This Day In History 6 Kislev/November 24

Harav Yechezkel Shraga Lipshitz

In 5446/1685, Jews were barred from settling in Stockholm, Sweden.


5392/1632, Harav Shmuel Eliezer Eidelis, zt”l, the Maharsha

5755/1994, Harav Yechezkel Shraga Lipshitz-Halberstam, Zy”a, the Stropkover Rebbe, mechaber of Divrei Yechzkel Shraga

Harav Yechezkel Shraga was the son of Harav Yissachar Dov Lipshitz of Ungvar, zt”l, a direct descendant of the Aryeh D’bei Ilayi. He was born on 4 Nisan 5668/1908 in Stropkov, Czechoslovakia.

When still a child he lost his mother, and was raised by her father, Harav Avraham Shalom Halberstam of Stropkov, zy”a. Later, Reb Yechezkel Shraga would adopt his grandfather’s surname.

During World War II, Reb Yechezkel Shraga and his family were sent to Auschwitz.

Despite his indescribable suffering and anguish during those tragic years, including the loss of his wife
and children, Hy”d, his dedication to Hashem and His Torah was prodigious.

A miracle that occurred on the first day that he arrived at Auschwitz prompted his self-imposed obligation to build a mikveh in the future. While he was standing in line, waiting to be examined by the ruthless butcher, Dr. Mengele, an SS officer appeared and asked the new arrivals if any of them had any expertise in construction, plumbing or electrical work. Obviously, whoever could convince the Nazis that he was a skilled craftsman would buy time for his life.

Determined to stay alive as long as possible, Reb Yechezkel Shraga decided to claim that he had achieved proficiency in construction. He convinced a young man standing next to him, who was actually a skilled construction worker, to teach him any simple concept concerning construction. The man was happy to oblige, teaching Reb Yechezkel Shraga the basics of constructing a ninety-degree angle.

In a clear sign of hashgachah pratis, the SS officer posed that very question to Reb Yechezkel Shraga. The ruse worked, and the officer assigned him to a work brigade. He believed Reb Yechezkel Shraga to the extent that he rebuked the other members of the group, saying, “This Jew is the only honest member of the group. He is an experienced craftsman.”

At that very moment Reb Yechezkel Shraga made a promise that if he were to survive, he would employ his “professional construction skills” to construct a mikveh.

In 5709/1949, Reb Yechezkel Shraga arrived in Eretz Yisrael, settling temporarily in Ramleh, a city not known for a large observant population. Reb Yechezkel Shraga’s warm personality and keen mind served as a magnet for those who were alienated from Torah. There he fulfilled his promise to build a mikveh.

In 5713/1953, Reb Yechezkel Shraga moved to Yerushalayim, where he founded a beis medrash and also served as a Dayan.

Following the petirah of his uncle, Harav Menachem Mendel of Stropkov, zy”a, on 6 Iyar 5704/1954, Reb Yechezkel Shraga became Stropkover Rebbe.

He wrote many sefarim on a large array of topics, all under the title Divrei Yechezkel Shraga.

Reb Yechezkel Shraga was niftar on 6 Kislev 5755/1994, at age 86.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

Nov. 24

In 1871, the National Rifle Association was incorporated in the U.S.

In 1874, Joseph F. Glidden was granted a patent for a barbed fencing material.

In 1903, Clyde J. Coleman received the patent for an electric self-starter for an automobile.

In 1939, British Overseas Airways Corp. (BOAC) was formally established.

In 1969, Apollo 12 splashed down safely in the Pacific.