Today’s Yahrtzeits & History – 1-2 Adar


yahrtzeit-candlesRav Avraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1164). He was born in Tudela during the height of Spain’s Golden Age. There, he established a close friendship with Rav  Yehuda Halevi. Three of his uncles were ministers in the royal palace. He moved to Toledo during the benevolent rule of King Alfonso VI. After the king died, however, the anti-semitic masses began to harass the Jews, so he headed south to Muslim Spain – to Granada, Cordova, and Lucena. In 1148, the barbaric Almohades overran Morocco and continued into Spain. He was forced to flee to Rome, Provence, and Rhodes (where he befriended Rabbeinu Tam and other grandsons of Rashi, as well as the Rosh). He traveled to Egypt and learned with the Rambam. He wrote a commentary on the Torah and Navi, based in large part on Hebrew grammar. He also wrote dozens of books on astronomy, astrology, and mathematics.

Rav Shabsai HaKohen Katz, (Shach) author of Sifsei Kohen, recognized as one of the most basic and authoritative commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch (1622-1663). Born in Vilna. He learned in Tyktizin, Cracow and Lublin. He married a great grand-daughter of the Rema. In 1648 the communities of Russian Poland were devastated by Chmielnicki, and Rav Shabsai haKohen was among the sufferers. He authored selichos in tragic memory of the events. He was nifter at the age of 41 in Holleschau, Germany, having completed his commentary to 2 of the 4 sections of the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah (at age 24) and Choshen Mishpat. Among his other works are Sefer Ha’Aruch on the Tur, Poel Tzedek on the 613 mitzvos, and Gevuros Anashim, on cases in which a wife can legally compel her husband to give her a get.

Rav Azariya Figu (Figo) of Venice(1579-1647). Author of Binah La’itim and Gidulei Terumah.

Rav Emanuel Chai Riki (1688-1743). Kabbalist; author of Mishnas Chassidim. He received semicha from Rav Chaim Abulafia in Tzefas. He is buried in Zento, Italy. He also wrote a commentary on Tehillim entitled Chozeh Tzion, and Yosher Leivav.

Rav Yitzchak Eizik Safrin of Komarna (1800). He was the author of Heichal HaBrachah and Zohar Chai. One of his sons was Rav Tzvi Hirsch Aichenshtein of Zhidachov, the Ateres Tzvi. Another son was Rav Yissochor Berish Aichenshtein of Zhidachov. A third son was Rav Moshe Aichenshtein of Sambor, a fourth was Rav Alexander Yom Tov Lipa Aichenshtein, a fifth was Rav Menachem Mendel Aichenshtein, and a sixth was Rav Eli Aichenshtein.

Rav Menachem Mendel of Shklov (1827). He was the leader of the aliya of the followers of the Vilna Gaon to Eretz Yisrael. This is significant because of the many Minhagei Yerushalayim that were established by that Ashkenazi community. His leading student, Yitzchak Eizak Chaver Wildmann (1789-1853), perceived that the obscurity of the kabbalistic system was a major factor in the flight of students and thinkers from Torah to science, secular philosophy and atheism. In Pischey She’arim, R. Yitzchak Eizak Haver vindicates the kabbalah against its detractors, showing that behind its metaphors lies the only system with the power to provide satisfying answers to man’s deepest questions about the meaning and purpose of the universe.

Rav Yitzchak Meir of Zinkov, son of the Apta Rav (1855)

Rav Baruch Halberstam of Gorlitz (1830-1906). Born in Rudnick, Poland, to the second of the four wives of Rav Chaim of Sanz. At age 14, he married Pessel, the daughter of Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, the “Yitav Lev” of Sighet. In his early 30s, he was appointed rav of Rudnick, and later rav of Gorlitz. In 1886, after his wife’s passing, he married Leah, a granddaughter of the Bnei Yissoscher.

Rav Uri Yalas of Sambur (1910)

Rav Yosef Tzvi Kalisch of Skrenevitz (1957)

Rav Baruch (ben Gershon Chanoch) Rosenberg, Rosh Yeshiva of Keneses Yisrael, Slabodka in Bnai Brak (1924-2004). Born in Moholiev, Russia, his grandfather was Rav Michel Yechiel Rosenberg, one of Rav Chaim Brisker’s chavrusos. In his teens, Rav Baruch attended Mir, where became close to Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz and Rav Yechezkel Levenstein. During World War II, Rav Baruch went to Vilna, and then to Shanghai with the yeshiva. In 1950, he continued his studies in Mir Yerushalayim. The year after his chasuna, he accepted an invitation to be magid shir at the Slabodka Yeshiva in Bnai Brak, where he stayed for 50 years.

