This Day in History – 29 Shevat/February 18

In 5700/1940, the Lodz Ghetto was established, 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; the residents had absolutely no contact with anyone in 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 were sent to Auschwitz. Hashem yinkom damam.



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

5646/1886, Harav Yissachar Dov of Dolina, zt”l

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

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. His father was Reb Moshe Finkel, a prominent community figure. At a young age both his parents passed away, and a relative from Vilna took him in. He grew up steeped in Torah and mussar.

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.

Reb Nosson Tzvi became the talmid muvhak of Harav Simcha Zisel Ziv, the Alter of Kelm, who put Reb Nosson Tzvi in charge of the Talmud Torah that he founded in Kelm.

Harav Nosson Tzvi became the Mashgiach of the Yeshivah Ohr Hachaim of Slabodka, a yeshivah ketanah, the seed-institution of the future yeshivah gedolah of Slabodka, where he inspired thousands of talmidim.

In 5657/1897, a raging debate about the shittah of mussar divided the yeshivah. Harav Nosson Tzi, with only 70 talmidim, named his new mosad Yeshivah Knesses Yisrael in honor of his Rebbe, Harav Yisrael Salanter.Within a short time, Knesses Yisrael once again began growing rapidly, and Harav Nosson Tzi regained the hundreds of talmidim he had once had.

In the summer of 5685/1925, Harav Nosson Tzvi went to Eretz Yisrael with many talmidim, and reestablished the yeshivah in Chevron. Harav Nosson Tzvi was niftar on 29 Shevat 5687/1927 and was buried on Har Hazeisim.

Yehi zichro baruch.


Feb. 18

In 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1913, Mexican President Francisco I. Madero and Vice President Jose Maria Pino Suarez were arrested during a military coup (both were shot to death on Feb. 22).

In 1930, photographic evidence of Pluto (now designated a “dwarf planet”) was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

In 1943, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the wife of the Chinese leader, addressed members of the Senate and then the House, becoming the first Chinese national to address both houses of the U.S. Congress.