-Rav Meir ben Baruch, the Maharam MiRottenberg, teacher of the Rosh, (1215-1293). In 1286, Rudolf of Germany wanted to institute a new tax on the Jews of Germany. The Jews objected to this tax.
The Maharam decided to leave Germany, but on the 4th of Tamuz, he was kidnapped by the Bishop of Bazil and handed over to the Emperor, who held Rav Meir captive in the Tower of Enzisheim in Alsace. Rav Meir composed “Shaali S’-rufa B’esh,” which is included in the kinos of Tisha B’Av. He was niftar in the prison and wasn’t properly buried until 4 Adar in 1307.
-Rav Menachem Mendel of Rimanov (1755-1815). He was introduced to Chasidus at the age of 11 when he met the Maggid of Mezritch. He studied Torah and Chassidus under Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg, together with two of his friends, the Chozeh of Lublinand the Maggid ofKoznitz.His main teacher, however, was of Reb Elimelech of Lyzensk. Among his disciples were such outstanding Chassidic leaders as Reb Naftali of Ropshitz and Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov. His teachings are collected in Menachem Zion, Divrei Menachem, and Be’eros HaMayin.
-Rav Pinchas Twersky of P’shemishel (1943).
-Rav Yaakov Moshe Mordechai Soloveitchik of Lucerne (1915-1995). His father was Rav Yisrael Gershon Soloveitchik, son of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk. Soon after his Bar Mitzvah, he traveled to Kamenitz to study under Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz. He fled Poland to evade the draft, along with Rav Ahron Leib Shteinman, and the two stayed in Switzerland until the end of World War II. After the war, they traveled to Eretz Yisrael and studied at the Lomza Yeshiva in Petach Tikva, where he shared a room with Rav Chaim Kanievsky. He moved to Lugano and then Lucerne to head a Yeshiva and married Rivka Ruchama, daughter of Rav Shmuel Zanvil Neuman.
-Rav Ezra Attia of Syria, Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef, Yerushalayim from 1925 to 1970 (1885-1970). He was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1887, and was named after the prophet Ezra because his mother Leah had had several miscarriages before his birth and gave birth to him after praying at Ezra’s grave in Tedef, Syria. Rav Attia began his studies in Aleppo under Rav Yehuda Aslan Attia (possibly a distant relative), but he soon moved with his family moved to Yerushalayim. After his father died when Rav Attiah was 20, three leading Sephardic sages took upon themselves to support him so he could continue his studies. In 1907, Rav Attia began studying in the new Yeshivat Ohel Moed (which later became Porat Yosef) under Rav Raphael Shlomo Laniado and Rav Yosef Yedid. His studies were interrupted by World War I, and he fled to Egypt to avoid being drafted into the Ottoman Army. While there, he established Yeshivat Keter Torah in Cairo, which continued to exist until 1948. Returning to Eretz Yisrael, Rav Attia was appointed to head Yeshivat Porat Yosef and also to serve on the Sephardic Bet Din. He continued to head Porat Yosef until his death, and among his students were Rav Ovadiah Yosef, Rav Ben Zion Abba Shaul, and leading rabbis of the Syrian communities in the United States and Panama.
-Rav Moshe Kopshitz (1941-2004), great-grandson of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. Rosh yeshiva of Kol Yaakov and Rav of yerushalayim’s Romema neighborhood.
Today in History – 19 Iyar
· Right of citizenship was denied to Jews of the canton of Aargau, Switzerland, 1809. Emancipation was delayed until 1879.
· Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister of propaganda, committed suicide after ordering the murder of his own six children while serving as Chancellor of Germany for one day following the death of Hitler, 1945
· The Soviet Union announced the fall of Berlin, and the Allies announced the surrender of Nazi troops in Italy and parts of Austria.