This Day in History – 11 Nisan/April 19

In 2449/1312 B.C.E., the Nasi of Shevet Asher, Pagi’el ben Ochron, brought his korban.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5390/1630, Harav Yeshayah Halevi Horowitz, the Shela Hakadosh, zt”l

5599/1839, Harav Shlomo Zalman Lipshitz, the Chemdas Shlomo, zt”l


 

5030/1270, Rabbeinu Moshe ben Nachman, the Ramban, zt”l

Rabbeinu Moshe, commonly known as the Ramban, (Rabbeinu Moshe ben Nachman), was born in 4954/1194 in Girona, Spain.

He was the grandson of Rabbeinu Yitzchak ben Reuven of Barcelona.

His rebbi muvhak was Rabbeinu Yehudah ben Yakkar. He also learned under many of the Gedolim of his generation, including Rabbeinu Nassan ben Meir and Rabbeinu Yeshayah HaBavli.

The Ramban also studied medicine, which he practiced as a means of livelihood.

He began to write his sefarim at the age of 16.

Many talmidim flocked to learn under the Ramban, including Rabbeinu Shlomo ben Aderes, the Rashba; Rabbeinu Yonah; Rabbeinu Nissim, the Ran; Rabbeinu Aharon Halevi, the Ra’ah; and many others.

The Ramban was called upon to publicly defend the Torah when the meshumad Pablo Christiani demanded that the king order the Ramban to take part in a public disputation (in an attempt to make the Jews abandon their religion and convert).

The Ramban requested complete freedom of speech. For four days he debated with Pablo Christiani in the presence of the king, the court and many churchmen.

The debate concluded in victory for the Jews and the Ramban was awarded 300 gold pieces by the king as a mark of his respect.

The Dominicans, nevertheless, claimed victory, so the Ramban felt that it was incumbent on him to publish the debates. Pablo selected certain passages which he construed as blasphemies against Christianity. A formal complaint against the work and its author was lodged with the king.

The Ramban left Aragon and sojourned for close to three years somewhere in Castile or southern France. In 5027/1267, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael.

In the Old City of Yerushalayim he established a shul that exists until the present day, known as the Ramban Shul. At that time, two brothers were the only Jewish inhabitants of the city. But by Rosh Hashanah, just three weeks later, they davened in Yerushalayim with a minyan and read from the sefer Torah he had brought with him.

The works of the Ramban include Milchemos Hashem, in which he defends the Rif’s decisions against the criticisms of the Baal Hamaor, Rabbeinu Zerachiah Halevi; Sefer Hazechus, in defense of the Rif against the criticism of the Raavad; and Hasagos on the Rambam, printed in the margin of the Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos.

His halachic works include Mishpetei Hacherem, the laws concerning excommunication; Hilchos Bedikah, on the examination of the lungs of slaughtered animals; Toras Ha’adam, on the halachos of aveilus, in 30 chapters, including Shaar Hagemul.

He also wrote Iggeres Hamussar, an ethical letter addressed to his son; and Iggeres Hachemdah, a letter addressed to the French Rabbanim in defense of the Rambam.

The Ramban was niftar on 11 Nisan, 5030/1270.

He was buried in Haifa.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


 

April 19

In 1775, the American Revolutionary War began with the battles of Lexington and Concord.

In 1912, a special subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee opened hearings in New York into the Titanic disaster.

In 1943, during World War II, tens of thousands of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful battle against Nazi forces.

In 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, relieved of his Far East command by President Harry S. Truman, bade farewell in an address to Congress in which he quoted a line from a ballad: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”