This Day in History – 10 Nisan/March 21

Harav Shalom Mashash, zt"l
Harav Shalom Mashash, zt”l

10 Nisan

In 2449/1312 B.C.E, the Jewish people took sheep (which were worshipped by the Egyptians) and tied them to their beds in preparation for the
korban Pesach. Miraculously, the Egyptians didn’t harm them. Shabbos Hagadol commemorates this event, since on that particular year the tenth of Nisan was on Shabbos. (See the commentaries of Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Pesach, as to why the miracle is commemorated on Shabbos and not on the date the miracle occurred.)

In 2490/1271 B.C.E, Yehoshua led Bnei Yisrael across the Jordan River. As they approached the river with the Aron Hakodesh carried by the Kohanim, the river split for them. After the crossing, Yehoshua erected 12 monuments in Gilgal.

In 5703/1943, Hungarian Jews were forced to begin wearing the infamous yellow Star of David under Nazi occupation.


2489/1272 B.C.E., Miriam Haneviah, a”h, at the age of 126. At her petirah, the well from which Bnei Yisrael drank in the midbar dried up, but it was restored in the zechus of Moshe and Aharon. This well is located today in the Kineret (maseches Shabbos, daf 35). In Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 580:2 it states that today is a Taanis Tzaddikim in commemoration of her yahrtzeit.

5440/1680, Harav Shmuel Shmelke, zt”l, Rav of Ostra’ah



Harav Shalom Mashash, zt”l, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim

Harav Shalom Mashash was born in Meknes, a large city of scholars and scribes in Morocco. His father, Hagaon Harav Maimon, zt”l, came from a long line of Rabbanim and Dayanim.

Even as a child, his talents and abilities stood out and the Moroccan Rabbanim called him “Holy from the cradle.” He studied at the Keter Torah Yeshivah headed by his rebbi, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Tzaban, zt”l. He was an outstanding student, known for his steadfast learning, his outstanding grasp of Torah and his unusual talents. He advanced in the yeshivah until he was appointed Rosh Yeshivah. In this position, which he held for many years, he developed many outstanding students, some of whom currently serve as Rabbanim and Dayanim in Sephardic communities. As a Rav in Morocco and Yerushalayim, he ordained many young rabbis.

In Morocco, leaders of the Casablanca community took note of the outstanding young scholar and chose him to be Chief Rabbi and head of the beis din for Casablanca and all of Moroccan Jewry. Serving in this post for 35 years, he was an outstanding leader before whom all halachic problems from throughout Morocco were brought. He was well loved by both Moroccan Jews and gentiles, and he was close to Morocco’s King Hassan.

When a search was launched in 5738/1978 for a Sephardic Rav for Yerushalayim to serve with Rabbi Bezalel Zolty, the city’s Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, local leaders decided to ask Harav Mashash to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael to be both the Sephardic Chief Rabbi and head of the beis din. He agreed, and moved to Yerushalayim where he lived until his petirah.

Questions in halachah from all over the world reached him in Yerushalayim, many of them dealing with difficult issues regarding agunos. He had frequent exchanges with the leading poskim of the generation, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, and was also in close contact with
his fellow Rabbanim of Yerushalayim: Harav Zolty, and later Harav Yitzchak Kolitz.

Harav Mashash published many sefarim including She’eilos U’teshuvos Shemesh U’magen, Mimizrach Shemesh, and Tevuos Hashemesh. He was a quick and erudite author whose writings deal with all facets of the Torah.

Despite his mastery, he never hurried to issue a psak but would spend days and nights reviewing relevant halachic rulings.

His davening was awe-inspiring. Those standing nearby would see him pronounce each word as if he were counting gold coins. Once, when he was asked about those who davened quickly, he said in amazement, “How can anyone daven Minchah without proper kavanah? It is something I’ve never done.”

His community work was accomplished with graciousness and kindness. He was steadfast in maintaining the holiness of Yerushalayim, and would not allow anything to undermine the observance of Shabbos in the city. He was a leader of the battle against Reformists, standing firm against giving them even the slightest foothold in religious institutions.

Harav Mashash distanced himself from discord and politics, and made every effort to work well with Yerushalayim’s various communities. In addition to serving as the Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, he was considered the leader of the Moroccan Jewish community and frequently appeared at gatherings of Moroccan Jews both in Israel and abroad, especially in France.

His Torah activities continued until his petirah. In fact, it was in the last week of his life that he completed writing V’cham Hashemesh. He was niftar at the ripe old age of 95, after serving more than 25 as Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah


March 21

In 1556, Thomas Cranmer, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake for heresy.

In 1804, the French civil code, or the “Code Napoleon” as it was later called, was adopted.

In 1871, journalist Henry M. Stanley began his famous expedition in Africa to locate the missing Scottish missionary David Livingstone.

In 1907, U.S. Marines arrived in Honduras to protect American lives and interests in the wake of political violence.

In 1940, a new government was formed in France by Paul Reynaud, who became prime minister, succeeding Edouard Daladier.

In 1960, about 70 people were killed in Sharpeville, South Africa, when police fired on black protesters.

In 1963, the Alcatraz federal prison island in San Francisco Bay was emptied of its last inmates and closed at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

In 1965, civil rights demonstrators led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began their third, successful march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.

In 1972, the Supreme Court, in Dunn v. Blumstein, ruled that states may not require at least a year’s residency for voting eligibility.

In 1985, police in Langa, South Africa, opened fire on blacks marching to mark the 25th anniversary of Sharpeville; the reported death toll varied between 29 and 43.

In 1990, Namibia became an independent nation as the former colony marked the end of 75 years of South African rule.