This Day in History – 17 Sivan/June 4

Today marks the beginning of the summer season, according to Rabi Meir (Bava Metzia 106:2).

In 1656/2105 B.C.E., according to Rabi Eliezer (Rosh Hashanah 11), the ark of Noach was grounded on the mountains of Ararat (Bereishis 8:5).


 

Yahrtzeiten

5632/1872, Harav Aharon of Karlin, the Beis Aharon

5651/1891, Harav Meir Yonah Shatz, author of the Mefaresh on Sefer Ha’Itur

5673/1913, Harav Tzvi Hirsh Broide, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Kelm


 

5704/1944 ,Harav Moshe Vorhand of Makov, the Ohel Moshe, zt”l

Harav Moshe Vorhand was born in Av 5620/1860. His parents were Harav Yosef Tzvi and Rebbetzin Chaya Sara, daughter of Reb Moshe Ehrenfeld. Rav Vorhand later credited his greatness in Torah to his parents’ example and dedication to his learning.

In his youth, Reb Moshe studied in Mattersdorf under Harav Shmuel Ehrenfeld, the Chasan Sofer, who prized his student for his yiras Shamayim and refined character.

As a talmid, Reb Moshe conducted himself with extreme diligence and austerity, eschewing basic necessities in his quest to purify his neshamah. He trained himself not to sleep, often staying up all night to learn.

As a young man, Rav Vorhand was already a sought-after marbitz Torah, and before long he established a large yeshivah in Nitra, which attracted talmidim from all over Hungary. His goals, in addition to teaching Torah and yiras Shamayim, were to inculcate his talmidim with middos tovos and an appreciation for the fire and passion of Chassidus.

Rav Vorhand’s position in Nitra lasted for 25 years, from 5647/1887 through 5672/1912. At the urging of the community in Makov — a distinguished kehillah in Hungary — Rav Vorhand accepted the Rabbinic mantle and allowed his tenure in Nitra to end.

Rav Vorhand maintained a strong bond with his devoted followers in Nitra, returning to deliver drashos and for other occasions.

The Makover Rav, as he was fondly called, was known for his kind and caring nature, yet he was fiercely protective of halachah and uncompromising in his defense of Torah and mitzvos. He fought to uphold the highest standards of shemiras hamitzvos, particularly in kashrus and tznius, which were constantly challenged by modern influences.

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 5704/1944, the community appealed to their Rav for guidance. In his answer, vividly recalled by many survivors, he bewailed his inability to intercede for all Hungarian Jewry. But he reassured his flock that the Makov kehillah would survive.

This is precisely what happened, as the train carrying the Makov deportees to the extermination camp was diverted from its course time and again. Of all the large kehillos in Hungary, the one with the greatest proportion of survivors was Makov.

During the Nazi occupation, Rav Vorhand was arrested on false charges and was treated very harshly in prison. His kehillah davened and fasted for his well-being, and shortly afterwards he was released. His health had suffered severely, however, and he was persuaded, with great difficulty, to travel to Budapest for treatment.

On 17 Sivan 5704/1944, Reb Moshe was niftar in Budapest. In his tzavaah he requested he be buried in Makov, to allow his kehillah to mourn him properly. He also wrote in his tzavaah that he will definitely help whoever will cry “with intense tears” at his kever. Many travel to his kever to this day. His chiddushim are published in Ohel Moshe, which was reprinted in New York.


 

June 4

In 1783, the Montgolfier brothers first publicly demonstrated their hot-air balloon.

In 1919, Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing citizens the right to vote regardless of their gender.

In 1939, the ocean liner MS St. Louis, carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees from Germany, was turned away from the Florida coast by U.S. officials.

In 1942, the Battle of Midway began, resulting in a decisive American victory against Japan and marking the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

In 1944, A German submarine was captured by a U.S. Navy task group in the south Atlantic; the first capture of an enemy vessel at sea by the Navy since the War of 1812.

In 1954, French Premier Joseph Laniel and Vietnamese Premier Buu Loc signed treaties in Paris according “complete independence” to Vietnam.