Thanks to Phil Chernofsky of the OU/NCSY Israel Center for Including
This Material in His Remarkable Torah
Tidbits, based on the book Day by Day in Jewish History by Rabbi
Abraham P. Bloch z''l
This Day in Jewish
The Biblical plague of ARBEH
Rabeinu begins his farewell address to the people and review of the Torah, final
year of wandering.
Death of Alexander Yannai, 76 b.c.e.
Date was celebrated as a holiday, since his strong Sadducee policies and
appointments posed a serious threat to Rabbinic Judaism.
Yahrzeit of the Tzemach Tzedek, 1661.
Jewish mourners attacked in Fostat,
Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, 1933.
The same day saw
the founding of the Society of Youth Aliya, which brought the Israel over
115,000 children 12-16.
Yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sasov, 1808. [Eli Wiesel tells the story that Reb Moshe Leib was well-known for
always initiated greetings to others. It was his way of showing his love of his
fellow Jews. Once, a person decided to sneak up on Reb Moshe and say Shalom
Aleichem to him first. Just as Reb Moshe Leib was about to be "pounced
upon", a women called out the name Moshe (intending to call her own son)
and Reb Moshe Leib turned around. When he saw the man behind him, he immediately
greeted him with a warm Shalom Aleichem, thereby preserving his
Jews of Sicily and Naples were
invited to return (having been expelled previously) by Charles the Bourbon,
BILU (for Beit Yaakov L'chu V'neilacha) founded, 1882, early Russian
Russian government closed the Volozhin Yeshiva, 1892.
of the S'fat Emet, the 2nd Gerer Rebbe, 1905.
The 35 members of the Hagana (the LAMID-HEI) were ambushed and killed in the Gush Etzion area (Hebron hills),
Jews of Majorca were guaranteed
protection, 1393. This was "forgotten" about 20 years later, when
persecution started up again. 20 years after that, the Jewish community was
Jews no longer required to attend
conversionist services, 1430 (sounds good).
Fifth Aliya began, 1930.
KAF-CHET SAMEI'ACH., 1972.
The period of the Elders (Z'keinim,
the contemporaries of Yehoshua) came to an end; marked by an ancient fast day.
Jews of Colmar (Northern France, I think) arrested for well-poisoning, 1348.
(They were burned at the stake several months later.)
Public execution of 9 Jews
in Damascus, 1969.
ASC b. LIJ, 1980.
If the following entry (or any
others) sounds familiar, it's because it appeared two issues ago under January
4th. When I go through the dates in the book, there are some items that I'll list
only under the Jewish date - such as Yahrzeits - and some only under the secular
date. Some don't get included at all, and some - the ones I choose to stress -
are double-entered. That won't happen in the same issue, of course, but if the
Jewish and secular dates are not in the same THU-to-THU range AND if the item is
particularly noteworthy, then it will appear twice.
In Toulouse, France, there was a Jew who
converted to Christianity. He returned to Judaism, B"H. He was subsequently
buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Rabbi Isaac Males, HY"D, was burned at the
stake, 1278, by the Inquisition, for allowing the burial. The severity of his
punishment was based on the Church's need to deter those who might feel drawn to
Yahrzeit of Rabbi Eliezer Silver, leader of American Orthodox Jewry,
Seven German Jews were tortured
and burned at the stake, 1235.
Yahrzeit of the "Previous" (Chabad) Rebbe, 1950. He was the father-in-law of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe (there does
not seem to be a big rush to appoint a new one).
Nazis provoked the first
anti-Jewish riots in Amsterdam, 1941. The Jews successfully fought off their
attackers. Two years later, 1943, to the day (12 Shvat), Jews in the Warsaw
ghetto put up their fist resistance to the Nazi effort at liquidation. We years
later, to the day, the Russian army liberated 2819 survivors of Auschwitz.
Yosef b. Issachar Suesskind Oppenheimer, financial expert, was executed in Vienna, 1738. (One example of
many "court Jews" whose financial expertise was valued and used by
nobility, who were able to use their high positions to improve conditions for
their fellow Jews, and who, when they fell out of favor, were summarily disposed
Yahrzeit of the P'nei Yehoshua, 1756.
Rosh HaShana for trees.
round of Daf Yomi celebrated a siyum, 1931.
Ghetto in Lodz was established by
Nazi decree, 1941.
First session of the Knesset in Jerusalem, 1949.
