Yahrtzeits, Friday, 3 Elul
Rav Moshe Charif of Pressburg (1758)
Rav Yissachar Ber of Nadvorna (1848)
Rav Meshulam Zusya of Zhinkov, grandson of the Ohev Yisrael of Apta (1864)
Rav Avraham Tzvi Eisenstadt (1813-1868). A descendent of Rav Meir Eisenstadt (the Panim Meioros), he was born in Grodno, Russia, and became Rav of Utian (Autian) at the age of 24 years. That year, he also completed his reference work, Pischei Teshuva on Yoreh De’ah. The section on Even Ha’ezer was published in 1859, and the last two sections on Shulchan Aruch were published in 1867. He also wrote Pischei Teshuva on the sefer, Gittin Ve’chalitza, and Nachalas Shivah on works of early Acharonim.
Rav Yitzchak Tzadikah of Jerba, Tunisia (1880).
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Chief Rabbi of Israel for 19 years of his life (1865-1935). The first chief rabbi of what was then Palestine, Rav Kook was perhaps the most misunderstood figure of his time. Born in Latvia of staunch Chassidic and Misnagid stock, he retained throughout his life a unique blend of the mystical and the rational. He was a thorough master of the entire Halachic, Midrashic, philosophic, ethical, and Kabbalistic literature. He saw the return to Eretz Yisrael as not merely a political phenomenon to save Jews from persecution, but an event of extraordinary historical and theological significance. Rabbi Hutner once said that Rav Kook peered down on our world from great heights and hence his perspective was unique. Above all, Rav Kook pulsated with a sense of the Divine. Though keenly aware of the huge numbers of non-observant Jews, he had a vision of the repentance of the nation. His concept of repentance envisioned in addition to the repentance of the individual, a repentance of the nation as a whole; a repentance which would be joyous and healing. He refused to reject Jews as long as they identified themselves as Jews. He called for and envisioned a spiritual renaissance where “the ancient would be renewed and the new would be sanctified.”
Rav Yitzchak Yeshaya Halberstam of Tchetchov (1864-1943). Youngest son of Rav Chaim of Sanz through his third wife, Rochel Unger. Rav Yitzchak Yeshaya had four children – Hena, who married her cousin’s son, Menachem Mendel Halberstam, Yaakov Tzvi, who married his cousin, Chaya Sarah Rosenfeld, Chaim Halberstam (1882-1956), and Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam (born 1905)
Rav Moshe Friedman (known as “Rav Moishenu”) of Boyan-Cracow (1881-1943). A son of Rav Shalom Yosef of Husyatin and great-grandson of Rav Yisrael of Rizhin, he married his cousin, Miriam, whose father, Rav Menachem Nachum of Boyan-Tchernowitz, was the son of the Pachad Yitzchak of Boyna. After the wedding, they lived with the Pachad Yitzchak in Boyan for 13 years. In 1934, Rav Meir Shapiro of Lublin passed away, and Rav Moishenu replaced him. He lived in Cracow, and then Tarno in 1940. On the 2nd of Elul of 1943, he and 7000 Jews of Tarna were sealed into cattle cars and taken to Aushwitz; the survivors of the trip, including Rav Moishenu, were gassed to death.
Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (1886-1948). Pursuing his dream, to “dot the American continent with Hebrew day schools,” he founded Torah Umessorah, and he established his “Bais Hamidrash l’Mechanchim” in Monsey, NY, as well as Yeshiva Torah Vodaas.
Today in History – 3 Elul
· Yechezkel prophesies five years before Churban Bayis Rishon (Yechezkel, 8-10), 425 B.C.E.
· 400 of the 1800 Jews of Barcelona massacred, the remainder accepting baptism, 1391.
· Jews of Budapest were granted permission to conduct religious services in private homes, provided no rov was present, 1787.
· “Recruitment Decree” was passed by Nicholas I, calling for conscription of Jewish boys between the ages of 12 and 25, 1827. In practice, many children were taken as young as 6 and 7. Conscription was for 25 years of service. These Jewish conscripts were called “Cantonists” because they lived in military barracks (called “cantons”).
· The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were serialized in a Russian publication, 1903. The book purports to be the secret transcription of a Zionist Congress that met in Switzerland in 1897, as taken down by a Czarist spy. At the meeting, Jewish leaders allegedly discussed their plans to establish Jewish “sovereignty over all the world.
· The British Eighth Army invaded Italy, the same day that Italy signed a secret armistice with the Allies, 1943.
Yahrtzeits, Shabbos, 4 Elul
Rav Aryeh Leib Teumim, the author of “Gur Aryeh” (1831)
Rav Yeshaya of Przedborz (1756-1831). Born in Lask, near Lodz, he was descended from a rabbinical family. His great-grandfather, Rav Meir Getz, was the Rav of Lask and of Piotrkow. His father, Rav Meir, died when Rav Yeshaya was young, leaving no other son. When he was 14, a wealthy businessman from Przedborz took Rav Yeshaya as a son-in-law. There, he met the Yid Hakadosh, Rav Yaakov Yitzchak. Together, they traveled to Lithuania to learn from the Chozeh.
Rav Meir Simcha Hakohen of Dvinsk, the Ohr Someach and Meshech Chochma (1843-1926). In a famous near prophetic passage written before 1926, he presents a brilliant theory of Jewish history in exile and refers to those who forget their origins and think “Berlin is Jerusalem”, and are doomed to destruction (B’chukosai). R’ Meir Simcha served as Rabbi of Dvinsk for nearly 40 years. R’ Meir Simcha was a strong supporter of the settlement of Eretz Yisrael and greeted the Balfour Declaration with enthusiasm. In 1906 he was offered the position of rabbi of Jerusalem but bowed to the entreaties of his congregants to remain in Dvinsk.
Rav Moshe Aharon Pinto (1995), heeding his father’s command to avoid temporal pleasures, secluded himself in his home for forty years and living on almost nothing but scraps of bread dipped in oil. After these 40 years, he traveled, explaining, “Hashem created a beautiful world. What will I tell Him when He asks me after 120 years whether I witnessed and appreciated the wonders of His creation?” Rav Moshe Aharon’s descendants have printed and distributed thousands of copies of the “Perek Shira” that describes how every creature is part of a worldwide symphony of Hashem’s praise. Rav Moshe Aharon’s oldest son, Rav Chaim is the rav of Ashdod, and Rav Chaim’s son, Rav Yoshiyahu Yosef, has created the “Shuvah Yisrael” organization, which draws many youngsters back to Torah and mitzvos. Another of Rav Moshe Aharon’s sons, Rav Yaakov, traveled to America after Rav Moshe Aharon’s passing and founded the Pinto Center in Los Angeles during the 1980s. He is president of the “Netivei Chaim veMoshe Pinto” Institutions that he and his brothers established in Ashdod, which include a beis medrash, a supermarket and kitchen for the needy, a publishing house, and much more.
Today in History – 4 Elul
· Jews of Barcelona massacred, 1391.
· The Jewish community of Posvol, Lithuania was massacred by the Nazis, 1941