This Day in History – 1 Shevat/January 21

Today is Rosh Chodesh Shevat, which, according to Beis Shammai, is Rosh Hashanah for the trees, whose significance is primarily in connection with maasros, orlah, neta rivii, and — according to some — Shemittah.

According to Rabi Yehudah, on this date the season of kor (extreme cold) begins.

In 2488 (1272 B.C.E), “It was in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, 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, when he was niftar.


5731/1971, Harav Moshe Yechiel Epstein, the Aish Dos of Ozorov, zy”a

Harav Moshe Yechiel Epstein was born in 5650/1890. His father was Harav Avraham Shlomo of Ozorov, the She’eiris Brachah, who was a descendant of the first Ozorover Rebbe, Harav Aryeh Leib. His mother, Rebbetzin Reitza Mire, was the daughter of Harav Chaim Shmuel Horowitz, the Rebbe of Chentchin.

From a very young age his hasmadah was astounding, and when he was only 22, with the approval of his father and grandfather, he already ruled on halachic questions when his father was out of town.

In 5674/1914 he was officially nominated as Rav in Ozorov. He married Rebbetzin Chanah, the daughter of Harav Omniel Weltfried of Povinetz.

During WWI he fled Ozorov, and at that time, sadly, his wife became gravely ill with typhus and passed away.

In 5678/1916, his father was also niftar, and the Chassidim begged him to assume the mantle of leadership. With the warm blessings of many tzaddikim, he accepted the yoke, and began leading the Ozorover Chassidim. In 5680/1920, after the war, he married the daughter of Harav Menachem Mendel Tennenbaum, a prominent Amshinover Chassid.

In 5686/1926, the Rebbe moved to America, where he settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Subsequently, he moved to the Bronx, where his beis medrash was a source of light and inspiration for many.

In 5709/1949, during a visit to Eretz Yisrael, his only son, Reb Alter Avraham Shlomo, was niftar in a tragic manner, and in 5713/1953, his second Rebbetzin passed away as well.

Subsequent to these tragic events, he ascended to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Bnei Brak. After some consideration, he moved to Tel Aviv where he set up the Ozorover beis medrash. He was one of the driving forces in Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, Agudas Yisrael, and especially in Chinuch Atzmai.

On the last Shabbos of his life, he asked to be called up for acharon instead of Levi, which was his customary Aliyah. After Havdalah, he enclosed himself in his room. Shortly thereafter he became ill, and within a few hours he was niftar.

Yehi zichro baruch.


Jan. 21

In 1793, during the French Revolution, King Louis XVI, condemned for treason, was executed on the guillotine.

In 1908, New York City’s Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance prohibiting women from smoking in public establishments.

In 1910, the Great Paris Flood began, as the rain-swollen Seine River burst its banks, sending water into the French capital.

In 1954, the first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus, was launched at Groton, Connecticut (however, the Nautilus did not make its first nuclear-powered run until nearly a year later).

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.