Today’s Yahrtzeits & History – 22 Shevat


flicker_100397-Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859). Born in Goray, near Lublin, Poland, Rav Menachem Mendel received a thorough Torah education from his father, Leibush Morgenstern, a zealous opponent of Chasidus. After his marriage at 14, his father introduced him to the world of Chasidus. Thereafter, he became an ardent follower of the Chozeh of Lublinand Rav Simcha Bunam of Pshis’cha, whom he eventually succeeded. R’ Menachem Mendel was a new type of chassid. If the Baal Shem Tov embodied chessed, Reb Mendel represented din. While the Baal Shem sought to reach all the people, Reb Mendel knew that what he sought could only be attained by the elite. The Baal Shem lifted the people up, Reb Mendel rebuked them for their inadequacies and always demanded more. Reb Leibel Eiger was entranced by Kotzk, to the despair of his father, Rav Shlomo. Reb Mendel and Reb Mordechai Yosef of Ishbitz had been close friends and disciples of Reb Simcha Bunim of Pshischa. After
Reb Bunim’s passing Reb Mendel became Rebbe. However, because of Reb Mendel’s extreme aloofness the two friends were traveling on a collision course. Finally, on the Simchas Torah of 1840 there was an irrevocable split between the two and Reb Mordechai Yosef left with his chassidim to form a new chassidus. Most prominent among his students were the Chidushei Harim of Ger and Rav Chanoch of Alexander.
-Rav Yehuda Aryeh Leib Eiger (1816-1888). A grandson of the renowned Rav Akiva Eiger, Rav Leibel was born in Warsaw. He learned under Rav Yitzchak Meir Alter, later known as the Chiddushei Harim in Warsaw. The Chiddushei Harim used to say, “True misnagdim don’t really deserve to be punished, because they fight chassidus for the sake of heaven. Therefore, they are punished with a punishment that is not really a punishment – their sons become chassidim.” At 20, he married and moved to Lublin where he davened at the Shul of the Chozeh. There, he befriended Rav Yisrael, the Chozeh’s son. He then moved to Kotzk. He became a rebbe after the Rebbe of Izbitza passed away in 1854. After his death his son, Rav Avraham, printed his sefarim “Toras Emes” and “Imrei Emes.”
-Rebbetzen Chaya Mushka Schneerson (1901-1991).
-Rav Yehuda Zev Segal, the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva (1910-1993). Born in Manchester to Rav Moshe Yitzchak Segal, the Rosh yeshiva and a former talmid of the Alter of Novardok, who received smicha from Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein, the Aruch Hashulchan. At the age of 20, Rav Yehuda Zev attended the Mir, where he learned with Rav Chaim Shmulevitz. He formed a close bond to Rav Yechezkel Levenstein, whom he referred to as “mori verabi.” After he married in 1934, he learned at Gateshead, but moved to Manchester after the Germans bombed Gateshead in 1940. On April 16, 1950, he was officially inducted as Rosh Yeshiva by Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, supported by Dayan Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (the Minchas Yitzchak), then the Manchester Av Beis Din.
-Rav Shalom Flam, Strettiner Rebbe (1929-2003). Born in Montreal, he wasthe fifth of eight children born to Rabbi Dovid Flam, the Olesker Rebbe, and his Rebbetzin Sarah, the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Langner, the Strettiner Rebbe of Toronto.

Today in History – 22 Shevat
· Caius Caligula was assassinated, 41 CE, a day observed as a holiday, since his decree to put pagan images in the Beis HaMikdash was voided upon his death.
· Byzantine Emperor Heraclius dies, 641. Among his crimes, he massacred the Jews of Yerushalayim (despite their assistance in helping him conquer the city from the Persians), he forced conversion on North African Jews, and he supported riots against Constantinople Jews.
· Emperor Henry IV of Germany issued a charter to the Jews and a decree against forced baptism, 1095. He also permitted forcibly baptized Jews to return to Judaism and attempted to protect Jews during the Crusades. He was criticized by the Church for his “liberal” views.
· Nazis raided the Jewish community of Amsterdam and seized 429 young Jews for deportation, 1941.
· The National Commission of Inquiry into the disappearance of Yemenite children between 1948-1954 (the third commission of inquiry in 18 years) was appointed in 1995 by High Court president Meir Shamgar. Its findings again exonerated the government of all wrongdoing in the disappearance of at least 1,700 children.{ Newscenter/}


