This Day in History – 5 Iyar/May 13

Shaar blatt of She’eilas Shalom.
Shaar blatt of She’eilas Shalom.

In 5559/1799, Napoleon withdrew his army and retreated from Acco.

In 5560/1800, a decree was issued prohibiting Russian Jews from importing books.


5540/1780, Harav Moshe Zorach Eidels of Prague, zt”l, mechaber of Ohr La’Yeshorim

5638/1878, Harav Meir Auerbach, the Imrei Binah, zt”l

5676/1916, Harav Eliezer Chaim Rabinowitz of Yampoli, zt”l

5559/1799, Harav Yeshayah Pik-Berlin of Breslau, zt”l, Mechaber of Mesores Hashas

Harav Yeshayah Berlin was born in 5479/1719 in Eisenstadt. His father, Harav Yehudah Leib Mochiach, was Rav in Pressburg.

In his youth he learned under his father’s tutelage, and later under Harav Tzvi Hirsch Halberstadt.

Rav Yeshayah was the son-in-law of the naggid Rav Wolf Pik from Breslau, in whose honor he added “Pik” to his surname. His father-in-law supported him generously, enabling Rav Yeshayah to continue to grow in Torah. Rav Yeshayah was renowned for his amazing memory for sources and cross-references in the entire Shas.

Rav Yeshayah authored many sefarim, but he is undoubtedly best known for his Mesores Hashas (printed in square brackets in the text of the Gemara) and his other notes printed in the margins. He also wrote Kashos Meyushav, She’eilas Shalom on the She’iltos and Omer Hashikchah on halachos that aren’t discussed by the poskim. His other sefarim include Yesh Seder LaMishnah, on Mishnayos; Hafla’ah Sheb’arachin on Sefer Ha’aruch; Katan Shehigi’a L’chinuch, on Sefer Hachinuch, and Minei Targuma on Targum Onkelos on the Torah.

Rav Yeshayah’s home was a place where talmidei chachamim and Gedolim would get together to discuss Torah topics. The Shaagas Aryeh once paid him a visit and, noting his greatness in Torah, wondered how a person could be so wealthy yet so erudite in Torah.

Rav Yeshayah corresponded with many of the Gedolim of his time, including the Noda B’Yehudah and Harav Yosef Steinhardt, his brother-in-law, mechaber of Zichron Yosef.

After the petirah of Harav Yosef Teumim, Rav Yeshayah was asked to replace him as Rav of Breslau, and for the first time in his life Rav Yeshayah agreed to accept such a position. He was 74 years old at the time. Rav Yeshayah was niftar six years later, at age 80.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

May 13

In 1607, English colonists arrived by ship at the site of what became the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. The colonists went ashore the next day.

In 1918, the first U.S. airmail stamps, featuring a picture of a Curtiss JN-4 biplane, were issued to the public. On a few of the stamps, the biplane was inadvertently printed upside-down, making them collector’s items.

In 1940, in his first speech as British prime minister, Winston Churchill told Parliament, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court, in 44 Liquormart v. Rhode Island, unanimously struck down Rhode Island’s ban on ads that listed or referred to liquor prices, saying the law violated free-speech rights.