This Day In History 4 Teves/December 22

Alfred Dreyfus

Yahrtzeiten

5490/1729, Harav Moshe Zev Bialystok, zt”l, mechaber of Mar’os Hatzovos

5651/1890, Harav Gershon Henoch Leiner, Rebbe of Radzin, zt”l, the Baal Ha’techeles

5693/1933, Harav Chaim Shaul Doueck, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Hamekubalim of Yerushalayim and mechaber of Aifo Shleima


5756/1995, Harav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, zt”l, Rav of Elizabeth, N.J.

Harav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz was born on 8 Tammuz 5668/1908, in Subat, Latvia. His father was Harav Binyamin Avraham, zt”l. He was to become the family’s twentieth-generation Rav in a row.

Rav Binyamin Avraham served as the Rav of both the Chassidic and non-Chassidic communities of Subat. His ability to successfully lead people of varied backgrounds was passed on to his son, Rav Mordechai Pinchas.

When Mordechai Pinchas was 7 years old the family moved to Livinhoff which was near Dvinsk, the home of two Gedolim: Harav Meir Simcha Hakohen, the Ohr Same’ach, and Harav Yosef Rosen, the Rogatchover Gaon, zecher tzaddikim livrachah. His father had a close relationship with the Rogatchover, who respected him greatly. When people came to the Rogatchover for his brachah he would often refer them to the Rav of Livinoff, saying, “Go to Binyamin HaTzaddik.”

At 14 Pinchas made his first trip to Dvinsk and developed a close relationship with both Rav Meir Simcha and the Rogatchover.

Rav Mordechai Pinchas responded to the request of the Telshe Roshei Yeshivah and in 1933 he accompanied Harav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zt”l, to the U.S. to raise funds for the Telshe Yeshivah. This was a turning point in Rav Teitz’s life. During his travels in America, someone suggested a shidduch with the daughter of Harav Elazar Meir Preil, zt”l, the late Rav of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Rav Preil had left instructions that if the person who married his daughter would be qualified, he should succeed him as Rav of Elizabeth.

With his ascension to the rabbinate of Elizabeth, a new chapter began in his life. At the time American Orthodoxy was losing the young people, partly because the Rabbanim of the time did not speak their language. Rav Teitz knew it was vital to communicate in English. He would sit down with his Rebbetzin, who was American-born, and tell her his drashah. She translated it into English, and then transliterated it into Hebrew letters. When he read the speech, he appeared to be fluent in English.

With Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, Rav Teitz was co-founder of Merkaz Harabbanim in the early 1980’s.

During World War II, his concern for the individual placed him in the forefront of the Vaad Hatzalah, as he worked tirelessly to save European Jewry.

After the war he was one of the Orthodox rabbinate’s representatives to the Displaced Persons camps, helping with European Jewry’s rehabilitation.

Rav Teitz was niftar on 4 Teves 5756/1995.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Dec. 22

In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)

In 1937, the first, center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River was opened to traffic. (The second tube opened in 1945, the third in 1957.)

In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last of Eastern Europe’s hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising.

In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)