Rav Baruch Hager, the Seret-Viznitz Rebbe, the Makor Baruch (1895-1963). Born to Rav Yisrael of Vizhnitz and Rebbetzin Hinda, a daughter of Rav Meir Horowitz of Dzikov, Rav Baruch was named after his
grandfather, the Imrei Baruch of Vizhnitz, who had passed away two years earlier. In 1912, Rav Baruch married Henia, a daughter of Rav Yissachar Dov of Belz. He married a second time, to Tzyril, a daughter of Rav Eliezer Nisan of Dzikov/Tsfas, in 1923. He then became rav of Polein-Riskova, and then served as the rav of Kotzman, Romania, for nine years. He established a Talmud Torah, a Beis Yaakov school and worked extensively for Agudas Yisrael. In 1935, Rav Baruch moved to Seret, a Romanian town of about 2,000 Jews. The Ahavas Yisrael passed away soon afterwards and Rav Baruch became the Admor of Seret-Vizhnitz. It is estimated that of about 150,000 Romanian Jews exiled to Transnistria (including all those from Seret), some 90,000 perished of hunger, cold
and persecution. Rav Baruch was ransomed for a huge sum in Adar of 1944 and made his way back to Romania. He finally moved to Antwerp, Belgium in 1946 together with his brother, the Imrei Chaim, and they stayed there for close to a year. He arrived in Eretz Yisrael in Sivan 1947, and set off to Haifa where he set up his court. There Rav Baruch established a yeshivah, a Talmud Torah and other Torah institutions. This laid the ground for the establishment of the famous community of Ramat Vizhnitz, built on the side of Haifa’s Mount Carmel, laying its foundation stone on the 3rd day of Tammuz, 1954. Sadly, Rav Baruch passed away at the age of sixty-eight before the culmination of his building project.
Rav Elazar Simcha Wasserman (1992). The oldest son to his illustrious father, Rav Elchanan Wasserman, and a nephew of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, Rav Simcha learned at Novardok for several years, beginning shortly after his Bar Mitzvah, under the Alter of Novardok. He was also very close to the Chafetz Chaim. After his last visit with him, his father sent him to Strasbourg, France, where he started a yeshiva (at the time, the only yeshiva in France). He stayed until 1938, when he moved to America. He first taught at Torah Vodaas, where he became close to Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz. He worked closely with Rav Aharon Kotler in the Vaad Hatzalah during WWII. In 1944, Rav Simcha established the Bais Yehuda Day School in Detroit, the first in Michigan, and appointed Rav Avraham Abba Freedman as a Rebbe. Their first Shavuos, they were the only two to learn all night in the Beis Midrash. When Rav Simcha left in 1953, he left Rav Avraham Abba, who stayed another 50 years. He then founded the West Coast Talmudic Seminary (WCTS), or Ohr Elchanan (named after his father) in Los Angeles. He asked Chabad to take over the building and school in 1977. In 1979, he and his rebetzen (daughter of the Novardok rav, Rav Meir Abowitz) fulfilled a lifelong dream by moving to Eretz Yisrael. Together with Rav Moshe Chadash, he established Yeshiva Ohr Elchanan in Yerushalayim. Rav Simcha and his rebbetzin never had children. Yet, Rav Simcha was considered by many to be a leading authority on the subject of child-rearing.
Today in History – 2 Cheshvan
· Joseph II of Austria rescinds the law forcing Jews to wear a distinctive badge, 1781. The regulation had been in effect since 1267, more than 500 years.
· Pogrom in Odessa took 300 Jewish lives, 1905.
· Nazis close the 124 year-old Mir Yeshiva, 1939. Its students flee to Lithuania and are saved after spending the war years in Shanghai.
· Nazis murder 10,000 Jews in Vilna, 1941