This Day in History – 15 Av/August 11

15 Av

The Mishnah in Maseches Taanis (Perek 4, Mishnah 8) enumerates a number of significant events that occurred on this date:

In 2488/1273 B.C.E., the decree of death for the Dor Hamidbar ended.

In the time of the Beis Hamikdash, the annual cutting of firewood for the Mizbei’ach was concluded.

In 2504/1257 B.C.E., the restrictions that were in place in order to ensure the orderly division of Eretz Yisrael were lifted.

In 2533/1228 B.C.E., the tribe of Binyamin was readmitted into the community of Israel (as related in Shoftim 19-21).

In 3187/574 B.C.E., King Hoshea removed the roadblocks installed by King Yeravam, which had prevented the Jews of Israel from making pilgrimages to Yerushalayim.

In 3908/148 C.E., the Romans finally permitted the Jews to bury Bar Kochba’s supporters who had fallen at Betar, after 15 years in which their remains were left scattered on the battlefield.

In 5618/1858, Baron Lionel de Rothschild became the first Jew in the British Parliament.

In 4972/1212, the power of the Almohads, a fanatic anti-Jewish Muslim sect in Spain, was broken in battle.

In 5446/1686, Jews of Cochin, India, received a large shipment of sifrei Torah and other
tashmishei kedushah from Amsterdam. The day was celebrated as an annual Yom Tov.


Nachum Ish Gamzu, buried in Tzfas

5348/1588, Harav Shimon ibn Lavi of Tripoli, zt”l, mechaber of Kesem Paz and composer of the piyut Bar Yochai

5633/1873, Harav Asher of Stolin, zt”l, son of Harav Aharon of Karlin

5638/1878, Harav Yaakov Leiner of Ishbitza, zt”l, mechaber of Beis Yaakov and other works

5722/1962, Harav Bentzion Yadler, zt”l, the Maggid of Yerushalayim and mechaber of B’tuv Yerushalayim

5760/2000, Harav Chanoch Henach Padwa, zt”l, Rav of London



Harav Tzvi Hirsch Halberstam, zt”l, Rav of Rudnick

Harav Tzvi Hirsh Halberstam, born in 5606/1846, was the son of Reb Baruch of Gorlitz, son of Rav Chaim of Sanz, the Divrei Chaim. His mother was the daughter of Harav Yekusiel Yehudah Teitelbaum, the Yetev Lev of Sighet.

At the age of 15, Reb Tzvi Hirsch married the daughter of Harav Yisrael Horowitz of Barnov, son of Harav Eliezer of Dzikov, and he lived with his in-laws for the next three years. Afterwards he moved to Sanz, to the court of his illustrious grandfather, who cherished him.

In 5635/1875, less than two years before his petirah, the Divrei Chaim called in Reb Tzvi Hirsh and said to him, “I am old and sick and have no more strength. Go to your other grandfather, the Yetev Lev in Sighet, and learn Torah from him.” The Divrei Chaim was niftar a year later, on 25 Nisan 5636/1876.

After learning under his grandfather in Sighet for a year, Reb Tzvi Hirsh received semichah from him and was appointed Rav of the Polish town of Niska, serving for 10 years.

In 5647/1887, his father, Reb Baruch, moved to Gorlitz and handed over the Rabbanus of Rudnick to Reb Tzvi Hirsh. Rudnick was a small town on the banks of the San River in southern Poland, near Russia.

Four members of the illustrious Sanzer dynasty served as Rabbanim there: the Divrei Chaim; Harav Yechezkel Shraga, later of Shiniva; Reb Baruch of Gorlitz; and his son Reb Tzvi Hirsh. This rabbinic dynasty in Rudnick began in 5572/1812, when the community approached Harav Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz to help them, and the Divrei Chaim was appointed Rav.

After Reb Baruch of Gorlitz’s petirah on 1 Adar 5666/1906, Reb Tzvi Hirsh became Rebbe in his place.

Reb Tzvi Hirsh’s zivug sheini was the daughter of Harav Meir Meshulam Shapira, a grandson of Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov. During World War I, Reb Tzvi Hirsh fled to Hungary, settling in Kleinvardein. In 5676/1916 he fell ill and went to Vienna for medical care. He was niftar on 15 Av 5678/1918 in Kleinvardein, and his aron was brought to Gorlitz, where he was buried next to his father, Reb Baruch.

His most famous son, Reb Yekusiel Yehudah (later Rav and Rebbe of Klausenburg), only 14 at the time, delivered an hours-long hesped. He founded his own court in Klausenburg, Transylvania, in 5687/1927. He survived World War II and founded Kiryat Sanz in Netanya. He was known as the Sanz-Klausenburger Rebbe, zy”a.

The other sons were Rav Avraham, who was Rav in Rudnick, and (from his first zivug)Rav Naftali; he also had a daughter who married Harav Moshe Halberstam of Bochnia.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.



August 11

In 1786, Capt. Francis Light arrived in Penang to claim the Malaysian island for Britain.

In 1909, the steamship SS Arapahoe became the first ship in North America to issue an S.O.S. distress signal, off North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras.

In 1942, during World War II, Pierre Laval, prime minister of Vichy France, publicly declared that “the hour of liberation for France is the hour when Germany wins the war.”

In 1954, a formal peace took hold in Indochina, ending more than seven years of fighting between the French and Communist Viet Minh.

In 1975, the U.S. vetoed the proposed admission of North and South Vietnam to the United Nations, following the Security Council’s refusal to consider South Korea’s application.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton named Army Gen. John Shalikashvili to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succeeding the retiring Gen. Colin Powell.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton made the first use of the historic line-item veto, rejecting three items in spending and tax bills. (However, the U.S. Supreme Court later struck down the veto as unconstitutional.)