This Day in History – 25 Adar/March 16

Today was the first day of Creation, according to Rabi Yehoshua in Rosh Hashanah 10b according to Rabi Eliezer it was on 25 Elul.

In 3365/396 B.C.E., Nevuchadnetzar, the king of Bavel, died. [There are a number of opinions regarding the sequence of events of the next few days; we will adopt the braisa of Seder Olam. See Luach Dvar Yom B’yomo for further discussion of this topic.]

In 4941/1181, the king of France ordered all Jews in Paris attending shul on Shabbos to be detained for ransom.

In 5109/1349, the Jews of Strasbourg, France, were burned in the Jewish cemetery. Hy”d.

In 5256/1496, the Jews of Carinthia, Austria, were expelled, and not readmitted until 5608/1848.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5521/1761, Harav Gershon of Kitov, zt”l

5730/1970, Harav Yitzchak Abuchatzeira, zt”l, known as the Baba Chaki (Adar II)

5733/1973, Harav Salman Chugi Avudi, zt”l, Raavad of the Sephardic kehillah in Yerushalayim

5763/2003, Harav Yisrael Yaakov Fisher, zt”l, Rav of Zichron Moshe, and Raavad of the Eidah Hachareidis of Yerushalayim


 

5694/1934, Harav Betzalel Yair Danziger Of Alexander, zy”a

Harav Betzalel Yair was born on 25 Adar (which was also the day of his petirah) in 5621/1861. His father, Harav Yechiel, zy”a, was the first Alexander Rebbe, commonly known as the Alter Rebbe of Alexander. He was the youngest of three, his brothers being Harav Yisrael Yitzchak, known as the Yismach Yisrael of Alexander, zy”a, and Harav Shmuel Tzvi, the Tiferes Shmuel of Alexander, zy”a.

From his youth he was known for his temimus and tzidkus. He married the daughter of Harav Shlomo Tzvi Plavner.

After the petirah of Harav Yechiel, his oldest son, the Yismach Yisrael, succeeded him. Harav Betzalel Yair accepted the leadership of his brother wholeheartedly and with humility. In 5670/1910, the Yismach Yisrael was niftar childless. The Tiferes Shmuel succeeded him and took over the leadership of Alexander Chassidus.

During World War I, the entire Danziger family fled from the small town of Alexander to the nearby industrial city of Lodz, where the Tiferes Shmuel continued leading the Chassidim. After the war, the Rebbe returned to Alexander, but Rav Betzalel Yair and his family remained in Lodz.

At the petirah of the Tiferes Shmuel, in 5684/1924, his second son, Harav Yitzchak Menachem Mendel (the Akeidas Yitzchak), zy”a, succeeded him, since his oldest son, Harav Shraga Feivel, had been killed al kiddush Hashem during WWI. Again Rav Betzalel Yair accepted the new Rebbe wholeheartedly, and frequently traveled to his court.

In Lodz, where there were thousands of Alexander Chassidim, Harav Betzalel Yair served as a beacon of light. Although he was never a Rebbe, many people flocked to his humble home to hear from him the dvar Hashem. He would often cite divrei Torah from the sefer of his brother, the Yismach Yisrael. It was said that even without looking into the sefer he would recite it word for word.

He was niftar at the age of 73 and is buried in the beis hachaim in Alexander.

His son, Harav Avraham Yehudah, and sons-in-law and their offspring were all killed al kiddush Hashem in WWII, aside from his son-in-law, Harav Yehudah Moshe, zy”a, who assumed the leadership of Alexander Chassidus in Eretz Yisrael after the Holocaust. After the passing of Harav Yehudah Moshe, his son Harav Avraham Menachem succeeded him; he was niftar on 17 Adar 5765/2005. He, in turn, was succeeded by his son Harav Yisrael, shlita.

Zechuso yagein aleinu


March 16

In 1521, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines.

In 1915, the Federal Trade Commission, created in 1914, began operations.

In 1926, rocket science pioneer Robert H. Goddard successfully tested the first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts.

In 1935, Adolf Hitler decided to break the military terms set by the Treaty of Versailles by ordering the rearming of Germany.

In 1945, during World War II, American forces declared they had secured Iwo Jima, although pockets of Japanese resistance remained.

In 1984, William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, was kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists. (He was tortured by his captors and killed in 1985.)