This Day in History – 8 Cheshvan/October 21

In 5481/1720, the shul of Rabbeinu Yehudah Hachassid with its 40 sifrei Torah was set ablaze by Arabs, thus marking the tragic end of his group’s ascending to Eretz Yisrael. The rebuilt shul was destroyed by the Jordanians in 5708/1948.

In 5446/1685, the shul Brachah v’Shalom on the Jodensavanne (the Jews’ Savannah) in the Dutch colony of Surinam was dedicated. This was the first shul in the Western Hemisphere.



5024/1263, Rabbeinu Yonah, zt”l, the Chassid of Girodni

5541/1780, Harav Dovid, Rav of Yoglinitza, zt”l

5600/1839, Harav Yaakov Halevi, zt”l, Rav of Ponevezh


5640/1879, Harav Nachumke Kaplan of Horodna, zt”l

Harav Nachum was born in 5572/1812. He studied in various yeshivos, including that of Volozhin. Despite poverty, severe hardship and numerous tribulations, his incredible diligence earned for him vast knowledge in both the nigleh and the nistar (the revealed and the hidden aspects of Torah).

At 21, Reb Nachumke, as he was called, settled in Horodna. He was already known then as a Gadol baTorah; nevertheless, in his great humility, he adamantly refused to accept a Rabbinical post. Instead, he joined the Chevrah Shas shul where he studied day and night.

Realizing that he needed an income, the townspeople, headed by the Rabbanim, offered him the job of shamash in the Chevrah Shas shul. Reb Nachumke happily accepted the position, thereby exhibiting yet another facet of being meshamesh talmidei chachamim.

He became known for collecting and distributing vast amounts of tzedakah. Initially he tried to conceal his actions, but eventually they became known, and the townspeople generously responded to his appeals.

Reb Nachumke suffered much during his life. He buried most of his many (17) children, and was weak and sickly. However, his fiery spirit was never dimmed and his fervor for avodas Hashem always remained intact.

He would deliver a drashah every Shabbos, drawing many participants to his penetrating discourses.

The Chofetz Chaim considered Reb Nachumke to be his rebbi.

Thousands attended Reb Nachumke’s levayah.

Yehi zichro baruch.


October 21

In 1879, Thomas Edison perfected a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

In 1917, members of the 1st Division of the U.S. Army training in Luneville, France, became the first Americans to see action on the front lines of World War I.

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. troops captured the German city of Aachen.