This Day in History – 15 Elul/August 21

15 Elul

In 5445/1685, the Jews of New York were denied the right to worship publicly.

In 5587/1827, Russia decreed the draft of Jewish boys from the age of 12; these youngsters were subsequently known as the Cantonists. During the horrible period that followed, thousands of young boys were snatched away from Yiddishkeit and forever lost to our people.


5302/1542 (or 5295/1535), Harav Moshe Alshakar, zt”l, author of Maharam Alshakar and Geon Yaakov

5487/1727, Harav Yosef Kovo, zt”l, a Rav in Salonika, Greece

5518/1758, Harav Akiva Eiger (the first), zt”l, mechaber of Mishnas Reb Akiva

5547/1787, Harav Yaakov Koppel Chassid, zt”l

5601/1841, Harav Meir Horowitz of Lebertov, zt”l

5702/1942, Harav Avraham Yaakov Horowitz of Provizna, zt”l, mechaber of Tzur Yaakov


Harav Chanoch Heinich Eiges of Vilna, Hy”d, the Marcheshes

Harav Chanoch Henich Eiges was born in 5624/1864 in Raissen. His father was Harav Simchah Reuven Eidelman (Reb Simchah Reuven used a different last name, probably due to fear of being drafted into the Russian army), known as Sar ben Chayal Ha’adulami, by the roshei teivos of his name (Sar, Simchah Reuven) and his father’s name (Chayal, Chaim Yehudah Leib).

In his youth, Reb Chanoch Henich learned in Raissen under Harav Alexander Moshe Lapidos, author of the mussar classic Divrei Emes. A masmid, the young talmid sat for hours on end in the beis medrash.

From there Reb Chanoch Henich went on to learn in Brisk, where he was close with Harav Yosef Dov, a relative.

Later Reb Chanoch Henich learned in Kovna. Once when the Rav of Kovno, Harav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector, came into the beis medrash, he saw this bachur learning diligently. When Harav Shmuel Zibertenski (Lubatcher), a Dayan in Vilna, asked Reb Yitzchak Elchanan to suggest a fitting chassan for his granddaughter, Reb Yitzchak Elchanan chose Reb Chanoch Henich.

After the petirah of Reb Shmuel Zibertenski in 5658/1898, Reb Chanoch Henich became a Rav in Vilna, and he held the position for more than 40 years.

Reb Chanoch Henich made his name in the Torah world with the printing of his grandfather’s sefer, Olas Shmuel, in 5661/1901, adding his own drashos as an appendix to the sefer.

In 5666/1906, with the petirah of Harav Shlomo Hakohen, the elderly Rav of Vilna, Reb Chanoch Heinich and Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski were the acknowledged leaders of the Torah community of Vilna.

During World War I, Reb Chaim Ozer was forced to flee Vilna, but Reb Chanoch Henich remained. Many bachurim from neighboring yeshivos found refuge in Vilna, and Reb Chanoch Henich said a shiur for them every week.

Reb Chanoch Henich was close with the Gedolim of his time, especially the Chofetz Chaim. He was given a kibbud at the bris of a grandson of the Chofetz Chaim.

Initially, Reb Chanoch Henich leaned towards the Mizrachi movement, but in 5689/1929, when members of Mizrachi insulted Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski by attempting to install one of their own as Rav of Vilna, Reb Chanoch Henich officially announced that he was separating from them. (Harav Aharon Rabinowitz, Rav of Lida, left the Mizrachi for the same reason.)

In 5691/1931, Reb Chanoch Henich printed the first volume of his work, the Marcheshes. It was a two-part sefer of teshuvos in halachah and chiddushim on the Shas. These sefarim made him famous in the yeshivah world; they became standard learning material in the yeshivos. In 5695/1935 he published the second volume.

After the petirah of Reb Chaim Ozer in Av 5700/1940, Reb Chanoch Henich was considered by many of the bnei Torah the senior Rav and Torah leader.

He was killed al Kiddush Hashem on 15 Elul 5701/1941.

Hashem yinkom damo.


Aug. 21

In 1770, James Cook formally claimed eastern Australia for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.

In 1831, Nat Turner led a violent slave rebellion in Virginia resulting in the deaths of at least 55 white people. He was later executed.

In 1858, the first of seven debates between Illinois senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place.

In 1863, pro-Confederate raiders attacked Lawrence, Kan., massacring the men and destroying the town’s buildings.

In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in a Mexican hospital from wounds inflicted by an assassin the day before.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order making Hawaii the 50th state.

In 1963, martial law was declared in South Vietnam as police and army troops began a violent crackdown on Buddhist anti-government protesters.

In 1972, the Republican National Convention opened in Miami Beach.

In 1983, Philippine opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., ending a self-imposed exile in the United States, was shot dead moments after stepping off a plane at Manila International Airport.

In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.