This Day In History 26 Elul/September 29

26 Elul

Second day of Creation: Hashem separated the upper waters and the lower waters. According to the Midrash, Gehinnom was created on this day as well.

In 5108/1348, the Jews of Zurich were accused of causing the Black Plague. Some were burned; the rest were expelled. Hy”d.


5509/1749, Harav Yitzchak Yehoshua Heschel, zt”l, Rav of Vilna

5565/1805, Harav Eliyahu Tzarfati, zt”l, Rav in Pas, France, mechaber of Eliyahu Zuta

5577/1817, Harav Tzvi Horowitz, zt”l, son of the Haflaah

5657/1897, Harav Aharon of Koidenov, zt”l

5715/1955, Harav Yitzchak Alfaya, zt”l, mechaber of Kuntres Hayechieli


Harav Yitzchak Eizik Eliezer Hirschowitz, Hy”d, Rav of Wirballen

Harav Yitzchak Eizik Eliezer Hirschowitz was born in 5631/1871, in Libau (Liepaja), Latvia, a city heavily influenced by neighboring Germany. His parents, Rav Aryeh and Liba Devorah, saw the haskalah sweep their older children away from Yiddishkeit. Determined to save their youngest, Yitzchak, they sent him to the local chareidi school.

When he graduated at age 15, headmaster Harav Dr. Moshe Tzvi Greenberg sent him on to Telshe. Although he was not well prepared, Yitzchak Eizik Eliezer soon became a star talmid.

In 5654/1894 he married the daughter of the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Eliezer Gordon. He continued learning in Telshe, eventually teaching younger students.

He wrote Kerem Beis Yisrael (in German with Hebrew characters), dealing with building a Torah home. Meitav Higayon is a collection of letters of Harav Samson Raphael Hirsch, translated into Hebrew from Gothic German.

In 5666/1906 he became Rav of Talsen in Kurland, where he had grown up. He remained until he was forced to flee during WWI, ending up in Minsk.

Part of the Radin yeshivah had also taken refuge in Minsk; the Chofetz Chaim asked Reb Yitzchak to teach them.

Later he moved with his students to Ihumen, but the Soviets soon took over and Reb Yitzchak helped his talmidim sneak across the border to Lithuania. Once they were all safe, he took his own family and followed them.

In Lithuania, he was in charge of Yeshivas Ohr Yisrael of Slabodka. Later he moved back to Telshe as principal of Yavneh Teachers’ College for Men.

Reb Yitzchak wrote a Jewish history book from a Torah viewpoint. Halichos Am Olam, Vol. I, from Creation until Eliyahu’s ascent to Shamayim, was published in 5689/1929. The notes he prepared for later volumes were destroyed in the Holocaust.

In 5686/1926 he became Rav of Wirballen. The Nazis conquered the city in 5701/1940, and began the mass slaughter of Lithuanian Jews. Reb Yitzchak fled to Kelm.

On 27 Elul 5701/1941, he was taken by the Nazis from the famous Talmud Torah. He and his students sang Adon Olam together as they marched to their deaths.

Three of his daughters and four of his sons and their families were murdered. Hashem yinkom damam.

One son, Reb Yehudah Lieber Hirschowitz, survived and immigrated to Israel.

Sept. 29

In 1789, the U.S. War Department established a regular army with the strength of several hundred men.

In 1829, London’s reorganized police force, which became known as Scotland Yard, went on duty.

In 1918, Allied forces began their decisive breakthrough of the Hindenburg Line during World War I.

In 1938, British, French, German and Italian leaders concluded the Munich Agreement, which was aimed at appeasing Adolf Hitler by allowing Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, creating the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1988, the space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., marking America’s return to manned space flight following the Challenger disaster.

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