In 5539/1779, the Duke of Stuttgart, Germany, decreed that no Jew should be deprived of the right of residence.
5490/1730, Harav Avraham Yechiel of Halberstadt, zt”l, mechaber of Nezer Hakodesh
5565/1805, Harav Shlomo Margulies, zt”l, Rav of Zelitchek
5420/1660, Harav Shaul Levi Morteira of Amsterdam, Zt”l, mechaber of Givas Shaul
Harav Shaul Levi Morteira was born in Venice about 5356/1596. His father was Harav Yosef, a Spanish Marrano.
About 5712/1612, at the age of 15, he moved to Paris together with Dr. Eliyahu Dilonah Montalto, the doctor of the duke of Toscana. At the request of the duke’s daughter, who married King Henry IV, Reb Eliyahu moved to Paris. He too was a Marrano, but at that time he was permitted to live freely as a Jew, a privilege granted him as royal physician.
In 5716/1616 Dr. Eliyahu Montalto passed away and Rav Shaul escorted his mittah from France to burial in Amsterdam, together with the son of the niftar. At that time Rav Shaul made a positive impression on the city of Amsterdam, and the Sephardic community Beit Yaakov elected him as their leader. He stayed on there, giving a drashah every Shabbos, and acting as Rosh Yeshivah.
In 5799/1639, the three kehillos of Amsterdam united: the Sephardic Beit Yaakov; Neveh Hashalom, also Sephardic; and the Ashkenazic Beis Yisrael. Rav Shaul was appointed Rav and Rosh Beis Din.
He founded Yeshivas Eitz Chaim in the city. The yeshivah attracted many of the leading bachurim.
Unfortunately, Rav Shaul did not live out his life in peace and tranquility. He was subject to a few disputes, and was forced to open a new yeshivah, Kesser Torah.
Rav Shaul delivered over 1,400 drashos, and his talmidim published a number of them under the name Givas Shaul. The sefer was published during his lifetime, and included his portrait.
On 24 Shevat (some record it as 25 Shevat) 5420/1660, Rav Shaul was niftar. His loss was felt all across Amsterdam.
It is known that he had a son, Harav David, who was active on behalf of Yeshivas Kesser Torah. A son-in-law, Harav Yashayah Pardo, is also mentioned.
Besides Givas Shaul, Rav Shaul also wrote She’eiris Hanefesh, on the eternal nature of the soul, and Toras Moshe Emes, philosophical discussions. He authored works in Spanish which, though never printed, were a source of chizuk to the Marrano community.
Zecher tzaddik livrachah.
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