This Day in History – 22 Iyar/May 22

In 2449/1312 B.C.E., Dosson and Aviram searched for mann on the first Shabbos in the midbar but did not find any (Shemos 16:27).

In 5491/1731, all the sefarim in the Papal States were confiscated.

In 5679/1919, the Romanian government granted citizenship to all native-born Jews.

In 5704/1944, the Nazis began the deportation of Jews from greater Hungary to the extermination camps.



5554/1794, Harav Yeshayah of Dinowitz, zt”l, talmid of the Mezritcher Maggid

5654/1894, Harav Mordechai Shraga Feivush Friedman of Husyatin, zt”l



Harav Shlomo Eliezer Alfandari, zt”l, the Saba Kadisha

The Saba Kadisha was born in Kushta, Turkey, about 5575/1815. Kushta (now Constantinople), the capital of Turkey, was home to the largest Jewish community in Turkey at the time.

Harav Shlomo Eliezer learned in seclusion with great diligence. He mastered many complex sugyos with all the meforshim in a very short time, and remembered everything. When a person mentioned something in the name of the Pri Megadim, Harav Shlomo Eliezer corrected him saying, “I have not seen this Pri Megadim for 60 years, but I think that he expresses himself a bit differently.” He was right.

The kehillah in Kushta wanted to nominate Rav Shlomo Eliezer to the city’s beis din but he adamantly refused; instead he sat in the beis medrash and taught talmidim, among them the Sdei Chemed and the Kiryas Ha’arba.

Eventually, he became Rav of Kushta; later on he served as Rav of Damascus, together with Harav Yitzchak Abulafiya, the Pnei Yitzchak.

In his high 80s, Harav Shlomo Eliezer moved to Eretz Yisrael, settling initially in Haifa. Then the Jews of Tzfas invited him to serve as Rav of the Sephardic community. Many people flocked to his home for halachic decisions, Torah discussions and guidance in life, and to learn sisrei Torah from him.

The elders of Tzfas related that in Nisan of 5674/1914, after Kiddush Levanah, the Saba Kadisha kept gazing up into the sky, after which he clapped his hands and sighed deeply. When his talmidim asked him what this meant, he said, “I see a terrible war coming in the near future.” World War I broke out a few months later.

Due to deteriorating health, he moved to Teveria and subsequently to Yerushalayim, where he was treated in Shaare Zedek hospital. He asked that all his writings be buried in the ohel of the Arvei Nachal in Tzfas.

The Saba Kadisha lived a life of purity and harbatzas Torah. He taught many talmidim, even when he was over 100 years old and living in Yerushalayim. Among his talmidim were Harav Avraham Antebbi, Harav Ezra Attiya, Harav Velvel Mintzberg and Harav Tzvi Pesach Frank.

His entire essence was humility. He never donned the cloak which was the traditional garb for Rabbanim at the time, and he supported himself through business partnerships with Egyptian Jews.

The Munkatcher Rebbe, the Minchas Elazar, zy”a, visited Harav Alfandari in his home in Yerushalayim, having traveled to Eretz Yisrael especially to meet this great tzaddik. “When will Moshiach come?” the Rebbe asked.

“There are hindrances,” the Saba Kadisha replied.

“I have a kabbalah from my forefathers that the coming of Moshiach is dependent on the tzaddik hador, and you are that tzaddik!” the Munkatcher maintained.

“I am no tzaddik,” said the Saba Kadisha humbly.

On 22 Iyar 5690/1930, when he was over 110 years of age, the Saba Kadisha asked his talmidim to help him don his two pairs of tefillin, and he recited Shema. He then remarked, “Enough, enough, the main thing is the truth, I cannot any longer. …”

He then motioned that he wanted a glass of milk. He recited the Shehakol and returned his holy soul to its Maker.

Yehi zichro baruch.  

May 22

In 1761, the first American life insurance policy was issued in Philadelphia to a Rev. Francis Allison, whose premium was six pounds per year.

In 1860, the United States and Japan exchanged ratifications of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce during a ceremony in Washington.

In 1913, the American Cancer Society was founded in New York under its original name, the American Society for the Control of Cancer.

In 1939, the foreign ministers of Germany and Italy, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Galeazzo Ciano, signed a “Pact of Steel” committing the two countries to a military alliance.

In 1947, the Truman Doctrine was enacted as Congress appropriated military and economic aid for Greece and Turkey.

In 1960, an earthquake of magnitude 9.5, the strongest ever measured, struck southern Chile, claiming some 1,655 lives.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, speaking at the University of Michigan, outlined the goals of his “Great Society,” saying that it “rests on abundance and liberty for all” and “demands an end to poverty and racial injustice.”

In 1968, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Scorpion, with 99 men aboard, sank in the Atlantic Ocean. (The remains of the sub were later found on the ocean floor 400 miles southwest of the Azores.)

In 1969, the lunar module of Apollo 10, with Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene Cernan aboard, flew to within nine miles of the moon’s surface in a dress rehearsal for the first lunar landing.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon began a visit to the Soviet Union, during which he and Kremlin leaders signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.