Today’s Yahrtzeits & History – 5 Shevat


yahrtzeit-candleRav Chaim Dovid Chazan, Rishon L’tzion (1869)

Rav Shalom Shachna Yelin, Rav of Bielsk and author of Yefeh Einayim (1874). Bielsk is a town, 52 km south of Bialystok, in northeastern Poland, which had a substantial Jewish presence before World War II. Bielsk became part of the Russian Empire in 1807 after the partitioning of Poland. In the 1840s, the town was absorbed into Grodno Gubernia, a province of the Russian Pale of Settlement allowing Jewish residency. Bielsk became part of the Russian Empire in 1807 after the partitioning of Poland. In the 1840s, the town was absorbed into Grodno Gubernia, a province of the Russian Pale of Settlement. In 1898, a large wooded synagogue was built and called Yefeh Einayim in honor of Rav Yelin.

Rav Aryeh Yehuda Leib Alter of Ger, the Sfas Emes (1847-1905). Since his father, Rav Avraham Mordechai, died when he was 8 years old, Rav Yehuda Aryeh Leib was raised by his grandfather, the Chidushei Harim. He became Admore of Ger at the age of 23 in 1870. On 18 Elul 1901, his wife, Yocheved Rivkah, passed away. He then married Raizel, daughter of Rav Baruch of Gorlitz, the son of the Sanzer Rav. He fathered a total of ten children. Four passed away in childhood and the surviving children were: his eldest son the author of the Imrei Emes, Rav Moshe Betzalel, Rav Nechemia of Lodz, and Rav Menachem Mendel of Pavinezh. His two sons-in-law were Rav Yaakov Meir Biderman, dayan in Warsaw, and Rav Tzvi Chanoch HaKohen Levine, Rav of Bandin.

Rav Avraham Eliezer Alperstein (1853-1913). Born in Kobrin, White Russia he studied under R’ Yaakov Dovid Willowsky (the Ridvaz) and in yeshivos in Kovno and Vilna. R’ Alperstein moved to New York in 1881, then Chicago in 1884, where he was rabbi of the Kovner and Suvalker congregations. In 1899, he relocated to St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1901, R’ Alperstein returned to New York. There, he was an early leader of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan (RIETS), which later evolved into Yeshiva University. The following year, he participated in the organizing convention of the Agudas Harabanim / United Orthodox Rabbis of America and signed its Constitution as one of its 59 charter members. R’ Alperstein published a commentary on Maseches Bikkurim with an haskamah from R’ Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik (the Bet Halevi).

Rav Shlomo Zalman Friedman, Rachover Rav (1980). He was mechaber of Kedushas Yom Tov and a follower of the Rebbe of Sziget. He survived the Holocaust after experiencing the horrors of the death camps of Auschwitz. After the war he settled in Satmar. In 1947, he left Romania and settled in Logano in Switzerland where he served as Chief Rabbi and Av Beis Din. His last years were spent in the home of his son-in-law, Rav Menahem Mendel Horowitz, in Bnei Brak.

