This Day in History – 25 Iyar/May 14


5545/1785, Harav Shaul Halevi, zt”l, Rav of Hag, author of Binyan Shaul

5614/1854, Harav Chaim of Kossov, zt”l, author of Toras Chaim

5647/1887, Harav Avraham Yosef Ash, zt”l, Rav of Beis Medrash Hagadol on the Lower East Side, who preceded Harav Yaakov Yosef. He was moser nefesh for Yiddishkeit, and suffered greatly from the actions of secular Jews, especially the notorious butchers who sold treif meat.

5693/1933, Harav Naftali Yosef Freund, zt”l, Rav of Ruzhan and author of She’eilos U’teshuvos Pnei Levi

5717/1957, Harav Chaim Chori, zt”l, Rav of Ghaba, Tunis, and author of Matza Chaim


5592/1832, Harav Yaakov Loberbaum, author of Chavas Daas and Nesivos Hamishpat, zy”a

Rav Yaakov, popularly referred to as the Nesivos, was born in Zbarov, Bohemia, around 5520/1760 or 5530/1770. His father, Harav Yaakov Moshe, was Rav in Zbarov. The Nesivos and his father had the same name, Yaakov. At the Nesivos’s bris, his father’s mind was so absorbed in learning that when the mohel asked him for the baby’s name, he thought he was being asked for his own name and answered, “Yaakov.” The mohel dutifully called out that the baby’s name was “Yaakov ben Yaakov.” A few years later, when the Nesivos was a young child, he was orphaned of his father.

The Nesivos was raised by a relative, Harav Yosef Teumim, Rav of Burstin, and the famous Rav Meshulam Igra of Tismanitz was his primary rebbi.

As a child, the Nesivos was not particularly intellectually gifted. Nevertheless, he overcame that hurdle and went on to become a great Gaon. Many later Gedolim attested that the Nesivos learned Torah lishmah, and that therefore the halachah follows his rulings.

The Nesivos’s humility was remarkable. When he arrived in Lisa to accept the Rabbanus that was offered to him, the townspeople held a reception in his honor, during which a local tar producer began arguing in learning with the new Rav. Shortly thereafter, the Nesivos left the town, saying that if even a simple tar producer in Lisa possessed this level of Torah, he had nothing to accomplish there. He did not return until he was convinced that this merchant was quite unusual, and that not all of Lisa’s townsfolk were as learned as he.

Rav Yaakov wrote numerous sefarim that have become basic texts for ruling in halachah. Among them are Mekor Chaim on hilchos Pesach; Chavas Daas on Yoreh De’ah, which was first published anonymously; Nesivos Hamishpat on Choshen Mishpat; Toras Gittin on hilchos gittin; Kehillas Yaakov on Even Ha’ezer and Choshen Mishpat; Nachalas Yaakov, with explanations on Chumash, chiddushim in halachah and a few she’eilos u’teshuvos; Imrei Yosher on the five megillos; and Derech Chaim on hilchos tefillah, which was later incorporated into Siddur Derech Chaim. Rav Yaakov wrote Derech Chaim in the briefest language to keep the number of pages to a minimum, in order to keep the cost of the sefer low enough that more people could afford it and learn the practical halachos it contains.

The Kotzker Rebbe used to refer to the Gaon of Lisa as “der zisser lamdan,” the sweet scholar. He explained that the rulings of Rav Yaakov of Lisa matched those of Heaven.

He was niftar in Stry, Galicia, on 25 Iyar 5592/1832. In his tzavaah he wrote that no titles should be given to him on his matzeivah.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah


May 14

In 1796, English physician Edward Jenner inoculated eight-year-old James Phipps against smallpox by using cowpox matter.

In 1804, the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory as well as the Pacific Northwest left camp near present-day Hartford, Illinois.

In 1940, the Netherlands surrendered to invading German forces during World War II.

In 1955, representatives from eight Communist bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, signed the Warsaw Pact in Poland. (The Pact was dissolved in July 1991.)

In 1973, the United States launched Skylab 1, its first manned space station. It remained in orbit for six years before burning up during re-entry in 1979.