This Day in History – December 23/8 Teves

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.


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

5718/1957, Harav Yechezkel Holshtock of Ostrovtze, Zt”l

Harav Yechezkel was born in the year 5647/1887 in the town of Skrenevitz, to Harav Yechiel Meir, the Ostrovtze Rebbe, zy”a, author of Meir Einei Chachamim. He married the daughter of Harav Naftali, the Melitzer Rebbe, zy”a, of the famous Ropshitz dynasty.

He was appointed Rav of the village of Inabladz, located near Radom, Poland. From there he went on to be Rav in the city of Nashlask. In 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 World War II he was in Warsaw, but he quickly returned home to Ostrovtze. There, he hid all the sifrei Torah. After the Nazis, ym”sh, 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, a daughter and 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 damam.

Dec. 23

In 1783, George Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

In 1913, the Federal Reserve System was created as President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored the civil rights of about 1,500 people who had been jailed for opposing the First World War.

In 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.

In 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.

In 1954, the first successful human kidney transplant took place at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston as a surgical team removed a kidney from 23-year-old Ronald Herrick and implanted it in Herrick’s twin brother, Richard.

In 1962, Cuba began releasing prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion under an agreement in which Cuba received more than $50 million worth of food and medical supplies.

In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, non-refueled round-the-world flight as it returned safely to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

In 2001, Time magazine named New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani its Person of the Year for his steadfast response to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

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