This Day in History – 10 Elul/September 10

10 Elul

In 1656/2105 B.C.E., Noach opened the window of the teivah and dispatched a raven to determine if the flood waters had begun to recede (according to Rabi Eliezer).

In 5444/1684, after surviving a riotous attack, Jews of the ghetto in Buda, Hungary, declared the day as a Purim.

Yahrtzeiten

5509/1749, Harav Menachem Nachum, zt”l, the father of Harav Chaim Sanzer of the Brodi Kloiz.

5551/1791, Harav Pinchas Shapiro of Koritz, zt”l

5656/1896, Harav Yitzchak Friedman of Bohush, zt”l.

5707/1947, Harav Moshe Yehuda Leib Friedman of Peshkan, zt”l


5695/1935

Harav Gavriel Zev Margolis, Zt”l

Harav Gavriel Zev Margolis, or Rav Velvele as he was commonly known, was born in Vilna, Lithuania, on 27 Cheshvan 5608/1847. His father was Harav Yechiel Yitzchak, and he was a great-grandson of Harav Yechiel Halpern, the Seder Hadoros. As a young child he attended the yeshivah of Harav Yaakov Beirat of Vilna for three years, and then he went to the yeshivah in Volozhin headed by Harav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, the Netziv.

In 5626/1866 Reb Velvele married the daughter of Harav Nachum Kaplan, the famed Rebbe of the Chofetz Chaim, and they settled in their hometown of Vilna. In 5629/1869 he moved to Grodno, where he delivered daily shiurim in Gemara.

During his years in Grodno he was given semichah by Harav Yaakov Beirat. In his semichah, Rav Beirat wrote, “He became great and greater still; unlike the greatness of students who succeed in their studies after five years, in a short time he surpassed his friends. They chased him but could not catch him, because his belly was filled with Talmud and halachah.”

That same year he moved back to Vilna, where he assisted Harav Yehoshua Yitzchak of Slonim (Harav Eizele Charif) in the preparation and printing of his work on Talmud Yerushalmi, Noam Yerushalmi.

Upon the petirah of his father-in-law, he was invited to serve as Grodno’s Chief Rabbi. He held this position for close to 27 years.

As Chief Rabbi, Rav Margolis enjoyed a close relationship with Harav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector and was active in Jewish community and world affairs.

Rav Margolis was initially a strong supporter of the Chovevei Zion movement and attended the second Zionist Congress in Basel in 1898. But as the leaders of the Zionist movement became increasingly anti-religious, he not only distanced himself from the movement but attacked it out right.

It was his involvement in world affairs that forced Rav Margolis to leave Europe for America. Among the Russian revolutionaries of 1905 were Jews who did not appreciate Rav Margolis’s constant public attacks denouncing them. As a result of harassment and death threats, in 5667/1907 he accepted the position of Chief Rabbi of Boston, Massachusetts.

Rav Margolis liked his congregants in Boston and praised them highly in the hakdamah to his sefer Toras Gavriel.

Nevertheless, in 1911 Rav Margolis moved to New York City, accepting the position of spiritual leader of the Adas Yisrael Congregation (United Hebrew Community of New York). He held this position for the rest of his life.

In 1912, Rav Margolis established the Agudath haYehudim ha-Orthdoksim, which in 1920 became the Knesset Harabbanim ha-Orthdoksim d’America, and he served as its president.

Despite constant challenges, Rav Margolis established an elementary school with an enrollment of close to 200 children, and an old-age home.

Rav Margolis was niftar on 10 Elul 5695/1935, just a few months short of his 88th birthday. He was buried in the old Montefiore Cemetery in Saint Albans, Queens. His levayah was attended by close to 4,000 people, many of them prominent Rabbanim.

Among his sefarim are Shem Olam, Toras Gavriel, Chruzei Margolios, Agudas Eizov and Ginzei Margolios on Esther, Shir Hashirim, Ruth, Koheles and Eichah.

Yehi zichro baruch.


Sept. 10

In 1845, King Willem II opened the Amsterdam Stock exchange.

In 1862, Rabbi Jacob Frankel became the first Jewish Army chaplain.

In 1919, New York City welcomed home Gen. John J. Pershing and 25,000 soldiers who had served in the U.S. First Division during World War I.

In 1921, the Ayus Autobahn in Germany opened near Berlin. The road is known for its nonexistent speed limit.