He Was Teaching Torah Under the Floor

When young Shula came looking for her father, Reb Yitzchok Elchonon Shagalov, the chossid who opened the door began moving a large table in the center of the room. He then bent down and removed three planks of wood from the floor.

Reb Yitzchok Elchonon Halevi Shagalov was born in the year 5658 (1898) to Reb Yehuda Leib Shagalov. He learned in Lubavitch for a full eight years. He married Maryasha, the daughter of Reb Bentzion Garelik from Zhlobin, and together they settled in Homil.

At first, he collected money for both Tomchei Tmimim in Homil and maamad (support for the Rebbe and his activities). Later, the Frierdiker Rebbe instructed him to become a shochet and mohel. He was arrested on the 4th of Tishrei 5698 (1937) and was later shot in prison on the 25th of Teves 5698 (1937), HY”D.


A young man once entered the shul in Homil and murmured, “I want to make a bris. Where is Reb Elchonon?” His wife Maryasha took down his address, and later when Reb Elchonon came home she told him what had happened. “It could be a trap”, she cautioned. “Maybe it’s one of the NKVD.”

Reb Elchonon replied, “This could be a genuine bris. As long as I live I will put my life in danger to place the stamp of Avraham Avinu on Jewish children, as this will serve them as a constant reminder of their Jewish identity.”

Reb Elchonon left the house and only returned home the following morning.

“I was taken to the NKVD headquarters. They wanted to know who runs the underground yeshivos, who is still observing Yiddishkeit in Homil, and so forth. They tried to trap me with different sorts of questions—they tortured me, broke bottles over my head, jammed my fingers into the wall… but baruch Hashem I kept a clear head and denied it all, and they couldn’t prove that I was involved in anything illegal.”


Maryasha once sent her daughter Shula to a certain address with a mission to bring her father home. Shula knocked on the door and a chossid invited her inside.

He then bolted the door securely and began moving a large table standing in the middle of the room. The man bent down and removed three planks of wood from the floor where the table had stood.

Shula could hardly believe the scene that met her eyes: there, under the floor, sat her father Reb Elchonon with a candle, teaching Torah to six children. The space where they sat was so small that it was impossible to rise from a sitting position without banging their heads against the wooden planks of the floor!

For sources, visit TheWeeklyFarbrengen.com

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