| For the Record |

The Kozhiglover Confusion

“A regular day in Eretz Yisrael contains the same holiness as Yom Tov Sheini shel Galuyos in the diaspora”

Title: The Kozhiglover Confusion
Location: Yerushalayim
Document: Palestine Post and pashkevil
Time: December 1939


It was the darkest of times for world Jewry. World War II had begun and the daily dispatches from Europe were only getting worse. In the yishuv, there was a general feeling of helplessness, compounded by the recent losses of Rav Shimon Shkop; Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz; Rav Yitzchak Zelig Morgenstern, who was the Sokolover Rebbe, a grandson of the Kotzker, and a leader of Agudas Yisrael; and (allegedly) Rav Aryeh Tzvi Frommer, who was the Kozhiglover Rav, rosh yeshivah of Chachmei Lublin, and author of the responsa sefer Eretz Tzvi.

Across Palestine, events were organized to commemorate these Torah giants, including in Yerushalayim at the Churvah shul and at Yeshivas Meah Shearim. Luminaries such as Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, Rav Yitzchak Isaac Herzog, and Rav Zvi Pesach Frank were among the maspidim.

There was just one little problem. Although the Kozhiglover Rav was eventually martyred at the hands of the Nazis, at the end of 1939 he was still alive and well. Upon the closure of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin and the Nazi occupation, he fled to Warsaw. With the sealing off of the Warsaw Ghetto in November 1940, Rav Frommer organized an underground yeshivah for chassidic students in the ghetto.

He was initially saved from the deportations to Treblinka in the summer of 1942 by being employed in the famed Schulz Schop, which produced textiles for the Wehrmacht. The original owner was a Sokolov chassid named Avraham Handel, who used his position to stave off the inevitable for as many rabbinical leaders as possible; the shoe factory of the complex was nicknamed “the rebbes’ workshop.” Among them were the rebbes of Alexander, Sochatchov, Radomsk, Sokolov, and Piaseczna; Rav Moshe Betzalel Alter of Ger; Rav Menachem Zemba; the Kozhiglover, and many others.

Over the course of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which broke out on Pesach 1943, the Kozhiglover was deported to Majdanek, where he was killed in the gas chambers al kiddush Hashem.

The Mishnah Yomi

Having studied in Sochatchov under the Avnei Nezer, Rav Frommer remained a devoted chassid of the successive Sochatchover Rebbes. Known for his rabbinate in Kozhiglov (Kozieglowy) in southern Poland, he also served as rosh yeshivah of the Sochatchov yeshivah and succeeded Rav Meir Shapiro at the helm of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin following his untimely passing in 1933. In the legacy of his predecessor, at the celebration of the second Siyum HaShas in 1938 in Lublin, he promulgated the study of Mishnah Yomi parallel to the Daf Yomi cycle.

The Trip of a Lifetime

In 1935 the Kozhiglover fulfilled his lifelong dream of visiting Eretz Yisrael, coming together with his rebbe, Rav Dovid of Sochatchov. After meeting the great gaon in Bnei Brak, the Chazon Ish remarked that he had “not encountered such a brilliant mind in many years.” Enchanted with life in the Holy Land during the four-month visit, the Kozhiglover Rav told his host Rabbi Dovid Landa that “a regular day in Eretz Yisrael contains the same holiness as Yom Tov Sheini shel Galuyos in the diaspora.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 855)

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