This Day in History – 13 Nisan/April 21

The shaar blatt of sefer Modaah V’oness.
The shaar blatt of sefer Modaah V’oness.

In 2044/1717 B.C.E., the bris milah of Avraham Avinu took place, according to the Midrash.

In 3214/547 B.C.E., King Chizkiyahu was gravely ill. Three days before the fall of Sancherev, Yeshayah Hanavi visited the king to tell him that he would die. Chizkiyahu Hamelech davened to Hashem, and 15 years were added to his life.

In 3405/356 B.C.E., the decree of Haman was publicized, and Mordechai and Esther ordered a three-day fast for all the Jews.



5335/1575, Harav Yosef Karo, zt”l, mechaber of Beis Yosef, Shulchan Aruch, Kessef Mishneh, Maggid Meisharim, and Avkas Rochel

5626/1866, Harav Menachem Mendel, zt”l, the Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch

5646/1886, Harav Yoel Moskowitz of Shatz, zt”l


5407/1647, Harav Chaim Shabsai, zt”l, of Salonika

Harav Chaim Shabsai was the son of Rav Shabsai. He was born in Salonika.

He learned under the Gedolim in his city, among them Harav Aharon Sasson, mechaber of She’eilos U’teshuvos Toras Emes, and Harav Shlomo Cohen, mechaber of She’eilos U’teshuvos Maharshach.

Rav Chaim married at a relatively young age, but his wife passed away leaving no children. He remarried, and from his zivug sheini he had four sons, all talmidei chachamim.

Rav Chaim was appointed Dayan and also founded a yeshivah in Salonika.

In 5375/1617, following the petirah of Harav Shmuel Florentin, Rav and Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Shalom, Rav Chaim was appointed to both positions.

In 5398/1738, Rav Chaim was appointed Chief Rav of Salonika. During his tenure he enacted many takanos for the betterment of Yiddishkeit in the city.

Thousands of halachic she’eilos were sent to him from distant kehillos; his teshuvos were printed in various sefarim of his era. He also wrote chiddushim on nearly the entire Shas, which he wished to publish during his lifetime, but this was not to be. His sons published part of his writings after his petirah, though unfortunately many of his manuscripts were lost. Among the published sefarim were Iguna D’itsa and Modaah V’oness, on complex halachos.

Rav Chaim served as Rav of Salonika until his petirah and was actively involved in halachic rulings in the city even near the end of his life.

On 13 Nisan, at the age of 72, Rav Chaim was niftar. He was buried in Salonika.

He was succeeded as Rav by his son Rav Moshe, who with his younger brother Rav Shabsai published She’eilos U’teshuvos Maharchash in 5411/1651.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


April 21

In 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first vice president of the United States.

In 1836, an army of Texans led by Sam Houston defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, assuring Texas independence.

In 1960, Brazil inaugurated its new capital, Brasilia, transferring the seat of national government from Rio de Janeiro.

In 1976, clinical trials of the swine flu vaccine began in Washington, D.C.