Yahrtzeits, Friday, 17 Elul
Rav Chaim Benveniste (1603 [or 1599]-1673). A disciple of Rav Yosef Trani. Born in Constantinople, he was appointed Rav of Tita (near Izmir) in 1644. In 1658, he was appointed one of the rabbis of Izmir (Smyrna); he eventually became Chief Rabbi there in the 1660s. He became an adherent of Shabsai Tzvi (1665-67) but subsequently repented. He authored Kenesses HaGedolah, a digest of halachic material from the time of Rav Yosef Caro until his own time.
Rav Nosson Nota Shapiro, maggid of Lublin (1752).
Rav Yosef Yoska of Dubno, author of Yesod Yosef, an encyclopedic work on mussar, drawing heavily on the Zohar (1800). A student of the Maggid of Mezritch.
Rav Dovid Dov Taub, Rav of of Dabrizinsk, author of Binyan Dovid (1899).
Rav Yakov Kopel Reich, Rav of Budapest (1838-1929). Born in the city of Verboi to Rav Avraham Yechezkel, who was the son of Rav Yaakov Kopel Charif, author of Sefer Yaavatz on Chulin. He learned in Pressburg under the Kesav Sofer and in Grossvardein under Rav Yitzchak Aharon Landesberg. In 1860, he succeeded his father-in-law as Rav of Sobotitch. In 1872, he became Rav of Verboi, and in 1890, he was appointed Rav of Budapest.
Today in History, Friday, 17 Elul
· 2000 Jews of Caesarea murdered by the local population at the instigation of the Romans, 66 C. E.
· The discovery of the body of a Christian child led to a ritual blood libel and the hanging of many prominent Jews of England, 1255.
· Pogrom in Shedlitz, Russia, 1906.
· The anti-Semitic Nuremberg racial laws were passed by the Nazis, 1935.
· Germanyattacked Poland, 1939, launching World War II, which resulted in the murder of over 6 million Jews and the redistribution of the Jewish population all over the world, with many Jews eventually reaching Eretz Yisrael.
· The three-day hostage siege at a school in Beslan, Russia, ended in bloody chaos after Chechen terrorists set off bombs as Russian commandos stormed the building. More than 330 people – including 186 children – were killed, 2004.
Yahrtzeits, Shabbos, 18 Elul
Rav Yehuda Loew, the Maharal (1525-1609). Born in Posen, Poland, on the night of the Pesach Seder, to a distinguished family of rabbis that traced its ancestry to King Dovid. He was the youngest of four brothers. The Maharal married at the age of 32 to Pearl. He had six girls and one boy who was named after the Maharal’s father, Betzalel. In 1553 he was elected rabbi of Nikolsburg and the Province of Moravia, where he remained for the following 20 years. In 1573 he moved to Prague, where he opened a yeshiva. In 1592 the Maharal accepted the position of rabbi in Posen, returning to Prague in 1598 to serve as its chief rabbi. The Maharal castigated the educational methods of his day where boys were taught at a very young age and insisted that children must be taught in accordance with their intellectual maturity. One of his leading disciples was R. Yom Tov Heller, author of the classic mishnaic commentary, Tosafos Yom Tov, who, in his introduction informs us that the Maharal greatly encouraged group study of the Mishna. At the same time, he was fully conversant with the scientific knowledge of his time as well as friendly with some of the contemporary eminent scientists. His disciple, Dovid Ganz, worked in the observatory of Tycho Brahe, the distinguished astronomer. He was a prolific writer, and his works include: Tiferes Yisrael on the greatness of Torah and mitzvos; Nesivos Olam, on ethics; Be’er Hagolah, a commentary on rabbinic sayings; Netzach Yisrael, on exile and redemption; Or Chadash, on the book of Esther; Ner Mitzvah, on Chanukah; Gevuros Hashem, on the Exodus; and many others. Rav Kook stated that the “Maharal was the father of the approach of the Gaon of Vilna on the one hand, and of the father of Chasidus, on the other hand.” He has been described as a Kabbalist who wrote in philosophic garb.
Rav Abdala Somech, rebbe of Ben Ish Chai and head of Iraqi Jewry (1813-1889). Born in Baghdad, he traced his lineage back to Rav Nissim Gaon, head of the yeshivah of Neharda’ah.
Rav Ze’ev Nachum Bornstein, author of Agudas Eizov, Rav of Elkush and Biala, father of Rav Avraham Borenstein of Sochachov, the Avnei Nezer (1885).
Today in History, Shabbos, 18 Elul
· Shimon HaChashmona’i was elected Kohen Gadol and governor of the Jews, 141 BCE., marking the end of the struggle for independence and the beginning of the Chashmonaim dynasty (which lasted for 206 years).
· Birthday of Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov, 1698.
· The Baal Shem Tov revealed the Chassidic movement and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 1734.
· Birthday of R. Shneur Zalman ben Baruch,the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad, 1745
· Israelagreed to accept reparation money from West Germany, 1952.