In 1980, he retired and moved to Yerushalayim, to devote himself to full-time learning.
30 Adar (There is no 30 Adar this year)
Rav Yitzchak Aizik of Zhidachov (1804-1872), a descendent of the Tosfos Yomtov and the nephew and successor of Rav Zvi Hirsch of Zhidachov. One of his four sons became the first Rebbe of Komarna dynasty.
Next Shabbos, 1 Nissan
Nadav and Avihu, bnei Aaron Hakohen (1309 BCE)
Rav Moshe Yosef Hoffman, the dayan from Pupa
Rav Elimelech (ben Chaim Meir Yechiel) of Grodzensk, wrote Divrei Elimelech and Imrei Elimelech. Father of the Piazeczna Rebbe.
Rav Elya Svei, Rosh Yeshiva of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia (2009). A primary student of Rav Aharon Kotler, he was regarded as one of the foremost leaders of Charedi Jewry, and was a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. He was a son-in-law of Rav Avraham Kalmanovitz, the founder of the Brooklyn branch of the Mir Yeshiva, and a brother-in-law of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum.
Rav Asher Yehaya (ben Moshe Shmuel) Halevi Rottenberg, the Kossoner Rebbe (1915-2010). Grew up in the town of Kosson, he moved with his family to the United States in late 1938 and to Eretz Yisrael in 1961. He moved back to New York towards the end of his life and estabvlished Beis Midrash Ohr Malei of Kosson, named after the sefer of his uncle, with whom he learned in his early years.