This Day in History – 15 Iyar/May 23

Shaar blatt of sefer Hashalom v’Haachdus.
Shaar blatt of sefer Hashalom v’Haachdus.

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

5748/1988, Harav Dovid Moshe Shapiro, zt”l, mechaber of Duda’im shel Moshe

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

5609/1849, Harav Chaim Meir Yechiel Shapiro, zt”l, the “Saraf” of Mogelnitza

Harav Chaim Meir Yechiel was born c. 5549/ 1789. His father, Harav Avi Ezra Zelig Shapiro, was Rav in Grenitz. His mother was Rebbetzin Perel, the daughter of the Kozhnitzer Maggid, zy”a. His birth was a mofes attributed to Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, zya.

When he was born he was named Meir, according to the instructions of Reb Levi Yitzchak, who explained that he was destined to illuminate the entire world with his Torah. The names Chaim and Yechiel were added as a segulah for longevity.

His davening was so intense that once, when he was only seven years old, he banged his forehead on a nail during davening and did not notice blood was oozing down his face; he just continued davening.

As a young bachur, he became close with many of the Chassidim who flocked to Kozhnitz, most notably the Chiddushei Harim of Ger.

Reb Chaim Meir married the daughter of Harav Elazar, the son of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. After his marriage, supported by his father-in-law, he devoted himself solely to Torah and Chassidus. A few years later he was appointed Rav in Gritza and later in Mogelnitza.

Although he was very close to his grandfather, the Kozhnitzer Maggid, he also traveled to the Chozeh of Lublin. He used to say that every time he returned from Lublin, he felt as if he had a reservoir of Chassidus sufficient for the next 10 years, but as soon as he set foot at home, he had a burning desire to return then and there to Lublin.

Reb Chaim Meir was also a Chassid of the Yehudi Hakadosh of Peshischa.

After the petirah of the Yehudi, the Maggid (his grandfather) and the Chozeh, in 5575/1814, he began to travel to the Apter Rav. The Apter Rav told him that he must be a manhig, a leader.

Reb Chaim Meir traveled to many Rebbes of his generation. He was especially close with Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin and the Sar Shalom of Belz.

In 5588/1828, after the petirah of his uncle Harav Moshe Elyakim Briyah of Kozhnitz, he accepted leadership of Kozhnitz, even though he lived in Mogelnitza. He used to sign correspondence as “Rav of Kozhnitz and Mogelnitza.”

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

On 15 Iyar, 5609/1849, Reb Chaim Meir was niftar.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

May 23

In 1788, South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the United States Constitution.

In 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary during World War I.

In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was established.

In 1967, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, an action which led to the Six-Day War.

In 1984, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issued a report saying there was “very solid” evidence linking cigarette smoke to lung disease in non-smokers.