This Day in History – 14 Teves/January 5

In 5275/1515, the Jews of Laibach, Austria, were expelled.

In 5501/1740, the Jews of Chevron were saved from a harsh decree. The Pasha had ordered them to come up with 50,000 piasters or face expulsion and degradation. After three days of prayer and fast, the astronomical sum miraculously turned up on the shul’s windowsill, found by the shamash when he arrived in the morning; it was handed over to the greedy Pasha. Chevron’s “Purim Taka,” or “Window Purim,” commemorates the event.



5634/1874, Harav Levi Yitzchak of Stefin, zt”l

5761/2001, Harav Alter Menachem Mendel of Lelov, zt”l

5764/2004, Harav Aryeh Leib Bakst, zt”l, founding Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Gedolah Ateres Mordechai, Detroit


5701/1941, Harav Menachem Mendel Hager Of Vishiva, zt”l, the She’eiris Menachem

Harav Menachem Mendel Hager was the eldest son of Harav Yisrael of Vizhnitz, the Ahavas Yisrael. He was born in Bedwalla, Marmorosh, in 5645/1885, and was named for his illustrious great-grandfather the Tzemach Tzaddik of Vizhnitz.

His father, the Ahavas Yisrael, called him a “sefarim shelf,” alluding to his outstanding memory.

Reb Menachem Mendel was given semichah by Harav Shalom Mordechai of Brezhan and Harav Binyamin Aryeh Weiss of Tchernowitz.

At age 17, Reb Menachem Mendel married the daughter of Harav Mordechai Chodorov of Tolna, his uncle (brother-in-law of the Ahavas Yisrael).

When the Ahavas Yisrael founded the yeshivah in Vizhnitz, he appointed Reb Menachem Mendel maggid shiur.

In 5668/1908, Reb Menachem Mendel became Rav in Vizhnitz, but with the outbreak of World War I he fled with the rest of the Rebbe’s family.

In 5681/1921, Reb Menachem Mendel was appointed Rav in Vishiva, where he also founded a yeshivah. He rejected the custom of “essen teg,” where students would eat at people’s homes. He traveled abroad to raise funds for the yeshivah. At its peak, the yeshivah had 400 talmidim.

Reb Menachem Mendel was renowned for his drashos, holding his audience spellbound for long periods.

With the petirah of his father on 2 Sivan 5696/1936, Reb Menachem Mendel was chosen to succeed him as Rebbe in Vishiva.

The burden of the yeshivah took a toll on Reb Menachem Mendel’s health. Five years after being appointed Rebbe, he fell ill, and on the advice of his doctors went to the hospital in Klausenburg for surgery.

On his last day, Shabbos, he served as sandak at a bris. He was niftar that Motzoei Shabbos, 5701/1940, at 56.

He was buried in Vishiva.

Reb Menachem Mendel was succeeded by his sons Harav Baruch and Harav Chaim Yehudah Meir, who re-established the Vishiva court after the war, in Tel Aviv.

Reb Menachem Mendel’s divrei Torah were published many years after his petirah, under the title She’eiris Menachem.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Jan. 5

In 1781, a British naval expedition led by Benedict Arnold burned Richmond, Virginia.

In 1895, French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of treason, was publicly stripped of his rank. (He was ultimately vindicated.)

In 1914, auto industrialist Henry Ford announced he was going to pay workers $5 for an 8-hour day, as opposed to $2.34 for a 9-hour day. (Employees still worked six days a week; the 5-day work week was instituted in 1926.)

In 1925, Democrat Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming took office as America’s first female governor, succeeding her late husband, William, following a special election.

In 1933, Construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge. (Work was completed four years later.)

In 1949, in his State of the Union address, President Harry S. Truman labeled his administration the Fair Deal.

In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed assistance to countries to help them resist Communist aggression in what became known as the Eisenhower Doctrine.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan announced he was nominating Elizabeth Dole to succeed Drew Lewis as secretary of transportation; Dole became the first woman to head a Cabinet department in Reagan’s administration, and the first to head the DOT.