Rav Yaakov Krantz, Dubna Maggid (1741-1804). Born in a province of Vilna, Jacob ben Wolf Kranz showed exceptional homiletical and Kabbalistic talents at an early age, and by the age of twenty became
the darshan of his city. From there he began preaching through the cities of around Lublin in Poland, finally settling in Dubnow. His reputation as a maggid spread, bringing him in contact with the great rabbis of the period, including the Vilna Gaon. The majority of his works were in homiletics, using stories and parables to transmit deeper ethical and moral teachings.
Rav Ephraim Fishel Shapira of Strikov (1743-1822). A disciple of the Magid of Mezritch, the Rebbe Elimelech and the Chozeh of Lublin, he was called the “Oleh Temimah.”
Rav Aryeh Leibush Lipschitz of Vishnitza, the Aryeh d’Bei Ilai (1849)
Rav Pinchas Epstein, Av Beis Din of Yerushalayim (1887-1969). Born in Griva, Lithuania, his primary teacher was R’ Zalman Sender Kahana Shapiro in Bialystok. In 1904, he settled in Eretz Yisrael with his father and began studying at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in the Old City of Yerushalayim. R’ Epstein was one of the founders and early leaders of the Eidah Ha’chareidis, a group which split from the established Yerushalayim community in 1919 in response to the growing influence of the Zionists on the existing religious council. In 1949, he was appointed to head the Eidah Ha’chareidis.
Rav Suleiman (Salman) Mutzafi of Yerushalayim (1900-1974); born in Baghdad. His father, Rav Tzion Meir, descended from an illustrious family of Torah scholars who first arrived in Baghdad during the Spanish expulsion.
Rav Chanina Shiff (1928-2007). A descendant of the Noam Elimelech of Lizhensk, he sent off in cattle cars to concentration camps where his parents were murdered. His older brother, Rav Elazar Shiff, later a prominent Belzer Chassid, also survived, as did two of their sisters. They arrived in Haifa on erev Tisha B’Av, 1945. Chanina Shiff went to learn in Yeshiva Sefas Emes. He served four generations of Ger Admorim as gabbai, he called out the kibbudim at every Gerer chasuna, and he composed and sang grammen at each Gerrer chasunah.
Today in History – 17 Teves
· Anti-Jewish riots in different parts of Austria, 1312.
· The organization of the Jewish community of Romewas approved by the Pope, 1524.
· Frederick William of Brandenburgissued a decree safeguarding the privileges of the Jews of Berlin, 1676.
· 40 Jewish workers were killed by Arabs at the Haifarefineries, 1947
Yahrtzeits – 18 Teves
Rav Huna bar Mar Zutra (the Reish Galusa) killed al kiddush Hashem, along with Rav Mesharshiya bar Pekod (470)
Rav Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov (1783-1841 [or 1850]), born to Reb Pesach and his wife, the niece of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. A talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin, Tzvi Elimelech was told by the Chozeh that he was from Shevet Yissascher, which explained the talmid’s special feelings towards Chanukkah, as it is known that the Sanhedrin of the Chashmonaim had many members from Shevet Yissascher. This is the source of the name of his sefer, Bnei Yissaschar.
Rav Moshe of Korestchov (1866). Born to the Chernobyler Maggid, Rav Mordechai, Rav Moshe was the grandson of the Meor Einayim of Chernobyl on his father’s side and Rav Aharon HaGadol of Karlin on his mother’s side. His brother was Rav Yochanan of Rachmistrivka. A few years after his father’s petira, he abided to the urging of the Chasidim and set up his court in Korestchov. He was succeeded by his son, Rav Mordechai.
Rav Chaim Shmuel Horowitz of Chentchin (1915 or 1916).
Rav Tzvi Hirsch Grodzinski (1858-1947). Born in Tavrig, a suburb of Vilna, he learned with his younger cousin, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in the town of Ivye, before learning in the Kovner Kollel under Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector. At Volozhin, he was recognized as one of the top tamidim of the Netziv. In 1891, when the Russian government demanded that Volozhin include secular studies in its curriculum, Rav Tzvi Hirsch moved to the USA and settled in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was appointed Chief Rabbi. In 1902, he became one of the 58 charter members of the Agudath Harabbanim. Among his sefarim are Mikveh Yisrael on hilchos mikvaos, Likutei Tzvi on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaimm Milli d’Brachos on meseches Brachos, and Mikra’ei Kodesh (3 volumes on hilchos krias haTorah). Thousands of manuscripts on his commentaries on Yoreh De’ah and every mesechta in Shas remain unpublished.
Rav Moshe Chalfon of Djerba, Tunisia, author of Sho’el Venish’al and Bris Kehuna (1874-1950)
Rav Mendel Geffner, initiator of mass Chol Hamoed Birchas Kohanim
Moshe Heller of Yerushalayim; only son of Rav Refoel Tzvi Mechel Heller (2002).
Rav Aryeh Leibish Halberstam, the Zhmigrader Rebbe (1912-2007). Two of his sons succeeded him – the Sanz-Zhmigrader Rebbe of Boro Park and the Sanz-Zhmigrader Rebbe of Europe.
Today in History – 18 Teves
· King of Sicily requires Jews to wear a special badge, 1369.
· Violent earthquake kills 2000 inTzefas and 700 inTiveria (1836)
· Two ships with “illegal” immigrants were taken by the British to Cyprus, 1947. Two years later – to the day – the British announced their intention to release the Cyprusinternees