This Day in History – 22 Adar/February 27

In 5109/1349, the Jews of Uberlingen, Switzerland, were massacred al kiddush Hashem.

In 5190/1430, a miracle happened in the kehillah of Rome. When the authorities decreed that every Jew must either convert or be killed, an earthquake rocked the city and the decree was annulled.

In 5693/1933, the infamous Dachau concentration camp was established in Germany. The camp, one of the first established by the Nazis, was originally designated as a prison camp for political criminals.

After Kristallnacht, the number of Jews imprisoned there kept growing until over 200,000 victims passed through its gates, most of whom perished. The camp was liberated in April of 1945 by the U.S. Army.

In 5708/1948, 16 Jewish soldiers were lynched by an Arab mob. Six of them were brutally beaten to death. Hy”d.

In 5757/1997, seven Jewish students were killed on the border with Jordan. Hy”d.

Yahrtzeiten

5489/1729, Harav Eliyahu of Izmir, zt”l, mechaber of Shevet Mussar

5662/1902, Harav Yaakov, Rebbe of Novominsk, zt”l

5687/1927, Harav Eliezer Dovid, Rebbe of Radoshitz, zt”l

5703/1943, Harav Avraham Dovber Kahana-Shapiro, Rav of Kovna, zt”l

5718/1958, Harav Reuven Grozovsky, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Torah Vodaas

5763/2003, Harav Yisrael Moshe Dushinsky, zt”l, Gaavad of the Eidah Hachareidis of Yerushalayim

5668/1908, Harav Yechiel Michel Epstein, Zt”l, The Aruch Hashulchan

Harav Yechiel Michel was born on 20 Shevat 5590/1830 in Boibrisk, Lithuania. His father was Harav Aharon Yitzchak, a pious Jew.

From his youth Yechiel Michel was a diligent talmid. When he was only 10 years old, he participated in Torah discussions with the lomdim of Boibrisk.

He married the daughter of the wealthy Harav Yaakov Berlin (the father of the Netziv of Volozhin). After his chasunah he immersed himself in Torah and avodas Hashem. Eventually his father-in-law lost his wealth and was no longer able to support him.

Unwilling to accept a position in Rabbanus, he opened a small clothing shop that his Rebbetzin managed for over 30 years.

His first position was as Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivas Reb Altshul in Boibrisk; he was later appointed Rav in Novozovkov. Later, he became Rav in the city of Novardok.

Aruch Hashulchan, written while he was in Novardok, expands on the Shulchan Aruch, elucidating it based on the Rishonim and Acharonim and giving authoritative piskei halachah. First published in 5651/1891, it clarifies and illuminates all four parts of the Shulchan Aruch. He also authored Aruch Hashulchan He’asid, in which he brilliantly sorts out the dinim that will be relevant with the coming of Moshiach.

Asked how he could bear the responsibility of paskening on complex halachos, he replied, “Man has to do what he can to clarify the halachah; the rest is up to Hashem.”

In Novardok he initiated a novel practice — ushering in Shabbos early in order to avoid chillul Shabbos.

He personally saw to the welfare of the sick and hungry.

He was niftar on 22 Adar II and was survived by his son, Harav Baruch, zt”l, author of the sefer Torah Temimah.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

Feb. 27

In 1801, the District of Columbia was placed under the jurisdiction of Congress.

In 1911, inventor Charles F. Kettering demonstrated his electric automobile starter in Detroit, starting a Cadillac’s motor with just the press of a switch instead of hand-cranking.

In 1933, Germany’s parliament building, the Reichstag, was gutted by fire. Chancellor Adolf Hitler, blaming the communists, used the fire to justify suspending civil liberties.

In 1951, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, limiting a president to two terms of office, was ratified.