This Day in History – 13 Adar II/March 20

In 3405, the Jews fasted as they battled enemies who wished to destroy them. In commemoration of their fast, a fast day is observed. This year the fast is held in Adar II.

According to other opinions, the fast commemorates the three days in the month of Nissan when the Jews fasted before Esther appeared before Achashverosh.

In 3600, Nikanor was defeated; the day is designated as a yom tov in Megillas Taanis and Maseches Taanis 18.

Nikanor was one of the nobles of the Greek King; every day he used to pass the gates of Yerushalayim on his way to his master. Each time he would pass he would wave his hands and declare, “I can’t wait for the time when I will breach the walls of Yerushalayim, when I will destroy the Beis Hamikdash.”

When the Chashmona’im rose to power and the Greeks were defeated, they approached his compound and attacked it, ultimately killing the wicked Nikanor and all his men. They cut up his body, hung the parts on the gates of Yerushalayim, and wrote underneath, “This is what ended up happening to the mouth that spoke with egotism and to the hands that waved with pride.”

(This miracle happened several years after the miracle of Chanukah, when, even though the Greeks had been defeated, they still held overall control over the Chashmonai Kingdom. Years later, when the Romans defeated the Greeks, the Jewish kingdom established by the Chashmona’im ceded control and the Romans totally controlled the land, with few exceptions.)


4977/1217, Rabbeinu Yehudah HaChassid, zt”l, mechaber of Sefer Hachassidim

5328/1568, Harav Yisrael Isserles, zt”l, father of the Rema

5692/1932, Harav Yecheskel Lifshitz, zt”l, of Kalish

5699/1939, Harav Menachem Mendel Landau, zt”l, of Gombin

5746/1986, Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, Posek hador and Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Tifereth Jerusalem (Adar II)

5753/1993, Harav Yechiel Leifer of Nadvorna-Arad, zy”a

5581/1821, Harav Betzalel Margulies, Zt”l, Rav of Ostroha (Adar II)

Harav Betzalel Margulies was the son of Harav Meir Margulies, zt”l, the Rav of Ostroha and mechaber of Meir Nesivim and other sefarim. Rav Meir was one of the talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov.

Rav Betzalel married the daughter of Harav Yehoshua of Drohowitz, zt”l.

Rav Betzalel was first appointed Rav in Zhvill. From there he sent many she’eilos to his father, which were later printed in his father’s She’eilos U’Teshuvos Meir Nesivim.

After the petirah of his father on 10 Iyar 5550/1790, Rav Betzalel was asked to succeed him as Rav of Ostroha.

He would constantly gaze at a piece of klaf with “Shivisi Hashem lenegdi samid — I place Hashem before me always” written on it, to recall Hashem’s presence always.

Rav Betzalel wrote many piyutim, and he wrote all his haskamos for those who requested them in poetic style.

Rav Betzalel was a Chassid of the Rebbe Reb Zusha of Anipoli, zy”a.

Rav Betzalel was niftar on Shabbos, 13 Adar II, 5581/1821. He was buried in Ostroha.

His sefer on the Torah, Kesser Shabbos, unfortunately was never published.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

March 20

In 1854, the Republican Party of the United States was founded by slavery opponents at a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin.

In 1942, U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, having evacuated the Philippines at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, told reporters in Terowie, Australia: “I came out of Bataan, and I shall return.”

In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified, 66-10, a Security Treaty with Japan.

In 1964, the ESRO (European Space Research Organization) was established.

In 1999, Legoland California opened in Carlsbad, California.