This Day in History – 26 Iyar/May 31

26 Iyar

In 5130/1370, hundreds of Jews were massacred in Brussels, Belgium. Hy”d.

In 5705/1945, the Nazis finally surrendered to the Allies.

In 5726/1967, the Six-Day War broke out. The nations of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria attacked Eretz Yisrael.

Yahrtzeiten

4702, Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon, zt”l

5611/1851, Harav Yitzchak of Volozhin, zt”l, the son of Harav Chaim of Volozhin

5705/1945, Harav Shlomo Goldman of Zhvil, zt”l


5507/1747

Harav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the Ramchal, Zt”l

Harav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, known by the acronym of his name, Ramchal, was a philosopher, Kabbalist and ethicist.

The Ramchal was born in Padua, Italy, in 1707/5467. At a very early age, he began to study Kabbalah under the tutelage of Harav Moshe Zacuto, zt”l, one of the foremost mekubalim of his generation. He quickly became known for his vast Torah knowledge and beautiful literary style. It is said that by age 14, he already knew the entire Talmud and Midrash by heart. While still in his twenties, he authored numerous works of Torah scholarship, including Derech Hashem, a systematic exposition of the fundamentals of Judaism.

The Ramchal left his native Italy in 1735/5495 and went into business as a diamond cutter in Amsterdam. His fame eventually caught up with him, and in 1740/ 5500, he published his most famous work, Mesillas Yesharim, which outlines a step-by-step process of attaining spiritual perfection. It has become a classical work of mussar that is still studied today. He also wrote Daas Tevunos and Pis’chei Chochmah.

Like many other great men of his age, the Ramchal longed to settle in Eretz Yisrael, and in 5503/1743 he traveled to Acco. He did not merit to live there too long, as only four years later, on 26 Iyar 5507/1747, at the age of 40, he and his entire family died in a terrible plague.

He is buried on a hillside in Teveria, next to the kever of Rabi Akiva.

The Vilna Gaon declared that the Ramchal had the most profound understanding of Yiddishkeit that any mortal human could attain. He furthermore stated that if Ramchal were alive in his generation, he would go by foot from Vilna to Italy to sit at his feet and learn from him.

There is an interesting mesorah that the Ramchal was a gilgul of Rabi Akiva. The two are buried right next to each other and the Ramchal was niftar when he was 40; it is said to make up for the first 40 years of Rabi Akiva’s life, before he began to learn Torah.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


May 24

In 1830, the first passenger railroad service in the U.S. began service.

In 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse transmitted the message “What hath G-d wrought” from Washington to Baltimore as he formally opened America’s first telegraph line.

In 1937, in a set of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Social Security Act of 1935.

In 1962, astronaut Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Aurora 7.