This Day in History – 19 Av/August 20

Harav Menachem Mendel of Alesk, zt”l.

19 Av

In 5674/1914, Russian authorities in Mitchenick, Poland, expelled the Jews in the first of a long series of expulsions that uprooted many Polish and Lithuanian Jewish communities.

Yahrtzeiten

5492/1732, Harav Yaakov Culi, zt”l, mechaber of Yalkut Me’am Lo’ez

5611/1851, Harav Aryeh Leib Balchover of Zaslev, zt”l, mechaber of Shem Aryeh

5696/1936, Harav Menachem Nachum Friedman, Rebbe of Boyan-Tchernowitz, zt”l

5714/1954, Harav Shimon Shalom Kalish, the Amshinover Rebbe, zt”l


5683/1923

Harav Aharon Menachem Mendel Eichenstein of Alesk, Zt”l

Harav Aharon Menachem Mendel Eichenstein was born c. 5620/1860. His father was Harav Sender Lipa of Ziditchov, the eldest son of Harav Yitzchak Isaac of Ziditchov, zy”a. Orphaned at a young age, Reb Sender Lipa moved into the home of his grandfather, Harav Tzvi Hirsch of Ziditchov, zy”a, who eventually married him off to the daughter of Rav Aharon Menachem Mendel of Veretzky. Reb Mendele Alesker, as he was called, was named after his maternal grandfather.

When he became bar mitzvah, Rav Mendel was chosen by Harav Yitzchak Meir of Alesk, zy”a, the eldest son of Harav Chanoch Henach Dov of Alesk, zy”a, as a chassan for his daughter Shlomtzi.

After his marriage, Reb Mendel settled in Alesk, near his father-in-law, and continued to grow in Torah and avodas Hashem. He became especially close with his wife’s grandfather, the Lev Sameach of Alesk, who saw in Rav Mendel a budding talmid chacham and a dedicated Chassid with much potential. This close connection resulted in the Lev Sameach stipulating that after his son Rav Yitzchak, Rav Mendel should take over leading the Chassidim.

In the year 5644/1884, Rav Mendel suffered two great losses. At the beginning of the year, on Motzoei Yom Kippur, his father, Reb Sender Lipa, was niftar, and at the end of the year, on 2 Elul, the Lev Sameach was niftar. Rav Mendel was barely 24 at the time. After the petirah of the Lev Sameach, his son Rav Yitzchak, Rav Mendel’s father-in-law, was named Rebbe.

Following the petirah of his father-in-law, on 24 Adar 5664/1904, Rav Mendel was crowned Rebbe in his stead.

As Rebbe, Rav Mendel became known for his tefillos and his genius in Torah, both in nigleh and nistar. He was also renowned as a poel yeshuos and as a baal tzedakah who distributed huge sums to the poor. His home was always open, and he helped marry off many orphans, paying all the wedding expenses himself.

When World War I broke out, Rav Mendel was forced to flee, and he settled in Lvov (Lemberg). His Rebbetzin, along with their son, the bachur Asher Anshel, were niftar there. Later, Rav Mendel married Rebbetzin Chavah, the daughter of his brother-in-law Harav Chaim Yechiel Rubin.

Rav Mendel lived in Lvov until his petirah on 19 Av 5683/1923. He was buried there, near his uncle Harav Shlomo of Sassov, and an ohel was built on his kever.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


August 20

In 1862, the New York Tribune published an open letter by editor Horace Greeley calling on President Abraham Lincoln to take more aggressive measures to free the slaves and end the South’s rebellion.

In 1953, the Soviet Union publicly acknowledged it had tested a hydrogen bomb.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, a nearly $1 billion anti-poverty measure.

In 1968, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations began invading Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring” liberalization drive.

In 1988, a cease-fire in the war between Iraq and Iran went into effect.