Rav Eliyahu Habachur Halevi “the Ba’al Hatishbi,” famous Hebrew grammarian (1549).
Rav Yitzchak Yerucham Diskin (1839-1925), born in Valkovisk, Russia, the son of Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin of Brisk and Rebbetzin Hinda Rochel. He started studying gemara on his own at the age of 5. After his Bar Mitzvah, he studied in seclusion for 14 hours a day. At 16, he left for Volozhin. After his father’s petira in 1898, he was asked to succeed him as president of the Diskin Orphanage and head of the Ohel Moshe Yeshiva. At first, he refused, but in 1908, when he saw that Yerushalayim’s Torah institutions were in danger due to Zionists’ efforts to destroy them, he decided to make aliya. Together with Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, he faught against the Maskilim. Both of them were elected honorary presidents of the charedi Vaad Ha’ir, which soon became known as the Eida Hacharedis.
Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka (1849-1927). Born in Rasei, Lithuania, he was orphaned at an early age and was raised by a relative in Vilna. He became a devoted follower of Rav Simcha Zissel, the Alter of Kelm. Rav Nosson Tzvi organized a kollel of ten men in Slabodka in about 1877. He began a yeshiva katana there and was later instrumental in starting the yeshiva in Telz and having Rav Eliezer Gordon appointed as Rosh Yeshiva. He founded the Slabodka Yeshiva in 1884. In 1897, the Yeshiva split over the teaching of mussar. Seventy of the 300 students sided with the Alter and formed a new yeshiva, Kenesses Yisrael. In 1897, he founded the yeshiva in Slutsk and appointed Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer its Rosh Yeshiva. After World War I, the yeshiva in Kletzk, headed by Rav Nosson Tzvi’s disciple, Rav Aharon Kotler, developed. He also helped Rav Shimon Skop develop yeshivos by sending his own students. In 1909, a yeshiva was set up in Stutchin, led by his disciple, Rav Yehuda Leib Chasman, and the Lodz yeshiva was the first outpost of mussar in Poland. His influence was also felt in long-standing yeshivos, as his disciples became parts of them. His son, Rav Eliezer Finkel, became rosh yeshiva of Mir, for example. In 1925, he fulfilled a long-standing personal vow by moving to Eretz Yisrael, settling in Chevron. His discourses are collected in Or Hatzafun.
Rav Chananya Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum (1836-1904), author of Kedushas Yom Tov. Born in Stropkov, Slovakia, to Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum (author of Yital Lev), who was a grandson of Rav Moshe Teitelbaum, the Yismach Moshe. Rav Chananya’s primary teachers were Rav Chaim of Sanz and Rav Yitzchak Eizik of Ziditchov. At the age of 28, he became Rav of the small town of Tesh, a position he held for 19 years. After his father’s petira in 1883, he succeeded him in Sighet, Hungary. Rav Chananya had no children with his first wife, a marriage that lasted 14 years. He remained childless for many years with his second wife as well, until Rav Chaim of Sanz gave him a bracha. Indeed, he had two sons, Rav Chaim Tzvi of Sighet, and Rav Yoel, the Rebbe of Satmar. By 1941, 10,144 Jews lived in Sighet, comprising 39% of the town. The town was liquidated via deportation to Auschwitz. But, the community lives on in America and Israel.
Rav Zalman Sender Kahana-Shapira, born in Nisowiz, in the Minsk region of Russia, to Rav Moshe Shapira, av beis din of Lida and son-in-law of Rav Chaim of Volozhin. Rav Zalman sender learned under the Beis HaLevi and his son, Rav Chaim Brisker, in Volozhin. He married and lived in Kobrin, where he raised 5 children (4 boys and a girl). When his wife tragically passed away, he married the widow of Rav Binyamin Wolf Hayahalomstein, Rav of Maltsch, and moved tot hat city. He eventually became Rav of Maltsch and started a yeshiva there, Anaf Eitz Chaim, modeling it after Eitz Chaim of Volozhin. In 1902, he moved the yeshiva to Kriniki where he became Rav. Among his students there were Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Rav Aharon Kotler. In 1921, he moved to the Shaarei Chesed section of Yerushalayaim. (1851-1923)
Rav Nosson Horowitz (2001), Rav of K’hal Sheiris Yisrael of Williamsburg, then Rav of Kehillas Bais Yisrael of Monsey. He was born in Vienna, the son of the Riglitzer Rav and grandson of the Altshteter Rav and the Liminover Rav (the Meoros Nosson), for whom he was named.
Today in History – 29 Shvat
· Passage of the Code of Theodosius, the first imperial compilation of anti-Jewish laws since Constantine. Jews were prohibited from holding important positions involving money, including judicial and executive offices. The ban against building new synagogues was reinstated. Theodosius was the Roman emperor of the East (408-450). The Code was also readily accepted by Western Roman Emperor, Valentinian III (425-455).
· Jews of the Papal States (except for Rome and Ancona) were expelled by the pope, 1569.
· First large ghetto in Poland established by the Nazis in Lodz (Jewish population 200,000), 1940.
· Terrorists from Hizbullah kidnap Col. William Higgins, a U.S. Marine serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group in Lebanon, and later murder him, 1988