6th of Sivan-9th of Sivan: Yahrtzeits of Famous Jewish Scholars this Week
6th of Sivan
Rav Avraham Mordechai Alter, the Imrei Emes of Ger, (1866-1948). The son of the Sefas Emes and a great-grandson of the Chidushei HaRim, he was the third Rebbe in the Gur dynasty, the leader of over 250,000 chassidim in pre-WW II Poland. The Imrei Emes was instrumental in establishing and expanding Agudas Yisroel, and was at the forefront of strengthening the Jewish community of Eastern European.
In 1940, Imrei Emes managed to escape with three of his sons to Eretz Yisrael. After the war, he began to rebuild the Gerrer community there. When he called on religious Jews to move to Eretz Yisrael, or at least invest some of their money, he led by example, coordinating the purchase of a large track of land in Yaffo.
Imrei Emes was against the old Chassidic custom to daven shacharis very late. He made a takana for the Chassidim of Ger not to daven after zman tefila. He explained that even though a person may have a better kavana later in the morning, leaving the boundaries of the Torah to serve Hashem is wrong.
9th of Sivan
Rav Yisrael Ashkenazi of Shklov (~1770-1839). He first came to study with the Vilna Gaon in 1797, only six months before the Gaon’s petira. During that half-year, however, he was a constant companion of the Gaon. Afterwards, Rav Yisrael took it upon himself to publish his teacher’s works. Among Rav Yisrael’s publications was Be’ur Ha’Gra on Shulchan Aruch.
In 1809, Rav Yisrael led the third group from among the Gaon’s students to make Aliyah. Like its predecessors, the group settled in Tzefas, where the community of the Gaon’s students, known as the “Perushim,” numbered 40 families.
Rav Yisrael was sent back to Europe to fundraise for three years, during which time he published a joint exposition by himself and the Vilna Gaon with commentaries on Maseches Shekalim. Among the works he left was Pe’as Ha’shulchan, a supplement to the Shulchan Aruch covering the laws pertaining to Eretz Yisrael.
Rav Yaakov Chaim Sofer, author of Kaf Hachaim, (1870-1939). He was born in Baghdad and studied there under the Ben Ish Chai and Rav Abdalah Somech. In 1904, he embarked to Eretz Yisrael. Once in Yerushalayim, he began to study in the kabbalistic Beis Kel yeshiva in the Old City. This yeshiva, founded by Rav Gedalya Chayon, attracted many of the city’s great kabbalistic sages, among them the Rashash, who eventually became its Rosh Yeshiva. In addition to the Kaf Hachaim, Rav Yaakov authored Kol Yaakov (on the laws of writing sifrei Torah, tefillin, and mezuzos, as well as various kavanos required for the writing and the donning of tefillin), Yagel Yaakov, and Yismach Yisrael (chiddushim on the parsha).