This Day in History – 26 Tammuz/July 4

26 Tammuz

In 4947/1187, Saladin’s Muslim army defeated the Crusader army, led by Guy de Ludignan, the King of Jerusalem, at Horns of Hittin, a site near the Kineret in the Galil. This defeat was the beginning of the end of the Crusader kingdom.

In 5519/1759, the Baal Shem Tov and Harav Chaim Hakohen Rappaport of Lemberg, by order of that city’s bishop, debated the heretical Frankists. By winning the debate, they prevented the Talmud from being burned. A Yom Tov is celebrated in some Chassidic courts to commemorate this event, particularly in the Ruzhiner dynasty.

In 5701/1941, the Jews of Upina, Lithuania, were executed by the Nazis.


5399/1639, Harav Aharon Berachiah of Modena, zt”l, mechaber of Maavar Yabok

5638/1878, Harav Yechiel Mechel of Pruzhnitz, zt”l

5688/1928, Harav Aryeh Leib Broide of Lvov, zt”l

5762/2002, Harav Nachman Bulman, zt”l, Mashgiach of Yeshivas Ohr Somayach



Harav Sinai Halberstam of Zhemigrad, Hy”d

Harav Sinai Halberstam was born in 5630/1870 in Rudnick. When his father, Harav Baruch of Gorlitz, asked his own father, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, what to name the baby, the Sanzer Rav said he should name him after Reb Baruch’s maternal great-grandfather, Reb Elazar Nissan of Drohobitch, zy”a, the father of his father-in-law, the Yitav Lev of Sighet, zy”a. But then the Divrei Chaim asked another gadol who was present for his own opinion.

“It is the custom,” the gadol replied diffidently, “that one does not name after a person who was niftar young,” and Reb Elazar Nissan had been niftar young.

The Divrei Chaim thought for a moment. “Then name him Sinai, for that has the same letters as Nissan, and may he grow up to be a Sinai ve’oker harim, a giant in the depth and breadth of Torah.”

At a young age, Reb Sinai married the daughter of Harav Naftali Horowitz of Melitz, zy”a.

Reb Sinai was known for his chessed, even in his early years. When Reb Sinai was a newlywed, still living with his in-laws in Melitz, his Rebbetzin noticed that some of his garments were missing. Reb Sinai had been given 18 undershirts for the wedding, and now he had only 10. At the first opportunity his wife questioned him about this, and he answered that he had noticed a fine person at the mikveh who had only one tattered undershirt to his name, so he gave him one of his own. Eighteen were more than he needed, he explained, and he had given the man one after another, until he had given him eight in all.

Reb Sinai was appointed Rav of Koloshitz after his wedding. He served there briefly until the elderly Rav of Zhemigrad was niftar, leaving his position to “a grandson of the Divrei Chaim.” When the post was offered to Reb Sinai, in 5664/1904, he was reminded of an incident that had occurred many years before. He had been in Zhemigrad with his father for a simchah, and his father had offered him a public l’chaim as “Rav of Zhemigrad.” The Chassidim of Zhemigrad had tried to protest, but the reigning Rav had hushed them. “There is nothing to correct,” he had said.

With this authorization, Reb Sinai accepted the rabbanus of Zhemigrad and faithfully led the town for over 30 years. He was renowned as a darshan and composer of niggunim, and for caring for the poor with mesirus nefesh, and he rose every night at chatzos to learn Kabbalah until the morning.

Every Purim, Reb Sinai received several mishloach manos containing envelopes with tzedakah as one of the major components. His Rebbetzin used to collect the envelopes, tally the contents and deliver the sum to the Rebbe. He would then review his list of needy recipients and send new envelopes of money out with his gabbai all over town. By evening, not a penny was left in the house.

When he became ill later in his life, he moved to Cracow where he could receive treatment. A few years later, the Nazis overran Poland and he fled to Lemberg, Galicia, to be under the Soviets. Tragically, his Rebbetzin passed away en route and was buried in Boberka.

The Soviets exiled Reb Sinai and his family to Siberia on a dangerously overcrowded train, in which the prisoners were confined for weeks. Reb Sinai did not survive the trip. He was niftar on 26 Tammuz 5701/1941 and was buried in the forests of Omsk. Clean white fabric was miraculously procured, which was used as tachrichim, and the family was further privileged to erect a matzeivah on his kever in the forest.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

His sons that perished in the Holocaust were Harav Chaim Yehudah, Rav in Aushpitzin; Harav Avraham Abish of Satmar; Harav Dovid of Radomsk; Harav Aharon of Zitomir; Harav Yechezkel of Ridnick; Harav Baruch of Zokilkov. His son-in-law was Harav Baruch of Sanz-Gribov. Hashem yinkom damam.

His sons that survived the war are Harav Yaakov of Tchakava, Yerushalayim; Harav Yisrael of Zhemigrad-New York; Harav Aryeh Leibish, of Zhemigrad-Bnei Brak. His son-in-law was Harav Yaakov Moskowitz of Shotz, Haifa. Zechusom yagen aleinu


July 4

In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

In 1802, the United States Military Academy officially opened at West Point, N.Y.

In 1831, the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, died in New York City at age 73.

In 1863, the Civil War Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., ended as a Confederate garrison surrendered to Union forces.

In 1912, the 48-star American flag, recognizing New Mexico statehood, was adopted.

In 1959, America’s 49-star flag, recognizing Alaskan statehood, was officially unfurled.

In 1960, America’s 50-star flag, recognizing Hawaiian statehood, was officially unfurled.

In 1976, Israeli commandos raided Entebbe airport in Uganda, rescuing almost all of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized pro-Palestinian hijackers.

In 1982, the space shuttle Columbia concluded its fourth and final test flight with a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

In 1987, Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison. (He died in September 1991).

Ten years ago: A speaker claiming to be Saddam Hussein called on Iraqis in a taped message to rally behind anti-U.S. resistance.

President George W. Bush visited Dayton, Ohio, to praise the work of U.S. troops and celebrate the 100th anniversary of flight in the hometown of the Wright brothers.

One year ago: Scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, where the world’s biggest atom smasher is located, cheered the apparent end of a decades-long quest for a new subatomic particle called the Higgs boson.