This Day in History – 9 Tammuz/June 26

In 5004/1244, at least 20 wagons loaded with Gemaros 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 Merubah 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.”



5754/1994, Harav Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam, the Klausenburger Rebbe, zt”l


5726/1966, Harav Zalman Sorotzkin, zt”l, the Lutsker Rav

Harav Zalman Sorotzkin was born in Zagarine, Lithuania, in 5641/1881. His father, Harav Bentzion, was the town’s Rav. His mother was the daughter of Harav Chaim Shorin. Reb Zalman learned first under his father, then in Slabodka, and later in Volozhin.

He married the daughter of the Telsher Rav and Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Eliezer Gordon. After his marriage, Reb Zalman learned in Volozhin for several years. Later he returned to Telshe, teaching in his father-in-law’s yeshivah.

When his father-in-law was niftar in 5671/1911, Reb Zalman was offered the position of Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in Telshe. He did not accept, and shortly afterwards became Rav in Voranava, Belarus.

In Voranava, Reb Zalman established a yeshivah ketanah. After two years in Voranava, Reb Zalman moved to Dziatlava (Zhetel), where he served as Rav for 18 years.

In 5674/1914, following the German invasion, Reb Zalman moved to Minsk. After the war, he returned to Zhetel.

In 5681/1921, Reb Zalman was appointed Rav in Lutsk, where he remained until World War II. During the early days of the war, when many yeshivos had to relocate, Reb Zalman served as head of the Vaad Hayeshivos.

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 the Vaad Hayeshivos in Eretz Yisrael, serving as its leader. He also helped found Chinuch Atzmai.

Reb Zalman was niftar on 9 Tammuz 5726/1966.

Reb Zalman wrote the sefarim, Oznayim LaTorah on Torah and Moznayim LaTorah on Yamim Tovim.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


June 26

In 1483, Richard III began his reign as King of England.

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for a second term of office by delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

In 1950, President Truman authorized the U.S. Air Force and Navy to enter the Korean War.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin, where he delivered his speech expressing solidarity with the city’s residents, declaring: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

In 1973, former White House counsel John W. Dean told the Senate Watergate Committee about an “enemies list” kept by the Nixon White House.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush went back on his “no-new-taxes” campaign pledge, conceding that tax increases would have to be included in any deficit-reduction package worked out with congressional negotiators.