This Day in History – 1 Sivan/May 19

According to Rabi Yehudah (Bava Metzia 106b), today is the start of the summer season.

In 2449/1312 B.C.E., six weeks after their exodus from Egypt, Bnei Yisrael arrived at Har Sinai and encamped at the foot of the mountain “k’ish echad b’lev echad — as one man, with one heart,” in preparation for receiving the Torah from Hashem. On this day, however, Moshe did not give them any mitzvos, because of their exhaustion from the journey.

In 3440/321 B.C.E., Yechezkel Hanavi recounted the nevuah delivered to him regarding the arrogance of Mitzrayim (see Yechezkel 31).



5503/1743, Harav Meir Halevi Horowitz, zt”l, known as the Maharam Tiktin

5688/1928, Harav Avraham Menachem Halevi Steinberg, zt”l, Rav of Broide

5707/1947, Harav Mordechai Shapiro of Kaminka-Koritz, zt”l


5760/2000, Harav Aharon Yechiel Leifer, zy”a, the Nadvorna-Banya Rebbe of Tzefas

Harav Aharon Yechiel Leifer was born in 5672/1912 in Nadvorna, Galicia. The oldest son of Rav Dovid of Banya, he was a scion of the Premishlan-Nadvorna dynasty, which began with Harav Mordechai of Nadvorna.

In his youth, he spent several years learning in Sakmir (Satmar) under the tutelage of his uncle, Harav Meir Rosenbaum, zt”l. There he was influenced by the tzaddikim of Nadvorna, although his major inspiration came from his father, Harav Dovid, the son of Harav Yissachar Ber of Sakmir, son of the Nadvorna Rebbe.

Reb Aharon Yechiel came to Eretz Yisrael a few years after the war and settled in Tzefas, where he lived for over 50 years. He set up the Nezer Hakodesh shul in Tzefas, and it became the spiritual center of the district, a place of Torah and avodas Hashem. Many benefited from his influence, caring and wisdom, and he helped many people return to the life of Torah.

The Rebbe was known particularly for his hospitality. His home was reminiscent of the tent of Avraham Avinu — open to all at any hour of the day or night. There, guests would find food, drink and accommodations. Anyone in physical, spiritual or psychological need was made welcome in his home, given a smile and a warm greeting.

His own needs were very modest. He was known for his humility and his patience with everyone, old or young, great or simple. Many people regarded a brachah from him as a special privilege. Other people’s joys were his joys; their pain was his pain.

Reb Aharon Yechiel was soft-spoken and friendly. People in trouble went in to Reb Aharon Yechiel frowning and came out smiling.

The tzaddikim of the generation spoke of him as being outstanding in the attributes of Aharon Hakohen — whose name he carried — who loved peace and pursued peace. Throughout his life he fled from anything that smacked of machlokes; his aim was always to maintain peace.

In Eretz Yisrael, Reb Aharon Yechiel became a Chassid of the Sanz-Klausenburger Rebbe, zy”a. He often spent Shabbos with him and discussed his halachic teshuvos with him. (Some of these were then printed in Divrei Yatziv.) He sent his sons to learn at the Rebbe’s yeshivah in Netanya’s Kiryat Sanz neighborhood.

Reb Aharon Yechiel was niftar on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5760/2000, at the age of 88, and buried in Tzefas.

Reb Aharon Yechiel was succeeded as Rebbe by his sons: Harav Dovid, Haifa; Harav Mordechai Yitzchak, Yerushalayim; Harav Pinchas Yissachar Ber, Yerushalayim; Harav Moshe Meir, Yerushalayim; and Harav Yisrael Yaakov Tzvi, Bnei Brak.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


May 19

In 1588, the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon, bound for England.

In 1780, a mysterious darkness enveloped much of New England and part of Canada in the early afternoon.

In 1911, the first American criminal conviction that was based on fingerprint evidence occurred in New York City.

In 1913, California Gov. Hiram Johnson signed the Webb-Hartley Law prohibiting “aliens ineligible to citizenship” from owning farm land, a measure targeting Asian immigrants, particularly Japanese.

In 1943, in his second wartime address to Congress, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pledged his country’s full support in the fight against Japan.

In 1974, Erno Rubik invented the puzzle that would later become known as the Rubik’s Cube.