This Day in History – 25 Shevat/January 31

Explorer-I satellite
(NASA)

25 Shevat

In 5591/1831, the French government allotted financial support to Jewish institutions on par with the level of funding that Christian institutions received.

Yahrtzeiten

5490/1730, Harav Yechiel Mechel of Galina, zt”l, mechaber of Nezer Hakodesh

5521/1761, Harav Shabsai, zt”l, father of the Kozhnitzer Maggid, zy”a

5560/1800, Harav Dovid of Mikolayev, zt”l

5643/1883, Harav Yisrael Lipkin of Salant, zt”l


5710/1950

Harav Mordechai Pogromanski, Zt”l

Harav Mordechai Pogromanski was born in Tebrig, Lithuania, in 5663/1903. His brilliance was obvious when he was still a child.

Rav Mordechai learned in the yeshivah ketanah in Kelm, where in a short while he overtook all his peers. From there he went on to the famed yeshivah of Telshe. All over Lithuania he was known as “the iluy (genius) of Tebrig.”

Rav Mordechai had tremendous influence over the bachurim in the yeshivah, which he utilized to strengthen their learning and emunah. He used this strength later as well, during World War II. In the ghetto in Slabodka, he would gather the despondent people and expound on the mitzvah of kiddush Hashem, imbuing them with a sense of appreciation for the mitzvah.

Rav Mordechai was renowned as a masmid, and his concentration while learning was so strong that he would sometimes forget where he was. It is related that once he sat down to a meal for a few minutes, and that after he finished eating he asked someone if he had noticed how much Rav Mordechai had eaten, as he wasn’t sure if he could recite Birkas Hamazon.

Although frail and ill, Rav Mordechai sought to learn and carry on in his avodas Hashem under all circumstances. He was known as one of the pre-eminent talmidei chachamim in Europe.

Miraculously, Rav Mordechai managed to flee when the Nazis invaded Lithuania, and after many tribulations he finally reached France. There he was one of those who revived Torah learning after the Holocaust. He was put in charge of the orphans and their chinuch in Aix Le Bains. He was also Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivas She’eiris Hapleitah in Baille.

Rav Mordechai’s illness forced him to travel to Switzerland for treatment. He was niftar there on 25 Shevat 5710/1950.

His mittah was flown to Eretz Yisrael and he was buried in Bnei Brak. The levayah was attended by a huge crowd headed by the Chazon Ish, who bemoaned the loss to Klal Yisrael.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Jan. 31

In 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery, sending it to states for ratification. (The amendment was adopted in December 1865.) Also, Gen. Robert E. Lee was named general-in-chief of the Confederate States Army by President Jefferson Davis.

In 1917, during World War I, Germany served notice that it was beginning a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced he had ordered development of a hydrogen bomb.

In 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite, Explorer-I, from Cape Canaveral.

In 1971, astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.