This Day In History 20 Sivan/June 14

In 4931/1171, 56 Jews were burned al kiddush Hashem in Blois, France, victims of the first blood-libel in Europe. Rabbeinu Tam and other contemporary Rishonim declared this date a fast day to mark the event.

The following Rabbanim were killed on that day: Harav Yechiel, Harav Yekusiel Hakohen, Harav Yehudah, Harav Yitzchak, Harav Moshe, Harav Baruch, Harav Shmuel, Harav Menachem, and a second Rav Yehudah. Another 48 men and women were also killed. Hy”d.


5561/1801, Harav Tzvi Hirsch of Nadvorna, zt”l, the Tzemach Hashem L’tzvi

5760/2000, Harav Feivish Shneebalg of London, zt”l, mechaber of Shraga Hamei’er

5697/1937, Harav Zev of Rachmastrivka, zt”l

Harav Zev was born on 5 Adar 5611/1851. His father was Harav Yochanan, the founder of the Rachmastrivka dynasty who, in turn, was the son of Harav Mordechai, the Maggid of Chernobyl. Rav Zev’s mother was Rebbetzin Chanah, the daughter of Harav Pinchas of Kalik.

He received semichah from his uncle Harav Yitzchak of Skver.

Harav Zev was known from his youth as a unique gaon, and indeed he left behind many manuscripts that exemplified his geonus. In addition, many of his chiddushim were published in various kovtzim, some without his name.

He married Bas-Sheva, the daughter of Harav Meshulam Zusya of Chernobyl. After his chasunah, he sat al haTorah v’al ha’avodah in Chernobyl.

After the untimely petirah of his first Rebbetzin, he married Tzipporah Brachah, the daughter of Harav Yaakov Shimshon Chodorov of Bahapoli. They had two sons and one daughter.

Following the petirah of his father, he and his brothers jointly accepted the mantle of admorus. The brothers led the increasing number of Chassidim of Rachmastrivka with unity.

During the Bolshevik Revolution in 5687–8/1917–8, the Rebbe sought a safe haven in the town of Zlatipoli.

In 5694/1934, the Rebbe ascended to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Yerushalayim. He was actually the last of his brothers to leave for Eretz Yisrael; his brother Harav Mordechai arrived in 5664/1904 and Harav Menachem Nachum came in 5686/1926. (His oldest brother, Harav Dovid of Zlatipoli, was niftar in Zlatipoli in 5670/1910.)

During his last year in Yerushalayim, Harav Zev was stricken with a serious illness. On 20 Sivan, he returned his pure neshamah to its Creator.

He was buried in the Rachmastrivka ohel on Har Hazeisim.

June 14

In 1775, the Continental Army, forerunner of the United States Army, was created.

In 1777, the Second Continental Congress approved the design of the original American flag, declaring: “Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

In 1940, German troops entered Paris during World War II; the same day, the Nazis began transporting prisoners to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a measure adding the phrase “under G-d” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered a ban on domestic use of the pesticide DDT, to take effect at year’s end.