You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

Whether the patriarchs were born in Nissan or Tishri, the day of their death occurred in the same month as that in which they were born; as it is written [Deut. xxxi. 2]: Moses said, ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old to-day.’ The word “to-day” implies “just this day my days and years are complete,” for the Holy One, blessed be He, grants the righteous the fulfilment of the years of their life to the very month and day, as it is said: “The number of thy days will I make full” [Ex. xxiii. 26].

Rosh Hashana Chapter 1


28 February in History

Today in 1854, the Republican Party of the United States is organized in Ripon, Wisconsin. The party was formed in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska act and was designed to stop the Democrats’ pro-slavery agenda. Some of the Jews who were active in the early days of the party were Sabato Morais, rabbi of the Mikveh Israel Congregation, Moritz Pinner who edited a German language abolitionist paper in Kansas , Kentuckian Lewis Naphtali Dembitz, uncle of the Louis Brandeis and New Yorker Sigsmund Kaufman who was an a member of the electoral college that chose Abraham Lincoln to serve as President in 1860.

24 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim Algazi of Kushta, author of Netivot Hamishpat. Student of Rav Shlomo Algazi Rabbi of Rhodes.

“For it is a statute unto Israel, a judgment (day) for the God of Jacob.” Psalms 4:5

The rabbis taught: “It is a statute unto Israel,” from here we infer that the Heavenly Court of judgment does not enter into judgment until the Beth Din on earth proclaims the new moon.

Rosh Hashana Chapter 1


27 February in History

In 1925, today is the birthdate of Sam Dash. The Georgetown Law Professor would gain fame as the Chief Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate Scandal.

23 Adar in History

Rav Chaim Cheikel (Chaikel) of Amdur (Indura) (1787). Born to Rav Shmuel in Karlin, he was a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, and later became a student of Rav Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mazerich.

Rav Chaim became one of the first Chassidic Admorim in 1772-73. He authotred Chaim Vochesed. Amdur is about 25 miles south of Grodno (Hrodno). Amdur and Grodno are located in the northwest corner of what is now the independent country of Belarus, close to the Lithuanian and Polish borders.

During the Cossack revolt of 1648 against Polish landowners and gentry, over 100,000 Jews, mostly in Ukraine and southern Belarus, were murdered. However, the marauders did not advance north to the Grodno region. Jews comprised 80% of the population in Grodno at that time.

Rav Chaim’s daughter married Moshe, the brother of Aharon, founder of Karlin Hassidism. Rav Chaim was succeeded by his son, Rav Shmuel of Amdur.

King Solomon sent for Hiram from Tzur. He was the son of a widow, from the tribe of Naftali. His father was a smith of bronze. God had filled him with wisdom, knowledge, and perception to work with metals. He came to King Solomon, and built all of the craft (for the temple).

Kings I 7 13:14


25 February in History

Today in 1862, Judah P. Benjamin began serving as Attorney General in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis.

21 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin, editor of the Talmudical Encyclopedia (1976).

26 February in History

Today in 11 BCE, according to some sources, the day on which Herod dedicates the renovated Holy Temple in Jerusalem. According to Heinrich Graetz, the building project began in 20 BCE, the 18th year of Herod’s reign. A year and half later, (18 BCE) the inner part of the Temple was finished. It took another eight years to build the outer walls, courts and galleries. The dedicatory celebration took place on “the very anniversary of the day when twenty years previously, Herod, with blood stained hands, had made himself master of Jerusalem.” Herod reportedly built this modernized version of the Second Temple because he loved to build things and because he was trying to show his Roman masters that he was the beloved ruler of his people.

22 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1908). Born in Bobroysk, author of the Aruch Hashulchan, Rav of Novardok for 34 years, father of Rav Baruch HaLevy Epstein (author of Torah Temima) and grandfather of Rav Meir Bar-Ilan, with whom he learned in Novardok.

It is written, Psalms, lxv. 14, “The meadows are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with corn; men shout for joy, they also sing.”

