This Day in History – February 26/1 Adar

1 Adar

In 5600/1840, in Syria, a priest vanished and the Jewish community was blamed, prompting the imprisonment of the city’s Rav, Harav Yaakov Entebi, zt”l, the seven community elders, and a number of young children. Only after Sir Moses Montefiore intervened on their behalf were they freed.


4954/1194, Rabbeinu Avraham Ibn Ezra, zt”l

5422/1662, Harav Shabsai Hakohen, zt”l, the Shach (Adar Aleph)

5503/1743, Harav Refael Emanuel Chai Riki, Zt”l, the Mishnas Chachomim

Harav Refael Emanuel Chai was born on 15 Tammuz 5447/1687, in Ferrara, Italy, to Harav Avraham and Rebbetzin Miriam.

After his father’s passing, his mother’s brother Harav Yedidyah supported the family. Following the petirah of his uncle, Rav Emanuel became the melamed of the children of Harav Yitzchak Chacham in Gorizia, Italy. He held this position for two years.

Rav Emanuel later met and married his wife Miriam in Florence. The city was very small so they moved to Venice. There, Rav Emanuel began spreading Torah to many talmidim, but after a short while he became sick, leaving him penniless.

He accepted a position as Rav in the kehillah of Trieste. Here he wrote his first sefer, Hon Ashir on Mishnayos, and here his eldest son Rav Avraham Shmuel was born.

Later, the kehillah of Gorizia invited Rav Emanuel back and he returned to serve as a melamed for two years, 5477-8/1717-8.

Although he did well financially in his capacity as melamed, Rav Emanuel still wanted to settle in Eretz Yisrael. In 5478/1718, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael, settling in Tzefas, the city of the mekubalim, since it was his desire to study Kabbalah.

An epidemic broke out in 5480/1720, forcing him to return to Europe. On his way to Italy he, his wife and their two sons were captured by pirates. They were taken to Tripoli to be sold as slaves, but through the intervention of Harav Shlomo Kalfon, they were released after 40 days.

Upon his return to Italy, Rav Emanuel settled in Livorno, where he lived for three years and wrote sefer Mishnas Chachomim, an abbreviated work of the Kisvei HaAri in a simpler style.

Later, Rav Emanuel became Rav in Florence for four years, after which he moved to Livorno.

At this stage, Rav Emanuel decided to return to Eretz Yisrael and settle in Yerushalayim.

There, Rav Emanuel served as a Rosh Yeshivah. At one point he returned to Italy to raise funds for the yeshivah, where he was very successful.

In winter of 5503/1743, Rav Emanuel started on his trip back to Eretz Yisrael. On Thursday, the second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar, he was attacked by robbers who killed him and took away all the money. The Jews of Modena arranged to transfer Rav Emanuel’s body for proper burial; on 7 Adar, his body still intact, he was buried in Ginten, Italy. Hashem yinkom damo.

Rav Emanuel’s other sefarim include Maaseh Choshev, Choshev Machshovos, Hon Ashir, Yosher Levav, Aderes Eliyahu and Chazeh Tzion.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Feb. 26

In 1616, astronomer Galileo Galilei met with a Roman Inquisition official, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, who ordered him to abandon the “heretical” concept that the earth revolved around the sun, instead of the other way around.

In 1904, the United States and Panama proclaimed a treaty under which the U.S. agreed to undertake efforts to build a ship canal across the Panama isthmus.

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional act establishing Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

In 1952, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed its own atomic bomb.

In 1993, a truck bomb built by Islamic terrorists exploded in the parking garage of the North Tower of New York’s World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others. The bomb failed to topple the North Tower into the South Tower, as the terrorists had hoped.