This Day in History – 18 Teves/January 9

In 4231/470, Rav Huna bar Mar Zutra, the head of Babylonian Jewry (Reish Galusa), and Rav Mesharshiya bar Pekod were arrested by the Persian authorities and killed al kiddush Hashem. Ravna Ameimar bar Mar Yanuka was also arrested; he was killed two months later. These events led to the demise of the Rabbanan Svora’i (who succeeded the Amora’im in leading Babylonian Jewry), and eventually to the decline of Torah in Bavel.

In 5707/1947, two ships loaded with Jewish Holocaust survivors were stopped by the British; their passengers were taken to Cyprus. Only two years later — to the day — did the British announce their intention to release the Cyprus internees.



5610/1850, Harav Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dinov, zy”a, the Bnei Yissachar

5676/1915, Harav Chaim Shmuel Horowitz of Chentchin, zt”l

5710/1950, Harav Moshe Chalfon, zt”l, of Djerba, Tunisia, mechaber of Sho’el Venishal and Bris Kehunah


5626/1866, Harav Moshe of Korestchov, zy”a

Harav Moshe of Korestchov was the son of Reb Mordechai, the Chernobyler Maggid; his mother was the daughter of Reb Aharon Hagadol of Karlin.

Reb Moshe basked in the exalted atmosphere of his father’s court, where he acquired great madreigos in avodas Hashem. He married the daughter of Harav Tzvi Aryeh Landau of Malik, zt”l. In his second marriage he married Rebbetzin Chanah, daughter of Harav Yakov Yosef of Ostraha.

Upon his father’s petirah, he initially refused to lead a kehillah. Reb Moshe was known for his profound humility and pashtus. Reb Yochanan of Rachmastrivka, his brother, related the following anecdote which illustrates the humility of these great tzaddikim: When the Maggid of Chernobyl was niftar, his sons gathered to divide his spiritual inheritance. One took his kind heart, another took his sharp mind, and so on. Reb Yochanan wanted to take his father’s gornisht, meaning his nothingness — his father’s deep humility. But when his brother, Harav Moshe of Korestchov, took the gornisht, Reb Yochanan was left with gor gornisht, absolutely nothing, and he was pleased.

Once, two Chassidim came to him for a brachah and the Rebbe blessed both of them. One experienced a yeshuah while the other, unfortunately, did not. The Chassid came to the Rebbe to inquire why his friend had been helped while his tzarah remained. The Rebbe replied, “The first Chassid answered ‘Amen’ after my brachah, thereby displaying emunah that it would come true; you, however, did not say ‘Amen.’”

Reb Moshe was niftar in Korestchov in 5626/1866 and was buried there.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Jan. 9

In 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1793, Frenchman Jean Pierre Blanchard, using a hot-air balloon, flew between Philadelphia and Woodbury, New Jersey.

In 1861, Mississippi became the second state to secede from the Union, the same day the Star of the West, a merchant vessel bringing reinforcements and supplies to Federal troops at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, retreated because of artillery fire.

In 1914, the County of Los Angeles opened the country’s first public defender’s office.

In  1945, during World War II, American forces began landing on the shores of Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines as the Battle of Luzon got underway, resulting in an Allied victory over Imperial Japanese forces.

In 1957, Anthony Eden resigned as British prime minister for health reasons; he was succeeded by Harold Macmillan.

In 1968, the Surveyor 7 space probe made a soft landing on the moon, marking the end of the American series of unmanned explorations of the lunar surface.

In 1987, the White House released a Jan. 1986 memorandum prepared for President Ronald Reagan by Lt. Col. Oliver L. North showing a link between U.S. arms sales to Iran and the release of American hostages in Lebanon.

In 1995, in New York, the trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and 11 other defendants accused of conspiring to wage holy war against the United States began.