Rav Yitzchak Isaac (ben Meir) Eichenstein, the Kiviashder Rav of Forest Hills, Queens (1913-2004). Born in Kashau, Czechoslovakia to the Zhidichov Rav of Kashau. As a youth, he learned under the Kashauer Rav, Rav Shaul Brach. Upon his marriage, he replaced his father-in-law (who had moved away) as Rav of Kishiavd and established a yeshiva. He staued for six years, until the Nazis arrived in 1944. The Rav was sent to Auschvitz and Bergen-Belsen, where he lost his parents, his wife, and his three young children. Despite his nisyonos, he spent his time, infusing others with chizuk. Following the War, he married his father-in-law’s younger dauther, established a beis din to be matir hundreds of agunos, and arranged for the education of many orphans. He moved to America and settled in Queens in 1950. In 1953, under the auspices of the Satmar Rav, he established the Central Rabbinical Council of the United States and Canada.

Rav Simcha Bunim (ben Eliezer Yehuda) Waldenberg, only son of the Tzitz Eliezer. He was Rav of the Ezras Torah neighborhood of Yerushalayim and of the Beis Yisrael Beis Midrash for over 30 years (1937-2005)

Today in History – 1 Adar

· Jews miraculously escaped violent earthquake in Italy, 1570.
· A priest vanquished in Syria, and the Jewish community was balmed, prompting imprisonment of Rav Yaakov Entebi, , the seven community elders, and a number of children. Ultimately, Sir Moses Montefiore interceded on their behalf and they were freed, 1840.
· Adolph Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, 1930.
· An earthquake in Agadir, Morocco killed 5000 people, including hundreds of Jews, 1960.
· Edwin H. Land first publically demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce black and white photos in 60 seconds, 1947.

Yahrtzeits – 1 Adar

Rav Meir Paprish, the Ohr Tzadikim (1624-1662). At the young age of 13, Reb Meir began learning Kabbalah as a student of Rav Yaakov Tzemach who studied under Rav Shmuel Vital, the son of Rav Chaim Vital.

Rav Dovid ben Moshe Madjar of Yerushalayim (1800), author of Chesed Dovid.

Rav Yom Tov (ben Yisrael Yaakov) Algazi, the Maharit Algazi (1727-1802), one of the main students of the famed kabbalist Rabbi Shalom Sharabi. Stemming from a long line of great Torah sages originating in Spain, his father was av beis din in Izmir, Turkey for over 40 years before being appopinted Rishon Letzion in Yerushalyim. Rav Yom Tov was born in Izmir, and studied together with Rav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai (the Chida) as a youth. In 1758, he was appointed rosh yeshiva of Neveh Shalom. In 1782, after the petira of Rav Shalom Sharabi, Rav Yom Tov was appointed rosh yeshiva of Beis Kel and served as Rishon LeTzion following the petira of Rav Rephael Meyuchas. He left behind a legacy of piskei halacha – Shu”t Simchas Yom Tov, Hilchos Yom Tov, and Kedushas Yom Tov. He left one son (Rav Yaakov) and 3 daughters.

Rav Aaron (ben Meir) Hagadol of Premishlan, disciple of Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotschov

Rav Binyamin Zev Lev (ben Elazar Leib) Rokeach (1777-1851). He was born in the small town of Vadislav, and his father, the Shemen Rokeach, sent him to the yeshivos of R’ Eliezer Kempne of Prostitz, and of his brother-in- law R’ Yirmiyohu of Mattersdorf. He married Feigele, the daughter of Rav Yitzchak Eisik Elkish, Rav of Ushpitzin from the dynasty of the Rebbe R’ Heschel and the Moginei Shlomo. He subsequently became rov in Amshinov. He is the author of Shaarei Torah. His son, Yirmiyahu, was author of Divrei Yirmiyahu.

