This Day in History – 5 Cheshvan/October 9

5 Cheshvan

In 5228/1467, Jews in Landau, Germany, were ordered to wear the yellow badge.

Yahrtzeiten

5491/1730, Harav Moshe Berdugo, zt”l, a Moroccan Rav and mechaber of Rosh Mashbir

5551/1790, Harav Meshulam Zalman Chassid of Frankfurt, zt”l

5623/1862, Harav Avraham Yosef Rice, zt”l

5635/1874, Harav Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher, zt”l, Rav of Tohran


5704/1943

Harav Alexander Zusha Friedman, Hy”d, author of Maayanah shel Torah

Harav Alexander Zusha Friedman was born on Rosh Chodesh Av, 5657/1897. His father was Harav Aharon Yehoshua Friedman.

At three years old, the child was fluent in the entire sefer Bereishis. He continued to excel while learning in the local Sochatchover yeshivah.

At the age of 17, Reb Alexander Zusha married and moved to Warsaw, where he began his career of public service. Active in Zeirei Agudas Yisrael, he edited its journal, Digleinu. In 5685/1925 he was elected secretary of Agudas Yisrael, and a year later he was elected to the Board of the Warsaw Jewish community as a representative of the Agudah. He founded the Chorev Talmud Torah Network, which he headed, and set up training seminars for chareidi educators. He was also a board member of the flagship Bais Yaakov Seminary in Cracow.

He wrote a sefer called Kesef Tzaruf on the klalim of the Gemara. In his introduction he explains that “since foreign winds began to blow in our camp, which have tried to erase the Torah study completely … The need arises to help educate a generation which is not so knowledgeable. But if we do indeed step forward in organizing our educational institutions, we have not done anything to satisfy the biggest drawback felt in the educational world, and that is: the lack of appropriate educational literature in our spirit… So … I decided to fill this lack and have written an educational reference guide to bring the students with a proper understanding of the Torah a comprehensive knowledge of the foremost topics in Gemara.”

Reb Alexander Zusha is best known for his monumental Maayanah shel Torah (Der Torah Kvall), in which he gathered the teachings of Gedolei Yisrael on the Torah. He wrote the divrei Torah in clear language, understandable even to non-scholars.

At the beginning of the War, Reb Alexander Zusha was appointed representative of Orthodox Jewry to the Joint Distribution Committee (the “Joint”), and labored to help the Jews in Europe. He was arrested and held hostage by the Nazis along with other Jewish activists, but ultimately was released.

In those horrifying circumstances, when his own life depended on others, Reb Alexander Zusha initiated the establishment of soup kitchens and children’s “playgroups” which actually served as clandestine Talmudei Torah. Through this initiative, thousands of children managed to learn Torah. In Lublin and Cracow as well, chadarim were created along the lines he initiated in Warsaw.

In Elul 5701/1941, the Nazis allowed the Jews to establish schools in the ghetto. Reb Alexander Zusha’s Talmudei Torah received official recognition and were eligible for support from the Joint and the Judenrat. At that point he was able to set up and fund the famous yeshivah in the Warsaw Ghetto where more than 400 bachurim learned.

A few months later, in the summer of 5702/1942, deportations from the Warsaw ghetto began. The Nazis ordered the Judenrat to send to the death camps all the residents of the ghetto besides Judenrat employees and factory workers. Reb Alexander Zusha found refuge in the Schultz factory, repairing shoes and boots. However, that summer his wife and only child — a daughter, born 11 years after their marriage — were sent to Treblinka, where they were killed al Kiddush Hashem.

Losing his wife and daughter did not discourage Reb Alexander Zusha from continuing his sacred work in the Warsaw Ghetto. Most of the day he was busy repairing boots in the workshop, but in his spare time, Reb Alexander Zusha was busy working on behalf of the klal. He also dedicated many of his working hours to learning; those sitting near him heard him murmuring Gemara and Mishnayos.

Many activists worked to find a way to rescue Reb Alexander Zusha from the Warsaw ghetto. Among them was the famous Swiss askan Reb Chaim Yisrael Eis, who labored tirelessly to improve the welfare of Jews in Europe through his contacts with diplomats and the Red Cross. Reb Chaim Yisrael used his influence with the Paraguayan consul to issue a passport to Reb Alexander Zusha. It is not known whether the passport arrived but was returned to the sender, or if it was never sent, but it was among the papers confiscated by police in Zurich from the home of Reb Chaim Yisrael, and unfortunately did not reach its intended destination.

Thus, Reb Alexander Zusha was taken to the Trawniki camp, near Lublin, in Adar 5703/1943, and murdered there on 5 Cheshvan 5704/1943.

Hashem yinkom damo.


 

October 9

In 1446, the Korean alphabet, created under the aegis of King Sejong, was first published.

In 1776, a group of Spanish missionaries settled in present-day San Francisco.

In 1888, the public was first admitted to the Washington Monument.

In 1910, a coal dust explosion at the Starkville Mine in Colorado left 56 miners dead.

In 1930, Laura Ingalls became the first woman to fly across the United States as she completed a nine-stop journey from Roosevelt Field, N.Y., to Glendale, Calif.

In 1936, the first generator at Boulder (later Hoover) Dam began transmitting electricity to Los Angeles.

In 1962, Uganda won autonomy from British rule.

In 1974, businessman Oskar Schindler, credited with saving about 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust, died in Frankfurt, West Germany. (At his request, he was buried in Jerusalem.)

In 1987, author, politician and diplomat Clare Boothe Luce died in Washington at age 84.