This Day In History 23 Tamuz/July 29

The kever of Harav Moshe Cordovero, zt”l, the Ramak.
The kever of Harav Moshe Cordovero, zt”l, the Ramak.

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

In 5415/1655, Chmielnicki’s hordes attacked Vilna, killing 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 Katzenelenbogen, 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 Cordovero was born in 5282/1522; his father was Rav Yaakov. The name Cordovero indicates that his family may have originated in Cordoba, Spain.

The Ramak chose to live in Tzfas, soon to become famous as a center of Kabbalah and mystical creativity.

The Ramak learned under Harav Yosef Karo, the Beis Yosef, quickly gaining a reputation as an extraordinary genius, and received semichah from Harav Yaakov Beirav.

According to his own testimony in the introduction to Pardes Rimonim, at the age of 20 the Ramak heard a bas kol urging him to learn Kabbalah with his brother-in-law Harav Shlomo Alkabetz, composer of Lechah Dodi. He not only mastered the texts, but he also decided to present the Kabbalistic themes of his day in an organized fashion. This led to the composition of his first sefer, Pardes Rimonim, on which his reputation as a brilliant Kabbalist and a lucid thinker was based.

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

The Ramak was also the mechaber of Tomer Devorah, Elimah Rabbasi and Sefer Gerushin. Parts of his work are still in manuscript form, and his existing writings suggest that there may be many other compositions which he either intended to write or actually did write, but they are lost.

According to the Chida, Harav Chaim Dovid Azulai, the Ramak was zocheh to see Eliyahu Hanavi.

Around 5310/1550, the Ramak founded a yeshivah in Tzfas which he headed for the next 20 years, until his petirah. Among his talmidim were many of the luminaries of Tzfas, including Harav Eliyahu de Vidas, author of Reishis Chochmah; Harav Eliyahu Galanti; and Harav Chaim Vital, who later became the disseminator of the teachings of the Arizal.

When the Arizal arrived in Tzfas, the Ramak was his rebbi as well.

The Ramak was niftar on 23 Tammuz 5330/1570 at the age of 48. At the levayah, the Arizal said that he saw two pillars of fire in front of the mittah. He expounded: “V’chi yihiyeh b’ish chet mishpat maves — if you shall witness a tzaddik, a person without sin, vehumas — and nevertheless he was niftar, v’salisa oso al etz — assume that this is because of the snake which enticed Chavah to eat from the etz hadaas and thus brought death into the world.”

The Ramak was buried in Tzfas’s old cemetery.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


July 29

In 1588, the English attacked the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines, resulting in an English victory.

In 1914, transcontinental telephone service in the U.S. became operational with the first test conversation between New York and San Francisco.

Massachusetts’ Cape Cod Canal was officially opened to shipping traffic.

In 1921, Adolf Hitler became the fuehrer (leader) of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating NASA.