Today’s Yahrtzeits & History – 15 Tammuz


flicker_100393Rav Chaim ben Atar, the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh, (1696-1743). Born into a well-respected family in Sali, Morocco, Rav Chaim spent his early years learning with his

 grandfather, whose name he shared. Rav Chaim’s dream was to go to Israel. With 30 followers he arrived in Israel, four days before Rosh HaShanah in 1742 and settled in Acco. Rav Chaim and his students spent Yom Kippur in the cave of Eliyahu HaNavi on Mount Carmel. Purim was spent in Tzfat and Miron, where a great deal of time was spent studying the holy Zohar. On the 15th of Elul of 1743, Rav Chaim finally arrived in Jerusalem with his group. He immediately established a yeshiva called Knesses Yisrael and second secretive yeshiva for the study of Kabbalah. One of his new students was Rav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, the Chida, who at that time was only 18 years old

Rav Aryeh Leib Ginzberg, the Shaagas Aryeh (1695-1785). Born in Pinsk, he was the son of Rav Asher, Av Beis Din of Pinsk. When he was still young, his family moved to Minsk. A widow in the city had a complete set of the Shas in her home and would loan masechtos to any talmid chacham who needed them. When Aryeh Leib was still a child, he borrowed masechtos from her. Thus, every day, he would complete one masechta, and then ask her to exchange it for a different one. In 1725, when he was only thirty, Rav Aryeh Leib was invited to serve as the Rosh Yeshivah of Minsk, but the laypersons forced him out, since he was unashamed to rebuke them when he felt that it was necessary. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to serve as Rav of Volozhin (where he authored Shaagas Aryeh), and later in Metz, Germany. Prior to his petirah, the Shaagas Aryeh made a siyum of Shas, which he had reviewed one thousand times during his lifetime.

Rav Dovid Moshe Rosenbaum of Kretshnif (1969), son of Rav Eliezer Zev Rosenbaum and son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Mordechai of Nadvorna. Lived in Rechovot.

Rav Mordechai Weinberg, Rosh Yeshiva of Montreal (1992).

Rav Amram Blau, head of Neturei Karta in Yerushalayim (1894-1974). He was close with the Brisker Rov and the Chazon Ish and earned their respect. Neturei Karta movement broke off from Agudath Israel in 1935 because of their insistence on total separation from the Zionist Jewish community. In 1938, Rav Blau and Aharon Katzenellenbogen seceded from the Edah Charedis. For the most part, the members of Neturei Karta are descended from Hungarian Jews that settled in Yerushalayim’s Old City in the early nineteenth century and currently number about 5000. Rav Blau was forced to surrender leadership of Neturei Karta in 1965, after he married Ruth Ben-Dovid, who was a divorced woman and a convert from Catholicism, two years after his first wife, Hinda, passed. She also was a convert and former member of the French Resistance, who had rescued Blau during the Holocaust. In December 2006, Satmar leaders condemned six Neturei Karta adherents as “reckless outcasts” for attending the Holocaust denial conference hosted by Iran. Rav Amram Blau, as well as his successor Rav Aharon Katzenelenbogen, were vehemently opposed to activities of this sort. As an indication of his disfavor, Rav Katzenelenbogen went to the Zionist Israeli secular court to enforce an order forbidding Moshe Hirsh from leaving Israel, to prevent him from engaging in joint activities with Jew-hating Arabs.

Today in History – 15 Tammuz

· Ezra leaves Bavel on the 15-day trip to Yerushalayim, 346 BCE
· Two years after Miguel Rodrigues was discovered holding Jewish rites and accused of destroying a crucifix, a great Auto da Fe was held in Madrid in the presence of the King, Queen, and foreign ambassadors, 1632. Rodrigues, his wife Isabel, and five others were burned alive. Their house was razed and a convent called La Paciencia was built on the site.
· Druze Arabs attacked the Jews of Tzefas, 1838.

