This Day in History – 9 Teves/December 31


4824/1064, Harav Ezra, zt”l, the Ramban’s rebbi in Kabbalah

5392/1631, Harav Avraham Chaim Schorr, zt”l, mechaber of Toras Chaim

5525/1765, Harav Shmuel Helman, zt”l, Rav of Metz, France


3442/320 B.C.E. Ezra Hasofer, zy”a

Ezra Hasofer, 23rd-generation direct descendant of Aharon, was the son of Shraya HaKohen. The passuk tells us, “And he set his heart to acquire the Torah of Hashem, to do mitzvos and to learn with Klal Yisrael chok u’mishpat” (Ezra 7). He was a talmid of Baruch ben Neriah who, in turn, was a talmid of Yirmiyahu Hanavi.

The Gemara relates (Sanhedrin 21): “Ezra was as suitable for the Torah to be given through him as Moshe Rabbeinu, had Moshe not preceded him.” Chazal relate that Ezra “returned the Crown of Israel to its former glory.” In his days the Torah was nearly forgotten in Eretz Yisrael, but then Ezra returned from Bavel and re-established the study and observance of Torah.

In the first year of the reign of King Koresh (Cyrus) of Persia (70 years after the beginning of Nevuchadnetzar’s reign), many Jews traveled to Eretz Yisrael from Bavel and started rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash. But, due to the king’s reluctance and the slander of non-Jews residing in Eretz Yisrael, building was halted.

Eighteen years later, after the nes of Purim and after Achashverosh died, his son Daryavesh (Darius) became king. The son also of Esther Hamalkah, he allowed Yidden to resume building the Beis Hamikdash. After many hardships, the Second Beis Hamikdash was completed, in the sixth year of Daryavesh’s reign.

In 3413/349 B.C.E., Ezra ascended to Eretz Yisrael, escorted by many Kohanim, Leviim and others (an estimated total of 1,500). He did not want to go until then because his rebbi, Baruch ben Neriah, was still alive. At the time, Ezra was about 80 years old.

As soon as he arrived and saw the spiritual decline of Eretz Yisrael, he called on Yidden to do teshuvah. He instituted many decrees to preserve the Torah way of life, and mounted a campaign against intermarriage among those who had returned with him from the Babylonian exile.

Ezra headed the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah. He issued 10 takanos that are still in force.

Ezra Hasofer was niftar at the age of 120. The date of Nechemiah’s petirah is not specified.

Zechusam yagen aleinu.


Dec. 31

In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed..

In 1909, the Manhattan Bridge, spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was officially opened to vehicular traffic.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

In 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in over 40 years.