This Day in History – 19 Tammuz/July 22

19 Tammuz

In 5701/1941, 6,000 Lithuanian Jews were killed in the Viszalsyan camp.


Yahrtzeiten

5434/1674, Harav Aharon Shmuel Koidenover, author of Bircas Hazevach.

5725/1965, Harav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, Rosh Yeshivah of Mir.


5758/1998

Harav Benzion Abba Shaul, Rosh Yeshivah, Porat Yosef, Zt”l

Harav Benzion Abba Shaul was born in 5684/1924 to Harav Eliyahu Abba Shaul, zt”l, a noted figure in the Yerushalayim Sephardi community, and Banya, a pious woman who instilled ahavas Torah in her children. Although Rav Eliyahu made a living as a shoemaker, he managed to invest long hours each day in Torah study and tefillah and was said to have learned through all the halachos of the Ben Ish Chai no less than 52 times.

While some Sephardi families sent their children to receive an “enlightened” education, Rav Eliyahu refused and instead sent his children to the Bnei Tzion Talmud Torah in the Bucharian Quarter.

Harav Benzion recalled years later, “We often learned without having eaten anything. Sometimes I would learn all day, hungry, and later tell my mother that I had eaten in the yeshivah.”

In 5700/1940, Harav Benzion began learning in the Yeshiva Porat Yosef, located in the Old City. There he studied under its venerated Roshei Yeshivah, Harav Yaakov Ades, zt”l, and Harav Ezra Attia, zt’l, to whom he became very attached.

In 5709/1949 Harav Abba Shaul married Rebbetzin Hadassa, daughter of Harav Yosef Sharabani and granddaughter of the mekubal Harav Yehoshua Sharabani, zt”l.

After his wedding, Harav Abba Shaul began serving as a Maggid Shiur in Yeshiva Porat Yosef; he also taught in the Bnei Tzion cheder. For years he would learn on Fridays b’chavrusa with his father-in-law, Harav Yosef, declaring that these sessions were the main source of his growth in Torah.

Harav Abba Shaul avoided rendering piskei halachah until 1970, when Harav Attia was niftar. At that time, he began offering halachic opinions, but only privately. When Harav Yehuda Tzadaka, Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef, began sending halachic queries to him, Harav Abba Shaul finally assumed the role of posek. Following Rav Tzadaka’s petirah in 5743, he also became Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef.

There was one role, however, that defined him: that of a marbitz Torah. “I have a lot of chiddushim,” he would comment, “but I never wrote them down because I preferred to invest all of my strength in talmidim, and I wasn’t able to do both.” Indeed, his devotion to his talmidim was remarkable.

Harav Abba Shaul felt incredible simchah in performing mitzvos. Once, while he lay in a hospital bed attached to machines, he nevertheless managed to recite Kiddush Levanah. He beamed as he shared with visitors this news.

Harav Abba Shaul was a leader of Sephardi Jewry worldwide and traveled to many Sephardic communities. He founded batei din for them and provided them with shochtim, mohalim and Rabbanim.

He was niftar on 19 Tammuz, and masses of Yidden converged on the Yeshiva Porat Yosef for his levayah. His published works are Ohr Letzion, She’eilos Uteshuvos and chiddushim on various subjects.


July 22

In 1587, an English colony fated to vanish under mysterious circumstances was established on Roanoke Island off North Carolina.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln presented to his Cabinet a preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In 1937, the U.S. Senate rejected President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court.

In 1942, the Nazis began transporting Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp.

In 1943, American forces led by Gen. George S. Patton captured Palermo, Sicily, during World War II.

In 1975, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in voting to restore the American citizenship of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.