This Day in History – 4 Tishrei/October 3


5474/1713, Harav Yoel Baal Shem Heilprin, zt”l.

5508/1747, Harav Tzvi Hirsch Halberstadt, the Kos Hayeshuos, zt”l.

5608/1847, Harav Yitzchok Aryeh, the Baal Shem of Michelstadt, zt”l

5620/1859, Harav Nechemia of Bochov, zt”l.

5674/1913, Harav Yitzchok Maltzen, zt”l, mechaber of Shvisas HaShabbos.

5581/1820, Harav Avraham Danzig, Mechaber of Chayei Adam and Chachmas Adam, Zt”l.

Harav Avraham Danzig was born in 5508/1748 in the city of Danzig, the source of his family name. His father was Harav Yechiel Michel, zt”l. He learned under Harav Yechezkel Landau, zt”l, the Noda BiYehudah, and under Harav Yosef Lieberman, zt”l, who was Rosh Yeshivah in Prague. While yet a bachur, at age 18, he received semichah from Harav Lieberman, who, in his ksav semichah, lavishly praised the young Avraham, calling him “baki b’Shas and Poskim, and worthy of receiving semichah.”

After Rav Avraham got married, he lived in Vilna. Rav Avraham did not want to support himself via the rabbanus and tried his hand at business. Still and all, Rav Avraham utilized most of the day for learning and davening.

Ultimately, due to the nonsuccess of his business affairs, Rav Avraham was forced to assume the rabbanus of Vilna. In his introduction to Chachmas Adam, Rav Avraham, in his great humilty, excuses himself for having to be supported by the community, adding that he relied on the fact that the Torah lets an elderly talmid chacham be supported by the public.

Chayei Adam, his major halachic work, on Orach Chaim, was first published in Vilna anonymously; Rav Avraham quotes the Sefer Chassidim which states that when an author writes his name on a sefer, part of his Olam Haba is deducted. Besides, he adds in his introduction, what difference does it make who wrote the sefer? The only important part is its content …

The Chayei Adam’s main intent in writing his sefer was to help the layman, but as he himself wrote, many talmidei chachamim also gained from his sefer, because of its easy style and its summaries of the halachos.

Chayei Adam and Chachmas Adam (on Yoreh Deah) became very popular, with shiurim devoted to them in many cities.

Rav Avraham was a close associate of the Vilna Gaon as well as his mechutan.

In 5564/1804, Rav Avraham was miraculously saved from death when an explosion in his courtyard killed 31 people. He then promised to go live in Yerushalayim when all his children would be married.

His son Reb Moshe was niftar at a young age. In his memory, he wrote a sefer, Matzeivas Moshe, on hilchos aveilus.

Before his petirah, Rav Avraham asked that the titles of praise that the talmidim would wish to bestow him, both at the levayah and on his matzeivah, should not be overdone. At his levayah, a special text was given out to those present, asking for mechilah from everyone in the event he had mistakenly wronged them.

A timely note of interest: the Tefillah Zakah that many are accustomed to say before Kol Nidrei was written by the Chayei Adam.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Oct. 3

In 1789, President George Washington declared Nov. 26, 1789 a day of Thanksgiving to express gratitude for the creation of the United States of America.

In 1929, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes formally changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In 1941, Adolf Hitler declared in a speech in Berlin that Russia had been “broken” and would “never rise again.” In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Office of Economic Stabilization.

In 2001, the Senate approved an agreement normalizing trade between the United States and Vietnam.