This Day in History – 23 Iyar/May 8

23 Iyar

In 2450, Bnei Yisrael arrived in Refidim. Moshe Rabbeinu struck the rock to provide water for the people.

In 3619, Shimon the Chashmonai expelled the Bnei Chakra from Yerushalayim.

The Chakra ([Greek] akra = fortress) was the fortress of Yerushalayim where the Greek garrison was entrenched. Even when Yehudah HaMaccabi captured Yerushalayim, he was unable to dislodge them, and the occupiers exerted a constant threat against the inhabitants of Yerushalayim. Only in the days of Shimon HaChashmonai was the Akra captured. The date was observed as a Yom Tov (see Megillas Taanis).

In 4856/1096 on this day, the Crusaders attacked the Jewish community of Vermeize (Worms). Almost the entire Jewish community hid in the home of a nobleman, but ultimately they perished al kiddush Hashem.

Even though their actual demise took place on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, today is considered the beginning of their slaughter. The community observed a taanis in memory of the victims, Hy”d; and the Shabbos between the two dates was called Shvartze Shabbos — “black Shabbos.” For that Shabbos the minhagim of Shabbos Chazon were adopted.

A special kinah, Mi Yiten Roshi Mayim, is recited on Tishah B’Av to commemorate the victims of the Vermeize community.


5573/1813

Harav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel, zy”a, Rav of Dinov

Harav Yehoshua Heschel was the son of Harav Aryeh Leib. The name Moshe was added later, presumably due to an illness.

Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel was the talmid of Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, zy”a, and Harav Moshe Leib of Sassov, zy”a. He was admired by the Rebbes of his generation. Among his Chassidim were Harav Tzvi Hirsh of Ziditchov, zy”a, and Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, the Bnei Yissaschar, zy”a, who attested that Eliyahu Hanavi came to him frequently, and that he was a baal ruach hakodesh.

Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel served as Av Beis Din of Dinov for twenty years, from about 5550/1790 until 5570/1810. In 5566/1806, Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, was one of the Dayanim on his Beis Din.

Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel was niftar on 23 Iyar, 5573/1813.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


May 8

In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River.

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman announced on the radio that Nazi Germany’s forces had surrendered, and that “the flags of freedom fly all over Europe.”

In 1996, South Africa took another step away from apartheid by adopting a constitution that guaranteed equal rights for blacks and whites.