Rav Alexander Ziskind, born in Brzhen, but lived most of his life in Horodna (Grodno, Belarus), Lithuania, the product of the teaching of Rav Aryeh Leib Epstein, Rav of Nikolsberg. He authored the mussar work, Yesod V’shoresh Ha’avoda, which contains how one should behave every hour of the day and kavanos for tefillos and mitvos, as well as Karnei Ohr, a commentary on the Zohar. (1700-1794)
Rav Chanoch Henoch HaKohen (1798-1870), Alexander Rebbe. He was a disciple of Rav Simcha Bunam of Pshis’cha, Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and the Chidushei Harim.
Rav Nachum Mordechai Friedman (1946), Tchortkover Rebbe
Rav Yechezkel Levenstein, mashgiach of Ponevezh (1885-1974). Born in Warsaw in 1896 to Osminer Chassidim, he lost his mother at age 5. At 13, he joined the yeshiva at Lomza. Early in life, he moved to Radin to learn with the Chafetz Chaim. There, he met the mashgiach, Rav Yerucham Levovitz, who was a talmid of the Alter of Kelm. He then learned in Kelm, where he was fortunate to enjoy the close attention of Rav Tzvi Hirsch Broide (son-in-law of the Alter), at whose table he ate his Shabbos meals. In 1919, while Reb Yerucham was serving as mashgiach, the Mirrer Yeshiva was exiled from its hometown of Mir, Poland, into Russia and then to Vilna. Reb Chatzkel, who was then learning in Mir, was asked by the rosh yeshiva, Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, to supervise the yeshiva’s spiritual welfare until Reb Yeruchom returned. Reb Chatzkel was approached by Rav Aharon Kotler, who headed Yeshivas Eitz Chaim in Kletsk, to come and serve as mashgiach ruchani in his yeshiva. Reb Chatzkel accepted. In 1935, he moved to Eretz Yisrael to serve as mashgiach of Yeshivas Lomza in Petach Tikvah, which was headed by Rav Reuven Katzl, but he moved back to serve as mashgiach in Mir after the petira of Reb Yerucham. After 2 years in America, he served as mashgiach at the Mir in Israel, then – upon the passing of Rav Dessler – at Ponevezh.
Rav Moshe Weber (1914-2000) would go to the Western Wall from his home in Meah Shearim nearly every day to pray and to help visitors wrap tefillin. Less publicly, he distributed enormous sums of tzedakah to the city’s poor. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said of him that he is one of the holiest and kindest people in the world. He published several volumes of Torah insights in Yarim Moshe. There is an ongoing periodical of his teachings distributed weekly called Shemu V’Techi Nafshechem, which also offers for sale his audio recordings.
Rav Yitzchak Shlomo (ben Avraham Moshe) Zilberman (1928-2001), Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Aderes Eliyahu. Born in Berlin, he lost his mother when he was only three years old and his father when was eleven. Alone, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael before the war. There he learned at Yeshiva Kol Torah under Rav Yechiel Michel Schlesinger and thereafter at the Mirrer yeshiva, under Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel
Today in History – 18 Adar
· After being assisted by the Jews to overcome the Persians in return for a promise of amnesty, Byzantine Emperor Heraclius entered Yerushalayim as conqueror, 629. The local priests convinced him that killing Jews was a positive commandment and that his promise was therefore invalid. Hundreds of Jews were massacred and thousands of others fled to Egypt, bringing the sizable Jewish life in the Galil and Judea to an end. Three years later, Heraclius forced baptism on North African Jewish communities, in what may have been the first case of officially sanctioned forced baptism on Jews. The Jews in Constantinople suffered from anti-Jewish riots during his reign.
· Jews were expelled from Syria, 1496.
· The Pope reaffirmed a Church rule forcing Christianity upon a Jewish child who was baptized against the will of his parents and in violation of canonical law, 1747.
· David Emmanuel, the first Jewish governor in the United States, was sworn in as governor of Georgia, 1801.
· Napoleon I issued a decree suspending for a decade the emancipation of Jews in the French-occupied European countries, 1808.
· A Russian imperial decree ordered the expulsion of all Jewish artisans, brewers, and distillers from Moscow, 1891.
· Jews of Smyrna, Turkey were attacked by Greeks charging the Jews with ritual murder, 1901.