This Day in History – December 12/14 Kislev

In 5605/1844, the Czar of Russia provided for the establishment of Jewish schools and seminaries.

In 5702/1941, the Nazis placed the Jews of Poland outside the law and beyond protection of the courts.


2317, Reuven Ben Yaakov Avinu. He was also born on this day, in 2194.

5417/1656, Harav Menashe Ben Yisrael of Amsterdam, zt”l, mechaber of Nishmas Chaim

5424/1663, Harav Matisyahu Kalohari (Apteiker) of Cracow, Hy”d

5567/1806, Harav Shmuel of Pozen, zt”l, mechaber of Beis Shmuel

5652/1891, Harav Yakov Yitzchok, Rebbe of Zavna, zt”l

5666/1905, Harav Mordechai Twersky, Rebbe of Loyev, zt”l

5678/1917, Harav Elazar Lev, zt”l, Rav in Ungvar and mechaber of Pekudas Elazar

Harav Yakov Moshe of Velbroz, zt”l

Harav Matisyahu Garjei, zt”l, mechaber of Oneg La’Shabbos

5680/1919, Harav David Abuchatzeira, zt”l

5690/1929, Harav Betzalel Zev Shafran of Baku, zt”l

5700/1939, Harav Shaul Rosenberg, zt”l, Rav of Ratzfert and mechaber of Chemdas Shaul

5737/1976, Harav Mordechai Yaakov Breish of Zurich, zt”l, the Chelkas Yaakov

5629/1868, Harav Menachem Nachum Friedman of Stefanest, Zy”a

Harav Menachem Nachum Friedman was the fourth son of Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin, zy”a. He was born in 5583/1823.

When he became of age, Rav Menachem Nachum married the daughter of Harav Elazar Kushanski.

After the petirah of his father in 5611/1851, Rav Menachem Nachum settled in Stefanest, Romania, and from then on until World War II the town was a center for tens of thousands of Yidden.

Unlike Galicia and Poland where there were many talmidei chachamim, Romania was mainly inhabited by the simple and the ignorant and the level of Torah learning was on a much lower level.

Although the derech of Ruzhin was not to openly display miracles, in Romania the Rebbes felt that it was the only way to draw the Yidden away from the haskalah movement. Thus it became the norm that even simple peasants who had never before visited a Rebbe made the journey to Stefanest to receive the Rebbe’s brachah. While they were already in Stefanest, the Rebbe would influence them towards Torah and mitzvos.

The Rebbe was attuned to all the needs of the people and would grant them his brachos before they even had time to tell him why they had come.

Not too many details are known of Rav Menachem Nachum’s life. He would barely ever speak and few divrei Torah are mentioned in his name.

Before his petirah he agreed to be examined by a doctor. After the doctor had examined the Rebbe, he said, “I can see that the Rebbe’s illness stems from a certain desire. His body is craving for a particular thing and this yearning has made him ill. All the Rebbe has to do is to fulfill this desire and he will recover.”

As the Rebbe left the doctor’s surgery he told his Chassidim, “What does the doctor know, what does he understand? I have indeed a craving, a craving for Hashem!”

Rav Menachem Nachum was niftar on 14 Kislev 5629/1868.

He was succeeded by his only son, Harav Avraham Mattisyahu, zy”a.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Dec. 12

In 1846, New Granada (now Colombia and Panama) signed the Bidlack Treaty with the United States, granting U.S. right-of-way across the Isthmus of Panama in exchange for a guarantee of neutrality for the isthmus and the sovereignty of New Granada.

In 1870, Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina became the first black lawmaker sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1958, the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution to establish a committee that would study “international co-operation and programs in the peaceful uses of outer space.”

In 1963, Kenya gained its independence from Britain.

In 1993, Russia adopted a constitution.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election, whereupon George W. Bush became president-elect.