This Day in History – 15 Iyar/May 20

15 Iyar

In 2448, 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 Cather-ine 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 Arye 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, zy”a, the Gvodzitz– Sadigura Rebbe of Boro Park, mechaber of Dudaim 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, zt”l, was Rav in Grenitz. His mother was Rebbetzin Perel, a”h, 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 Rav 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.)

Reb Chaim Meir married the daughter of Harav Elazar, zy”a, the son of the Rebbe Harav Elimelech of Lizhensk, zy”a. 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.

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

After the petirah of the Yehudi, the Kozhnitzer and the Chozeh, he traveled to the Apter Rav. Despite his shrinking from the honor bestowed on him there, the Apter Rav told him that he must be a manhig.

Reb Chaim Meir traveled to many Rebbes of his generation. 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, zy”a, he was appointed his successor. Even though he lived in Moglenitza, he signed himself “Rav of Kozhnitz and Moglenitza.”

In his last year, 5609/1859, he began preparing for his petirah. On Shabbos Parashas Mikeitz, he hinted that his successor be Harav Elazar of Kozhnitz. On 15 Iyar, 5609/1859, Rav Chaim Meir was niftar.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

May 20

In 1873, Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis received a U.S. patent for men’s work pants made of denim, with copper rivets.

In 1899, taxi driver Jacob German was pulled over and arrested by a police officer riding a bicycle for speeding down Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue in his electric car at 12 miles an hour at a time when the speed limit was eight mph. It was the first recorded speeding arrest in U.S. history.

In 1939, regular trans-Atlantic mail service began as a Pan American Airways plane, the Yankee Clipper, took off from Port Washington, New York, bound for Marseille, France.

In 1961, a white mob attacked a busload of Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama, prompting the federal government to send in U.S. marshals to restore order.

In 1998, the government unveiled the design for the new $20 bill, featuring a larger and slightly off-center portrait of Andrew Jackson.

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