{Yahrtzeits licensed to by Manny Saltiel and Newscenter}


  1. During the shalosh seudos meal on the Shabbos of Parsha Pinchas, immediately after washing his hands and eating a bite of challah, the Baal Shem Tov said with a sigh, “The western light has been extinguished.”

    At the Melave Malkah meal on that motzoei Shabbos, the chassidim gathered their courage and asked, “Rebbe, what did you mean when you said that ‘The western light has been extinguished?'”

    The Baal Shem Tov replied, “The Ohr Hachayim has died. He was known in the heavenly realms as the Western light.”

    “How does the Rebbe know that?” one Chassid boldly asked.

    The Baal Shem Tov answered, “There is a particular kavannah (intention) for the recitation of the blessing for washing hands which I have always wanted to know. However, this kavannah was hidden from me since only one person in each generation can know it, and the Ohr Hachayim had preceded me. This afternoon, as I washed my hands for shalosh seudos, I suddenly became aware of a new kavannah. I immediately understood that the Ohr Hachayim had passed from this world and now I become the guardian of that kavannah.”

  2. Rav Mordechai Weinberg, ZT’L, was one of the very best Talmidim of the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, Ohio and was a virtual Talmid Muvhak of the founding Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Eliyahu Meyer Bloch, ZT’L. He was thus a colleague of the senior Talmidim who were to latter become the next generation of Telzer Gedolay Torah: Rav Mordechai Gifter, ZT’L, Rav Rephael Boruch Sorotzkin, ZT’L, Rav Chaim Yaakov Stein, ZT’L, and, Yibodlem L’Chaiyim Tovim V’Aruchim, Rav Avroham Chaim Levin, Sh’lita, and Rav Chaim Dov Keller, Sh’lita.

    He further spent a year learning under Rav Reuvain Grozovsky, ZT’L, in Beis Medrosh Elyon in Monsey.

    By this time, he had already acheived tremendous Gadlus in Torah, having learned through all of Shas with a vast kinyan in Gemara B’Iyun and Poskim and P’sak Halacha as well.

    When he had reached his early twenties, the Gedolay Torah who were his mentors directed him to begin doing Chinuch. His first position was at Yeshiva Rabaynu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, New York, where he worked under Rav Yitzchak Hutner, ZT’L.

    He then became the Rosh Yeshiva of the excellent emerging school, the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York.

    For many years in Montreal, there had been a very fine yeshiva called “Merkaz HaTorah,” led by a Rav Leib Baron, ZT’L. In the early 1970’s, two senior Talmidim of Telz in Cleveland, Rav Moshe Mendel, Glustein, Sh’lita, and Rav Shimon Mattisyahu Zefferen, Sh’lita, opened another yeshiva in Montreal called “Yeshiva Gedola.” In a short while, the two yeshivas realized that they really should be one yeshiva so they merged together with thus the name: “Yeshiva Gedola – Merkaz HaTorah.”

    About this same time, they requested Rav Mordechai Weinberg, ZT’L, to come to Montreal to be their Rosh Yeshiva. Rav Weinberg agreed to this request; when he made the move, a large chabura of his talmidim at the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway came with him, giving the Montreal yeshiva a great boost. Yeshiva Gedola – Merkaz HaTorah thus became one of the Chashuva – major prominent “Ivy League” – Torah centers in North America. (The leadership of Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway – Yeshiva Zichron Melech then went to one of the contemporary Gedolay Torah, Rav Chaim Epstein, Sh’lita.)

    Rav Weinberg — he was commonly known by his Yiddish first name: “Rav Mottel” — gave a very tremendous amount to the Talmidim. Like most Roshei Yeshivos, once a week he gave a Shiur K’lali/Pilpul Shiur in the Beis Medrosh. In the morning of the Pilpul Shiur, he would give a preview of what he was planning to say to a few Talmidim in his office. The next day or so, he would give a review of the general concepts that he said in the Pilpul Shiur to the lower level Blatt Shiur. He himself gave a higher level daily Blatt Shiur. On Erev Shabbos, he gave a Sichas Mussar in the Beis Medrosh, and at Shalos Seudos in the dinning room, he gave another Sicha on the Parsha HaShavua. On each Rosh Chodesh, after Davening in the morning, he gave a Sicha on the concept of that particular new month. Once a year on evening of the Yartzheit of his rebbe, Rav Eliyahu Meyer Bloch, ZT’L, he gave a special long Sichas Mussar. For a number of years, he gave a Vaad for discussing Inyanei Hashkafa, and there were times that he gave such a Vaad for High School Talmidim as well.

