This Day in History – 20 Adar/February 25

20 Adar

Today, Choni Hamaagel’s tefillah for rain was answered after a three-year drought in Eretz Yisrael, as mentioned in Maseches Taanis 19. This incident took place during the time of the Second Beis Hamikdash.

In 5376/1616, the execution of Vincent Fettmilch, a Jew-hater who headed the baker’s guild in Frankfurt, Germany, took place; the Jews of Frankfurt celebrated a Purim in commemoration of that event.

During that era Frankfurt was a glorious kehillah, numbering over 3,000 Jews. The evil Vincent Fettmilch battled the Yidden and tried to pass legislation to expel them. After an unsuccessful attempt, he incited a mob that attacked the community mercilessly. The emperor summoned Fettmilch to trial, where he was sentenced to death.


5393/1633, Harav Meir Schiff, zt”l, the Maharam Shiff

5401/1641, Harav Yoel Sirkis, zt”l, the Bach

5695/1935, Harav Shlomo Hakohen Aharonsohn of Tel Aviv, zt”l

5698/1938, Harav Moshe Landinski, zt”l, Rosh Mesivta in Yeshivas Radin

5765/2005, Harav Rafael Blum, zt”l, Kashauer Rav


Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt”l

Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was born in 5670/1910. His father was Harav Chaim Yehudah Leib Auerbach, zt”l.

As a youth Rav Shlomo Zalman studied in Yeshivas Eitz Chaim, where he was quickly recognized as an outstanding student. He was very close to the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer, zt”l.

In 5690/1930 Rav Shlomo Zalman married Rebbetzin Chaya Rivka, the daughter of Harav Aryeh Leib Ruchamkin, zt”l.

In 5704/1944, a pre-Shemittah year, Rav Shlomo Zalman published Maadanei Eretz, which deals with mitzvos pertaining to the land. Besides his own sefarim, many other sefarim include his halachic decisions. The most famous of these is Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah, which includes thousands of his rulings on hilchos Shabbos.

Minchas Shlomo, a compendium of Rav Shlomo Zalman’s halachic responsa, is required reading for every scholar and halachic authority. In addition, many of his articles on halachic issues were printed in numerous Torah journals. His teshuvos cover many fields of Jewish law, such as medicine and technology.

In 5707/1947, Rav Shlomo Zalman was invited by former Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Yechiel Michel Schlesinger, zt”l, to serve as the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Kol Torah where he stayed for nearly 50 years.

Rav Shlomo Zalman loved and pursued peace. He was always on good terms with everyone, maintaining friendly ties with scores of Torah leaders and Chassidic luminaries. They in turn greatly admired and respected him, not only for his purity of character, his amazing tzidkus and his unparalleled middos, but also as one of the foremost halachic authorities of the time.

Before he entered his house, Rav Shlomo Zalman would straighten his attire. He once explained his reason for this: “Ish v’isha zachu, Shechinah shruya beineihem – If a man and woman are worthy, the Divine Presence rests between them. And certainly, one must honor the Shechinah!”

On 20 Adar I 5755/1995 Rav Shlomo Zalman was niftar. His levayah was one of the largest ever recorded in Eretz Yisrael, with an estimated 300,000 people in attendance.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

Feb. 25

In 1793, President George Washington held the first Cabinet meeting on record at his Mount Vernon home. In attendance were Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph.

In 1836, inventor Samuel Colt patented his revolver.

In 1901, United States Steel Corp. was incorporated by J.P. Morgan.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was declared in effect by Secretary of State Philander Chase Knox. This amendment gave Congress the power to levy and collect income taxes.

In 1919, Oregon became the first state to tax gasoline, at one cent per gallon.