This Day in History – 2 Elul/August 8

Pioneer Venus-2 stands poised for launch on Complex 36’s Pad A at Cape Canaveral, in 1978. (AP Photo)
Pioneer Venus-2 stands poised for launch on Complex 36’s Pad A at Cape Canaveral, in 1978. (AP Photo)

2 Elul

In 5081/1321, 160 Jews in France were burned to death on charges of poisoning wells. Hy”d.

In 5207/1447, the Jews of Poland and Lithuania were granted a Charter of Rights.

5315/1555, the Pope ordered the confiscation and burning of all copies of the Talmud.

In 5315/1555, the first printing of the Shulchan Aruch took place near Tzfas in Eretz Yisrael.

In 5556/1796, the Jews of Bologna, Italy, were granted equal civil rights.


5168/1408, Rabbeinu Yitzchok Bar Sheises, the Rivash, zt”l.

5604/1844, Harav Yosef of Ostilla, zt”l, son of Harav Mordechai of Neshchiz

5702/1942, Harav Avraham Yaakov Friedman of Boyan-Lvov, Hy”d

5706/1946, Harav Eliezer Hager, zt”l, the Damesek Eliezer of Vizhnitz

5754/1994, Harav Meir Yisroel Isser HaKohen Friedman, the Krenitzer Rav, zt”l, mechaber of Shai Lamorah and Imrei Yisrael



Harav Yisrael Elazar Hopstein of Kozhnitz, zt”l

Son of Harav Yerachmiel Moshe of Kozhnitz, Harav Yisrael Elazar Hopstein was born in Elul 5658/1898, a sixth-generation descendant of the Maggid of Kozhnitz and was named Yisrael after him.

Harav Yisrael Elazar learned under Harav Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtza, receiving semichah from him. He married the daughter of Harav Mordechai Yosef Twersky of Zlatipola. After the petirah of his father on 13 Elul 5669/1909, Reb Yisrael Elazar was appointed Rebbe.

In 5684/1924, wishing to help settle Eretz Yisrael, Reb Yisrael Elazar headed a group of chassidim who bought property there. Reb Yisrael Elazar himself traveled to Eretz Yisrael with the group, where, with the chassidim of the Yablona Rebbe, they founded the city of Kfar Chassidim.

Due to ill-health, Reb Yisrael Elazar was forced to leave Eretz Yisrael. He was appointed Rav of the community in Paris; when the Nazis conquered Paris, Reb Yisrael Elazar was captured as he tried to flee, but he was transferred to Nice and from there he managed to escape to America in 5701/1941.

In America, Reb Yisrael Elazar rebuilt Kozhnitzer Chassidus. Unfortunately, all the sefarim and heirlooms he had inherited from his forebears were lost during the war.

In 5726/1966, Reb Yisrael Elazar decided to return to Eretz Yisrael, and even to found a beis medrash for the Kozhnitzer Chassidim there. (Until then they davened in someone’s apartment.)

Returning to America to take care of some last details, Reb Yisrael Elazar was suddenly niftar on 2 Elul 5726/1966, at the age of 68. His mittah was flown to Eretz Yisrael, where he was buried in the Sanhedria beis olam in Yerushalayim.

Reb Yisrael Elazar’s divrei Torah were published in the sefer Avodas Elazar.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

The Rebbe was succeeded as Kozhnitzer Rebbe by his grandson, Harav Shimshon Sternberg, shlita, who leads a flourishing chassidus in Eretz Yisrael.


August 8

In 1963, Britain’s “Great Train Robbery” took place as thieves made off with 2.6 million pounds in banknotes.

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte set sail for St. Helena to spend the remainder of his days in exile.

In 1911, President William Howard Taft signed a measure raising the number of U.S. representatives from 391 to 433, effective with the next Congress, with a proviso to add two more when New Mexico and Arizona would become states.

In 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan completed its occupation of Beijing.

In 1942, during World War II, six Nazi saboteurs who were captured after landing in the U.S. were executed in Washington, D.C.; two others who’d cooperated with authorities were spared.

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman signed the U.S. instrument of ratification for the United Nations Charter. The Soviet Union declared war against Japan during World War II.

In 1953, the United States and South Korea initialed a mutual security pact.

In 1968, the Republican national convention in Miami Beach nominated Richard Nixon for president on the first ballot.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon announced his resignation, effective the next day, following damaging new revelations in the Watergate scandal.

In 1978, the U.S. launched Pioneer Venus 2, which carried scientific probes to study the atmosphere of Venus.

In 2007, space shuttle Endeavour roared into orbit with teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan on board.