This Day in History – 10 Kislev/November 13

10 Kislev

In 5587/1826, Harav Dov Ber of Lubavitch, the Mitteler Rebbe, was released from prison. The date of his release is celebrated by Lubavitcher Chassidim as a “festival of liberation.”

In 5702/1941, 27,000 Jews of the Riga ghetto were taken for execution by the Nazis. Hy”d.

Yahrtzeiten

5377/1616, Harav Moshe Mordechai Margulies, zt”l, Rav in Posen, mechaber of Mateh Moshe and Be’er Moshe

5503/1742, Harav Aryeh Leib Berlin, zt”l, the Mochiach of Berlin

5681/1920, Harav Pinchas Menachem Elazar of Piltz, zt”l, the Sifsei Tzaddik

5687/1926, Harav Refael Dabosh of Libya, zt”l, Rosh Beis Din in Tripoli

5703/1942, Harav Menachem Nachum of Husyatin-Lemberg, zt”l

5714/1953, Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer, zt”l

5714/1953, Harav Tzvi Hirsh Dachowitz, zt”l, Rav of Congregation Agudath Achim Anshei Libowitz (Lubavitch)


 

5694/1933

Harav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Slabodka and Chevron

Harav Moshe Mordechai Epstein was born in the town of Bakst, in the Vilna district of Lithuania, on 20 Adar 5626/1866. His parents were Harav Tzvi Chaim and Rebbetzin Baila Chana Epstein. Harav Tzvi Chaim, who served as Rav of Bakst, had been affectionately referred to during his days in Yeshivas Volozhin as “the black iluy,” perhaps due to his jet-black hair and beard.

A child prodigy, Reb Moshe Mordechai began learning in Volozhin at the age of 16 under Harav Chaim Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav. There he met his future brother-in-law, Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer.

Perhaps one of the most influential and illustrious Torah families of that era was that of Reb Shraga Feivel Frank, a wealthy fur merchant in Kovno, Lithuania, and a devoted supporter of Torah. Reb Shraga Feivel passed away from pneumonia at age 43, leaving four unmarried daughters; in his will he asked his wife to marry off the daughters to young men who showed signs of becoming Gedolim b’Yisrael. Rebbetzin Frank took this mission very seriously and she investigated every candidate thoroughly. In 5649/1889, Reb Moshe Mordechai was chosen as the chassan for her daughter Menuchah.

Reb Shraga Feivel’s hopes were realized. His sons-in-law became the pillars of Torah Jewry for the next generation, and its guides following the devastation of the Holocaust. The European strongholds of Torah were replanted in America and Israel by his sons-in-law and grandsons: Harav Isser Zalman Meltzer of Slabodka and Kletzk, Harav Baruch Horowitz of Slabodka, Harav Sheftel Kramer of Slutsk and later New Haven, Connecticut, and Harav Moshe Mordechai Epstein.

After his marriage, Reb Moshe Mordechai moved to his wife’s hometown, in Kovno, and was joined there two years later by Reb Isser Zalman.

In Kovno, the two studied under the renowned mussar master, one of Harav Yisrael Salanter’s foremost talmidim, Harav Yitzchak Blazer (Reb Itzele Peterburger). They became intrigued with the study of mussar.

In 5654/1894, the brothers-in-law started teaching in the famed Slabodka yeshivah, not far from Kovno. In 5657/1897, the Alter of Slabodka, Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, invited Reb Moshe Mordechai to become the Rosh Yeshivah. Reb Moshe Mordechai accepted, while Reb Isser Zalman moved to the town of Slutsk to lead the Ridvaz’s yeshivah there. The Slabodka yeshivah flourished under the joint leadership of the Alter and Reb Moshe Mordechai, and many of its talmidim were crucial in nurturing the spiritual level of the Jewish people in subsequent generations.

In 5684/1924, Reb Moshe Mordechai, the Alter, and most talmidei hayeshivah relocated to Chevron. The yeshivah thrived for five years in Chevron as it had in Europe. But in Av 5689/1929, Arab mobs, incited by the anti-Semitic mufti of Yerushalayim, swarmed into the yeshivah, killing 68 people and wounding many more. Hashem yinkom damam.

In the aftermath, the British authorities evacuated the rest of the Jewish community. The yeshivah relocated to the Geulah section of Yerushalayim; in 5735/1975 it moved to its current location in Givat Mordechai.

Reb Moshe Mordechai had a warm relationship with Reb Nosson Tzvi, the Alter, and later became his mechutan when his daughter married the Alter’s son, Harav Moshe Finkel. His other daughter married Harav Yechezkel Sarna, who succeeded his father-in-law as Rosh Yeshivah of Chevron after his petirah.

Reb Moshe Mordechai had only one son, Harav Chaim Shraga Feivel, whom he named after his father-in-law.

Reb Moshe Mordechai was the mechaber of Levush Mordechai, which contains his chiddushim on Shas.

He was niftar on 10 Kislev 5694/1933, at the age of 68.

Zecher tzaddik livrachah.


 

November 13

In 1312, England’s King Edward III was born at Windsor Castle.

In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to a friend, Jean-Baptiste Leroy: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

In 1849, voters in California ratified the state’s original constitution.

In 1909, 259 men and boys were killed when fire erupted inside a coal mine in Cherry, Ill.

In 1927, the Holland Tunnel opened to the public, providing access between lower Manhattan and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure lowering the minimum draft age from 21 to 18.

In 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws calling for racial segregation on public city and state buses.

In 1969, speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew accused network news departments of bias and distortion, and urged viewers to lodge complaints.

In 1971, the U.S. space probe Mariner 9 went into orbit around Mars.

In 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by Maya Lin, was dedicated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

In 1985, some 23,000 residents of Armero, Colombia, died when a volcanic mudslide buried the city.