This Day in History – 3 Nisan/March 23

In 2449/1312 B.C.E., the nasi of the tribe of Zevulun, Eliav ben Cheilon, brought his korban. Also in that year, Moshe Rabbeinu sprinkled the freshly produced Mei Chattas (from the ashes of the Parah Adumah) on the members of Shevet Levi.

In 5252/1492, the decree expelling Jews from Spain and Sicily was issued.

In 5704/1944, the Nazis raided the Kovno ghetto and removed all the children for execution.


5582/1822, Harav Binyamin Zev (Wolf) of Zbariz, zy”a

Harav Binyamin Zev was the son of Harav Yechiel Mechel of Zlotchov, zy”a. He was the third of five brothers: Harav Yosef of Yampola, Harav Yitzchak of Radivill, (Harav Binyamin Zev of Zbariz,) Harav Moshe of Zhvil, and Harav Mordechai of Kremenitz. The five brothers were referred to by their holy father as the five Chumashim of the Torah.

He embodied extreme humility, and was known for his astonishing love for every Yid. He married the daughter of Harav Asher Tzvi Zhack, the Rav of Sharigrad. His son, Harav Yechiel Mechel, was niftar during his lifetime. His sons-in-law were Harav Shlomo Eliezer; Harav Yitzchak Menachem Auerbach, a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov; and Harav Meshulem Zusha of Lublin, a grandson of the Chozeh of Lublin.

He led an eidah of Chassidim in Zbariz, and some of his talmidim later became great chassidic luminaries. Among them were Harav Tzvi Hersh of Ziditchov; Harav Dovid Shlomo Soroka, author of Arvei Nachal; and Harav Naftali of Ropshitz, who came to Zbariz with his son, Harav Eliezer. Reb Binyamin Zev also met with Harav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, the Bnei Yissaschar, with whom he spent many hours in discussions of Torah and Chassidus.

Many tales were told of his great ahavas Yisrael, of which we will recount a few. Reb Binyamin Zev would call everyone who came to him a tzaddik. Once a rasha, a Jew who had converted to Christianity, came to him and the Rebbe called him “tzaddik”! An onlooker tried to convince the Rebbe that this particular Jew was not a tzaddik, but Reb Binyamin Zev insisted: “The passuk states, ‘V’ameich kulam tzaddikim — And your nation are all tzaddikim.’ I would rather have the person’s behavior cast in doubt than to doubt the words of the passuk!”

In another story, his poor housekeeper once broke a valuable object in their home. When the Rebbetzin said she wanted to take the hapless woman to a din Torah, the Rebbe asked her to wait for him to join her. When the Rebbetzin questioned the Rebbe’s intent, he explained that he was coming along to defend the poor housekeeper.

And once, on Pesach, a Yid sitting at Reb Binyamin Zev’s table ate matzah peshutah (as opposed to matzah shemurah). The Chassidim were appalled at the man’s audacity. But in an incredible display of ahavas Yisrael, in order not to embarrass the hapless Jew, the Rebbe asked him if he, too, could share a piece of that matzah.

Reb Binyamin Zev’s Torah thoughts were published posthumously in the sefer Tiferes Tzvi Zev, published in 5656/1896, and in Razin D’Oraysa, which appeared in 5663/1903. The sefarim are rather similar, but the publishers claimed that the latter was printed from a better manuscript. Many of his divrei Torah are based on concepts taught by his holy father; but he also constantly elaborates on what was his own specialty, ahavas Yisrael and middos tovos. His sefarim were recently combined into one volume and published under the name Malki Bakodesh.

Reb Binyamin Zev was niftar on 3 Nisan 5582/1822, and was buried in Zbariz.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


March 23

In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered an address to the Virginia Provincial Convention in which he is said to have declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

In 1806, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, having reached the Pacific coast, began their journey back east.

In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded his Fascist political movement in Milan, Italy.

In 1933, the German Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act, which effectively granted Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan first proposed developing technology to intercept incoming enemy missiles — an idea that came to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.