This Day In History 22 Av/August 26

In 4261/501 C.E., 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.


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

5541/1781, Harav Meir Hagadol of Premishlan, zt”l

5709/1949, Harav Eliyahu Dushnitzer, zt”l

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

Rabbeinu Mordechai ben Hillel was born c. 5010/1250 into a family of famous talmidei chachamim in Germany. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Rav Hillel, was a grandson of Rav Eliezer ben Yoel Halevi, who was in turn a grandson of the Raavan, Rabbeinu Eliezer ben Nosson. Rabbeinu Mordechai was also a relative of Rabbeinu Asher, the Rosh.

Little is known of Rabbeinu Mordechai’s early life.

He learned under the Maharam miRothenburg and other contemporary Gedolim. When his rebbi, the Maharam, was imprisoned and held for ransom, since nothing could be done to help him (as a result of his own expressed wish), Rabbeinu Mordechai moved to Goslar, in central Germany, in about 5051/1291.

But his right of residence there was disputed by the local Rabbi, Moshe Tako, so he left Goslar and settled in Nuremberg.

Soon talmidim from all over Europe — from France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Bohemia and Hungary — began to flock to Nuremberg to learn under him.

For seven years Rabbeinu Mordechai conducted his great yeshivah. Then a terrible catastrophe occurred in the wake of a civil war.

After the death of Emperor Rudolf of Hapsburg, lawlessness and disorder reigned. As usual, the defenseless Jews were the first victims. Unruly mobs robbed, killed, and pillaged whole Jewish communities.

The spring and summer of 5058/1298 witnessed one of the most harrowing events in Jewish history. Tragedy befell the Jews of Germany at the hands of the notorious Rindfleisch, a fanatical Jew-baiter from Franconia, Germany.

Rindfleisch first appeared when a rumor was spread that the Jews had desecrated a church. He gathered a mob around him and declared that he had received a “mission from heaven” to kill all the Jews in order to avenge the “desecration.” The mob attacked and killed the entire Jewish community of Roettingen, and then swept through southern Germany, going from town to town, leaving a trail of bloodshed while murdering over 100,000 Jews.

When Rindfleisch reached Nuremberg, the Jews fought, with the aid of some decent citizens. They were offered a reprieve if they would accept the religion of their attackers. But the Jews fought heroically for their faith. When the battle was over, 628 martyrs lay dead. Among them were Rabbeinu Mordechai ben Hillel, his wife Zelda, and their five children. Hashem yinkom damam.

The major work of Rabbeinu Mordechai, on the entire Shas, is a great halachic work which was widely accepted and was one of the sources for the Shulchan Aruch of Harav Yosef Caro. Since the Soncino edition of 1482, it has been printed as an appendix to the Gemara. The work is written as a compilation of existing halachic material, and also provides conclusions of long discussions in other halachic works.

Zechuso yagen aleinu. Hashem yinkom damo.

Aug. 26

In 1789, France’s National Assembly adopted its Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

In 1873, the school board of St. Louis, Mo., authorized the first U.S. public kindergarten.

In 1934, Adolf Hitler demanded that France turn over its Saar region to Germany.

In 1944, French Gen. Charles de Gaulle braved the threat of German snipers as he led a victory march in Paris, which had just been liberated by the Allies from Nazi occupation.

In 1958, Alaskans went to the polls to vote overwhelmingly in favor of statehood.