This Day in History – 4 Teves/December 12


5490/1729, Harav Moshe Zev Bialystok, zt”l, mechaber of Mar’os Hatzovos

5633/1872, Harav Eizel Charif of Slonim, zt”l

5651/1890, Harav Gershon Henoch Leiner, Rebbe of Radzin, zy”a, the Baal HaTecheles

5722/1961, Harav Shalom Rokeach, zt”l, Rav of Skohl

5756/1995, Harav Mordechai Pinchos Teitz, zt”l, Rav of Elizabeth, N.J.

5693/1932, Harav Chaim Shaul Dweck, Zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Hamekubalim of Yerushalayim and mechaber of Eifah Sheleimah

Harav Chaim Shaul Hakohen Dweck, zt”l, was born in Aleppo, Syria, on 14 Cheshvan 5618/1857. His father, Rav Eliyahu, zt”l, was the Rav of Aleppo and mechaber of Emes Me’Eretz.

Chaim Shaul learned under Harav Mordechai Abadi, zt”l, a Dayan in Aleppo. In his formative years, young Chaim Shaul already displayed a phenomenal memory.

A talmid chacham and a leading mekubal, Rav Chaim Shaul wrote a commentary on Eitz Chaim by Harav Chaim Vital, zt”l, which he called Eifah Sheleimah.

In 5647/1887, before he reached the age of 30, Rav Chaim Shaul was appointed Rav of Aleppo.

At 32, Rav Chaim Shaul delivered a fiery drashah regarding tznius. When he saw that the people were not acting in accordance with his requests, he spoke again the next Shabbos, adding that if they would not improve in this area, the town would be punished.

That Motzoei Shabbos, Rav Chaim Shaul left Syria and moved to Eretz Yisrael.

A few weeks later a fire broke out and devoured most of the city’s homes.

When Rav Chaim Shaul was only 46 years old, he lost his eyesight. For the last 30 years of his life he continued to learn Torah, mainly from memory plus the help of his talmidim.

Rav Chaim Shaul even served as the baal tefillah in the minyan of the mekubalim, despite his blindness.

Many talmidei chachamim and leading mekubalim were among the talmidim of Rav Chaim Shaul. Some of the more famous ones were Harav Yom Tov Yedid Halevi; Harav Salman Eliyahu, who replaced Rav Chaim Shaul as Rosh Yeshivas Hamekubalim; Harav Yaakov Chaim Sofer, mechaber of Kaf Hachaim; Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Rav of Yerushalayim; and Harav Asher Zelig Margulies, zecher tzaddikim livrachah.

Rav Chaim Shaul was niftar on 4 Teves 5693/1932.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

Dec. 12

In 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1870, Joseph H. Rainey, of South Carolina, became the first black lawmaker sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt nominated Oscar Straus to be Secretary of Commerce and Labor; Straus became the first Jewish Cabinet member.

In 1937, Japanese aircraft sank the U.S. gunboat “Panay” on China’s Yangtze River. (Japan apologized, and paid $2.2 million in reparations.)

In 1946, a United Nations committee voted to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to be the site of the U.N.’s headquarters.

In 1963, Kenya became independent of Britain.

In 1995, by three votes, the Senate killed a constitutional amendment giving Congress authority to outlaw flag burning and other forms of desecration against the United States flag.

In 2000, a divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election, transforming George W. Bush into the president-elect.

In 2013, The House voted to ease across-the-board federal spending cuts and head off future government shutdowns, acting after Speaker John Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on tea party-aligned groups campaigning for the measure’s defeat.