This Day in History – 1 Shevat/January 2

1 Shevat

Rosh Chodesh Shevat, is Rosh Hashanah for the trees, according to Beis Shammai. This is significant primarily in connection with maasros, orlah, neta revai and, according to some opinions, shemittah.

In 2489/1272 B.C.E, “It was in the 40th year, in the 11th month, on the first of the month, that Moshe spoke to the children of Israel…” (Devarim 1:3). On this day Moshe Rabbeinu began the recital of Mishneh Torah that continued until the 7th of Adar.

In 2883/878 B.C.E, according to one opinion, Shaul Hamelech and his sons were killed on this day in battle at Gilboa.


5537/1777, Harav Avraham Meshulam Zalman of Ostraha, zt”l, son of the Chacham Tzvi

5543/1783, Harav Shlomo Lichtenstein, zt”l, mechaber of Chochmas Shlomo

5574/1814, Harav Elazar Lazi, zt”l, mechaber of Mishnas d’Rabi Eliezer

5639/1879, Harav Moshe Schick, zt”l, the Maharam Schick

5757/1997, Harav Avraham Yehudah Farbstein, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron

5762/2002, Harav Binyamin Rabinowitz, zt”l, of the Eidah Chareidis



Harav Nosson Nota Broide of Chelem, zy”a, the Neta Shaashuim

Harav Nosson Nota Broide’s father was Harav Avraham, son of Harav Aharon, the mechaber of Even Tekumah on the Shulchan Aruch. The family was descended from Harav Shaul Wohl, as well as many other Gedolim.

Harav Nosson Nota was a chassid of the Rebbe Reb Baruch of Mezhibuzh, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk and the Chozeh of Lublin. Most notable was his connection with his rebbi muvhak, Harav Mordechai of Neshchiz.

Initially, Reb Nosson Nota hid his exalted ways, serving as a simple melamed. He tutored the two sons of a tax official who lived near Voldova who were weak students, working hard to instill in them Torah and yiras Shamayim. As part of his contract with his employer, who gave him lodging in his home, he was asked to watch over the forests at night to prevent robberies. Reb Nosson Nota was quite pleased with this arrangement; it would give him time to himself to serve Hashem in the woods.

On his first night out in the woods, thieves had just begun chopping down trees when they were startled to hear cries and moans. When the sounds subsided, they began chopping again. But hearing the strange sounds once more, they decided to seek out the source.

Spotting a faint light, they followed it until they reached a small cave; there on the ground, the melamed Reb Nosson Nota was bent over, ashes on his head and tears streaming down his cheeks, mourning churban haBayis and galus haShechinah. Awestruck, the thieves fled the forest.

When word of this incident reached his employer, he began to investigate Rav Nosson Nota’s ways and discovered that he was a tzaddik nistar, who had managed until then to keep his secret to himself.

From then on, people began treating Reb Nosson Nota with new respect. Seeing that he could no longer continue to hide himself, Reb Nosson Nota decided to leave the village and travel to his Rebbe, Harav Mordechai of Neshchiz. The Rebbe advised him that this was a sign that he should reveal himself. Rav Nosson Nota returned to Voldova and established his court there. However, even after becoming Rebbe, Rav Nosson Nota continued to journey to other Rebbes.

Later, he was asked by the kehillah of Chelem to settle in their town and he agreed to do so, which is why he is known as Reb Nota Chelemer.

It is related about the petirah of Reb Nosson Nota that when he fell ill he sent a messenger to the Chozeh of Lublin to ask for a brachah for a refuah sheleimah. The Chozeh sent his brachah.

On his last Shabbos, Parashas Va’eira/Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5572/1812, Rav Nosson Nota, despite his weakness, began his tisch on Leil Shabbos. Before reciting Kiddush, while holding the becher in his hand, he related a story to his chassidim. When he finished the story the becher fell from his hand, and his neshamah ascended to its Heavenly place.

When the Chozeh was told of the petirah, he exclaimed, “Oy, I was tricked. I saw in Heaven that Nota ben Malkah would become better. Now I realize that it must be a different person with the same name.”

Harav Nosson Nota’s sons were Harav Aharon and Harav Tzvi. His son-in-law was Harav Tzvi, the youngest son of his Rebbe, the Chozeh.

For tens of years after his petirah, the divrei Torah of Reb Nosson Nota went unpublished. Some of them were destroyed in a fire in Chelem. Only one manuscript survived; Harav Shlomo Leib of Lentchna, who succeeded Reb Nosson Nota, passed it on to his grandson, who gave it to Harav Nechemiah, grandson of Harav Nosson Nota. In 5651/1891, Harav Nechemiah published these divrei Torah under the name Neta Shaashuim.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


January 2

In 1492, Muhammad XII, the sultan of Granada, the last Arab stronghold in Spain, surrendered to Spanish forces.

In 1788, Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1893, the U.S. Postal Service issued its first commemorative stamp to honor the World’s Columbian Expedition and the quadricentennial of Christopher Columbus’s voyage.

In 1900, Secretary of State John Hay announced the “Open Door Policy” to facilitate trade with China.

In 1942, the Philippine capital of Manila was captured by Japanese forces during World War II.

In 1959, the Soviet Union launched its space probe Luna 1, the first manmade object to fly past the moon, its apparent intended target.

In 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts launched his successful bid for the presidency.