This Day in History – 23 Teves/January 4

The margins of Harav Yitzchak Zerachyah on the works of his rebbi, the Pri Chadash.
The margins of Harav Yitzchak Zerachyah on the works of his rebbi, the Pri Chadash.

In 5256/1496, just four years after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, a decree was issued in Portugal giving the Jews one year to either convert to Christianity or leave the country. Over the next 350 years, the infamous Inquisition persecuted, tortured and burned at the stake thousands of “marranos” throughout Spain, Portugal and their colonies for continuing to secretly practice the Jewish faith.

In 5465/1705, “Purim Sharif” was established in Tripoli, Libya, to commemorate deliverance from Ibrahim-a-Sharif, a cruel dictator who had laid siege to the town but suddenly and miraculously died. With his death, the siege ended and the town’s citizens were saved. It was also commonly known as “Purim Kedivna — the False Purim” to distinguish it from the regular Purim.



5500/1740, Harav Yaakov Hakohen Paperash, zt”l, mechaber of Shov Yaakov

5597/1837, Harav Aryeh Leib Epstein of Ozhorov, zt”l

5761/2001, Harav Mordechai Gifter, Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe Yeshivah, Cleveland


5525/1765, Harav Yitzchak Zerachyah Azoulai, zt”l

Harav Yitzchak Zerachyah (ben Harav Yeshayah) Azoulai was born in Yerushalayim in 5462/1702.

He was a talmid in the beis medrash Beis Yaakov in Yerushalayim which was founded by Harav Chezkia da Silva, the Pri Chadash. He learned Kabbalah under Harav Avraham Yitzchaki, mechaber of Zera Avraham, towards the end of the latter’s life (he was niftar in 5489/1729).

Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah was among the leading Rabbanim of Yerushalayim in his day, and his name appears on many letters and haskamos. He served on the beis din of Harav Eliezer Nachum and Harav Meyuchas Bachar Shmuel. He and another representative of the kehillah in Yerushalayim traveled to Europe on behalf of the kehillah in 5501/1741, but he was forced to return to Eretz Yisrael in the middle of the trip.

Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah is best known through his eldest son, Harav Chaim Yosef David Azoulai, the Chida, who was born in 5484/1724 in Yerushalayim.

Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah left many manuscripts, some of which were published and others referenced by his son the Chida in his many works.

Rav Yitzchak Zerachyah was niftar on 23 Teves 5525/1765.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Jan. 4

In 1896, Utah was admitted as the 45th state.

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his State of the Union address, called for legislation to provide assistance for the jobless, elderly, impoverished children and the handicapped.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered his State of the Union address in which he outlined the goals of his “Great Society.”

In 1995, the 104th Congress convened, the first entirely under Republican control since the Eisenhower era.