This Day in History – July 15/23 Tammuz

In 5415/1655, Chmielnicki’s hordes attacked Vilna, killing many Jews, Hy”d.

In 4859/1099, the Crusaders captured Yerushalayim from the Muslims.

In 5615/1855, Harav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura, zt”l, was released from prison. He considered that day as a Yom Tov.


5330/1570, Harav Moshe Cordovero, the Remak, zt”l, author of Pardes Rimonim, Tomer Devorah and other sefarim

5609/1849, Harav Yaakov Yosef of Ostra, zt”l

5699/1939, Harav Shaul Moshe Zilberman, zt’l, the Viershaver Rav

5702/1942, Harav Nechemia Alter, zt”l, son of the Sfas Emes

5509/1749, Harav Yechezkel Katzenelenbogen, Zt”l, the Knesses Yechezkel

Harav Yechezkel Katzenelenbogen was born in Brisk on 18 Kislev in 5428/1668 or 5429/1669 (he writes in his tzavaah that he wasn’t sure exactly which year) to Harav Avraham, zt”l, Dayan of the city.

In Brisk, Rav Yechezkel learned under Harav Mordechai Ziskind Rottenberg, zt”l, the city’s Rav, and later under his son Harav Moshe Rottenberg, zt”l. He was already noted in his youth for his sharp mind and amazing memory.

Rav Yechezkel was taken as a chassan by Harav Shlomo Zalman, zt”l, a grandson of the Bach and son-in-law of the Tosfos Yom Tov.

He served as Rav in the Lithuanian towns of Zettil, Ruzani, and, in 5464/1704, in Kaidan. In 5473/1713 he was chosen Rav of the prestigious kehillos of Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbek, known by the acronym Ahu.

As a leading Rav and Posek, many she’eilos were addressed to him, and these served as the basis of his sefer She’eilos u’Teshuvos Knesses Yechezkel.

As Rav, Rav Yechezkel enacted takanos for the improvement of his various kehillos. He was not afraid to defend the rights of the side that won in beis din, even if this meant fighting against one of the more honored members of the kehillah.

He also fought against those who wished to make inroads into traditional Yiddishkeit, especially Shabsai Tzvi, y”sh, and his followers.

Rav Yechezkel was held in the highest esteem by many of the other Gedolei Hador. Both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Rabbanim sent him she’eilos and discussed Torah topics with him.

Much honored by members of his kehillah, Rav Yechezkel was also given full authority by the government.

Besides Knesses Yechezkel, Rav Yechezkel also wrote Lechem Yechezkel on the Rambam and Mayim Yechezkel on Torah.

His sons were Harav Dovid, zt”l, who replaced him as Rav in Kaidan, and was the Rebbi of the Vilna Gaon; Harav Yaakov, and Harav Feivel. Another son passed away in childhood.

His sons-in-law were Harav Yaakov Halevi Schorr, zt”l, Rav of Krasz; Harav Yitzchak, zt”l, Rav of Hena; and Harav Nosson Nota Ashkenazi, zt”l, Dayan in Altona. Zechusam yagein aleinu.

Rav Yechezkel served as Rav of Altona for 36 years, until his petirah on 23 Tammuz 5509/1749.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

July 15

In 1799, French soldiers in Egypt discovered the Rosetta Stone, which proved instrumental in deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

In 1834, the Spanish Inquisition was abolished, more than three and a half centuries after its creation.

In 1870, Georgia became the last Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union.

In 1975, three American astronauts blasted off aboard an Apollo spaceship hours after two Soviet cosmonauts were launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft for a mission that included a linkup of the two ships in orbit.

In 2010, After 85 days, BP stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico using a 75-ton cap lowered onto the well earlier in the week. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Goldman Sachs & Co. would pay a record $550 million penalty to settle charges that the Wall Street giant had misled buyers of mortgage investments.