This Day in History – 1 Adar I/February 6

Today is the second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar. According to Rabi Shimon, today is the beginning of the season referred to as kor.

In 5403/1643, the Tosafos Yom Tov, Harav Yom Tov Lipman Heller, was released after being imprisoned as a result of libel. His descendants celebrate this day as a Yom Tov.

In 5600/1840, in Syria, a priest vanished and the Jewish community was blamed, prompting the imprisonment of the city’s Rav, Harav Yaakov Entebi, zt”l, the seven community elders and a number of young children. Only after Sir Moses Montefiore intervened on their behalf were they freed.

5423/1663, Harav Shabsi Hakohen, the Shach, Zt”l

Harav Shabsi Hakohen was born in 5382/1622 in Amstibava. His father, Harav Meir, was the city’s Rav. Until the age of 12, he learned Torah from his father; later he entered the yeshivah of the Maginei Shlomo, Harav Yehoshua, zt”l. Subsequently, the Maginei Shlomo established a yeshivah in Cracow, where his devoted talmid accompanied him. Later, he became a talmid of the famed Harav Heshel of Cracow, zt”l, and of Harav Naftali Katz, zt”l, the Semichas Chachamim. He lived with the saintly Megaleh Amukos, who taught him hidden aspects of Torah.

After a number of years in Cracow, where at a young age he became famed as a phenomenal Gaon and tzaddik, Rav Shabsi moved to Vilna, where he continued growing in Torah. He married the daughter of Harav Binyomin Wolf Tauber, zt”l, a noted naggid and talmid chacham, son-in-law of the Maharsha and a grandchild of the Rema. He was supported by his father-in-law, which assured him the peace of mind to author his major work, the Sifsei Kohen on Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah and Choshen Mishpat). The Taz, who was much older, printed his sefer on Shulchan Aruch the same year as the Shach’s sefer appeared; in various places he argues with him in psak halachah. The Shach later published his answers to the Taz in Nekudos Hakessef.

During the infamous era of Tach V’tat (5408-9/1648-49), the Shach suffered greatly. At that time, he had begun writing his chibbur on Choshen Mishpat. Cossack gangs, led by the infamous Chmielnicki, burned down the entire city of Vilna; 25,000 Jews, including the Shach’s wife, perished, Hy”d. The remaining Jews, among them the Shach, fled. He arrived in Lublin in Tammuz of the year 5415/1655. During the following Sukkos, the Cossacks attacked that city too. The Shach succeeded in evading them once again, fleeing to Deznitz, Czechoslovakia, where he served as Rav.

He recorded the many tzaros that the Yidden experienced during this period in Megaleh Aifah. Remarkably, a number of these sefarim were completed during the years that he was in constant flight.

Sifsei Kohen was accepted as dvar Hashem by all poskim after him. He also authored Tokfo Kohen, Gvuros Anashim, and Nekudos Hakessef.

Eventually, he was asked to serve the esteemed kehillah of Halishi, Moravia. Unfortunately, he was not zocheh to arichus yamim; he was niftar at the age of 41 in Halishi on 1 Adar Rishon.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Feb. 6

In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the United States won official recognition and military support from France with the signing of a Treaty of Alliance in Paris.

In 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, was born in Tampico, Illinois.

In 1952, Britain’s King George VI, 56, died at Sandringham House in Norfolk, England; he was succeeded as monarch by his 25-year-old elder daughter, who became Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a bill changing the name of Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.