This Day in History – 14 Kislev/November 26

In 5605/1844, the czar of Russia provided for the establishment of Jewish schools and seminaries.

In 5702/1941, Nazis placed the Jews of Poland outside the law and beyond the protection of the courts.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5417/1656, Harav Menashe ben Yisrael of Amsterdam, zt”l, mechaber of Nishmas Chaim

5567/1806, Harav Shmuel of Posen, zt”l, mechaber of Beis Shmuel

5629/1868, Harav Menachem Nachum of Stefenesht, zt”l, son of Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin

5680/1919, Harav David Abuchatzeira, zt”l

5690/1929, Harav Betzalel Zev Shafran of Baku, zt”l

5700/1939, Harav Shaul Rosenberg, zt”l, Rav of Ratzfert and mechaber of Chemdas Shaul


 

5424/1663, Harav Matisyahu Kalahari (Apteiker) of Cracow, Hy”d

Harav Matisyahu Kalahari lived in Cracow and was one of its foremost talmidei chachamim and parnassim. He was descended from a prestigious family. He owned a pharmacy and therefore was called “der apteiker,” German-Yiddish for chemist.

During a fight that broke out between the Catholics and the Protestants, they demanded that Reb Matisyahu come and publicly represent the Jewish religion in a debate with a Dominican priest.

Reb Matisyahu refused to attend a public debate, but offered to send his responses to the priest by letter. The priest agreed.

In the meantime, the priest found a letter in the church that spoke out sharply against Catholicism. Without investigating, he assumed it was written by Reb Matisyahu.

The priest complained to the local court, and Reb Matisyahu was taken to jail that same day. Under questioning, Reb Matisyahu was subjected to torture; he was unwavering in his beliefs and didn’t give in to their demand that he abandon his religion, chas v’shalom.

A number of prominent priests testified that the note couldn’t have been written by Reb Matisyahu because it was in German, a language with which Reb Matisyahu, born in Italy, was unfamiliar. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism prevailed and judgment was handed down: death at the stake.

The Jewish community appealed this outrageous ruling to the high court in Piotrkov, but the judge refused to overturn the ruling.

Thus, on 14 Kislev 5424/1663, the sentence was carried out in the city square in Piotrkov. Reb Matisyahu’s body was mutilated and then burnt. Hashem yinkom damo.

The kehillah of Cracow sent a letter to the pope in Rome, who replied with a letter calling for all Christians to stop their persecution of the Jews. This letter helped calm the bloodthirsty Christians, but, as always, not for too long.

A kinah was written to commemorate this event, which was recited in Cracow.

Zechuso yagein aleinu


 

Nov. 26

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered nationwide gasoline rationing, beginning Dec. 1.

In 1965, France launched its first satellite, the 92-pound Asterix, into orbit.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon’s personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, told a federal court that she’d accidentally caused part of the 18-and-1/2-minute gap in a key Watergate tape.

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford, having previously opposed a bailout of New York City, announced he would ask Congress to provide a temporary line of credit, citing progress made by the city in putting its financial affairs in order.