This Day in History – 27 Nisan/April 16

Yahrtzeiten

5565/1805, Harav Yichya Tzalach of Taimon, zt”l, mechaber of Eitz Chaim and Pe’ulas Hatzedek

5567/1807, Harav Yitzchak Ashkenazi, zt”l, mechaber of Taharas Hakodesh

5579/1819, Harav Yehudah Kahana, zt”l, mechaber of Kuntres Hasefeikos

5703/1943, Harav Tzvi Aryeh Frommer, Hy”d, the Koziglover Rav

5729/1969, Harav Yeshayah Asher Zelig Margulies, zt”l, a mekubal of Yerushalayim and mechaber of many sefarim, one of which is Kumi V’roni

5740/1980, Harav Levi Yitzchak Greenwald, zt”l, the Tzehlemer Rav, who is buried in New York.


 

5761/2001, Harav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, Rav of Kehillas Bais Yisrael in Flatbush

Harav Avigdor Miller was born in 5669/1909 in Baltimore, Maryland.

His diligence was evident even as a youngster. As a teenager he attended Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan, where he progressed tremendously.

During the 1920s, Hagaon Harav Isaac Scher, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of the Slabodka Yeshiva, came to America to raise funds. When he returned to Slabodka, the young Avigdor Miller went with him.

In Slabodka, he was imbued with the unique Slabodka derech in mussar during his six years there.

While in Slabodka, he married Rebbetzin Chana Ettil, daughter of Hagaon Harav Yaakov Moshe Lessin. Their two oldest children were born in Slabodka. But in the 1930s, when it looked like war was inevitable, the Miller family decided to return to America.

Upon his arrival, Rav Miller initially served as a Rav in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where, besides shepherding his flock, he devoted himself to the children’s chinuch.

After close to a decade, Rav Miller realized that for the sake of his own children’s education he would have to move to New York. Divine Providence decreed that on the very day he made this decision, he received a call from Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Hutner, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, inviting him to become the menahel ruchani of his yeshivah. Rav Miller accepted the post at Chaim Berlin, where he stayed for 20 years.

In Chaim Berlin he could be seen learning most of the day; during that period he would complete the entire Shas each year.

He was one of the first to record his shiurim so they could be widely distributed. As his thousands of Hashkafah tapes spread worldwide, Jews from all over became his talmidim.

Rav Miller was also among the first to write sefarim in English. Volumes like Rejoice, O Youth (1962), Behold a People (1968) and Sing, You Righteous (1973) were trailblazing works that articulated many aspects of Torah ideology in English for the first time.

His books on Jewish history clearly demonstrated how world events had been orchestrated by Hashem for the sake of the Jewish people.

Rav Miller was niftar at the age of 92, and he was mourned by all of Klal Yisrael.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.


 

April 16

In 1945, during World War II: a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea torpedoed and sank the MV Goya, which Germany was using to transport civilian refugees and wounded soldiers; it’s estimated that up to 7,000 people died. U.S. troops reached Nuremberg. U.S. forces invaded the Japanese island of Ie Shima. In his first speech to Congress, President Harry S. Truman pledged to carry out the war and peace policies of his late predecessor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1947, the French ship Grandcamp blew up at the harbor in Texas City, Texas; another ship, the High Flyer, exploded the following day (the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people). Financier Bernard M. Baruch said in a speech at the South Carolina statehouse, “Let us not be deceived — we are today in the midst of a cold war.”

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon with astronauts John W. Young, Charles M. Duke Jr. and Ken Mattingly on board.