This Day in History – 11 Adar II/March 21

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 for the first time.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5559/1799, Harav Leib, zt”l, the son of Harav Meir of Premishlan, who was known as “Shomer Shabbos

5585/1825, Harav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel of Ruhatin, zt”l

5632/1872, Harav Shmuel Shtrassen, zt”l, the Rashash of Vilna

5670/1910, Harav Avraham Borenstein of Sochatchov, zt”l, the Avnei Nezer

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


 

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

The Rogatchover Gaon was born in Rogatchov (Rogachev), now in Belarus. His parents were Reb Fishel Rosen, a prominent Lubavitcher Chassid, and Sarah, the granddaughter of Harav Gershon of Rogatchov, who was one of the first Chassidim of the Baal HaTanya of Lubavitch.

Reb Yosef displayed unusual capabilities from a very young age, and in no time became known as a great iluy.

At the time of his bar mitzvah, his father took him to learn under the Beis Halevi. Inquiring about his attainments, the Beis Halevi asked if he was fluent in half of Shas. When the Rogatchover nodded, the Beis Halevi asked, “Which half?” to which the Rogatchover replied, “Whichever one you want!”

Under the guidance of Reb Yosef Dov, the Beis Halevi, he became close to and learned together with the gaon’s son, Reb Chaim, later known as Harav Chaim Brisker. Subsequently, the Rogatchover studied under Harav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, who then lived in Shklov.

At 18, Reb Yosef married the daughter of Reb Moshe Garfinkel, a Gerrer Chassid who resided in Warsaw. For eight years after his chasunah, the Rogatchover remained entirely secluded within the four cubits of halachah, while his father-in-law provided all his material needs.

In 5649/1889, upon the advice of the Kopuster Rebbe, the Rogatchover was called by the chassidishe kehillah in Dvinsk to serve as their Rav. With the exception of a 10-year sojourn in St. Petersburg during World War I, the Rogatchover remained in Dvinsk for the rest of his life, serving as a marbitz Torah and becoming one of prewar Europe’s most outstanding Torah personalities.

He developed a very special relationship with the Rav of Dvinsk’s litvishe kehillah, Harav Meir Simchah, the Meshech Chochmah, and, in fact, they were ultimately buried near each other.

In 5696/1936, the Rogatchover was taken to Vienna for surgery, which proved unsuccessful, and he was left in constant, excruciating pain. Yet, amazingly, when someone asked him a Torah question, the pain seemed to disappear and his former color and fervor returned.

The Rebbetzin deliberately invited Torah scholars to visit, as their Torah discussions succeeded in diverting the Gaon’s mind from his agony.

The Rogatchover was niftar on 11 Adar.

Hashgachah pratis guided the convergence of a number of events to allow the Rogatchover’s writings to emerge from obscurity.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

March 21

In 1804, the French civil code, or the “Code Napoleon” as it was later called, was adopted.

In 1935, Persia officially changed its name to Iran.

In 1945, during World War II, Allied bombers began four days of raids over Germany.

In 1990, Namibia became an independent nation as the former colony marked the end of 75 years of South African rule.