This Day in History – 4 Shevat/January 10

4 Shevat

Yahrtzeiten

5567/1807, Harav Moshe Leib, Rebbe of Sassov, zt”l

5570/1810, Harav Avraham, Rebbe of Kalisk, zt”l

5576/1816, Harav Dovid of Brod, zt”l

5726/1966, Harav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, zt”l


5744/1984

Harav Yisrael Abuchatzeira, Zt”l, The Baba Sali

The Baba Sali was born on Rosh Hashanah of 5650/1889 into the illustrious Abuchatzeira family, rabbinic leaders of the Moroccan city of Tafilalet for over a century.

The young Rav Yisrael observed how his father, Rav Masoud, zt”l, would lock himself in an attic for hours on end, deep in study of both the revealed and hidden Torah.

Unlike most children his age, the young Rav Yisrael never longed for toys or sweets. All he wanted was a new siddur.

Rav Yisrael learned to daven with great devotion and eventually became a pillar of prayer for Klal Yisrael.

After his bar mitzvah he went on to master Shas with Rishonim and became expert in areas as shechitah, milah and safrus.

Most of Moroccan Jewry began immigrating to Eretz Yisrael after 1948. Rav Yisrael’s brother Rav Yitzchak founded a kehillah in Ramle, and urged Rav Yisrael to share with him the challenge of reorienting Moroccan Jewry to their new environment. In Elul 5711/1951, Rav Yisrael boarded a ship for Eretz Yisrael.

The ship arrived on Erev Rosh Hashanah at the Haifa port. Rav Yisrael went to Yerushalayim, where he intended to settle.

Rav Yisrael was deeply pained by the spiritual condition of Yerushalayim at that time. After much thought, he decided to move away from Eretz Yisrael altogether.

At first, he went to France. In 5713/1953 he decided to return to Tafilalet, which had a now-stable government.

Rav Yisrael lived near his son, Rav Meir, who served as the regional Rabbi and Dayan. In 5723/1963 Rav Yisrael turned 73, the age when both his father and grandfather were niftar. That year Rav Yisrael did not travel so that if he were niftar, he could be buried alongside them in Tafilalet, in accordance with Chazal’s teaching that when a man reaches the lifespan of his father, he should prepare himself for death.

The year passed and in 5724/1964 he decided to move back to Eretz Yisrael, settling in Netivot, a small city in the Negev with a largely Moroccan-Jewish population.

From the moment Rav Yisrael arrived there, it became a magnet for people in need of a tzaddik’s wise counsel.

The Baba Sali had a profound impact on Netivot and its surrounding settlements. Many residents of these towns changed their entire lifestyle due to his influence and began to observe mitzvos. In time, the Negev began to bloom spiritually.

Rav Yisrael had seen in Rav Meir his replacement, to continue the family tradition. After Rav Meir’s death on Chol Hamoed Pesach 5743/1983, it was clear that Rav Yisrael was not well. On 4 Shevat 5744/1984, he returned his pure soul to its Maker.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Jan. 10

In 1776, Thomas Paine anonymously published his influential pamphlet, “Common Sense,” which argued for American independence from British rule.

In 1863, the London Underground had its beginnings as the Metropolitan, the world’s first underground passenger railway, opened to the public with service between Paddington and Farringdon Street.

In 1870, John D. Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil.

In 1920, the League of Nations was established as the Treaty of Versailles went into effect.

In 1946, the first General Assembly of the United Nations convened in London. Also, the first man-made contact with the moon was made as radar signals transmitted by the U.S. Army Signal Corps were bounced off the lunar surface.

In 1967, Massachusetts Republican Edward W. Brooke, the first black person elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote, took his seat.