This Day In History 3 Av/July 26

In 5408/1648, Chmielnicki’s Cossacks murdered Harav Shimshon of Ostropolia, together with 300 community members, and massacred 10,000 Jews in Polnoa (today in Ukraine), Hy”d.


Yahrtzeiten

5481/1721, Harav Shimshon Bachrach of Nicholsburg, zt”l, son of the Chavos Yair

5557/1797, Harav Shmuel Salir, zt”l, mechaber of Shem MiShmuel

5582/1822, Harav Yaakov Landau, zt”l, son of the Noda B’Yehudah

5701/1941, Harav Yitzchak Twersky, zy”a, Rebbe of Skver-Boro Park

5733/1973, Harav Eliyahu Moshe Shisgal, zt”l, son-in-law of Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l


5408/1648, Harav Shimshon of Ostropolia, Hy”d

Harav Shimshon was born c. 5360/1600. His father was Harav Pesach of the town of Koritz, son-in-law of Harav Shimshon of Kremnitz (brother of the Maharal). He learned Torah from his father and from Harav Nosson Nota Kahane, Rav of Ostraha, whom he refers to as his primary Rebbi.

He learned Kabbalah in his youth. A malach known as a maggid taught him many secrets of the Torah.

Harav Shimshon served as a Maggid Meisharim in the kehillah of Ostropolia, and was known far and wide as a holy person. Many complicated she’eilos were sent to him, and he was consulted about difficult problems. He would not respond to those inquiring about the concealed facets of Torah, claiming responsibility to preserve its kedushah.

Before the horrible massacres of Tach V’Tat (5408–09/1648–49), led by the infamous Bogdan Chmielnicki, Harav Shimshon told his community in fiery drashos that his malach revealed to him that grave gezeiros were in the offing; they must repent with intense fervor in order to prevent them. He delivered this message in all the surrounding towns and cities, and the Jews repented with all their hearts.

But, tragically, the gezeirah was already “sealed,” and thousands upon thousands perished in those years, Hy”d.

As the Cossacks made their way to Ostropolia, Harav Shimshon and 300 community members congregated in the shul, wearing tachrichim and talleisim, and began to daven with all their might. The resha’im arrived at the shul and killed all the kedoshim inside, murdering Harav Shimshon with a misah meshunah, Hy”d.

He was survived by his son, Harav Pesach, grandfather of Harav Yaakov Shimshon of Shepitivka, zt”l.

Many tzaddikim attested that the source of Harav Shimshon’s neshamah was Moshiach ben Yosef, who, say Chazal, is going to be killed.

Harav Shimshon composed Dan Yadin on Zohar, according to the teachings of the malach; but that sefer, among his others, is not available to us today. He also authored Likutei Shoshanim; and there are many divrei Torah attributed to him. There is also a famous letter, printed in machzorim, that many have the custom to recite on Erev Pesach.


July 26

In 1775, the Continental Congress established a Post Office and appointed Benjamin Franklin its postmaster-general.

In 1788, New York became the 11th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1945, Winston Churchill resigned as Britain’s prime minister.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act, which reorganized America’s armed forces as the National Military Establishment and created the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.