Friday, December 4, 2009

Yud Tes 19 Kislev Yorzeit of the Mezritcher Maggid

Rav Dov Ber the Maggid of Mezritch and the Ba'al Shem Tov's successor was the Rebbe of Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
Please enjoy sample selections from the upcoming MeOros Kedushas Levi

Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev became the rav of Pinsk in the year 1771, taking the place of the Toras Yekusiel. At that time a great gathering of misnagdim — the opponents of Chassidus — was held in Shklov. They made many false accusations against the chassidim so that soon the situation in Pinsk became too difficult for Reb Levi Yitzchak to bear. It was under the backdrop of the gathering in Shklov that Reb Levi Yitzchak received the letter that would be the cause of his mentor's premature passing.

Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch, was in Mezritch learning with the Maggid. One Shabbos, nine other students of the Maggid arrived: Reb Shmuel Shmelke of Nikolsberg and his brother Reb Pinchas, the author of Hafla'ah, Reb Nachum of Chernobyl, Reb Levi Yitzchak, Reb Zev Wolf of Zhitomir, the holy brothers the Rebbe Reb Elimelech and Rebbe Zisha, Reb Leib, and Reb Shlomo of Karlin. Reb Shneur Zalman was the youngest among them; most were already serving as rabbis of various towns and cities.

While they were there, a letter arrived from Pinsk. It was from Reb Levi Yitzchak's wife. Her letter described the suffering his family had to endure at the hands of the misnagdim. (Some say they were even chased out of town so that a new rav by the name of Avigdor would take Reb Levi Yitzchak's place. Others say that the family actually showed up at the Maggid's residence.)

Reb Levi Yitzchak's colleagues were greatly distressed by the news. They decided that they would have the letter read before the Maggid during the Shabbos meal, for they considered the matter quite serious. Since Reb Levi Yitzchak was directly involved in matter, he was the obvious choice to read the letter for the Maggid.

While Reb Levi Yitzchak read the letter out loud before his Rebbe, the Maggid remained silent and did not utter a word. (According to some versions, he reread the letter at each meal, yet received no response each time.) The Maggid's disciples wondered at this, and on motza'ei Shabbos they gathered together to decide what to do. Perhaps the Maggid's silence, they speculated, was a sign of acquiescence that it was up to them to decide how to handle the affair. They took a vote on whether to issue a ban of excommunication against the misnagdim. But in order to do so, they needed a quorum of men for a minyan, and they were short one man. They decided that they must convince Reb Shneur Zalman to join them though they knew it would be difficult to persuade him to do so without the Maggid's permission.

Reb Shmuel Shmelke had an idea. They sent Reb Zisha to Reb Shneur Zalman to ask him if issuing cherem in such a situation was permissible. If he would answer yes, they would ask him to join them. If no, they would try to think of something else.

In the end, Rebbe Zisha convinced Reb Shneur Zalman to join them, and they placed a ban of excommunication against the misnagdim and the people of Pinsk for persecuting the chassidim and Reb Levi Yitzchak and his family.

Midnight had long passed when the Maggid's students returned and went to sleep in the Maggid's dormitories. But Reb Shneur Zalman could not sleep; he was feeling uneasy about the night's events. He felt that something was wrong. As he took his place on a small three-cornered pillow by the wood-burning stove, he felt that somehow the Maggid must know what they had done.

Sure enough, he could hear the Maggid's footsteps, a distinctive sound since he suffered from a sickness that had affected his legs and Reb Shneur Zalman could hear the Maggid's crutches bumping on the floor. Curious to find out what his Rebbe would do, Reb Shneur Zalman feigned sleep. Through slitted eyes, he saw his Rebbe enter with a candle in hand and look in the face of each of his disciples. When he reached Reb Shneur Zalman, the Maggid said, "Ribbono shel olam! Master of the world! This llittle Yid lying here on this little pillow will be the Rebbe of all the provinces in Russia?"

