This Day in History – 23 Iyar/May 12

23 Iyar

In 2450/1311 B.C.E., the Jews arrived in Refidim. Moshe Rabbeinu struck the rock to provide water for the people.

In 4856/1096, the Crusaders attacked the Jewish community of Worms (Vermeize). Almost the entire Jewish community hid in the home of a nobleman. Their actual demise took place on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, but since they perished al kiddush Hashem, today’s date is considered the beginning of their slaughter.

The community observed a taanis in memory of the victims, Hy”d. The Shabbos between the two dates was called “Shvartze Shabbos — Black Shabbos,” and the minhagim of Shabbos Chazon were observed by the community on that day.

A special kinah that begins “Mi yiten roshi mayim” is recited on Tishah B’Av to commemorate the victims of the Vermeize community.



5554/1794, Harav Yehoshua of Dinov, zt”l



Harav Eliezer Tzvi of Komarna, zt”l

Harav Eliezer Tzvi was born in 5590/1830 to Harav Yitzchak Yehudah Eizik Yechiel of Komarna. Reb Eliezer Tzvi became a disciple of Harav Yitzchak Eizik of Ziditchov, as well as of Harav Yehudah Tzvi of Razlo. He was a son-in-law of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz.

Reb Eliezer Tzvi succeeded his father as Rebbe in Komarna, where he remained until his petirah on 23 Iyar 5658. He was famous for his genius in nigleh and nistar and for his exalted virtues, particularly his humility.

Reb Eliezer Tzvi hesitated for a few months before assuming his father’s position as Rebbe in Komarna. But when Rosh Hashanah arrived, a large following of his father’s Chassidim came to Komarna, expecting him to lead them, and so he acquiesced. Nevertheless, he first wanted a sign of approval from Heaven. Such a sign soon came in the form of his first kvittel, which carried the name Rivkah bas Yehudis, the initial letters of which spell “Rebbe.”

About five weeks later, Reb Eliezer Tzvi decided to travel to his father-in-law, the Divrei Chaim, to receive a brachah for his new leadership role. He arrived wearing his customary white Shabbos attire, followed by a group of Chassidim, and was received very warmly by the Sanzer Rav. The Divrei Chaim asked him to lead Kabbalas Shabbos, which was a great honor in Sanz, and proposed that the new Komarna Rebbe hold a tisch of his own at his lodgings, after which he should join the Divrei Chaim’s tisch in the beis medrash.

Reb Eliezer Tzvi did as he was advised, to the dissatisfaction of some of the townspeople of Sanz, who disapproved of there being any tisch in town other than their Rebbe’s. But the Sanzer Rav made his opinion clear later that evening when he seated the Komarna Rebbe beside him at his own tisch and treated him with great respect.

Reb Eliezer Tzvi wrote a number of sefarim, including Ben Beisi on Chumash, the five Megillos and Tehillim; Zaken Beisi on Pirkei Avos; Rosh Beisi on Tikkunei HaZohar; Avi Ezri and Damesek Eliezer on the Zohar and Or Einayim on Kabbalah. Not all of his works were published, and some were only partially published.

Yehi zichro baruch.

May 12

In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the besieged city of Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered to British forces.

In 1870, an act creating the Canadian province of Manitoba was given royal assent, to take effect in July.

In 1922, a 20-ton meteor crashed near Blackstone, Virginia.

In 1937, Britain’s King George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey; his wife, Elizabeth, was crowned as queen consort.

In 1949, the Soviet Union lifted the Berlin Blockade, which the Western powers had succeeded in circumventing with their Berlin Airlift.

In 1965, West Germany and Israel exchanged letters establishing diplomatic relations.