This Day in History – 16 Iyar/May 5

In 2449/1312 B.C.E., Bnei Yisrael began receiving mann in the Midbar on the morning of this date. Moshe Rabbeinu introduced the first brachah of Birkas Hamazon (Brachos 48b).

In 3826/66 C.E., the Roman legion under General Holofernes sacked Yerushalayim, killing 3,000 Jews.

In 3830/70 C.E., Titus recaptured the middle wall of Yerushalayim and demolished it.

In 5657/1897, anti-Jewish riots erupted in Algeria.

In 5699/1939, the Nuremburg anti-Jewish laws went into effect in Hungary.

In 5705/1945, the Dachau concentration camp was liberated.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5616/1856, Harav Shmuel Waldberg of Yaroslav, zt”l

5763/2003, Harav Yechiel Michel Feinstein, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Beis Yehudah


 

5376/1616, Harav Meir, the Maharam of Lublin, zt”l

The Maharam was born in 5318/1558. His father was Harav Gedalyah, the son of Harav Yitzchak of Lvov, who in turn was the son of Harav Asher Lemel, who served as Av Beis Din in Cracow.

The Maharam displayed great diligence in his youth and soon became a close talmid of Harav Yitzchak Hakohen Shapiro, who headed a yeshivah in Cracow. The closeness between this rebbi and his talmid grew to such an extent that Reb Yitzchak chose him to be his son-in-law. The Maharam respected his rebbi/father-in-law greatly; he would sign off his letters and responsa with “Meir, the son-in-law of the king.”

After the petirah of his esteemed father-in-law, the Maharam, a young talmid chacham of 25, set out for Lublin, where he founded a yeshivah. He led the yeshivah for five years, after which he returned to Cracow, where he assumed responsibility for the yeshivah of his late father-in-law.

In 5355/1595 the Maharam moved to Lvov, where he served as a Rav and taught many talmidim. He remained in Lvov for 18 years, but his stay there was not always peaceful. His Rebbetzin passed away in 5364/1604, and he subsequently married the daughter of Harav Pinchas, the Rav of Fulda and Kremzir. He also suffered a fire that destroyed all his belongings, as evident from a number of his teshuvos.

A complicated din Torah regarding a divorce case whose validity was being questioned divided most of the Gedolei Hador of that time. The Maharam came out forcefully against it, opposing the S”ma, who resided in Lvov at the time and held that it was kosher. The incident caused great turmoil in the Torah world and, due to the resulting machlokes, the Maharam had to leave Lvov and return to Lublin.

In Lublin he continued teaching talmidim until his petirah, at age 58, on 16 Iyar 5376/1616. (According to some, his yahrtzeit is on 10 Iyar.)

Among his famous talmidim were the Shelah Hakadosh, the Megaleh Amukos and the Maginei Shlomo, zichronam livrachah.

The Maharam was the mechaber of a number of chibburim. She’eilos U’teshuvos Maharam contains his halachic responsa; Me’ir Einei Chachamim was later reprinted in the back of Gemara volumes and became an inseparable part of learning Gemara and Tosafos.

Other chibburim he authored are Maor Hagadol on Turim, Maor Hakatan on Shrei Dura, Ner Mitzvah on S”mag and Torah Ohr on Torah. These sefarim were never published.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

May 5

In 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte, 51, died in exile on the island of St. Helena.

In 1862, Mexican troops defeated French occupying forces in the Battle of Puebla.

In 1865, what’s believed to be America’s first train robbery took place as a band of criminals derailed a St. Louis-bound train near North Bend, Ohio. They then robbed the passengers and looted safes on board before getting away.

In 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. became America’s first space traveler as he made a 15-minute suborbital flight aboard Mercury capsule Freedom 7.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan kept a controversial promise to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl by leading a wreath-laying ceremony at the military cemetery in Bitburg.

In 1994, Singapore caned American teenager Michael Fay for vandalism, a day after the sentence was reduced from six lashes to four in response to an appeal by President Bill Clinton, who considered the punishment too harsh.