This Day in History – 22 Teves/January 13

In 5383/1623, Prague Jews celebrated Purim Forhangen — “Purim Curtains,” remembering the miraculous salvation of the Jewish ghetto after the head of the community was falsely charged with stealing the governor’s priceless curtains.

In 5558/1798, anti-Jewish riots erupted in Ancona, Italy, a day after a local “Purim” that had been celebrated since 5451/1691.

In 5721/1961, forty-three Maapilim drowned, while secretly helping Jews escape from Morocco to make Aliyah to Israel. Hy”d. The ship they were using for this, which was called Egoz, was lost at sea with all hands aboard until 5753/1993, when the victims of the Egoz were brought to Israel for burial.


 

5674/1914, Harav Avraham Eiger, the Toras Emes of Lublin, zy”a

Born in 5606/1846, Harav Avraham Eiger was the son of Harav Yehudah Leib Eiger, founder of Lubliner Chassidus and known as the Toras Emes, who was the son of Harav Shlomo who, in turn, was the son of the famed Gaon Harav Akiva Eiger.

When he was yet very young, Harav Avraham was taught Torah by his saintly father, and he was also a talmid of Harav Mordechai Yosef, the Ishbitzer Rebbe, author of Mei Hashilo’ach. He married the daughter of Harav Yehudah Leib Silberberg, a staunch Lubliner Chassid, in the year 5627/1867. After his chasunah, he continued learning under his father’s guidance and rose to great heights in Torah and avodah.

In 5648/1888, his father was niftar. Many Chassidim wanted him to assume the mantle of leadership, since before his petirah his father had hinted that Reb Avraham should succeed him. He, however, refused vehemently, suggesting that the Chassidim should rather accept the leadership of Harav Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin, the Pri Tzaddik. The Chassidim did not relent, and his mother joined them in insisting Reb Avraham become Rebbe.

In the end, Reb Avraham acceded to their pleas and was crowned as Rebbe, continuing his father’s legacy while expanding and spiritually elevating the Chassidus.

Many of his father’s Chassidim also followed Harav Tzadok Hakohen, and they both lived in Lublin in great harmony. Under Reb Avraham’s leadership, a cheder was founded in Lublin that succeeded in minimizing the number of children who strayed from Yiddishkeit during those trying times.

Reb Avraham led a very holy and sanctified life, even though he was weak and sickly by nature. At the end of each day, he partook of a meager meal, while conducting fasts on many days. His humble nature was astounding. He was revered by people from all walks of life.

In his will, he requested that no hesped be said at his levayah, and he wrote for himself a very simply-worded matzeivah. During the printing of his sefer Shevet MiYehudah,” he explicitly did not allow his name to be mentioned at all. He also begged his Chassidim not to call him Rebbe, but the “Lubliner” — as if he were just a simple man of Lublin.

On the day of his petirah, he suddenly became ill, and right before his passing he requested that Kohanim leave the room. When he was niftar, his will was not adhered to: the entire city of Lublin closed down to participate in his levayah, and many hespeidim were delivered.

His sons Harav Shlomo and Harav Ezriel Meir succeeded him as Rebbes. His other children were Reb Yisrael Noach, Reb Yehoshua and Reb Dovid, and a daughter Kaila who married the Modzhitzer Rebbe, Harav Shaul Yedidya Taub.

Zechuso yagein aleinu


 

Jan. 13

In 1794, President George Washington approved a measure adding two stars and two stripes to the American flag, following the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union. (The number of stripes was later reduced to the original 13.)

In 1898, Emile Zola’s famous defense of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, “J’accuse,” was published in Paris.

In 1915, a magnitude-7 earthquake centered in Avezzano, Italy, claimed some 30,000 lives.

In 1941, a new law went into effect granting Puerto Ricans U.S. birthright citizenship.

In 1990, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the nation’s first elected black governor as he took the oath of office in Richmond.

In 2000, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates stepped aside as chief executive and promoted company president Steve Ballmer to the position.