This Day in History – 6 Kislev/November 28

In 5382/1621, the Shelah Hakadosh arrived in Yerushalayim (after first visiting Tzfas). In Yerushalayim he served as Rav and Rosh Yeshivah of the Ashkenazic community for many years. (After the harsh decrees of the pasha he was forced to move to the Galilee where he was niftar; he is buried in Teveria.)

In 5446/1685, Jews were barred from settling in Stockholm, Sweden.


5755/1994, Harav Yechezkel Shraga Lipshitz-Halberstam, zy”a, the Stropkover Rebbe, mechaber of Divrei Yechezkel Shraga

Harav Yechezkel Shraga was the son of Harav Yissachar Dov Lipshitz of Ungvar, a direct descendant of the Aryeh D’bei Ilayi. He was born on 4 Nisan 5668/1908 in Stropkov, Czechoslovakia.

While still a child he lost his mother, and was raised by her father, Harav Avraham Shalom Halberstam of Stropkov. Later, Reb Yechezkel Shraga would adopt his grandfather’s surname.

During World War II, Reb Yechezkel Shraga and his family were sent to Auschwitz.

Despite his indescribable suffering and anguish during those tragic years, including the loss of his wife and children, Hy”d, his dedication to Hashem and His Torah was prodigious.

A miracle that occurred on the first day that he arrived at Auschwitz prompted his self-imposed obligation to build a mikveh in the future. He was standing in line, waiting to be examined by the ruthless butcher Dr. Mengele. An SS officer appeared and asked the new arrivals if any of them had any expertise in construction, plumbing or electrical work. Obviously, whoever could convince the Nazis that he was a skilled craftsman would buy time for his life.

Determined to stay alive as long as possible, Reb Yechezkel Shraga decided to claim that he had achieved proficiency in construction. He convinced a young man standing next to him, who was actually a skilled construction worker, to teach him any simple concept concerning construction. The man was happy to oblige, teaching Reb Yechezkel Shraga the basics of constructing a 90-degree angle.

In a clear sign of hashgachah pratis, the SS officer posed that very question to Reb Yechezkel Shraga. The ruse worked, and the officer assigned him to a work brigade. He believed Reb Yechezkel Shraga to the extent that he rebuked the other members of the group, saying “This Jew is the only honest member of the group. He is an experienced craftsman.”

At that very moment Reb Yechezkel Shraga made a promise that if he were to survive, he would employ his “professional construction skills” to construct a mikveh.

In 5709/1949, Reb Yechezkel Shraga arrived in Eretz Yisrael, settling temporarily in Ramleh, a city not known for a large observant population. Reb Yechezkel Shraga’s warm personality and keen mind served as a magnet for those who were alienated from Torah. There he fulfilled his promise to build a mikveh.

In 5713/1953, Reb Yechezkel Shraga moved to Yerushalayim, where he founded a beis medrash and also served as a Dayan.

Following the petirah of his uncle, Harav Menachem Mendel of Stropkov, on 6 Iyar 5704/1954, Reb Yechezkel Shraga became Stropkover Rebbe.

He wrote many sefarim on a wide array of topics, all under the title Divrei Yechezkel Shraga.

Reb Yechezkel Shraga was niftar on 6 Kislev 5755/1994, at age 86.

Zechuso yagein aleinu.


Nov. 28

In 1520, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean after passing through the South American strait that now bears his name.

In 1861, the Confederate Congress admitted Missouri as the 12th state of the Confederacy after Missouri’s disputed secession from the Union.

In 1922, Captain Cyril Turner of the Royal Air Force gave the first public skywriting exhibition, spelling out, “Hello USA. Call Vanderbilt 7200” over New York’s Times Square; about 47,000 calls in less than three hours resulted.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the original permanent headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia.

In 1964, the U.S. launched the space probe Mariner 4 on a course toward Mars, which it flew past in July 1965, sending back pictures of the red planet.

In 2001, Enron Corp., once the world’s largest energy trader, collapsed after would-be rescuer Dynegy Inc. backed out of an $8.4 billion takeover deal.