This Day in History – 23 Shevat/January 24

23 Shevat

Today is a taanis tzaddikim commemorating the war that Bnei Yisrael waged against Shevet Binyamin, after the incident of Pilegesh Begiv’ah (Shoftim 19–21).

In 5057/1297, the Jews of Silesia were ordered to wear a special cap in public, to identify them as Jews.

In 5098/1338, Ralbag completed his Peirush al HaTorah.

In 5701/1941, the first transport of Polish Jews to concentration camps left Plotsk, Poland.

Polish Jews were barred by the Nazis from using public transportation.


5654/1894, Harav Yehoshua of Belz, zy”a

5690/1930, Harav Yitzchak Bokovza, zt”l, Rav in Tripoli, Libya

5694/1934, Harav Moshe Kliers of Teveria, zt”l



Harav Yaakov Chaim Yisrael Refael Alfiyiah, zt”l

Harav Yaakov Chaim Yisrael Refael Alfiyiah ben Harav Yitzchak was born in Aleppo, Syria, c. 5623/1863.

A talmid of Harav Mordechai Abadi, he was already recognized as a budding talmid chacham at a young age.

Rav Yaakov Chaim was known as an outstanding gaon, in both nigleh and in nistar. He was also famous for his drashos, and taught many talmidim.

In 5650/1890, he moved, together with his family, to Eretz Yisrael, where they settled in Yerushalayim. Rav Yaakov Chaim learned in the yeshivah of the mekubalim, Beit E-l.

Rav Yaakov Chaim suffered from many illnesses throughout his life, and was niftar on 23 Shevat 5683/1923. His son, Rav Yitzchak, published his father’s work Reiach L’Yitzchak, a compilation of many Torah topics from Kabbalah to chiddushim on Tanach and Shas, based on Kabbalah; the correct nuschaos for shtaros, and drashos that he delivered before tekias shofar, arousing the crowd to teshuvah. Other chiddushim of Rav Yaakov Chaim are still in manuscript form, including his famous correspondence with his rebbi, at the age of 17, in Maseches Me’ilah.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


January 24

In 1848, James Marshall found a gold nugget in the U.S. territory of California, touching off the Gold Rush of 1849.

In 1859, Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected ruler of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldova, which united and formed Romania.

In 1924, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in honor of the founder of the Soviet Union.

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill concluded a wartime conference in Casablanca, Morocco.

In 1946, the U.N. General Assembly voted to create the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission.

In 1972, the Supreme Court struck down laws that denied welfare benefits to people who have resided in a state for less than a year.

In 1973, Negotiator Henry Kissinger said the Vietnam peace agreement worked out in Paris also meant an end to fighting in Laos and Cambodia. Hanoi’s Le Duc Tho called the agreement “a great victory for the Vietnamese people.”

In 1978, a nuclear-powered Soviet satellite plunged through Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated, scattering radioactive debris over parts of northern Canada.

In 1985, the space shuttle Discovery was launched in NASA’s first secret military flight.

In 1986, guerrillas advanced into the Ugandan capital of Kampala as army opposition crumbled, pushing military government to the edge of collapse.

The Voyager 2 space probe swept past Uranus, coming within 81,542 kilometers (50,679 miles) of the seventh planet of the solar system.

In 1989, rescuers struggled against heavy smoke and toxic gas to reach at least 100 miners trapped inside a collapsed gold mine in southern Peru.

In 1995, in a move of uncertain efficacy, U.S. President Bill Clinton froze the American bank assets of suspected terrorist groups.

In 1998, the government of the Mexican state of Chiapas freed 300 prisoners as a way of opening talks with the indigenous rebels.

In 2000, after a 22-hour hostage standoff, Thai security forces stormed a hospital killing nine heavily armed insurgents from a Myanmar rebel group who had trapped hundreds of patients, visitors and staff.

In 2002, John Walker Lindh, a U.S. citizen captured
while fighting alongside Afghanistan’s deposed Taliban militia, appeared in U.S. District Court to face charges of conspiring to kill Americans and supporting terrorist groups.

In 2003, Former President Alberto Fujimori denied accusations by Peruvian human rights groups that he had a bank account in Japan that he used to hide embezzled government funds. Fujimori abandoned his office and fled to Tokyo in November 2000 amid a corruption scandal.