This Day in History – 17 Elul/August 23

Swedish authorities watching over the hostage situation in Stockholm during a 1973 a bank robbery
Swedish authorities watching over the hostage situation in Stockholm during a 1973 a bank robbery

17 Elul

This day is a Yom Tov cited in Megillas Taanis, commemorating the removal of the Romans who instituted burdensome taxes on the Jews.

In 5699/1939, Germany attacked Poland, marking the outbreak of the Second World War that claimed more than six million Jewish lives, Hy”d.

In 1656/2105 B.C.E. (according to Rabi Eliezer), Noach opened the window of the teivah and dispatched the dove. “But the dove found no resting place for the sole of its foot” and returned to the ark.


5412/1752, Harav Nosson Nota Shapiro, zt”l, the maggid of Lublin

5560/1800, Harav Yosef Yoska, zt”l, mechaber of Yesod Yosef

5689/1929, Harav Yaakov Koppel Reich, Rav of Budapest, zt”l



Harav Dovid Dov Ber Taub, zt”l, Rav of Dabrizinsk, mechaber of Binyan David

Harav Dovid Dov Ber Taub, born c. 5587/1827, was the son of Rav Binyamin Zev.

When he was still a young boy he became known for his dedication to learning and his yiras Shamayim.

It is told that when Reb Dovid Dov was just nine years old, Harav Yitzchak of Vorka paid a visit to Zaloshin. The young Dovid, wishing to see the Rebbe’s holy countenance during the davening (the Vorka Rebbe would cover his head with his tallis), crawled under the table and peeked up through the tallis to see the Rebbe’s face. He related that he also saw the Rebbe’s limbs knocking against each other, in awe of Hashem.

Reb Dovid Dov married the daughter of Harav Meir, son-in-law of Harav Moshe of Zaloshin, the Mishpat Tzedek.

Initially, not willing to be supported for learning Torah, he tried his hand at business. But seemingly it wasn’t meant to be; he was asked to serve on the beis din in Zaloshin, as the city was short one of the three Dayanim required for a beis din.

In 5615/1855, Reb Dovid Dov was appointed Rav in Shadek.

Later, in 5620/1860, he became Rav in Neustadt, where he led the kehillah and also headed a large yeshivah.

In 5635/1875, Reb Dovid Dov was appointed Rav in the city of Dabrizinsk, on the border between Poland and Germany. There, too, he founded a yeshivah, which attracted many bachurim.

Reb Dovid Dov was a chassid of the first Vorka Rebbe, and after his petirah, of his son, Harav Menachem Mendel of Vorka. Following the petirah of Harav Menachem Mendel, Reb David Dov traveled to Harav Dov Berish of Biala, and after his petirah, he traveled to Harav Yechiel, the Alter Rebbe of Aleksander.

Chiddushei Torah of Reb David Dov on many masechtos of Shas and Shulchan Aruch were published as Binyan David. Many of his manuscripts were burned, however, which greatly distressed Reb David Dov.

Reb David Dov was niftar on 17 Elul 5659/1899 and buried in Dabrizinsk.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Aug. 23

In 1305, Scottish rebel leader Sir William Wallace was executed by the English for treason.

In 1775, Britain’s King George III proclaimed the American colonies to be in a state of “open and avowed rebellion.”

In 1914, Japan declared war against Germany in World War I.

In 1927, amid protests, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Boston for the murders of two men during a 1920 robbery.

In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to a non-aggression treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in Moscow.

In 1944, Romanian prime minister Ion Antonescu was dismissed by King Michael, paving the way for Romania to abandon the Axis in favor of the Allies.

In 1973, a bank robbery-turned-hostage-taking began in Stockholm, Sweden; the four hostages ended up empathizing with their captors, a psychological condition now referred to as “Stockholm Syndrome.”

In 1982, Lebanon’s parliament elected Christian militia leader Bashir Gemayel president; however, Gemayel was assassinated some three weeks later.