This Day in History – 9 Shevat/January 10

9 Shevat

In 5704/1944, Harav Aharon of Belz, zy”a, and his brother Harav Mordechai of Bilgoray, zy”a, were saved from the Holocaust. On this day they arrived in Beirut, where many Chassidim anxiously awaited them.

Yahrtzeiten

5134/1374, Rabbeinu Nissim, zt”l, the Ran

5544/1784, Harav Eliyahu Yisrael, zt”l, Rav of Alexandria, mechaber of Ar’a d’Yisrael

5587/1827, Harav Yisrael Yaakov of Bilkamin, zt”l, son of Harav Menachem Mendel of Rimanov

5609/1849, Harav Yaakov Helburn, zt”l, Rav of Zenta

5625/1865, Harav Yehosef Schwartz, zt”l, mechaber of Tevuos Haaretz and Divrei Yosef

5761/2001, Harav Dovid of Skver–Boro Park, zt”l


 

5728/1968

Harav Eliezer Silver, zt”l, Rav of Cincinnati, Ohio, and president of Agudath Harabonim of the United States and Canada

Harav Eliezer Silver was born in 5642 (1882) in Abel, Lithuania. In his childhood, he was taught primarily by his father, Harav Bunim Tzemach Silver. He also studied under Harav Meir Simchah of Dvinsk (the Ohr Sameiach) and Harav Yosef Rosen, the Rogochover Gaon, also of Dvinsk. At the young age of 24, he received semichah from a number of prominent Rabbanim including Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski, with whom he developed a close relationship that lasted many years.

When he was 25 and already married, he moved to America, arriving at its shores in 5667 (1907). He spent a short while in New York and Philadelphia before settling in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He later moved on to Springfield, Massachusetts, and finally to Cincinnati, Ohio. In all these cities, Harav Silver served as a Rav and mentor.
He strengthened Yiddishkeit, improving kashrus standards and implementing many reforms in all areas of Torah life. In both Harrisburg and Cincinnati he was instrumental in the founding of a Jewish day school.

Even though he was a great manhig with many responsibilities, he somehow managed to maintain an extremely high level of hasmadah. He would be seen “stealing” precious minutes from his sleep or his meals to learn just another little bit. He would often go to bed at 2:00 in the morning and arise at 6:00, using every spare second for learning.

In order for his directives and Torah decisions to be implemented, Harav Silver would often assume a strict — or even harsh — demeanor. In truth, however , he was a loving father, and mentor to Klal Yisrael. His koach was clarity and decisiveness, the signs of a true leader. His vast efforts to imbue Yiddishkeit in the barren wasteland of America were a foundation on which to build a safe Torah haven for Klal Yisrael.

His clarity in halachic matters was striking. His quick, sharp and incisive answers left his petitioners in awe. Learning his sefarim, one gets a glimpse of his vast knowledge of kol haTorah kulah. He was also endowed with exceptional energy and a unique simchas hachaim that complemented his serious nature.

In order to unite and strengthen America’s Torah-true community, Agudath Harabonim was founded in 5662 (1902). Harav Silver was extremely active in this organization, and from 5683 (1923) onward served as a member of its presidential board. He also helped found the renowned Ezras Torah tzedakah fund.

Harav Silver’s sterling character as a manhig b’Yisrael came to light during World War II. In the beginning of 5700 (1939), he received a telegram from Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski, notifying him of the severity of the situation in Europe. From then on, Harav Silver knew no rest. Among his many hatzalah activities was his pivotal role in founding the American Vaad Hatzalah, which was instrumental in rescuing  thousands of Jews, including many Gedolim. Harav Silver served as president of the Vaad. After the war, the Vaad aided the thousands of refugees who were languishing in the Displaced Persons (DP) camps.

During the war, many Jewish children had been hidden in the homes of Christians and “adopted” by them or had been otherwise orphaned and displaced. The Vaad Hatzalah spared no effort on their behalf. In fact, Harav Silver himself traveled with mesirus nefesh to Europe to locate these children and rescue them. He visited many DP camps and helped set up shuls and mikvaos for the she’eiris hapleitah. At one point, he was accosted by anti-Semites in an attack that was nearly fatal.

In his later years, Harav Silver compiled many of his chiddushei Torah, which were published in his sefarim, Anfei Erez and Tzemach Erez. Harav Silver was niftar at 86.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


 

January 10

In 1901, the Texas oil boom began, ushering in an era of U.S. prosperity as it introduced the world to a new energy source.

In 1928, Leon Trotsky, one of the chief architects of Soviet Union, was ordered into exile by the Soviet government.

In 1969, Sweden became the first Western European nation to announce it will establish full diplomatic relations with North Vietnam.

In 1991, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar headed for Baghdad and last-minute talks with Iraq on the Gulf crisis.

In 1994, the United States, Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement on the destruction of Ukraine’s entire nuclear arsenal.

In 1996, Chechen rebels fledwith about 100 captives from a hospital in Dagestan, Russia. Russian troops killed the rebels and some of the hostages.

In 1998,the German government reached an agreement to pay US$110 million to Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe.

In 2000, America Online agreed to buy Time-Warner for US$162 billion, making it the largest-ever corporate merger.

In 2003, North Korea announced it is withdrawing from the 1970 Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which it signed in 1985.