This Day in History – 5 Adar II/March 12

President Franklin D. Roosevelt broadcasting his first Fireside Chat regarding the banking crisis, from the White House, Washington, D.C.

5 Adar


5583/1823, Harav Ze’ev Volf, Rav of Ostraha, zt”l

5624/1864, Harav Shmuel Abba Shapira of Slavita, zt”l

5645/1885, Harav Yechezkel Yalzon, zt”l, Rav of Altuna

5731/1971, Harav Mordechai Shlomo Friedman of Boyan, zy”a


Harav Yosef of Posen, zt”l, Son-in-Law of the Noda B’Yehudah

Harav Yosef of Posen was born in Zolkova in 5496/1736. His father, Harav Moshe Pinchas, zt”l, was Rav in Sevirse, near Lvov, and later in Zolkova. His mother, Rebbetzin Rivka, was the daughter of Harav Yisrael Isserl, zt”l, son-in-law of the Maharsha.

When Rav Yosef turned bar mitzvah, Harav Yechezkel Landau, zt”l, the Noda B’Yehudah, chose him as a chassan for his oldest daughter, Freida.

After the wedding, Rav Yosef remained in his hometown, Zolkova, near his father, who provided support so as to enable him to become great in Torah. Later, Rav Yosef moved near his esteemed father-in-law, first in Yampola and then in Prague.

Although he was still young, Rav Yosef was recognized as a leading talmid chacham and became Rav in Viktov. He was later Rav in the kehillos of Skohl, Yavrov and Posen.

Rav Yosef was appointed Rav in Posen in 5540/1780, where he remained until his petirah. He founded a yeshivah gedolah there.

His anivus was outstanding. It is related that every day, while his room was full of people who had come with their questions to the Rav, his Rebbetzin would come in and scoff at him, telling all the people that her husband was not a talmid chacham at all. Rav Yosef would sit there silently and ignore her ranting, never getting upset or disturbed by her outbursts.

The people couldn’t understand this. How could she denigrate and humiliate her great husband? It was only after Rav Yosef’s petirah that the reason finally came out. While his mittah was still on the ground, his Rebbetzin came over with tears on her cheeks and cried out, “Reb Yosef, be grateful to me for carrying out your instructions to embarrass you in public; it was your explicit condition before our wedding that I should treat you with disrespect. You were worried that you might fall into arrogance and therefore forced me to carry out my part in the deal. Who knows better than me your real tzidkus and greatness in Torah?”

As she finished speaking, as if to show his consent and give his agreement to her words, a wondrous thing occurred. Rav Yosef was seen nodding his head in agreement to the truth of her words.

Rav Yosef was niftar on 5 Adar 5561/1801.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

March 12

In 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assumed command as General-in-Chief of the Union armies in the Civil War.

In 1914, American inventor George Westinghouse died in New York at age 67.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the first of his 30 radio addresses that came to be known as “fireside chats,” telling Americans what was being done to address the nation’s economic crisis.

In 1938, the Anschluss, merging Austria with Nazi Germany, took place as German forces crossed the border between the two countries.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman announced what became known as the “Truman Doctrine” to help Greece and Turkey resist communism.

In 1971, Hafez Assad was confirmed as president of Syria in a referendum.

In 1993, Janet Reno was sworn in as the first female U.S. attorney general.