This Day in History – 24 Teves/January 5

A ksav yad of the Baal HaTanya. )Tzvi Rubinstein(
A ksav yad of the Baal HaTanya. )Tzvi Rubinstein(

In 5597/1837, a devastating earthquake shook Eretz Yisrael, killing at least 2,000 in Tzfas and over 700 in Teveria. Many of the survivors migrated to Chevron.



5479/1719, Harav Naftali Katz, zt”l, the Semichas Chachamim

5572/1812, Harav Yosef of Yampola, zt”l, son of the Zlotchever Maggid

5747/1987, Harav Moshe Mordechai Biderman, zt”l, the Lelover Rebbe


5573/1812, Harav Schneur Zalman of Liadi, zt”l, the Baal HaTanya

Harav Schneur Zalman of Liadi — also known as The Alter Rebbe, Baal HaTanya and The Rav — was born in the White Russian town of Liozna on 18 Elul 5505/1745. His father was Reb Baruch of Liozna. He married Shterna, the daughter of Reb Yehudah Leib Segal from Vitebsk.

In 5524/1764 Reb Schneur Zalman traveled to Mezeritch to study under the Baal Shem Tov’s successor, Harav Dov Ber. Despite his youth, he was accepted into the inner circle of the Rebbe’s talmidim.

In 5527/1767 Reb Schneur Zalman was offered the position of Maggid in his hometown, Liozna. He accepted this post, which he held for the next 30 years until he moved to Liadi.

Upon the petirah of the Maggid of Mezeritch, Harav Schneur Zalman founded the Chabad court and formulated his distinct “Chabad” (an acronym of chochmah, binah, daas) philosophy and approach to life.

For 20 years he labored on the Tanya, in which he outlined the Chabad philosophy and ethos. Tanya is considered the sefer hayesod, the fundamental text, of Chabad Chassidus.

Soon the Baal HaTanya’s influence had spread throughout White Russia and Lithuania, where a significant part of the Jewish population regarded him as their Rebbe and leader.

In 5558/1798 Reb Schneur Zalman and some of his leading Chassidim were denounced to the Russian authorities in Petersburg as traitors to the Tsar. The fact that Reb Schneur Zalman collected funds to support the needy in Eretz Yisrael (then part of the Turkish Empire) was used as “evidence” that he was an “enemy” of Russia.

Fifty-three days after his arrest, Reb Schneur Zalman was informed that he had been found innocent. He was released on 19 Kislev.

However, false charges were again brought to the authorities in Petersburg, and once again the Rebbe was summoned to the capital to defend himself and his teachings. This time it took over nine months until he won a complete victory over his slanderers. In the meantime, Tsar Paul was murdered and his son Tsar Alexander I ordered the case dismissed.

Reb Schneur Zalman did not return to Liozna. At the invitation of Prince Lubomirsky, he took up residence in the town of Liadi.

In the late summer of 5572/1812, Reb Schneur Zalman fled the approach of Napoleon’s armies, which were advancing through White Russia in their push toward Moscow (the Rebbe actively supported the Tsar in the war against Napoleon). After many weeks of wandering, he arrived, in the dead of winter, in the town of Pyena. There he fell ill and, on 24 Teves, Motzoei Shabbos Parashas Shemos, was niftar.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Jan. 5

In 1781, a British naval expedition led by Benedict Arnold burned Richmond, Virginia.

In 1895, French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of treason, was publicly stripped of his rank. He was ultimately vindicated.

In 1905, the National Association of Audubon Societies for the Protection of Wild Birds and Animals was incorporated in New York State.

In 1949, in his State of the Union address, President Harry S. Truman labeled his administration the Fair Deal.