This Day in History – 29 Av/August 14


5591/1831, Harav Moshe of Zaloshen, zt”l, mechaber of Mishpat Tzedek

5617/1857 Harav Yosef Meir of Machnovka, zt”l

5671/1911, Harav Yisrael Shalom Yosef Heschel, zt”l, of Mezhibuzh

5702/1942, Harav Menachem Mendel Alter, Hy”d, Rav of Paviniecz

5705/1945, Harav Avraham Dov of Rachmastrivka, zt”l

5742/1982, Harav Eliezer Zusha Portugal, the Skulener Rebbe, zt”l.


5669/1909, Harav Shmuel Salant, zt”l, Rav of Yerushalayim

Born on 2 Shevat 5576/1816 in Bialystok, then part of Russia, Harav Shmuel Salant, son of Rav Tzvi, displayed a phenomenal memory as a young child. At the age of eight he went to learn in Kaidan under Harav Tzemach Shapira, a leading talmid chacham, where he was known as the “iluy of Kaidan.”

When he reached the age of bar mitzvah, Reb Shmuel returned to Kaidan, where his bar mitzvah was held together with his wedding.

At the age of 25, he suffered lung damage. Doctors suggested that he should move to Italy where his condition would, at least, not get worse.

Reb Shmuel traveled to the Sar Shalom of Belz who placed his hands on Reb Shmuel’s shoulders and kept them there until he felt that the problem was gone. In addition, the Rebbe advised him to move to Eretz Yisrael, at least in part for its warmer climate.

In the summer of 5600/1840, Reb Shmuel moved with his family to Yerushalayim.

En route, in Constantinople, Reb Shmuel met and became friendly with Sir Moses (Moshe) Montefiore, then on his way to defend the Jews falsely accused in the Damascus blood libel. Reb Shmuel also met Harav Moshe Rivlin, who was sent there by Gedolei Yerushalayim to serve as a Maggid.

The family arrived in Yerushalayim in Shevat 5601/1841. They settled in a small, two-room apartment with little air or light, in the Churvah courtyard. In this apartment Reb Shmuel lived for the rest of his life.

When Harav Meir Auerbach, Rav of Kalisch and mechaber of Imrei Binah, arrived in Yerushalayim in 5620/1860, Reb Shmuel appointed him Av Beis Din. Reb Meir served without pay, for he was well-to-do; in fact, he distributed money to the poor. Together, they saw to all the needs of the Ashkenazic community.

He founded a Talmud Torah with two classes, one for younger boys and one for bachurim, and a shechitah house for the Ashkenazic community.

Until then there was only Sephardic shechitah. A problem came up: what was to be done with the animals that were rendered treif. The Arabs ate only halal meat, but they were willing to take from the Sephardic shechitah because the Sephardim were also descendants of Avraham Avinu, thus their shechitah was allowed, while the Ashkenazim’s were not!

Reb Shmuel met with the leader of the Muslims in Yerushalayim, and proved that Ashkenazim were also descendants of Avraham. Jews do not intermarry, he said; yet we see weddings between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, showing that they are all related. The Kadi bowed to his logic, and the new shechitah was accepted  with no further problems.

In 5648/1888, Reb Shmuel’s vision began to fail, and a few years later he became nearly blind. But this did not interfere with his extensive activities in communal affairs.

Reb Shmuel encouraged people to move into new neighborhoods outside of the Old City walls; in fact, during his tenure the population of Yerushalayim grew from 5,000 to 30,000 Jews.

Reb Shmuel was niftar on 29 Av, 5669/1909 and buried on Har Hazeisim.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


August 14

In 1900, international forces, including U.S. Marines, entered Beijing to put down the Boxer Rebellion, which was aimed at purging China of foreign influence.

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law.

In 1944, the federal government allowed the manufacture of certain domestic appliances, such as electric ranges and vacuum cleaners, to resume on a limited basis.

In  1945, President Harry S. Truman announced that Imperial Japan had surrendered unconditionally, ending World War II.

In 1947, Pakistan became independent of British rule.

In 1980, workers went on strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk (guh-DANSK), Poland, in a job action that resulted in the creation of the Solidarity labor movement.