This Day in History – 21 Tammuz/July 4

In 5702/1942, the inmates of the Bendin (Poland) ghetto started an uprising.


5541/1781, Harav Shlomo Chelma of Yerushalayim, zt”l, mechaber of Mirkeves Hamishneh

5688/1928, Harav Shlomo Polatchek, zt”l, the “iluy of Meitschet”

5693/1933, Harav Avraham Mattisyahu, Rebbe of Shtefenesht, zy”a

5721/1961, Harav Levi Yitzchok Leifer, zy”a, the Nadvorne-Arad Rebbe of Haifa

5396/1636, Harav Eliyahu Baal Shem, Zt”l

In 5261/1501, there lived in Cracow a Jew by the name of Reb Yosef Yozpa, zt”l. Close to 50 years old at the time, he was widely respected as a tzaddik; although he called no attention to his exalted ways, he utilized all his spare time for Torah. Reb Yosef had never married, but lived by himself.

Some years later, a man from Cracow was killed, leaving a widow. Reb Yosef went to the local beis din and informed them that he was willing to marry this widow, should she be interested in the offer.

Immediately the beis din invited the woman to appear before it. Before they had a chance to tell her anything, she broke down in tears. She explained that lately she had seen her father in her dreams, telling her that she was to marry Reb Yosef Yozpa. Amazed, the beis din informed her that this was the precise reason they had called her in — to ask her opinion on this very matter. It was obvious that this was a shidduch predetermined in Heaven, and the couple were duly married. Within a year they were blessed with a son, whom they named Eliyahu, after Eliyahu Hanavi.

When Eliyahu was just two years old, his father began teaching him Torah.

Two weeks before Eliyahu’s bar mitzvah, Reb Yosef informed his wife that he would be leaving this world shortly. He asked her not to mourn his passing overmuch. He also asked that she allow their son to progress on his own, without interfering.

At this time, Reb Yosef revealed to her that after the death of her first husband, he was instructed from Heaven to marry her, to bring down to this world a lofty neshamah who would accomplish a lot on behalf of his brethren.

Reb Yosef then called in the heads of the local kehillah and asked them to tend to the needs of his wife and son. With this, he blessed his wife and son, and his neshamah returned to its true home.

A few weeks after his bar mitzvah, Eliyahu informed his mother that he would be leaving Cracow in search of a place to learn.

Where Rav Eliyahu spent the next 40 years is not known, but when he arrived in Vermaiza (Worms), Germany, in 5350/1590 he was accompanied by his wife, and was already known as Rav Eliyahu Baal Shem.

He was famous as a baal mofes, and many needy people journeyed to him to be healed through his tefillos.

Rav Eliyahu taught Kabbalah to many talmidim in Vermaiza. Among his works are Rinas Dodim, Michlal Yofi and Aderes Eliyahu.

Rav Eliyahu was niftar on 21 Tammuz 5396/1636.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

July 4

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

In 1817, ground was broken for the Erie Canal in Rome, New York. The entire canal was finished in 1825.

In 1826, 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act, which went into effect the following year.

In 1987, Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison. He died in September 1991.