This Day In History 23 Tammuz/July 17

Shaar blatt of sefer Tefillah L’Moshe.

23 Tammuz

In 4859/1099, the Crusaders captured Yerushalayim from the Muslims.

In 5415/1655, Chmielnicki’s hordes attacked Vilna and killed many Jews. Hy”d.

In 5615/1855, Harav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura, zt”l, (the son of Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin, zt”l) was released from prison. He celebrated that day as a Yom Tov.


Yahrtzeiten

5509/1749, Harav Yechezkel Katzenellenbogen, zt”l, mechaber of Knesses Yechezkel

5609/1849, Harav Yaakov Yosef of Ostraah, zt”l

5699/1939, Harav Shaul Moshe Zilberman, zt”l, the Viershover Rav


5330/1570

Harav Moshe Cordovero, zt”l, the Ramak

Harav Moshe ben Harav Yaakov Cordovero was born in 5282/1522. The name Cordovero indicates that his family may have originated in Cordoba, Spain, and perhaps fled from there during the expulsion of 1492 during the Spanish Inquisition.

His exact birthplace is unknown; he was possibly born in Tzfas, or his family moved there soon afterwards.

He learned under Harav Yosef Karo, the Beis Yosef.

The Ramak quickly gained a reputation as an extraordinary genius and a prolific writer. He received semichah from Harav Yaakov Berav.

According to his own testimony in the introduction to Pardes Rimonim, at the age of 20, he heard a bas kol urging him to learn Kabbalah with his brother-in-law, Harav Shlomo Alkabetz, composer of Lechah Dodi.

The Ramak not only mastered the text, but decided to organize Kabbalistic themes and present them in an organized fashion. This led to the composition of his first sefer, Pardes Rimonim.

His second work — a magnum opus titled Or Yakar — was a 16-volume commentary on the Kabbalistic literature in its entirety and a work to which the Ramak had devoted most of his life. Some parts of Or Yakar have been published under separate titles, such as Shiur Komah and Tefillah L’Moshe.

Some other sefarim for which the Ramak is known are Tomer Devorah, Elimah Rabbasi and Sefer Gerushin. Certain parts of the Ramak’s works are still in manuscript form. His existing writings suggest many other compositions which he either intended to write or had actually written, but were lost.

Or Yakar was first published by Harav Menachem Azariah, the Rama of Pano, who bought the manuscripts from the Ramak’s widow for 1,000 gold coins.

In c. 5310/1550, the Ramak founded a yeshivah in Tzfas, which he led for 20 years, until his petirah. Among his talmidim was Harav Chaim Vital, who later became the disseminator of the teachings of the Arizal.

When the Ari arrived in Tzfas, the Ramak was his Rebbi as well.

According to the Chida, the Ramak was zocheh to see Eliyahu Hanavi.

The Ramak was niftar on 23 Tammuz 5330/1570.

He was buried in Tzfas’ old cemetery.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


July 17

In 1453, France defeated England at Castillon, France, ending the 100 Years’ War.

In 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States.

In 1867, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine was established in Boston, Mass. It was the first dental school in the U.S.

In 1917, during World War I, Britain’s King George V issued a proclamation decreeing that the royal family adopt the name “Windsor” while relinquishing “the Use of All German Titles and Dignities.”

In 1918, Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks.