This Day in History – 10 Shevat/January 30

In 4995/1235, seven German Jews were tortured and burned al kiddush Hashem.

5537/1777, Harav Shalom (Mizrachi Dida) Sharabi, zy”a

Harav Shalom was born in 5480/1720 in the city of Sharab. His father, Harav Yitzchak Mizrachi, was one of the sages of Sharab; he supported his family as a peddler, wandering among the villages to sell various items.

Rav Shalom’s superior intellectual gifts were evident at an early age. Unfortunately, the premature death of his father prevented him from remaining in Talmud Torah, as the young orphan became the sole supporter of his family. Rav Shalom continued in his father’s tradition and traveled around selling his wares from door to door. This left him with only the evenings free to pursue his one true goal: the study of Torah. He would often remain in the beis medrash until the wee hours of the morning before going home to catch a few hours of sleep.

One day he left his friends and family to embark on the long, dangerous voyage to Eretz Yisrael. When he finally arrived in Yerushalayim he went to Yeshivas Beit El, the Yeshivas Hamekubalim headed by the renowned Harav Gedalyah Chayun.

Rav Shalom longed to become a talmid of the yeshivah, but he had no wish to reveal himself. Instead, he presented himself as a simple Jew and asked to be employed as the shamash of the yeshivah. For him this was a wonderful opportunity to learn without being observed.

Once, Rav Gedalyah was learning with the other scholars from the volume Eitz Chaim. He became confused by a certain paragraph, and no one could resolve the dilemma. Rav Gedalyah was filled with anguish.

After the shiur, Rav Shalom collected the sefarim and returned them to their places. He took the opportunity to write the answer to the Rosh Yeshivah’s question on a piece of paper, which he folded and slipped inside the volume.

The next day, when Rav Gedalyah found the mysterious note, his eyes lit up. This incident repeated itself time and again until, once, Rav Gedalyah’s daughter Chana happened to see Rav Shalom writing the answer. She immediately told her father what she had seen.

Rav Gedalyah summoned Rav Shalom and ordered him to reveal everything. With lowered eyes and a broken heart, Rav Shalom admitted that it was indeed he who had written the notes, but he requested that the Rav not publicize this.

Rav Gedalyah rose and embraced the young man. He kissed him on the forehead and said, “It is impossible to fulfill your desire, for it is a Heavenly sign that the time has come for your greatness to be revealed. From now on you will be our teacher.” Immediately Rav Shalom was appointed the leader of the yeshivah.

Rav Gedalyah gave his daughter to Rav Shalom in marriage. From then on Rav Shalom was considered the Rosh Hamekubalim in Yerushalayim.

For 30 years, until he was niftar, Rav Shalom served as head of the Beit El Yeshivah. During those years he succeeded, sometimes through miracles, in protecting the Jews of Yerushalayim from their Muslim neighbors.

He also authored other sefarim that are considered basic works in the study of Kabbalah. The most famous of them are Emes v’Shalom, Nahar Shalom and Rechovot HaNahar.

The Rashash (as he was called) was buried on Har Hazeisim. Before he was niftar he said, “If you should, chas v’shalom, be beset with any troubles, pour out your hearts at my grave, and if you pray with a sincere heart your prayers will not be in vain.”

Yehi zichro baruch.


Jan. 30

In 1815, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in agreeing to purchase the personal book collection of former President Thomas Jefferson to replace volumes lost when the British burned the U.S. Capitol and its congressional library during the War of 1812.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany.

In 1945, during World War II, more than 500 Allied captives held at the Japanese prison camp in Cabanatuan in the Philippines were liberated by U.S. Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrilla fighters.

In 1945, Adolf Hitler marked the 12th anniversary of his appointment as Germany’s chancellor with his last public speech in which he called on Germans to keep resisting until victory.

In 1968, the Tet Offensive began during the Vietnam War as Communist forces launched surprise attacks against South Vietnamese provincial capitals.

In 1981, an estimated two million New Yorkers turned out for a ticker-tape parade honoring the freed American hostages from Iran.