This Day in History – July 1/9 Tammuz

In 5004/1244, at least 20 wagons loaded with Gemaras and commentaries were burned in France. The incident occurred on Friday of Parashas Chukas. There were no printing presses in those times, and many writings of the Baalei Tosafos were lost forever. The decree was even more severe in Paris, where it was announced that every Jew who had a Talmud in his home would be exiled from France.

According to the Minchas Elazar of Munkacs, zy”a, his grandfather, the Bnei Yissaschar, had a tradition that the greatest Baalei Tosafos (most of whom were killed al kiddush Hashem) wrote their long Tosafos commentaries on Perek Merubah of Baba Kama the night before being called to judgment by their wicked enemies. They were threatened that if they refused to convert they would be killed.

The Shibbolei HaLeket on Hilchos Taanis discusses the aftermath of the burning of the Talmud. “We heard that they asked a she’eilas chalom whether it was a Heavenly decree or not, and they were answered, ‘Veda gezeiras Oraisa’ [the Targum of the verse, ‘Zos chukas HaTorah’].

They understood that this hinted that the Friday of Parashas Chukas [the day the Talmud was burned] is a day of evil decrees. From that day on, individuals fasted every year on that day [of the week], the Friday of Parashas Chukas, but not on the day of the month.”


5438/1678, Harav Yaakov Tamerlesh, zt”l, mechaber of Safra Ditzeniusa

5701/1941, Harav Moshe Rokeach, Hy”d, son of Harav Aharon of Belz, zt”l

5754/1994, Harav Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam, the Klausenburger Rebbe, zt”l

5726/1966, Harav Zalman Sorotzkin, Zt”l, The Lutsker Rav

Harav Zalman Sorotzkin was born in Zagarine, Lithuania, in 5641/1881. His father, Harav Bentzion, was the town’s Rav. Rav Zalman learned in Slabodka under Harav Moshe Dinshevski, zt”l, and in Volozhin under Harav Refael Shapira, zt”l.

He married the daughter of the Telzer Rav and Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Eliezer Gordon, zt”l. After his marriage, Rav Zalman learned in Volozhin for several years. Later he returned to Telshe, teaching in his father-in-law’s yeshivah.

When his father-in-law was niftar in 5671/1911, Rav Zalman was offered the position of Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Telshe. He demured, and shortly afterwards became Rav in Voranava, Belarus.

After two years in Voranava, Reb Zalman moved to Dziatlava (Zhetel), where he served as Rav for 18 years.

In 5681/1921, Rav Zalman was appointed Rav in Lutsk, where he remained until World War II. During the early days of the war, when many yeshivos had to relocate, Rav Zalman served as head of the Vaad Hayeshivos.

Only after Vilna was taken over by the Bolsheviks did Rav Zalman flee and escape to Eretz Yisrael.

Rav Zalman was a founder of the Vaad Hayeshivos in Eretz Yisrael, serving as its leader. He also helped found Chinuch Atzmai.

Rav Zalman was niftar on 9 Tammuz 5726/1966. He wrote Oznaim LaTorah on Torah and Moznaim LaTorah on Yamim Tovim.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

July 1

In 1863, the pivotal three-day Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, resulting in a Union victory, began in Pennsylvania.

In 1867, Canada became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain as the British North America Act took effect.

In 1946, the United States exploded a 20-kiloton atomic bomb near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

In 1963, the U.S. Post Office inaugurated its five-digit ZIP codes.

In 1966, the Medicare federal insurance program went into effect.

In 1997, Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule after 156 years as a British colony.

In 2002, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, the International Criminal Court, came into existence.