This Day in History – 7 Teves/December 29


5614/1854, Harav Mordechai Yosef of Izhbitze, zt”l

5615/1854, Harav Yechezkel Paneth of Nitra, zt”l

5653/1892, Harav Yom Tov Lipman, zt”l, mechaber of Malbushei Yom Tov

5654/1893, Harav Dovid of Lublin, later of Tzfas, zt”l

5701/1941, Harav Meir Abowitz of Novaradok, zt”l


5540/1779, Harav Tzvi Hirsh, zt”l, son of the Baal Shem Tov

Before he revealed who he was, the holy Baal Shem Tov lived for a while in Brod, Galicia, where he married Rebbetzin Chana, the sister of the renowned talmid chacham, Harav Avraham Gershon Kitover, zt”l. A son, Reb Tzvi Hirsh, and a daughter, Udel, were born to the Baal Shem Tov there. Reb Tzvi Hirsh learned Torah from his father and from his uncle Reb Gershon.

Reb Tzvi Hirsh was a faithful emissary of his father in his many missions of saving Jews in trouble. Like his father, he gave away all his money to charity. He was known for his great humility, behaving as a simple man of the people. He was considered a tzaddik nistar; his great acts were hidden from the public eye.

His father, the Baal Shem Tov, instructed him not to speak a superfluous word. Harav Pinchas Koritzer, zy”a, testified that “Reb Tzvi Hirsh knows all that takes place, even in the Heavens, but his silence stems from thinking that all those around him know the same, therefore he has nothing to add….” This was also after he did become Rebbe; he was renowned for his middas hash’tikah.

It is related that in his youth, Reb Tzvi Hirsh once accompanied his father, the Baal Shem Tov, to the house of a wealthy man in Mezhibuzh. The father, seeing his son’s eyes widen at the costly silver ornaments and expensive furnishings, exclaimed: “My son, I see that you envy this man and his costly things while your father’s house is bare of such luxury. But believe me, my son, even were I to possess sufficient wealth to acquire these silver ornaments, I would rather prefer to distribute it all to the poor.”

According to one source, Reb Tzvi Hirsh was appointed leader of the Chassidim to succeed his father. He served in that capacity for just one year. The Chassidim had gathered on Shavuos, the first yahrtzeit of the Baal Shem Tov, and were seated around a table with Reb Tzvi Hirsh at their head. He suddenly rose and said: “Today my father appeared to me and informed me that the Shechinah and Heavenly Assembly that used to be with him have gone over this day to Reb Dov Ber, the Mezritcher Maggid; therefore, from today on, the leadership is his. Let him sit in my place at the head of the table and you, my son, sit in his place.” When he finished speaking, he removed the white bekeshe that he wore which symbolized his being Rebbe and placed it upon the shoulders of the Rebbe Reb Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch.

However, according to most sources Reb Tzvi Hirsh never assumed leadership; the Baal Shem Tov indicated, or specifically instructed that the Maggid should be his successor. All, however agree that Reb Tzvi Hirsh was a spiritual giant who was greatly admired by his father’s talmidim.

Reb Tzvi Hirsh was buried in Pinsk. Later an ohel was built around his kever, at the request of the Beis Aharon of Karlin, zy”a.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


Dec. 29

In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In 1812, during the War of 1812, the American frigate USS Constitution engaged and severely damaged the British frigate HMS Java off Brazil.

In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.

In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them.

In 1934, Japan formally renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

In 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as “The Second Great Fire of London.”

In 1975, a bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people.

In 1989, dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel assumed the presidency of Czechoslovakia.