This Day in History – 19 Shevat/January 25

19 Shevat

In 5109/1349, seven hundred Jews of Basel, Switzerland, were burned alive in wooden houses especially constructed for that purpose. Hy”d.


5478/1718, Harav Binyamin Zev Shapiro, zt”l, of Prague

5665/1905, Harav Yitzchak Baruch Sofer, zt”l, father of the Kaf Hachaim

5690/1930, Harav Shimon Greenfeld of Semihali, zt”l, the Maharshag

5696/1936, Harav Elimelech Menachem Mendel Landau, Rebbe of Strikov, zt”l

5776/2016 Harav Yisroel Belsky, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath


Harav Shmuel Weinberg of Slonim, Zy”a, the Divrei Shmuel

Harav Shmuel Weinberg, born in 5610/1850, was the son of Harav Yechiel Michel Aharon, zt”l, and a grandson of Harav Avraham of Slonim, zy”a, founder of the Slonimer dynasty and author of Yesod HaAvodah. His father-in-law was Harav Avraham, zt”l, son of Harav Shlomo Leib of Lentchna.

Rav Shmuel learned Torah and Chassidus under his grandfather, the Yesod HaAvodah; Harav Chaim of Sanz, the Divrei Chaim; Harav Avraham of Tchechanov; Harav Dovid Moshe of Tchortkov; Harav Mordechai Shraga of Husyatin, and Harav Yochanon of Rachmastrivka, zechusam yagein aleinu.

He visited Eretz Yisrael twice in his early years.

After the petirah of his grandfather, the Yesod HaAvodah, on 11 Cheshvan 5644/1883, the Chassidim appointed Rav Shmuel as the new Rebbe, although he was just 34 years old.

Initially Rav Shmuel refused to accept the appointment, as he writes in a letter to Harav Dovid Moshe of Tchortkov: “Have mercy on my forlorn soul, which is surrounded by troubles. The Chassidim are mistaken about me. Woe to me if I accept their proposition. They will be left without a real leader, and I will have lost my portion in both worlds. Maybe it would be correct for me to leave the country.”

As Rebbe, Rav Shmuel was active on behalf of Klal Yisrael in ruchniyus and in gashmiyus. Together with the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Shmuel founded an organization to help fund talmudei Torah and for building and maintaining mikvaos.

Rav Shmuel was the Nasi of Kollel Reisin in Eretz Yisrael, known as the leading kollel in Teveriah, and sent many of his Chassidim to settle in Teveriah. In 5659/1899, Rav Shmuel opened Yeshivas Ohr Torah in Teveriah at the site of the kever of Rabi Meir Baal Haness, which still exists today.

On 19 Shevat 5676/1916, during World War I, Reb Shmuel was niftar in Warsaw. He was 66.

Rav Shmuel was succeeded by his son, Harav Yissachar Leib, zy”a, who was Rebbe in Slonim. His other son, Harav Avraham, zy”a, was Rebbe of Slonim-Baranovich. His sons-in-law were Harav Shimon Kopelowitz; Harav Pinchas Malobitzki, Rebbe of Lechovich; Harav Moshe Menachem Zilber of Lublin, Rebbe in Detroit; Harav Avraham Abba Rappaport, Rav in Kielce; and Harav Yosef David Landau, Rebbe in Lutzk, zechusam yagein aleinu.

Some of Rav Shmuel’s divrei Torah on Bereishis and Shemos and on various Torah topics were published posthumously as Divrei Shmuel.

Jan. 25

In 1890, reporter Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) of the New York World completed a round-the-world journey in 72 days, six hours and 11 minutes.

In 1915, America’s first official transcontinental telephone call took place as Alexander Graham Bell in New York spoke to his former assistant, Thomas Watson, in San Francisco, over a line set up by American Telephone & Telegraph.

In 1936, former Gov. Al Smith (D-N.Y.) delivered a radio address in Washington entitled “Betrayal of the Democratic Party,” in which he fiercely criticized the New Deal policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1945, the World War II Battle of the Bulge ended as German forces were pushed back to their original positions.

In 1981, the 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived in the United States.

In 2009, the White House used the Sunday broadcast programming to warn that the country could face a long and painful financial recovery, even with major government intervention.

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