This Day In History 16 Av/August 8

Original shaar blatt of Sova Semachos al HaTorah.

In 5706/1946, the British government ordered the deportation of all illegal immigrants in Eretz Yisrael to Cyprus.


5528/1768, Harav Yehudah Leibush Pesach, zt”l, Rav of Lifsk

5645/1885, Sir Moshe Montefiore, z”l

5731/1971, Harav Yitzchak Meir Levin, zt”l, chairman of the World Agudas Yisrael organization

5591/1831, Harav Menacham Mendel of Strizhov, zt”l, mechaber of Sova Semachos

Harav Menachem Mendel was born in 5548/1788 in Tarnow. His father was Harav Moshe Avraham Dovid. As a child, he excelled in Torah learning, outshining the other children his age. He served Hashem with a unique inner fire, and was a mushlam in Torah and avodas Hashem.

His Rebbe was Harav Mendel of Rimanov, who cherished him, and he also traveled to the Kozhnitzer Maggid and the Chozeh of Lublin.

Reb Mendel was the Baal Mussaf in the Rimanover court, famous for his fiery, animated davening as well as for being a great tzaddik. He had the privilege to help the Yamim Nora’im tefillos of the holy Rimanover Rebbe reach the highest celestial spheres.

One Yom Kippur, the Rimanover Rebbe suddenly banged his machzor shut in the middle of Mussaf. After davening, the Rebbe explained to the perplexed Chassidim that Reb Mendel was trying to have the kavanos of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, and because he was so young the Rebbe feared that it would harm him!

Reb Menachem Mendel served as Rav in Strizov for a while, where he wrote many responsa in halachah — especially on the topic of agunos. After serving as Rav in Strizov he returned to Tarnow, the city of his birth, where he led an elite group of Chassidim to higher aspirations in avodas Hashem.

During his last year, 5591/1831, a terrible plague erupted in his town and many Yidden tragically succumbed. After Reb Mendel davened intensely, the dying stopped. Unfortunately, he was niftar at the young age of 43.

Sova Semachos al HaTorah, a collection of divrei Torah that he told his talmidim on Shabbosos and Yamim Tovim, was revered by all as a holy sefer. It was reprinted with a lengthy foreword in 5759/1999. Another of Reb Mendel’s sefarim is Sova Semachos al Maseches Kiddushin.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Train Robbers’ Bridge (also known as Bridego Bridge) near Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, U.K.

August 8

In 1974, President Richard Nixon, facing damaging new revelations in the Watergate scandal, announced he would resign the following day.

In 1911, President William Howard Taft signed a measure raising the number of U.S. representatives from 391 to 433, effective with the next Congress, with a proviso to add two more when New Mexico and Arizona became states.

In 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan completed its occupation of Beijing.

In 1963, Britain’s “Great Train Robbery” took place, as thieves made off with 2.6 million pounds in banknotes.