When Alexander Yannai, king of Judea, appointed Rabi Shimon ben Shetach as president of the Sanhedrin, peace and tranquility reigned in the land. Prosperity came to the people as they followed in the ways of the Torah.
When the sages prevented Alexander Yannai, king of Yehuda, from becoming Kohen Gadol, he ordered that all the sages of Israel be killed. Many were; those not caught, fled. The greatest sage of them all, Rabi Shimon hen Shetach, was saved by his sister, Queen Shlomit Alexandra, who sheltered him in a secret hiding place.
Through the inﬂuence of Daniel, who was one of the ministers of King Nevuchadnezar, his three companions, Chananiah, Mishael and Azariah were appointed as governors over various provinces in Bavel.
"Interrogate the witnesses extensively; yet be cautious with your words, lest they learn from them to lie,” the sage and leader of the generation, Rabi Shimon ben Shetach admonished the chief justice, Rabi Yehudah ben Tabai. This was because of a grievous error the chief justice had committed.
There are many wonderful stories narrated in Scriptures about the experiences of the Navi Daniel. Many of these stories are found in Sefer Daniel, while others are found in the Talmud and Midrash.
A famous scholars of the beis midrash in the city of Brodi was Rav Avraham Gershon of Kitov. This modest and unassuming man possessed such wondrous qualities of goodness and knowledge that the great Nodah B’Yehudah referred to him, in part, as follows:
Rabba Bar Bar Chana related the following, “Sailors told me that once they were threatened with gigantic waves that could have sunk their ships. These waves appeared with a ray of whitish light at their crest and when they struck it with clubs engraved with the words ‘I will be what I will be, L-rd G-d, King of Hosts, Amen, Amen, Selah,’ the waves subsided.”
Our forefathers were giants when it came to having faith and a belief that G-d would take care of them. Nothing worried them save that they wasted time not studying our holy Torah. They relied on G-d to take care of their needs.
Among the great giants of Chassidism were two brothers, Rav Zusha of Hanipoli and Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk. But the apple does not fall far from the tree and the deeds of the father are lessons for the children. These two tzaddikim owed much of their character to their father, Rav Eliezer Lippa.
The kinship and love between Jews is one of the cardinal principles and hallmarks of Judaism and none could match Rav Eliezer-Lippa, father of the two great chassidic leaders Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk and Reb Zusha of Hanipoli, when it came to this particular characteristic.
The great Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai was once asked by a student, “Rebbe, I have a question which has puzzled me for some time. We find in the Torah a law concerning an eved Ivri, a Hebrew slave. He serves for six years and at the end of that time he may go free. Should he refuse, however, saying that he likes his master and prefers to remain with him, the tribunal takes him and makes a hole in his ear as a punishment.”
From the remarkable beis midrash in the town of Brodi came forth a dazzling number of Talmudic chachamim, many of whom went forth to greatness. The most famous was the great Nodah B’Yehuda, Rav Yechezkel Landau, who was the rav of the Diaspora during his lifetime. But there were other towering scholars who were members of the famous beis midrash. One of them, a giant in his time, was Rav Chaim Tzanzer.
Rabi Yehudah Hanasi (the prince) known as Rebbe had an amazingly warm friendship with the Roman Caesar, Antoninus. The friendship began at the birth of the two men and continued until their dying days.
Rav Moshe Sofer (The Chasam Sofer), one of the greatest Gaonim in his generation, always preached and practiced charity and kindness towards his fellow man. His door was always open to the poor and to the needy for help and advice.