This Day in History – 24 Teves/January 1

A ksav yad of the Baal HaTanya

24 Teves

In 5471/1711, a fire that started in the home of Harav Naftali Katz, the Semichas Chachamim who was at the time Rav of Frankfort-am-Main, nearly destroyed the entire Jewish ghetto.

In 5612/1852, the first hospital in America under Jewish direction, Mount Sinai Hospital, was founded in New York.


5479/1719, Harav Naftali Katz, zt”l, the Semichas Chachamim

5572/1812, Harav Yosef of Yampula, zy”a, son of the Zlotchover Maggid

5612/1852, Harav Meir Eisenstadt, zt”l, mechaber of Maharam Ash

5686/1926, Harav Shmuel, Rebbe of Sochatchov, zy”a, the Shem miShmuel

5708/1948, Harav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer, zt”l, the Divrei Sofer

5714/1953, Harav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, zt”l, mechaber of Michtav Me’Eliyahu

5747/1987, Harav Moshe Mordechai Biderman, zy”a, the Lelover Rebbe.


Harav Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Zt”l, the Baal HaTanya

Harav Schneur Zalman of Liadi — also known as The Alter Rebbe, Baal HaTanya, and The Rav — was born in the White Russian town of Liozna in 5505/1745. His father was Reb Baruch of Liozna, a descendant of the Maharal of Prague; he married Shterna, the daughter of Reb Yehuda Leib Segal, a naggid in Vitebsk.

In 5524/1764 he traveled to Mezeritch to study under the Baal Shem Tov’s successor, Harav Dov Ber, zt”l. He also learned under Harav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and Harav Pinchas of Koritz, zechusam yagen aleinu.

In 5527/1767, he became the Maggid in Liozna, a post he held for the next 35 years until he moved to Liadi after his second arrest and liberation.

When Rav Schneur Zalman was barely 25 years old, he wrote the Shulchan Aruch Harav.

In 5537/1777, Harav Schneur Zalman founded the Chabad court.

For 20 years he labored on the Tanya, in which he outlined the Chabad philosophy and ethos. Soon his influence spread throughout White Russia and Lithuania.

In 5558/1798 Rav Schneur Zalman and some of his leading Chassidim were denounced to the Russian authorities in Petersburg as traitors to the Tsar. The fact that he collected funds for the needy in Eretz Yisrael (then part of the Turkish empire) was “evidence” that he was an “enemy” of Russia.

After Simchas Torah 5559/1798, the Rebbe was arrested and imprisoned in Petersburg. He was eventually found innocent, and was released on 19 Kislev.

However, false charges were again brought to the authorities. This time the ordeal took over nine months. Tsar Paul was murdered and his son Tsar Alexander the First ordered the case dismissed. At that point the Rebbe moved to Liadi.

In 5572/1812 Rav Schneur Zalman fled the approach of Napoleon’s armies, which were advancing through White Russia (the Rebbe supported the Tsar in the war against Napoleon). After many weeks of wandering, he arrived, in the dead of winter, in the town of Pyena. There he fell ill and, on 24 Teves, he was niftar.

He was succeeded by his son, Harav Dov Ber, zt”l.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

5714/1953, Harav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, the Michtav MeEliyahu, Zt”l

Dessler was born in the town of Homil, Russia, in 5652/1892. His father, Harav Reuven Dov Dessler, was a close talmid of Harav Simchah Zissel Ziv, zt”l, known as the Alter of Kelm; his mother was a descendant of Harav Yisrael Salanter, zt”l.

Even though Harav Reuven Dov was a noted talmid chacham, he refused to accept any Rabbanus. Instead, he toiled a few hours a day for a living, while he devoted every other free moment to learning Torah and serving Hashem.

Young Eliyahu was taught by his father, and excelled in Torah at a very young age. At the tender age of 13, he was sent off to the renowned Kelm Talmud Torah, where he spent many years. His primary Rebbeim were his father; Harav Tzvi Hirsch Broide, zt”l; and his future father-in-law, Harav Nachum Zev Ziv, zt”l, son of Harav Simchah Zissel.

During WWI, he fled back home to Homil, where for a while he continued learning in a temporary yeshivah set up by his father for the fleeing bachurim. In 5678/1918, he returned to Kelm, and a year later he married the daughter of Harav Nachum Zev Ziv.

In 5687/1927, he accepted the Rabbanus of a beis knesses in London. Eventually, he was asked to serve as Rav in a more prominent kehillah and was also put in charge of the Jewish day school.

At the outbreak of WWII, Rav Eliyahu’s wife and daughter were visiting their son who was learning at the time in Lithuania. Miraculously, they were saved — his son fled to America, and his wife and daughter to Australia. Setting aside his own tzaar at that time, Rav Eliyahu’s concern for others knew no bounds. He felt that he had survived for a reason, and the reason was to encourage, revive and rebuild.

In the middle of the war, in 5701/1941, he was called upon to head a kollel in Gateshead. He did so with utmost devotion, while traveling at intervals to London to deliver shiurim and shmuessen to his talmidim, while at the same time tending to the financial responsibilities of the kollel. Eventually, the kollel become a network of mosdos, which flourished greatly.

In 5708/1948, he moved to Eretz Yisrael to became Mashgiach in Yeshivas Ponovez. He delivered at least three in-depth shmuessen a week, while continuing to travel to England to keep up with his mosdos. He is best remembered for his legendary shmuessen and in-depth discussions on countless topics.

In 5711/1951, his Rebbetzin passed away. In 5713/1953, he contracted a foot ailment from which he was ultimately niftar. His thoughts are published in the multi-volume Michtav MeEliyahu.

Jan. 1

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states shall be “forever free.”

In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.

In 1984, the breakup of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.

In 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two new countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect.