Rav Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch (1704-1772). Born in Lukatch to Reb Avraham, he was descended from Rav Hai Gaon and Rav Yochanan Hasandler, a descendent of Dovid Hamelech. Rav Dov Ber learned with the Pnei Yehoshua in Lemberg early in his life. In 1752, he became the Baal Shem Tov’s closest disciple. Among his students were the Rebbe Reb Shmuel Shmelke HaLevi Horowitz and his brother, Reb Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz, the Baal HaFloh, the Rebbe Reb Zushia and his brother, Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv, Rav Nachum of Chernobyl, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi. His son was Rav Avraham HaMalach (1740-1776). The classic anthologies of his teachings are Likutei Amarim, Torah Ohr, and Ohr HaEmmes.
Rav Yitzchak Chai Taib of Tunisia, author of Cheilev Chitim (1835)
Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriyeh, Beis Midrash Lamed Daas (1995)
Rav Menachem Nachum of Tolna (1915)
Rav Shaul Mekiketz Shelai, born in Djerba, one of the two main cities in Tunisia, son of Rav Matuk Sali, and grandson of Emmanuel Shelai. At an early age, he leaned under rav Dovid HaKohen, and at age 20, he began to teach in the yeshiva of Rav Yosef Bereibi, the Ben Porat Yosef. With the latter’s passing, Rav Shaul became the Rosh Yeshiva. Rav Shaul edited and annotated many sefarim by previous gedolim of Djerba, including Kisei Rachamim by Rav Rachamim Mazuz and Ben Porta Yosef by Rav Yosef Bereibi. Later in life, he and his wife moved to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Shlomi, near Nahariya. In Yisrael, he wrote Midrasho shel Shlomo in 1948 and Karmi Sheli (on Kiddushin) and Medrash Avos (on Avos) in 1963, as well as other writings. His final work, Bayit Va’Shem was published posthumously in 1975. Appended to it is Va’Yatek Mi’Sham, offering guidelines and insightsd on raising children.
Today in History – 19 Kislev
· Reichfuhrer Heinrich Himmler ordered deportation of Polish Jews, 1939.
· The Baal Hatanya was released from prison in Petersburg, where he been held on charges that his teachings threatened the authority of the czar. The day is celebrated by Lubavitcher Chassidim as a yom tov.
Today’s Yahrtzeits – 20 Kislev
Rav Baruch Hager of Seret-Viznitz, the Imrei Baruch (1892). The son of Rav Menachem Mendel Hager, Rav Baruch was Rebbe for only eight years, and was niftar at a young age. His son, Rav Yisrael Hager (the Ahavas Yisrael), was born when Rav Baruch was only 15 years old.
Rav Yitzchak Hutner, Rosh Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, author of Pachad Yitzchak (1907-1981). His uncle, R’ Benzion Ostrover, had been a disciple of Rav Mendel of Kotzk, and was instrumental in providing his young nephew with a direct link to the world of Chasidus. At the age of 15, he went to Slobodka and was directed by the Alter, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. In 1925, he entered the new Slabodka branch in Chevron, where he also met and learned from Rav A. I. Kook. He remained until 1929, after which he returned to his parents in Warsaw. He became a personal tutor for Rav Moshe Solevetchik’s son, Aharon. In 1932, he published his Toras HaNazir, a commentary on the Rambam’s Hilchos Nazir. In 1933, he married Masha Lipshitz and moved to Eretz Yisrael. Despite his great attachment to the Land, they left for America one year later, not to return for 30 years. He built Yeshiva Chaim Berlin to his specifications with his famous blend of Torah philosophies. Among his talmidim are Rav Yitzchak Shurin, grandson of Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky. Among his colleagues at Slobodka were R’ Yitzchak HaLevi Ruderman, R’ Reuven Grozovsky; R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky; and R’ Aharon Kotler. In 1949 he began publishing his discourses on morals and ethics which he subtitled, Divrei Torah B’inyanei Hilchot Deos V’Chovos Halevovos. As a young man he wrote Toras Hanazir on the Rambam’s Hilchos Nezirus. He wrote a profound commentary (Kovetz Heaaros) on Rabbeinu Hillel on the Safra. His discourses on Yomim Tovim and Shabbos (Pachad Yitzchok) are collected in seven volumes.
Rav Yochanan Twersky, the Rachmastrika Rebbe. He was also the cousin of the Belzer Rebbe. He was shot by the Nazis during Friday night prayers. His daughter, Malka married the first Boyaner Rebbe, Reb Yitzchak Friedman, the Pachad Yitzchak. (1981
Rav Meshulam Feivish HaLevi of Zbarazh, author of Yosher Divrei Emes, a basic work on chasidic thought (1794). He studied under R. Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov and R. Dov Ber of Mezritch. His teachings appear in Likutim Yekarim. His disciples included Rav Menachem Mendel of Kosov.
Rav Feivish of Kremenitz, the Mishnas Chachamim (1774)
Rav Hirsh Paley – Born in Shklov, Lithuania, to Rav Avraham Noach Paley, a close talmid of Rav Baruch Ber Leibovitz. The family immigrated to Eretz Yisrael when Rav Hirsh was fourteen. His father became the mashgiach in Yeshivas Chevron. Rav Hirsh would travel with his lifelong friend Rav Shalom Schwadron to hear Rav Elya Lopian in Yerushalayim, whom he considered his rebbi muvhak and and moreh derech. Rav Hirsh was the last surviving member of the Chevron community following the 1929 riots. In 1965, he married Menuchah, the daughter of Rav Shlomo Zalman Pines. She had been one of the first talmidos of Sara Schenirer and served as a mechaneches in Beis Yaakov Schools for over six decades, both in Tel Aviv and in Yerushalayim. They moved to Tel Aviv, where Rav Hirsh studied in Kollel Heichal HaTalmud, founded by his father. He later became mashgiach at Chevron Yeshiva.
Today in History – 20 Kislev
· Convocation held in Yerushalayim of all Jews living in Eretz Yisrael, 346 BCE. Ezra Hasofer appoints batei din to clarify the status of intermarried families.
· First Crusade proclaimed by the Council of Clermont, 1095.