This Day in History – November 18/2 Kislev

In 5488/1727, Jews of New York were allowed to take an official oath without reference to Christianity.

In 5704/1943, Hitler’s soldiers were chased out of Casablanca, Morocco, prompting the celebration of “Purim of Casablanca.”


5536/1775, Harav Shmaryahu Varchovker, zt”l, talmid of the Baal Shem Tov

5555/1894, Harav Meshulam Feivish Halevi Heller of Zhabrizh, the Yosher Divrei Emes, zt”l

5618/1857, Harav Yisrael Yitzchok, Rebbe of Radoshitz, zt”l

5646/1885, Harav Avraham Hakohen of Saloniki, zt”l, mechaber of Taharas Mayim

5700/1939, Harav Nachum Weidenfeld, Rav of Dombrova, Hy”d, mechaber of Chazon Nachum

5723/1962, Harav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, founder and Rosh Yeshivah of Beis Medrash Govoha of Lakewood

5720/1959, Harav Akiva Sofer, zt”l, the Daas Sofer, Rav of Pressburg

5759/1998, Harav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, Zt”l, Mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha, Lakewood

Harav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel was born on 9 Adar 5670/1910 in Kuhl, Lithuania. His father, Rav Moshe Yom Tov, zt”l, was a talmid of the Slabodka Yeshivah and one of the 14 original talmidim of the yeshivah in Slutzk. (Another of these students was Harav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, later Rosh Yeshivah of Beth Medrash Govoha.)

Rav Nosson learned first in Kelm. When his father accepted a rabbinic post in Montreal, Rav Nosson, 15 years old, came to the United States and enrolled in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. After two years there, however, he returned to Lithuania to learn at Yeshivas Mir. He also learned under Harav Shimon Shkop, zt”l, who gave him semichah, and in Kaminetz under Harav Baruch Ber Leibowitz, zt”l.

It is said that before Rav Nosson left Kamenetz, Rav Baruch Ber asked to see the semichah from Rav Shimon Shkop. Reviewing it, Reb Baruch Ber decided that it was not effusive enough in its praise of Rav Nosson, and he replaced it with a new semichah.

Being a Canadian citizen, Rav Nosson was able to flee Europe when World War II broke out. Now married, after a circuitous journey he reached America and settled in New York.

In 5701/1941, Rav Nosson joined with Rav Aharon Kotler to develop Beth Medrash Govoha, also known as Lakewood Yeshivah, which grew into one of the largest and most prominent yeshivos in the world. Taking the position of Mashgiach, Rav Nosson’s role was to oversee the ruach of the yeshivah and the growth of its talmidim, which included delivering mussar shmuessen.

Rav Nosson was also the force behind the founding of community kollelim worldwide, where young married men learn and also inspire and teach the local baalei battim.

Rav Nosson was known for his yearning for Moshiach. Like the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Nosson kept a suit ready to put on when greeting Moshiach.

After Rav Aharon Kotler’s petirah in 5723/1962, Rav Nosson continued to lead the yeshivah with the Rosh Yeshivah’s son, Harav Shneur, zt”l.

In his last years, Rav Nosson brought ybl”c Harav Mattisyahu Solomon, shlita, from Gateshead, England, to be his successor.

Rav Nosson was niftar on 2 Kislev 5759/1998, the day of the yahrzeit of Harav Aharon Kotler, zt”l.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.

Nov. 18

In 1883, the United States and Canada adopted a system of standard time zones.

In 1916, the World War I Battle of the Somme, pitting British and French forces against German troops, ended inconclusively after four and a half months of bloodshed.

In 1963, the Bell System introduced the first commercial touch-tone telephone system in Carnegie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

In 2004, Britain outlawed fox hunting in England and Wales.

In 2009, two days before turning 92, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) set a record for longest-serving lawmaker in congressional history at 56 years, 320 days. That record was broken in 2013 by U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich).