This Day in History – 27 Av/August 8

In 5628/1868, S. A. Bierfield was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in Franklin, Tennessee, the first such incident involving a Jew.


5408/1648, Harav Yehoshua Charif of Cracow, the Maginei Shlomo, zt”l

5615/1855, Harav Avraham Mordechai Alter, zt”l, son of the Chiddushei Harim and father of the Sfas Emes

5729/1969, Harav Menachem Shlomo Borenstein, Rebbe of Sochatchov, zy”a

5757/1997, Harav Shmuel Tzvi Hersh Horowitz (Reb Hershele), zy”a, Rebbe of Spinka

5702/1942, Harav Yehudah Petayah, zt”l, Noted Mekubal, Author of Numerous Sifrei Kabbalah

Harav Yehudah Petayah was born on 2 Shevat 5619/1859 in Baghdad. His father was Harav Moshe Yeshuah.

He learned in Baghdad’s Medrash Talmud Torah, founded by Harav Abdallah Somech, zt”l. It developed rapidly to become the top Torah institution in the city, where over three thousand students studied free of charge. Among those who learned there were Harav Eliyahu Mani (the Chief Rav of Chevron), the Ben Ish Chai and Harav Salman Mutzafi, zecher tzaddikim livrachah.

From Medrash Talmud Torah, Rav Yehudah proceeded to its adult division, Beit Zilcha, where he became one of the finest students. He learned under the Ben Ish Chai and under the famed mekubal Harav Shimon Agassi, zt”l, author of Shem MiShimon.

At 17, he received semichah from Harav Abdallah Somech, zt”l.

Rav Yehudah delved in the works of Kabbalah, and was famous in Baghdad and later in Yerushalayim for being the uncontested master of the area of kameyos (amulets) and their writing.

Rav Yehudah visited Eretz Yisrael three times: in 5665/1905, in 5683/1923 and in 5694/1934, when he finally settled in Yerushalayim until his petirah.

A leading Kabbalist, Rav Yehudah authored many works of Kabbalah among which three are well known: Yayin Harekach, Minchas Yehudah and Beis Lechem Yehudah. The first is a commentary on the two Idras of the Zohar, the second incorporates Kabbalistic interpretation of Tanach through his encounter with spirits, while the third, his major work, is the authoritative commentary on Etz Chaim of Harav Chaim Vital, zt”l.

He was known for the tikkunim he would give to people and for his interpretations of dreams.

Of his many talmidim, notable are Harav Salman Mutzafi, zt”l, and Harav Yehoshua Moshe, zt”l.

He was niftar at the age of 83 on 27 Av 5702/1942 and buried on Har Hazeisim.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

August 8

In 1911, President William Howard Taft signed a measure raising the number of U.S. representatives from 391 to 433, with a proviso to add two more when New Mexico and Arizona became states.

In 1945, President Truman signed the United Nations Charter.

In 1953, the United States and South Korea initialed a mutual security pact.

In 1968, Richard M. Nixon was nominated for president at the Republican national convention in Miami Beach.

In 1974, President Nixon announced he would resign following new damaging revelations in the Watergate scandal.