R. Meir thinks (this is the interpretation) of these words: When are the meadows clothed with flocks? At the season when the valleys are covered with corn.
When are the valleys covered with corn? About (the time of) Adar. The flocks conceive in Adar and produce their young in Av; consequently the beginning of the year (for the cattle-tithe) is Elul.

R. Eliezer and R. Simeon, however, say: When are the meadows clothed with flocks? At the season when they shout and sing. When do the ears of corn (seem to) send up a hymn of praise? In Nissan.

Rosh Hashana Chapter 1


24 February in History

In 1835, today is the birthdate of Sir Julius Vogel, the eighth Premier of New Zealand and the first Jew to hold this position.

20 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk, author of Noam Elimelech, (1717-1787). Learned under the Maggid of Mezritch. Among his students were Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apta, The Chozeh of Lublin, the Maggid of Kozhnitz, and Rav Menachem Mendel of Rimanov.

All of the most exalted moments, be they of thought or of feeling, or action, need to be tied tightly to simple faith, which appears first in its simplicity in the heart of the youngest children; at its inner essence, that (child like) faith is more lofty than what one will ever learn or contemplate.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


23 February in History

In 1912, a New York Ladino language newspaper called La Aguila hit the presses, but failed due to lack of support and finished running on March 22 of the same year.

19 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim Cheikel (Chaikel) of Amdur (Indura) (1787). Born to Rav Shmuel in Karlin, he was a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, and later became a student of Rav Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mazerich. Rav Chaim became one of the first Chassidic Admorim in 1772-73. He authotred Chaim Vochesed. Amdur is about 25 miles south of Grodno (Hrodno). Amdur and Grodno are located in the northwest corner of what is now the independent country of Belarus, close to the Lithuanian and Polish borders. During the Cossack revolt of 1648 against Polish landowners and gentry, over 100,000 Jews, mostly in Ukraine and southern Belarus, were murdered. However, the marauders did not advance north to the Grodno region. Jews comprised 80% of the population in Grodno at that time. Rav Chaim’s daughter married Moshe, the brother of Aharon, founder of Karlin Hassidism. Rav Chaim was succeeded by his son, Rav Shmuel of Amdur.

One is held obligated for a sin if he does not give immediately that which he has vowed for charity.

Why is this? Because there are always poor people.

Rosh Hashana Chapter 1


22 February in History

In 1732, today is the brthdate of George Washington. Several Jew’s served with Washington during the Revolutionary War. When Washington was elected President he sent amicable letters to different Jewish communities assuring them that Jews were welcome in the United States.

18 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chanoch Henoch HaKohen (1798-1870), Alexander Rebbe. He was a disciple of Rav Simcha Bunam of Pshis’cha, Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and the Chidushei Harim.

“The year of the kings begins with Nissan”–refers to the kings of Israel only, but for the kings of other nations it commences from Tishri.

Rosh Hashana Chapter 1


21 February in History

In 1919, as the right wing reasserts its authority in Germany, a German aristocrat named Count Anton Arco-Valley shot Jewish born Bavarian political leader Kurt Eisner in the back and killed him as he on his way to the Munich Parliament.

17 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Shimon Sofer, Rav and Av Beis Din of Cracow (1821-1883). Born in Pressburg, the second son of the Chasam Sofer.

When Aharon (Moses’s brother and high priest) died, Sichon thought he would be able to attack Israel. Why did Sichon think he would be able to attack Israel? Because when Aharon died, the clouds of glory departed from Israel.

Rosh Hashana Chapter 1


20 February in History

In 1442, Pope Martin V (1417-31) issued a Bull (a formal proclamation issued by the pope) reminding Christians that Christianity was derived from Judaism and warned the Friars not to incite against the Jews. The Bull was withdrawn the following year alleging that the Jews of Rome attained the Bull by fraud.

16 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yitzchak Friedman of Boyan, founder of the Boyaner Chasidim, author of Pachad Yitzchak (1849-1917). He was the third son of Rav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigora, the son of Rav Yisrael of Rizhin.

Eliyahu came close to the people and said,
“For how long will you be standing on two sides of the fence? If God is the Almighty, follow after Him. And if its Baal, go after him.”

