This Day in History – December 22/7 Teves

7 Teves


5615/1854, Harav Yecheskel Paneth of Dezh, zy”a

5653/1892, Harav Yom Tov Lipman, zt”l, mechaber of Malbushei Yom Tov

5654/1893, Harav Dovid of Lublin, later of Tzfas, zt”l

5687/1926, Harav Mordechai Doctor, zt”l, Maggid in New York City

5701/1941, Harav Meir Abowitz of Novaradok, zt”l


Harav Mordechai Yosef  Leiner of Izhbitze, Zy”a,  the Mei Hashiloach

Harav Mordechai Yosef Leiner was born in Tomashov-Lublesk in 5560/1800. His father, Harav Yaakov, zy”a, was an eminent descendant of Harav Yaakov Baal Mofes, zt”l, and Harav Shaul Wohl, zt”l.

The child was orphaned of his father at a young age, but since his mother’s family was well-to-do, he didn’t lack for care. As a young boy, Mordechai Yosef showed immense potential, and he was renowned for an outstanding memory and for his hasmadah.

Rav Mordechai Yosef married the daughter of Rav Yosef, zt”l, the Rav of Tomashov. After his marriage, already known as a Gadol baTorah, he began to travel to the court of the Rebbe Harav Bunim of Parshischa, zy”a. This was due to the influence of Harav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, zy”a, who resided at the time in Tomashov.

In Parshischa, Rav Mordechai Yosef was well received, despite his young age. Rav Bunim told Rav Mordechai Yosef, “Now I am older and bigger than you, but [since] you are still young, you can grow.” He compared Rav Mordechai Yosef to the Mei Hashiloach of the Beis Hamikdash, that coursed slowly but seeped in very deep. (It was for this vort of the Rebbe Rav Bunim that Rav Mordechai Yosef’s sefer was named Mei Hashiloach.)

For nine years, Rav Mordechai Yosef stayed in Parshischa, returning home only for short intervals. He was considered one of the leading Chassidim.

After the petirah of the Rebbe Rav Bunim, the Kotzker Rebbe became his successor. Rav Mordechai Yosef was one of the first to follow him.

When the Rebbe moved on to Kotzk, Rav Mordechai Yosef stayed behind in Tomashov, but traveled frequently to Kotzk. He was among the leading Chassidim, very close to the Kotzker Rebbe.

He continued traveling to Kotzk for the next few years, until the Kotzker Rebbe began the period of his detachment. It was at this time that Rav Mordechai Yosef left Kotzk. On Simchas Torah of 5600/1839, he broke away with a group of his followers.

They moved to Wengraub, near Kotzk. Rav Mordechai Yosef remained there for a short time, settling ultimately in Izhbitze. He built up his court, attracting a large contingent of Chassidim from Kotzk.

Rav Mordechai Yosef led his Chassidim with compassion, like a father. Aside for his concern for their growth in ruchniyus, he was also involved in their material welfare.

For 13 years Rav Mordechai Yosef led his flock, disregarding the pains he suffered which made him weaker and weaker. In the beginning of 5614 his condition worsened from day to day, until he was niftar on 7 Teves.

After his petirah, many of Rav Mordechai Yosef’s divrei Torah were compiled under the name Mei Hashiloach.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Dec. 22

In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)

In 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Washington for a wartime conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing “Nuts!” in his official reply.

In 1984, New York City resident Bernhard Goetz shot and wounded four youths on a Manhattan subway, claiming they were about to rob him, initiating a landmark legal case on the limits of self-defense.

In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last of Eastern Europe’s hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising.

In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)

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