Jeff emails: “He was the most strident in keeping people from leaving. He was close to the Chofetz Chaim. I was never a big Litvak fan, despite all the postings on the internet with the revisionist ArtScroll history, I actually read his seforim and found it nasty. Here’s the truth.”
Al emails: “The “truth” as such is simply Rav Oshri’s account of what Rav Elchonon Wasserman said to his talmidim immediately before they were executed. As Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky later pointed out: no one knew what was said because no one present survived to talk about it.”
Elchonon Wasserman (1874 – July 6, 1941) was a prominent rabbi and rosh yeshiva in pre-World War II Europe. He was one of the Chofetz Chaim’s closest disciples and a noted Torah scholar.
When there wasn’t enough money to buy food for the yeshiva students, Rabbi Wasserman traveled to America to raise money for the yeshiva. Rabbi Wasserman made a powerful impression on the Jewish youth in the USA. Rabbi Wasserman returned to Poland and although he knew his life was in danger by returning, he did not want to abandon his students
Rabbi Wasserman had several sons. Rabbi Simcha Wasserman served as Dean of Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in Detroit in the 1940s, founded Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon in California in the 1950s, and later founded Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon in Jerusalem. Rabbi Wasserman’s other sons were Naftoli and Dovid.
When World War II broke out Rabbi Wasserman fled to Vilna, Lithuania, and in 1941, while on a visit to Kovno, was arrested by the Nazis with 12 other rabbis and sent to his death.
Rabbi Elchonon was taken and murdered by Lithuanian collaborators on the 12th of Tammuz, 1941. Before he was taken he gave this statement: “In Heaven it appears that they deem us to be righteous because our bodies have been chosen to atone for the Jewish people. Therefore, we must repent now, immediately. There is not much time. We must keep in mind that we will be better offerings if we repent. In this way we will save the lives of our brethren overseas.”
“Let no thought enter our minds, God forbid, which is abominable and which renders an offering unfit. We are now fulfilling the greatest mitzvah. With fire she (Jerusalem) was destroyed and with fire she will be rebuilt. The very fire which consumes our bodies will one day rebuild the Jewish people.”