This Day in History – 3 Iyar/May 11

In 5316/1556, Portuguese conversos (“marranos” or “anusim”) who had reverted to Judaism were burned at the stake in Ancona, Italy, by order of the pope. The atrocity of Ancona led the famous Dona Gracia of the House of Nasi to spearhead a boycott against the port of Ancona as a countermeasure to the pope’s repressive policies.


5505/1745, Harav Leib Pistiner of Kolomai, zt”l, a talmid of the Besht

5539/1779, Harav Dov Ber of Zamutch, zt”l

5593/1833, Harav Aryeh Leib Tzintz of Plotzk, zt”l

5685/1925, Harav Yeshayah Steiner of Kerestir, zt”l

5765/2005, Harav Abba Mordechai Berman, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Iyun HaTalmud

Harav Abba Mordechai Berman was born on Tu BiShvat 5679/1919 in Lodz. His father was Harav Shaul Yosef, a descendant of the Kli Yakar and a leading talmid of the Chofetz Chaim.

The child’s abilities were evident when he was young. On a visit to the Chofetz Chaim, he was tested on perek Hamafkid in Bava Metzia. “Keep him hidden,” the Chofetz Chaim told the boy’s father. After his son’s bar mitzvah, Rav Shaul Yosef sent him to Yeshivas Mir.

At the Mir, Reb Abba became one of the closest talmidim of Harav Yerucham, zt”l. Once Harav Yerucham declared, “If I had 10 Abba Lodzers [talmidim were called by their hometowns] in the yeshivah, I would not have to do anything to promote ­chizuk for years at a time.” Reb Abba remained with the yeshivah in Shanghai, where he learned with Harav Nachum Partzovitz, zt”l.

After World War II, Reb Abba arrived in America, where he was among the founders of Yeshivas Mir-Brooklyn. Later he went on to Eretz Yisrael, where he founded Yeshivas Iyun HaTalmud in Bnei Brak. He and his yeshivah moved many times over 40 years: to Bnei Brak, Far Rockaway, Monsey, Yerushalayim, and Kiryat Sefer.

In his shiurim, he devoted himself to paving a smooth course for understanding each and every sugya. His vast knowledge and warmth drew bnei aliyah to him.

Reb Abba spent his last 25 years in Eretz Yisrael, where he had always longed to be. His final place of residence was Kiryat Sefer.

On 3 Iyar 5765/2005, Rav Abba Mordechai Berman was niftar at the age of 86 and buried on Har Hamenuchos in Yerushalayim.

His shiurim, published in five volumes, reveal his depth, straight thinking and clear chiddushim. His shiurim on Kodshim are considered a basic resource.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

May 11

In 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state of the Union.

In 1946, the first CARE packages, sent by American charities to provide relief to the hungry of postwar Europe, arrived at Le Havre, France.

In 1960, Israeli agents captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 1973, all charges were dismissed against Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo (“The Pentagon Papers”).