This Day in History – 12 Av/August 13

12 Av

In 5023/1263, by order of King James I of Aragon (Spain), the Ramban was forced to participate in a public debate, held in the presence of the king, against the Jewish apostate Pablo Christiani. The Ramban brilliantly defended Judaism and refuted the apostate’s claims.

Because his victory was an insult to the king’s religion, the Ramban was forced to flee Spain. When he arrived in Yerushalayim he found just a handful of Jewish families, all living in abject poverty, and he did everything in his power to revive the floundering Jewish community. The shul he built in the Old City is one of the oldest in the world still in use today.


5589/1829, Harav Binyamin Wolf Lev, zt”l, mechaber of Shaarei Torah

5597/1837, Harav Aryeh Leib Katzenelenbogen, zt”l, Rav of Brisk


Harav Yeshayah Weltfried of Kalisch, Zt”l

At the kever of Harav Yeshayah of Kalisch, zt”l.

Harav Yeshayah was a son of Harav Avraham Moshe, Rebbe of Rosphsha, a descendant of Harav Yeshayah, Rebbe of Pshedborzh, zy”a. On his mother’s side he was a descendant of Harav Yaakov Yitzchak, zy”a, the Chozeh of Lublin.

Their forebear Rav Yeshayah of Pshedborzh became a Chassid under the influence of Harav Dovid of Lelov, zy”a, who traveled with him to the Chozeh. The Chozeh would refer to Rav Yeshayah as “my sefarim shank,” and Rebbe and talmid maintained a strong bond. After the petirah of the Chozeh, Rav Yeshayah became a Rebbe as well, as Chassidim began flocking to him.

He was succeeded by his son, Harav Emanuel, zy”a, who in turn was succeeded by Harav Avraham Moshe of Rosphsha, zy”a, the father of Rav Yeshayah of Kalisch.

Rav Yeshayah, carrying the illustrious name of his great-grandfather and emulating the holy ways of his forbears, was from his youth a kadosh v’tahor and a fervent oved Hashem.

He married the daughter of Harav Yechiel Danziger, zy”a, the first Alexander Rebbe, and resided in Dzunska-Walya, where he was commonly referred to as Rav Yeshayah of Walya.

Eventually he moved to Kalisch, a more developed city, where he became the first chassidic Rebbe. The Rebbe was well-loved by his followers, stirring their souls and bringing them ever closer to Hashem with his moving tefillos.

In addition to his own Chassidim, he was revered by many Alexander Chassidim, since he was the son-in-law of Rav Yechiel of Alexander.

The Rebbe would say that when a Yid comes to his court thinking that he can be helped by the Rebbe, and even spends money for that purpose, then the Rebbe must do all in his power to help him.

He was niftar about a month before the outbreak of WWII. A large number of his descendants were murdered al kiddush Hashem. One son, Reb Yechiel, had moved to Eretz Yisrael before the war. Another, Reb Chaim, survived the Holocaust and was niftar in 5757/1997 in Eretz Yisrael.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

August 13

In 1846, the American flag was raised in Los Angeles for the first time.

In 1889, William Gray of Hartford, Conn., received a patent for a coin-operated telephone.

In 1932, Adolf Hitler rejected the post of vice chancellor of Germany, saying he was prepared to hold out “for all or nothing.”

In 1961, East Germany sealed off the border between Berlin’s eastern and western sectors before building a wall that would divide the city for the next 28 years.

In 2003, Iraq began pumping crude oil from its northern oil fields for the first time since the start of the war.

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