This Day in History – 11 Av/July 18

11 Av

In 5024/1264, anti-Jewish riots erupted in Arnstadt, Germany.

In 5120/1360, anti-Jewish riots erupted in Breslau (now Wroclaw), Poland; many were killed, Hy”d, and the rest were expelled.

In 5493/1733, commemorating the defeat of the Persian army, the Jews of Baghdad established a Purim.

In 5508/1748, Empress Maria Theresa revoked the Edict of Expulsion of Bohemian Jews.

In 5556/1796, the Common Council of New York City revoked the license of a non-Jewish butcher for affixing kashrus seals to non-kosher meat.

In 5708/1948, Arab forces blew up the Latrun pumping station, cutting off Yerushalayim’s water supply.


5624/1864, Harav Hillel of Paritch, zt”l, mechaber of Pelach Harimon

5702/1942, Harav Aharon Perlow, the Stoliner-Warsaw Rebbe, Hy”d



Harav Yitzchak Blazer (Peterburger), zt”l

Harav Yitzchok Blazer was born in Shnipshok, near Vilna, on Rosh Chodesh Adar 5597/1837. His father was Harav Shlomo.

A child prodigy, when he was just 14 his father published a kuntres of his chiddushim.

After his marriage at the age of 15 Harav Yitzchak moved to Kovno. He learned in the beis medrash of Harav Yisrael Salanter.

At 25, by the order of Harav Yisrael, Reb Itzele, as he was fondly known, was appointed Rav of Petersburg, a position he held for 16 years. He is called after that city.

Subsequently he returned to Kovno. In 5636/1876, Harav Yisrael Salanter had established a kollel there; its purpose was to produce Rabbanim and Dayanim by supporting and guiding exceptional talmidei chachamim. The project received the blessing and support of Harav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, Rav of Kovno. It was joined by such luminaries as Harav Naftoli Hertz (later Chief Rabbi of Yaffo), Harav Naftali Amsterdam, Harav Chaim (Telzer) Rabinowitz and Harav Yosef Yoizel Horwitz, the “Alter of Novardok,” among others.

The kollel was eventually named Kollel Knesses Bais Yitzchak, in memory of Harav Yitzchak Elchanan.

The true glory of the kollel was realized under the leadership of Harav Yitzchak Blazer, whose rousing lectures were the kollel’s life-force.

As one of the leading and most famous talmidim of Harav Yisrael Salanter, founder of the mussar movement, it was to be expected that after Harav Yisrael’s petirah Harav Yitzchak became his successor.

Harav Yitzchak spent the last few years of his life in Yerushalayim, where Harav Shmuel Salant requested his help with community affairs.

Harav Yitzchak was niftar on 11 Av 5667/1907 at the age of 70 and was buried on Har Hazeisim.

Harav Chaim Berlin related that Harav Yitzchok left a request that no hespeidim be delivered for him. Harav Chaim Berlin asked Harav Shmuel Salant if they were required to abide by the humble last wishes of Harav Yitzchak Blazer, since it would be meritorious to be maspid a person of his stature. Harav Shmuel Salant ruled that indeed they were obligated to heed his final wishes. A few days after his petirah, Harav Chaim Berlin related that Harav Itzele came to him in a dream and thanked him for honoring his request.

Harav Chaim then asked Harav Itzele what issues of halachah the Beis Din shel maalah is stringent about. Harav Itzele told him that a human being cannot fathom the depth and detail of the Heavenly judgment. They were particularly exacting on the purity of a person’s speech. This, coming from a person who had mastered the art of silence!

Harav Yitzchak wrote Pri Yitzchak on Shas and also brought to print Ohr Yisrael, the drashos in mussar of Harav Yisrael Salanter.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


July 18

In 64 C.E., the Great Fire of Rome began.

In 1536, the English Parliament passed an act declaring the authority of the pope void in England.

In 1792, American naval hero John Paul Jones died in Paris at age 45.

In 1863, during the Civil War, Union troops spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, made up of black soldiers, charged Confederate-held Fort Wagner on Morris Island, S.C. The Confederates were able to repel the Northerners, who suffered heavy losses; the 54th’s commander, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, was among those who were killed.

In 1872, Britain enacted voting by secret ballot.

In 1932, the United States and Canada signed a treaty to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In 1940, the Democratic National Convention at Chicago Stadium nominated President Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term in office.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed a Presidential Succession Act, which placed the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore next in the line of succession after the vice president.

In 1984, Walter F. Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination in San Francisco.