This Day in History – 4 Adar/February 23

In 5043/1283, the Maharam of Rottenberg was imprisoned in the Ensisheim fortress and held for a huge ransom, but he forbade the Jewish community to pay it.

Even after the Maharam’s petirah in 5053/1293, his body was not released for burial until it was ransomed, 14 years later, by Alexander ben Shlomo (Susskind) Wimpen, who was subsequently laid to rest at his side, in the beis hachaim in Worms.

In 5558/1798, the Jews of Rome were declared free citizens by the French army.


4266/506, the Amora, Rav Achai bar Rav Huna, zt”l

5551/1791, Harav Leib, zt”l, known as Reb Leib Sarah’s

5557/1797, Harav Shraga Tzvi Tenenbaum, zt”l, mechaber of Neta Sorek



Harav Eliezer Gordon, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe

Harav Eliezer Gordon was born in 5601/1841 in the Lithuanian village of Chernian, located in the Vilna region. His father, Harav Avraham Shmuel, was a disciple of Harav Chaim of Volozhin.

When young Eliezer was eight days old he was transported to a neighboring town, Svir, where his bris was to be held, since there was no mohel in Chernian. During the short journey, the blanket-wrapped infant accidentally fell out of the wagon. Much later, the family found a wolf hovering protectively over the infant, as if a special messenger had been sent from Heaven to guard this great neshamah.

As a youngster, Rav Eliezer studied in the Zaretza Yeshivah in Vilna and from there, he transferred to the yeshivah of Harav Yisrael Salanter in Kovno.

Rav Eliezer married the daughter of the wealthy and pious Harav Avraham Yitzchak Noveizer who supported his son-in-law for a number of years. Even though Rav Eliezer was still young, many Gedolim, including Harav Yehoshua Leib Diskin and Harav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector, sought him out to assist them in the many battles being conducted against the vicious maskilim. They once sent him to St. Petersburg, where he was, baruch Hashem, successful in annulling some harsh gezeiros the maskilim instigated against Yidden.

Circa 1875 he became Rav of Kelm, spending almost 10 years there.

In 5645/1885, he assumed the rabbanus of Telshe. There, due to his great efforts, a group of his talmidim grew into Yeshivas Telshe. He was deeply involved in Telshe’s klal matters, enacting many takanos.

As the Haskalah impacted Jewish communities, Rav Eliezer instituted a seder mussar in the yeshivah. His ahavas haTorah was such that, as he studied Torah he was totally detached from anything physical. His talmidim recall that once, while he was writing chiddushim, he was so involved that he didn’t realize he had run out of paper and continued writing on the table.

Rav Gordon traveled to London to raise money for the yeshivah but was unsuccessful. His weak heart could not withstand the stress, and he was niftar in London on 4 Adar, at the age of 69. The London community organized an honorable funeral, and later built a beautiful ohel on his kever.

After WWII, the Telshe Yeshiva was reestablished in Cleveland, Ohio, headed by his great-grandchild, Harav Eliyahu Meir Bloch.

Yehei zichro baruch.


Feb. 23

In 1836, the siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1863, British explorers John H. Speke and James A. Grant announced they had found the source of the Nile River to be Lake Victoria.

In 1870, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union.

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba to lease the area around Guantanamo Bay to the United States.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi, where they raised the American flag. (There were actually two flag-raisings, the second of which was captured in the iconic photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press.)

In 1954, the first mass inoculation of schoolchildren against polio using the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh as some 5,000 students were vaccinated.

In 1970, Guyana became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1995, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above the 4,000 mark for the first time, ending the day at 4,003.33.