This Day in History – 14 Shevat/January 15

14 Shevat


5516/1756, Harav Yaakov Yehoshua Pollack, the Pnei Yehoshua, zt”l

5654/1894, Harav Yechiel, zt”l, the alter Rebbe of Alexander

5731/1971, Harav Dovid Shapiro of Yerushalayim, zt”l, mechaber of Bnei Tzion

5765/2005, Harav Daniel Frisch, zt”l, author of Masok MiDvash on the Zohar



Harav Yitzchak Abuchatzeira, Hy”d, of Tulal, Morocco

Harav Yitzchak Abuchatzeira was the fourth and youngest son of Harav Yaakov Abuchatzeira, the Abir Yaakov. He was born in 5620/1860, when his father was 56. He had two sisters. His father named him Yitzchak after the Arizal, stating that his neshamah had a spark of the Arizal’s. It was thus no wonder that his father allowed him to delve into kabbalistic works at a young age, unlike his other sons who weren’t permitted to do so until they were older.

As a young bachur, Reb Yitzchak didn’t learn in the yeshivah that his father had established, but rather remained secluded in the famous attic of his father.

One time, a shaliach from Eretz Yisrael was visiting Morocco, and was discussing an intricate sugya with the Abir Yaakov. When their debate remained unresolved, the Abir Yaakov called on his son — who was all of 15 — to ask his opinion on the sugya. After some time, Reb Yitzchak came up with an answer that astounded both of them. The shaliach noted that even in Eretz Yisrael it would be difficult to find a bachur as well-versed as he was …

Reb Yitzchak was accustomed to drink large quantities of machiyah — arak. He said that this would help him concentrate for lengthy periods.

When Reb Yitzchak was 20, his father, the Abir Yaakov, was niftar en route to Eretz Yisrael. He was buried in Damanhour, Egypt.

Following their father’s petirah, his sons accepted upon themselves his various undertakings. The oldest son, Harav Masoud, led the community. The second son, Harav Aharon, undertook to publish his father’s works. The third son, Harav Avraham, had already moved to Eretz Yisrael several years before, and lived in Teveria. Harav Yitzchak was appointed Rosh Yeshivah of his father’s yeshivah.

From time to time, Harav Yitzchak would leave Tafilalt to visit the communities and provide chizuk. The communities would host Harav Yitzchak, and he would conduct large seudos for the locals. Many were helped through his brachos and tremendous mofsim.

During the time he was absent from the yeshivah, it was run by his nephew Harav Yisrael Abuchtzeira, the Baba Sali. The Baba Sali had a nightly chavrusa with his uncle for six years, during which they completed the entire Shas with meforshim.

On his last trip, in Shevat 5672/1912, Harav Yitzchak managed to gather large sums on behalf of the yeshivah and the poor families in Tafilalt. On their way home, on 14 Shevat, mere hours away from their destination, Harav Yitzchak — who was accompanied by an attendant, Reb Moshe Shitrit, and an Arab who was hired to protect them — asked to dismount and daven Minchah. Both the Arab and Reb Moshe tried to convince Harav Yitzchak not to, noting that the area was dangerous. Reb Moshe added that it was only Minchah Gedolah, and Harav Yitzchak never davened Minchah so early, especially on Erev Shabbos.

Harav Yitzchak said, “Yes, I am waiting for the rioters. They plan to attack the Jewish community in Tulal, and I have decided to be moser nefesh on their behalf, and thus abate the decree.”

Harav Yitzchak sat and wrote a piyut, in honor of Shabbos, called Yom HaShvi’i. As he was sitting and writing, the rioters came past and stabbed Harav Yitzchak. He was buried before Shabbos in nearby Tulal. Until today, his kever is known as a place of yeshuos, and many travel there on the yahrtzeit.

Harav Yitzchak’s only son was Harav Abba Abuchatzeira, the son-in-law of Harav David Abuchtzeira, known as Ateret Rosheinu. Harav Abba’s son was Harav Yitzchak, who lived in Haifa.

Hashem yinkom damo.


January 15

In 1559, England’s Queen Elizabeth I was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

In 1777, the people of New Connecticut declared their independence. The tiny republic later became the state of Vermont.

In 1919, pianist and conductor Ignace Jan Paderewski became the first premier of the newly created Republic of Poland.

In 1922, the Irish Free State was established under Michael Collins.

In 1929, the Kellogg-Briand Pact for the peaceful settlement of international disputes was ratified by the U.S. Senate.

In 1963, the Congo’s President Moise Tshombe accepted the United Nations plan for the secession of Katanga.

In 1970, Biafran rebels in Nigeria surrendered after a two-and-a-half-year war.

In 1972, the crown princess was acclaimed Queen Margrethe II of Denmark by thousands of Danes on the parliament square.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon announced the suspension of all U.S. offensive action in North Vietnam, citing progress in peace negotiations.

In 1976, Sara Jane Moore was sentenced to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald Ford in San Francisco.

In 1986, a military coup deposed the government in Lesotho.

In 1989, riot police in Prague, Czechoslovakia, used water cannon and dogs to disperse at least 2,000 people who defied a ban on independent rallies.

In 1990, the Bulgarian Parliament abolished the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.

In 1992, the Yugoslav federation effectively collapsed as the European Community recognized the republics of Croatia and Slovenia.

In 1993, the United States ordered a naval barricade around Haiti to block a feared exodus of refugees, saying it was necessary to prevent a “massive loss of life at sea.”