This Day in History – 15 Iyar/May 15

15 Iyar

In 2448/1313 B.C.E., the supply of matzah that the Jews had brought with them from Egypt was exhausted. When they complained to Moshe Rabbeinu that they had nothing to eat, Hashem notified them that He would rain down “lechem min haShamayim” to sustain them, alluding to manna, which began falling one day later.

In 5487/1727, Empress Catherine I of Russia expelled the Jews from the Ukraine.

In 5643/1883, anti-Jewish riots broke out in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.


5521/1761, Harav Aryeh Leib Shapiro of Vilna, zt”l, mechaber of Me’on Arayos

5639/1879, Harav Baruch Rosenfeld, zt”l, Rav of Galov and a talmid of Harav Akiva Eiger, zt”l

5748/1988, Harav Dovid Moshe Shapiro, zt”l, the Gvodzitz–Sadigura Rebbe of Boro Park, mechaber of Duda’im shel Moshe

5763/2003, Harav Tuvia Goldstein, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Emek Halachah



Harav Chaim Meir Yechiel Shapiro, zt”l, the ‘Saraf’ of Moglenitza

Harav Chaim Meir Yechiel was born about 5549/1789. His father, Harav Avi Ezra Zelig Shapira, was Rav in Grenitz. His mother was Rebbetzin Perel, daughter of the Kozhnitzer Maggid, zy”a.

When the Berditchever Rebbe, zy”a, was once in Kozhnitz, the Maggid asked him to bless his as-yet-childless daughter. The Berditchever asked that the Maggid present him with his menorah as a gift, which he did. The Berditchever immediately returned the menorah to the Maggid, saying that it will be a wedding present for the child who will be born to his daughter; until that time, the Maggid may use it.

When the baby was born he was named Meir as per the instructions of Reb Levi Yitzchak, who predicted that he would illuminate the world with his Torah. (The names Chaim and Yechiel were added as a segulah for longevity.)

At the age of five, the boy once burst into tears. “Why does Zeide (the Kozhnitzer Maggid) have a Rebbe, and my father too? I also want a Rebbe!”

“How do you know that I have a Rebbe?” the Maggid asked him.

The young boy answered that every night he sees an elderly man coming to teach his grandfather; obviously this must be his Rebbe.

“You should know,” the Maggid replied, “that this was the holy Baal Shem Tov, and when you will be older, you will also be his talmid.”

“I don’t want a Rebbe who was already niftar…” was the young boy’s answer.

His closeness to his grandfather grew with time. However, when his grandfather offered to learn Toras hanistar with him he declined, explaining that he wanted to reach those levels by himself.

Reb Chaim Meir married the daughter of Harav Elazar, the son of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. Supported by his father-in-law, he devoted himself solely to learning Torah and Chassidus. A few years later he was appointed Rav in Gritza and later in Moglenitza. Even though he was still young, he was counted among the Gedolim of the era.

He was known as a gaon with vast knowledge in all Torah topics; many sent him their she’eilos.

Although he was very close to his grandfather, the Kozhnitzer Maggid, he also traveled to the Chozeh of Lublin. Reb Chaim Meir was also a Chassid of the Yehudi Hakadosh of Peshis’cha.

After the petirah of the Yehudi, the Kozhnitzer and the Chozeh, in 5575/1814, he traveled to the Apter Rav.

Reb Chaim Meir traveled to many Rebbes of his generation such as Harav Tzvi Hirsh Meshares of Rimanov, Harav Yerachmiel of Peshis’cha, son of the Yehudi, Harav Yechezkel of Kuzhmir and Harav Meir of Premishlan. He was very close with Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin and the Sar Shalom of Belz.

On 12 Elul, 5588/1828, after the petirah of his uncle, Harav Moshe Elyakim Briyah of Kozhnitz, despite his initial refusal, he was appointed his successor. Even though he lived in Moglenitza, he signed himself “Rav of Kozhnitz and Moglenitza.”

Although already a Rebbe, he still traveled to other Rebbes.

In his last year, 5609/1859, he began preparing for his petirah. On Shabbos Parashas Mikeitz, he openly hinted that his successor be Harav Elazar of Kozhnitz.

On 15 Iyar, 5609/1859, Reb Chaim Meir was niftar. He had five sons; including Harav Yaakov Yitzchak of Blendov, the Emes L’Yaakov, and Harav Elimelech of Grodzinsk, the Divrei Elimelech. His two sons-in-law were Harav Yehudah of Melitz and Harav Avraham Elchanan of Koloshin.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

May 15

In 1602, English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold and his ship, the Concord, arrived at present-day Cape Cod, which he’s credited with naming.

In 1776, Virginia endorsed American independence from Britain.

In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil Co. was a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and ordered its breakup.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, whose members came to be known as WACs.

Wartime gasoline rationing went into effect in 17 Eastern states, limiting sales to three gallons a week for non-essential vehicles.

In 1963, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper blasted off aboard Faith 7 on the final mission of the Project Mercury space program.

In 1974, three Palestinian terrorists took 100 pupils hostage at a school in the town of Maalot in northern Israel; the terrorists killed 22 children as Israeli troops stormed the building, killing the hostage-takers.

In 1988, the Soviet Union began the process of withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, more than eight years after Soviet forces had entered the country.

In 1991, Edith Cresson was appointed by French President Francois Mitterrand to be France’s first female prime minister.