This Day In History 21 Shevat/February 17

In 5417/1657, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, issued a residence permit to the Jews.

In 5535/1775, the Jewish homes in a settlement known as “New Jerusalem,” on the outskirts of Warsaw, were demolished, after which the Jews were expelled.


5202/1442, Harav Efraim Alankava, zt”l, mechaber of Shaar Kvod Hashem

5356/1596, Harav Yehudah Leib of Lublin, zt”l, mechaber of Vayigash Yehudah

5449/1689, Harav Moshe Galanti, zt”l, the Rishon LeTzion (Sephardic Chief Rabbi) of Yerushalayim

5521/1761, Harav Aryeh Yehudah Navon, zt”l, mechaber of Kiryas Melech

5648/1888, Harav Yechiel Meir of Gostinin, zt”l

5742/1982, Harav Yechiel Yehoshua Rabinowitz of Biala, zt”l

5654/1894, Harav Yaakov Weidenfeld of Hormilov, zt”l, the Kochav MiYaakov

Harav Yaakov Weidenfeld was born in Stry, Galicia, c. 5600/1840. His parents were Harav Eliezer and Rebbetzin Leah.

“Reb Leizer Reb Yaakov’s,” as his father was called, was a talmid of the Nesivos Hamishpat, and was known as a talmid chacham, especially in the halachos of Choshen Mishpat. He was a Chassid of Harav Moshe Leib of Sassov, the Chozeh of Lublin and later of Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin.

It is related that as a young boy, Yaakov could not grasp the letters of the alef-beis. His mother was worried, but Reb Leizer was not concerned; he asked the melamed to begin teaching the boy Chumash. The melamed refused; if the boy could not read alef-beis, how was he to learn Chumash? Reb Leizer instructed the melamed to teach him Chumash, even promising him Olam Haba if he complied.

As soon as he began learning Chumash, Yaakov understood all that he learned. Reb Leizer later explained that his son had such a complex mind that he could not be limited to learning the “simple” letters of the alef-beis.

Aside from his outstanding intellectual powers, Reb Yaakov was also renowned for his hasmadah and toil in learning.

Reb Yaakov went to learn under Harav Meshulam, Rav of Stanislav, and gained fame as an outstanding iluy.

He married the daughter of Harav Shabsi Hakohen Rappaport, Rav of Dombrova. While living near his father-in-law, Reb Yaakov made the acquaintance of many of the generation’s Gedolim.

At age 24, Reb Yaakov was appointed Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Hormilov. Reb Yaakov was a kind and thoughtful person, and the people of his town appreciated his refined middos.

His fame spread and Reb Yaakov began to receive halachic queries from across Europe. Most of these teshuvos were not saved, and of those that were, many were destroyed during World War I. After the war, those that were extant were published in Kochav MiYaakov. There were more teshuvos prepared for another volume, but unfortunately these were lost in the Holocaust.

In winter 5654/1894, Reb Yaakov came down with pneumonia. Two days before his petirah, he still managed to sign a semichah for the Rav of Strizov.

On Sunday, 21 Shevat 5654/1894, Reb Yaakov returned his holy neshamah to his Creator.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Feb. 17

In 1815, the United States and Britain exchanged the instruments of ratification for the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.

In 1863, the International Red Cross was founded in Geneva.

In 1897, the forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, convened its first meeting in Washington.

In 1996, world chess champion Garry Kasparov beat IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue,” winning a six-game match in Philadelphia. (However, Kasparov lost to Deep Blue in a rematch in 1997.)