This Day in History – 15 Kislev/November 23

The MS Explorer listing severely on November 23, 2007

15 Kislev


3954/193, Rabi Yehuda Hanasi, zy”a, mesader of the Mishnayos, son of Rabi Shimon ben Gamliel

5521/1760, Harav Avraham Ibn Ezra (the second), zt”l, mechaber of Batei Knesiyos

5572/1811, Harav Eliezer Fishel of Brodi, zt”l

5667/1906, Harav Simcha Bunim Sofer of Pressburg, zt”l, the Shevet Sofer

5677/1916, Harav Rafael Even Tzur, zt”l, Rav of Pas, Morocco

5680/1919, Harav Dovid Twersky, Rebbe of Skver, zt”l


Harav Yisrael Efraim Fishel Sofer of Nanash, Zt”l, the
Afsei Aretz

Harav Yisrael Efraim Fishel Sofer, born in 5582/1822, was the son of Harav Tzvi.

In his youth he learned in the yeshivah of Harav Yitzchak Perels, zt”l, in Bonihad. From there he went on to the yeshivah of the Chasam Sofer, where he learned for several zmanim. For the rest of his life, the Chasam Sofer remained his foremost Rebbe.

Following the petirah of the Chasam Sofer he stayed on in the yeshivah, learning under the Ksav Sofer.

When Rav Yisrael Efraim Fishel married he settled in his hometown, Potok. He continued his avodas Hashem, utilizing all his time for learning.

Rav Yisrael Efraim Fishel would travel to Harav Tzvi Hersh of Liska, zy”a, the Ach Pri Tevuah, with whom he was very close. He was also close with many of the Gedolim of his time, notably the Divrei Chaim of Sanz.

In 5621/1861, Rav Yisrael Efraim Fishel was appointed Rav of Nanash. He was considered one of the foremost Rabbanim in Hungary.

His avodas Hashem was performed with mesirus nefesh. He would fast for most of the week — he didn’t eat from Motzoei Shabbos after havdalah until Tuesday night, and from then he would fast straight till the following Shabbos.

He was also renowned for his hasmadah. He would learn all night by the light of a small lantern, whose weak glow wasn’t seen outside of his house, causing some members of the kehillah to think that their Rav wasn’t learning at night when, in fact, the opposite was true.

In his old age the Rav became ill and weak from fasting, but he wasn’t willing to forgo this minhag despite the pleas of his family. Only after Harav Chananyah Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, zy”a, the Kedushas Yom Tov, implored him to give up his fasting did he agree to do so.

On 14 Kislev 5659/1898, at age 77, Rav Yisrael Efraim Fishel officiated at a bris, serving as sandak. After davening Minchah and Maariv, he turned to the kehillah and bade them all farewell. He added that it is better to bury a niftar in his weekday tallis and not in his Shabbos tallis, for the former had soaked in many more tefillos.

That night he learned with a grandson. Near midnight, Rav Yisrael Efraim Fishel told his grandson to go to sleep, while he would continue learning on his own. After he recited krias Shema, his neshamah left him. Kevurah was in Nanash.

Harav Yisrael Efraim Fishel Sofer wrote Afsei Aretz on the Torah and she’eilos u’teshuvos by the same name.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

Nov. 23

In 1765, Frederick County, Md., became the first colonial entity to repudiate the British Stamp Act.

In 1943, during World War II, U.S. forces seized control of Tarawa and Makin atolls from the Japanese.

In 1971, the People’s Republic of China was seated in the U.N. Security Council.

In 1980, some 2,600 people were killed by a series of earthquakes that devastated southern Italy.

In 2007, MS Explorer, a cruise liner carrying 154 people, sank in the Antarctic Ocean south of Argentina after hitting an iceberg near the South Shetland Islands. There were no fatalities.