19 Shevat is Wednesday
On 19 Shevat 5662 (January 27,1902), the construction of ShaareZedek Medical Center, then the mostmodern hospital in the Middle East,was completed, and the openingceremony took place. The hospitalwas located on Jaffa Road, just threekilometers outside of the Old City. The hospital had only twenty bedsand was directed by Dr. MosheWallach, who had arrived in Jerusalem from Cologne, Germany in1892. Dr. Wallach had such adominant personality that many
referred to it as Wallach’s Hospital.
In truth, the hospital’s history really
begins in 1873, when the first ShaareZedek Committee was founded; itconsisted of prominent rabbis andphilanthropists from Germany andthe Netherlands, and their goal wasto raise funds for the establishmentof the hospital. Their dream cametrue with the opening of a hospitalthat went on to serve the populationof Jerusalem throughout many crises. A notable example is theopening of the only isolation ward inthe city in 1910, saving many lives inthe fight against epidemics of typhoidand diphtheria.In 1916, Selma Meyer arrived fromHamburg, Germany, at ShaareZedek, beginning what would be her
life’s work as head nurse at the
hospital. Selma, who was known as"Schwester Selma", was the firstregistered nurse in Israel andbrought her colourful personality tothe hospital. She was the drivingforce behind much of the hospital'ssuccess, including the opening of theschool of nursing in 1936. TIMEmagazine nicknamed her, "Angel onEarth"; she passed away in ShaareZedek on her hundredth birthday.In 1968, Dr. David Maeir madealiyah from the US and became thehospital's third Director. He wasinstrumental in moving the hospitalto its current location in BayitVeGan, where it still stands, 111 years after its inauguration. Throughout the years, Shaare Zedekwas a key centre for treatment invarious wars and terrorist attacks. Itis the home of 14,000 births each year, the most in the country.
Even among the illustrious Hungarianrabbinate of 19
century Europe, RabbiAvraham Shemuel Binyamin Soferstands out for his remarkable lineage.Rabbi Sofer, who entered this world onthe first of Adar (February 11), 1815,was the son of Rabbi Moshe (Rabbi of Pressburg, also known as Chatam Sofer)and Sarale Sofer, and grandson of RabbiAkiva Eiger, the great sage of Posen.Further back, his lineage included greatrabbis from across the "Holy RomanEmpire". The younger Rabbi Sofer was given thename "Shemuel Binyamin" at birth; thename "Avraham" was added when hebecame deathly ill at the age of six. It isclaimed that when he recovered, hisfather declared, "I worked for a Jubileeof years for him;" indeed, he livedanother fifty years.At the age of eighteen, Rabbi Sofermarried Chavah Leah. Upon the passingof the elder Rabbi Sofer in 1839, RabbiAvraham Sofer became the Rabbi of Pressburg as well as the head of its yeshiva. The community thrived underhis leadership, and the yeshiva doubledits student body; Rabbi Sofer was alsoconsulted by communities acrossEurope, as a major authority in Jewishlaw.Rabbi Sofer is best known today for hiswritings, all of which were publishedposthumously under the title, "KtavSofer". These include volumes of responsa, a commentary to Chumash,and a commentary to part of the Talmud.Upon the Ktav Sofer's passing on the19
of Tevet (December 31), 1871, hisson, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Sofer, tookhis place. Rabbi Sofer's legacy wasbroader, though; his children andgrandchildren included many leaders of pre-War Europe. A chain of Talmud Torah schools in Israel and educationalinstitutions around the world is namedfor the Ktav Sofer.
I have been asked about the machine onwhich they bake matzah; word that it is usedfor baking in our community has reached hishonour's ears. Because his honour ispressing, I have hastened to respond,although the day causes me to be brief in my statements. I will speak the truth in brief.For many years, the bakers have asked me topermit them to bake with the machine. They did not create the machine themselves; itwas invented in other places, abroad. I didnot wish to inject myself into this, which isnew to me and which I have never seen; as ageneral rule, I withdraw my hand fromcreating novelties.However, times have changed in the past year and Jewish workers are not found asthey were in the past, and the workers wehave are of the worst breed, bad and hasty,and they do not listen to the supervisors, andthey have caused uncountable errors. Now,because of a lack of even people like these, Ihave needed to approve the use of non- Jewish workers, other than for the matzah of the mitzvah.Because of all of this, after a great deal of persuasion, I agreed to have one machinebrought here many weeks before the time tobake matzah, to examine it and see itsnature and its product. My court and I wentto the bakery and we saw its deeds, and westood for many hours until matzot werebaked, and we agreed to bake with it whenwe saw that all was done with greater alacrity than with human workers, and it is possibleto supervise the few workers involved and tochoose workers who will listen to theinstructions of the mashgiach andauthorities. We created rules, and during thebaking of matzah we observed and thencreated more rules and repaired further, andagain last year we added further.In truth, even the machine operationrequires great supervision to ensure it iscleaned well, and especially the
whichdevelop holes and require continual repairand cleaning, with alacrity and haste. Still,we have found it better than what wasbefore, when they ate and drank whileworking, and they were greatly exhausted by baking day and night, and they would notlisten. It was impossible to bear theirrebellion, theirs and that of their masters,the bakery owners.
This Week inIsraeli History
Shevat 19 1902Shaare Tzedek
Torah in Translation
Rabbi Avraham Sofer
Ktav Sofer Orach Chaim Nosafot 2
Translated by R’ Mordechai Torczyner
Biography: Rabbi Avraham Sofer
R’ Mordechai Torczyner
Visit us at www.torontotorah.com
I am sending his honour the conditionsI have enacted with the beit din here;the beit din in Cracow has written to metwo or three times and I have told themall of this and sent them the same. Therule in this is that the judge only workswith what his eyes see, everythingaccording to the place and time andsituation of particular need. I do notaccept responsibility for others.