The nation did not answer him.

Kings I 18:21


18 February in History

In 1955, David Ben Gurion agrees to come out of retirement and serve as Defense Minister. Four months later he will also agree to serve as Prime Minister.

14 Adar in History

According to the opinions that Moses was born on the 7th of Adar I, today was the 8th day of his life and the day on which he was circumcised in accordance with the Divine command to Abraham.

19 February in History

In 2004, Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of a “lifetime of service to humanity.”

15 Adar in History

In regular years, the 15th of Adar is Shushan Purim, the festival that celebrates — in Jerusalem and other ancient walled cities — the salvation of the Jewish people from Haman’s evil decree in the year 3405 from creation (356 BCE). In a leap year — which has two Adars — Shushan Purim is observed in Adar II, and the 15th of Adar I is designated as Shushan Purim Kattan, the “Minor Shushan Purim.”

There are no special observances associated with Shushan Purim Kattan, other than the omission of Tachnun (“supplications”) from the daily prayers and a prohibition against fasting or holding eulogies on this day. The Code of Jewish Law cites an opinion that one should increase in festivity and joy, but rules that there is no obligation to do so; “Nevertheless,a person should increase somewhat in festivity… for ‘One who is of good heart is festive always’ “

“One may place vessels to receive rain.”

A Boraitha taught: When the vessel was full, he might empty it, and put it in its former place again; and so repeatedly. The handmill of Abayi was exposed to the rain (and he had not enough vessels to protect it).

He came to Rabba his Master, and asked; and he answered: Go and place your bed in that room (where the handmill was), and then the handmill will be considered as a night chamber, which may be removed from a bedroom (and then he can remove the bed again).

Abayi himself considered the law and said to himself: May one turn a clean thing into an objectionable thing intentionally?

While he sat and thought thus, the handmill cracked. Said he: I deserve this punishment because I was disobeying my Master.

Beitzah Chapter 4


17 February in History

In 1929, today was the birthday of the author Chaim Potok. A graduate of Yeshiva University, Potok was ordained as a Conservative Rabbi after studying at The Jewish Theological Society. He earned a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. He decided to become a writer after reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited in 1945. He was fourteen years old, and all he had read were magazines and pulp fiction. He wanted to read a serious adult book, and he chose Brideshead Revisited at random from the public library.

He later said about reading it, “I found myself inside a world the merest existence of which I had known nothing about. I lived more deeply inside the world in that book than I lived inside my own world.”

13 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986). Born in Uzda (near Minsk), Belorussia, he was the son of R’ Dovid Feinstein, who was a grandchild of the Be’er Hagolah. His mother was Feige Gittel, daughter of R’ Yechiel, rov of Kopolia. He joined the yeshiva of R’ Isser Zalman Meltzer in Slutzk at the age of twelve.

At the age of sixteen, R’ Moshe completed Shas and Shulchan Oruch. He was rabbi of Lyuban from 1921 to 1936. He escaped the Stalinist regime in 1936 and settled in New York as rosh yeshiva of Tiferes Yerushalayim. He authored Igros Moshe, Darash Moshe, and Dibros Moshe.

All commandments and their branches, for those who perform them, create in the life of the soul, and in the world, a form that correlates to how that command is connected to the depth of the reality of faith in God.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


16 February in History

In 2009, France’s top judicial body formally recognized the nation’s role in deporting Jews to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust – but effectively ruled out any more reparations for the deportees or their families. Jewish groups welcomed the ruling by the Council of State, the clearest legal acknowledgment to date of France’s role in the Holocaust. Nearly 70 years ago, the Vichy government helped deport some 76,000 people – including 11,000 children – from Nazi-occupied France to concentration camps during the war. Fewer than 3,000 returned alive.

12 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim David Halevy (1924-1998). Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv for the last 25 years of his life, he was known to many as the author of the multi volume responsa Aseh Lecha Rav, on many contemporary halachic and hashkafic issues, and a six-volume halachic work entitled Mekor Chaim.

