This Day in History – 17 Teves/January 8

In 5285/1524, the pope approved the organization of a Jewish community in Rome.

In 5488/1727, Congregation She’aris Yisrael purchased a lot in Lower Manhattan on which to erect the first shul in New York. The congregation was composed of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who had fled the Spanish Inquisition. The founders of the congregation first met on Rosh Hashanah 5445/1684, in New Amsterdam, where they davened together.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5514/1754, Harav Aharon Zelig of Ostrog, zt”l, mechaber of Toldos Aharon

5565/1804, Harav Yaakov Krantz, zt”l, the Dubner Maggid

5582/1822, Harav Efraim Fishel of Strikov, zt”l

5610/1850, Harav Aryeh Leibish Lipshitz of Vishnitza, zt”l, the Aryei d’Bei Ilai

5730/1969, Harav Pinchas Epstein, zt”l, Rav of Yerushalayim


 

5735/1974, Harav Salman Mutzafi, zt”l

Harav Salman Mutzafi was born in Baghdad, Iraq, on 27 Shevat 5660/1900.

The person who had the greatest influence on Harav Salman during his childhood, and whom he aspired to emulate, was the Ben Ish Chai.

Every Shabbos, the young Salman accompanied his father to Baghdad’s main shul to hear the Ben Ish Chai’s drashah, which lasted for two hours and was attended by over 2,000 people. After the drashah, Salman would kiss the tzaddik’s hand, while the tzaddik would bless him that he should become a Gadol baTorah. This blessing inspired him to study even more diligently.

After completing Talmud Torah, Harav Salman entered Beit Midrash Beit-Zilka. Although he was the youngest in the yeshivah, he surpassed all of the others and quickly advanced until he reached the highest shiur. There, he met Harav Yehudah Patiah, who had a profound influence on his spiritual development.

Harav Salman and his rebbi, Rav Yehudah, remained very close throughout their lives, learning together for many years. In 5694/1934, Harav Salman moved to Eretz Yisrael together with Harav Yehudah Patiah. They jointly wrote Beis Lechem Yehudah on the entire Etz Chaim.

Harav Salman later went back to Baghdad to bring his mother, brother, and wife to Eretz Yisrael. Upon his return, he bought a one-and-a-half room apartment in Geulah. Every night he would rise at chatzos and go to the Emes V’Shalom Yeshiva where he would recite Tikkun Chatzos and learn until the netz,

Throughout his life, Rav Salman was careful not to derive benefit from another Jew in any manner whatsoever.

On Rosh Chodesh Teves 5735/1975, Rav Salman fell ill in the middle of Shacharis. When he returned home, his family told him that a doctor had been summoned, but he waved his hand to indicate that nothing could be done.

On Friday night, 17 Teves, he returned his soul to its Maker. He was buried on Har Hazeisim.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

Jan. 8

In 1790, President George Washington delivered his first State of the Union address to Congress in New York.

In 1815, the last major engagement of the War of 1812 came to an end as U.S. forces led by Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans. (Given the slowness of communications at the time, the battle took place even though the United States and Britain had already signed a peace treaty.)

In 1863, America’s First Transcontinental Railroad had its beginnings as California Gov. Leland Stanford broke ground for the Central Pacific Railroad in Sacramento. (The transcontinental railroad was completed in Promontory, Utah, in May 1869.)

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his State of the Union address, declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.”

In 1982, American Telephone and Telegraph settled the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against it by agreeing to divest itself of the 22 Bell System companies.

In 1998, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was sentenced in New York to life imprisonment.

In 2011, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and critically wounded when a gunman opened fire as the congresswoman met with constituents in Tucson; six other people were killed; 12 others were injured.