This Day In History 20Teves/January 18

In 5243/1482, in Soncino, Italy, the first printed volume of the Talmud Bavli, Maseches Brachos, was published.


4965/1204, Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon (Rambam)

5674/1914, Harav Simchah Yissachar Ber Halberstam of Chechenov, zy”a

5640/1880, Harav Yaakov Abuchatzeira, zt”l, the Abir Yaakov

The founder of the illustrious Abuchatzeira dynasty was Harav Shmuel Abuchatzeira (Elbaz). Rav Shmuel settled in Morocco, where he raised his family.

Before Rav Yaakov was born, Rav Shmuel came to his daughter-in-law and son in a dream and said that their child would become a great Torah luminary.

When still very young, Yaakov displayed signs of greatness and kedushah rarely seen in children his age. While his peers played childish games, he would retreat to a corner of the local beis medrash and pore over his Torah studies.

His father, Rav Masoud, the Rav of Tafilalet, taught him all of Tanach with the taamim, later moving on to all of the Shishah Sidrei Mishnah and then the whole of Shas. He received semichah and then, following the petirah of his father, became Rav of Tafilalet.

He did not leave the beis medrash all week, day and night, except on Leil Shabbos.

After Rav Masoud’s petirah, when Rav Yaakov became Rav of Tafilalet, he would go from city to city and from home to home to raise money for its poor.

He also supported many people himself. Whenever he had any spare money, he would immediately distribute it among the poor. He adhered to this policy not only with his money, but also with personal belongings.

Rav Yaakov made three attempts to ascend to Eretz Yisrael. The first two times, Morocco’s Jews prevented him from leaving as they could not bear to part with him. His third attempt was in 5638/1878, when he was 70. He set out for Eretz Yisrael via the Algerian Sea, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

He arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, on 15 Teves and rested there before continuing on to Dimanhur. In Dimanhur, Rav Yaakov became ill. He told those with him that it had been revealed to him in a dream that he would be niftar after Shabbos, and that he accepted the decree upon himself. He was niftar on Sunday, 20 Teves 5640/1880.

He was buried in Dimanhur, Egypt. To this day, his kever is known as a place for yeshuos.

He left many sefarim on Torah, including Abir Yaakov; She’eilos U’Teshuvos Yoru Mishpatecha L’Yaakov, a collection of halachic responsa; Pituchei Chosam on Torah; Maaglei Tzedek on Nach (mainly perek 119 in Tehillim); and Alef Binah on Tehillim.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Jan. 18

In 1778, English navigator Captain James Cook reached the present-day Hawaiian Islands, which he named the “Sandwich Islands.”

In 1911, the first landing of an aircraft on a ship took place as pilot Eugene B. Ely brought his Curtiss biplane in for a safe landing on the deck of the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Harbor.

In 1919, the Paris Peace Conference, held to negotiate peace treaties ending World War I, opened in Versailles, France.