This Day in History – 24 Shevat/February 13

In 3409/352 B.C.E, the Word of Hashem came to the Navi Zechariah (Ben Ido, the colleague of Chaggai and Malachi), saying, “I have returned to Yerushalayim with mercy, my home will be rebuilt in it…”

Zechariah Hanavi goes on to rebuke Klal Yisrael for failing to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash after King Daryavesh gave them permission. He encourages the Yidden to go ahead and begin building the Beis Hamikdash and describes the better times that lie ahead: “Hashem will have mercy on Tzion once again, and He will choose Yerushalayim once again.”

Subsequently, he continues to prophesy about what will happen until the end of days. The well-known haftarahRani v’simchi bas Tzion” (read on Shabbos Chanukah and Shabbos Behaalos’cha) is a continuation of this nevuah.

In 5539/1779, the Duke of Stuttgart, Germany, decreed that no Jew should be deprived of the right of residence.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5490/1730, Harav Avraham Yechiel of Halberstadt, zt”l, mechaber of Nezer Hakodesh

5565/1805, Harav Shlomo Margulies, zt”l, Rav of Zelitchek


 

5420/1660, Harav Shaul Levi Morteira of Amsterdam, zt”l, mechaber of Givas Shaul

Harav Shaul Levi Morteira was born in Venice, c. 5356/1596. His father, Rav Yosef, was a Spanish converso.

In c. 5372/1612, at the age of 15, he moved to Paris together with Harav Eliyahu da Luna Montalto, the doctor of the Duke of Tuscany. At the request of the duke’s daughter, Marie d’Medici, who married King Henri IV of France, Rav Eliyahu moved to Paris. He too was a converso, but at that time he was permitted to live freely as a Jew, a privilege granted him as the royal physician.

In 5376/1616 Rav Shaul escorted the body of Rav Eliyahu Montalto from France for burial in Amsterdam, together with the son of Rav Eliyahu. At that time Rav Shaul made a positive impression on the city of Amsterdam, and the Sephardic community Beit Yaakov elected him as their leader. He gave a drashah every Shabbos, and was Rosh Yeshivah there.

In 5379/1639, the three kehillos of Amsterdam united: the Sephardic Beit Yaakov; Neveh Hashalom, also Sephardic; and the Ashkenazic Beis Yisrael. Rav Shaul was appointed Rav and Rosh Beis Din.

He founded Yeshivas Eitz Chaim, which attracted many of the leading bachurim.

Unfortunately, Rav Shaul did not live out his life in peace and tranquility. He was subject to a few disputes, and was forced to open a new yeshivah, Kesser Torah.

Rav Shaul delivered over 1,400 drashos, and his talmidim published a number of them under the name Givas Shaul. The sefer was published during his lifetime, and included his portrait.

On 24 Shevat (some record it as 25 Shevat) 5420/1660, Rav Shaul was niftar.

It is known that he had a son, Rav Dovid, who was active on behalf of Yeshivas Kesser Torah. A son-in-law, Rav Yeshayah Pardo, is also mentioned.

Besides Givas Shaul, Rav Shaul also wrote She’eiris Hanefesh, on the eternal nature of the soul, and Toras Moshe Emes, philosophical discussions. He authored works in Spanish which, though never printed, were a source of chizuk to the Marrano community.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


 

Feb. 13

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was officially declared winner of the 1860 presidential election as electors cast their ballots.

In 1920, the League of Nations recognized the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.

In 1939, Justice Louis D. Brandeis retired from the U.S. Supreme Court. (William O. Douglas succeeded him.)

In 1945, during World War II, Allied planes began bombing the German city of Dresden. The Soviets captured Budapest, Hungary, from the Germans.

In 1965, during the Vietnam War, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized Operation Rolling Thunder, an extended bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese.

In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, allied warplanes destroyed an underground shelter in Baghdad that had been identified as a military command center; Iraqi officials said 500 civilians were killed.