This Day in History – 22 Av/August 23

Molotov (L) and Ribbentrop (R) at the signing of the Pact.

22 Av

In 4261, a violent earthquake rocked Eretz Yisrael, destroying the city of Acco.

In 5248/1488, 16 Jews were burned to death in Toledo, Spain, Hy”d.

Yahrtzeiten

5058/1298, Rabbeinu Mordechai ben Hillel, author of the Mordechai, Hy”d

5377/1617, Harav Moshe Kazis, zt”l, the Maharam Kazis

5709/1949, Harav Eliyahu Dushnitzer, zt”l, Mashgiach of Yeshivas Lomza, Petach Tikva


5541/1781

Harav Meir Hagadol Of Premishlan, Zy”a

Harav Meir was born in 5471/1711 to Harav Yaakov of Premishlan, zt”l, known as “Yaakov Ish Tam.” Rav Yaakov traced his yichus to Harav Yaakov of Korbil, zt”l, the Rishon who wrote She’eilos U’Teshuvos Min HaShamayim. Rav Meir’s son was Harav Aharon Leib, who was the father of the well-known Harav Meir’l Premishlaner, zy”a. Rav Meir’s other sons were Reb Dovid of Kalisch and Reb Pesach Chassid.

In his younger years, Rav Meir supported himself by selling goods for various vendors. Even among the local gentiles he gained a reputation as “Meir the trustworthy,” for his fair business practices and ehrlichkeit.

After a while, Rav Meir gave up working so he would be free to sit and learn in the beis medrash all day. He suffered debilitating poverty but stood steadfast in his decision to devote himself entirely to the service of Hashem.

One day a merchant showed up in town with a honeycomb, insisting that he would only sell it to “Meir the trustworthy” and no one else. In no hurry to conclude his shiurim, Rav Meir made the gentile wait until the end of the day. Later that night, after returning from the beis medrash, Rav Meir paid a high price for the honeycomb (his ehrlichkeit would not let him buy it for cheaper), even though he was forced to borrow money to do so.

Taking it apart, the Rebbetzin discovered that there was barely any honey in the honeycomb; but then, inspecting it more closely, she found that it concealed a huge sum of money. Rav Meir refused to derive benefit from his metziah without further investigation. In the end, after satisfying himself that this was indeed yad Hashem, he kept the money.

When his grandson, Rav Meir’l of Premishlan, told this story he added, “Great malachim put the money there, because of his strong middas habitachon.”

According to a mesorah, Harav Meir Hagadol wrote a sefer called Ohr Toraso Shel Rav Meir, but the sefer was burned.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


August 23

In 1775, Britain’s King George III proclaimed the American colonies to be in a state of “open and avowed rebellion.”

In 1914, Japan declared war against Germany in World War I.

In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to a non-aggression treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in Moscow.

In 1999, the Dow Jones industrial average soared 199.15 to a then-record of 11,299.76.