One who is dependent on the table of his neighbor (for food), the whole world is dark for him. As it is written [Job xv. 23]: “He wanderes abroad for bread, (saying), Where is it? he knows that there is ready at his hand the day of darkness.”

R. Hisda said: His life is no life at all.

Beitzah Chapter 4


15 February in History

In 1655, the twenty-three Sephardic Jews who arrived in the fall seeking sanctuary from the Inquisition are officially admitted into New Amsterdam over Governor Peter Stuyvesant’s objections.

11 Adar in History

Rav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, (the Chida), (1724-1806). Arguably the Sephardic equivalent to the Vilna Gaon, the Chida, was born in Jerusalem. At the age of 18, he learned under Rav Chaim ben Atar (the Ohr Hachaim). His works include a collection of responsa known as Yoseif Ometz, the Shem HaGedolim (a biographical work on 1300 authors and 1200 writings, dating back to the Gaonim), and many others. He passed away in Livorno, Italy.

A sage asked, the Mishna teaches: It is prohibited to clap hands, keep beat on your hips, and to dance on a festival. Yet in our time we see people do so, and we do not say to them anything. Why do we remain silent?

He answered: And according to your theory, come and see the women who take their cans and go and stand at the gates of the entry, which is also prohibited, and we say nothing to them (Would you also blame us for this?).

This is not so (because it is a rule). Let Israel do things unintentionally rather than intentionally (i.e., they were sure that if it was told to them, they would not listen, and to preserve them from conscious transgression, they keep silence).

There is no difference in such a case between a biblical and a rabbinical prohibition. Because the adding from the eve of the Day of Atonement to the Day of Atonement (about half an hour) is biblical, nevertheless we see women eating and drinking till dark, and we say nothing.

Beitzah Chapter 4


14 February in History

Today in 1961, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, accused the government of Morocco of bias against Jews and appealed to the Human Rights Commission of the United States to urge the Moroccan Government to stop what it termed “repressive action” including police brutality.

10 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Alexander Moshe Lapidus (1819-1906). A talmid of Rav Yisrael Salanter, he authored Divrei Emes.

R. Ashi said, “My wife is the daughter of Rami bar Hama, who was very particular in his deeds, and if she had not seen it done in the house of her father, she would not do it.”

Beitzah Chapter 3


13 February in History

In 1349, during the Black Plague, the newly chosen Town Council of Strasbourg, gave orders to arrest all the Jews in the city so that they could be put to death.

9 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Mordechai Meisel, the parnes of Prague, a great Jewish philanthropist who saved many Jewish lives in pogroms (1601).

Now, son of man, make it known to the children of Israel and make them ashamed of their sins: measure the the form of the temple.

Ezekiel 43:10

11 February in History

In 1898, today was the birthdate of Physicist Leo Szilard. Born in Hungary, Szilard was a refugee from Hitler’s Europe who first sounded the alarm about the need to build an Atomic Bomb. He worked with Einstein on the letter that Einstein would take to FDR in 1939.

This effort led to the Manhattan Project.

7 Adar in History

Moses was born in Egypt on the 7th of Adar of the year 2368 from creation (1393 BCE). According to one opinion, the year of Moses’ birth was a “leap year”, and he was born in the first Adar.

Moses passed away on his 120th birthday — Adar 7, 2488 (1273 BCE)

12 February in History

In 1884, today was the birthdate of Max Beckmann, German-born post-modernist painter

8 Adar in History

In the 1660’s the Jewish community of Barbados became established and of considerable importance. The Jewish community, however, had a decided disadvantage in that their testimony was not admissible in court cases due to their refusal to take an oath on a Christian Bible. In October 1669 the Jewish community presented the king a petition requesting permission to take be able to take oaths on the Five Books of Moses, the Jewish Bible.

Several years later, on Wednesday, February 14, 1674, Barbados passed a law granting the Jewish community the permission they requested.

If one has left over goods that the customer left behind, and you do not know who it belongs to, use the value of those goods to benefit the community. As is stated, “If you stole, but did not know who you stole from, use the money to fulfill the needs of the community.”

