This Day In History 5 Av/July 26

R-L: Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, zt”l, in a Torah discussion with Harav Shimon Shkop, zt”l.


5332/1572, Harav Yitzchak Luria, zt”l, the Ari Hakadosh (5333/1573 according to another opinion).

5571/1811, Harav Shimon Isserles, zt”l, Rav of Slutzk, son of the Rema

5659/1899, Harav Ezriel Hildesheimer, zt”l, Rav of Adas Yisrael, Berlin

5700/1940, Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, zt”l

Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky was born on 9 Elul 5623/1863. His father was Harav Dovid Shlomo. As a child, he was taught by his father; and as a youth, he attended the yeshivah in Volozhin, where he studied under the Netziv. He married the daughter of Harav Eliyahu Eliezer, a Dayan in Vilna; she was also a granddaughter of Reb Yisrael Salanter, zt”l.

Reb Chaim Ozer successfully served as his father-in-law’s right-hand man. The combination of his sterling character, his complete dedication to Torah and his devotion to performing acts of tzedakah and chessed made him immensely beloved to the people of Vilna. After his father-in-law’s petirah, Reb Chaim Ozer was appointed to fill his place, and he became the esteemed Dayan of Vilna.

His home was a beis vaad l’chachamim, where Rabbanim and prominent askanim were always present, discussing Torah or other urgent matters. Everything of importance to Vilna — and to world Jewry, for that matter — was dealt with in Reb Chaim Ozer’s home, which was the nerve center of Klal Yisrael.

Hardly a Rav, or even a shochet, was appointed anywhere in Russia or Poland without his agreement. He was involved in the appointment of the Chacham Bashi in Istanbul and in the choice of an Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi for Yerushalayim.

A large number of Reb Chaim Ozer’s activities were dedicated to supporting the poor of Eretz Yisrael and the Torah and chessed institutions of the Yishuv Hayashan.

A meeting was held in Vilna during America’s Great Depression to discuss the financial crisis of Europe’s yeshivos. One of those present stood up and said, “Given only natural means and considering the financial situation of the yeshivos, they will all close down.”

Rav Chaim Ozer jumped up and exclaimed, “Chas v’shalom! The Torah asserts that ‘it will not be forgotten by his descendants’ — the Torah will not be forgotten from Yisrael!”

During the winter of 5700/1940, when thousands of Jews fled to Vilna, which was a temporary refuge at that time, Rav Chaim Ozer’s home was open to the masses. He tried to help whomever he possibly could, despite his own physical weakness.

Rav Chaim Ozer was niftar before the Nazis captured Vilna, on 5 Av 5700/1940, and was buried there.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

July 28

In 1821, Peru declared its independence from Spain.

In 1866, the metric system was legalized by the U.S. Congress for the standardization of weights and measures throughout the United States.

In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was declared in effect. The amendment guaranteed due process of law.

In 1914, World War I began as Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

In 1932, federal troops forcibly dispersed the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans who had gathered in Washington to demand payments they weren’t scheduled to receive until 1945.