This Day in History – 1 Iyar/April 20

In 2449/1312 B.C.E., the incident of the mekoshesh eitzim, in which a Jew was mechallel Shabbos in the Midbar, occurred.

In 2450/1311 B.C.E., Hashem ordered Moshe Rabbeinu to count the Bnei Yisrael.

In 2929/832 B.C.E., Shlomo Hamelech began the construction of the first Beis Hamikdash. Construction of the second Beis Hamikdash began on this date as well.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5306/1546, Rabbeinu Yakov Beirav, known for his attempt to reintroduce the concept of semichah

5460/1700, Harav Yosef Yuska, Rav of Minsk, author of Yesod Yosef and Ne’ima Kedosha

5478/1718, Harav Tzvi Hersh Ashkenazi, the Chacham Tzvi

5538/1778, Harav Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz, the Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nicholsburg

5548/1788, Harav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, the Pri HaAretz

5598/1838, Harav Yechezkel, author of Toras Yechezkel

5682/1922, Harav Akiva Yosef Shlesinger, author of Lev HaIvri


 

5693/1933, Harav Avraham Weinberg (the second), the Beis Avraham of Slonim, zy”a

Harav Avraham Weinberg was born in 5644/1884. His father was Reb Shmuel of Slonim, grandson of the Yesod HaAvodah. He married the daughter of Harav Tzvi Morgenstern of Lomaz, a descendant of the Kotzker Rebbe.

His greatness and exalted character were apparent from his youth. His devoted talmid, Harav Shalom Noach Berzovsky, the Nesivos Shalom of Slonim, recounted: “I always watched him to see if he might suffer any interruption in his dveikus b’Hashem, but I never encountered even a split second of distraction from his dveikus.”

After his father’s histalkus on 19 Shevat 5676/1916, many of the Chassidim followed the Beis Avraham’s leadership. He established a court first in Bialystok and then in Baranovitch, while his older brother, Harav Yissachar Leib, led his court in Slonim, where their father had resided. The Beis Avraham invested immense efforts to build the world of Torah. In 5678/1918, he established Yeshivas Toras Chessed in Baranovitch. Together with Reb Moshe Midner, the yeshivah’s menahel, he elevated the level of Torah and yiras Shamayim.

The yeshivah’s approach to learning blended Lithuanian scholarship with chassidic fervor and chinuch.Yeshivas Toras Chessed acquired renown throughout Poland, producing great bnei Torah and yirei Shamayim.

The Beis Avraham traveled to Eretz Yisrael twice, once in 5689/1929 and again in 5693/1933. During these trips he was mechazek Slonimer Chassidim in Eretz Yisrael, especially the community in Teveria.

During one of his last tischen, the Rebbe spoke mysterious words. Referring to Jewish suffering in Germany at the hands of the Nazis, he said, “All the tzaddikim kept on delaying the bundles [of affliction] for a later time, but now all the bundles have assembled and they are stuck by the wall. There is no other solution but to throw the bundle over the wall.”

His conclusive dvar Torah to the Chassidim was: “Shabbos is like the World to Come, but the day after Shabbos is the World to Come itself.” And then he exclaimed, “And I shake myself completely free of this world!” These were his last words at his last tisch. Chassidim said that he was hinting that during the coming week he would indeed shake free of this world.

He was niftar at the young age of 49 in 5693/1933, and was buried in Slonim. His divrei Torah were published in Beis Avraham. His son, Harav Shlomo Dovid Yehoshua, Hy”d, succeeded him.

Zechuso yagein aleinu.


 

April 20

In 1812, the fourth vice president of the United States, George Clinton, died in Washington at age 73, becoming the first vice president to die while in office.

In 1836, Congress voted to establish the Wisconsin Territory.

In 1945, during World War II, allied forces took control of the German cities of Nuremberg and Stuttgart.

In 1971, the Supreme Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, unanimously upheld the use of busing to achieve racial desegregation in schools.

In 1972, the manned lunar module from Apollo 16 landed on the moon.

In 1977, the Supreme Court, in Wooley v. Maynard, said car owners could refuse to display state mottoes on license plates.

In 1980, the first Cubans sailing to the United States as part of the massive Mariel boatlift reached Florida.