This Day in History – 19 Teves – January 1

19 Teves

In 5398/1637, the Catholic Church in Recife, Brazil, closed the two shuls that then existed.


5632/1871, Harav Avraham Shmuel Sofer, zt”l, the Ksav Sofer

5599/1839, Harav Yaakov of Melitz, zt”l

5609/1849, Harav Elimelech of Rudnik, zt”l

5654/1893, Harav Yaakov Landau of Yezov, zt”l

5691/1931, Harav Moshe Sokolovski, zt”l, mechaber of Imrei Moshe

5740/1980, Harav Shalom Leifer of Nadvorna, zt”l



Harav Aryeh Leib Hakohen Heller, the Ketzos Hachoshen, zt”l

The Ketzos Hachoshen, Harav Aryeh Leib Heller, was born in 5505/1745 in the town of Kalisch, Galicia. His father, Reb Yosef, was a direct grandson of the Tosafos Yom Tov, making Aryeh Leib a fourth-generation direct descendant. He was the third of four sons.

In his youth, after being recognized as an iluy, Aryeh Leib was sent to learn in the yeshivah of Harav Meshulam Igra of Tysmienica, Poland. During those years he wrote his brilliant work Shev Shmatsa. It explains intricate halachic topics, and the practical ramifications of halachos dealing with sfeikos, doubts.

After his marriage, Harav Aryeh Leib sat and learned unhindered by the yoke of earning a livelihood, as he was supported by his younger brother. When his brother lost his fortune, Harav Aryeh Leib was forced to take a rabbinic position, in the city of Rozniatow, near Ziditchov.

When Rozniatow invited Harav Aryeh Leib to be Rav of their community, the community was small and poor. The members of the community earned a livelihood with difficulty; and the community couldn’t sustain the Rav in an honorable fashion.

There were no major talmidei chachamim in the city, and even those who came to the Rav didn’t bother him greatly with deep and time-consuming she’eilos, so he was able to sit in quiet and dedicate himself to his studies without interruption. He lived a difficult life, but he accepted everything unquestioningly. It was then that he compiled his world-acclaimed sefer, Ketzos Hachoshen.

Only the first volume of the Ketzos Hachoshen was published in Lvov, many years later, in 5548/1788. Due to his difficult economic circumstances, he himself was not able to publish the second volume. His grandson, Reb Asher Mordechai, son of his son Reb David, published it in Lvov in 5586/1826.

The Ketzos is a deep and profound work, which explains difficult passages in the Choshen Mishpat with novel ideas proposed by Harav Aryeh Leib.

As soon as the sefer was released, many Gedolim attested that they didn’t put it down until they had finished it from cover to cover. It has since become a fundamental sefer for understanding many sugyos in Shas, not just in Shulchan Aruch.

Unlike his other sefarim, his sefer on Even Haezer, Avnei Miluim, was printed after his petirah.

The reasoning process Harav Aryeh Leib employs in all his sefarim to analyze and resolve basic conflicts and contradictions in the Gemara is considered the basis for the analytical method used in Talmudic study until today.

It is told that once one of the householders came to him to ask him a question, and found him writing his sefer with the inkwell held under a blanket so that the ink would not freeze in the icy room!

Harav Aryeh Leib’s works became widely disseminated throughout Europe.

In 5548/1788, Harav Aryeh Leib was appointed Rav in Stry, a post he held until his petirah in 5573/1813. He set up a yeshivah, disseminating Torah to multitudes of talmidim, many of them later becoming Rabbanim and Dayanim. At that point his fame spread among Gedolei Yisrael; many of whom sent their complex she’eilos to Harav Aryeh Leib.

He was also admired and respected by the Chassidic Rebbes. An especially close relationship existed between him and Harav Yitzchak Eizik of Komarna, who visited Harav Aryeh Leib quite often.

Harav Aryeh Leib Heller was niftar on 19 Teves, 5573/1813.

Yehi zichro baruch.


Jan. 1

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states shall be “forever free.”

In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.

In 1913, the U.S. Parcel Post system went into operation.

In 1942, 26 countries, including the United States, signed the Declaration of the United Nations, pledging “not to make a separate armistice or peace” with members of the Axis.

In 1959, Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries overthrew Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, who fled to the Dominican Republic.

In 1984, the breakup of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.

In 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two new countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.

In 1999, the euro currency was introduced in 11 countries — members of the European Union (with the exception of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and Sweden).

In 2002, euro banknotes and coins became legal tender in 12 of the European Union’s member states.

In 2011, Estonia officially adopted the euro currency and became the 17th euro zone country.

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