Rav Shmuel Salant zt”l, Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, On His 101st Yahrtzeit, Today, 29 Av

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rav-shmuel-salantRav Shmuel Salant zt”l, who lived from January 2, 1816 to August 16, 1909, served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim and was a renowned gaon and tzaddik. Rav Shmuel was born in Białystok, then part of Russia. After marrying the eldest daughter of Rav Yosef Zundel of Salant, he adopted his father-in-law’s surname. At an early age, his lungs became damaged, and he was advised to seek a warm climate. This induced him in 1840 to go with his rebbetzin and son Binyomin Beinish to Yerushalayim.

En route, in Constantinople, Rav Shmuel met and gained the friendship of Sir Moses Montefiore, then on his way to defend the Yidden falsely accused in the Damascus Blood Libel. Rav Shmuel arrived in Yerushalayim in 1841, rejoining his father-in-law and about 500 other Ashkenazic Yidden who had preceded him. From 1848 to 1851, he served as a meshulach, visiting the principal cities of Lithuania and Poland to collect money for the impoverished Yidden of the Old Yishuv. In retrospect, it is astounding that someone of Rav Shmuel’s stature actually traveled and went door to door to collect money, but this itself is a reflection of those troubled times and the terribly difficult plight that faced the Yidden during that tekufah.

In 1860, Rav Shmuel travelled to Germany, Amsterdam, and London to collect funds. Upon his return to Yerushalayim, he succeeded in ensuring that his contributions were equally divided between the Sefardim and Ashkenazim. He also collected donations for the building of the Beis Yaakov shul in Yerushalayim. In 1871, he succeeded Rav Meir Auerbach as chief rabbi of the Ashkenazim.

In 1860, a time of universal poverty and hardship, Rav Shmuel founded Tzedokas Rav Meir Baal Haneis Salant to provide for all of the poor and impoverished in Eretz Yisroel, Sefardi and Ashkenazi alike. In 1888, Rav Shmuel’s eyesight began to fail, and a few years later he became blind. This did not stop his extensive activity in tzorchei tzibbur. In 1900, however, Rav Shmuel requested an assistant. Rav Eliyahu Dovid Rabinowitz-Teumim, better known as the Aderes, had just arrived in Eretz Yisroel from Russia. He was immediately selected for the position. However, the Aderes predeceased Rav Shmuel in 1905.

rav-shmuel-salant-stampRav Shmuel was regarded as one of the gedolei Torah and manhigim of his time. Many of his pesokim and chiddushim are known through the prodigious writing of his talmid, Rav Yechiel Michel Tukichinsky.

Rav Shmuel was also known for his remarkable ability to unite Yidden. As Ashkenazic chief rabbi, he had tremendous respect and a wonderful kesher with his Sephardic counterpart, Rav Yaakov Shaul Elyashar, and they worked together concerning the tzerochim of the community.

Rav Shmuel was instrumental in the establishment of the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. He also helped found Bikur Cholim Hospital and encouraged people to move into new neighborhoods outside of the Old City walls. During his tenure as chief rabbi, the population of Yerushalayim grew from 5,000 to 30,000 Yidden.

Rav Shmuel was niftar Monday, 29 Av, August 16, 1909, and is buried on Har Hazeisim. His talmid, Rav Yechiel Michel Tukichinsky, related that although levayos in Yerushalayim are generally performed within the same day or night as the petirah, rav Shmuel’s was an exception. He was niftar at night and the levaya was not held until daybreak because the rabbonim were concerned that the massive attendance to a nighttime levaya – especially for one of the gedolei Eretz Yisroel – would lead to injuries or worse.

Now, 100 years since his petirah, Rav Shmuel is remembered for his gadlus in Torah, his unwavering emunah and bitachon, his selflessness for all of Klal Yisroel, and for living a life devoted solely to the Ribno Shel Olam and helping his fellow Yidden.

Yehi zichro boruch.

 {Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. .What a wonderful biography of such a gadol and Zaddik Z’TL. May Reb Shmuel Salant Z’TL be a maylitz yashar for all of Klall Yisrael!
    Yehe Zichro Baruch!

  2. Rav YM tukichinsky ztl was not just a talmid, he married Rav S. Salant ztl’s gramddaughter. his kesher to R. Salant was remarkable.


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