Today’s Yahrtzeits & History – 13 Elul

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flicker_100393Rav Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, author of Ben Ish Chai, Od Yosef Chai, Rav Pe’alim, Ben Yehoyada, Aderet Eliyahu, and Imrei Bina, and many other works (1832-1904). Both his grandfather, Rav Moshe Chaim, and his father, Rav Eliyahu, served as Rav of Baghdad. Rav Eliyahu and his wife were childless for many years. Finally, 10 years after their marriage, his wife made the long journey from Baghdad to Morocco to request a blessing from the renowned Rav Yaakov Buchatzeira, the Abir Yaakov. The tzaddik blessed her that she would give birth to a child who would one day illuminate the eyes of Jews everywhere. Less than a year later, she gave birth to a boy, who was named Yosef Chaim. As a child, he spent most of his time studying in his father’s large library. At the age of 10, he left the Sephardic cheder in which he learned and began to study with his uncle, the tzaddik Rav Dovid Chai Nissim. Rav Dovid later founded the famed Shoshanim LeDovid Yeshiva located in the Beis Yisrael section of Yerushalayim. When his father passed away, Rav Yosef Chaim was only 25 years old. Nevertheless, the Jews of Baghdad accepted him to fill his fathers position as Rav of Baghdad. His opinion on halachic issues was sought throughout the Sephardi world and is still followed by thousands of people from these communities, and even outside these communities. Rav Yosef Chaim’s son, Rav Yaakov, succeeded him as rav and maggid of Baghdad. His main disciple was the kabbalist and tzaddik Rav Yehuda Moshe Petaya.

Rav Yaakov Yisrael Twersky of Tcherkas (Czerkass), son of the Magid of Chernobyl and author of Emek Tefilla (1876

Rav Yaakov Gezundteheit of Warsaw (1878)

Rav Avraham Yissachar Rabinowitz, the Chesed LeAvraham (1843-1892). The 2nd Rebbe of Radomsk, following Rav Shlomo HaCohen Rabinowicz (1801-1866), the Tiferes Shlomo.

Rav Yerachmiel Moshe Hopstein of Kozhnitz (1860-1909). The scion of a long line of Kozhnitzer Rebbes, beginning with the Kozhnitzer Maggid and through Rav Yechiel Yaakov, Rav Yerachmiel’s father. When Yerachmiel was only 6 years old, his father was niftar, and the Rebbetzen married Rav Aharon (the second) of Stolin. Reb Yerachmiel was engaged to be married at the age of 12, but the wedding was pushed off for two years, due to the untimely death of the Bais Aharon of Stolin and his son, Rav Asher. The following year, in 1875, Rav Yerachmiel returned to Kozhnitz to lead his flock of Chasidim, a job he performed for 34 years.

Rav Avraham Fish (1998)

Today in History – 13 Elul

· 7,000 stateless Jews in the Vichy Free Zone of France were rounded up, 1942.
· Nazis closed all shuls and schools in the Kovno Ghetto, 1942.
· UN mediator for Palestine, Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte assassinated in Yerushalayim by “Lehi” fighters (Sten Gang), 1948. Lehi, whose 3-man center committee included Yitzchak Shamir, feared that the Israeli leadership would agree to Bernadotte’s peace proposals, which they considered disastrous. They did not know that the Israeli leaders had already decided to reject Bernadotte’s plans and take the military option. Noted noted for his negotiation of the release of about 15,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II, he succeeded in achieving a truce in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and laid the groundwork for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The former included the provision of “the right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory…” The so-called truce was enacted privately, and the secret was publicly exposed in October, only
nine days before the U.S. presidential elections, causing President Truman great embarrassment. Truman reacted by making a strongly pro-Zionist declaration, which contributed to the defeat of the Bernadotte plan in the UN during the next two months.

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  1. For the record: Folke Bernadotte was in fact a almost only a front name for the bus transports to Sweden, but a minor player in the release of inmates. Bernadottes aim was to free Scandinavians, not necesserely Jewish. Gillel (Hillel) Storch a Latvian Jew was the person who negotiated about the Jews with Henrich Himmler trough Himmlers physotherapist Felix Kerstens, a Latvian. I know because my father-in-law (Gershom ben Shimon z´l) was one of Storchs coworkers in this case.


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