This Day in History – 19 Iyar/May 19

19 Iyar

In 5705/1945, JosephGoebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, took his life. Goebbels was known for his zealous and energetic oratory, virulent anti-Semitism, and perfection of the so-called Big Lie technique of mass propaganda. Following Hitler’s death he served as chancellor for one day, approved the murder of his own six children, and then took his own life.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5053/1293, Harav Meir, zt”l, the Maharam of Rothenburg

5730/1970, Harav Ezra Attia, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef, Yerushalayim

5755/1995, Harav Yaakov Moshe Mordechai Halevi Soloveitchik of Lucerne, zt”l


5575/1815

Harav Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, zt”l

Reb Menachem Mendel was born in 5505/1745 in Neustadt. His father was Reb Yosef Charif. It is said that he learned under Harav Daniel Yaffe, zt”l, in Berlin together with the Pri Megadim. He focused on the study of Halachah his entire life, particularly on the Rif, to the extent that it was said that he had a spark of the Rif’s neshamah.

When Reb Menachem Mendel drew close to Chassidus, he first became a follower of Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg, at which time he became close to the Chozeh of Lublin and the Maggid of Kozhnitz. Eventually, he became a Chassid of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk.

Before his passing, his Rebbe, Reb Elimelech, bequeathed his various qualities to his disciples. He placed his hands on their heads and gave to the Chozeh of Lublin his vision, the Kozhnitzer Maggid his heart, Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov his neshamah and the Apta Rav his speech. These four then went out and lit up the world.

Reb Menachem Mendel slept only during the early part of the night. He would lie down with the sefarim he was learning beside his bed, sleep deeply for about five or 10 minutes, wake up, wash his hands, and learn for five minutes. The moment he put the sefer down, he would fall deeply asleep again, and again wake up after five or 10 minutes, wash his hands, and learn for five minutes from the second sefer. So it went, with the Rebbe perusing large batches of Torah between snatches of sleep, until midnight, when the Rebbe would rise for Tikkun Chatzos and remain awake until the morning. Reb Menachem Mendel never missed a single night of saying Tikkun Chatzos this way.

Reb Menachem Mendel learned 18 blatt Gemara with Rashi and Tosafos every day. If he ever was prevented from learning them, he made up the lost blatt the following day. One Erev Pesach he told his son, “You see, my son, though today is Erev Pesach with an overwhelming number of things to do, I still did not miss my 18 blatt Gemara with Rashi and Tosafos.”

Reb Menachem Mendel’s first position as Rav was in Fristock. There he became known as a tzaddik and acquired a large following, which included many other Rebbes and Rabbanim. Later he moved to Rimanov, from where his fame as a poel yeshuos spread. Thousands came to him for yeshuos, including non-Jews and even Polish noblemen.

In Rimanov, the Rebbe took an active part in communal affairs and supervised everything from the mikvaos to the weights and measures. His tzedakah was legendary, with hundreds eating regularly at his table. He was also the president of the fund for the poor of Eretz Yisrael.

Early in 5575/1814, Reb Menachem Mendel made a massive effort, together with the Chozeh of Lublin and the Kozhnitzer Maggid, to bring Moshiach, but they were not successful. That Iyar he suffered a great weakness, and on Lag BaOmer he prepared himself to leave this world. The following day he passed away in the presence of his talmid, Reb Naftali from Ropshitz.

Reb Menachem Mendel left two sons, Reb Nosson Leib and Reb Yisrael Yaakov of Bialkomitz, but his successor was his disciple and loyal meshamesh, Reb Tzvi Hakohen Meshares of Rimanov.

His chiddushei Torah are published in Menachem Tziyon and Be’eros Hamayim.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

May 19

In 1780, a mysterious darkness enveloped much of New England and part of Canada in the early afternoon.

In 1913, California Gov. Hiram Johnson signed the Webb-Hartley Law prohibiting “aliens ineligible to citizenship” from owning farm land, a measure targeting Asian immigrants, particularly Japanese.

In 1921, Congress passed, and President Warren G. Harding signed, the Emergency Quota Act, which established national quotas for immigrants.

In 1943, in his second wartime address to the U.S. Congress, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pledged his country’s full support in the fight against Japan. That same day, top U.S. and British officials meeting in Washington reached agreement on May 1, 1944, as the date for the D-Day invasion of France (the operation ended up being launched more than a month later).

In 1964, the State Department disclosed that 40 hidden microphones had been found in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.