His voice woke the sleeping students. They washed and stood up, and Reb Shneur Zalman did likewise.

"My children," the Maggid said to them, "what have you done?"

"We could hold back no longer!" they cried. "How much can we suffer? We had no choice."

"I knew there was a great danger, and it was not for naught that I did not act! Now it is too late, for by this act you have lost your head and your leader. But you have been rewarded with one success — that from now until the end of time, whenever there shall be a disagreement between the chassidim and their opponents, the chassidim will emerge victorious."

So it was that in that year, the year 1773, on the nineteenth of Kislev, we lost the great refined light of the holy Tzaddik, the Maggid of Mezritch.

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:

Selections from upcoming MeOros Kedushas Levi for18 Kislev Rav Baruch of Mezibuz Yorzeit zya

18th of Kislev is the Ba'al Shem Tov's grandson the holy Rebbe Reb Baruch of Mezibuz's Yorzeit
Please enjoy a few selections from upcoming MeOros Kedushas Levi for18 Kislev Rav Baruch of Mezibuz Yorzeit zy"a

When the Berditchever Rejoices, All the Angels Rejoice

One Shabbos, the Berditchever was visiting Reb Baruch of Mezibuzh. In the morning, after he had made Kiddush, Reb Baruch returned to shul to observe how the Berditchever, who was still davening, prayed the mussaf service. Just as Reb Baruch entered the shul, he heard Reb Levi Yitzchak yelling, "Kesser!" with such great excitement that he leaped up and jumped onto the cantor's podium!

Upon seeing this, Reb Baruch called to his attendants, "Quick! Hand me a gartel!" but there were no prayer sashes in the immediate vicinity. Reb Baruch wrapped a towel around his waist in lieu of a belt and recited the Kedushah of Kesser together with the holy Berditchever.

Later Reb Baruch explained that when he entered the beis midrash, he saw the entire host of angels from heaven gathering together to recite the Kedushah together with the holy Berditchever. He asked for a gartel so that he could join them.

A different time Reb Baruch told his students regarding Reb Levi Yitzchak's remarkable devotion to prayers, "When the Berditchiver rav recites the blessings of the morning Shema and says the words 'who fashions servants and ministering angels and whose servants and ministering angels all stand at the summit of the universe,' all the angels come down from on High and advocate on behalf of the Jewish people."


The Tchortkover Rebbe would often relate the following story:

Reb Moshe'le from Zhvill, the son of Reb Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, was once visiting the Rebbe Reb Baruch of Mezibuzh. At that time, the chassid Reb Yaakov Mohilliver, who was known by his nickname Reb Yakovka, was also visiting Reb Baruch. Reb Yakovka was the court jester and would entertain Reb Baruch by acting out the antics of the holy Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchever, how he would bow and prostrate himself during the shofar blowing or during the lighting of the Chanukah candles. The Rebbe Reb Baruch would laugh out loud at these performances, and it appeared as if he was making fun of the holy Berditchever.

Reb Moshe'leh of Zhvill was present at Reb Baruch's Shabbos table when Reb Yakovka performed his comedy act, mimicking Reb Levi Yitzchak's bowing and gestures that he would make when he served the Creator. Reb Baruch laughed so hard it seemed that his stomach would burst! But Reb Moshe'leh was beside himself with anguish. How could anyone in the world could laugh and make fun of such a Tzaddik as the holy rav of Berditchev?

The scene replayed itself at each of the Shabbos meals: Reb Yakovka acted out different antics of the Berditchever's holy avodah, and Reb Baruch did not stop laughing during the entire meal.

Reb Moshe'leh's hair stood on end and he felt chills run through his body as he observed the travesty going on before him. He could find no explanation for Reb Baruch's shameful behavior.

