This Day in History – 8 Shevat/January 28

In 2516/1244 B.C.E., the last of the Zekeinim, who continued the chain of the mesorah, were niftar. Today is a taanis tzaddikim commemorating that event. [According to some, this occurred 17 years later, in 1261 (1227 B.C.E.); see Shabbos 105b and Seder Hadoros under “Yehoshua.” According to some, this took place on 5 Shevat; see Shulchan Aruch 580:2 and commentaries.]

In 5729 (1969), nine Jews were publicly executed al kiddush Hashem in Damascus, Syria.


5635/ 1905, Harav Shmuel of Shinov, the Ramasayim Tzofim, zy”a

Harav Shmuel was born in 5547/1787. (According to some he was born about 11 years later.) In his youth, he was a Chassid of the Chozeh of Lublin, the Yehudi Hakadosh, Harav Menachem Mendel of Kosov and Harav Shlomo Leib Lentcha. At about the age of 19 he became a very close talmid of the Rebbe, Reb Bunim of P’shischa, and was considered his personal attendant. While in P’shischa he lived in the home of the Rebbe Reb Bunim, but he regularly traveled home to his family in Galicia. On his way home, he used to visit Reb Shlomo Leib of Lentcha.

In his sefer Ramasayim Tzofim, he recounts a vort that best describes him. Once the Rebbe Reb Bunim, who was a close talmid of the Yehudi Hakadosh, asked his Rebbe, “Why is it that everything that is in contact with a pure object — is pure?” (see Keilim 12,2) implying that a Chassid who is attached to his Rebbe is similarly holy. Doesn’t a Rebbe toil endlessly until he reaches that purity, while the Chassid seems to reach that level effortlessly? The Yehudi replied, “To be truly attached to a tzaddik is harder than being a tzaddik!” Reb Shmuel adds, “And those who frequent tzaddikei emes know this to be the truth!”

After his primary Rebbe, the Rebbe Reb Bunim, was niftar, he continued traveling to the Kotzker Rebbe, and after that to the Chiddushei Harim. He also traveled to Harav Yitzchak of Neshchiz.

Reb Shmuel served as Rav, first in Shinov, then in Voldova, Brok, Shedlitz and Lavitch. In his later years he was appointed Rav of Neshelsk.

His sefer is mainly a peirush on Tana D’vei Eliyahu, but he also recorded many verter and maamarim of his Rebbes. He also relates many hanhagos kodesh of his Rebbes.

He was niftar at the age of 88, in Neshelsk, where he is buried. (Some assert that he was only 77.)


Jan. 28

In 1547, England’s King Henry VIII died; he was succeeded by his 9-year-old son, Edward VI.

In 1909, the U.S. withdrew its forces from Cuba as Jose Miguel Gomez became president.

In 1915, the United States Coast Guard was created as President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill merging the Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service.

In 1915, the American merchant ship SS William P. Frye, en route to England with a cargo of wheat, became the first U.S. ship to be sunk during World War I, even though the United States was not at war.