Today’s Yahrtzeits and History – 20 Shevat

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Birth and petirah of Asher ben Yaakov Avinu (1565 BCE)

Rav Avraham Abba Freedman (1920-2002). He was sent from Brooklyn to Detroit in 1944 by his rebbe, Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz in order to help launch the day school that had been established there by Rav Simcha Wasserman. On his first Shavuos there, the only two people to stay up learning Torah were Rabbis Freedman and Wasserman. Rav Freedman is credited with the growth of Detroit into a Torah metropolis, including a yeshiva ketana, a mesivta, a Bais Yaakov, a beis medrash, and a kollel.

Rav Yosef of Yampoli (1812). Son of Rav Yechiel Michael HaMaggid of Zlotskov.

Rav Dr. Chaim Dovid Bernhard of Pietrokov, famed baal teshuva who became a Rebbe

Today in History – 20 Shevat

· Thirty Jews, including two talmidim of Rabbeinu Tam, were burnt alive at the stake as a result of a blood libel in the French city of Blois, the first such libel in Jewish history. Rabbeinu Tam decreed a public fast for communities of France, England, and Germany. Almost 500 years later, in the wake of the pogroms of Tach v’tat, the Shach decreed that this day should be a fast day for all Jews of Eastern Europe as well.
· The first printed edition of Tzror HaMor, commentary on Chumash by Rav Avraham Sebag, 1523, was released. Rav Sebag fled Spain for Portugal, where his two sons were taken from him and forcibly baptized. He buried his manuscripts to save them from confiscation and destruction. After release from prison, he made his way to Africa where he managed to rewrite his works.
· Jewish physicians of Galicia granted permission to treat Christian patients, 1782.

{Yahrzeits licensed to Matzav by Manny Saltiel &}


  1. The first blood libel documented in history was in Norwich, England, in 1144. The one in Blois, France, occured in 1171. It was on 20th of Sivan, rather than Shvat, and that date is known as Taanis of Rebeinu Tam, who passed away very shortly after.

  2. Of note. I wish to coin a concept of conversation in Israel. I am well aware we have too many enemies. We have failed to coin one as it is. The LRO. Liberal Reform Order. Put it up there with the PLO. They hate Jerusalem and will fight to assimilate Jerusalem into LRO-rule. We should use this term. It makes sense and we can offer Hashem a conversation of more of why our enemies are the same. Jew or not.


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