Auction 123 Special Sale from Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky Archive and More

Sep 9, 2020
3 Shatner Center 1st Floor Givat Shaul Jerusalem, Israel

Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky was born in Minsk in 1872. He ascended to the Land of Israel at the age of ten and settled in Jerusalem in the home of his grandfather, the gaon Rabbi M. Pizicher. He was educated at the Etz Chaim Talmud Torah and Yeshivah. In 1890, he married a daughter of Rabbi Binyamin Beinish son of Rabbi Shmuel Salant, rabbi of the city, whose side he did not leave until the end of the latter's life.

When his father-in-law passed away in 1900, he joined the administration of the Etz Chaim yeshivah and in his first years there, he also gave lessons. From that time until his final day, he devoted all his energies to the yeshivah in particular and to the city in general. He initiated the 'exodus' of the yeshivah to the new city - ['Machaneh Yehudah'], and the opening of various branches of "chadarim, " as is depicted extensively in his archive. In addition, he participated very much in establishing neighborhoods outside the walls, which is also well documented in his archive. One of the revelations in the archive is how deeply he was involved in founding the Ashkenazic community in Jaffa from 1895 forward, especially the establishment of the Neve Tzeddek and Neve Shalom neighborhoods, both in their physical and technical aspect and most especially their spiritual aspect: sending rabbis and other spiritual leaders.

Back to the yeshivah in Jerusalem: He commenced several new initiatives to improve and increase the efficiency of the level of studies: He succeeded in influencing the donor R' Zelig Presitz of Moscow to donate 500 rubles each year for the purchase of prizes for students who excel. He then came to an agreement with the philanthropist R' Rephael Shlomo Goetz during the latter's visit to Jerusalem to dedicate a fund for the benefit of those who excel at Jerusalem's yeshivahs.

At the outbreak of WWI, with the troubles that befell the city, he devoted most of his energies to the good of the yeshivah community, and there is fascinating documentation of this in the archive. He took part in the establishment of the "Association of Talmudei Torah and Yeshivahs" to ensure their existence; he greatly assisted R' Yohonatan Binyamin Horowitz in the establishment of soup kitchens. He raised huge sums to support the teachers. Together with R' Zerach Braverman and R' Nachum Rogosnitzky, he founded Yeshivat Bachurim for the select of all the yeshivahs. They divided the lectures among them and provided two meals a day.

Immediately following the British conquest, in the winter of 1917-1918, he participated in the establishment of Va'ad HaRabbanim HaMeuchad and became an active member. When Va'ad HaTzirim came to the Land, Rabbi Yechiel Michel was summoned by Dr. Chaim Weizmann together with the other members of Va'ad HaRabbanim in order to clarify the question as to how to unite all Jewish sects under the Zionist flag. At this tense meeting, he spoke in the name of the rabbis, and expressed their demand as a condition for the participation of Chareidi Jewry: That the Zionist Federation leave education to other public bodies, who will administer it according to their perspectives, thus ensuring the freedom to maintain respectable Torah education. He therefore participated in the early conferences of the National Assembly and even in the large founding conference, as one of 17 representatives of Chareidi Jewry that were a delegation for all the rabbis! However, he did not find a common language between the two sides, and unification of all the Jews did not come to fruition. There is much material in the archive about this fascinating affair.

Spiritual achievements: From his youth, he published many articles in the press in the Land of Israel and in that of the Diaspora - on topics in Torah, settlements and public affairs, in almost all Torah journals. He was also one of the leading experts on customs in the Land of Israel; there was much give-and-take between him and elders of the city. Following this, he initiated the annual publication of Luach Yerushalayim in 1905, a calendar that can be considered his crowning achievement. From that year on, he began publishing essential and useful works: Taharat Yisrael; Hilchot Shevi'it, Tekufat HaChamah, Bein HaShmashot with many tables for halachic times of day, and Sefer HaYomam about the International Date Line. He was therefore involved in the determination of which day Purim was celebrated in the new neighborhoods that were beginning to be constructed outside the walls, and was very involved in the halachic clarification of this complex question. And finally, his monumental Gesher HaChaim about the laws of mourning, and Ir HaKodesh V'HaMikdash. He passed away in Nissan, 1955.

About all these and more, he received letters of Torah from sages and rabbis of the generation, most of which are contained in this rich archive.

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