Today’s Yahrtzeits and History – 17 Shevat


Rav Chaim Palagi, Rav of Izmir (1788-1858). Rav Chaim derived much of his Torah knowledge from his grandfather, Rav Raphael Yosef (the Chikrei Lev), and together with him, wrote the work, Semicha L’Chaim. After his father’s petirah in 1828, he accepted the positions of dayan and mashgiach ruchani in the Beis Yaakov Rabi yeshivah. In 1855, he was appointed to the position of rav hakollel, the highest rabbinical position in Izmir. During his life, he authored Kaf HaChaim, Moed L’chol Chai , and at least 70 other sefarim. They consist of: twenty-four books on halacha, fifteen on midrashim and homiletics, nine on chiddushim on Bavli and Yerushalmi, seven on Tanach, five on various other subjects and three mussar works. He also wrote a sefer called Tenufas Chaim.

Rav Yechezkel of Kuzmir (1772-1856). Born in Plonsk, Poland A disciple of the Chozeh of Lublin, he was the grandfather of the first Modzitzer Rebbe. After opponents of chassidus drove Rav Yechezkel out of Plonsk, he moved to Shanana. Rav Yechezkel became an admor in 1827. After becoming famous throughout Poland, Rav Yechezkel moved to Kuzmir. One of the most idyllic towns in Poland, Kuzmir lies next to the Vistula river, in the shadow of a fourteenth century castle, reputedly built by King Casimir the Great. A Jewish community existed there since 1406 and, by Rav Yechezkel’s time, Jews comprised half the town’s population.Today, Jewish visitors to Poland pass through the town to visit the surviving shul and cemetery that date back to the sixteenth century. Rav Yechezkel’s Torah insights were collected by a son-in-law and published in the sefer, Nechmad MiZahav, which was reprinted, along with other divrei Torah of the dynasty, in the sefer Toras Yechezkel, in 1973.

Rav Yehuda Chitrik (1899-2006). A Lubavitcher chassid known for his encyclopedic memory, and for passing on the chassidic mesora of previous Rebbes. A book of translations of his stories, “From My Father’s Shabbos Table,” was published in 1991. Rabbi Chitrik was born in Russia and was sent by his father at the age of 15 to study at the central Lubavitch yeshiva near Smolensk, Russia. After World War II, he moved to the Netherlands and then to Montreal. He moved to New York City in 1983 after the death of his wife. He is survived by well as over 300 children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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