Rav Chaim ben Atar, the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh, (1696-1743). Born into a well-respected family in Sali, Morocco, Rav Chaim spent his early years learning with his grandfather, whose name he shared. Rav Chaim’s dream was to go to Israel. With 30 followers he arrived in Israel, four days before Rosh HaShanah in 1742 and settled in Acco. Rav Chaim and his students spent Yom Kippur in the cave of Eliyahu HaNavi on Mount Carmel. Purim was spent in Tzfat and Miron, where a great deal of time was spent studying the holy Zohar. On the 15th of Elul of 1743, Rav Chaim finally arrived in Jerusalem with his group. He immediately established a yeshiva called Knesses Yisrael and second secretive yeshiva for the study of Kabbalah. One of his new students was Rav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, the Chida, who at that time was only 18 years old
Rav Aryeh Leib Ginzberg, the Shaagas Aryeh (1695-1785). Born in Pinsk, he was the son of Rav Asher, Av Beis Din of Pinsk. When he was still young, his family moved to Minsk. A widow in the city had a complete set of the Shas in her home and would loan masechtos to any talmid chacham who needed them. When Aryeh Leib was still a child, he borrowed masechtos from her. Thus, every day, he would complete one masechta, and then ask her to exchange it for a different one. In 1725, when he was only thirty, Rav Aryeh Leib was invited to serve as the Rosh Yeshivah of Minsk, but the laypersons forced him out, since he was unashamed to rebuke them when he felt that it was necessary. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to serve as Rav of Volozhin (where he authored Shaagas Aryeh), and later in Metz, Germany. Prior to his petirah, the Shaagas Aryeh made a siyum of Shas, which he had reviewed one thousand times during his lifetime.
Rav Dovid Moshe Rosenbaum of Kretshnif (1969), son of Rav Eliezer Zev Rosenbaum and son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Mordechai of Nadvorna. Lived in Rechovot.
Rav Mordechai Weinberg, Rosh Yeshiva of Montreal (1992).
Rav Amram Blau, head of Neturei Karta in Yerushalayim (1894-1974). He was close with the Brisker Rov and the Chazon Ish and earned their respect. Neturei Karta movement broke off from Agudath Israel in 1935 because of their insistence on total separation from the Zionist Jewish community. In 1938, Rav Blau and Aharon Katzenellenbogen seceded from the Edah Charedis. For the most part, the members of Neturei Karta are descended from Hungarian Jews that settled in Yerushalayim’s Old City in the early nineteenth century and currently number about 5000. Rav Blau was forced to surrender leadership of Neturei Karta in 1965, after he married Ruth Ben-Dovid, who was a divorced woman and a convert from Catholicism, two years after his first wife, Hinda, passed. She also was a convert and former member of the French Resistance, who had rescued Blau during the Holocaust. In December 2006, Satmar leaders condemned six Neturei Karta adherents as “reckless outcasts” for attending the Holocaust denial conference hosted by Iran. Rav Amram Blau, as well as his successor Rav Aharon Katzenelenbogen, were vehemently opposed to activities of this sort. As an indication of his disfavor, Rav Katzenelenbogen went to the Zionist Israeli secular court to enforce an order forbidding Moshe Hirsh from leaving Israel, to prevent him from engaging in joint activities with Jew-hating Arabs.
Today in History – 15 Tammuz
· Ezra leaves Bavel on the 15-day trip to Yerushalayim, 346 BCE
· Two years after Miguel Rodrigues was discovered holding Jewish rites and accused of destroying a crucifix, a great Auto da Fe was held in Madrid in the presence of the King, Queen, and foreign ambassadors, 1632. Rodrigues, his wife Isabel, and five others were burned alive. Their house was razed and a convent called La Paciencia was built on the site.
· Druze Arabs attacked the Jews of Tzefas, 1838.