This Day in History – January 27/14 Shevat

Liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945.

Yahrtzeiten

5654/1894, Harav Yechiel, zt”l, the Alter Rebbe of Alexander

5731/1971, Harav Dovid Shapiro of Yerushalayim, zt”l, mechaber of Bnei Tziyon


5516/1756, Harav Yaakov Yehoshua Pollack, The Pnei Yehoshua, Zt”l

The Pnei Yehoshua was born on 28 Kislev 5441/1680 in Reisha, Poland.

The Pnei Yehoshua’s first wife was the daughter of the parnas Reb Shlomo Landau Segal. One tragic day, a number of barrels of gunpowder caught fire and exploded in Lvov. Thirty-six Jews, among them his first wife and daughter, his mother-in-law and her elderly father, perished.

This changed the Pnei Yehoshua’s entire life, as he wrote in the introduction to his sefer: “And so, on the day of my tragedy I … made a neder [to write a sefer]. For I had been sitting comfortably at home … when suddenly the city became a ruin … the sound of a burning fire advancing … which began consuming our house. It had all resulted from 100 large, terrible barrels of gunpowder that had exploded and taken the houses with them…

“I succumbed, too, being knocked down to the depths and caught as if in a press by the weight above me … I couldn’t move or even breathe. In that moment I felt that my life was over…

“However, Hashem in His mercy did not let any evil befall me … At that point, sitting under the ruins, I said, ‘If Hashem will be with me and will take me out of this place in peace, and will give me a new family and many talmidim, then I will … diligently study Shas and Poskim there in depth … studying each subject for nights on end. For my soul desires to follow the ways of my fathers, especially my maternal great-grandfather, Reb Yehoshua, the Rav of Cracow, after whom I am named, the author of Maginei Shlomo.’

“Before I had finished speaking, Hashem heard my prayer and opened a path for me between the fallen columns so that I exited the place unscathed. This was a clear sign that my deliverance was Hashem’s direct doing, for there was no one near to rescue me.”

The outgrowth of this neder was the sefer Pnei Yehoshua.

While he learned, nothing distracted the Pnei Yehoshua. One winter day it was so cold that his talmidim didn’t come to learn until noon, when the weather became a bit more bearable. When they arrived at the beis medrash, they found the Pnei Yehoshua sitting and learning, wrapped in his tallis, still wearing his tefillin, and with his icy beard stuck to the table.

When he saw them, he asked why they hadn’t come earlier, and they told him how cold it had been. Only then did he notice his beard frozen to the table, and he said, “It seems that it must really have been cold.”

On 14 Shevat 5516/1756 shortly before Shabbos, Harav Yaakov Yehoshua was niftar.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


Jan. 27

In 1756, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria.

In 1880, Thomas Edison received a patent for his electric incandescent lamp.

In 1945, during World War II, Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland.

In 1973, the Vietnam peace accords were signed in Paris.

In 2006, Western Union delivered its last telegram.