Although he had originally planned on spending another Shabbos in Mezibuzh, he immediately decided against it. On Sunday, he came to take his leave of Reb Baruch and return home. "Why are you in such a hurry? Stay a little longer. Spend another Shabbos with us," Reb Baruch entreated his guest.

Reb Moshe'leh could not contain himself. He burst out with a pained heart, "How can you make fun of the holy Berditchever Rav whom I know to be a saintly man of G-d!"

"Another good Jew who does not know what he is saying!" Reb Baruch exclaimed. "For several years now the holy Berditchever has in mind all the kavanos that the kohen gadol had in the Beis HaMikdash when he prays. In order to preempt the prosecutions of the satan, I have no choice but to mock and belittle the Berditchever's avodah. This nullifies the prosecutions of the satan and hastens the redemption and the rebuilding of the Mikdash. I know the truth in my heart, that the holy rav of Berdichiver is great and awesome. My laughter is solely to cancel the satan's evil intentions."


Eating with the Berditchiver

Once the Berditchiver was visiting the holy Rav Baruch of Mezibuz. Rav Baruch was known to be extremely sensitive, fussy and exacting. Every detail had to be just right. Rav Baruch would also get angry if he was disturbed. The Berditchiver wanted to sit at Rav Baruch's table and eat a meal with the holy Ba'al Shem Tov's grandson and so he asked him: "Reb Baruch Leyb, my love! I wish to sit across from you so that I do not disturb you with my gesticulations and motions!" Rav Baruch was greatly pleased since he did not wish to say this and make such a request himself.

Therefore when the attendants set the table for the meal, they set the table width-wise instead of lengthwise. So that although the Berditchiver and Rav Baruch were at opposite ends of the table they would not seem to be seated so far away from each other.

Rav Baruch sat on one side of the width and the Berditchiver sat opposite him on the other side. When they had pronounced the HaMotzi blessing over the bread, the Berditchiver was seized with a great fiery passion and in his excitement he called out: "Rav Baruch Serdtse!" (As was his custom to call Jews by this slavic term which means My heart! My beloved!) As soon as he said the word Sertse, he leaped up onto the table next to Rav Baruch. Off course he caused all the dishes and glasses to smash and break and come crashing down from the table. This was the Berditchiver's behavior when he was enraptured with dveykus! (Eser Oros 3:9, Devarim Areivim p24-25)


One of the chassidim of the Rebbe Reb Baruch of Mezibuzh rushed to tell his Rebbe the news of the Berditchever's passing. The Rebbe Reb Baruch was known to criticize Reb Levi Yitzchak's ways, and the chassid thought he was bringing "good" news. Instead, Reb Baruch practically fainted and began to cry and wail in distress.

He admonished the harbinger of such terrible news. "Don't think that when I spoke against Reb Levi Yitzchak I did so in order to diminish his stature or blemish his honor! Reb Levi Yitzchak rose to the loftiest levels, to the highest spiritual realms above that of even the ministering angels, and I was afraid they would harm him in their jealousy. Therefore I used trickery and guile to hide my intentions and pretended to belittle and mock his holy ways to silence their jealous accusations."

That chassid did not live out the year.

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:

Selections from the upcoming MeOros Kedushas Levi for Yud Tes 19 Kislev

The 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev is celebrated as the "Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism." It was on this date, in the year 1798, that the founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), was freed from his imprisonment in Czarist Russia. More than a personal liberation, this was a watershed event in the history of Chassidism, heralding a new era in the revelation of the "inner soul" of Torah.

Just before the Alter Chabad Rebbe Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi was taken away, after his arrest on false trumped up charges of subversive and rebellious activities against the government his brother-in-law, R. Israel Kosik, approached him and asked for instructions.

"You," said the Rebbe, "go immediately, and I mean immediately, to Petersburg. Go, just as you are now, without any hesitation. Someone else should go to Berditchev to inform R. Levi Yitzchak, that he may intercede and pray." The Rebbe's order was carried out. Losing no time R. Israel Kosik left for Petersburg, in the very same clothes he was wearing. In order to carry out the Rebbe's order and leave in haste, he did not return to his hometown in Babinovich to obtain a passport, but instead he borrowed one belonging to a friend.

