This Day In History 23 Teves/January 10

In 5465/1705, “Purim Sharif” was established in Tripoli, Libya, to commemorate deliverance from Ibraham A-Sharif. The cruel dictator who had laid siege to the town suddenly and miraculously died. With his death, the siege ended, and the town’s citizens were saved. It was also commonly known as “Purim Kedivna”, the False Purim, to distinguish it from the regular Purim.


5500/1740, Harav Yaakov Hakohen Paperash, zt”l, mechaber of Shov Yaakov

5525/1765, Harav Yitzchak Zerachya Azoulai, zt”l, father of the Chida

5761/2001, Harav Mordechai Gifter, Zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah, Telshe, Cleveland

Harav Mordechai Gifter was born on 7 Cheshvan, 5674/1913, in Portsmouth, West Virginia. While he was still a child, the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland.

In the early 1920s, there was no full-time Jewish day school in Baltimore, so Rav Gifter attended public school in the mornings and a Talmud Torah in the afternoons.

Soon after his bar mitzvah, he travelled to New York to learn in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. Due to his unusual capabilities and diligence, he eventually was promoted to the highest shiur, given by the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Moshe Soloveitchik, zt”l.

Afterwards, he traveled to Lithuania to learn in the Telshe Yeshivah. He would emotionally recount the scene that he beheld the first time he entered the beis medrash — hundreds of students so completely immersed in their learning that not even one talmid picked up his head to see who had entered.

In Telshe, his every waking hour was utilized for Torah study.

After learning in Telshe for a number of years, a shidduch was proposed between him and the daughter of Harav Zalman Bloch, Hy”d, the Dayan of the town, who was Mashgiach of the yeshivah and the brother of the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Avraham Yitzchak Bloch, Hy”d.

In 1939, prior to the wedding, he traveled home for what was meant to be a short visit. However, as the war clouds gathered over Europe, Rav Gifter realized he could not return. After he worked vigorously to obtain a visa for his kallah, she arrived in America; they were married in 1940.

After the chasunah he became Rav of a shul in Baltimore, and later in Waterbury, Connecticut. Eventually, he was called by his uncles Harav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zt”l, and Harav Chaim Mordechai Katz, zt”l, who had by then escaped war-torn Europe, to join them in rebuilding the Telshe Yeshiva of Europe in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rav Gifter was a model of ameilus baTorah to his talmidim. There was no part of Torah, be it Talmud, halachah or aggadah that he was not familiar with. He was one of Torah Jewry’s most eloquent spokesmen.

At the end of 5737/1977, Rav Gifter moved to Eretz Yisrael to head the new branch of the Telshe Yeshivah in Telshe-Stone, near Yerushalayim. Almost two years later, he was called back to Cleveland to head the yeshivah after the passing of the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Baruch Sorotzkin, zt”l.

Upon their return to Cleveland, the Gifters did not move back into their house, but into a small room in the yeshivah dormitory. Rav Gifter declared that since his entire stay in the galus of chutz la’aretz was temporary, as he anticipated the imminent arrival of Moshiach, a small dormitory room would suffice.

He lived in the dormitory until the progressive illness that struck him in the last years of his life and the constant medical care it necessitated made it impossible for him to remain there.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Jan. 10

In 1863, the London Underground had its beginnings as the Metropolitan, the world’s first underground passenger railway, opened to the public with service between Paddington and Farringdon Street.

In 1920, the League of Nations was established as the Treaty of Versailles went into effect.

In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his State of the Union address, asked Congress to impose a surcharge on both corporate and individual income taxes to help pay for his “Great Society” programs as well as the war in Vietnam.

In 1984, the United States and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations for the first time in more than a century.