This Day in History – 29 Iyar/May 18

Today is Yom Kippur Kattan. Many recite Tefillas haShelah.

In 3830/70 C.E., the Romans completed the construction of banks around Yerushalayim in preparation for the final assault on the third wall surrounding the city.

In 5397/1637, Hakadosh Harav Avraham ben Yitzchak and six other Jews were killed al kiddush Hashem in Cracow.

In 5575/1815, Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated in the battle of Waterloo.



5445/1685, Harav Shmuel Heide, author of Zikukin Denura.


5702/1942, Harav Shmuel Shlomo Leiner of Radzyn, Hy”d

Harav Shmuel Shlomo was born on 18 Shevat 5669/1909. His father was Harav Mordechai Yosef Elazar of Radzyn, the son of Harav Gershon Henoch of Radzyn, the mechaber of the Sidrei Taharos and rediscoverer of techeiles.

Reb Shmuel Shlomo was renowned for his outstanding intellect and amazing memory. He grew up in an atmosphere of Torah and kedushah in the Radzyner court that had relocated to Warsaw. In his youth he was greatly and positively inspired to ever-higher levels of ruchniyus by prominent senior Chassidim. One of his main mentors, Harav Dovid Teitelbaum of Riki, a prominent Kotzker Chassid, once remarked, “My talmid Reb Shmuel Shlomo does not move a hand or lift a finger if it’s not completely lichvod Shamayim.”

In 5688/1928 he married the daughter of Harav Yosef Kalish of Amshinov, after which he moved to his father-in-law’s home. Barely a year later, his father was niftar, which led to Reb Shmuel Shlomo’s return to Warsaw. Initially he refused to lead in his saintly father’s stead, but upon the insistence of leading Radzyner Chassidim, he eventually agreed. In due time, he led thousands of Chassidim.

In 5695/1935 he returned his chassidic court to Radzyn. The relatively young Rebbe displayed a dynamic capacity for leadership, strengthening the Chassidus and raising it to new heights. The Rebbe established a yeshivah called Sod Yesharim, the name of his grandfather’s sefer on Chumash and Zohar. The yeshivah achieved unusual success; by the time WWII began, there were five additional branches in the Lublin area.

The Rebbe was an extraordinary masmid. A talmid of the yeshivah who survived the Holocaust recalled that the Rebbe would learn all night long, standing in the exact same position. Only in the morning would he retire for a short rest.

At the onset of WW II, the Rebbe fled to the Voldova Ghetto, near Lublin. He encouraged his Chassidim to flee the Nazis and even to join the underground movements in order to save their lives. When the Nazis discovered his location, he fasted and davened with a minyan in seclusion for three consecutive days but the notorious Nazi police broke into the room and grabbed him. As he was being dragged away, he told his Chassidim, “Don’t give up hope, continue your fast and prayer, flee to the woods, and the Alm-ghty will go with you and help you.”

The Rebbe was held captive for five days, after which he was freed through the tremendous efforts of some Chassidim.

A few days later, on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the Nazi beasts dragged the Rebbe out to the cemetery, where they fatally shot him; he was buried a number of days later. His Rebbetzin and six children were killed during the Holocaust as well, Hy”d.

(This account is based on Marbitzei Torah MeOlam Hachassidus. There are differing versions of the Rebbe’s final days.)


May 18

In 1642, the Canadian city of Montréal was founded by French colonists.

In 1910, Halley’s Comet passed by Earth, brushing it with its tail.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In 1934, Congress approved, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed, the so-called “Lindbergh Act,” providing for the death penalty in cases of interstate kidnapping.

In 1944, during World War II, Allied forces finally occupied Monte Cassino in Italy after a four-month struggle with Axis troops.

In 1969, astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Thomas P. Stafford and John W. Young blasted off aboard Apollo 10 on a mission to orbit the moon.

In 1980, the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington State erupted.