This Day in History – 20 Sivan/June 18

In 2450/1311 B.C.E., according to Seder Olam, the unfortunate incident of Kivros HaTaavahended. All those who ate the slav died over a period of 30 days.

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

The following Rabbanim were killed al kiddush Hashem on that day: Harav Yechiel, Harav Yekusiel Hakohen, Harav Yitzchak, Harav Moshe, Harav Baruch, Harav Shmuel, Harav Menachem, and two people both known as Harav Yehudah. Additionally, another 31 men and 17 women were killed, Hy”d. As they were led to their deaths they recited Aleinu L’shabei’ach with great simchah.

The taanis of 20 Sivan was accepted in 5410/1650 by the Vaad Arba Aratzos, to also commemorate the intensification of the Tach-V’tat massacres that had just occurred (Magen Avraham Orach Chaim 580). On this date in 5408/1648, the Cossacks, led by the infamous Chmielnicki, arrived in Nemirov — on the Ukranian border with Poland — and killed over 6,000 Jews. (Nemiroff, a well-known brand of vodka, is produced in that accursed city.)

They later moved on to other towns in the area and by the time they were done, close to 10,000 Yidden had been killed al kiddush Hashem. Hy”d.

Among the Rabbanim who were killed al kiddush Hashem during that massacre were: Harav Yechiel Mechel of Nemirov, mechaber of Shivrei Luchos; Harav Shimshon of Ostropoli; Harav Chaim of Shagrirad; Harav Yitzchak of Polnai; Harav Shlomo of Prohobitch; Harav Avraham of Shagrirad; Harav Chaim and Harav Elazar of Tulshitz. Hy”d.



5629/1869, Harav Chaim Mordechai Levitan, zt”l, mechaber of Nochach HaShulchan

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

5760/2000, Harav Feivish Schneebalg of London, zt”l, mechaber of Shraga HaMe’ir



Harav Tzvi Hirsh of Nadvorna, zt”l, the Tzemach Hashem LaTzvi

Harav Tzvi Hirsh was born in 5500/1740 (or 5497/1737).

When he was still a child, his father, Harav Shalom Zelig, took him along to the court of the Baal Shem Tov, who blessed him to become a leader in Klal Yisrael.

Reb Tzvi Hirsh was fluent in Shas and Poskim, as well as many works of Kabbalah. He was a talmid of the Maggid of Mezhritch, and close with Harav Yechiel Michel, the Zlotchover Maggid, who said that he had 60 talmidim who were tzaddikim, but the greatest was Reb Tzvi Hirsh, whom Eliyahu Hanavi often visited.

Following in the ways of his Rebbe, Reb Tzvi Hirsh became a maggid, traveling from town to town spreading the derech hachassidus.

The first city where he served as maggid was Dolina; later he settled in Nadvorna, after which he is known. Many came to learn from him and his avodas Hashem.

Reb Tzvi Hirsh wrote down his divrei Torah and published some of them, but without his name. Among his sefarim are Alfa Beisa, kabbalistic references to the alef-beis; Mili D’Avos, on Pirkei Avos; and Tzemach Hashem LaTzvi, on the Torah.

He was niftar on 20 Sivan 5562/1802, and buried in Nadvorna.

His sons were Harav Dovid Aryeh of Nadvorna, who was the son-in-law of Harav Meir (son of Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev); and Harav Moshe Yehoshua Yechiel Michel. Both were later buried near their father in Nadvorna.

His sons-in-law were Harav Yitzchak of Radvill, the son of Harav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov and Harav Aharon Zev Weinreb.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


June 18

In 1778, American forces entered Philadelphia as the British withdrew during the Revolutionary War.

In 1812, the War of 1812 began as the United States Congress approved, and President James Madison signed, a declaration of war against Britain.

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte met his Waterloo as British and Prussian troops defeated the French in Belgium.

In 1873, suffragist Susan B. Anthony was found guilty by a judge in Canandaigua, New York, of breaking the law by casting a vote in the 1872 presidential election. (The judge fined Anthony $100, but she never paid the penalty.)

In 1908, William Howard Taft was nominated for president by the Republican National Convention in Chicago.

In 1912, the Republican National Convention, which would nominate President William Howard Taft for another term of office, opened in Chicago.

In 1940, during World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill urged his countrymen to conduct themselves in a manner that would prompt future generations to say, “This was their finest hour.”

In 1953, Egypt’s 148-year-old Muhammad Ali dynasty came to an end with the overthrow of the monarchy and the proclamation of a republic.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Japanese Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda spoke to each other by telephone as they inaugurated the first trans-Pacific cable completed by AT&T between Japan and Hawaii, and linked to existing cables between Hawaii and California. (Due to the time difference, it was already June 19 in Tokyo.)

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter and Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev signed the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty in Vienna.

In 1983, astronaut Sally K. Ride, 32, became America’s first woman in space as she and four colleagues blasted off aboard the space shuttle Challenger on a six-day mission.