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We know many
make a birthday party when that big day arrives. What is the Jewish outlook on
Lipshitz (1782-1860), the author of the commentary
Tiferes Yisrael on Mishnayos, told each of his family members, in his Tzavaa
(ethical will), that all the siblings should send birthday greetings of Mazal
Tov on the occasion of their birthdays. He writes further that this custom
shouldn’t be stopped, and only if there is an absolute emergency should it be
The Midrash Seichel Tov
says øåá áðé àãí îçááéí...åùîçéí áå åòåùéï áå îùúä, to most people, their birthday is beloved
to them and they rejoice and make a party.
The Ben Ish Chai
remarks that there are those who are accustomed every year on their birthday to
make it a festive day, and this is a good omen. This is what we are accustomed
to doing in our house. R’ Ovadia Yosef writes that when there are
Divrei Torah and songs and praises (ùéøåú åúùáçåú) to Hashem at a birthday meal, it is a
When the Chafetz Chaim turned 70 years old, he invited his students—R’ Elchonon
Wasserman and R’ Yosef Kahanamen (known as the Ponovitcher Rav)—and said the
Bracha of Sheheciyanu in their prescence and gave
them cake and schnapps—ééï ùøó. R’ Dovid Chazzan would
celebrate his birthday yearly after he reached the age of 70.
R’ Nosson Adler (1741-1800),
the Rebbe of the Chassam Sofer, held a birthday party on the 80th
of his mother and invited the entire town. For R’ Shmuel Salant’s
93rd birthday, on Rosh Chodesh Shvat in 1909, a party took place at
his house with cake. Nearly all of Yerushalayim was there including the Chevra
Kadisha, the staff of the Bikur Cholim hospital and the B’datz of Yerushalayim.
merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close
to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt
has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the
author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics.
His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live
with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a
suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is
passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.
R’ Shmuel Salant’s father,
who died when he was a child, was the rabbi of
the town as well as the rabbi of Trakai near Vilna. After marrying the eldest
daughter of R’ Yosef Zundel of Salant, R’ Shmuel Salant (1816–1909) adopted his father-in-law's last name. At
an early age his lungs became damaged and was advised to seek a warm climate.
This pushed him in 1840 to go with his wife and son to Yerushalayim. He arrived
in Yerushalayim in 1841, rejoining his father-in-law and about 500 other
Ashkenazim who had preceded him. Upon his arrival in Yerushalayim, he moved
into a tiny two-room apartment without windows in the courtyard of the Churva,
where he would live and work for the next fifty years. In his capacity as chief
rabbi, he met with the great sages and prominent people of the era to discuss
communal matters, in addition to the continuous stream of plain folk who came
to consult with him. From 1848 to 1851 he served as a meshulach (fundraiser),
visiting the principal cities of Lithuania and Poland to collect money for
the impoverished Jews of the Old Yishuv. In 1860, he traveled to Europe
to collect funds. Upon his return to Yerushalayim,
he succeeded in ensuring that his contributions were equally divided between
the Sefardim and Ashkenazim. He also collected donations for the
building of the Beis Yaakov Shul in Yerushalayim,
which was named so after James (Yaakov) Rothschild.
In 1860, he also founded the Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis Salant charity
together with his father-in-law. Its purpose was to provide for all of Israel's
poor and impoverished, Sefardi and Ashkenazi. He was instrumental in the
establishment of the Eitz Chaim Yeshiva in Yerushalayim as well as helping
found Bikur Cholim Hospital. He encouraged people to move into new
neighborhoods outside the Old City walls. During his tenure as chief
rabbi, the Jewish population of Yerushalayim
grew from 5,000 to 30,000. R’ Shmuel Salant
would have a quick Seder on Pesach followed by a nap. This was because he drank
four cups of wine rendering him unfit to Paskin the many Shailos
that would come to him on the night of the Seder. In 1888, his eyesight began
to fail, and a few years later he became blind. R’
Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky, who was his student and grandson by marriage wrote
that though funerals in Yerushalayim were generally performed within the same
day or night as the passing, R’ Shmuel Salant's was an exception. He died at
night and the funeral wasn’t held until daybreak because the Rabbis were
concerned that the massive attendance to a nighttime funeral procession would
lead to injuries or worse. R’ Shmuel Salant
served as the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Yerushalayim for nearly 70 years.
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