Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The twenty-second of Shevat is the yahrzeit of Rav Yehudah Zev Segal, Rosh Yeshiva of Manchester (1910-1993). Born in Manchester, where his father served as rosh yeshiva, when he was nine years old he was almost hit by a bus one day. He would tell his students that that incident made him realize how fleeting life was, and that our existence in this world cannot possibly be everything. Consequently, he decided to focus the remainder of his life on spiritual matters. As a teenager he went to mainland Europe to learn in the Mir Yeshiva, and learned together with Rav Chaim Shmuelwitz. When the clouds of war began to darken the European skies, he returned to England and joined the Gateshead Kollel under Rav Dessler.

In 1941 he began to say a shiur in his father’s yeshiva and after his father’s passing in 1943 many expected him to be named rosh yeshiva. However, the yeshiva trustees were reluctant to appoint him to that role because they felt he was not sufficiently open minded. Rav Segal refused to campaign on his own behalf for the position and as other candidates were brought in to try out for the role, he treated them all with the greatest of respect. Finally, in 1950 he was appointed rosh yeshiva.


He was known for his davening, each word spoken slowly and enunciated, and when he davened on behalf of others it was obvious that this was done with great emotion. He was the driving force behind the increase in study of the laws of loshon hora, by encouraging people to learn two paragraphs a day of Sefer Chofetz Chaim or Sefer Shmiras HaLashon. Consequently, he was nicknamed the Chofetz Chaim of our times. In the 1970s he turned over the day-to-day running of the yeshiva to his son-in-law and spent more time focused on the needs of Klal Yisrael at large. He traveled to many places to offer people words of chizuk, this author heard him speak in Lakewood in 1985, and would be willing to spend many hours meeting with people and helping them through the issues they were facing. Even at home in Manchester his phone didn’t stop ringing with callers from all over the world. Rav Yaakov Galinsky said that he once ate breakfast with Rav Segal and he received twenty-one phone calls while he was eating from all corners of the world.

When he was asked what the secret of his success was, he responded, hasmoda, his diligence in Torah learning that did not allow him to waste any time. He would learn a lesson from anyone. If he saw someone learning in the bais medrash later than he did, he felt it was a message that he could push himself further. When he saw Muslims pulling out their prayer carpets in public and bowing down in prayer, he saw a lesson of not to be embarrassed about performing religious acts in public.

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The twenty-third of Shevat is the yahrzeit of Rav Moshe Kliers of Teveriah (1874-1934). Born in Tzefas, his father was a woodcutter who was secretly a well-versed kabbalist. There was never much money in the home and food and candles were frequently in short supply. Even as a youngster Rav Moshe was very organized in his study, methodically working his way through Tanach and Shas while constantly reviewing what he had already learnt. After Rav Moshe’s marriage to the daughter of a prominent Slonimer Chossid he left Eretz Yisroel for a few years and went to Slonim where he studied under Rav Shmuel Weinberg, the Slonimer Rebbe. When Rav Moshe returned to Teveriah the Slonimer Rebbe founded a yeshiva in Teveriah with Rav Moshe as rosh yeshiva. Unfortunately, his wife died young of typhoid fever, leaving him with one child, and he returned to Slonim for a few months and remarried.

Rav Moshe Kliers of Teveriah at the head of the table in Yeshivas Ohr Torah in Teveriah.

Rav Moshe became known for his love for everyone, and for never speaking ill of another. He frequently led the davening in his yeshiva and all those who heard him were moved.

He joined Rav Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld and Rav Kook on their legendary tour of Eretz Yisrel that most of the farmers were not intentionally ignoring the halacha, they were ignorant of it, and as a rabbi it was his obligation to educate them. Despite the fact that he did not see eye-to-eye with Rav Kook ideologically or halachically (e.g. Rav Moshe opposed the heter mechira) the two were very close friends and had great respect for each other.

He was reputed to be an expert in the agricultural laws of Eretz Yisroel and he was sent halachic inquiries from all over. He published one volume of his work Toras Ha’Aretz on the halachos of Eretz Yisroel, as well as Tabor Ha’Aretz which discusses the holiness of Teveriah. He had intended to write ten volumes of Toras Ha’Aretz and had reviewed the Talmud Yerushalmi on zeraim fourteen times in preparation, but his untimely death prevented that from happening. Some of his manuscripts were published posthumously to form a second volume.

One time the eruv around Teveriah broke. It was repaired before Shabbos in a manner that was halachically questionable, but the person who fixed it had done so under the direction of one of the rabbonim of Teveriah. People came and asked Rav Moshe if the eruv was valid and he told them that it was. After Shabbos Rav Moshe asked this rov if he had time to study a sugya with him. Rav Moshe went with him to a bais medrash that was usually empty during the day and started studying Meseches Eruvin with him. After some time the rabbi suddenly said, “Based on this Gemara, the idea I had to fix the eruv on Friday wasn’t valid!” Rav Moshe admitted to him that he had arranged for them to learn together in the hopes that the rabbi would realize he had made a mistake. The rabbi asked him how Rav Moshe could have told people that the eruv was valid if he knew the eruv wasn’t kosher. Rav Moshe explained that the requirement of an eruv in Teveriah was rabbinic, but treating another person with respect and dignity is a Torah requirement, and a rabbinic requirement never trumps a Torah obligation. Had he disagreed publicly with the rov it could have led to his humiliation. In another example of his care for and understanding of others when someone came to him on a fast day to ask if it was permitted for him to eat as he was feeling unwell, Rav Moshe immediately served him a filling meal.

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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.