This Day in History – 26 Tishrei/October 20

Shaar blatt of the first edition of Toldos Aharon.
Shaar blatt of the first edition of Toldos Aharon.

5587/1826, Harav Asher of Stolin, zt”l, son of Harav Aharon Hagadol of Karlin

5694/1933, Harav Dovid Shapiro of Sonik-Dinov, zt”l


5577/1816, Harav Aharon of Zhitomir, zt”l, mechaber of Toldos Aharon

Harav Aharon of Zhitomir, son of Harav Mordechai, was recognized at a young age as a talmid chacham. He supported himself by working, rather than by assuming a Rabbinical position. He gave fiery drashos to be mechazek limud haTorah.

In the shaar of his sefer, Toldos Aharon, he is identified as one of the leading talmidim of Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. After the petirah of Harav Zev Wolf of Zhitomir, the Ohr Hameir, Harav Levi Yitzchak appointed Reb Aharon as his successor. Reb Levi Yitzchak warned the community of Zhitomir to heed his every word.

The Ohev Yisrael of Apta, zy”a, Harav Yisrael of Pikov, zy”a, son of Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, and Harav Mordechai of Chernobyl, zy”a, all wrote warm haskamos to Toldos Aharon, attesting to the great tzidkus and high madreigos of its mechaber. Reb Aharon was considered a k’dosh elyon.

He was the maggid in Zhitomir for three years, then moved to Hungary, where he was active in spreading Toras Hachassidus, especially in the cities of Krali and Ashver where he lived. His drashos brought people to teshuvah. Some listeners became his Chassidim.

Harav Aharon was niftar on 26 Tishrei, a day after the yahrtzeit of his Rebbe, Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, and buried in Zhitomir.

When his talmidim saw that his end was near, they began to cry.

“Why are you crying?” Reb Aharon asked them. “The end of every person is death.”

“How can we not cry when our Rebbe is leaving us?” they answered. “We will be left a flock without a shepherd. The other tzaddikim of the generation are more hidden in their avodas Hashem, unlike our Rebbe, to whose derech in avodas Hashem we have become accustomed.”

“Know,” said Reb Aharon, “that before Moshiach comes there will be tzaddikim who will be greater than me, and with what they do, they will be meyached more yichudim than we accomplished, even with our learning and davening!”

One of his closest talmidim, Harav Levi of Zhitomir, wrote down his divrei Torah after every Shabbos and Yom Tov. Reb Aharon himself edited these notes. Toldos Aharon was first printed in Berditchev, shortly after his petirah in 5577, by his son-in-law Rav Mordechai and Rav Mordechai’s father, the nagid Reb Yakir Shimshon of Zhitomir. Other divrei Torah of Reb Aharon are printed in Pisgamin Kaddishin.


October 20

In 1714, the coronation of Britain’s King George I took place in Westminster Abbey.

In 1803, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1936, Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, died in Forest Hills, New York, at age 70.

In 1944, during World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore at Leyte in the Philippines, 2 1/2 years after saying “I shall return.”

The Guatemala Revolution took place as student and military leaders overthrew the military dictatorship.

In 1964, the 31st president of the U.S., Herbert C. Hoover, died in New York at age 90.

In 1967, seven men were convicted in Meridian, Mississippi, of violating the civil rights of three slain civil rights workers.

In 1973, in the “Saturday Night Massacre,” Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox was dismissed and Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William B. Ruckelshaus resigned.

In 2011, Moammar Gadhafi, 69, Libya’s dictator for 42 years, was killed.