This Day in History – 29 Tishrei/October 12

In 5701/1940, this was the deadline for Warsaw’s Jews to move into the ghetto.


 

Yahrtzeiten

3449/313 B.C.E., the Tanna Shimon Hatzaddik, the last of the Anshei Knesses Hagedola

5684/1923, Harav Shmuel Tzvi Danziger, the Alexander Rebbe, zt”l, mechaber of Tiferes Shmuel


 

5645/1884, Harav Menachem Mendel Hager Of Vizhnitz, zt”l, the Tzemach Tzaddik

On 24 Iyar 5590/1830, Harav Menachem Mendel of Vizhnitz was born to Harav Chaim of Kossov, mechaber of Toras Chaim.

“Reb Mendele” proved to be an unusual genius, able to recite from memory the entire piece of the Shach on Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 66. That allayed any doubts the Ruzhiner Rebbe had about the qualifications of this young illuy as a shidduch for his daughter.

And so in 5604/1844, at the age of 14, Reb Menachem Mendel married Rebbetzin Miriam. The wedding took place in Kishinev, Russia, where the Ruzhiner Rebbe’s family was then living.

As a young married man in the home of his father-in-law, Reb Mendel grew in Torah and middos. In addition to the generous allowance he received from his father, he also received a large share of support from his father-in-law, since the Ruzhiner court was known for its royalty.

He absorbed much of the vast spiritual richness of the Ruzhiner court, where he lived until his father-in-law’s petirah. After that, he moved back to his father’s home in Kossov. Later yet, when Reb Menachem Mendel was Rebbe in Vizhnitz, he often repeated divrei Torah he had heard from his father-in-law.

When Reb Chaim of Kossov was niftar in 5614/1854, each of his sons became Rebbe in a different location, the youngest, Reb Menachem Mendel, who was only 25, moved to Vizhnitz (Wischnitza), a town located in the Marmorosh area of Romania. He among his brothers attracted the majority of his father’s Chassidim.

Two of his major teachings were ahavas Yisrael and assisting a friend in distress. He stressed to his Chassidim the importance of brotherhood and friendship and demanded they give tzedakah generously. Indeed, the flow of his own charity giving was limitless. Reb Menachem Mendel especially drew close the youth.

His excellence in Torah was recognized by contemporary Gedolei Hador who, in their Torah correspondence, spoke of him with the highest regard. His diligence in Torah was tremendous. After Maariv, he learned until 10 o’clock, when he would receive his Chassidim. Afterward, he continued learning until four in the morning. In the summer, when the sun rose early, this meant that he could still be found learning at sunrise. After his very short nightly rest, he would learn Mishnayos, recite Tehillim, immerse in the mikveh, then daven, and resume his learning.

In 5644/1884 he traveled to a health resort in an attempt to recuperate from illness, but to no avail. That Sukkos the ailing Reb Menachem Mendel davened at home with a small minyan.

The Rebbe’s suffering was great, and a few days before his petirah, due to the pain, he could no longer speak above a whisper. On Leil Shabbos Bereishis, Erev Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, as a storm raged outside and he sat in his chair dressed in his Shabbos attire, his soul soared Heavenward.

He was buried in Vizhnitz. His Torah thoughts are published in Tzemach Tzaddik.

Zechuso yagein aleinu.


 

October 12

In 1492 (according to the Old Style calendar), Christopher Columbus arrived with his expedition in the present-day Bahamas.

In 1915, former President Theodore Roosevelt, speaking to the Knights of Columbus in New York, criticized native-born Americans (as opposed to naturalized citizens) who identified themselves by dual nationalities, saying that “a hyphenated American is not an American at all.”

In 1942, during World War II, American naval forces defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Cape Esperance.

In 1964, the Soviet Union launched a Voskhod space capsule with a three-man crew on the first mission involving more than one crew member. (The flight lasted just over 24 hours).