This Day in History – 2 Cheshvan/October 31

5700/1939, the famed Yeshivah of Mir was forced to close after 124 years of inspiring generations of bnei Torah. Many Mirrer talmidim fled, and with great nissim survived the war years in Shanghai.


5427/1666, Harav Shmuel Gaon, the Maharshag, zt”l, Rav of Salonika

5674/1913, Harav Moshe Yehudah Leib, Rav of Strizov, zt”l

5698/1937, Harav Yehudah Leib Graubart, Rav of Stashov, zt”l

5753/1992, Harav Elazar Simcha Wasserman, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Ohr Elchanan (Los Angeles and Yerushalayim)

5724/1963, Harav Baruch Hager, Zy”a, Rebbe of Seret-Vizhnitz, The Mekor Baruch

Harav Baruch Hager, zy”a Baruch was born in Vizhnitz, Romania, on 2 Cheshvan 5656/1895. His father was Harav Yisrael of Vizhnitz, the Ahavas Yisrael, zy”a, and his mother was Rebbetzin Hinda, a”h, a daughter of Harav Meir Horowitz, the Imrei Noam of Dzikov, zy”a.

Early on, Rav Baruch gained a reputation as a sterling talmid chacham. In his younger years he learned Torah from his father, and also from Harav Yissachar Dov, Rebbe of Belz, zy”a, his father-in-law in his first zivug. He inherited his father’s renowned middah of ahavas Yisrael.

Rav Baruch became Rav of Polein-Riskova before he was 30, and afterwards of Kotzman, Romania. In 5695/1935 he was appointed Rav in Seret, a Romanian town of about 2,000 Jews.

The Ahavas Yisrael was niftar on 2 Sivan 5696/1936 and Rav Baruch became Rebbe of Seret-Vizhnitz.

At the beginning of the war, the anti-Semitic Romanian government tried to force Jews to open their businesses on Shabbos. Rav Baruch’s older brother, Rav Eliezer, asked him to join in trying to abolish the decree.

Although Rav Baruch was very ill at the time, he traveled with his brother, and together they succeeded in having the order canceled. This ultimately cost Rav Baruch dearly, as he suffered from weak lungs for the rest of his life.

During the war years, Rav Baruch was ransomed for a huge sum in Adar 5704/1944 and later made his way back to Romania, where he discovered that his writings, which he had hidden, were all destroyed.

Rav Baruch’s desired to come to Eretz Yisrael and rebuild Vizhnitz. Arriving there in Sivan 5707/1947, he set up court in Haifa.

Despite little financial backing, Rav Baruch was determined to found a Torah-observant neighborhood in this secular city. He laid the Kiryah’s foundation on 3 Tammuz 5714/1954.

His tireless efforts, along with those of the other pioneers of the postwar generation in Haifa, bore fruit: Today, baruch Hashem, the religious community in Haifa, not just of Seret-Vizhnitz, continues to grow, thanks to their work at a time when no one believed Yiddishkeit could exist in that city.

In his later years, Rav Baruch suffered health complications. He was niftar on 2 Cheshvan 5724/1963, before the culmination of his building project.

He was buried in Bnei Brak in the ohel of Vizhnitz, next to his father, the Ahavas Yisrael, zy”a, whose remains had been brought up to Eretz Yisrael in 5709/1949.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

October 31

In 1941, work was completed on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, begun in 1927.

In 1959, a U.S. Marine reservist showed up at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to declare he was renouncing his American citizenship so he could live in the Soviet Union. His name: Lee Harvey Oswald.

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hoped for fruitful peace negotiations.

In 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh security guards.

In 2001, New York hospital worker Kathy T. Nguyen died of inhalation anthrax, the fourth person to perish in a spreading wave of bioterrorism.