This Day in History – 25 Teves/January 6

In 5319/1559, the first edition of Chovos Halevavos was published in Italy.


 

Yahrtzeit

5714/1954, Harav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, the Michtav MeEliyahu, zy”a

Harav Eliyahu Eliezer was born in Homil, Russia in 5652/1892. His father, Harav Reuven Dov Dessler, was a talmid of Harav Simchah Zisel Ziv, the Alter of Kelm; his mother was a descendant of Harav Yisrael Salanter.

Young Eliyahu was taught by his father and excelled in Torah at a young age. At 13 he was sent to the renowned Kelm Yeshivah “Talmud Torah,” where he continued learning for many years. His primary rebbeim were his father; Harav Tzvi Hirsch Broide; and his future father-in-law, Harav Nachum Zev Ziv, son of Harav Simchah Zisel.

During WWI he fled back to Homil, where he continued learning in a temporary yeshivah set up for the fleeing bachurim. In 5678/1918 he returned to Kelm, a year later he married the daughter of Harav Nachum Zev Ziv.

At that time the Bolsheviks came to power, and the sources of the family parnassah were ruined. His uncle, Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, offered him a rabbanus, but he declined. Subsequently, he moved to Riga and tried his hand at various trades, but for the most part was unsuccessful.

In 5687/1927 he accepted the rabbanus of a beis knesses in London. Eventually, he was asked to serve as Rav in a prominent kehillah and was also put in charge of the Jewish day school. He selected a small group of suitable talmidim and ingrained in them the principles of halachah and mussar, seeing this as a mission to build Yiddishkeit in London.

At the outbreak of WWII, Reb Eliyahu’s wife and daughter were visiting in Lithuania. Miraculously, they were saved. Reb Eliyahu’s concern for others knew no bounds. He felt that he had survived to encourage, revive and rebuild.

In 5711/1951 his Rebbetzin passed away. In 5713/1953, Rav Eliyahu contracted a foot ailment. He hid his suffering for a long while, but finally succumbed to illness.

His deep and original thoughts are published in the several volumes of Michtav MeEliyahu, assembled by his talmidim.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

Jan. 6

In 1838, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail gave the first successful public demonstration of their telegraph in Morristown, New Jersey.

In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his State of the Union address, outlined a goal of “Four Freedoms”: Freedom of speech and expression; the freedom of people to worship G-d in their own way; freedom from want; freedom from fear.

In 1974, year-round daylight saving time began in the United States on a trial basis as a fuel-saving measure in response to the OPEC oil embargo.