23 Adar II
In 2449/1312 B.C.E., Bnei Yisrael began building the Mishkan. The construction of the Mishkan was completed on 25 Kislev, but Hashem’s command to erect the edifice came only three months later, on 23 Adar, when Moshe was instructed to begin a 7-day training period.
In 5088/1328, the Jews of Estella, Spain, were massacred. Hy”d.
5626/1866, Harav Yitzchak Meir Alter, zt”l, the Chiddushei Harim
5659/1899, Harav Refael Shapira of Volozhin, zt”l, mechaber of Toras Refael (Adar II)
5665/1905, Harav Yitzchak Yaakov of Biala, zt”l, the Divrei Binah
5754/1994, Harav Aharon Zilberfarb of Koidenov, zt”l
Harav Chaim Chaikel Of Amdur, zt”l
Harav Chaim Chaika (Chaikel) Levin was the son of Harav Shmuel. The family descended from many leading Rabbanim.
In his youth, Reb Chaikel was known as a genius in learning and an outstanding masmid. He was a talmid of the Vilna Gaon. He would often fast, at times from Shabbos to Shabbos, and undergo other afflictions in his striving to reach shleimus in avodas Hashem.
Drawn to the ways of Chassidus, he became a Chassid of the Mezritcher Maggid, zy”a. The Maggid spoke of Reb Chaikel even before he came to Mezritch, telling his Chassidim that there was a menorah in Amdura that was lacking only the match to light it.
How did it happen that he became a Chassid? The Mezritcher Maggid once told his close Chassid, Reb Aharon of Karlin, when he took his leave, to return with “good merchandise.” When Reb Aharon chanced upon Reb Chaikel, he understood that this was what the Rebbe was referring to.
Reb Aharon met Reb Chaikel and asked him why he didn’t learn Torah lishmah. Reb Chaikel answered in surprise, “But how am I learning — not lishmah?” Reb Aharon responded, “If so, you are making the Tanna Rabi Meir a liar.” (This was a reference to the Mishnah that one who learns Torah lishmah receives many good things; since Reb Chaikel didn’t have all the things mentioned by Rabi Meir in the Mishnah, he was effectively refuting Rabi Meir.)
Reb Aharon walked away, but Reb Chaikel ran after him and asked him how one reached the level of learning Torah lishmah. Reb Aharon said that he himself didn’t know the answer, adding that if Reb Chaikel would like to find out, he should travel to his Rebbe in Mezritch and ask him.
Together they returned to Mezritch, where Reb Chaikel became a devoted Chassid of the Maggid.
Joining the camp of the Chassidim, however, stirred up strong opposition against him. The cherem of 5541/1781 was directed primarily against him, because the people of Amdur wanted him to leave the city. Though other chassidic masters such as Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Reb Shlomo of Karlin were forced to leave Lithuanian cities, Reb Chaikel stayed on in Amdur, between Vilna and Brisk, where he drew many others to Chassidus.
After the petirah of the Maggid, the Chassidim wanted Reb Chaikel to be their Rebbe, but he refused.
On Tuesday, 23 Adar 5547/1787, just two days after the petirah of his close colleague, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, Reb Chaikel was niftar. He was buried in Amdur.
He was survived by his sons — Harav Dov Ber, who was niftar childless, l”a, and Harav Shmuel, son-in-law of Harav Aharon of Zelichov. His own son-in-law was Harav Nosson of Makova, a leading talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin.
For many years, Reb Chaikel’s divrei Torah remained in manuscript form and were not published until 5651/1891, more than 100 years after his petirah. When his sefer was finally published with the name Chaim Vachessed, it received many warm haskamos from the leading Gedolim of that era, many with no connection to Chassidus.
Zechuso yagen aleinu.
In 1306, Robert the Bruce was crowned the King of Scots.
In 1634, English colonists sent by Lord Baltimore arrived in present-day Maryland.
In 1776, Gen. George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, was awarded the first Congressional Gold Medal by the Continental Congress.
In 1865, during the Civil War, Confederate forces attacked Fort Stedman in Virginia but were forced to withdraw because of counterattacking Union troops.
In 1911, 146 people, mostly young female immigrants, were killed when fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. in New York.
In 1924, the Second Hellenic Republic was proclaimed in Greece.
In 1947, a coal mine explosion in Centralia, Ill., claimed 111 lives.
In 1964, an acre of Runnymede in Surrey, England, was set aside by the British government as the site of a memorial to honor the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
In 1975, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot to death by a nephew with a history of mental illness. (The nephew was beheaded in June 1975.)