This Day in History – January 7/23 Teves

23 Teves

In 5256/1496, just four years after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, on this date a decree was issued in Portugal giving the Jews one year to either convert to Christianity or leave the country. Over the next 350 years, the infamous Inquisition persecuted, tortured and burned at the stake thousands of “Marranos” throughout Spain, Portugal and their colonies for continuing to secretly practice the Jewish faith.

In 5465/1705, “Purim Sharif” was established in Tripoli, Libya, to commemorate deliverance from Ibrahim-a-Sharif, a cruel dictator who had laid siege to the town, but suddenly and miraculously died. With his death the siege ended and the town’s citizens were saved. It was also commonly known as “Purim Kedivna,” the False Purim, to distinguish it from the regular Purim.


5500/1740, Harav Yaakov Hakohen Paperash, zt”l, mechaber of Shov Yaakov

5597/1836 Harav Aryeh Leib Epstein of Ozhorov, zt”l

5761/2001, Harav Mordechai Gifter, Rosh Yeshivah, Telshe, Cleveland


Harav Yitzchak Zerachyah Azoulai, Zt”l

Harav Yitzchak Zerachyah Azoulai was born in Yerushalayim in 5462/1702. His father was Harav Yeshayah Azoulai.

He was a talmid in Beis Medrash Bais Yaakov in Yerushalayim, which was founded by Harav Chezkia Da Silva, zt”l, the Pri Chadash.

He learned Kabbalah under Harav Avraham Yitzchaki, zt”l, mechaber of Zera Avraham, towards the end of the latter’s life (he was niftar in 5489/1729).

Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah was among the leading Rabbanim of Yerushalayim in his day, and his name appears on many letters and haskamos. He served on the beis din of Harav Eliezer Nachum and Harav Meyuchas Bachar Shmuel, zt”l.

He and another representative of the kehillah in Yerushalayim traveled to Europe on behalf of the kehillah in 5501/1741, but he was forced to return to Eretz Yisrael in the middle of the trip.

Rav Zerachyah is best known through his eldest son, Harav Chaim Yosef David Azoulai, zt”l, the Chida, who was born in 5484/1724 in Yerushalayim.

Rav Zerachyah left many manuscripts, some of which were published and others referenced by his son the Chida in his many works.

Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah was niftar on 23 Teves 5525/1765.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

Jan. 7

In 1789, America held its first presidential election as voters chose electors who, a month later, selected George Washington to be the nation’s first chief executive.

In 1927, commercial transatlantic telephone service was inaugurated between New York and London.

In 1953, President Truman announced in his State of the Union message to Congress that the United States had developed a hydrogen bomb.

In 1979, Vietnamese forces captured the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, overthrowing the Khmer Rouge government.

In 1989, Emperor Hirohito of Japan died in Tokyo at age 87; he was succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Akihito.

In 1999, for the second time in history, an impeached American president went on trial before the Senate. President Bill Clinton faced charges of perjury and obstruction of justice; he was acquitted.

In 2004, President George W. Bush proposed legal status, at least temporarily, for millions of immigrants improperly working in the U.S.

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