This Day In History 25 Av/August 29

25 Av

In 5567/1807, many Jews of Copenhagen were killed when the British bombarded the city during the Anglo-Russian War that raged between 1807 and 1812. Hy”d.

In 5704/1944, the Amsterdam hideout which housed Anne Frank, Hy”d, was discovered by the Nazis.


5359/1599, Harav Yeshayahu Menachem of Cracow, zt”l, mechaber of Be’Urim Kabdu es Hashem

5591/1831, Harav Avraham Chaim Horowitz of Linsk, zt”l

5739/1979, Harav Shmuel Baruch Eliezrov, zt”l, mechaber of Dvar Shmuel

5754/1994, Harav Moshe Hager of Antiniya-Bnei Brak, zt”l


Harav Yaakov Meshulem Orenstein, zt”l, mechaber of Yeshuos Yaakov

The Yeshuos Yaakov was born about 5530/1770. His father was Harav Mordechai Zev, a noted mekubal and the Rav of Alesk; he and his Rebbetzin were both descendants of the Chacham Tzvi.

Harav Mordechai was niftar when Yaakov Meshulem was still a bachur. Soon after being orphaned, Yaakov Meshulem got engaged to the granddaughter of the renowned Rav Naftali Tzvi of Yarislav. After the chasunah he moved into his father-in-law’s house where he continued to grow in Torah.

In 5561/1801, Harav Yaakov Meshulem was asked to fill the Rabbinical vacancy in the city of Zalkava and its environs, replacing Harav Tzvi Hersh Meiseles, zt”l.

After the petirah of Harav Tzvi Hersh Rosen, zt”l, mechaber of Teisha Shittos, in 5580/1820, Harav Yaakov Meshulem was called to replace him as Rav in Lvov (Lemberg). There he was able to disseminate Torah on a large scale, attracting many talmidim.

In 5569/1809, Harav Yaakov Meshulem published Yeshuos Yaakov, a peirush on all four parts of Shulchan Aruch. It became the sefer of choice among contemporary scholars. In it Harav Yaakov Meshulem solves the most difficult problems in halachah, using his ability in pilpul and iyun. The Divrei Chaim of Sanz, zt”l, said that all the sefarim up to and including Yeshuos Yaakov were written with ruach hakodesh.

The Yeshuos Yaakov had an open home and an open heart for whoever was in need and was fully involved with community matters. He fought the Haskalah (“enlightenment”) movement that threatened the existence of Torah-true Yiddishkeit. Under his leadership it did not become firmly rooted during his lifetime.

At one point the maskilim wished to negotiate with him so they could come to a compromise. The Yeshuos Yaakov adamantly refused, claiming that compromising with haskalah is equivalent to compromising on the Shema Yisrael and other fundamentals of Yiddishkeit.

The Yeshuos Yaakov had a son, Mordechai Zev, whom he cherished. In his sefarim he frequently quotes his son’s chiddushim. This son became deathly ill in his prime. During his illness the Yeshuos Yaakov davened intensely and did all in his power to invoke Heavenly mercy, but his son was tragically niftar on 17 Cheshvan 5597/1836.

Harav Yaakov Meshulem was beside himself. During the hesped he interpreted a maamar Chazal that states that when a father eulogizes a son, the sun becomes defective. As he uttered those words, sudden torrential rains came pouring down, as if the skies literally agreed with that pshat.

After this event, the Yeshuos Yaakov knew no peace as he lamented his beloved son, and close to three years later he himself was niftar and was buried in Lvov.

The Yeshuos Yaakov was considered one of the leaders of his generation, along with such greats as the Chasam Sofer. The Chasam Sofer held the Yeshuos Yaakov in the highest esteem, and delivered a tearful hesped upon his petirah. (The hesped is printed in Drashos Chasam Sofer; the date mentioned there, 25 Av, was used to determine when to observe the yahrtzeit; others seemed to have erred, asserting that it was 21 Av.)

Yehi zichro baruch.

Aug. 29

In 1828, a patent was issued to Robert Turner for the self-regulating wagon brake.

In 1833, the “Factory Act” was passed in England to settle child labor laws.

In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was signed by the British and the Chinese. The treaty ended the first Opium War and gave the island of Hong Kong to Britain.

In 1965, Gemini 5, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles “Pete” Conrad, splashed down in the Atlantic after eight days in space.