This Day in History – 19 Shevat/January 29

In 5109/1349, 700 Jews of Basel, Switzerland, Hy”d, were burned alive in wooden houses especially constructed for that purpose.

The Jewish community of Basel had flourished until 1348, when they were accused of poisoning wells during the Black Plague. This triggered a variety of persecutions: Jewish children were forcibly baptized, 600 Jews were burned at the stake, and the remainder was burned alive in the wooden houses.



5478/1718, Harav Binyamin Zev Shapiro, zt”l

5665/1905, Harav Yitzchak Baruch Sofer, zt”l

5690/1930, Harav Shimon Greenfeld, the Maharshag, zt”l

5696/1936, Harav Elimelech Menachem Mendel Landau of Strikov, zt”l


5676/1916, Harav Shmuel Weinberg of Slonim, zy”a, the Divrei Shmuel

Harav Shmuel Weinberg, born in 5610/1850, was the son of Harav Yechiel Michel Aharon and a grandson of Harav Avraham of Slonim, founder of the Slonimer dynasty and author of Yesod HaAvodah. His father-in-law was Harav Avraham, son of Harav Shlomo Leib of Lentchna.

Reb Shmuel learned Torah and Chassidus under his grandfather, the Yesod HaAvodah; Harav Chaim of Sanz, the Divrei Chaim; Harav Avraham of Chechanov; Harav Dovid Moshe of Tchortkov; Harav Mordechai Shraga of Husyatin, and Harav Yochanon of Rachmastrivka.

He visited Eretz Yisrael twice in his early years.

After the petirah of his grandfather, the Yesod HaAvodah, on 11 Cheshvan 5644/1883, the Chassidim appointed Reb Shmuel as their new Rebbe, although he was only 34 years old.

Initially Reb Shmuel refused to accept, as he wrote in a letter to Harav Dovid Moshe of Tchortkov: “Have mercy on my forlorn soul, which is surrounded by troubles. The Chassidim are mistaken about me. Woe to me if I accept their proposition. They will be left without a real leader, and I will have lost my portion in both worlds. Maybe it would be correct for me to leave the country.”

As Rebbe, Reb Shmuel was active on behalf of Klal Yisrael in ruchniyus and in gashmiyus. Together with the Chofetz Chaim, Reb Shmuel founded an organization to help fund Talmudei Torah, and for building and maintaining mikvaos.

Reb Shmuel was the Nasi of Kollel Reisin in Eretz Yisrael, known as the leading kollel in Teveria, and sent many of his Chassidim to settle in Teveria. In 5659/1899, Reb Shmuel opened Yeshivas Ohr Torah in Teveria, at the site of the kever of Rabi Meir Baal Haness, which still exists today.

On 19 Shevat 5676/1916, during World War I, Reb Shmuel was niftar in Warsaw. He was 66 years old.

Some of Reb Shmuel’s divrei Torah on Bereishis and Shemos and on various Torah topics were published posthumously as Divrei Shmuel.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Jan. 29

In 1861, Kansas became the 34th state of the Union.

In 1919, the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which launched Prohibition, was certified by Acting Secretary of State Frank L. Polk.

In 1940, three trains carrying factory workers crashed and exploded while approaching Ajikawaguchi station, Yumesaki Line (Nishinari Line), Osaka, Japan, killing at least 181 people and injuring at least 92.

In 1978, Sweden outlawed aerosol sprays due to their harmful effect on the ozone layer, becoming the first nation to enact such a ban.

In 1975, a bomb exploded inside the U.S. State Department in Washington, causing considerable damage, but injuring no one; the radical group Weather Underground claimed responsibility.

In 1996, French President Jacques Chirac announced a “definitive end” to French nuclear testing.

In 2002, in his State of the Union address, Former President George W. Bush described “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil, in which he included Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

In 2005, A suicide Palestinian bomber struck a bus in Yerushalayim, killing 10 Jews, Hy”d.

In 2005, jetliners from China landed in rival Taiwan for the first time in 56 years.