This Day In History 8 Teves/December 26

In 3515/247, the Torah was translated into Greek, at the command of King Talmai (Ptolemy). A taanis tzaddikim commemorates the event. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2)

The Gemara relates: “King Talmai (Ptolemy) gathered 72 elders and placed them in 72 separate chambers, without revealing to them why they were called. Entering each room he said: “Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher.” Hashem put it in the heart of each sage to translate exactly as all the others did. (Megillah 9). Talmai found that each translation was identical to every other one, even in places where the Sages intentionally altered the literal translation.

This translation of the Torah was a tragic moment for the Jewish people, a tragedy Chazal describe in Megillas Taanis as “three days of darkness” descending upon the world.

In 5722/1961, Adolph Eichmann was sentenced to death after being tried in Israel.


Yahrtzeiten

5647/1887, Harav Yisrael Gabrielovitch, zt”l, a talmid of Harav Akiva Eiger

5667/1906, Harav Boruch Tzvi Hakohen, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Paks, and Rav of Budapest

5718/1957, Harav Asher Zev Werner, zt”l, a Rav in Teveria


5703/1942, Harav Yecheskel Halshtock, Hy”d, the Ostrovtzer Rebbe

Harav Yechezkel of Ostrovtza was born in the year 5647/1887, in the town of Skernevitz, to Harav Yechiel Meir, zy”a, the Ostrovtzer Rebbe, mechaber of Meir Einei Chachamim. He married the daughter of Harav Naftali, zy”a, the Melitzer Rebbe, from the Ropshitz dynasty.

Reb Yechezkel was Kodesh Lashem from his youth, totally immersing himself in learning Torah and in avodas Hashem. At a young age he was already recognized as a future Gadol.

Reb Yechezkel was very similar to his illustrious father in many ways. He was blessed with a brilliant memory and his geonus was spellbinding.

Reb Yechezkel was appointed Rav of the village Inbladz, which was located in the area of Radom, Poland. From there he went on to be Rav in the city of Nashelsk. In 5688/1928, following his father’s passing, he became the Ostrovtzer Rebbe. (Ostrovtza is located approximately halfway between Warsaw and Krakow in Poland.)

He founded a network of yeshivos named “Beis Meir,” l’zecher nishmas his father. In the yeshivos, the learning was arranged according to the unique Ostrovtzer derech halimud.

The Rebbe’s davening was extraordinary. His hislahavus in tefillah would melt a heart of stone. Talmidim attested to the fact that when the Rebbe davened, he became totally detached from the physical.

At the onset of World War II, Reb Yechezkel happened to be in Warsaw, but he was quickly transferred home to Ostrovtza. He hid all the sifrei Torah immediately. The Nazis, ym”s, caught him once and cut off half his beard. After that he fled to Tuzamir and hid in a bunker. Eventually the Nazis caught him and his entire family in the bunker, and he and they were killed al kiddush Hashem.

He had seven sons, some of who were noted Rabbanim, and one son-in-law.

Some of his writings were published after the war under the name “Kodshei Yechezkel,” printed together with his father’s seferMeir Einei Chachamim.” The rest of his many manuscripts were lost in the war. Hashem Yinkom Damo; Zechuso Yagen Aleinu.


Dec. 26

In 1776, British forces suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

In 1865, James H. Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, received a patent for “an improved coffee percolator.”

In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation’s railroads.