This Day In History 28 Shevat/February 13

In 5700/1940, the Lodz Ghetto was established. It was the first major ghetto to be established by the Nazis, with a population of over 200,000. The ghetto was built in Balut, the poorest and most densely populated area of the city.

The ghetto was enclosed like a huge prison, and residents had no contact at all with the outside world. Food was scarce and an enormous number of Yidden died of hunger, R”l. At the end of 5704/1944, the ghetto was evacuated and its inhabitants sent to Auschwitz. Hashem yinkom damam.


5578/1818, Harav Aryeh of Brodi and Podheitz, zt”l, mechaber of Lev Aryeh

5664/1904, Harav Chananyah Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, Rebbe of Sighet, zt”l, the Kedushas Yom Tov

5646/1886, Harav Yissochor Dov, Rebbe of Dolina, zt”l

5669/1909, Harav Chaim Meir, Rebbe of Pintchov, zt”l

5685/1925, Harav Yitzchak Yerucham Diskin, zt”l, founder of Yerushalayim’s Diskin Orphanage, son of Harav Yehoshua Leib Diskin

5687/1927, Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Zt”l, the Alter of Slabodka

Harav Nosson Tzvi was born in 5609/1849 in the town of Rasein, to Reb Moshe Finkel, a prominent community figure. At a young age he was orphaned of both his parents, and a relative from Vilna took him in.

As a young bachur, Reb Nosson Tzvi gained fame as a lamdan, an iluy and a master of deep thought.

Reb Meir Bashis, the son-in-law of the Rav of Kelm — Harav Eliezer Guterman — chose Reb Nosson Tzvi to marry his daughter Gittel, and supported him for a number of years, which enabled him to continue to sit and learn without disturbance.

He was known for his exceptional oratorical skills.

Once, while delivering a drashah in his hometown of Rasein, the Rav, Harav Alexander Moshe Lapidos, zt”l — a close disciple of Harav Yisrael Salanter, zt”l — realized his great potential and suggested that he travel to the giant of mussar, Harav Simcha Zisel Ziv, zt”l, the Alter of Kelm.

After coming to know Harav Simcha Zisel, Reb Nosson Tzvi became his talmid muvhak. Harav Simcha Zisel put Reb Nosson Tzvi in charge of his Talmud Torah in Kelm.

In 5637/1877, Harav Nosson Tzvi founded a kollel in Slabodka, and later, a learning program for bachurim. When Harav Yizchak Elchanan Spektor, zt”l, of Kovno, founded Kollel Perushim, he joined its hanhalah and instilled in its membership the mussar approach.

Harav Nosson Tzvi joined the Yeshivah Ohr Hachaim of Slabodka, and served as its Mashgiach. This yeshivah was the seed-institution of the future yeshivah gedolah of Slabodka.

Hundreds of bachurim flocked to the Slabodka Yeshivah, which became famous as a bastion of Torah and mussar. With his riveting shmuessen and humility, Rav Finkel inspired thousands of talmidim.

In 5657/1897, a raging debate about the shitah of mussar divided the yeshivah, which caused most of the talmidim to leave. When the embers of controversy finally cooled, Harav Nosson Tzi remained with only 70 talmidim. He named his new mosad Yeshivah Knesses Yisrael, in honor of his Rebbi, Harav Yisrael Salanter. The other camp named their’s Yeshivah Knesses Beis Yitzchok.

Within a short time, Knesses Yisrael again began growing rapidly, and Harav Nosson Tzvi once again led the hundreds of talmidim.

In the summer of 5685/1925, Harav Nosson Tzvi ascended to Eretz Yisrael with many talmidim, and the yeshivah was reestablished in Chevron. During the final period of his life, while living in Eretz Yisrael, Harav Nosson Tzvi became increasingly weak. He was niftar on 29 Shevat 5687/1927 and was buried on Har Hazeisim.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Feb. 14

In 1663, New France (Canada) became a royal province under King Louis XIV.

In 1778, the American ship Ranger carried the recently adopted Stars and Stripes to a foreign port for the first time as it arrived in France.

In 1859, Oregon was admitted to the Union as the 33rd state.

In 1903, the Department of Commerce and Labor was established. (It was divided into separate departments of Commerce and Labor in 1913.)

In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state of the Union.