Rav Avraham ben Dovid, Ravad III, also known as the Baal Hasagos (1121-1198). The 3rd of three great Jews named Avraham ben Dovid who lived in the same era, this Rav Avraham was born in Provence in the small village of Puskeiras (Posquières) to a wealthy and prominent man who was close to Prince Roger. At the age of 12 he went to Lunel to study with Rav Meshulem ben Moshe, author of Hashlama on the Rif. He married the daughter of Rav Avraham ben Yitzchak, Av Beis Din (known as Raavad II), the author of Ha’Eshkol. He then learned in the yeshiva of Narbonne, headed by Rav Yosef ben Marven Halevi. The Ravad’s brief critical notes to the Mishneh Torah are known for their abrasive quality. He objected to the Rambam’s methodology of presenting normative rulings without indication of their sources of rationales. In his later years, he learned kabala, and his two sons, Rav Dovid and Rav Yitzchak Sagi Nahor, were among Provence’s first kabalists. Among the Ravad III’s greatest students were Rav Yitzchak Hacohen of Narbonne (the first commentator of the Yerushalmi), Rav Avraham ben Natan HaYarchi (author of HaManhig), Rav Meir Ben Yitzchak (author of HaEzer), and Rav Asher ben Meshulem of Lunel.
Rav Elazar of Kozhnitz [Kozienice](1863). Son of Rav Yisrael, the Kozhnitzer Maggid, his thoughts are recorded in Likutei Mahara. One of his disciples was Rav Aryeh Yehuda Leib haLevi Epstein (1837-1914), “Rebbe Leibush the Second,” author of Birkas Tov.
Rav Meshulam Roth (1875-1962). Born in Gorodenka, Galicia (now in Ukraine), his teachers in Talmud and halachah were Rav Yaakov Weidenfeld (rabbi of Grimaylov and father of the Tschebiner Rav, Dov Berish Weidenfeld), Rav Avraham Mendel Steinberg (rabbi of Brody) and Rav Meir Arik (rabbi of Bucach, and perhaps the leading Galician sage of the period). For a time, Rav Roth also studied with Rav Yehuda Modern of Sighet, from whom he gained a strong attachment to the works of the Chasam Sofer. After his marriage, he was elected rabbi of Chorostkiv (Ukraine). Rav Roth was eventually elected rabbi of Shatz (Suceava, Romania) and later Czernowitz (Tchernovitz), Ukraine, where he witnessed the community’s destruction during the Holocaust. In 1944, Rav Roth managed to escape to Eretz Yisrael.
Rav Yehoshua Zelig Diskin, Rav of Pardes Chana (1896-1970); born in Chislavichi, son of Rav Shimon Moshe Diskin (1872-1930), author of Midrash Shimoni. Rav Yoshua wrote the preface to his father’s sefer, entitled Toldos Ha-Mechaber. His son, named for his father, Rav Shimon Diskin (1932-1999), was born in the town of Periaslov in the Kiev region of the Ukraine where Rav Yoshua Zelig was rav. He became one of the roshei yeshivos of Kol Torah. The Diskin family is descendant from the Maharal MiPrague and the Chavos Yo’ir.
Rav Dovid Hersh Mayer, Rosh Yeshiva, Beis Binyamin, Stamford (CT) (1947-2002). Son of Rav Yitzchak Zev Mayer (Nitra, Czechoslovakia), author of Maharsha Ha’aruch, a close friend of Rav Michoel Ber Weissmandl. His mother, Leah, was the main character in the famous story of the woman who demanded a knife for her newborn son as she was being taken away to a concentration camp; she then circumcised her 8-day child. The child was Rav Dovid Hersh’s older brother, Menashe. The family survived and moved to America. Rav Dovid Hersh learned at the Nitra yeshiva in Mount Kisco, NY, then at Lakewood. He was close to Rav Shneur Kotler and Rav Nosson Wachtfogel and was instrumental in the founding of the Los Angeles Kollel. He founded Beis Binyamin in 1977.
Today in History – 26 Kislev
· First Crusade proclaimed, 1095.
· Jews are expelled from Breslau, Silesia, 1738.
· Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island — Congregation Yeshuas Yisrael — oldest existing shul in the U.S., was dedicated in 1763.
· Emancipation of the Jews of Hungary, 1867.
· General Allenby, head of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (of the British army) entered Yerushalayim, forcing the Turks to retreat, 1917.
· The SS Ruslam reaches Jaffa with 671 people aboard, 1919, marking the period of what is known as the “Third Aliya,” which lasted four years, bringing 35,000 immigrants.
· The first of the Tower and Stockade settlements (Tel Amel) Nir David is erected 1936.
· Libyaproclaims independence, 1951, forcing most of the Jewish community to flee. The last Jew in Libya, Esmeralda Meghnagi, died in February of 2002.