This Day in History – 2 Sivan/May 20

In 2449/1313 B.C.E., Moshe Rabbeinu ascended Har Sinai for the first time, and Hashem told him to tell Klal Yisrael: “You shall be My chosen treasure (segulah) from among all the nations, for all the earth is Mine. You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shemos 19:4­–6). Because of this monumental pronouncement, today is known as Yom Hameyuchas — The Day of Distinction.



5260 or 5270/1500 or 1510, Harav Ovadiah of Bartenura (a city in northern Italy), author of Amar Neka and the famous peirush on Mishnayos. He is buried on Har Hazeisim.


5696/1936, The Ahavas Yisrael, zy”a, Harav Yisrael Hager of Vizhnitz

Harav Yisrael, the son of Harav Baruch (the Imrei Baruch) of Vizhnitz was born on the second day of Elul 5620/1860. Harav Baruch was the son of Harav Menachem Mendel, the Tzemach Tzaddik of Vizhnitz. He was named Yisrael after his great-grandfather Harav Yisrael of Ruzhin.

Rav Yisrael grew up under the supervision of his illustrious grandfather, the Tzemach Tzaddik. By the age of 14, together with his brother Harav Chaim of Antiniya, he had already received semichah from Harav Yosef Shaul Nathanson, the shoel u’meishiv, and from the Kochav MiYaakov, and others.

Rav Baruch (Rav Yisrael’s father) sent Rav Yisrael to serve as Rav in the village of Bidvala, in the Marmorosh section of Romania. There he fought the haskalah movement and established chadarim.

After a short while, the maskilim deemed him too successful against their efforts, so they slandered him to government authorities, which compelled him to flee. He returned to Vizhnitz, where he served as a Dayan until his father’s petirah in 5653/1893.

Rav Yisrael succeeded his father, greatly expanding the Chassidus.

The title of his works embodies his outstanding middahAhavas Yisrael. The Rebbe was the epitome of kindheartedness and love for each and every Jew.

The Rebbe was niftar in the middle of Kabbalas Shabbos, and was buried in the cemetery in Grossvardein. His remains were moved to Bnei Brak in 5709/1949, where an ohel was built on his kever.


May 20

In 1862, President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, intended to encourage settlements west of the Mississippi River.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, aboard the Spirit of St. Louis on his historic solo flight to France.

In 1942, during World War II, the Office of Civilian Defense was established.

In 1959, nearly 5,000 Japanese-Americans had their U.S. citizenships restored after choosing to renounce them during World War II.