This Day In History 26 Cheshvan/November 15

In 5701/1942, the Nazis murdered 12,000 Jews of Minsk. Hy”d.


5398/1637, Harav Shlomo Charif, Rav of Lvov, zt”l

5691/1930, Harav Aryeh Mordechai Halberstam, Shinever Rebbe, zy”a

5702/1941, Harav Simcha Soloveitchik, Rav of Mohilev, zt”l, son of the Beis Halevi

5766/2005, Harav Elya Jurkanski, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah, Yeshivas Mir, Brooklyn

5564/1803, Harav Refael Hakohen of Hamburg, zt”l, mechaber of Toras Yekusiel and Veshov Hakohen

Harav Refael Hakohen Katz was born in 5483/1723 in Liphland, where his father, Harav Yekusiel Ziskind, was the Rav. He was an only child. His father was his personal Rebbi, and also hired a private melamed who came to their house to teach young Rafael. The boy grew steadily in Torah.

When he was 12, his father brought him to the Shaagas Aryeh, who took Refael under his wing.

When Rav Refael was 19 years old, he was appointed Rosh Yeshivah in Minsk, replacing his Rebbi, the Shaagas Aryeh. At the age of 23, he was chosen to serve as Rav in Rakow. Rav Refael later became Rav in Smilowitz.

In 5523/1763, Rav Refael was chosen Rav in Pinsk. Here he wrote Toras Yekusiel, a work on Yoreh Deah, with an appendix of Halachos pertaining to agunos.

Later, he became Rav in Posen. On his way to the new post, he fell deathly ill. The situation was very grave. On Erev Yom Kippur the situation deteriorated further, and the doctors forbade Rav Refael to fast. On Yom Kippur night, he fell asleep, and slept the whole night and the next day, without any food or drink. When he woke up again he was well.

In 5536/1776, Rav Refael was chosen to be Rav of the famous three kehillos, Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbeck. He fought tenaciously against the Haskalah movement. He put in cherem both Moses Mendelson and those who used his translation on the Chumash. The maskilim were very upset with the new Rav and his comments on their leader.

In 5559/1799, Rav Refael gave his last drashah in Altona, explaining that in his capacity as Rav he was sometimes forced to speak lashon hara and this he could not tolerate. After he resigned his post, the Napoleonic Wars broke out, forcing him to settle in Hamburg.

Rav Refael was the mechaber of She’eilas Hakohanim Torah on the avodah of the Kohanim. He also wrote She’eilos U’Teshuvos Veshav Hakohen; Mapei Lashon, on the issur of lashon hara; and Daas Kedoshim, drashos in Halachah and Aggadah.

He was niftar on 26 Cheshvan 5564/1803.

Zecher taddik livrachah.

Nov. 15

In 1777, the Second Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation.

In 1806, explorer Zebulon Pike sighted the mountaintop now known as Pikes Peak in present-day Colorado.

In 1889, Brazil was proclaimed a republic as its emperor, Dom Pedro II, was overthrown.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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