Today is a taanis tzaddikim (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 480:2) commemorating the initiation of the dispute between the house of Shammai and the house of Hillel.
The Gemara (Shabbos 17a) says this day was as disastrous for Klal Yisrael as the day of the Sin of the Golden Calf.
In 5700/1940, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Harav Yosef Yitzchok, zt”l, disembarked from a ship in New York, following his miraculous rescue from Nazi-occupied Warsaw.
5548/1788, Harav Shlomo Zalman of Volozhin, zt”l
5594/1834, Harav Menachem Stern, Rav of Sighet, zt”l, mechaber of Derech Emunah (Adar I)
5749/1989, Harav Chaim Efraim Zeitchek, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Ohr Chodosh
5761/2001, Harav Yehudah Zerachia Segal, zt”l, Rav of Kiryas Shalom–Tel Aviv
Harav Shammai Zahn, Zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Netzach Yisrael, Sunderland and President of Agudas Yisrael of England
Harav Shammai Zahn was born in 5680/1920 in Nuremberg to Harav Meshulam Zushe and Pessel Zirel, Hy”d.
He studied at the Wurzburg Seminary, where he amassed much of his knowledge under the tutelage of Harav Samson Refael Weiss, zt”l.
With great miracles, Rav Shammai dressed up like a farmer’s boy and arrived in London, England on Pesach 5699/1939. When he realized a Polish Embassy official inspecting his passport was going to send him back to Poland, he quickly escaped.
Throughout the war years, he learned in the Toras Emes yeshivah in London (Schneider’s Yeshivah). The Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Moshe Schneider, eventually appointed him Maggid Shiur at the yeshivah.
At that time, he also grew very close to Harav Yechezkel Abramsky. Soon the two began to study b’chavrusa every Shabbos night.
In 5704/1944, Rav Shammai joined the Gateshead Kollel, then under the leadership of Harav Eliyahu Dessler, zt”l.
The following year he married a daughter of Rabbi Avraham Chaim Sohn, one of the most respected and dedicated directors of the Breuer’s kehillah in Frankfurt-am-Main. Soon after, in 5706/1946, the previous Gateshead Rav, Harav Naftali Shakovitzki, zt”l, and Rav Dessler asked Rav Shammai to assist Reb Zushe Waltner in establishing a yeshivah in Sunderland. With typical humility, he said, years later, “They asked me to help out, and I am still helping out.”
He was also instrumental in founding the Sunderland Kollel.
In his mussar shmuessen, he would impart the teachings of Rav Dessler. In time, he published a work on the Shemoneh Prakim leRambam entitled Vegam Leshmoneh.
Rav Shammai was a close friend of Rabbi Avraham Moshe Babad, Rav of Sunderland. After the Rav’s passing, he was asked to take over leadership of the kehillah.
In the late ‘80s he moved his yeshivah from Sunderland to Gateshead.
Rav Shammai was chosen as President of Agudas Yisrael of Great Britain. He was viewed as a paradigm of nobility of spirit, middos tovos and affability, yet without compromising on the mesorah by one iota.
In his later years, Rav Shammai suffered from illness, but continued to deliver shiurim.
On 9 Adar 1 5761/2001, he was niftar and buried in Gateshead.
Zecher tzaddik livrachah.
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