Aaron Bernstein and Perez
Smolenskin died 1884 and 1885 respectively. The former advocated Reform Jewish
life in Germany and the latter advocated secular nationalism in Eretz Yisrael.
(I mention these two distinguished writers and communal workers to give pause to
reflect on the elements that doomed their ideas to failure from the start.
Religious life - of any sort - without Eretz Yisrael in the picture and life in
Eretz Yisrael without Torah anathema to the goals that G-d gave us at the birth
of Bnei Yisrael, the Jewish People - Eretz Yisrael, L'AM Yisrael, al pi Torat
Yisrael, the Land of Israel to the People of Israel by the Torah of Israel. Rav
Kook's Yahrzeit is a positive inspiration. These Yahrzeits give us pause to
reflect on the "spark of Judaism" that manifests itself even when the
overall picture is negative.)
Jews of Basle were burned alive,
1349, in wooden houses constructed for that purpose. (In relatively recent
years, we tend to see Basle - and all of Switzerland - as quite civilized... and
not un-nice to its Jews. In medieval times, it was a main "center of
Birth of Asher b. Yaakov. First
printed edition of Tzror HaMor, commentary on Chumash by Rabbi Avraham
1523. (Very often, among the entries in Day by Day, Rabbi Bloch z"l
includes dates of first publication of various texts. Usually, the entry
"just" helps us get a picture of the proliferation of Jewish writing
from the beginning of the era of the printed page. For this entry, however,
Rabbi Bloch z"l attaches a historical vignette of Rabbi Sebag's life.
Expelled from Spain in 1492, he made the unfortunate choice of places to flee to
- Portugal. Their he was persecuted, his two sons were forcibly baptized and
taken from him. He buried his manuscripts to save them from confiscation and
destruction. After release from prison, he made his way to Africa where he
managed to rewrite his works. Try to imagine the sacrifices made in order to
keep the Chain of Tradition alive and well. These are Giborei Yisrael, no less
than Yehuda HaMacabi.)
Jewish doctors of Galicia were allowed to attend Christian
Oliver Cromwell granted the right
of residence in England to a Jew (one Luis Carvajal), 1657. (Some historians say
that this is the earliest official British act of tolerance in favor of the
Jews. [One wonders if this is supposed to be a source of pride.] They continue
to explain that the attitude of tolerance explains Jewish settlement in the
British colonies of America and other places in the British Empire.)
homes on the outskirts of Warsaw, in a settlement known as "New
Jerusalem", were demolished and the Jews of Warsaw were expelled, 1775.
Caius Caligua was assassinated, 41 c.e. The day was observed as a holiday, since his decree to put pagan images in
the Beit HaMikdash was voided upon his death.
Yahrzeit of Rabbi Menachem Mendel
of Kotzk, 1859.
[Of the many statements attributed to the
Kotzker Rebbe, here's a personal favorite. He was asked about the traditional
yearly greeting of Shana Tova U'Metuka, have a good AND SWEET year - is not Good
Year enough; what does SWEET add? The Kotzker explained that everything that G-d
does is GOOD. Sometimes, from our perspective, we agree that what is happening
is GOOD in our eyes too. But sometimes, from our finite, limited, human
perspective, we cannot see the good in something that has happened. To us it
seems bad. And we certainly don't wish these kind of things upon others whom we
like, or upon ourselves. What we bless each other with, is that the year should
be good, and that we should see it that way too. That it should be sweet for
The Israelites assembled to wage
war against the Tribe of Binyamin (as noted in Sho'f'tim 20:1).
Jews of Silesia
were ordered to wear a special cap in public, 1267.
Polish Jews were barred from
using public transportation by the Nazis, 1941.
First transport of Jews to
concentration camps, 1941.
The prophet Zechariya predicted
the restoration of Zion and encouraged the resumption of the building of the
Decree by the Duke that no Jews should be deprived of the right
of residence in Stuttgart, Germany, 1779.
The French gov't gave financial
support to Jewish institutions on a par with Christian institutions, 1831.
Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, 1883, dynamic leader of the Mussar Movement,
which came about to fight against the inroads of assimilation in Europe.
ship with "illegal" immigrants broke through the British blockade,
Antiochus V lifted the siege of
Jerusalem, 163 bce (observed as a holiday).
Massacre of Jews of Norwich, England,
Jews of Rome had been subjected to
a humiliating medieval practice of running a race in the Roman carnivals,
scantily clad, amid insults and blows. This practice of "Black Monday"
(the day of the weekly carnival) ended in 1667.
This Day in Jewish