Rav Yaakov Yechezkiya (ben Moshe) Grunwald of Pupa, the Vayaged Yaakov (1941). Son of the Arugas Habosem, Reb Yaakov Yechezkiya studied under his father until his marriage. In 1929, Rav Yaakov Yechezkiya was chosen as Rav of Pupa, Hungary. He established a yeshiva there which soon numbered 300 students. Rav Yaakov Yechezkiya’s son, Rav Yosef Grunwald, succeeded his father in 1951.

Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz (1891-1965), Av Beis Din of Tiktin, Rosh Yeshivas Mir-U.S. He was a talmid of Slobodka, a Rav of Rakov, and a close friend of Reb Chaim Ozer Grodzenski of Vilna. He was also the founder and head of a kollel, and a leader of Agudath Israel of Poland. After the First World War, the Mirrer Yeshiva appointed him as its president. His wife’s grandfather was Rav Betzalel HaKohen, a dayan in Vilna and author of Mareh Kohen. At the beginning of World War II the Rav and his family reached the United States, while his beloved Mirrer Yeshiva escaped from Mir to Vilna, to avoid Soviet persecution. During the War, the Rav was was one of the leading personalities of the Vaad Hatzalah.

Rav Yisrael (ben Avraham Mordechai) Alter, the Beis Yisrael of Ger (1895-1977). The third son of the Imrei Emes, he celebrated a double simcha on his Bar Mitzvah, as he became engaged to his cousin, Chaya Sara. They married two years later. In 1940, the Imrei Emes escaped the Nazis and reached Eretz Yisrael, along with his sons, Rav Yisrael, Rav Simcha Bunim, and Rav Pinchas Menachem. Tragically, Rav Yisrael’s wife, daughter, and son perished, a fact he didn’t learn until 1945. He remarried in 1948, but had no children from his second wife. After his father’s petira, Rav Yisrael assumed the mantle of leadership as the 4th Rebbe of Ger. For the next 29 years, he rebuilt Ger and was a major force in the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisrael. After his passing, Ger was led by his brother, Rav Simcha Bunim, until his petira in 1992. After that, his other brother, Rav Pinchas Menachem led Ger for four years. Since then, Ger has been led by Rav
Yaakov Aryeh, the son of Rav Simcha Bunim.

Rav Moshe (ben Yehuda) Schwab (1918-1979). Born in Frankfurt-am-Mein, he was the younger brother of Rav Shimon and Rav Mordechai. He was sent to learn in Kaminetz under Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz and in Baronovich under Rav Elchonon Wasserman. In 1938, he moved to England and accepted a position at the Kollel in Gateshead. In 1942, he married Rochel Baddiel, daughter of Rav Dovid Baddiel, one of the founding members of the Gateshead kehilla. In 1946, he joined the Yeshiva and became very close to Rav Dessler. He authored Ma’archei Lev on the Yomim Tovim.

Rav Mordechai (ben Moshe) Wulliger (1895-1995), born in Bishtina-Marmoresh, his primary teacher was Rav Chaim Zvi Teitelbaum, Rav of Sigher and author of Atzei Chaim. Rav Wulliger settled in the United States in 1938 and was a member of the Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodas for about 50 years. He authored a myriad of seforim, the first of which was Pardes Mordechai (1927).

Today in History – 2 Adar

· The Byzantine Emperor Justinian orders the public reading of the Greek translation of the Shabbos portion of the week, but prohibits Rabbis from speaking in public on the parasha, 553 CE.
· Massacre of the Jews of Freiberg, Germany, in the Black Death riots, 1349.
· Anti-Jewish riots in Cracow, 1682.
· Nazis confiscate all sefarim and sifrei Torah in the Kovno ghetto, 1942.
· Greek Jews from Salonika transported to Nazi extermination camps, 1943. (Of 50,000 Jews in Salonika, only 1,200 survived the Holocaust.)
· Knesset bill passed Mi Hu Yehudi – defining a Jew as one born to a Jewish mother or one “converted to Judaism”, 1970.

{Manny Newscenter/}


  1. You write that R. Avraham ibn Ezra befriended Rabbeinu Tam and the Rosh in Rhodes, and that he learned with the Rambam in Egypt. There is no record of R.Tam or the Rosh ever having been in Rhodes. The Rosh was born 86 years after Ibn Ezra died. The Rambam moved to Egypt around 1164, when he was less than thirty years old and when Ibn Ezra died at the age of 75.

  2. Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra

    “… he established a close friendship with Rav Yehuda Halevi.”

    But, did he marry Rabbi Yehuda Halevi’s daughter?