This Day in History – 2 Shevat/January 8

2 Shevat

In 3688, Yannai Hamelech died. This date was celebrated as a Yom Tov, as mentioned in Megillas Taanis, because of his cruelty and the ruthlessness with which he persecuted the Chachamim and their loyal followers. On his deathbed he ordered the imprisonment of seventy Chachamim, with instructions that upon his death they too should be killed. His plan never materialized, because his pious wife refused to execute his will. After his passing, his wife Shlomtziyon Hamalkah ruled in his place. A sister of Rabi Shimon Ben Shetach, she fought the Tzedokim and restored the honor of the Chachamim.


5421/1661, Harav Menachem Mendel Krochmahl of Nikolsburg, zt”l, the Tzemach Tzedek

5560/1800, Harav Meshulam Zusha, Rebbe of Anipoli, zy”a

5667/1907, Harav Simcha Bunim, Rebbe of Otvotzk, zy”a

5758/1998, Harav Mansour BenShimon, zt”l, mechaber of Shemen Hama’or

5670/1910, 5666/1906

Harav Tzvi Hirsh Spektor, Zt”l, Rav of Kovna, His Brother Harav Binyamin, Zt”l

Harav Tzvi Hirsh and his brother Harav Binyamin were the sons of Harav Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, zt”l, the famous Rav of Kovna.

Rav Tzvi Hirsh was born in Nishwez, Minsk, in 5608/1848, while Reb Binyamin was born in Novorodok in 5612/1852.

In their youth they were taught by their father.

Rav Tzvi Hirsh was considered an iluy.

At eighteen, he was chosen by Reb Meir Saltz of Solenitz as a chassan for his daughter. Reb Meir was a well-known askan and an affluent person. After the wedding, Reb Tzvi Hirsh lived near his in-laws for five years, learning with hasmadah.

Many kehillos sought Rav Tzvi Hirsh as their Rav, but he was determined not to use Torah as a livelihood. In 5633/1873 he settled in Kovna and opened a business, which was run by employees while he sat and learned. He was actively involved in the affairs of the Jewish community in Russia.

In 5640/1880, though, Rav Tzvi Hirsh lost his money, and two years later, he accepted the position of Rav of Mitui. There he enacted many takanos for the good of the community.

In 5649/1889 Rav Tzvi Hirsh was chosen to serve as Maggid in Vilna. In 5651/1891, he was appointed Rav in Kovna in place of his father.

Rav Tzvi Hirsh utilized his connections with the government to help the Yidden, managing to annul anti-Semitic decrees. He also helped found many yeshivos and fought on their behalf.

Rav Binyamin Spektor was also a talmid chacham, and a wealthy man famed for giving tzedakah.

He was the son-in-law of Harav Eliyahu Behr of Semel.

He learned day and night, refusing many offers for the rabbinate.

On 2 Shevat, 5666/1906, at the age of 54, Rav Binyamin was killed in his house. Hashem yinkom damo.

Four years later, in 5670/1910, also on 2 Shevat, Rav Tzvi Hirsh was niftar at the age of 62.

Zecher tzaddikim livrachah.

Jan. 8

In 1815, the last major engagement of the War of 1812 came to an end as U.S. forces defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans, not having gotten word of the signing of a peace treaty.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson outlined his Fourteen Points for lasting peace after World War I. Mississippi became the first state to ratify the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which established Prohibition.

In 1975, Judge John J. Sirica ordered the early release from prison of Watergate figures John W. Dean III, Herbert W. Kalmbach and Jeb Stuart Magruder. Democrat Ella Grasso was sworn in as Connecticut’s first female governor.

In 1987, for the first time, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 2,000, ending the day at 2,002.25.

In 1998, Ramzi Yousef, who planned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was sentenced in New York to life in prison without possibility of parole.

In 2004, a U.S. Black Hawk medivac helicopter crashed near Fallujah, Iraq, killing all nine soldiers aboard.