This Day in History – 3 Shevat/January 23

In 4762/1012, Jews attending a levayah were attacked in Fostat, Egypt.

In 5693/1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany.


5696/1936, Harav Yosef Kalisch of Amshinov, zy”a

Harav Yosef was born in 5638/1878. His father was Harav Menachem of Amshinov, son of Harav Yaakov Dovid of Amshinov, who in turn was a son of Harav Yitzchak, the Rebbe of Vorka. On his deathbed, his grandfather, Harav Yaakov Dovid, told the family to name the new baby Yosef, and was then niftar before the bris took place.

The young Reb Yossele was acknowledged to be a phenomenal genius. He received semichah from the Chelkas Yoav of Kinsk and the gaon Harav Eliyahu Chaim Meisels of Lodz. He married the daughter of Harav Chaim Elazar Waks, author of Nefesh Chayah and son-in-law of Harav Yehoshua’le Trunk of Kutno.

Once his father, Harav Menachem, was in the resort town of Marienbad with his two sons, Reb Yosef and Reb Shimon. The Ohr Same’ach, Harav Meir Simchah of Dvinsk, was also there at the time and was very impressed with Reb Menachem’s sons. He later gave heter horaah to Reb Yossele and commented at that time that he had never met a young lad as expert as he in the laws of Shabbos.

At the age of 27, Reb Yosef was appointed Rav of Ostrova. When his father was niftar in 5678/1918, he was named to succeed him as the leader of Amshinover Chassidim, who became attached to him heart and soul. Even as many Chassidim flocked to his door, he continued learning with great hasmadah.

Once, a Chassid came to take leave of the Rebbe before ascending to Eretz Yisrael. The Rebbe said that he could leave on three conditions: He must daven with a heimishe minyan; he must send his sons to Talmud Torah; and he must always button his clothes right on left, as Jews had always done. Seeing the Chassid’s surprise, the Rebbe explained that the smallest deviation from a minhag or a chumrah could eventually lead to the total abandonment of Yiddishkeit, chas v’shalom.

Later on in life the Rebbe became blind. In his last year, a heart ailment rendered him very weak; during this illness the names Yerachmiel Aharon were added to his name. He moved to Otvotsk, where he was niftar on the third of Shevat 5696/1936.

His sons were Harav Yaakov Dovid, Hy”d, Rav of Dzerdav, who succeeded his father in Amshinov; and Harav Yitzchak, zy”a, the Amshinover Rebbe of America. He had three other sons who died at a young age: Menachem, Hy”d; Yisrael Yehoshua, z”l; and Chaim Elazar, z”l. He also had 10 daughters, all of whom married prominent Rabbanim and Chassidim. All these families were killed during World War II. Hy”d.

Zechuso yagein aleinu


Jan. 23

In 1789, Georgetown University was established in present-day Washington, D.C.

In 1845, Congress decided all national elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

In 1933, the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the so-called “Lame Duck Amendment,” was ratified as Missouri approved it.

In 1937, 17 people went on trial in Moscow during Josef Stalin’s “Great Purge.” (All were convicted of conspiracy; all but four were executed.)

In 1960, the U.S. Navy-operated bathyscaphe Trieste carried two men to the deepest known point in the Pacific Ocean, reaching a depth of more than 35,000 feet.

In 1964, the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, eliminating the poll tax in federal elections, was ratified as South Dakota became the 38th state to endorse it.

In 1968, North Korea seized the Navy intelligence ship USS Pueblo, charging its crew with being on a spying mission. (The crew was released 11 months later.)

In 1973, President Richard Nixon announced an accord had been reached to end the Vietnam War, and would be formally signed four days later in Paris.

In 1995, the Supreme Court, in McKennon vs. Nashville Banner Publishing Co., ruled that companies accused of firing employees illegally could not escape liability by later finding a lawful reason to justify the dismissal.