Someone else left for Berditchev, but in all the excitement and haste the man forgot to note the name of the Alter Rebbe's mother, which was needed for the kvittel and the petition known as a Pidyon Nefesh. Arriving in Berditchev he informed Rav Levi Yitzchak of all that had happened to the Rebbe. In hearing the account of the occurrences, the Berditchiver fell to the floor in agony and cried bitterly.

He then asked the emissary whether the Alter Rebbe was upset. Receiving an affirmative answer, he inquired further, whether he was deeply upset or merely superficially. "It would appear that he was upset only superficially," replied the emissary. "I noticed that he forgot to take along his house slippers, but he did not forget to take his Tallis and Tefillin with him." Rav Levi Yitzchak was very impressed by this reply and commended the man's power of observation saying "Der Litvak Kukt Gut," which means the Lithuanian observes well.

He then asked for the name of the Alter Rebbe's mother. The emissary did not know what to answer since in his haste to arrive at Berditchev he forgot to ask for the name. He had remembered that he did not know the name, but was then already far on his way and afraid to return because the element of speed had been stressed so much.

There was a Chumash on the table. The Berditchiver opened it, and the first verse he saw was in Parshas Miketz (Bereshis 42:1-2) "And Yaakov saw that there was 'shever' (food) in Egypt." Said Rav Levi Yitzchak: "The word shever is an acrostic for Shneur ben Rivka." When someone asked the Berditchiver if it could not be Rachel which also begins with a Reish, he answered that the word Shever contained two letters from the name Rivkah, both a Reish and a Beis. And so it was indeed. The Rebbe himself, sometimes signed his name "Shneur ben Rivka."

(Beis Rebbe I p28; Rabbeinu HaZaken p.42; Tiferes Beis Levi p16-17)

Another version of the story that was recorded by the Lubavitcher Rebbe:

Before the Alter Chabad Rebbe, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi was incarcerated on false charges he sent a Pidyon Nefesh, a letter of petition to Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev through Reb Yaakov Smilianer. The letter said: "To awaken heavenly mercy and try an attempt that all my thoughts will be actualized from their potential state with no spiritual injury or bodily harm." He told Rav Yaakov that he should read this Pidyon Nefesh so that "the letters will the be engraved in your memory."

When Reb Yaakov reached Berditchev he saw that he had lost the letter of petition. When he came before Rav Levi Yitzchak he recited the contents of the lost letter of petition from memory, since they were "engraved in his mind," since the Alter Chabad Rebbe had asked him to memorize it.

Rav Levi Yitzchak asked Reb Yaakov what Rav Shneur Zalman's mother's name was and Reb yaakov Smilianer did not know the answer.

Rav Levi Yitzchak lit up his Lilke (a long pipe that many Rebbe's once smoked) saying: "With this pipe I could burn up all of Petersburg!"

Reb Yaakov responded: "Berditchiver Rav! Our Rebbe is a Russian Rebbe, he represents the attributes of Chaba"d – Chochmah – Wisdom, Binah – Insight and Daas – Knowledge." (Meaning that he does not need to resort to miracles.)

Rav Levi Yitzchak gave him a good look and said in jest, "See what a Russian chassid is like?! For him even a Rebbe without a mother is fine!" (Since he did not remember the Alter Chabad Rebbe's mothers name.)

Rav Levi Yitzchak went to the mikvah, with Reb yaakov following him. When Rav Levi Yitzchak had finished immersing and he came out and washed his hands he said: "Now I know that there is food - shever in Egypt!" (based on Bereshis 42:1-2) Yes there is hope because there is shever in Egypt (since it spells Shneur Ben Rivkah).

