This Day in History – 13 Adar/March 4

In 3600/161 B.C.E., Nikanor was defeated. This day is designated as a Yom Tov in both Megillas Taanis and Maseches Taanis, daf 18. Nikanor was one of the nobles of the Greek king; every day he would pass the gates of Yerushalayim on his way to his master. Each time, 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.


 

4977/1217, Rabbeinu Yehudah Hachassid, zy”a

Rabbeinu Yehudah Hachassid was born in Speyer, Germany, in the year 4910/1150. His father was Rabbeinu Shmuel.

Although he did not excel in his studies when he was young, his father foresaw his greatness. Indeed, Reb Yehudah became one of the uncontested leaders of Ashkenazic Jewry.

He practiced an ascetic hallowed way of life, fasting most of his days and abstaining from any physical pleasures. He would observe two consecutive Yom Kippur days, a stringency to accommodate sfeika d’yoma.

Reb Yehudah was considered one of the Baalei Tosafos from Ashkenaz. In addition, he authored many piyutim and, according to some, authored the famous Shir Hayichud that is chanted on Yom Kippur night.

Reb Yehudah eventually relocated to Regensburg, Germany, where he taught many talmidim. He authored many sefarim. His famous Sefer Chassidim covers all aspects of Jewish life: mussar, middos and Halachah.

He also authored his famous tzavaah (will), from which certain customs are still followed to this day.

He was niftar on 13 Adar 4977/1217, which that year was Shabbos Zachor. Despite his great weakness he continued teaching Torah. Just before his petirah, the talmidim saw the word Chassid engraved on the ground in front of his bed while his holy soul departed his body.

In order to bury the dead in Regensburg, one had to pass the gate of the city and ring the bell that hung at the gate, obviously a non-Jewish custom. Reb Yehudah told his talmidim, “If I am worthy of Olam Haba, the gate will fall.” Indeed, right before the aron passed the gate, it crumbled, and killed the guard on site.

Zechuso yagein aleinu


 

March 4

In 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into effect as the first Federal Congress met in New York.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States. The Confederate States of America adopted as its flag the original version of the Stars and Bars.

In 1940, Kings Canyon National Park in California was established.