This Day in History – December 2/16 Kislev

In 5564/1803, the Chayei Adam, although injured, survived a blast, establishing the day as a Yom Tov for himself and his descendants.

In 5653/1892, Hermann Ahlwardt was elected to the German Reichstag, marking the beginning of political anti-Semitism in Germany.


5404/1643, Harav Yaakov of Lublin, zt”l father of Reb Herschel of Cracow

5708/1947, Harav Shaul Yedidyah Elazar Taub, Rebbe of Modzhitz, zt”l, the Imrei Shaul

5760/1999, Harav Dovid Leib Schwartz, zt”l, “Der Heiliger Tzaddik” of Bnei Brak

5678/1917, Harav Menachem Of Amshinov, zt”l

Reb Menachem, born in 5620/1860, was the son of Harav Yaakov Dovid of Amshinov, zy”a, the first Rebbe of Amshinov, who in turn was the son of Harav Yitzchok of Vorka, zy”a, and of Rebbetzin Esther Golda, a”h, the daughter of the chassid Reb Shmuel Moshe Alberstein of Biala.

In 5638/1878, at the age of eighteen, Rav Menachem succeeded his father as Rebbe. The chassidim accepted him wholeheartedly and he dedicated himself completely to their well-being. Rav Menachem was moser nefesh for tzorchei hatzibbur. He led his flock with the unique Vorka style of ahavas Yisrael.

Every Shabbos evening, before Kiddush, Rav Menachem would cover his eyes for a while, and when he removed his hand, his eyes would be full of tears. Rav Yitzchak of Amshinov, zy”a, explained that Rav Menachem had been doing teshuvah in preparation for saying Vayechulu, which is called eidus (testimony). Thoughts of teshuvah made him into a kosher witness.

When Reb Moshe Wishkovski was due to be drafted into the Russian army, his father took him to Rav Menachem, for a yeshuah that he be exempted. The Rebbe called Reb Moshe over to his desk and asked him to read from a Chumash that was lying there. But before Reb Moshe could begin to read, the Rebbe closed the sefer and declared, “You can’t see anything — so why are you afraid of them?”

Reb Moshe and his father trusted the Rebbe completely, believing that this very peculiar exchange would help them somehow.

Shortly afterward, Reb Moshe dutifully appeared at the draft office for enlistment and was examined by the army doctor, as required. The doctor barely laid eyes on him before shouting, “Get out of here, fast! The glorious army of the Russian czar has no use for blind people!”

Reb Moshe was hustled out of the enlistment office with an exemption notice and a clear understanding of the Rebbe’s miraculous words.

During World War I, he moved to the relative safety of Warsaw, where he worked tirelessly for the many Jewish refugees who filled the city.

Rav Menachem of Amshinov was niftar on Friday night, 16 Kislev 5678/1917, and was buried in Warsaw. At his levayah the Imrei Emes was heard to say, “He was of the shiyurei knesses hagedola, remnants of the Great Assembly.”

Zechuso yagen aleinu

Dec. 2

In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French.

In 1816, the first savings bank in the United States, the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, opened for business.

In 1823, President James Monroe outlined his doctrine opposing European expansion in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1942, an artificially created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was demonstrated for the first time at the University of Chicago.

In 1954, the U.S. Senate passed, 67-22, a resolution condemning Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., saying he had “acted contrary to senatorial ethics and tended to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”

In 1957, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first full-scale commercial nuclear facility in the U.S., began operations. (The reactor ceased operating in 1982.)

In 1970, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency opened.

In 1982, in the first operation of its kind, doctors at the University of Utah Medical Center implanted a permanent artificial heart in the chest of retired dentist Dr. Barney Clark, who lived 112 days with the device.

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