This Day In History 6 Elul/August 28

Harav Yechezkel Sarna, Rosh Yeshivah Of Chevron, zt”l

6 Elul

Yahrtzeiten

5414/1656, Harav Gershon Shaul Yom Tov Lipman Heller, zt”l, the Tosfos Yom Tov

5643/1883, Harav Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, zt”l, Rav of Siget and author of Yetev Lev


5729/1969

Harav Yechezkel Sarna, Rosh Yeshivah Of Chevron, zt”l

Harav Yechezkel Sarna was born in 5650/1890 in Horodok, near Minsk. His paternal grandfather was Harav Shraga Feivel, zt”l, Rav of Sampolni, Seini, Ostrov, Sokolkeh and finally Horodok.

Rav Yechezkel’s mother, Eidel, came from a family of note. Her father, Harav Shlomo Zalman Buksbaum, zt”l, was the author of Rechovos Ir, a commentary on Midrash Rabbah.

Outgrowing the local cheder, Yechezkel traveled to different yeshivos over a period of 10 years. First to Slabodka, at the Or Hachaim mesivta. Then to the yeshivah in Maltch, under Harav Zalman Sender Kahana-Shapira, zt”l. A year later Rav Yechezkel returned to Slabodka, this time to Yeshivas Knesses Beis Yitzchak.

Rav Yechezkel went on to Telshe, and when the yeshivah temporarily closed he moved back to Maltch, under the leadership of Harav Shimon Shkop, zt”l.

In 5667/1907, he moved back to Slabodka, to Knesses Yisrael, under the Alter of Slabodka, Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l.

Rav Yechezkel stayed in Knesses Yisrael until 5674/1914 when World War I forced the Jews to flee. Rav Yechezkel then moved to Minsk, while the yeshivah moved on to Kremenchuk. Toward the end of the war Harav Nosson Tzvi requested that Rav Yechezkel rejoin the yeshivah in Kremenchuk. It was then that Harav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, zt”l, chose him as a husband for his daughter Pesha, and in 5679/1919 they were married in Kremenchuk.

In 5684/1924 the Lithuanian government abolished draft exemptions for yeshivah students. Rav Yechezkel proposed that part of the yeshivah move to Eretz Yisrael. The Roshei Yeshivah were strongly in favor.

Rav Yechezkel traveled to Eretz Yisrael to establish the yeshivah. He found a home for the yeshivah in Chevron. In essence, Yeshivas Chevron was the first yeshivah to move from overseas to Eretz Yisrael.

His father-in-law arrived from America followed by the Alter of Slabodka and his son Rav Moshe, who served as R”M for a year, until his petirah, when Harav Leib Chasman, zt”l, became mashpia ruchani. But the administration of the yeshivah remained in Rav Yechezkel’s able hands.

Early in 5687/1927, Harav Nosson Tzvi fell ill and directed Rav Yechezkel to start delivering sichos mussar.

After the Alter’s petirah, Rav Yechezkel and Harav Leib Chasman succeeded him as Roshei Yeshivah. The yeshivah continued to thrive, until 5689/1929 when in the month of Av the Arabs of Chevron massacred 23 of the yeshivah’s talmidim and injured many more. Rav Yechezkel was spared because he had gone to Yerushalayim. He immediately arranged to move the yeshivah there.

Rav Yechezkel had to rebuild anew. The yeshivah bought a few buildings in the Geula neighborhood, which became its new home.

In 5696/1936 Rav Leib Chasman passed away, and the two sons-in-law of Harav Moshe Mordechai, Harav Aharon Cohen, zt”l, and Harav Moshe Chevroni, zt”l, joined Rav Yechezkel as Roshei Yeshivah, while Harav Meir Chadash, zt”l, became the menahel ruchani.

Rav Yechezkel worked to establish Chinuch Atzmai, which he supported throughout his life.

After being hospitalized briefly, he passed away. He was buried on Har Hazeisim.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


August 28

In 1609, English sea explorer Henry Hudson and his ship, the Half Moon, reached present-day Delaware Bay.

In 1830, the “Tom Thumb” was demonstrated in Baltimore, Md. It was the first passenger-carrying train of its kind to be built in America.

In 1833, slavery was banned by the British Parliament throughout the British Empire.

In 1916, Italy declared war on Germany during World War I.

In 1922, the first-ever radio commercial aired on station WEAF in New York City; the 10-minute advertisement was for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid a fee of $100.