This Day In History 28 Elul/September 19

Fourth day of Creation; Hashem affixed the sun, moon and stars in the sky.

In 5468/1708, Peter the Great ordered 13 of his soldiers who had participated in anti-Jewish riots to be hanged.

In 5609/1849, the first shul was established in South Africa.

In 5661/1901, the village of Gedera, Eretz Yisrael, was attacked by Arabs.


Yahrtzeiten

2882/879 B.C.E., Shaul Hamelech and his three sons, who were killed in the war of Gilboa.

5334/1574, Harav Saadya, zt”l, father-in-law of Harav Chaim Vital.


5714/1954, Harav Chaim Yehuda Leib Auerbach, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Shaar Hashamayim

Harav Chaim Leib was born in 5647/1887, and grew up in Yerushalayim. At 18, he received semichah from Harav Chaim Berlin, zt”l, of Yerushalayim. In 5667/1907 he married the daughter of Harav Shlomo Zalman Porush, zt”l, one of the foremost askanim of Yerushalayim.

Reb Chaim Leib’s thirst for Torah was unquenchable. Even during his sheva brachos he learned all night with his brother-in-law Reb Akiva Porush. He became a devoted talmid of Harav Shimon Lider-Horowitz, zt”l, learning Toras hanistar from him.

One night he dreamed that the Arizal came to him, and complained that few Yidden learn his Torah, which has the power to redeem the Shechinah from galus. When he awoke he went to his Rebbi, Reb Shimon, whom, it turned out, had had that same dream. So Rebbi and talmid immediately set out to open a yeshivah for Toras Ha’Ari, which they called Yeshivas Shaar Hashamayim.

Reb Chaim Leib stood at the helm of the yeshivah his entire life.

During World War I, when threat of the draft hung over young Jewish men, Reb Chaim Leib acted with mesirus nefesh to save Yidden from serving in the Turkish army. He somehow obtained the title of ambassador for the Ethiopian embassy, and he issued Ethiopian citizenship for many Jews.

He was actually committing a great and obvious crime, obvious because Ethiopians are dark-skinned, and he issued the documents to mostly lighter-skinned Yerushalmi Jews. For months after the war, after he was officially sentenced to death as a traitor, he hid from the authorities.

Reb Chaim Leib was among the founders of the Chassidic beis medrash in Shaarei Chessed, and served as its Rav.

He raised money for his yeshivah with tremendous mesirus nefesh. At times he gave away every penny he had, and was left with nothing for his family.

The brachah he received from Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, is famous. Reb Yosef Chaim told him, “In the merit of all you do, you will have children who will light up Klal Yisrael with their Torah and yirah.”

Indeed, his son was none other than Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, and his sons-in-law were Harav Shalom Schwadron, zt”l, and Harav Simcha Bunim Leizerzohn, zt”l.

Reb Chaim Leib was niftar on 28 Elul 5714/1954.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


September 19

In 1777, the first Battle of Saratoga was fought during the Revolutionary War. Although British forces succeeded in driving out the American troops, the Americans prevailed in a second battle the following month.

In 1796, President George Washington’s farewell address was published. In it, America’s first chief executive advised, “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

In 1957, the United States conducted its first contained underground nuclear test, code-named “Rainier,” in the Nevada desert.

In 1982, the smiley emoticon was invented by Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman, who suggested punctuating humorously intended computer messages with a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis as a horizontal “smiley face.” 🙂