This Day in History – 1 Kislev/November 13

In 5518/1757, around 1,000 volumes of the Talmud were burned in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Russia. The instigators were followers of Jacob Frank, a Jewish merchant who claimed to be the messiah and successor of the false messiah Shabbatai Tzvi. Frank’s followers broke away from Judaism and created a new religion known as the Frankists, a quasi-Jewish, quasi-Christian religion. The local bishop, Nicholas Dembowski, held a debate between the Rabbis and the Frankists; when the bishop decided that the Rabbis lost the debate, he ordered them to pay a fine and to burn all copies of the Talmud in the district.



5202/1441, Harav Efraim Alankava, zt”l, Rav of Telmisan, Algeria, mechaber of Shaar Kvod Hashem

5319/1558, Harav Shalom Shachna, zt”l, Rav of Lublin

5472/1711, Harav Moshe Chaifetz, zt”l, mechaber of Meleches Shabbos

5653/1892, Harav Chaim Nosson Dembitzer, zt”l, mechaber of Klilas Yofi


5464/1703, Harav Yosef Shmuel of Cracow, zt”l, the Mesores Hashas

Harav Shmuel (the name Yosef was added later, as will be related) was born in Kremnitz to Harav Tzvi Hirsh. His father was his main Torah teacher.

Reb Shmuel settled in Cracow after marrying the daughter of Reb Chaim Yeshayah the blacksmith, who generously supported him.

The Gedolim in Cracow at that time, among them the Maginei Shlomo and the Tosfos Yom Tov, realized the greatness of Reb Shmuel and appointed him to the city’s beis din.

When Harav Yeshayah Horowitz, grandson of the Shelah Hakadosh, was appointed Rav in Posen, the kehillah of Frankfurt sent a delegation to Cracow to ask Reb Shmuel to be their new Rav. He refused, and the delegation left Cracow heavyhearted.

Soon after they left the city, Reb Shmuel became deathly ill. Doctors could find no cause or cure for his disease. Many tefillos were said on his behalf, and the name Yosef was added to his name. At that time, Reb Shmuel promised that if he overcame the illness, he would accept the position of Rav in Frankfurt, since he understood the reason for his illness…

As soon as he was healthy enough he moved to Frankfurt and assumed the Rabbanus. This was in Tammuz 5450/1690.

In Frankfurt, Reb Shmuel established a yeshivah.

His soft and gracious ways were his trademark, and his care for orphans and poor families was legendary.

Reb Shmuel was niftar on 1 Kislev 5464/1703, after serving as Rav in Frankfurt for 14 years (and in Cracow for the previous 26 years).

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Nov. 13

In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to a friend, Jean-Baptiste Leroy: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

In 1849, voters in California ratified the state’s original constitution.

In 1927, the Holland Tunnel opened to the public, providing access between lower Manhattan and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure lowering the minimum draft age from 21 to 18.