Auction 134 Special Sale no Incunables, Chassidut, Belongings of Tzaddikim, Amulets, Segula Books, Manuscripts, Rabbinical letters, Chabad and Rare books
By Winner'S
Feb 1, 2022
3 Shatner Center 1st Floor Givat Shaul Jerusalem, Israel

The auction has ended

LOT 151:

The Mir Yeshivah Leaves Shanghai: Historic Letter by Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz

Sold for: $1,200
Start price:
$ 700
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$1,000 - $1,200
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The Mir Yeshivah Leaves Shanghai: Historic Letter by Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz


Important and lengthy historic letter dealing with the Mir yeshivah's preparations to leave their place of exile in Shanghai at the end of the Holocaust. Due to the delicate nature of receiving entry permits for the hundreds of exiles, the letter uses hints, and it also contains historic revelations. Sent to the gaon Rabbi Zeidel Siemiatycki, son-in-law and lecturer at Rabbi Schneider's yeshivah, and one of the leaders of Va'ad Hatzalah. Sunday of the week parashat Tetzaveh is read (in Adar) 1947.


This historic letter was written towards the end of the Mir yeshivah's exile in Shanghai - the wondrous lifeboat that became available through Divine providence for the students of the sacred yeshivahs (not only the Mir yeshivah) that spent the period of the Holocaust there, like a modern Noah's ark, while Europe became a huge slaughterhouse and members of their families and their people were methodically murdered. In Shanghai, the yeshivah students did not live under conditions they were accustomed to in yeshivah - but who needed these conditions when their parents, family and people were being slaughtered?


The letter, as stated, was written with hints due to the sensitive topics of receiving entry permits to the United states. At the end of one passage, Rabbi Chaim writes the agreed-upon Jewish sign about topics that should be kept quiet: "Enough said" ["ודי לחכימי"] (Incidentally, he usually wrote this using the abbreviation 'וד"ל' - usually interpreted as "ודי לחכימא") but here the words are completely spelled out, written by Rabbi Chaim in a form that is slightly unusual - in the plural.)


The letter deals with entry permits (visas) for Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz himself and for the yeshivah disciples. In this historic letter, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz informs Rabbi Zeidel Siemiatycki that the lot has been cast - the yeshivah is moving to the United States! He writes as follows: Immediately after [you] left, I decided to travel directly to the United States and Mo"ch shlit"a agrees with this. (Speaking of which, only a small part of the yeshivah would stay in the United States, most went on to the Land of Israel with the heads of the yeshivah). The person who Rabbi Chaim refers to as "Mo"ch shlit"a" is obviously the gaon Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Finkel, his father-in-law.


This letter demonstrates that the visa for Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz was complex to obtain, more so than those of his disciples. With respect to the students' visas, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz states: "Baruch Hashem the youths' matter has been attended to, may it conclude with success and soon. It's too bad I didn't speak to ... by telephone last Wednesday together with Mr. Horowitz -- of Paris." Yet with respect to his own visa, Rabbi Chaim writes that it has encountered difficulties.


It may be that this letter even shows that Rabbi Chaim was gently criticizing the gaon of the generation or the rabbis of Va'ad Hatzalah, as follows: "It is quite astonishing that the consul here has still not received instructions for preparing my visa when "important personalities" receive new visas by some instruction from Washington ... it must be that Rabbi Aharon Kotler has not acted there at all ... he made so much noise regarding why I am not coming ... enough said."


It is appropriate to emphasize that this letter specifies the date of the 'Exodus from Shanghai' more precisely than was previously known. In this letter, we see that in Adar/March of 1947 the yeshivah still did not arrive in the United States. There are those who (erroneously) date the Mir yeshivah's arrival earlier, in Tevet/December 1946. Refer to Wikipedia in the entry on Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz: "In Tevet 1946, he traveled with the yeshivah to the United States, and about half a year later, he ascended to the Land of Israel and assisted his father-in-law in establishing the yeshivah there." Here is evidence from a primary source - the rosh yeshivah, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, about the precise date.


The Yad VaShem site also does not accurately record the arrival of the Mir yeshivah in the United States: "After Japan's surrender in August 1945, it was still not possible to leave Shanghai due to transportation difficulties. Small groups from the yeshivah managed to leave, but most were forced to stay there until the end of 1946. Most of the yeshivah's people left from Shanghai to the United States, where the yeshivah split. Some students stayed in the United States and founded their yeshivah in Brooklyn, and some went on to the Land of Israel together with Rabbi Shmuelevitz and restored the Mir yeshivah in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem."


[1] leaf paper, 20x27 cm. Entirely handwritten and signed by the gaon Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz.

Fine condition. Minimal aging stains. Fold marks. Tiny tears in the folds.


Also refer to:

Mir during the Holocaust in Yad Vashem's website

The Gaon Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz - Wikipedia

The Mir Yeshivah - Wikipedia