This Day in History – 5 Adar/February 24

5 Adar

5583/1823, Harav Ze’ev Volf of Ostraha, zt”l

5601/1841, Harav Avraham Halevi Bing, zt”l, Rav of Wurtzburg

5624/1864, Harav Shmuel Abba Shapira of Slavita, zt”l

5628/1868, Harav Yeshayah Mushkat, zt”l, the Harei Besamim

5645/1885, Harav Yechezkel Yalzon, zt”l, Rav of Altuna


Harav Avraham Landau, the Tchechenover Rebbe, zy”a

The Tchechenover Rebbe was born in 5549/1789 in Pranchev, Poland. His father, Reb Refael Dobshinski, a pious Jew descended from a long line of heilige Yidden, earned his living as an innkeeper. Sadly, he and his wife had been childless.

Every year before Pesach, Reb Refael sold all his vodka and other chametz drinks to a non-Jew. One year, after the local priest preached a particularly virulent sermon against the Jews, the peasants refused to buy Reb Refael’s chametz. Since a Jew is halachically forbidden to own chametz on Pesach, Reb Refael declared his entire stock hefker, forfeiting ownership, which, in essence, stripped him of his livelihood.

A nes occurred in that two large dogs appeared as if from thin air. During the entire eight-day Yom Tov they guarded the inn, so that when Reb Refael returned, everything was in place. Reb Rafael asked a Rav if he could derive benefit from his stock. The Rav paskened that it was permitted, but since Reb Refael was scrupulous not to benefit from anything questionable, he poured out his entire stock.

In a panic, his wife ran to the Rav, crying that her husband had ruined their financial situation with his own hands. Calming her, the Rav replied that in this zechus they would merit a child who would be a guiding light to the world with his greatness in Torah. Reb Avraham was that child.

Reb Refael recognized his gifted son’s potential and when he could find no suitable melamdim in Pranchev, he moved to Plotzk, a city of lomdim. There, Reb Avraham acquired true greatness of Torah. For a while he studied under Harav Leibush Charif, the Rav of the town. Later he became a Chassid of Harav Fishel’e of Strikov, and also traveled several times to the Rebbe Reb Bunim of Peshischa.

In 5565/1805, Reb Avraham became the son-in-law of the naggid and Chassid Reb Dan Landau. Through Reb Dan’s support, Reb Avraham was able to learn Torah day and night, free of any financial concerns. In gratitude, he adopted his father-in-law’s last name, Landau.

He was invited to become Rav of Tchechenov. His exalted character and great love of his fellow Jew quickly endeared him to the entire community, and he soon became famous for his Torah, kedushah and tzedakah.

Reb Avraham was renowned as a master of Halachah and an oved Hashem, and he corresponded with most Gedolim of the era.

Reb Avraham was niftar on 5 Adar I 5635/ 1875, at the age of 86. He left four sons: Harav Zev Wolf of Strikov, founder of the Strikover dynasty; Harav Berish of Biala; Harav Yaakov of Yezif; and Harav Refael of Warsaw. His daughter married Reb Shmuel of Shineva, author of Ramosayim Tzofim. Reb Avraham wrote the following sefarim: Zechusa D’Avraham, Beis Avraham, Chessed L’Avraham, Tzelosa D’Avraham, Ahavas Chessed and more.

A few weeks before the Nazis destroyed the Tchechenov community in 5703/1943, the Jews learned that the Germans had plans to damage the grave of this tzaddik. That night, the members of the chevrah kaddisha took their lives into their hands and set out to rebury him in a new grave where the Nazis wouldn’t find him. Four distinguished members of the community carefully opened the grave and were astounded to find that the Rebbe’s body and tachrichim were perfectly preserved. Secretly, they moved him to a spot in the new cemetery between two trees, where his grave could later be found and marked. It is there that his holy body rests even today.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Feb. 24

In 1803, in its Marbury v. Madison decision, the Supreme Court established judicial review of the constitutionality of statutes.

In 1920, the German Workers Party, which later became the Nazi Party, met in Munich to adopt its platform.

In 1938, the first nylon bristle toothbrush, manufactured by DuPont under the name “Dr. West’s Miracle Toothbrush,” went on sale.

In 1946, Argentinian men went to the polls to elect Juan D. Peron their president.