This Day in History – 23 Elul/September 18

In 1656/2105 B.C.E., Noach opened the window of the teivah and dispatched the dove for the second time. “The dove came in to him in the evening, and in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off; and Noach knew that the waters were abated from off the earth (Bereishis 8:11)” (according to Rabi Eliezer).

In 5313/1553, a monk who converted to Judaism was burned at the stake in Rome, Hy”d.

In 5703/1943, the Vilna Ghetto was liquidated


 

Yahrtzeiten

5578/1818, Harav Yisrael of Pikov, zt”l, son of Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.

5586/1826, Harav Uri, the Saraf of Strelisk, zt”l.

5634/1874, Harav Yosef Babad, zt”l, Rav of Tarnopol and mechaber of Minchas Chinuch.

5703/1943, Harav Moshe Betzalel Alter, Hy”d

5741/1981, Harav Yaakov Yitzchak Biderman of Lelov-Yerushalayim, zt”l


 

5702/1942, Harav Yitzchak Menachem Danziger of Aleksander, The Akeidas Yitzchak, Hy”d

Harav Yitzchak Menachem Danziger was born in 5440/1880. He was the son of Harav Shmuel Tzvi of Aleksander, the Tiferes Shmuel, and grandson of Harav Yechiel, the first Aleksander Rebbe.

He grew up and was educated in the court of Aleksander under his grandfather, his uncle Harav Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak (the Yismach Yisrael), and his father.

Following the petirah of his father on 29 Tishrei 5684/1923, thousands of Aleksander Chassidim — Aleksander was the second largest chassidic court in Poland — accepted Harav Yitzchak Menachem as their Rebbe. Initially he refused, but following the pleas of 70 leading Rabbanim in Poland who were Aleksander Chassidim, he had to accept.

Reb Yitzchak Menachem led his Chassidim with ahavas Yisrael, receiving everyone warmly. His answers to the Chassidim were known for their brevity and clarity.

He founded a yeshivah in Aleksander which grew to a chain of yeshivos across Poland. Reb Yitzchak Menachem attended the third Knessiah Gedolah of Agudas Yisrael in 5697/1937, where he was honored.

When the Nazi regime overtook Poland, Reb Yitzchak Menachem fled Aleksander to Lodz, where the majority of his Chassidim lived. From there, he fled to Warsaw, where he was in the ghetto for the next two years, working in the shoe factory of Reb Avraham Hendel, with many other Rebbes.

The Rebbe received a certificate and the right to travel to Eretz Yisrael through the Italian consul, but he refused to desert his Chassidim.

In Elul 5702/1942, the Rebbe was placed on a train to Treblinka. The factory owner, Reb Avraham Hendel, ran over to the Nazi in charge of the transport and explained that the Rebbe was one of the better workers in the factory and was much needed to help make boots for the Nazis. The SS officer slapped Reb Avraham across his back, knocking him to the ground.

The Rebbe reached Treblinka on 23 Elul, in the same train as his only son, Harav Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak. The Rebbe wrapped himself in tachrichim and began reciting Viduy. He was killed that day. All his eight children and numerous grandchildren were killed in the war. Hashem yinkom damam.

Some of Reb Yitzchak Menachem’s divrei Torah were compiled in a sefer aptly named Akeidas Yitzchak.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

Sept. 18

In 1759, the French formally surrendered Quebec to the British.

In 1793, President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol.

In 1810, Chile made its initial declaration of independence from Spain with the forming of a national junta.

In 1931, an explosion in the Chinese city of Mukden damaged a section of Japanese-owned railway track; Japan, blaming Chinese nationalists, invaded Manchuria the next day.

In 1947, the National Security Act, which created a National Military Establishment, went into effect.

In 1961, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold (dahg HAWM’-ahr-shoold) was killed in a plane crash in northern Rhodesia.

In 1984, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger became the first person to complete a solo balloon flight across the Atlantic Ocean as he landed in Italy, four days after leaving Maine.