This Day in History – 1 Elul/August 7

1 Elul

Today is Rosh Hashanah for maasros (according to the Tanna Kama in the first mishnah in Rosh Hashanah).

In 2408/1353 B.C.E., Chaggai Hanavi received his first prophecy, telling Zerubavel to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash.

In 4598/838 C.E., an army led by Shmuel Hanagid destroyed the army of Abu Abbas. This day was observed as a Yom Tov by Shmuel Hanagid and his descendants.

In 5151/1391, the Jews of Palma, Spain, were massacred, H”yd.

In 5160/1400, anti-Jewish riots claimed 77 lives in Prague, Hy”d.


5061/1301, Harav Dovid Hanagid, grandson of Rambam, zt”l

5452/1692, Harav Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz of Tarna, zt”l

5528/1768, Harav Shaul of Lublin, zt”l, father-in-law of the Meir Nesivim

5582/1822, Harav Yehoshua Zeitlin of Shklov, zt”l, talmid of the Shaagas Arye

5644/1884, Harav Chanoch Dov of Alesk, zt”l, mechaber of Lev Sameach

5673/1913, Harav Pinchas Halevi Bilitzer, the Szerenczer Rav, zt”l

5698/1938, Harav Menachem Mendel Landau of Slodovitz, zt”l

5743/1983, Harav Yaakov Arye Neiman, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Ohr Yisrael, Petach Tikvah



Harav Shmuel Abuhav, zt”l, Rav of Venice and mechaber of She’eilos U’teshuvos Dvar Shmuel

Harav Shmuel Abuhav was born in Hamburg in 5370/1610, a son of Harav Avraham, a wealthy baal tzedakah and founder of a yeshivah in Tzfas.

Shortly after his bar mitzvah, his father sent the young bachur to learn under Harav David Franco in Venice. Harav David found his talmid fluent in Shas and poskim. Harav Shmuel continued to grow in Torah under Harav David, who took him as a son-in-law.

Following his marriage Harav Shmuel settled in Verona, where he served as Rav and Rosh Yeshivah.

Later, in 5410/1650, he was asked by the community in Venice to serve as their Rav. He held this post until his petirah.

Besides his greatness in Torah, Harav Shmuel was also renowned for his asceticism; he ate fleishigs only on Shabbos. He gave all he earned to the poor, and refused to take a salary from the kehillah. Through witnessing his ways, the kehillah learned to do with what they had and not desire superfluous things.

Harav Shmuel was fluent in many Kabbalah works; he knew the Zohar by heart.

Harav Shmuel fought against Shabsai Tzvi and his followers. He was the first to state that Shabsai Tzvi’s right-hand man, Nattan Azati, was a false prophet.

When Nattan came to Venice, Harav Shmuel and the council of the city compelled him to give them a written confession that all his prophecies were products of his imagination. The confession was published, whereupon Avraham Hayakini, one of the founders of the Shabbatean movement, wrote a letter in which he consoled him over his persecution and expressed his indignation at the acts of the Venetian rabbinate. The Venetian Jews then induced Nattan to set out for Livorno, where the Jewish population was known to be antagonistic to him. They sent along an escort, ostensibly as a mark of honor, but in reality to prevent him from going elsewhere. He divined their motives in sending him to Livorno, however, and, after eluding his escort, he proceeded to Rome. In spite of his disguise he was recognized there, and was banished from the city.

Harav Shmuel was niftar on the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5454/1694, at the age of 84. The entire community mourned his petirah.

Of his many writings, his responsa were published under the name She’eilos U’teshuvos Dvar Shmuel. The last few teshuvos are about the Shabsai Tzvi saga. Another sefer, called Hazichronos, is about the mitzvos.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Aug. 7

In 1782, Gen. George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart, a decoration to recognize merit in enlisted men and noncommissioned officers.

In 1882, the famous feud between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky erupted into full-scale violence.

In 1927, the already opened Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo, N.Y., and Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, was officially dedicated.

In 1942, U.S. and other allied forces landed at Guadalcanal, marking the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific during World War II. (Japanese forces abandoned the island the following February.)

In 1947, the balsa wood raft which had carried a six-man crew 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean crashed into a reef in a Polynesian archipelago; all six crew members reached land safely.

In 1959, the United States launched the Explorer 6 satellite, which sent back images of Earth.

In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. forces.

In 1971, the Apollo 15 moon mission ended successfully as its command module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

In 1989, a plane carrying U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland (D-Texas), and 14 others disappeared over Ethiopia. (The wreckage of the plane was found six days later; there were no survivors.)

In 1993, the public got its first glimpse inside Buckingham Palace as people were given the opportunity to tour the London home of Queen Elizabeth II. (Proceeds were earmarked to help repair fire damage at Windsor Castle.)

In 1998, terrorist bombs at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.