This Day in History – 17 Shevat/January 27

In 5180/1420, a miracle happened to the Jews of Saragossa, Spain, leading to a holiday that was called “Purim of Saragossa.”

Saragossa had 12 kehillos, numbering thousands of Jews. Their minhag was to go out to greet the king with sifrei Torah whenever he happened to pass by the Jewish market. At one point the Rabbanim decided that this was not kvod haTorah, so they ordered the shamash to remove the holy scrolls from their cases. This way, they could go out to greet the king with the beautiful cases while preserving the honor of the Torah scrolls.

A Jewish apostate who wanted to stir up the king’s wrath against the Jews told the king that when the Jews supposedly take out the sifrei Torah in his honor, the scrolls are not in their cases. That night, Eliyahu Hanavi appeared to the shamash and instructed him to return the holy scrolls to their cases. He, of course, obeyed and the next day, when the king checked and found that the information was false, he killed the apostate and the Jews were saved.


5516/1756, Harav Yechezkel Taub of Kuzmir, zy”a

Rav Yechezkel was born c. 5530 /1770. His father was Harav Tzvi Hirsch, author of the Shabbos zemerChavatzeles Hasharon.” In his youth, Reb Yechezkel learned from his father, who was a gadol baTorah v’yirah. Reb Yechezkel later married the daughter of Harav Moshe of Dvuhrt.

At a young age, Reb Yechezkel became a talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin, and traveled often to his Rebbe. During one of his first visits he hid behind the oven, but the Chozeh immediately spotted him, stood up and declared, “Whoever wants to see the tzurah of Avraham Avinu should look right behind the oven!”

Subsequently, he became a talmid of Harav Shmuel of Karov and, after Harav Shmuel was niftar, of his successor Harav Yitzchak of Vengrov. Upon the petirah of Harav Yitzchak of Vengrov, Reb Yechezkel was crowned Rebbe in 5487/1727. Thousands flocked to his open doors. He later moved to Kuzmir, Poland.

Reb Yechezkel emphasized the power of niggunim for spiritual elevation. He would often say, “I don’t feel an oneg in Shabbos except with a special niggun.” This unique aspect of Chassidus was inherited by the Modzitzer dynasty, which was a successor of Kuzmir.

His Torah thoughts were printed by his son-in-law in the sefer Nechmad Mizahav. A collection of his thoughts from various sources is in another sefer called Toras Yechezkel (currently unavailable).

He was niftar at approximately age 85 on 17 Shevat (heard from the current Modzitzer Rebbe), and is buried in Kuzmir.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Jan. 27

In 1880, Thomas Edison received a patent for his electric incandescent lamp.

In 1945, during World War II, Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland.

In 1951, an era of atomic testing in the Nevada desert began as an Air Force plane dropped a one-kiloton bomb on Frenchman Flat.