This Day in History – 21 Shevat/February 10

In 5417/1657, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, issued a residence permit to the Jews.

In 5535/1775, the Jewish homes on the outskirts of Warsaw, in a settlement known as “New Jerusalem,” were demolished, after which the Jews were expelled.


 

5648/1888, Harav Yechiel Meir Lipshitz of Gostinin, zy”a

Harav Yechiel Meir, the son of Harav Yaakov Tzvi, was born in 5576/1816. In his youth, Reb Yechiel Meir was orphaned of both parents, after which he lived with his uncle, Harav Shmuel Noach Lipshitz, author of sefer Divrei Shmuel.

He married the daughter of the maggid of Gostinin, Poland, Reb Leibush, who supported the couple generously. He devoted all his energy to Torah and avodah.

The townspeople would often say about him, “Here is our tzaddik.” After his father-in-law’s petirah he opened a store, and while his wife took care of the business he toiled over his Gemara in the beis medrash.

From his youth, he was drawn to Chassidus, and he became a very close disciple of the Kotzker Rebbe. At the behest of his Rebbe, he accepted the rabbanus of Gostinin. He was a mere 30 years old when he was crowned Rav, and he served his community for 40 years. As Rav he was characterized as caring, yet stern; loving, yet forceful and unyielding.

He continued traveling to the Kotzker Rebbe for many years. He was considered one of his closest talmidim, and would be allowed in to the Rebbe even when the Rebbe was not seeing others.

After the Kotzker Rebbe was niftar, Reb Yechiel Meir became a talmid of the Chiddushei Harim, and after his petirah he traveled to Harav Avraham Landau of Tchechenov. It was only after Harav Avraham was niftar that Reb Yechiel Meir succumbed to the many requests of Yidden that he become a Rebbe of Chassidim in his own right.

As Rebbe he refused to accept pidyonos, and supported his family on the salary that he received from his Rabbanus. He dispersed much tzedakah and performed many maasei chessed. He led his Chassidim for 13 years, and many Yidden flocked to him for brachos and hadrachah.

Reb Yechiel Meir was named “the Tehillim Yid” because of his remarkable trait of constantly reciting Tehillim with utmost emotion and fervor. He often advised Chassidim who approached him for a brachah to recite Tehillim.

His Rebbe, Reb Avraham Tchechenover, often said, “Reb Yechiel Meir could accomplish more with his 10 kapitlach Tehillim than I could with all my davening.”

Reb Yechiel Meir would conduct a yahrtzeit seudah for his Rebbe, the Rebbe of Kotzk, one day after his actual yahrtzeit, on 23 Shevat. When questioned about this, he explained, “I know that I will leave this world either on my Rebbe’s yahrtzeit, a day later, or a day beforehand. Therefore, every year, after I live through these three days I make a seudah.”

He was actually niftar on 21 Shevat, one day before the yahrtzeit of his Rebbe!

His talmid Harav Yaakov Chaim of Lubrantz, wrote divrei hesped on his great Rebbe.

Reb Yechiel Meir’s sefarim, Merom Harim and Bechi Harim, have been reprinted and revised into a collection, Mei Hayam.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

Feb. 10

In 1763, Britain, Spain and France signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War in North America).

In 1841, Upper Canada and Lower Canada were proclaimed united under an Act of Union passed by the British Parliament.

In 1933, the first singing telegram was introduced by the Postal Telegram Co. in New York.

In 1959, a major tornado tore through the St. Louis area, killing 21 people and causing heavy damage.

In 1962, the Soviet Union exchanged captured American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers for Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy held by the United States.

In 1967, the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, dealing with presidential disability and succession, was ratified as Minnesota and Nevada adopted it.

In 1989, Ron Brown was elected the first black chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

In 1998, Dr. David Satcher was confirmed by the Senate to be surgeon general.