What are the “needs of the community”?

Rav Hisda said, “Pits for storage, wells and caverns for water.”

Beitzah Chapter 3


10 February in History

In 1914, today was the birthdate of one of the world’s greatest harmonica players, Baltimore born Lawrence “Larry” Cecil Adler.

6 Adar in History

Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurary (“Rashag”) was born in 1898; his father, a wealthy businessman and erudite scholar, was a leading chassid of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn (1860-1920). In 1921, Rabbi Shmaryahu wed Chanah Schneersohn (1899-1991) the oldest daughter of the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950).

When Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak passed away in 1950, there were those who saw Rabbi Shmaryahu — an accomplished Chassidic scholar and elder of the Rebbe’s two surviving sons-in-law — as the natural candidate to head of the movement; but when the younger son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, was chosen as rebbe, Rabbi Shmaryahu became his devoted chassid.

Rabbi Shmaryahu served as the excutive director of Tomchei Temimim, the world-wide Lubavitch yeshiva system — a task entrusted to him by his father-in-law — until his passing on the 6th of Adar I in 1989.

Each and every commandment is a form of faith, they come from the depth of faith; they are what the Godly faith, in its awesome wonder, obligates those who walk through life.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


9 February in History

In 1807, Napoleon convened the French Sanhedrin. The first meeting in Paris of the Napoleonic Sanhedrin was under the leadership of The Assembly of Jewish Notables. It opened amid great pomp and celebration under the direction of Abraham Furtado. The Sanhedrin was modeled on the ancient Tribunal in Jerusalem and consisted of 71 members – 46 Rabbis and 25 laymen. Rabbi David Sinzheim of Strasburg was its President. They were presented with 12 questions regarding the positions of Jewry regarding polygamy, divorce, usury, other faiths, and most important whether they considered France to be their Fatherland. Needless to say, they received “guidance” from the emperor as to the general formulation of the answers.

5 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Ze’ev Wolf (Velvele) of Ostracha (also known as Tcharni-Ostraa) (1823). He was a close student of Rav Dov Ber (the Maggid) of Mezritch and Rav Pinchas of Koritz.

Thereafter, he became a follower of Rav Meshulam Feivish of Zhebariza, the Yosher Divrei Emes. He married the daughter of Reb Zushe of Hanipoli. Three years after the petira of the Yosher Divrei Emes, he made aliya (in 1798) and settled in Teveriya.

Why was a “Law of fire” (Deut. 33:2) given to Israel?

Since the law of this people is like fire, because if such a law had not been given to them, no nation and tongue could stand before them.

This is as R. Simeon b. Lakish said, “The boldest nation of all nations is Israel.”

Beitzah Chapter 3


8 February in History

In 1931, in Cairo, King Faud opened the Museum of Modern Art which was located in a mansion that had been purchased by Elie Mosseri and donated to the government. Mosseri was a leading member of the Egyptian-Jewish community.

4 Adar in History

The body of R. Meir (MaHaRaM) of Rotenburg’s was released for burial in 1307, fourteen years after his death in the fortress of Ensisheim. He was buried in the old Jewish cemetery of Worms. Next to him was buried R. Alexander Susskind Wimpfen, who gave away his entire fortune to ransom the body. Both graves miraculously escaped Nazi ravaging of the cemetery (born 1215).

Why was the Law given to Israel? Because they are bold (difficult to be vanquished).

The disciples of R. Ishmael taught, “It is written [Deut. xxxiii. 2]: “From his right hand he gave a fiery law to them.” The Holy One, blessed be He, as it were, said, ‘The Israelites are so bold that a fiery law must be given to them.'”

Beitzah Chapter 3


7 February in History

In 1914, Charlie Chaplin’s signature character, “The Tramp,” debuted in a film called “Kid Auto Races at Venice”

3 Adar in History

Rav Eliyahu Dovid Rabinowitz-Teumim, the Aderes (1843-1905). The last part of his name, Te’omim denotes the fact that he was a “te’om,” or twin. His mother, Chana, was a descendant of the Baal Halevushim and the Chacham Tzvi.

