This Day in History – 18 Iyar/May 7

18 Iyar, Lag BaOmer

In 3981/221 C.E., the talmidim of Rabi Akiva stopped dying, after 24,000 had perished.

In 5708/1948, the Arabs blew up the Churva Shul in the Old City of Yerushalayim.



3981/221 C.E., the Tanna Rabi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the holy Zohar

5588/1828, Harav Shlomo Bochner of Kishinev

5758/1998, Harav Mordechai Yaffa Shlesinger, author of Sfas Hame’il, Mishbirei Yam, and Mira Dachya


Harav Moshe Isserles, the Rema, zy”a

Harav Moshe Ben Yisrael Isserles, the Rema, was born in Cracow in 5280/1520 (or 5290/1530 according to another opinion). His father was a prominent askan in the Cracow community. The Rema was a Gadol already in his youth. He traveled to learn in Lublin, where he was a devoted talmid of Harav Shalom Shachna, the city’s Rav, who later became his father-in-law.

The Rema eventually returned to Cracow, and at the age of 23 was appointed a Dayan in the Great Beis Din of Cracow.

Harav Yosef Karo was writing the sefer Beis Yosef on Arbaah Turim, basing his piskei halachah on Sephardic Gedolim such as the Rif, Rambam and Rosh. At the same time, the Rema was writing a similar commentary, each without knowing about the other. When the Rema found out about the Beis Yosef’s chibbur, he humbly revised his entire work and called it Darkei Moshe. In his sefer, he writes commentaries on the Beis Yosef, writing additional dinim when necessary. In many cases he disagrees with the Beis Yosef and paskens according to the rulings of previous Ashkenazic Rabbanim and the customs of Ashkenazic kehillos.

Subsequently, when the Beis Yosef published the Shulchan Aruch, wherever Sephardic and Ashkenazic rulings differed, the Rema inserted his comments into the text. This Mappah (“Tablecloth”) to the original Shulchan Aruch (“Set Table”) created the definitive Shulchan Aruch that we have today.

Through correspondence, the Rema and the Beis Yosef discussed issues in halachah and were on the closest of terms. The Rema once asked the Beis Yosef to send him a tikkun sofrim from Eretz Yisrael. Using what he received as a guide, the Rema wrote a sefer Torah that he dedicated to the shul in Cracow that his father had built (later to become the Rema Shul). Even though the Rema differed with the Beis Yosef on many piskei halachos, he declared that anyone who disagreed with the Beis Yosef was disagreeing with the Shechinah! (She’eilos U’teshuvos HaRema)

The Rema published various other sefarim, including some on Kabbalah. Among the sefarim that remain are She’eilos U’teshuvos HaRema, Mechir Yayin, Toras Ha’olah, and Toras Chatas.

The Rema was niftar at a young age, either 42 or 52. His matzeivah reads: “From Moshe [Rabbeinu] to Moshe [the Rema] none arose in Yisrael like Moshe.”

He is buried in the cemetery beside the shul where he davened, the Rema Shul, located in the Kazimierz district of Cracow.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.



May 7

In 1939, Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance, the Rome-Berlin Axis.

In 1942, U.S. Army Gen. Jonathan Wainwright went on Manila radio to announce the Allied surrender of the Philippines to Japanese forces during World War II.

In 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, ending its role in World War II.

In 1963, the United States launched the Telstar 2 communications satellite.

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford formally declared an end to the “Vietnam era.” In Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — the Viet Cong celebrated its takeover.

In 1992, the latest addition to America’s space shuttle fleet, Endeavour, went on its first flight.

In 1992, a 203-year-old proposed constitutional amendment barring Congress from giving itself a midterm pay raise received enough votes for ratification when Michigan became the 38th state to approve it.

In 1995, Jacques Chirac, the conservative mayor of Paris, won France’s presidency in his third attempt, defeating Lionel Jospin in a runoff to end 14 years of Socialist rule.