This Day in History – 25 Av/August 1

25 Av

In 5567/1807, many Jews of Copenhagen were killed when the British bombarded the city during the Anglo-Russian War that raged between 1807 and 1812.  Hy”d.

In 5704/1944, the Amsterdam hideout which housed Anne Frank, Hy”d, was discovered by the Nazis.


5359/1599, Harav Yeshayahu Menachem of Cracow, zt”l, mechaber of Be’Urim Kabdu Es Hashem.

5591/1831, Harav Avraham Chaim Horowitz of Linsk, zt”l

5739/1979, Harav Shmuel Baruch Eliezrov, zt”l, mechaber of Dvar Shmuel

5754/1994, Harav Moshe Hager of Antiniya–Bnei Brak, zt”l



Harav Yaakov Meshulam Orenstein, zt”l, mechaber of Yeshuos Yaakov

The Yeshuos Yaakov was born about 5530/1770 to Harav Mordechai Zev, a noted mekubal who was Rav of Alesk, and his Rebbetzin, both descendants of the Chacham Tzvi.

He learned first under his great father but unfortunately not for long, as Harav Mordechai was niftar in Yaakov’s youth.

Soon after he was orphaned he was engaged to the granddaughter of the renowned Harav Naftali Tzvi of Yarislav. When, after his chasunah, he moved into his shver’s house, he found both a new home and a new wellspring of Torah. Under the influence of his father-in-law, he grew in Torah and, after a while, talmidim assembled around him.

In 5561/1801, Harav Yaakov Meshulam was asked to fill the rabbinical vacancy in the city of Zalkava and its environs, replacing Harav Tzvi Hersh Meisels, zt”l. In the introduction to Yeshuos Yaakov, Harav Yaakov Meshulam writes about the satisfactory condition of the city, whose residents were bnei Torah and strictly adhered to mitzvos.

After the petirah of Harav Tzvi Hersh Rosens, zt”l, author of Teisha Shittos, in 5580/1820, Harav Yaakov Meshulam was called to replace him as Rav in the large metropolis of Lvov (Lemberg). There, the Yeshuos Yaakov drew many talmidim, and came in contact with contemporary Gedolim.

In 5569/1809 Harav Yaakov Meshulam published Yeshuos Yaakov, an intricate peirush on all four parts of the Shulchan Aruch. It soon became the sefer of choice, as it gained recognition among contemporary scholars. In the sefer, Harav Yaakov Meshulam solves the most difficult problems in halachah, using his great strengths in pilpul and iyun. The Divrei Chaim of Sanz, zt”l, once remarked that all sefarim up to and including Yeshuos Yaakov were written with ruach hakodesh.

The Yeshuos Yaakov had an open house and an open heart for whoever was in need. He was at the forefront in dealing with the issues facing the city. He fought the “enlightenment” movements that plagued Europe at that time and which threatened the very existence of Torah-true Yiddishkeit. He was successful in his efforts, and haskalah did not take firm root in his lifetime.

At one point, the maskilim wished to negotiate with him and come to some kind of compromise. The Yeshuos Yaakov adamantly refused, saying that compromising with haskalah is like compromising on the Shema Yisrael, the fundamental tenet of Yiddishkeit.

The Yeshuos Yaakov had a son, Mordechai Zev, whom he cherished and whose chiddushim he frequently quotes in his sefarim.  This son was tragically niftar in the prime of his life on 17 Cheshvan 5597/1837.

Harav Yaakov Meshulam was beside himself. In his hesped he mentioned a maamar Chazal that states that when a man is put into the position of eulogizing his son, even the sun above is affected. As he uttered those words, torrential rains suddenly came pouring down.

After this incident the Yeshuos Yaakov knew no peace as he lamented his beloved son. Three years later he himself was niftar, and he  was buried in Lvov.

The Yeshuos Yaakov, along with such greats as the Chasam Sofer, was considered one of the leaders of his generation. The Chasam Sofer held him in the highest esteem and delivered a tearful hesped at his levayah. (The hesped is printed in Drashos Chasam Sofer, and it is the date mentioned there that determined 25 Av as the yahrtzeit; others seemed to have erred by saying it was 21 Av.)

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Aug. 1

In 1714, Britain’s Queen Anne died at age 49; she was succeeded by George I.

In 1876, Colorado was admitted as the 38th state.

In 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps established an aeronautical division, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force.

In 1933, the National Recovery Administration’s “Blue Eagle” symbol began to appear in store windows and on packages to show support for the National Industrial Recovery Act.

In 1936, the Olympics opened in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.

In 1943, rioting broke out in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood after a false rumor spread that a police officer had shot and killed a black U.S. Army soldier who in fact had only been wounded; six people were killed in the violence.

In 1944, an uprising broke out in Warsaw, Poland, against Nazi occupation; the revolt lasted two months before collapsing.

In 1957, the United States and Canada agreed to create the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).

In 2007, the eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, collapsed into the Mississippi River during evening rush hour, killing 13 people.