In 3410/351 B.C.E., Hashem awakens the spirit of Zerubavel and Yehoshua ben Yehotzadok to begin the work of building the Second Beis Hamikdash.
5462/1702, Harav Moshe Charif, zt”l, Rav of Lvov
5575/1815, Harav Yosef Moshe of Zolozitz, zt”l, mechaber of Bris Avram
5736/1976, Harav Yechezkel Abramsky, zt”l
5753/1993, Harav Chaim Milkovski, zt”l, father of the Amshinover Rebbe, shlita, of Bayit Vegan
5693/1933, Harav Yisrael Meir Hakohen Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, zt”l
The Chofetz Chaim, as he is known, was born on 11 Shevat 5599/1839 in the small town of Zhetel.
When the Chofetz Chaim was 14 years old, his father, Reb Aryeh Zev Hakohen, succumbed to an epidemic that was raging in Vilna. His older brother, Aharon, took care of him for the next three years. At the age of 17, he married and moved to the town of Radin, Poland, and settled there in the home provided by his Rebbetzin’s parents.
He studied Torah day and night while his Rebbetzin operated a small general store that provided a meager livelihood. Many times the Chofetz Chaim would say to his son, “The little Torah that I possess is attributable to your mother.”
From the beginning, the Chofetz Chaim showed great concern for the townspeople of Radin. He conducted daily shiurim for them in Shulchan Aruch between Minchah and Maariv. His teaching was always mixed with a little mussar. On Shabbos afternoons he would teach Chumash with Rashi, likewise emphasizing kedushah and yiras Shamayim.
The Chofetz Chaim learned Torah in great depth, always starting from the source and then proceeding through all the commentaries until the final halachah. He started with Chumash, then went to the comments of Chazal on the Chumash, then to the Targum, Rashi, and Ramban, then to the Mishnah and the Gemara, then to the Rif and Rambam, then to the other Rishonim and then to the Tur and Shulchan Aruch.
When the Chofetz Chaim was about 30 years old, he began to write his sefer Chofetz Chaim on the laws of lashon hara and slander.
When he completed his writing, he traveled to various towns to enlist pledges for subscriptions to the sefer; he did not accept money in advance. He explained, “What if the subscriber moves or, Heaven forbid, leaves this world? How much time would I lose returning the money to him or his relatives if I could find them!”
In 5624/1884, the first volume of Mishnah Berurah was published. Throughout the printing, the Chofetz Chaim remained in Warsaw and visited the printer daily to check for errors. He felt he could not rely on anyone else, no matter how expert, for he was printing a work of halachah in which there was no room for mistakes that could affect the halachah.
He placed his name, Yisrael Meir ben Reb Aryeh Zev Hakohen of Radin, on the title page of the Mishnah Berurah. He explained that “a halachah sefer must be open to criticism by bnei Torah, and the mechaber must be prepared to defend his psakim and to cite the authorities for them. Other sefarim of the Chofetz Chaim include Ahavas Chessed, Machaneh Yisrael, Nidchei Yisrael, Shemiras Halashon, Toras Habayis, Shem Olam and Likutei Halachos on Kodashim.
The Chofetz Chaim led a yeshivah in Radin. Among his closest talmidim was Harav Elchonon Wasserman, Hy”d.
At the age of 92, on 24 Elul 5693, the Chofetz Chaim was niftar. He was buried in Radin.
Zechuso yagen aleinu.
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