This Day in History – 2 Adar II/March 4

2 Adar II

In 4313/553 the Byzantine Emperor Justinian ordered that under his jurisdiction, instead of reading the Torah on Shabbos, the Greek translation must be read. He also prohibited Rabbanim from teaching Torah.

In 5442/1682, anti-Jewish riots erupted in the city of Cracow, Poland.

In 5702/1942, the Nazis confiscated all sifrei Torah and other sefarim that belonged to the inhabitants of the Kovno ghetto.

In 5703/1943, the Jews of Salonika, Greece, were transported to Nazi extermination camps. Of the 50,000 Jews who lived in Salonika, only 1,200 survived the Holocaust. Hy”d.

5720/1960, hundreds of Jews were among the thousands of victims to perish in a devastating earthquake that struck Agadir, Morocco.

Yahrtzeiten

5502/1742, Harav Meir Paprish, mechaber of Ohr Tzaddikim, Hy”d

5573/1913, Harav Aharon Leib of Premishlan, zt”l

5724/1964, Harav Avraham Kalmanowitz, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Mir, America

5737/1977, Harav Yisrael Alter, zt”l, the Beis Yisrael of Gur

5739/1979, Harav Moshe Schwab, zt”l

5741/1981, Harav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, Rosh Yeshivas Brisk, Yerushalayim, son of the Brisker Rav


 

5701/1941

Harav Yaakov Yechizkiyah Greenwald, zt”l, the Vayaged Yaakov of Pupa

Harav Yaakov Yechizkiyah Greenwald was born in 5622/1882, the second son of Rav Moshe, Rav of Chust and author of Arugos Habosem.

He was very attached to his father, becoming his prime disciple. As a child, he accompanied his father on his visits to Harav Yechezkel Shraga of Shineve and Harav Yehoshua of Belz, and the memories of those trips remained vivid in his mind all his life. Even after he became a Rebbe, he often visited Harav Yissachar Ber of Belz and his son Harav Aharon.

Rav Yaakov Yechizkiyah married his cousin, daughter of Harav Yisrael Menachem Braun of Brezovitch, and he remained in Brezovitch for several years.

Afterward he served as Rav and Rosh Yeshivah in several different communities, following his father’s tradition that the main purpose of being a Rav is to teach Torah and yiras Shamayim. He explained that sponsoring a yeshivah is the key to the survival of Yiddishkeit in our times.

In 5689/1929, Rav Yaakov Yechizkiyah was chosen as Rav of Kehillas Adas Yisrael in Pupa, Hungary. He opened a yeshivah that eventually had over 300 bachurim from across Europe, each one a paragon of Torah and yiras Shamayim.

Reb Yaakov Yechizkiyah delivered two shiurim a day, one delving deeply into the sugya being studied and the other covering an amud of Gemara with Tosafos, Maharsha and the Pnei Yehoshua. Each shiur was prefaced by 15 minutes of mussar. The yeshivah soon gained a reputation for instilling lamdanus and chassidic values in its talmidim.

Despite his intense involvement with the yeshivah, Rav Yaakov Yechizkiyah’s influence in the community was strong. In 5684/1924 he established the Tiferes Bachurim society, pairing each bachur with a baal habayis to learn at least once a week.

He strongly discouraged giving girls a secular education, explaining that this exposed them to many dangerous ideas and movements that adversely affected their mitzvah observance and tzanua. Instead, he proposed teaching them to be literate in Yiddish and to study the sefarim that had been written in Yiddish especially for women, such as Tzenah U’renah.

For most of his life Rav Yaakov Yechizkiyah suffered from illness and on several occasions he became dangerously sick. Despite this, he never missed delivering shiurim.

News of the war in Europe and the suffering of the Polish Jews affected Reb Yaakov Yechizkiyah  and his health deteriorated. Realizing the situation, he wrote a will for his sons and talmidim, naming it Tzeidah Laderech. It was published along with the collections of his drashos, Vayaged Yaakov on the Torah and Agudas Eizov on the Haggadah.

Reb Yaakov Yechizkiyah was niftar on 2 Adar 5701/1941, at age fifty-nine. His son, Harav Yosef Greenwald, assumed leadership of the yeshivah and continued in his father’s path. ]

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

March 4

In 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into effect as the first Federal Congress met in New York. (The lawmakers then adjourned for lack of a quorum.)

In 1791, Vermont became the 14th state.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States.

The U.S. Government Printing Office began operation.

The Confederate States of America adopted as its flag the original version of the Stars and Bars.

In 1863, the Idaho Territory was created.

In 1913, the “Buffalo nickel” officially went into circulation.

In 1930, Coolidge Dam in Arizona was dedicated by its namesake, former President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1964, Teamsters president James Hoffa and three co-defendants were found guilty by a federal court in Chattanooga, Tenn., of jury tampering.

In 1994, in New York, four terrorists were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured more than a thousand.