In 5434/1674, the Jews of Barbados were granted permission to take an oath on the Torah. One hundred fifty years later, also on 8 Adar, Jews of Maryland were allowed to take a non-Christian oath.
5548/1788, Harav Gershon of Lotzk, zt”l, talmid of the Mezritcher Maggid
5549/1789, Harav Aryeh Leib Hanover, zt”l, son of the Pnei Yehoshua
5690/1930, Harav Yosef Yedid, zt”l, mechaber of Yemei Yosef
5758/1998, Harav Moshe Aharon Stern, zt”l, Mashgiach in Yeshivas Kamenitz, Yerushalayim
Harav Yosef Yaavetz, zt”l, known as Hechassid Yaavetz
Harav Yosef Yaavetz, the son of Harav Chaim Yaavetz, was born in Lisbon, Portugal, c. 5200/1440.
From his early years, his greatness was noted, as he writes in his commentary on Pirkei Avos, “In my youth, I explained the Mishnah …”
In those years, there was a large Jewish community in Lisbon, led by Rav Yosef Chayun, under whom he learned.
Years later, Rav Yosef once bemoaned to his son that he was upset that he had some material enjoyment from his Torah learning; had he been a laborer, his learning would have been more Torah lishmah, but, he told his son, it is nevertheless preferable to dedicate oneself to Torah learning.
Rav Yosef was given the title “hechassid,” due to his asceticism. The Chidah writes of him in his Shem HaGedolim, “First of the tzaddikim and of the last chassidim.”
In 5252/1492, an official edict was issued by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, ordering the expulsion of all Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories. Because of the Inquisition and the expulsion, Rav Yosef left Portugal, together with several thousand other Jews.
They traveled to Ferrara in Italy, but didn’t settle there. Rav Yosef continued to Mantua, where he found refuge.
Rav Yosef writes in his Ohr Hachaim that the cause for the Spanish Expulsion was not a religious issue, against the Jewish nation as Jews; rather, the non-Jews sought an easy way to take the Jews’ riches. It was estimated that the Jews that fled left behind properties and valuables worth millions of ducats.
Rav Yosef was niftar on 8 Adar 5267/1507, presumably in Mantua.
Of his writings, the most famous is his commentary on Pirkei Avos. He also wrote a work on Tehillim, and Ohr Hachaim, which he wrote in Mantua, in which he decries the studying of philosophy. He also authored numerous other works, many of which were never published.
Zecher tzaddik livrachah.
In 1785, Thomas Jefferson was appointed America’s minister to France, succeeding Benjamin Franklin.
In 1814, the two-day Battle of Laon in France ended with a Prussian-led victory over the forces of Napoleon I.
In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed an order assigning Ulysses S. Grant, who had just received his commission as lieutenant-general, to the command of the Armies of the United States (Grant assumed his new command two days later, relieving General-in-Chief Henry Halleck).
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant, Thomas Watson, heard Bell say over his experimental telephone: “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.”
In 1949, Nazi wartime broadcaster Mildred E. Gillars, also known as “Axis Sally,” was convicted in Washington, D.C., of treason. (She served 12 years in prison.)
In 1969, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty in Memphis, Tenn., to assassinating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (Ray later repudiated that plea, maintaining his innocence until his death.)