  1. The following is my Yahrzeit e-mail sent to my family. Please post if appropriate.


    Today is the 150th Yahrzeit of the Kotzker Rebbe, the 22nd of Shevat. Menachem Mendel ben Yehudah Leib. His mother was Esther. The Kotzker Rebbe was born in 1787 and left this world in 1859. I always like to say a new insight on the Kotzker Rebbe or something new I learned about the Rebbe over the past twelve months.
    May the Kotzker be a Melitz Yosher for Klal Yisroel and each individual Jew.
    This past Shabbos, I davened at Congregation Anshe Sholem, Rabbi Lopatin’s Shul. His Shul is along Chicago’s lakefront. The Scholar-in-residence this past Shabbos was Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Director of the OU. Shabbos afternoon his topic was Abraham Lincoln and the Kotzker Rebbe. I was interested to hear what he he had to say and attended. Rabbi Weinreb did an excellent job presenting the Kotzker Rebbe.
    Before I say anything about the Kotzker Rebbe, we have to understand that his entire life and being were Torah. The Kotzker Rebbe was credited with re-directing Chassidus, especially Polish Chassidus back to Torah, We know that above all Kotzk stood for Truth including honesty with oneself. We also know that many times truth is subjective. Everyone in the world thinks they have the truth. My understanding that when it came to subjective issues, to arrive at the Truth, the Kotzker determined what was the Rotzon Hashem – “the will of God” and/or what is “Menchlikiet”. Both played an important role in the Kotzker’s worldview.
    Why do I feel that Menchlikiet was a part of the Kotzker Rebbe worldview. If anything he inspired fear in people. While I do not have know of too many Kotzker saying about being a Mentch, the ones I have point to this direction. Additionally, we know that the Kotzker has a number of sayings on the importance of self-esteem. Being a Mentch is a natural outgrowth of someone with proper self-esteem.
    This past Friday night I was eating by my borther-in-law. Sitting next to me was a Lelover Chossid. He said over a Kotzker Vort on the week’s Sedra that I never heard before and I have not seen In any book. It says:
    ?? ?????? ??????? ?????-????? ??????-???? ?????? ????????, ?????? ?????– :
    Translated As:
    “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth,
    The Kotzker Rebbe on a play of the Hebrews works ?, ?????? ?????– – says that in order to be a person of truth, you have to be a Mentch. You can add that in order to be a ?????? ???????? – one who fears God, you also have to be a Mentch.
    I have to qualify what I just said. Written history in many instances is an interpretation of the writer. Every historian brings his or her own bias into analyzing and interpreting. I did not live Kotzk growing up nor did I hear stories from my father. I am a modern Orthodox Jew, with a background of learning in a Yeshiva. My interpretations will reflect this.
    Rabbi Weinreb said over a famous Kotzker Vort, which I have heard many times and it has taken years for me to absorb the Vort.

    A group of Lubavitcher Chassidim were searching for a new Rebbe after the Tzemach Zeddek passed away.
    The Kotzker told them to go back to Lubavitch because I cannot be your Rebbe. Lubavitch teachings are
    in the “Luft” – meaning their teachings are abstract thoughts, conceptual ideas. My teachings hit you in the Pupock – meaning they hit in the gut. They penetrate into your being and psyche.
    I thought to myself. Here I am writing the above and are they Luft words or are they Pupock words. At the Glenner home I sat next to the Lelover Chossid, who is in Chicago from Israel to raise money. Was he interested in what I spoke Friday night? Perhaps, but he had parents, a wife, and children in Israel living in poverty, depending on him raising money in America. What could I do for him?
    The question that we all have to ask, “ARE WE A MENTCH”.


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