This Day in History – 28 Shevat/February 17

In 3598/163 B.C.E., Antiochus V (successor to Antiochus of the Chanukah story; this incident occurred about a year after Chanukah) abandoned his siege of Yerushalayim, and his plans for the city’s destruction were annulled. During the siege the Jews had suffered greatly, unable to move around freely except at night. Antiochus left for home in response to bad reports he had received from there; he was killed soon afterwards. The day is observed as a Yom Tov, as mentioned in Megillas Taanis.

In 4950/1190, the Jews of Norwich, England, were massacred.



5572/1812, Harav Dovid Zintzheim, zt”l, mechaber of Yad Dovid

5633/1873, Harav Aryeh Leib Natenzohn of Berzhan, zt”l, mechaber of Beis Kel

5739/1979, Harav Mordechai of Zhvil, zt”l

5765/2005, Harav Nesanel Quinn, zt”l, menahel ruchni of Yeshivah Torah Vodaath


5696/1936, Harav Menachem Nochum Twerski of Rachmastrivka, zy”a

Harav Menachem Nochum was born in 5600/1840, the third son of Harav Yochanan, the first Rebbe of Rachmastrivka, who was the son of Harav Mordechai of Chernobyl, who in turn was the son of the holy Meor Einayim, Harav Menachem Nochum of Chernobyl. His mother, Rebbetzin Chana, was a descendant of the Ohr Hameir. He married Chava, the daughter of Harav Zev Auerbach, who traced her lineage to Harav Yaakov Yosef of Polna’a, the Toldos Yaakov Yosef.

At the behest of his father, he acquired semichah from his uncle Harav Yitzchak of Skver (his father’s brother) and began traveling around to the villages and towns in the area of Rachmastrivka, Russia (present day Ukraine), to be mechazek the Chassidim. The Chassidim would come to him, each with his particular needs, and he would heap his blessings upon them, guiding and instructing them to the right path. His father wrote a letter to the people of the town of Sharigrad in which he said: “[he] is known to possess the light of chochmah and tevunah … he will listen in detail to your needs and will provide you a shefa of brachos…”

After his father was niftar in 5654/1896, he and his holy brothers mutually succeeded in leading the Chassidus in Rachmastrivka. During the Bolshevik Revolution, in 5679/1919, when the resha’im burned down the whole town of Rachmastrivka, Reb Nochum fled the town and settled in Smilow.

After a number of years, in 5684/1924, he ascended to Eretz Yisrael with his sons Harav Avraham Dov and Harav Dovid and his grandson, Harav Yochanan. His brother, Harav Velvel, arrived about a year later. He spent the last 10 years of his life in Yerushalayim.

Initially, he decided to desist from leading the Chassidim and serve Hashem without distraction, but the Chassidim of Yerushalayim recognized his greatness and would not hear of it. They flocked to his door relentlessly, and he provided them with whatever they were seeking. He was greatly esteemed by the leading Rebbes and Rabbanim of that time.

Shortly before his petirah, he assembled the Rabbanim of Yerushalayim and took leave of them with utmost clarity of mind. He is buried on Har Hazeisim.

In his tzavaah, he requested that his two sons, Harav Avraham Dov and Harav Dovid, should succeed him. The present-day Rachmastrivka Rebbe of America, shlita, and, lhb”l, the late Rachmastrivka Rebbe of Yerushalayim, zy”a, are great-grandchildren of Reb Nochum, sons of Reb Yochanan, the son of Reb Dovid who was the son of Reb Nochum.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Feb. 17

In 1815, the United States and Britain exchanged the instruments of ratification for the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.

In 1863, the International Red Cross was founded in Geneva.

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces invaded Eniwetok Atoll, encountering little initial resistance from Imperial Japanese troops. (The Americans secured the atoll less than a week later.)

In 1959, the United States launched Vanguard 2, a satellite that carried meteorological equipment.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon departed the White House with his wife, Pat, on a historic trip to China.

In 1985, Murray P. Haydon became the third person to receive a permanent artificial heart as doctors at Humana Hospital Audubon in Louisville, Kentucky, implanted the device. (He lived 488 days with the heart.)