Rav Aharon Shimon Shapiro of Prague (1679)
Rav Chizkiya ben Dovid di Silva, author of Pri Chadash on the Shulchan Aruch (1659-1698). Born in Livorna, Italy, he traveled to Amsterdam – home a large Sephardi community – in 1689, to raise funds for the publication of his sefer. While there, he was offered two positions, one to stay as Rav of Amsterdam and the other to lead a new yeshiva in Yerushalayim; he chose the latter. In 1693, he established the yeshiva – Bais Yaakov – in Yerushalayim. Three of his most prominent talmidim were Rav Shalomo Elgazi (the future Rav of Egypt), Rav Avraham Yitzchaki, and Rav Yitzchak Hakohen, author of Battei Kehuna. His sefer was unique that it focused primarily on divrei Chazal and Rishonim and was often critical of earlier Acharonim, even the Shulchan Aruch, often taking a more lenient position. As such, the sefer was quite controversial during his life.
Rav Gedalia of Linitz, author of Teshuos Chein (1803). Son of Rav Yitzchak, he was a disciple of the Magid of Mezritch. Rebbe Nachman said about Rav Gedalya of Linitz that he was foremost in the bringing of people to repentance in that generation, even though he never gave lectures and only sat and learned all day.
Rav Tzvi Mordechai of Plavna (1866)
Rav Shlomo of Vilna, author of Cheshek Shlomo (1905)
Rav Baruch Hager of Vishiva (1944)
Rav Yitzchak Shmuel Eliyahu Finkler of Radoshitz (Radoszyce) (1902-1944). Son of Rav Meir Menahem Finkler (1862-1912).
Rav Yisrael of Husyatin and Rizhin (1949). The son of Rav Mordechai Shraga and grandson of the Rizhiner Rebbe, he married Nechama Gitel, a grand-daughter of his uncle, Rav Avraham Yaakov of Sadiger, when he was 14 years old. He was also the uncle of Reb Moshenu of Boyan. In 1937, he moved to Tel Aviv, along with his son-in-law, Rav Yaakov, who would succeed him 12 years later.
Rav Shlomo Dovid Kahana of Warsaw and Yerushalayim, the Avi Ha’agunos (1869-1953). During the aftermath of the first and second World Wars, he undertook to solve the plight of Agunos. It is said that he obtained some seventy thousand signed affidavits, and he permitted some fifty thousand Agunos to remarry. In 1941, Rav Kahana settled in Eretz Yisrael, where he became Rav of the old city of Yerushalayim. There, he once again dealt with the problems of thousands of Agunos whom he permitted to remarry.
Rav Zushe Waltner (1918-2002). Born in Hungary, he traveled through Cracow and Switzerland until he eventually was admitted to England in 1937. There, Rav Waltner developed a very close relationship with Rav Eliahu Dessler. After the war, Rav Waltner and Rav Aryeh Grosnass traveled to Europe to help the shattered remnants of European Jewry, and founded the yeshiva in Sunderland to accommodate some of them. Traveling to Tangiers to recruit talmidim for Sunderland, he met R’ Shmuel Toledano who soon built a yeshiva building and then invited Rav Waltner to come and found a yeshiva. At the advice of Rav Dessler who consulted with the Chazon Ish on the matter, Rav Waltner accepted the challenge. There he set up a yeshiva called Eitz Chaim. There are thousands of bnei Torah and religious balabatim today who freely acknowledge that he is responsible for their spiritual life. He also established Otzar Hatorah institutions in Morocco. Among his talmidim from Tangier are Rav Shimon Pinto of Strasbourg and Rav Shlomo Farrache in Bnai Brak.
Today in History – 29 Kislev
· Followers of Zechariah of Kiev were burned in Moscow, 1503, on charges of Judaizing.
· Two years after the Baal Hatanya’s previous arrest and liberation, he was arrested a second time, again on charges that his teachings were undermining the imperial authority of the Czar. He was released on this date, which Lubavitcher Chassidim mark as a yom tov, 1800.
· Jews of Tel Aviv were expelled by the Turks and sent to Egypt, 1914.