This Day in History – 9 Tammuz/June 17

9 Tammuz

In 3175/586 B.C.E., Nevuchadnetzar’s army breached the walls of Yerushalayim prior to the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash. During the 70-year exile of Bavel, this date was the fourth public fast day, but after the breaking of the wall of the second Beis Hamikdash on the 17th of Tammuz the fast of commemoration was switched to that day.

In 4990/1230, anti-Jewish riots took place in Austria.

In 5004/1244, at least 20 wagons loaded with Gemaras and commentaries were burned in France. The incident occurred on Friday of parashas Chukas. (There were no printing presses in those times, and many writings of the Baalei Tosafos were lost forever.)

The decree was even more severe in Paris, where it was announced that every Jew who had a Talmud in his home would be exiled from France.

According to the Minchas Elazar of Munkacs (Divrei Torah, eighth edition, 31), his grandfather, the Bnei Yissaschar, had a tradition that the greatest Baalei Tosafos (most of whom were killed al kiddush Hashem) wrote their long tosafos on perek Meruba of Bava Kamma the night before being called to judgment by their wicked enemies. They were threatened that if they refused to convert they would be killed. Apparently, this occurred after their first chiddushim were burned.

The Shibbolei Leket on Hilchos Taanis discusses the aftermath of the burning of the Talmud. “We heard that they asked a she’eilas chalom whether it was a Heavenly decree or not, and they were answered, ‘Veda gezeiras Oraisa’ [the Targum of the verse, ‘Zos chukas HaTorah’]. They understood that this hinted that the Friday of parashas Chukas [the day the Talmud was burned] is a day of evil decrees. From that day on, individuals fasted every year on that day [of the week], the Friday of parashas Chukas, but not on the day of the month.”

Kinos were composed in commemoration of this Talmud burning, including the famous kinah of the Maharam of Rottenberg, “Shaali serufah ba’eish,” which is recited by many Ashkenazic kehillos on Tishah B’Av.


5438/1678, Harav Yaakov Tamerlesh, zt”l, mechaber of Safra D’tzeniasa

5701/1941, Harav Moshe Rokach, Hy”d, son of Harav Aharon of Belz

5754/1994, Harav Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, the Klausenburger Rebbe, zt”l



Harav Zalman Sorotzkin, zt”l, the Lutsker Rav

Harav Zalman Sorotzkin was born in Zagarine, Lithuania, in 5641/1881. His father, Harav Ben Tzion, was the town’s Rav.

Initially, Reb Zalman learned under the tutelage of his father. Later, he went to learn in Slabodka, under Harav Moshe Dinshevski and in Volozhin under Harav Refael Shapira.

Reb Zalman married the daughter of the Telzer Rav and Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Eliezer Gordon. Afterwards, he learned in Volozhin for several years. Later, he returned to Telshe.

When his father-in-law was niftar in 5671/1911, Reb Zalman was offered the position as Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Telz. He did not accept the position and was shortly afterwards appointed Rav of Voranava, Belarus (near Vilna).

After two years in Voranava, Reb Zalman moved to Dziatlava (Zhetel in Yiddish) where he served as Rav for 18 years.

In 5674/1914, owing to the German invasion, Reb Zalman moved to Minsk and became a close acquaintance of the Chazon Ish. When the war ended, Reb Zalman returned to Zhetel.

Only after Vilna was taken over by the Bolsheviks, did Reb Zalman flee and escape to Eretz Yisrael.

Reb Zalman was one of the founders of Vaad Hayeshivos in Eretz Yisrael, serving as its leader.

Alongside other Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael, he also helped found Chinuch Atzmai.

Reb Zalman was niftar on 9 Tammuz 5726/1966, at the age of 85. He was buried on Har Hamenuchos.

Reb Zalman wrote Oznaim LaTorah al haTorah and Moznaim LaTorah on the Yamim Tovim.

He was survived by his five sons, Harav Elchonon Sorotzkin, zt”l; Harav Baruch Sorotzkin, Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe-Cleveland, Ohio; Harav Eliezer Sorotzkin, founder of Kiryat Telz-Stone; Harav Yisrael Sorotzkin, Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivas Lomza and Rav in Petach Tikva; and Harav Ben Tzion Sorotzkin.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


June 17

In 1775, the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill was won by the British, who suffered heavy losses.

In 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor aboard the French ship Isère.

In 1928, Amelia Earhart embarked on a trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland to Wales with two pilots, becoming the first woman to make the trip as a passenger.

In 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which boosted U.S. tariffs to historically high levels, prompting foreign retaliation.

In 1940, France asked Germany for terms of surrender in World War II.

In 1953, residents of East Berlin rebelled against the communist East German government, which forcefully suppressed the uprising.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon’s eventual downfall began with the arrest of five burglars inside Democratic national headquarters in Washington, D.C.’s Watergate complex.

In 1992, President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a breakthrough arms-reduction agreement.

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