Today’s Yahrtzeits and History – 19-20 Adar


Rav Dovid (ben Tzvi Elimelech) of Dinov (1804-1874). Rav Dovid was the author of Tzemach Dovid and the son of the Bnei Yissoschar. He succeeded his father as Rebbe in Dinov following the latter’s petira in 1841.

Rav Yaakov Shamshon of Kossov (1880)

Rav Yehudah Greenwald of Satmar (1920)

Rav Meir Yechiel Haldshtok, founder of the court of Ostrovtze (1851-1928). A talmid of Rav Elimelech of Grodzinsk, a scion of the Kozhnitzer dynasty. Ostrovtze was one of two courts in Poland known for their yeshivos and high level of learning; the other was Sochatchov. Rav Meir Yechiel’s intricate sermons, which drew heavily on gematria, came to be known as “Ostgrovotze pshetlach.” They have been collected in Meir Einei Chachamim, and his teachings on Bereishis in Ohr Torah.

Rav Yosef Chaim (ben Avraham Shlomo) Sonnenfeld, av beis din and Rav of Yerushalayim before the State of Israel was established. (1848-1932) Born in Vrbové, Slovakia, He lost his father when Chaim was just five years old. After learning by the the Ksav Sofer, he moved to Yerushalayim in 1873.

Rav Shmuel Engel (1853-1935). Born in Tarno, Galicia. Rav of Radomishla (Radimishla; Radomishel) from 1888. Authored Sheilos Uteshuvas Maharash.

Rav Emanuel Weltfried of Pabianetz-Lodz (1939)

Rav Yitzchak (ben Yosef) Kalish, Amshenover Rebbe, New York (1993). Grandson of Rav Menachem Kalish of Amshinov.

Rav Mordechai (ben Yehudah) Schwab (1911-1994), younger brother of Rav Shimon Schwab. After spending three years at the Mir yeshiva with his older brother, he learned at Kaminetz with Rav Baruch Ber Lebovitz. During World War II, he was one of the many who traveled across Russia to Japan and Shanghai. He spent several looking for work, and then working as a rebbi in yeshivos ketana. When he was over 50 years of age, he took a job as ninth grade rebbi at Beis Shraga in Monsey. About ten years later, this position developed into a full-time mashgiach. After the passing of Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, Rav Mordechai was approached to assume the position of Rav in Reb Yaakov’s shul. He refused, later confiding in someone that he would be forced to wear a rabbinical frock, which could inspire feeling of gaavah. He is remembered by many as one who always smiled, frequently laughing, especially at himself. But, as his brother Rav Shimon stated, his externals concealed his tzidkus. Above all, he excelled at finding merit in all others he met.

Rav Yaakov Chaim (ben Avraham) Jofen, Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Yosef Novardok, his father’s father-in-law was the Alter of Novardok (1917-2003). Following his bar mitzvah he studied at Baranovich for one year under Rav Dovid Rapaport, and then for a year under Rav Elchonon Wasserman. During these two years he lived with his uncle, the mashgiach, Rav Yisrael Yaakov Lubchansky. Later he returned to Bialystok to study under his father at Yeshivas Beis Yosef. In 1941, he arrived in the U.S. with his father. He began giving shiurim that year at Yeshivas Beis Yosef, and continued to do so for the next sixty years.

Today in History – 19 Adar

· Vincents Fettmilch (Vintznitz Patmilech), who had expelled the Jews from Frankfurt-on-Main half a year earlier on 27 Elul, was executed on this day, 1616. Frankfurt Jews for generations fasted and gave tzedaka on this day, called “Purim Vincents,” and celebrated a seudas hoda’ah the following day.
· Peter the Great of Russia ends tax on “men with beards,” a category of people which certainly included Jews, 1722.
· The restriction of the sale of Arab land to Jews in Palestine, as stated in the MacDonald White Paper, went into effect on this date, 1940.
· Capture of Ein Gedi by Israel, 1949, brought to an end the military engagements of the War of Independence.
· Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai desert, killing more than 100 people.

Yahrtzeits – 20 Adar

Rav Meir Schiff, the Maharam Schiff (1608-1644). Born in Frankfurt am Main, he became Rav of the nearby town of Fulda at the age of 17. His chidushim on the Talmud are terse, incisive, and profound. In 1644, he was appointed Rav of Prague, but he died at the age of 36 shortly after his arrival there.

Rav Yoel Sirkes of Cracow (the Bach) (1561-1641), author of Bayis Chadash on the Tur, in which he traced each law to its source in the gemarah. In his youth, he studied under Rav Shlomo Leibush of Lublin and Rav Meshulam Feivush in Brisk. He had several rabbinic appointments throughout Poland, lastly as Chief Rabbi of Cracow in 1619. He was the teacher and father-in-law of Rav Dovid HaLevy, the Taz.

Rav Shlomo Zalman (ben Chaim Yehuda Leib) Auerbach (1910-1995), born in the Shaarei Chesed neighborhood of Yerushalayim, his father authored Chacham Lev and was the Rosh Yeshiva of Shaar Hashamayim. Rav Shlomo Zalman learned at Etz Chaim yeshiva. He married Chaya Rivka Ruchamkin on erev Purim 1930. During the next 19 years he wrote Meorei Eish on the laws of electricity, Maadeanei Haaretz on laws regarding agriculture in Eretz Yisrael, as well as a commentary on Shev Shmaatsa. In 1949, he left Etz Chaim to succeed Rav Yechiel Schlesinger as Rosh Yeshiva of Kol Torah Yeshiva in the Rechavia section of Yerushalayim. He was the author of Minchas Shlomo. His brother-in-law was Rav Shalom Schwadron. His piskei halacha on Shabbos are found throughout the sefer Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchasa, written by his talmid Rav Yehoshua Neuwirth.

Rav Raphael Blum (1910-2005), the Kashau Rav, who replanted his Chasidic community from Europe to Bedford Hills in Westchester County, NY.

Today in History – 20 Adar

· Uziah Hamelech was afflicted with tzora’as and was forced to abdicate his throne, 618 BCE
· Choni Hameagel’s prayer for rain answered (Megillas Taanis) [Taanis 23a].
· Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy, father of the law abolishing corporal punishment in the U.S. Navy, died, 1862.

{Manny Newscenter}


  1. The author failed to mention that Rav Mordechai Scwhab was also the beloved mashgiach ay the Passaic Yeshiva (Rav Meir Stern’s Shlita yeshiva), where he was dearly beloved. He always closes eyes when delivering divrei mussar, lest anyone think that his words were directed at them. I was fortunate enough to hear divrei torah from him, and to speak with him.


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