This Day in History – 17 Shevat/February 6

In 5180/1420, “Purim of Saragossa” was established because of a miracle in the Jewish community of Saragossa, Spain.

Saragossa had 12 kehillos, numbering thousands of Jews. It was their minhag to go out to greet the king with sifrei Torah from each kehillah whenever he passed by. At one point, the Rabbanim decided that this was not kvod haTorah, so they ordered the shamashim to remove the holy scrolls from their cases. This way, they could go out to greet the king with the beautiful cases while preserving the honor of the Torah scrolls.

A meshumad who wanted to stir up the king’s wrath against the Jews told the king that when the Jews supposedly take out the sifrei Torah in his honor, the scrolls are not in their cases. That night, Eliyahu Hanavi appeared to the shamash of each of the kehillos and instructed him to return the holy scroll to its case, warning him to tell no one of his dream. Each of the shamashim obeyed, thinking he was the only one to have dreamt the warning. The next day, when the king checked and found that the information was false, he killed the apostate and the Jews were saved.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5616/1856, Harav Yechezkel of Kuzmir, zt”l

5628/1868, Harav Chaim Palagi, zt”l


 

5498/1738, Harav Moshe of Kitov, zt”l

Harav Moshe of Kitov was born on 26 Teves 5448/1688, the oldest son of Harav Shlomo. Rav Shlomo’s two other sons were also Gedolim in their own right: Harav Avraham of Kossov, the father of Harav Baruch Kossover (the Amud Ha’avodah), and Harav Chaim of Horodenka, brother-in-law of Harav Nachman of Horodenka.

Reb Moshe was the son-in-law of Harav Menachem Mendel of Kolomai.

There are some who consider Harav Moshe of Kitov to be a talmid of the Baal Shem Tov; others consider him to be the Rebbe of the Baal Shem Tov, and the one who revealed the Baal Shem Tov to the world.

Harav Avraham Gershon of Kitov, zt”l, brother-in-law of the Baal Shem Tov, served as a Dayan on the beis din of Reb Moshe in Kitov. Initially, Reb Avraham Gershon was against the ways of the Baal Shem Tov, though later he became one of his most devoted followers. Although Reb Avraham Gershon’s father made the shidduch of the Baal Shem Tov with his daughter, he didn’t fully comprehend the mysterious ways of the Baal Shem Tov. He reportedly asked Reb Moshe, knowing that he had an influence on the Baal Shem Tov, to reprimand his brother-in-law and show him the correct path.

Reb Moshe was niftar on 17 Shevat 5498/1738, at the age of 50, and was buried in Kitov. He was survived by two sons-in-law: Harav Yonah Halevi of Kitov, his successor as Rav in the city, and Harav Efraim, Dayan in Kitov. He also had a son.

Some of his divrei Torah were published by his nephew, Reb Baruch Kossover, in his sefarim.

There is a kabbalah that Reb Moshe promised that any of his descendants — up to the eighth generation — who come to daven at his kever will be answered.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

Feb. 6

In 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1815, the state of New Jersey issued the first American railroad charter to John Stevens, who proposed a rail link between Trenton and New Brunswick. (The line, however, was never built.)

In 1899, a peace treaty between the United States and Spain was ratified by the U.S. Senate.

In 1933, the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the so-called “lame duck” amendment, was proclaimed in effect by Secretary of State Henry Stimson.

In 1952, Britain’s King George VI died at Sandringham House in Norfolk, England; he was succeeded as monarch by his elder daughter, who became Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1973, Dixy Lee Ray was appointed by President Richard Nixon to be the first woman to head the Atomic Energy Commission.

In 1987, Wall Street Journal reporter Gerald Seib was released after being detained six days by Iran, accused of being a spy for Israel; Iran said the detention was a result of misunderstandings.

In 1995, the space shuttle Discovery flew to within 37 feet of the Russian space station Mir in the first rendezvous of its kind in two decades.