This Day in History – 11 Adar II/March 18

11 Adar

In 5194/1434, the Pope prohibited anti-Jewish sermons.

In 5235/1475, Rashi al HaTorah was printed for the first time, in Italy.

In 5248/1488, the Tanach in its entirety was printed the first time.


5559/1799, Harav Leib, zy”a, the son of Harav Meir of Premishlan, known as “Shomer Shabbos” (Adar I)

5566/1806, Harav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, the Chida, zt”l

5585/1825, Harav Moshe Yehoshua Heshel of Rohatyn, zy”a

5670/1910, Harav Avraham Borenstein of Sochatchov, zy”a, the Avnei Nezer (Adar I)

5673/1913, Harav Avraham Abuchatzeira, zt”l, of Teveria

5696/1936, Harav Yosef Rosen of Dvinsk, zt”l, the Rogatchover Gaon

5726/1966, Harav Chananya Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, zy”a, the Sassover Rebbe

5740/1980, Harav Menachem Dovid Chodorov, zt”l


Harav Shmuel Strashun, Zt”l, The Rashash of Vilna

Harav Shmuel was born in 5554/1794 in Zaskevich, a suburb of Vilna. His father, Harav Yosef, was a close confidant of Harav Avraham Danzig, zt”l, the Chayei Adam, to whom he later sent his son to learn.

Initially educated by his father, Rav Shmuel became a proficient talmid chacham, renowned for his sharp and clear mind.

At a relatively early age, Rav Shmuel married the daughter of Harav Dovid Strashun, zt”l, and settled near his father-in-law in the village of Streszyn, commonly called Strashun (near Vilna), where he assumed the family surname.

In 1812, the distillery owned by his father-in-law was vandalized by the invading French army; the family moved to Vilna, where they re-established it. In Vilna, Rav Shmuel became one of the most prominent members of the community. His wife conducted the business, while he devoted most of his time to learning and teaching, without salary, the many talmidim who gathered around him. His derech halimud was based on that of the Vilna Gaon — to clarify each and every point of a sugya and end up with a clear conclusion, without elaborate pilpulim and sevaros.

The shiurim which he delivered daily for many years and the discussions that followed are the basis for his annotations, incorporated in editions of Talmud Bavli as Hagahos v’Chiddushei HaRashash. These notes cover the entire Shas except for eight amudim. First printed in the Vilna Shas by the Rom family press (the Roms were related to the Rashash), they have been reprinted in every edition since.

Besides his chiddushim on Shas, the Rashash also wrote chiddushim on the Midrash Rabbah, as well as Mekorei HaRambam.

His fame as a talmid chacham spread throughout Russia, and he corresponded with several well-known Rabbanim. He was offered the rabbinate of Suvalk but he refused it, preferring to retain his independence.

His famous library containing 5,800 sefarim, one of the largest private libraries in the world, was donated to the Vilna kehillah, with the condition that all who wanted to would be free to make use of it.

Rav Shmuel was niftar on 11 Adar II, 5632/1872, in Vilna. He was buried near the kever of Harav Avraham Abba Possboler, zt”l, in Vilna.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

March 18

In 1766, Britain repealed the Stamp Act of 1765.

In 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met at the Brenner Pass, where the Italian dictator agreed to join Germany’s war against France and Britain.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order authorizing the War Relocation Authority, which was put in charge of interning Japanese-Americans, with Milton S. Eisenhower (the younger brother of Dwight D. Eisenhower) as its director.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Hawaii statehood bill. (Hawaii became a state on Aug. 21, 1959.)

In 1965, the first spacewalk took place, as Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov went outside his Voskhod 2 capsule, secured by a tether.