Rabbeinu Moshe ben Maimon, the Rambam (1135-1204). Born at Cordova, Spain, the Rambam received his rabbinical instruction at the hands of his father, Maimon. Moshe was only thirteen years old when Cordova fell into the hands of the fanatical Almohades, and Rav Maimon and the other Jews were compelled to choose between Islam and exile. Rav Maimon and his family chose the latter course, and for twelve years led a nomadic life, wandering throughout Spain. In 1160 they settled at Fez, Morocco. In 1165 they went to Acre, to Jerusalem, and then to Fostat (Cairo), where they settled. After the death of Maimon, Moses’ brother Dovid supported the family by trading in precious stones. Dovid perished at sea, and with him was lost not only his own fortune, but large sums that had been entrusted to him by other traders. These events affected Maimonides’ health, and he went through a long sickness. After several years of practice, the Rambam’s authority in medical matters was firmly established, and he was appointed private physician to Saladin’s vizier, who recommended him to the royal family. Between the years 1158 and 1190 Maimonides produced a commentary on the Mishnah, the Mishneh Torah, and the philosophical work “Moreh Nevuchim.”
Rav Yaakov Abuchatzeira (1880), grandson of the founder of the Abuchatzeira family, Rav Shmuel (Elbaz), and son of Rav Masoud, who was Rav of Tafelaletch (Taflilat), Morocco. He took his father’s position upon the latter’s petira and built the yeshiva there, which produced thousands of students. He wrote many sefarim on all aspects of Torah, including Abir Yaakov. His grandson is Rav Yisrael, the Baba Sali, and his great-grandson is Rav Meir Abuchatzeira. In 1880, he attempted to move to Eretz Yisrael, but was nifter in Damanhur, Egypt, where he is buried.
Rav Simcha Yissacher Dov of Chechenov (1914)
Rav Yisrael Reich of Budapest (1933)
Rav Raphael Eliyahu Eliezer Mishkovski (1917-1981). Rav of the town of Rechasim and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Knesses Chizkiyahu in Kfar Chassidim, both in northern Israel). Author of Mishnas Eliyahu
Rav Elimelech (Meilich) Izak (1943-2006). He was named after his mother’s ancestor, the Noam Elimelech. He was born in Yerushalayaim, learned at the Chayei Olam yeshiva, and became a leading chassid of Karin-Stolin. In his later years, he was appointed director of the Karlin Talmud Torah and Yeshiva and gabbai of the Beis Medrash.
Today in History – 20 Teves
· On the Rambam’s 279th yahrtzeit in 1483, the first printed edition of Gemara Brachos was published in Soncino, Italywith his commentary on the Mishna.
· The Jewish community of Ancona, Italymiraculously escaped unharmed from an earthquake, 1690. They declared a fast day in commemoration, and they celebrated their personal Purim on 21 Teves.
· Emile Zola published “J’Accuse” in defense of French Jewish captain Dreyfus, claiming that the French military leaders were making him into a scapegoat, 1898.
· The League of Nationswas established when the Treaty of Versailles went into effect, January 10, 1920.
· The Decree for the Elimination of Jews from German Economic Life took effect in Nazi Germany, 1939.
· The Nazis prohibited Jews from congregating in shuls and private homes for prayer, and from changing residences in preparation for setting up ghettoes, 1940.
· 6000 Jews killed in Bucharestriots, 1941