This Day in History – May 20/26 Iyar

In 5130/1370, hundreds of Jews were massacred in Brussels, Belgium, Hy”d.

In 5705/1945, the Nazis finally surrendered to the Allies, and the war that left millions dead, including six million Jews, Hy”d, was over.

In 5726/1967, the Six Day War broke out between Eretz Yisrael and the nations of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria.


4702, Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon, zt”l

5507/1747, Harav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, zt”l, mechaber of Mesillas Yesharim, Derech Hashem and more.

5611/1851, Harav Yitzchak of Volozhin, zt”l, the son of Harav Chaim of Volozhin, zt”l

5705/1945, Harav Shlomo Goldman of Zhvil, zt”l

5648/1888, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu Taub of Zvahllin, Zt”l

Harav Shmuel Eliyahu Taub was the son of Harav Yechezkel of Kuzmir, zy”a, the founder of the Modzhitzer dynasty. Harav Shmuel Eliyahu was born in 5579/1819.

From his youth, Reb Shmuel Eliyahu was outstanding in his Torah scholarship and his musical abilities. He was called menagen mafli pla’os, a wondrous musical talent. When he davened before the amud in his father’s beis medrash, the walls shook. Chassidim then said that they experienced the meaning of “and the entire nation saw the sounds” [a description in the Torah to describe Mattan Torah].

To the dismay of the chassidim, he didn’t continue for long to daven before the amud. Precisely because he understood the value of a niggun, he refrained from singing. Even so, he composed many niggunim, especially for Shabbos and Yom Tov, that were known throughout Poland and were sung by many chassidim.

Upon the petirah of his father, Rav Yechezkel, his son Rav Shmuel Eliyahu was called upon to lead the chassidim. At the time, Rav Shmuel Eliyahu lived in Zvahllin, Poland.

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu was the first of the Polish Rebbes to concentrate his creative powers on neginah. With his awesome memory, he was able to remember everything he composed.

His attitude towards neginah was as if the singer were standing in the Beis Hamikdash, and the Leviim were accompanying him in the shirah v’zimrah.

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu was niftar on 26 Iyar, 5648/1888, leaving behind five sons, zechusam yagen aleinu: Harav Moshe Aharon, who succeeded him in Zvahllin; Harav Yisrael of Modzhitz; Harav Yaakov of Radom; Harav Ovadiah, and Harav Chaim Binyamin.

Zechuso yagen aleinu

May 20

In 1506, explorer Christopher Columbus died in Spain.

In 1873, Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis received a U.S. patent for men’s work pants made with copper rivets.

In 1899, taxi driver Jacob German was pulled over and arrested by a police officer riding a bicycle for speeding down Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue in his electric car at 12 miles an hour at a time when the speed limit was 8 mph; it was the first recorded speeding arrest in U.S. history.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York, aboard the Spirit of St. Louis on his historic solo flight to France.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Because of weather and equipment problems, Earhart set down in Northern Ireland instead of her intended destination, France.

In 1939, regular trans-Atlantic mail service began as a Pan American Airways plane, the Yankee Clipper, took off from Port Washington, New York, bound for Marseille, France.

In 1948, Chiang Kai-shek was inaugurated as the first president of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

In 1956, the United States exploded the first airborne hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.