Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The sixth of Teves is the yahrzeit of Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, Shiniver Rov (1813-1898). The eldest son of Rav Chaim Halberstam, Sanzer Rov, he was born in Poland and at the age of fifteen he married the daughter of the Aryeh dBei Ilo’i. He then went to study under his wife’s grandfather, Rav Moshe Teitelbaum, and also studied under the Yitav Lev. His wife died nine years later and he married her niece, who passed away seven years later. He married three more times and had a total of nine children. After serving as rov in a number of communities, he became Rov of Shineva.

Microcalligraphy of Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, produced in 1869.

He was known for fiercely fighting for the truth and was not afraid to disagree with anyone, including his father, when it came to a halachic issue. In 1879 he traveled to Eretz Yisroel and spent more than a year in Yerushalaim and Tzefas. He established a still-functioning shul and mikve in Tzefas. He had many chasidim who moved to New York and during the 1880s he sent this author’s great-great-great grandfather to New York to serve as a schochet for the Sanzer community. As he grew older he focused more on Kabbalistic studies and was instrumental in publishing commentaries on the Zohar authored by Rav Avrohom Azulai.


The seventh of Teves is the yahrzeit of Rav Moshe Dovid Valle (1697-1776). Born in Padova, Italy he was a close friend of Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto and they received smicha together on Erev Sukkos, 1726. Shortly thereafter they founded a group called Mevakshei Hashem to study Kabbalah. Initially, Rav Moshe Dovid was the leader of the group, but eventually the Ramchal surpassed him in his Kabbalistic understanding. After the Ramchal was forced to move to Amsterdam, Rav Moshe Dovid again led the chaburah. He studied medicine at the University of Padova, and developed expertise in Tanach.

Over a period of half a century he filled 15,000 manuscript pages with commentary on Tanach. His commentary is a mixture of pshat and sod and he believed that the two could only be properly understood when studied together. Similarly, the idea that one could only understand how this world works by also understanding how the higher worlds work, and vice versa, informs much of his writing. His commentaries are replete with new insights on the level of pshat as well as that of sod. He wrote multiple commentaries on many of the books of Tanach, often with one commentary geared more towards pshat with another more focused on sod. Throughout, he attempts to always show the connection between one pasuk and the next. In this author’s opinion, his commentary on Koheles is the best commentary on that difficult sefer. Over the past three decades his commentary has been published one volume at a time with about thirty volumes available by now.


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The eleventh of Teves is the yahrzeit of Rav Shlomo Eiger (1786-1852). The son of Rav Akiva Eiger, he was born in Lissa, Poland where his father was studying. After Rav Akiva Eiger founded a yeshiva in Lissa, Rav Shlomo quickly emerged as the most accomplished student. He got married in 1801 and moved to Warsaw, his wife’s hometown. He remained there engaged in business for thirty-five years and became very wealthy. During the November Revolution, in which the Polish people rebelled against their Russian overlords, he was one of the leaders of the Jewish board that supported the Polish revolutionaries.

Rav Shlomo Eiger

The economic effects of the revolution caused him to lose his fortune and, consequently, he was forced to enter the rabbinate, becoming rabbi of Kalisch. He remained there until his father passed away in 1838 when the Orthodox community of Posen invited him to take over his father’s position as rabbi of the city. His appointment was delayed until 1840 because of the opposition of members of the Enlightenment. Constant strife with the opposition led him to leave Posen after a few years and return to Kalisch for the remainder of his life.

His father quotes him numerous times in his seforim and he was in regular correspondence with leading poskim of his time. During the disagreement between the Slavita publishers and the Romm family about the publication of the Shas, he and his father sided with the Romms. The Slavita publishers claimed that Rav Shlomo had improperly influenced his father in ruling against them. Despite the fact that Rav Akiva Eiger was known for his humility, in this case he did not mince words. “I am very disturbed about the chutzpah of the Slavita publishers. Their words are defamatory, not just about my son who they claim influenced me, but also about me [by claiming] that I can be seduced into paskening contrary to halacha. I do not forgive them whatsoever, because one cannot forgive the defamation of Torah.”

Despite Rav Shlomo Eiger’s opposition to Chassidus, his son, Rav Leibele Eiger, became a chosid of Kotzk, and later followed the Ishbitzer after he parted with Kotzk. There is a questionable legend that Rav Shlomo Eiger sat shiva when his son became a chosid. Rav Akiva Eiger retained a close connection with his grandson despite his Chassidic leanings.


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Chayim Lando is the practice manager at Maryland Neuro Rehab & Wellness Center and has been a Jewish educator for over three decades. His favorite activities are studying and teaching Talmud and spending time with his grandchildren.