This Day in History – 15 Cheshvan/October 24, 2018

In 5699/1938, Kristallnacht pogroms in Nazi Germany devastated Jewish shuls and property. About 30,000 Jews were arrested, 290 shuls were burned, and 7,500 Jewish shops were vandalized.


3596, Mattisyahu ben Yochanan Kohen Gadol, father of the Chashmona’im

5562/1801, Harav Elazar Kalir, zt”l, Rav of Kelen and mechaber of Ohr Chadash

5597/1836, Harav Leib Baal Hayesurim, zt”l, at whose burial place in Tzfas people daven for yeshuos, according to his havtachah

5714/1953, Harav Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, Zt”l, the Chazon Ish

Harav Avraham Yeshayah Karelitz, later known as the Chazon Ish, was born in 5639/1879 in Kosova, Lithuania, near Grodno. His father was Harav Shemaryahu Yosef, zt”l, the Rav of the town.

The Chazon Ish’s four brothers were Gedolei Torah, and his five sisters all married Gedolei Torah. Among his brothers-in-law were Harav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, zt”l, (the Steipler Gaon) and Harav Shmuel Greineman, zt”l.

The Chofetz Chaim once asked the Chazon Ish’s mother how she had merited raising such an outstanding family. “Perhaps,” she replied, “it is because I was extremely particular concerning tznius.”

She was also particular to keep the Chazon Ish’s head covered from the day he was born, a practice that the Gemara says leads to yiras Shamayim.

In 5666/1906 the Chazon Ish married Rebbetzin Batya, the daughter of Harav Mordechai Bay of Kaidan, zt”l, near Kovno.

For years afterward, he lived in Kaidan, immersed in his sefarim.

After WWI, the Chazon Ish moved to Vilna, where his Rebbetzin ran a fabric shop, while he learned Torah in seclusion.

When his first works were published in 5671/1911 under the name Chazon Ish, no one knew who their author was except Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, zt”l, to whom the Chazon Ish was very close, and whom he would visit often to debate Torah topics.

In 5692/1932, Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, was niftar, and the Rabbanim of Yerushalayim invited Rav Chaim Ozer to succeed him as Rav. Instead, Rav Chaim Ozer recommended the Chazon Ish, thus revealing the secret of his gadlus.

As a candidate for the position, the Chazon Ish accepted a British Mandate immigration certificate; but he never intended to assume the post. As soon as he arrived in Eretz Yisrael in 5693/1933, he settled in Bnei Brak, which grew under his influence into the Torah center it is today.

The Chazon Ish, albeit not having any official position, stood at the forefront of Torah Jewry, waging its battles on all fronts.

He published a total of 23 volumes of Chazon Ish (I”sh is the acronym of his name in Lashon Hakodesh) that run the gamut of the entire Torah, especially the halachos pertaining to Eretz Yisrael. Masses flocked to seek his counsel and blessing. Every broken heart found comfort from the Chazon Ish.

He was niftar, childless, on Friday night, 15 Cheshvan 5614/1953, and was buried in Bnei Brak.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Oct. 24

In 1795, Poland was divided between Austria, Prussia, and Russia.

In 1836, Alonzo D. Phillips received a patent for the phosphorous friction safety match.

In 1861, the first transcontinental telegraph message was sent by Chief Justice Stephen J. Field of California from San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., over a line built by the Western Union Telegraph Co.

In 1931, the George Washington Bridge, connecting New York and New Jersey, was officially dedicated (it opened to traffic the next day).

In 1940, the 40-hour work week went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

In 1945, the United Nations officially came into existence as its charter took effect.