This Day in History – 8 Teves/December 30

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.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5647/1886, Harav Yisrael Gabrielovitch, zt”l, a talmid of Harav Akiva Eiger

5667/1906, Harav Baruch 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 Yechezkel Holshtock of Ostrovtze, zt”l

Harav Yechezkel was born in the year 5647/1887 in the town of Skrenevitz. His father was the righteous Rav Yechiel Meir, the Ostrovtze Rebbe, author of Meir Einei Chachamim. He married the daughter of Harav Naftali, the Melitzer Rebbe, of the famous Ropshitz dynasty.

He was appointed Rav of the village Inabladz, located near Radom, Poland. From there he went on to be Rav in the city of Nashlask. In the year 5688/1928, following his father’s petirah, he became the Ostrovtze Rebbe. (Ostrovtze is located approximately halfway between Warsaw and Cracow in Poland.)

He was similar to his illustrious father in many ways, blessed with a brilliant memory and spellbinding geonus. He founded a network of yeshivos named Beis Meir, l’zecher nishmas his father. In the yeshivos the learning followed the unique Ostrovtze derech.

His hislahavus in tefillah would melt even a heart of stone. Talmidim attested to the fact that when the Rebbe davened he would totally detach himself from anything physical.

At the onset of WWII Rav Yechezkel was in Warsaw, but he quickly returned home to Ostrovtze so he could immediately hide all the sifrei Torah. After the Nazis caught him and cut off half his beard, he fled to Tzuzamir and hid in a bunker. Eventually, the Nazis caught him and his entire family and killed them al kiddush Hashem. He had seven sons, several of them 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 sefer, Meir Einei Chachamim. The rest of his many manuscripts were lost in the war.

Hashem yinkom damo.


 

Dec. 30

In 1813, British troops burned Buffalo, New York, during the War of 1812.

In 1853, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty under which the U.S. agreed to buy some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico for $10 million in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.

In 1922, Vladimir I. Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which lasted nearly seven decades before dissolving in Dec. 1991.

In 1936, the United Auto Workers union staged its first “sit-down” strike at the General Motors Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Michigan. (The strike lasted until Feb. 11, 1937.)

In 1944, King George II of Greece proclaimed a regency to rule his country, virtually renouncing the throne.

In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was inaugurated for his first term as president of the Philippines.

In 2006, Iraqis awoke to news that Saddam Hussein had been hanged; victims of his three decades of autocratic rule took to the streets to celebrate.