This Day in History – 23 Elul/September 23

In 1656, Noach opened the window of the teivah and dispatched the dove for the second time. “The dove came in to him in the evening, and in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off; and Noach knew that the waters were abated from off the earth” (Bereishis 8:11) (according to Rabi Eliezer).


5578/1818, Harav Yisrael of Pikov, zt”l, son of Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev

5586/1826, Harav Uri, the Saraf of Strelisk, zy”a

5634/1874, Harav Yosef Babad, zt”l, Rav of Tarnopol and mechaber of Minchas Chinuch

5702/1942, Harav Yitzchak Menachem Danziger, Alexander Rebbe, the Akeidas Yitzchak, Hy”d

5741/1981, Harav Yaakov Yitzchak Biderman of Lelov-Yerushalayim, Zy”a

On 23 Shevat 5667/1907 Harav Yaakov Yitzchak of Lelov was born in the Old City of Yerushalayim to Harav Shimon Nosson Nota of Lelov, zy”a, and Rebbetzin Chana Reitza, a”h. His grandfather, Harav Dovid Tzvi Shlomo, zy”a, the Lelover Rebbe at the time (known as “Reb Dovid’l”), named him Yaakov Yitzchok after the Chozeh of Lublin and the Yid Hakadosh of Peshischa, zechusam yagen aleinu.

When he was 8 years old, Rav Yaakov Yitzchak’s mother died of typhus. Soon after, Rav Shimon Nosson Nota had to flee the country to avoid conscription into the Ottoman Empire’s army, and the children, Rav Yaakov Yitzchak, his older brother Rav Moshe Mordechai, and his other siblings were taken in and raised by their loving grandfather, Reb Dovid’l.

In Elul of 5678/1918 Reb Dovid’l was niftar. A year later they went to join their father in Cracow, Poland.

In Cheshvan 5686/1925 he returned to Yerushalayim with the then 17-year-old Rav Yaakov Yitzchak, who was wed to the daughter of Harav Alter Chaim Halevi Shub Shifman, zt”l, mechaber of Yalkut Hachaim.

On Tzom Gedaliah 5690/1930 his father was niftar. The tzaddikim of his time, including Harav Shlomo of Zhvill, pressed him to serve as a Rebbe to Chassidim; so while his brother, Rav Moshe Mordechai, settled in Tel Aviv and led the chassidim from there, Rav Yaakov Yitzchak led his flock in Yerushalayim.

Rav Yaakov Yitzchak kept his avodah disguised as plain davening and learning, so that there was no hint of the existence of anything at all profound.

Rav Yaakov Yitzchak used to rise before dawn to prepare himself for davening. After immersing in the mikveh, he would learn Torah for a few hours.

The Rebbe couldn’t hide his ahavas Yisrael, maintaining the Lelover tradition of endless patience and compassion in listening to the troubles of every Jew, sharing in their pain and rejoicing in their simchos.

Throughout World War II, his home was open to all.

Although having needy Yidden visit his home disturbed his learning and avodah, he accepted it in order to benefit his fellow Jews.

The Rebbe’s self-denial and physical deprivation took their toll, and, for the last 10 years of his life, he was confined to bed. At midnight of 23 Elul, Harav Yaakov Yitzchok of Lelov-Yerushalayim departed this world. Miraculously, a plot was found next to his grandfather’s on Har Hazeisim, where no space had been seen before.

Sept. 23

In 1806, the Lewis and Clark expedition returned to St. Louis more than two years after setting out for the Pacific Northwest.

In 1846, Neptune was identified as a planet by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle.

In 1949, President Harry S. Truman announced there was evidence the Soviet Union had recently conducted a nuclear test explosion. (The test had been carried out on Aug. 29, 1949.)

In 1957, nine black students who had entered Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas were forced to withdraw because of a white mob outside.

In 1987, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), withdrew from the Democratic presidential race following questions about his use of borrowed quotations and the portrayal of his academic record.