This Day in History – 8 Adar II/March 15

Kever of the Pnei Yehoshua, father of Harav Arye Leib of Hanover, in Frankfurt, Germany.

8 Adar II

5585/1825: Jews were enabled to serve in public office in Maryland.

The history of this law is as follow: In 1715, the Crown Colony of Maryland had enacted a law requiring any citizen who wished to hold public office to take an oath of abjuration which contained the words, “upon the true faith of a Christian.” In 1776, the new constitution of the state of Maryland reaffirmed this law, requiring any oath of office to contain a declaration of belief in the Christian religion.

In the decades that followed, the struggle to repeal this law attracted national attention.

On February 26, 1825, an act “for the relief of the Jews in Maryland” was passed by Maryland’s House of Delegates. The bill allowed every Jewish citizen to take an oath which professed his belief in a “future State of Rewards and Punishments, in the stead of the declaration now required by the Constitution and form of Government of this State.”

Yahrtzeiten

5548/1788, Harav Gershon of Lotzk, zt”l, talmid of the Mezritcher Maggid

5692/1932, Harav Avraham Noach Paley, zt”l, of Shklov-Yerushalayim

5758/1998, Harav Moshe Aharon Stern, zt”l, Mashgiach in Yeshivas Kaminetz, Yerushalayim


5549/1789

Harav Arye Leib Falk of Hanover, Zt”l

Harav Arye Leib was born in 5475/1715 to Harav Yaakov Yehoshua Falk, zt”l, the Pnei Yehoshua. He learned Torah from his father and from Harav Tzvi Hersh Halberstadt, zt”l. At a young age he succeeded in mastering vast amounts of Torah, but he managed to conceal this fact from everyone, even his father.

He married the daughter of Harav Yechiel Michel Heilprin, zt”l, Rav of Berzon. After her petirah, his second wife was the daughter of Harav Chaim Yonah Teomim, zt”l.

Eventually, Rav Arye Leib’s greatness in Torah could no longer be hidden, and it was revealed that like his illustrious father, Harav Arye Leib was also a gadol baTorah. He was asked to serve as Rav in the distinguished kehillah of Skohl. Eventually he became Rav of Sevirz, and then, at the age of 41, he became Rav of the esteemed kehillah of Hanover, Germany, and the surrounding towns.

He fought mightily against the followers of Shabsai Tzvi, a false Moshiach. In the years 5410 – 5426 (1650 – 1666), this movement rapidly gained followers, unfortunately, even among frum, ehrliche Yidden. (Shabsai Tzvi eventually converted to Islam.) Rav Arye Leib stood steadfast at the head of his kehillah during those times of turmoil and confusion, opposing even the slightest amendment to the authentic mesorah.

Rav Arye Leib was niftar on Erev Shabbos Kodesh, 8 Adar 5549/1789, and all of those who had benefited from his great character and leadership mourned their immense loss. His chiddushim on Maseches Bava Kamma are printed in the sefer Pnei Arye. He wrote many more chiddushim but, unfortunately, they were never published.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


March 15

In 44 B.C.E., Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of noblemen.

In 1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus arrived back in the Spanish harbor of Palos de la Frontera, two months after concluding his first voyage to the Western Hemisphere.

In 1820, Maine became the 23rd state of the Union.

In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson met with about 100 reporters for the first formal presidential press conference.

In 1919, members of the American Expeditionary Force from World War I convened in Paris for a three-day meeting to found the American Legion.

In 1937, America’s first hospital blood bank was opened at Cook County Hospital in Illinois.