This Day in History –13 Nisan/April 2

In 2044/1717 B.C.E., the bris milah of Avraham Avinu took place, according to the Midrash.

In 3214/547 B.C.E., King Chizkiyahu was gravely ill. Three days before the fall of Sancheriv, the Navi Yeshayahu visited the king to tell him that he will die. Chizkiyahu Hamelech davened to Hashem, and 15 years were added to his life.

In 3405/356 B.C.E., the decree of Haman was publicized, and Mordechai and Esther ordered a three-day fast for all the Jews.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5335/1575, Harav Yosef Karo, zt”l, mechaber of Beis Yosef, Shulchan Aruch, Kessef Mishneh, Maggid Meishorim and Avkas Rocheil

5407/1647, Harav Chaim Shabsi, zt”l, one of the Rabbanim of Saloniki

5646/1886, Harav Yoel Moskowitz of Shatz, zt”l


 

5626/1866, Harav Menachem Mendel, zt”l, the Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch

Harav Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch was born on 29 Elul 5549/1789 in Liazna. His parents were Reb Shalom Shachna and Rebbetzin Devorah Leah, daughter of the Baal Hatanya. He was named after Reb Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk.

At the age of four, Reb Menachem Mendel lost his mother and was taken in by his grandfather, who raised him and taught him. As a child, the Tzemach Tzedek began writing chiddushim, both in the revealed part of the Torah as well as the concealed part, based on what he had learned from the Baal Hatanya, as well as his own.

In 5563/1803 Reb Menachem Mendel married his cousin, the daughter of Reb Dov Ber, later the Mitteler Rebbe of Lubavitch. During the Napoleonic wars, he fled with his grandfather the Baal Hatanya to the village of Pyena, and was with him when the Baal Hatanya was niftar there on 24 Teves 5573/1813.

After the Mitteler Rebbe’s petirah, the Tzemach Tzedek was pressed by the Chassidim to lead them, but for a long time he refused, until he finally relented and became the third Lubavitcher Rebbe. He soon acquired thousands of Chassidim, including Gedolei Torah, who flocked to him for his Torah and tzidkus.

A great tragedy of Jewish history was the Cantonist decree that called for the capture of Jewish boys who were kept against their will until the age of 20 and were then forced into 25 more years of service in the Russian army. This occurred during the Tzemach Tzedek’s reign as Rebbe, and he worked tirelessly to defeat this evil scheme. He prevented the kidnapping of many young boys and sent emissaries to bring comfort, Jewish identity and education to many who had been caught. His door was always open to these unfortunate soldiers, even at hours when he would see no one else.

Reb Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch used to tell the story of how his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, had wanted to see the Baal Hatanya in a dream after the Baal Hatanya’s petirah.The Tzemach Tzedek took every possible measure to attain his desire, davening and fasting and so on, but to no avail. Then, one day, before Shacharis, a man came to him asking for a loan of 50 rubles to take to a market fair. The Tzemach Tzedek went home to get the money, came back and warmly wished the man, “My dear one, be successful.”

That night, the Baal Hatanya came to the Tzemach Tzedek in a dream. “Which goes to show,” said Reb Yosef Yitzchak, “that supporting a Jew did more than all the tefillos.”

Reb Menachem Mendel’s divrei Torah are published in She’eilos U’teshuvos Tzemach Tzedek and Derech Mitzvosecha.

The Tzemach Tzedek was niftar on Thursday, 13 Nisan 5626/1866, and was buried in Lubavitch. As per his request, his matzeivah reads only, “He restored many from sin.”

 Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

April 2

In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon and his expedition landed in present-day Florida. (Some historians say the landing actually occurred the next day.)

In 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act, which authorized establishment of the U.S. Mint.

In1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, because of advancing Union forces.

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany, saying, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Congress declared war four days later.

In 1982, several thousand troops from Argentina seized the disputed Falkland Islands, located in the south Atlantic, from Britain. Britain seized the islands back the following June.