After his marriage, Rav Eliyahu Dovid moved to his wife’s birthplace, Ponovezh. He served as Rav of Ponovezh from 1872 to 1890 and of Mir from 1890 to 1898. He was then asked to assume the position of chief rabbi of Yerushalayim, at the recommendation of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky. There, he assisted the 80 year old Rav Shmuel Salant.

Rav Eliyahu Dovid served as the rav of Yerushalayim for four years.

Rab said, “A man should never absent himself from the house of learning, even for one hour, because I and Levi both were in the college when Rabbi declared a Halakha. In the evening he said, ‘They are permitted to be eaten’; but in the morning he said, ‘They are permitted to be received.’ I, who was in the college in the morning and heard his second decision, gave up the first; but Levi, who was not, did not.”

Beitzah Chapter 3


6 February in History

In 2001, Ariel Sharon was elected Israeli prime minister in a landslide over Ehud Barak.

2 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Meir Paprish, the Ohr Tzadikim (1624-1662). At the young age of 13, Reb Meir began learning Kabbalah as a student of Rav Yaakov Tzemach who studied under Rav Shmuel Vital, the son of Rav Chaim Vital.

This house which you have build to me, if you walk in my laws and perform my judgements, and guard all my commands to walk in them, I will uphold my word with you, which I spoke to David your father.

I will dwell among my people Israel, and I will never abandon my people Israel.

Kings 1 6:12-13


4 February in History

In 1194, Richard The Lion Hearted bought his freedom by paying his ransom to Leopold, an Austrian Duke. In collecting the ransom, the Jews were forced to pay 5,000 marks. They were taxed at three times the rate as that paid by their Christian countrymen.

30 Shevat in History

The 30th of Shevat is celebrated by the descendents of Rabbi Yomtov Lipman Heller (1579-1654) as a day of thanksgiving, for his liberation and restoration after his imprisonment in Vienna in 1629.

Rabbi Yomtov Lipman was one of the important rabbinical figures of the early 17th century. Known as the “Tosfos Yomtov” after his commentary on the Mishnah by that name, he also authored important commentaries on the Rosh and other rabbinical works. A disciple of the famed Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Yomtov Lipman was appointed, at the tender age of 18, to serve as a dayan (rabbinical judge) in in that city. He subsequently filled a number of prestigious rabbinical positions, including rabbi of Nikolsburg and of Vienna. In 1627 he was recalled to Prague to serve as the city’s chief rabbi.

That position earned him powerful enemies when he refused to follow the dictates of Prague’s rich and influential citizens and strove to relieve the burden imposed on the poor by the suffocating “crown taxes” imposed on the Jews. His enemies informed on him to the government, falsely accusing him of treason. In 1629, Rabbi Yomtov Lipman was arrested, tried and sentenced to death. The Jewish communities of Bohemia succeeded in having the sentence commuted and reduced to a heavy fine, and raised the funds for the payment of the first installment that secured his release. However, his enemies obtained an imperial decision that he could not officiate as rabbi in any town of the empire, leaving him homeless and destitute. It took many years for him to pay off the balance of the fine and be restored to his former position. It was only in the winter of 1644, when he settled in Krakow after being appointed chief rabbi of the city, that he felt that that he could celebrate his release and restoration.

Shevat 30th (the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh Adar)–the day that Rabbi Yomtov Lipman assumed the rabbinate of Krakow–was celebrated by him and his family as a day of thanksgiving to God. Rabbi Yomtov Lipman asked that future generations continue to mark the date, and the custom is upheld by his descendants to this day.

5 February in History

In 1915, birthdate of Robert Hofstadter, American atomic physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1961.

1 Adar I in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Avraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1164). He was born in Tudela during the height of Spain’s Golden Age. There, he established a close friendship with Rav Yehuda Halevi. Three of his uncles were ministers in the royal palace. He moved to Toledo, during the benevolent rule of King Alfonso VI. After the Kinf died, however, the anti-semitic masses began to harass the Jews, so he headed south to Muslim Spain – to Granada, Cordova, and Lucena. In 1148, the barbaric Almohades overran Morocco and continued into Spain. He was forced to flee to Rome, Provence, and Rhodes (where he befriended Rabbeinu Tam and other grandsons of Rashi, as well as the Rosh).