(Shaarei HaMoadim #26 p140-141)

Upon his release from prison, the Alter Chabad Rebbe wrote three letters: one to R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, one to R. Baruch of Mezhibuz, and one to all the Chassidim. In these he informed them of his release.

This is the text of his letter to Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (Original Attached) :

"Behold I have received a blessing and I shall return one as well to my honored and beloved, the great Rabbi and genius, pious and ascetic the master Rav Levi Yitzchak, and to all those who take shleter in his shade, the shadow of wisdom. May you all have life forever especially his precious children may they live.

Whereas I was drawn by G-d, who uplifted me to inform the humble and the upright of heart of joyous tidings - "Rejoice in the L-rd, O you righteous," (Tehillim, 97:12) and praise the name of your G-d who acted towards you miraculously in unlimited degree. I shall recount and tell that which defies description - how G-d acted wondrously and magnificently on earth, made wondrous and great His great and holy Name which publicly became magnified and sanctified, especially in the eyes of all the officers and people in the provinces of the king; in their eyes too this matter is considered so exceptionally wondrous that they reacted and said 'this must be from Hashem, for it is wondrous in our eyes.' (Tehillim 118:23) It is for a sign that G-d is with us and there is none other beside Him.

Behold, who am I that G-d took me so far, that through so lowly a person as myself the name of Heaven was magnified and sanctified?! It must then be because the principal battle was that they had in essence undertaken to wage war against the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov, his disciples and their disciples. And it was G-d's will to favor us in the merit of the Holy Land and its inhabitants - this stood by us and in our support and will stand by us in every time of need, to bring us freedom and salvation, to widen unto us that which is narrow and to deliver us from agony, and to raise our horn in the Glory of G-d, the L-rd who forever sits On High and rejoices in His Creation, if it shall please Him so.

It ought to be mentioned, that this day upon which Hashem was with us, is the day on which it was twice said 'it is good,' - the 19th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the great anniversary of the passing of our holy rabbi and teacher, of blessed memory; (The Maggid of Mezritch's yahrzeit) and as we read in Sefer Tehillim the pasuk 'my soul was freed in peace,' (Based on Tehillim 55:19 "He redeemed my soul in peace from battles against me, because of the many who were with me.") before I even began the next verse - I departed in peace, and I hereby conclude with peace from the G-d of peace.

These are the words of your beloved friend, who constantly prays for your welfare,

Shneur Zalman, the son of R. Baruch of blessed memory." (Igros Kodesh Admor HaZaken Letter #38 p97-99)

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Blessing of HaRav Yaakov Meir Shechter Shlit”a


ברכתו של כ"ק אדמו"ר הרה"צ רב יעקב מאיר שכטער שליט"א ראש ישיבת שער השמים

אור לי"ז כסלו תש"ע

נכנסתי בקודש פנימה עם הספר מפניני נועם אלימלך וגם עם דוגמת הספר מאורות קדושת לוי

וקבלתי ברכת "ברכה והצלחה" - וקבלתי רשות לפרסם בשו שכל המוציא ועוסק להוציא ספרי הצדיקים לאור שהוא כדוגמת שימוש צדיקים ומה יכול להיות יותר גדול מלשמש צדיקים

ואמר לי ג"כ שהדפסת ספרים מביא אור גדול לעולם

The Blessing of HaRav Yaakov Meir Shechter Shlit"a Rosh Yeshiva of Sha'ar HaShomayim

Thursday December 3 2009

I entered the Rabbi's inner sanctum and showed him the sefer MiPeninei Noam Elimelech and a sample of the MeOros Kedushas Levi, where he blessed me with blessings of success in my endeavors.

He also allowed me to publicize the following in his name:

Whoever publishes and works on the seforim of the Tzadikim, it is as if he is tending to them and doing Shimush. What could be a greater thing than meriting to tend to and do Shimush with the Tzadikim.

He also said to me that whoever helps print seforim is brining great light into this world.