Yahrtzeits – 14 Shevat
Rav Yaakov Yehoshua Falk Katz, the Pnei Yehoshua (1680-1756). Born in Cracow, he studied at Lvov (Lemberg), where he became Rav in 1718, succeeding the Chacham Tzvi.; Rav of Berlin in 1730 and Metz in 1734, succeeding Rav Yaakov Rischer (the Shevus Yaakov); Rav of Frankfurt in 1740. He sided strongly with Rav Yaakov Emden in his controversy with Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz. On the 3rd of Kislev of 1702, he was trapped under fallen rubble following an explosion that killed a total of 36 Jews of Lemberg, inclusing his wife, Leah, and their only daughter, Gittel. He vowed that if he got out alive, he would write a sefer. He was miraculaoulsy saved, and thereafter wrote the Pnei Yehoshua.
Rav Yechiel Danziger, first Rebbe of Alexander (1894). Born to Rav Shraga Feivel of Gritz-Makova, he became a chasid of Rav Yitzchak Kalish of Vorki, then his son, Rav Mendel of Vorki. Following’s Rav Mendel’s petira, Rav Yechiel became a follower of Rav Dov Ber of Biala. After his own petira, Rav Yechiel was succeeded by his son Rav Yisrael.
Rav Aryeh Kaplan (1935-1983). Born in New York City , Rav Aryeh had a prolific but tragically brief career, producing over 60 works. After his early education in Torah Vadaas and Mir Yeshivos in Brooklyn, he studied at the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem . He also received a master’s degree in physics and was listed in the Who’s Who in Physics.
Rav Aharon Aryeh Leib Leifer, Nadvorna Rebbe author of the Yad Aharon (1817 – 1897). The son of R’ Issachar Dov Bertzi Leifer of Nadvorna, succeeding him as Rebbe
Rav Elazar Hendeles, close aid to the Gerrer Rebbes (1913-2004). Born in Lodz , Poland , he made aliya in 1937. He was a confidante of the Lev Simcha and was a loyal messenger of the Beis Yisrael, establishing homes for refugees, working on hachnasas kalla, helping the sick and poor, and establishing Orthodox communities in Tel Aviv, Ashdod , and Arad .
Rav Daniel Frisch of the Toldos Aharon community (1935-2005). After surviving the Holocaust, he became a mekubal in Yerushalayim. Among other works, he wrote a pei rush on the Zohar entitled Masok M’Dvash. In it, each day has two tracks. One track describes three ways for a person to improve in his relationship with Hashem, based on that day’s sefiros. The second track describes three ways that the sefiros relate to a person’s behavior Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. The 34 page forward gives depth and insight to the avodah of the days of Sefira and the importance of Tikun HaMiddos. He also wrote a little booklet in Hebrew called “U’Sfartem Lachem,” which provides a day-by-day guide to the sefirah period, based on the 49 combinations of the seven sefiros. His Otzar HaZohar is a 4-volume index of topics of the Zohar. His sefer Kavanos HaBrachos is a guide for having appropriate focus on each bracha. He also wrote a guide for the relationship between husband and wife called Kedusha VeTzniyus, as well as A spiritual guide and musar for young boys reaching Bar Mitzvah, to help them ascend higher, called Yemei HaBacharus veBar Mitzvah.
Yahrtzeits – 15 Shevat
Rav Chaim Mordechai Margulies, author of Shaarei Teshuva (1823)
Rav Gedalya Aharon (ben Rav Yitzchak Yoel) of Linitz, author of Chen Aharon (1877)
Rav Rafael Shlomo Laniado, Rosh Yeshivas Porat Yosef (1925) (Yated 2008)
Rav Baruch Kunstat, born in Pressburg , Hungary , to Rav Avraham Aryeh, a descendent of the Chasam Sofer. He studied in the yeshiva of Rav Simcha Bunim Sofer (the Shevet Sofer) and his son Rav Akiva Sofer (the Das Sofer), he was appointed Rav of Fulda in 1907 at the age of 22. There, he married Tzipora, daughter of Rav Elchanan Moshe Emanuel, and he founded a yeshiva. After spending time in Buchenwald , he was released and moved to Eretz Yisrael. Along with Rav Yechiel Michel Shlesinger (who also escaped from the camps), he founded Yeshiva Kol Torah in 1939. It was the first Azhkenazi Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael in which shiurim were delivered in Hebrew and not Yiddish, the format having been approved by the Chazon Ish. In his will, Rav Shlesinger, who was niftar in 1946, expressed the hope the Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach would replace him as Rosh Yeshiva. (1885-1967)
Today in History – 14 Shevat
· Yosef b. Yissochor Suesskind Oppenheimer, a court Jew, was executed in Vienna , 1738. Court Jews were pivotal in helping better the lot of their fellow Jews but were also at risk of falling into disfavor and being executed.
Today in History – 15 Shevat
· The first Chumash with Megillos was printed in 1492.
· The forced races of near naked Jews through the streets of Rome during carnival time (the Palio) – first introduced by Pope Paul II in 1464 – was cancelled after the Jews of Rome agreed to pay a special tax, 1668
· Death of Adolphe (Isaac) Cremieux, a Jewish lawyer, orator, French Minister of Justice and founder of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (1796-1880). The most influential French Jew of his time, Cremieux was the paragon of the modern assimilated late nineteenth century. The Alliance was responsible for thousands of Jews abandoning Jewish observance.
· The completion of the first cycle of Daf Yomi was celebrated with a siyum in 1931.
· The Ghetto in Lodz was established by Nazi decree in 1941.