This Day in History – 16 Av/July 23

Flight 143 after landing at Gimli, Manitoba.
Flight 143 after landing at Gimli, Manitoba.

16 Av

In 5706/1946, the British government ordered the removal of all illegal immigrants in Eretz Yisrael to Cyprus.




5528/1768, Harav Yehudah Leibush Pesach, zt”l, Rav of Lifsk

5731/1971, Harav Yitzchak Meir Levin, zt”l, Chairman of the World Agudas Yisrael Organization

5645/1885, Sir Moshe Montefiore, z”l


Harav Menacham Mendel of Strizov, zt”l, mechaber of Sova Semachos

Harav Menachem Mendel was born in 5548/1788 in Tarnow; his father was Harav Moshe Avraham Dovid. From childhood he excelled in Torah studies and outshone his peers. Aside from his great geonus, he served Hashem with a unique inner fire, and was a mushlam in Torah and avodas Hashem.

His Rebbe was Harav Mendel of Rimanov, who cherished him. He also traveled to the Kozhnitzer Maggid and the Chozeh of Lublin.

Reb Mendel was the baal Mussaf in the Rimanover court, famous for his fiery davening as well as for being a great tzaddik. He had the privilege to help the Yamim Nora’im tefillos of the holy Rimanover Rebbe reach the highest celestial spheres.

One Yom Kippur the Rimanover Rebbe suddenly banged his machzor shut in the middle of Mussaf. After davening, the Rebbe explained to the perplexed chassidim that Reb Mendel was trying to have the kavanos of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, and because he was so young the Rebbe feared that it would harm him!

Reb Mendel served as Rav in Strizov for a while, where he wrote many responsa in halachah — especially on the topic of agunos. After serving as Rav in Strizov he returned to Tarnow, the city of his birth, where he led an elite group of chassidim to higher aspirations in avodas Hashem. Unfortunately, he was niftar at the young age of 43.

During his last year, 5591/1831, a terrible plague erupted in his town and many Yidden tragically succumbed. It was only after Reb Mendel offered himself as a kapparah that the dying stopped…

Sova Semachos al HaTorah, a collection of divrei Torah that he told his talmidim on Shabbosos and Yamim Tovim, was revered by all as a holy sefer. It was reprinted with a lengthy foreword in 5759/1999. Another of Reb Mendel’s sefarim is Sova Semachos al Maseches Kiddushin.

Yehi zichro baruch.


July 23

In 1885, Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States, died in Mount McGregor, N.Y., at age 63.

In 1886, a legend was born as Steve Brodie claimed to have made a daredevil plunge from the Brooklyn Bridge into New York’s East River. However, there are doubts about whether the dive actually took place.

In 1914, Austria-Hungary issued a list of demands to Serbia following the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serb assassin; the dispute led to World War I.

In 1945, French Marshal Henri Petain, who had headed the Vichy government during World War II, went on trial, charged with treason. He was convicted and condemned to death, but the sentence was commuted.

In 1951, Petain died in prison.

In 1952, Egyptian military officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser launched a successful coup against King Farouk I.

In 1967, a week of deadly race-related rioting that claimed 43 lives erupted in Detroit.

In 1977, a jury in Washington, D.C., convicted 12 Hanafi Muslims of charges stemming from the hostage siege at three buildings the previous March.

In 1983, an Air Canada Boeing 767 ran out of fuel while flying from Montreal to Edmonton; the pilots were able to glide the jetliner to a safe emergency landing in Gimli, Manitoba. The near-disaster occurred because the fuel had been erroneously measured in pounds instead of kilograms at a time when Canada was converting to the metric system.