Today in History – 5 Shevat

· According to one opinion, the last of the z’keynim, who continued an unbroken chain in the mesorah, were niftar on this date; according to another opinion, it was on 8 Shvat, 1245 BCE (see Shulchan Aruch 580:2 and commentaries there. Others say that this occurred 17 years later, in 1230 BCE. See Shabbos 105b and Seder Hadoros, under “Yehoshua.”)
· The Jews of Sicily and Naples were invited to return by Charles the Bourbon, having been previously expelled, 1740.
· Death of Moses Mendelsohn, 1786. In 1783, Mendelsohn and his pupil, Naphtali Wessely, translated the Torah into German to teach Jews German and give them an entry to the non-Jewish world. He founded Ha Me’assef, a Hebrew magazine, and tried to convince his fellow Jews to seek to integrate with the modern world with his famous motto “Be a Jew at home and a man outside.” Sadly, his ideas rapidly led to assimilation and disdain of traditional Judaism.
· A state of siege was declared in Yerushalayim, 1799, as Napoleon approached Gaza and Yaffo.
· Russian government closed the Volozhin yeshiva, 1892.
· The Red Army captured Lodz and Tarnow, 1945.
· Russian army liberated Auschvitz, freeing 2819 Jews, 1945.
· 35 members of the Hagana were ambushed and killed in the Gush Etzion area, 1948.
· The Dakarsubmarine disappeared in the Mediterranean, 1968. Built in 1943, the submarine was purchased by Israel in 1965. On January 9th 1968, following a refitting and further testing in Portsmouth, INS Dakar left Portsmouth and started her ill-fated journey. Six days later, on the morning of January 15th Dakar entered Gibraltar. Ya’acov Ra’anan, skipper of the Dakar, received approval to enter Haifa on January 29th. Later Ra’anan requested to enter yet another day earlier, on January 28th. This request was denied by the HQ, as the welcoming ceremony had already been planned. At 0610 hours, on the 24th of January 1968, Dakar just passed Crete and transmitted her last known position. Two minutes after midnight on the 25th of January 1968, Navy HQ received the last coded telegram from the Dakar. No further signals came from Dakar. On the morning of the 26th of January an international Search And Rescue operation was launched. All available
Israeli ships and airplanes joined the SAR efforts. Navy and air units from Great Britain, the USA, Greece, Turkey and even Lebanon took part in the SAR efforts. On March 6th, Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Dayan gave an official statement at the Kneset about the loss of INS Dakar and her crew. A day of national mourning was proclaimed. The IDF Chief Rabbi declared that all of the sixty-nine missing sailors would be considered dead according to the halacha.

{Yahrtzeits licensed to by Manny Saltiel and Newscenter}


  1. The term Kaddish is an adjective, grammatically speaking. ???? is also used to refer to an angel in the Book of Daniel (4:10). (He uses the words ???? ??? and ????). In the Talmud, (Shabbat 119a), Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said everyone who replies ??? ??? ??? ??? [in the Kaddish], all his sins are washed away. Tractate Sotah: every time the people of Israel enter shuls or ??? ???? and are answering ??? ??? ??? ???, G-d in Heaven nods. “Praise be the King that there are people praising him in his house” (Berachot 3a THE CHOFETZ CHAIM SAYS THAT TALKING(learning & davening) DURING KADDISH IS WORSE THAN TALKING DURING KEDUSHA [which nobody does]. 2 stories of great people who appeared in dreams to others after their own deaths. They each had a noticeable blemish on the same part of their bodies, because they talked during Kaddish. On which part of their bodies were the blemishes ? b) What were they ?[M”B 56-1] a) On their faces. b) One’s face turned green, & the other one had a spot on his forehead. The renowned Rabbi Akiva (first and second centuries C.E.) was once walking in a cemetery, when he encountered a hideous-looking man. Rabbi Akiva was startled by his appearance, and asked him to stop his work so he could talk to him. The man stopped for a moment to talk with Rabbi Akiva, and he told him, “I am a dead person. Because of the unspeakable sins I did when I was alive, I have been condemned to terrible punishment, and that is why I look like this.” “Is there no way you can be redeemed?” asked Rabbi Akiva. “If someone would say Kaddish for me, or lead the congregation in prayer and praise Hashem, then I would be rescued from this situation,” answered the dead man. “Do you have a son?” “I don’t know. When I died, my wife was expecting a child, but I have not merited being told whether it was a boy or a girl, or even whether or not the child lived.” Rabbi Akiva immediately went to the man’s hometown and searched for his wife and son. Whenever Rabbi Akiva mentioned the man’s name to anyone in that area, they responded, “May he be cursed for all the evil he did when he was alive.” Eventually, though, Rabbi Akiva found the son. Unfortunately, the son was unlearned and a troublesome child. Rabbi Akiva spoke gently to him, and convinced him to study Torah with him. He taught the child to say Kaddish for his father. The night after the child said Kaddish for the first time, the departed father came to Rabbi Akiva in a dream, and blessed and thanked him for having saved him from further anguish. The son later grew up to become a great Rabbi, by the name of Rabbi Nachum HaPekuli, and because of his Torah study his father merited a great reward in the Next World. This story tells us that there is a great deal we can do, because the connections are never lost. Whatever relationship anyone has with you is not severed when he dies. And whatever we do in this world on behalf of the departed in the Next World, affects the departed deeply.

  2. correction – Rav Sholom Shachne was not the mechaber of the Yefeh Einayim, he was the father of the mechaber (Rav Aryeh Leib Yellin). Rav Sholom Shachne was a famous magia.

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