יום רביעי י"ז בשבט תשפ"ב 19/01/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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In I got It!

King for one night

Rav Shaul Wohl-Katzenellenboigen, a rabbi and communal leader in Italy, reigned over Poland for one night.

N. Lieberman 18/08/2009 10:00

Rav Katzenellenboigen (5305 – 5377, 1545ce – 1617ce) was born in the city of Padua in the Veneto area of Italy. He was the grandson of Rav Meir Katzenellenboigen, otherwise known as Maharam miPadua, the commentator on and the first printer of the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, and the son of Rav Shmuel Yehudah Katzenellenboigen, the Maharam Shik, rav of the city of Venice.

Rav Shaul Wohl’s initial contact with the Polish royalty came about after an encounter between the Polish prince Nikolai Kristof Radzivil and the rav’s father, Rav Shmuel Yehudah Katzenellenboigen. The prince had been travelling in Italy, and had prematurely exhausted his funds. He then met the Maharam Shik in Venice, who extended his hospitality to him, and then proferred him a sum of money to facilitate his return to Poland.

The prince went on to show his gratitude to the Maharam Shik through his son, Rav Shaul Wohl, who was then studying in a yeshiva in Poland. He befriended him and raised him to the position of close advisor.

In the year 5346 (1586ce), the King Stefan Baturi of Poland died, and the nobles were divided over whom to appoint to succeed him. The two candidates were Duke Maximilian, son of the Emperor of Germany, and Sigmund the Third, son of Johann, King of Sweden. A maximum limit of twenty-one days was permitted in Polish law before a new monarch had to be appointed, but the nobles found themselves meeting on the final evening before the deadline, still undecided.

In order to prevent anarchy from ensuing, Prince Radzivil suggested appointing his advisor Rav Shaul to the throne as a temporary replacement. He was confident that once a final decision would be made as to the new ruler, the rav would not hesitate to abdicate his powers.

Rav Shaul was duly crowned as king of Poland at that meeting, and a new Germanic surname was chosen for him, ‘Wohl’. In the duration of the short night of his reign, Rav Shaul put into motion historic measures to better the conditions of the Jews in the realm, cancelling statutes that discriminated against them.

On that night, the Rav extended the judicial death penalty to all murderers, not just to those who murdered non-Jews. Until then, a murderer of a Jew had been let off with merely a fine or imprisonment. In addition, Rav Shaul broadened the scope of Jewish equality under the law, giving Jews more freedoms such as permission to own more than one property.

At the end of that night, the nobles found themselves still at a stalemate; it was left to Rav Shaul to issue the deciding vote in favour of Prince Sigmund, who went on to rule over Poland for forty-six years and showed much favour to the Jews of his land.