This Day in History – 8 Iyar/May 8

8 Iyar

In 4856/1096, the Jews of Speyer, Germany, were massacred in the First Crusade. The event occurred on Shabbos. Hashem yinkom damam.

In 5276/1516, the first ghetto for Jews was established in Venice.

In 5427/1667, mass anti-Jewish riots erupted in Lemberg, Galicia. The day was observed as a fast day.

In 5559/1799, Napoleon was defeated in his Near Eastern campaign at Acco, Eretz Yisrael.



5424/1664, Harav Shimon, Rav of Lvov, and Harav Mordechai and Harav Shlomo, sons of the Taz, along with many other prominent Rabbanim and parnassim, were killed al kiddush Hashem in Lvov.

5591/1831, Harav Yerachmiel Rabinowitz of Peshischa, the Kedushas HaYehudi, zt”l

5608/1848, Harav Chaim Avraham Gaghin, zt”l, Rishon LeTzion of Yerushalayim, mechaber of Chukei Chaim and Minchah Tehorah

5628/1868, Harav Mordechai Michael Yaffa, zt”l, Rav of Zadon, talmid of Harav Akiva Eiger, zt”l



Harav Moshe Mordechai Twersky of Trisk-Lublin, Hy”d

Born in 5634/1874, Harav Moshe Mordechai was the son of Harav Yaakov Aryeh of Trisk, a scion of the Chernobyl dynasty.

He was the son-in-law of Harav Asher of Stolin in his zivug rishon; in his zivug sheini, he was the son-in-law of Harav Baruch Meir Twersky of Azarnitz, also of the Chernobyl dynasty.

With the petirah of his father on 28 Iyar 5678/1918, Reb Moshe Mordechai was appointed Rebbe. He moved to Lublin, where he was called Reb Moshe Trisker.

There, his enthusiastic tefillos attracted many chassidim to his beis medrash. Chassidim from Warsaw, Lodz, Bialystok and other places also converged on the beis medrash of Reb Ber Roth where he held court.

During the Nazi occupation, Reb Moshe was forced to wash the floors of his own beis medrash while wearing a tallis. Later, when the Nazis began sending Jews to the concentration camp of Majdanek, they also took the Rebbe and his family, holding them in the courtyard of the Jewish neighborhood with all the other Jews. From there, they were all taken away.

Harav Avraham Yitzchak and Harav Baruch Meir Twersky, sons of Reb Moshe who lived in London during the war, sent $3,000 through the Polish aid committee in London to the Geneva branch, in an attempt to arrange that a German SS officer take Reb Moshe from Lublin to neutral Switzerland. Since Switzerland refused entry to Polish refugees unless they had a visa from another country guaranteeing they would not settle in Switzerland permanently, the Rebbe’s son-in-law, Harav Menachem Tzvi Eichenstein of St. Louis, sent a Rabbinic pass under which he was to enter Switzerland and from there, finally escape.

The German SS officer came to Lublin with the papers to take the Rebbe and his family to Switzerland. But Reb Moshe refused to go. He sent a letter to the committee in Geneva saying that when the ship is sinking the captain must stay with it. He must first save the lives of the passengers, then his own, and not the opposite. “I will stay with all the other Jews in Poland.”

The day before he was killed, Reb Moshe related divrei Torah to one of his chassidim who managed to escape. He spoke of Parashas Shoftim, which begins with the laws of war and ends with the laws of eglah arufah, while the next parashah, Ki Seitzei, returns to the subject of war. Why does the Torah interrupt the parashiyos of war with the parashah of eglah arufah? The Rebbe answered that in the parashah of eglah arufah, the beis din of the city closest to the dead body has to attest, “We did not spill this blood.” This is to show that even during war, when life seems hefker, the Torah tells us that we still have to value and account for every Jewish life.

The Rebbe was killed the next day, 8 Iyar 5703/1943, in the forest of Kempnitz, with his Rebbetzin.

Reb Moshe had four sons and two daughters. Harav Aharon Dovid, the Rav of Gorshkov, and Harav Yochanan of Horbishow were killed. Harav Avraham Yitzchak and Harav Baruch Meir lived in London and later in America.

His son-in-law, Harav Aharon Twersky, was killed along with his wife, Rebbetzin Gittel, in the war. His other son-in-law was Harav Menachem Tzvi Eichenstein, Rav in St. Louis.

His divrei Torah appear in Ohel Moshe, which was printed together with Sefer HaYichus Chernobyl v’Ruzhin. They were later reprinted as an appendix to Pri Yehoshua by Harav Eichenstein.

His grandson, Harav Moshe Mordechai Eichenstein, shlita, is Trisker Rebbe in Yerushalayim.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Hashem yinkom damo.


May 8

In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River.

In 1794, Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, was executed on the guillotine during France’s Reign of Terror.

In 1884, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, was born in Lamar, Mo.

In 1921, Sweden’s Parliament voted to abolish the death penalty.

In 1944, the first “eye bank” designed to preserve corneal tissues for transplants was established at New York Hospital.

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman announced on the radio that Nazi Germany’s forces had surrendered, and that “the flags of freedom fly all over Europe.”

In 1958, Vice President Richard Nixon was shoved, stoned, booed and spat upon by anti-American protesters in Lima, Peru.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon announced that he had ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor during the Vietnam War.

In 1973, militant American Indians who’d held the South Dakota hamlet of Wounded Knee for 10 weeks surrendered.

In 1984, the Soviet Union announced it would boycott the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.