In 5710/1949, operation Magic Carpet (airlifting Yemenite Jews to Israel) began. Most were forced to abandon their parents’ mesorah and were brainwashed into living a secular lifestyle.
5590/1829, Harav Amram Chassida, zt”l
5725/1964, Harav Reuven Katz, zt”l, mechaber of Degel Reuven; Rosh Yeshivah, Petach Tikvah
5762/2001, Harav Elazar Menachem Man Shach, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Ponovezh
Harav Elazar Menachem Mann was born in Vabolnik, Lithuania, on Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5658. His parents were Harav Ezriel and Rebbetzin Batsheva Shach.
Young Elazar Menachem began his chinuch under the supervision of a local melamed, who soon recognized his student’s extraordinary potential. When he turned seven, his melamed advised his family to send the youngster to a yeshivah, as he had already taught him all he knew.
The boy was sent to the yeshivah in the nearest city, Ponevezh, where he became a ben bayis in the home of his rebbi, Harav Itzele Rabinowitz of Ponevezh.
Rav Shach learned in Ponevezh for the next six years, entirely shut off from the outside world. When he reached the age of bar mitzvah, he traveled to Slutzk to try to gain admission to its well-known yeshivah, Knesses Yisrael, then headed by Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer (later Rosh Yeshivah of Etz Chaim in Yerushalayim).
When World War I broke out, only Rav Shach remained, continuing to learn with the same diligence as before, despite the lack of food and clothing.
After the war, Harav Isser Zalman arranged a shidduch for Rav Shach with his niece, Gittel, daughter of Harav Benzion Gilmuvski. His Rebbetzin worked to support them while Rav Shach continued to learn under Harav Isser Zalman, first in Slutzk and then in Kletzk. Later, when the Kletzk yeshivah came under the direction of Harav Aharon Kotler, the latter encouraged Rav Shach to begin delivering shiurim. Soon the “Vabolniker,” as Rav Shach was called, became known as one of Lithuania’s star lamdanim.
The outbreak of World War II sent Rav Shach wandering from town to town with his Rebbetzin and their two children in search of refuge. A relative of Rav Kotler procured visas to America, and Harav Isser Zalman, who had already moved to Yerushalayim, got him visas to Eretz Yisrael. They chose the latter.
In 1940, after much hardship, they reached Rosh Hanikrah.
They settled in the Geulah section of Yerushalayim. Harav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman offered Rav Shach a post as Rosh Yeshivah of his new yeshivah in Bnei Brak, Yeshivas Ponevezh, named after the city in which Rav Kahaneman had been Rav. He fulfilled this role with superhuman dedication for over 50 years.
Rav Shach published several volumes of chiddushei Torah, under the title Avi Ezri, in honor of his father, Ezriel Shach.
Rav Shach was niftar at the remarkable age of 104.
Yehi zichro baruch.
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