He traveled to Egypt and learned with the Rambam. He wrote a commentary on the Torah and Navi, based in large part on Hebrew grammar. He also wrote dozens of books on astronomy, astrology, and mathematics.

“Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah permitted three things which the other sages prohibit: His cow would go out on a Sabbath with a strap attached to her horns” (which was not allowed because the animal was carrying on Shabbat)…

Did R. Elazar ben Azariah possess but one cow? Did not Rabh, or according to others R. Jehudah in the name of Rabh, say that thirteen thousand calves used R. Elazar ben Azariah to give as tithes from his cattle yearly?

The cow mentioned Mishna was not his, but his neighbor’s, and because he did not protest, it was considered as if it was his own.

Beitzah Chapter 2


3 February in History

In 1468, Johannes Gutenberg, father of modern printing, passed away. Gutenberg was not Jewish. But the invention of the printing press was a boon to Jewish study and culture. The people of the book had much easier access to the World of Books.

29 Shevat in History

The Columbia Space Shuttle, returning from its STS-107 mission, was destroyed upon re-entry, 16 minutes before its scheduled landing. All its crew members perished, including Ilan Ramon, a combat pilot in the Israeli Air Force, who was the first Israeli astronaut. Prior to his departing to space on Space Shuttle Columbia, where his mission included the manning of a multispectral camera for recording desert aeroso, he arranged to take Kosher food and he took along a Kiddush cup and a copy of the Torah.

When a person considers the lowly state one exists in without faith, a person who has purified their soul will be drawn to the substance of the ideal that in truth is the only path for an upright person to be drawn to.

At that time, he will find a strong desire for faith, and the exalted enjoyment, the light of God, will enliven him.

He will want to color his life with the acts and the external practices, which are fitting for the internal and ideal desire. On his own, he will make vows and accept commitments, and all the more so will be pleased with the all of the general vows, which are the inheritance of our fathers.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


2 February in History

In 1790, the United States Supreme Court meets for the first time. It would be one hundred and twenty six years before a Jewish jurist would be named to the High Court. By the second decade of the 21st century, 3 of the 9 justices were Jewish.

28 Shevat in History

On Shevat 28 (134 BCE?), Antiochus V abandoned his siege of Jerusalem and his plans for the city’s destruction. This day was observed as a holiday in Hashmonean times.

It once happened to Simeon of Teman that he did not visit the house of learning on a festival day. On the next day, Jehudah b. Baba asked him: “Why were you not in the house of learning yesterday?

He answered, ” The military come yesterday into the city, and wanted to rob the whole city; and we slaughtered for them calves, and made them eat, and they went away in peace.

R. Jehudah b. Baba replied, I wonder whether your loss was not greater than your benefit, for the Torah teaches “unto you,” you may cook, but not for non-Jews.

Beitzah Chapter 2

1 February in History

In 1799, the French army under Napoleon left for Palestine to forestall a Turco-British invasion through the Palestinian land-bridge.

27 Shevat in History

Rabbi Alexander Sender Schorr was a direct descendents of Rabbi Yosef Bechor Schorr of Orleans, one of the most famous of the French Tosafists. At a young age he was already appointed Chief Justice of the Rabbinic Court in the town of Hovniv which is directly outside of Lvov, Poland.

He authored the classic work on the laws of ritual slaughter called Simlah Chadashah, as well as a deeper commentary on those laws called Tevu’ot Shor.

The Simlah Chadashah has been reprinted more than one hundred times, and is the most widely used book to learn the laws of shechitah (ritual slaughter). Rabbi Alexander Sender Schorr passed away in the town of Zelkava on the 27th of Shevat in the year 5497 (1737).

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 77 other followers

Jewish Almanac iPhone App

History of the Jewish Almanac

February 2011