This Day in History – 21 Cheshvan/November 14

In 5699/1938, following Kristallnacht, Jewish students were expelled from German schools and universities.


5334/1573, Rabbeinu Dovid ben Zimra, zt”l, the Radbaz

5605/1844, Harav Yissachar Ber of Podheitz, zt”l, son of the Pnei Yehoshua

5642/1881, Harav Elazar Hakohen of Poltusk, zt”l

5673/1912, Harav Moshe of Shitchelnik, zt”l


5749/1988, Harav Betzalel Stern, zt”l, mechaber of Teshuvos B’tzel Hachochmah

Harav Betzalel Stern was born on 12 Tishrei 5671/1910, in Neihiezel, Czechoslovakia. His father was Harav Avraham, the mechaber of Melitzei Ash.

He married the daughter of Harav Tzvi Kunstlicher, Rav of Seben, Transylvania.

In 5702/1942 he accepted his first rabbinic post, in Seben, where he served as Rav Hatzair under his father-in-law. Rav Betzalel also headed the yeshivah there. After World War II ended, Rav Betzalel received many requests to serve as Rav. When approached by the kehillah of Kashau he refused their offer, explaining that he did not want to return to his home country. He resided for a while in Budapest.

For a short while Rav Betzalel served as Rav in Pupa. Later he moved to Rome, Italy, where many survivors had gathered. He helped revitalize their Yiddishkeit.

In 5714/1954, Rav Betzalel was asked by the Adas Yisrael community in Melbourne, Australia, to serve as their Rav. The reason Rav Betzalel agreed to go so far away was, as he writes in his introduction to B’tzel Hachochmah, that he was interested in building Torah and Yiddishkeit in such a distant place.

Today the community of Melbourne, and to a lesser extent, Sydney as well, has very strong Torah and chinuch institutions, including batei medrash, yeshivos and kollelim.

Rav Betzalel assisted the local Talmud Torah, Beis Yaakov and a yeshivah ketanah, named Bris Avraham after his father who was killed in the war. He also opened a separate cemetery for the kehillah.

After 14 years in Melbourne, Rav Betzalel left because most of his family lived in Eretz Yisrael and the distance was too great for him.

In 5725/1965, he was appointed Rav in Vienna. He is remembered for his fight against the destruction of a Jewish cemetery, a campaign that paid off, as the order was rescinded.

In 5742/1982, Rav Betzalel moved to Eretz Yisrael, leaving his son Harav Chaim, zt”l, as Rav in Vienna in his place.

Settling in Yerushalayim, he realized his life’s dream: to sit and learn without having to involve himself in public affairs.

Rav Betzalel was niftar on 21 Cheshvan 5749/1988, at the age of 79. He was buried on Har Hamenuchos near his father-in-law, Harav Kunstlicher, and close to the kevarim of the Belzer Rebbe and the Brisker Rav, zt”l.

Rav Betzalel was the mechaber of the six-volume She’eilos U’Teshuvos B’tzel Hachochmah, which covers many issues that are not mentioned in earlier sefarim.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

Nov. 14

In 1889, Jawarharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, was born.

In 1910, Eugene B. Ely became the first aviator to take off from a ship as his Curtiss pusher rolled off a sloping platform on the deck of the scout cruiser USS Birmingham off Hampton Roads, Virginia.

In 1940, during World War II, German planes destroyed most of the English town of Coventry.

In 1954, the president of Egypt, Muhammad Naguib, was deposed by the Revolutionary Command Council, leaving Gamal Abdel Nasser fully in charge as acting head of state.

In 1969, Apollo 12 blasted off for the moon.

In 1972, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 1,000 level for the first time, ending the day at 1,003.16.

In 1986, the Securities and Exchange Commission imposed a $100 million penalty against inside-trader Ivan F. Boesky and barred him from working again in the securities industry.

In 1997, a jury in Fairfax, Virginia, decided that Pakistani national Aimal Khan Kasi should get the death penalty for gunning down two CIA employees outside agency headquarters. Five years later on this date, Aimal Khan Kasi was executed.