This Day in History – 22 Adar/March 13

In 5109/1349, the Jews of Uberlingen, Switzerland, were massacred al kiddush Hashem.

In 5190/1430, a miracle happened in the kehillah of Rome. When the authorities decreed that every Jew must either convert or be killed, an earthquake rocked the city. The decree was annulled.

In 5693/1933, the infamous Dachau concentration camp was established in Germany. The camp, one of the first established by the Nazis, was originally designated as a prison camp for political criminals.

After Kristallnacht, the number of Jews imprisoned there kept growing until over 200,000 victims had passed through its gates, most of whom perished. The Nazis built a gas chamber in Dachau, but it was never used. The camp was liberated in April of 1945 by the U.S. army.

In 5708/1948, 16 Jewish soldiers were lynched by an Arab mob; six of them were brutally beaten to death. Hy”d.

In 5757/1997, seven Jewish students were killed on the border with Jordan. Hy”d.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5489/1729, Harav Eliyahu of Izmir, zt”l, mechaber of Shevet Mussar

5662/1902, Harav Yaakov of Novominsk, zt”l

5687/1927, Harav Eliezer Dovid of Radoshitz, zt”l

5703/1943, Harav Avraham Dovber Kahana-Shapiro of Kovna, zt”l

5718/1958, Harav Reuven Grozovsky, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Torah Vodaath

5763/2003, Harav Yisrael Moshe Dushinsky, zt”l, Gaavad of the Eidah Hachareidis of Yerushalayim


 

5668/1908, Harav Yechiel Michel Epstein, zt”l, the Aruch Hashulchan

Harav Yechiel Michel was born on 20 Shevat 5590/1830 in Boibrisk, Lithuania, to Harav Aharon Yitzchak, a pious Jew.

He married the daughter of the wealthy Rav Yaakov Berlin (the father of the Netziv of Volozhin) whose support enabled him to immerse himself in Torah. When his father-in-law lost his wealth, the Rebbetzin managed a clothing shop for over 30 years. In his hesped for his Rebbetzin, he praised the magnitude of her ahavas Torah, which enabled him to learn worry-free for so many years.

His first position was as Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivas Reb Altshul in Boibrisk; he was later appointed Rav in Novozovkov, Subsequently, he became Rav in the city of Novarodok, where his monumental stature had a vast influence on all its inhabitants.

Aruch Hashulchan, written while he was in Novarodok, expands on the Shulchan Aruch, elucidating it based on the Rishonim and Acharonim and giving authoritative piskei halachah. First published in 5651/1891, it clarifies and illuminates all four parts of the Shulchan Aruch. He said that without siyatta diShmaya he would not have been able to complete this monumental work. He also authored Aruch Hashulchan He’asid, in which he brilliantly sorts out the dinim that will be relevant with the coming of Moshiach.

Asked how he could bear the responsibility of paskening on complex halachos, he replied, “Man has to do what he can to clarify the halachah; the rest is up to Hashem.” He would sit with four sets of sefarim at hand — Gemara, Rambam, Tur and Shulchan Aruch — and his pen would write continuously. In the city of Novarodok he initiated a novel practice — ushering in Shabbos early in order to avoid chillul Shabbos, a concept that many opposed.

He personally saw to the welfare of the sick and hungry. On Erev Yom Kippur he would go around to those in the hospital and command them to eat on Yom Kippur, patiently explaining how they could do so without transgressing by ingesting less than a shiur.

He was niftar at the age of 79 on 22 Adar Sheini and was survived by his son, Harav Baruch, author of Torah Temimah.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

March 13

In 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis signed a measure allowing black slaves to enlist in the Confederate States Army with the promise they would be set free.

In 1933, banks in the U.S. began to reopen after a “holiday” declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1954, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu began during the First Indochina War as communist forces attacked French troops, who were defeated nearly two months later.

In 1995, two Americans working for U.S. defense contractors in Kuwait were seized by Iraq after they strayed across the border; sentenced to eight years in prison, both were freed the following July.