This Day in History – 15 Shevat/February 4

Today is Tu BiShvat (the 15th of Shevat), which marks the beginning of a “new year for trees.” This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

Halachically, the New Year relates to the dinim of maasros, orlah, neta rivei, and according to some, Shemittah.

In 5691/1931, the first siyum haShas of the Daf HaYomi cycle was celebrated.

In 5701/1941, the Nazis established the Ghetto of Lodz.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5583/1823, Harav Chaim Mordechai Margulies, zt”l, mechaber of Sharei Teshuvah

5638/1878, Harav Gedalyah Aharon of Linitz, zt”l, mechaber of Chen Aharon

5663/1903, Harav Shlomo Dovid Yehoshua Guterman of Radzimin, zt”l


 

5685/1925, Harav Refael Shlomo Laniado, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef

Harav Refael Shlomo Laniado was born in 5636/1876 in Aleppo, Syria. The family was the fourth generation of the Rabbinic Laniado family in Aram Tzovah. While still young, Refael Shlomo displayed outstanding diligence in Torah. With his phenomenal memory, he could recall large portions of Shas. Rav Refael Shlomo also excelled in Toras hanistar.

Rav Refael Shlomo was active in chessed work. All his life he tended to other Jews, both in gashmiyus and in ruchniyus.

In 5660/1900 Rav Refael Shlomo moved to Eretz Yisrael, settling in Yerushalayim. A few years later, in 5667/1907, the mekubal Harav Ezra Halevi Raful founded Yeshivah Ohel Moed, and Rav Refael Shlomo was appointed Rosh Yeshivah. In 5682/1922, Yeshivah Porat Yosef was founded in Yerushalayim’s Old City. Rav Refael Shlomo became its Rosh Yeshivah.

Rav Refael Shlomo took ill suddenly. On Shabbos 14 Shevat, 5685/1925, Harav Avraham Adess had a dream during which he said “Rav Shlomo Laniado is sick.” When he woke up, he said he hoped that the dream was only devarim beteilim. On Motzoei Shabbos the sad news became public.

Late Sunday, 15 Shevat, while Rav Avraham Adess was learning, his candle flickered and then went out. He understood that Rav Refael Shlomo was niftar. An hour later, the message came that at that exact time, Rav Refael Shlomo, 49 years old, had passed on.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


 

Feb. 4

In 1783, Britain’s King George III proclaimed a formal cessation of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War.

In 1789, George Washington was chosen first president of the United States.

In 1861, delegates from six southern states that had recently seceded met in Montgomery, Alabama, to form the Confederate States of America.

In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin began a wartime conference at Yalta.