This Day in History – 9 Iyar/May 17

Harav Yitzchak Bernaise, zt”l.
Harav Yitzchak Bernaise, zt”l.

In 2870/891 B.C.E., the Jews went to war with the Pelishtim and lost.

In 5414/1654, this date marked the end of a three-month grace period given by the Portuguese to the Jews of Brazil, who were under a decree to leave the country. Those who remained after this deadline were handed over to the infamous Inquisition.

In 5524/1764, a letter by Empress Catherine II of Russia opened the way for limited settlement of Jews in Riga.


5199/1439, Harav Avigdor Kara, zt”l, Rav of Prague and mechaber of Hahanek Hakaneh Hagadol

5686/1926, Harav Moshe Hager of Shatz, zt”l, son of Harav Baruch of Vizhnitz

5759/1999, Harav Moshe Hager, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Seret-Vizhnitz, Haifa

5609/1849, Harav Yitzchak Bernaise, zt”l, Rav of Hamburg

Harav Yitzchak Bernaise was born in 5552/1792, in Mainz, Germany. His father was Harav Yaakov.

The young Yitzchak learned under Harav Yitzchak Metz, and he was considered an iluy; at the age of seven he was fluent in all of Maseches Bava Kamma. Harav Noach Chaim Tzvi Berlin tested him and bestowed upon the child the title “Chaver.”

Later, Rav Yitzchak went to the yeshivah of Harav Avraham Bing in Wurzburg. There he forged close ties with Harav Yaakov Ettlinger, future mechaber of Aruch Laner, and together they grew and excelled in Torah, complementing one another.

In 5581/1821, Rav Yitzchak was appointed Rav of the community of Hamburg. In his drashos, he railed against the Reform movement. When a “siddur” in the German language was published, Rav Yitzchak issued an issur against it, saying that whoever used it did not fulfill his obligation of tefillah.

Rav Yitzchak made sure that Torah studies in the local schools were on a high standard. Harav Samson Raphael Hirsch and Harav Ezriel Hildesheimer were both talmidim of Rav Yitzchak in Hamburg.

After 27 years as Rav in Hamburg, Rav Yitzchak was niftar suddenly at 57, on 9 Iyar 5609/1849. He was buried in the Grundel cemetery.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

May 17

In 1792, the New York Stock Exchange came into being as a group of brokers met under a tree on Wall Street and signed an agreement.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman seized control of the nation’s railroads, delaying — but not preventing — a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.

In 1961, Cuban leader Fidel Castro offered to release prisoners captured in the Bay of Pigs invasion in exchange for 500 bulldozers. (The prisoners were eventually freed in exchange for medical supplies.)