    In his lectures, he was a phenomenal speaker. When he would deliver Sichos Mussar on the subject of various human corruptions, he would often vehemently exclaim his condemnation of the wrongdoing with a brilliant force and energy that was literally awesome.

    With this trait, he exhorted and demanded the Talmidim to achieve a high level of performance. Many of the Talmidim went on to become top Talmidim in the very chashuva yeshivos of Brisk and Mir Yerushalaiyim in Eretz Yisroel and Beis Medrosh Gevoha in Lakewood, and today are prominent Marbetzay Torah.

    For the summer break, many of the Talmidim would go to Camp Horim in the Catskill Mountains, where a number of yeshivos held summer-yeshiva-camp programs.

    On 15 Tammuz, 5752, was the yortzheit of his mother, A’H. At the end of Shacharis in the Camp Horim Beis Medrosh, Rav Mottel had just completed the saying of the Kaddish Yasom, when suddenly, his face turned a ghastly white. The alarmed people immediately took him to a local Emergency Medical Facility, where doctors attempted to stabilize him. However, with two severe heart attacks, HaShem transferred him to the higher realms to his mother and his father and his teachers of the Gedolay Torah of the earlier generations.

    That evening, a large contingent of a few thousand B’nei Torah gathered on the grounds of Camp Horim to pay their respects. The first speaker announced that at that moment, L’Zeicher Nishmas the Rosh Yeshiva, ZT’L, they were hereby changing the name of the yeshiva to now include his name: “Yeshiva Gedola – Merkaz HaTorah – Tiferes Mordechai.” There was a long line of Hespaidim given, including one by the Noveminsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow, Sh’lita. I well remember one of the speakers tearfully exclaiming: “He was such a Gadol!”

    After that, Talmidim in the camp and many others prepared for the long over-night road trip up to Montreal. The contingent arrived at Yeshiva Gedola by the following Erev Shabbos mid-afternoon. Another set of Hespaidim were delivered, including one by the late Rosh Yeshiva of Telz in Cleveland, the Zakain HaDor, Rav Chaim Stein, ZT’L. After that, the time was now close to Shabbos, and Rav Weinberg was interred at a Beis Olam of the Montreal Kehila.

    The leadership of Yeshiva Gedola – Merkaz HaTorah – Tiferes Mordechai first went to one of Rav Weinberg’s son-in-laws, Rav Dovid Altulsky, Sh’lita, and then latter, to Rav Yaakov Bistrits, Sh’lita. (See the yeshiva web site at

    Recently, publications have been made of transcripts of Rav Weinberg’s shiurim.

    It is noteworthy that his yortzheit, 15 Tammuz, is the same as, among other Tzaddikim, the Raban Shel Yisroel, Rav Chaim ben Atar, the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh, (1696-1743). For in the Sicha that he gave each week at Shalos Seudos, he often said over pieces from the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh.

    Y’he Zichro Boruch.

  3. Derecheretz#2.A RABBI BARON ?A man with haskomas from the tchebiner rov ,rav ahron rav moishe&the stiepeler deserves a little more respect!HE WAS THE THE CHOIZER OF REB CHAIMS sHIUR IN SHANGHAI! and iF hes not enough i hope harav hirshprung is choshuv enough for you he was also rosh hayeshiva in merkaz hatorah. as far as the hespeidim goes ,rav shmuel berenbaum best explained reb mottel when he said ‘umordechai loy yichreh velov yishtachaveh’ yehi zichroy boruch!p.s.after the end of merkaz hatorah,chofetz chaim of queens had a yeshiva in the young israel building under rav paltiel freund z’l