This Day in History – 14 Kislev/November 22

L-R: Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at the Cairo Conference.

14 Kislev

In 5605/1844, the Tsar of Russia provided for the establishment of Jewish schools and seminaries.

In 5702/1941, Nazis placed the Jews of Poland outside the law and beyond protection of the courts.

Yahrtzeiten

5417/1656, Harav Menashe ben Yisrael of Amsterdam, zt”l, mechaber of Nishmas Chaim

5567/1806, Harav Shmuel of Posen, zt”l, mechaber of Beis Shmuel

5629/1868, Harav Menachem Nachum, Rebbe of Stefenesht, zt”l, son of Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin

5680/1919, Harav David Abuchatzeira, zt”l

5690/1929, Harav Betzalel Zev Shafran of Baku, zt”l

5700/1939, Harav Shaul Rosenberg, zt”l, Rav of Ratzfert and mechaber of Chemdas Shaul


5424/1663

Harav Matisyahu Calahari (Apteiker) of Cracow, Hy”d

Harav Matisyahu Calahari lived in Cracow and was one of its foremost talmidei chachamim and parnassim. He was descended from a prestigious family. He owned a pharmacy and therefore was called Apteiker, German-Yiddish for “chemist.”

During an argument with the Catholics, they demanded that Rav Matisyahu come and publicly represent the Jewish religion in a debate with a Dominican priest. Rav Matisyahu refused to attend a public debate, but offered to send his responses to the priest by letter. The priest agreed.

In the meantime, the priest found a letter in the church that spoke out sharply against Catholicism. Without investigating, he assumed that it was written by Rav Matisyahu.

The priest complained to the local court, and Rav Matisyahu was taken to jail that same day. Under questioning Reb Matisyahu was subjected to torture, but he was unwavering in his beliefs and didn’t give in to their demand that he abandon his religion, chas v’shalom.

A number of prominent priests testified that the note couldn’t have been written by Rav Matisyahu because it was in German, with which Rav Matisyahu, born in Italy, wasn’t familiar. Despite this, anti-Semitism prevailed and the judgment was handed down: death at the stake.

The Jewish community appealed this outrageous ruling to the high court in Piotrkov, but the judge refused to overturn the ruling.

Thus, on 14 Kislev 5424/1663, the sentence was carried out in the city square in Piotrkov. Rav Matisyahu’s body was mutilated and then burnt. Hashem yinkom damo.

The kehillah of Cracow sent a letter to the Pope in Rome, and he replied with a letter calling for all Christians to cease their persecution of the Jews. This letter helped calm the bloodthirsty Christians, but, as usual, not for too long.

A kinah was written to commemorate this event, which was recited in Cracow.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Nov. 22

In 1906, the “S-O-S” distress signal was adopted at the International Radio Telegraphic Convention in Berlin.

In 1914, the First Battle of Ypres during World War I ended with an Allied victory against Germany.

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek met in Cairo to discuss measures for defeating Japan.

In 1954, the Humane Society of the United States was incorporated as the National Humane Society.

In 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president.