Translated by Doubi Swarc and Emanuel Frankel
Edited by Jerrold Landau
Reb Shalom Tzvi was born in Piotrkow in the year 5553 (1793) to an illustrious family. In his youth, he excelled in his intellect, grasp, and also his diligence. While he was still studying in cheder, he would often continue his studies until the candle by which he was studying melted. In that era, there was no gas or electricity in Poland. People only used candles, and as long as the candle was burning, the child Shalom Tzvi sat in the cheder and studied. When the melamed (teacher) went out from the cheder for a few minutes, the young genius would exchange the remnants of the candle with a new candle, so that he could continue studying further.
At first, his parents would worry about him and they would come to search for him. Slowly but surely, they got used to the idea that their young son would return from cheder at a late hour in the night.
Aside from his diligence, the young Reb Shalom Tzvi also excelled in his sharpness. When he was thirteen years old, his name went out in a praiseworthy fashion as a young genius, the expert student of Reb Leibish Tablis of Piotrkow. At age fifteen, the learned wealthy man Reb Yaakov Aharon HaKohen Szatan of Lutomiersk, the grandfather of the Admor Reb Chanoch Henech HaKohen of Aleksandrow, set eyes upon him and took him as a husband for his daughter.
Reb Shalom Tzvi was supported at his father-in-law's table for several years. He occupied himself with Torah diligently in that home, which was a combination of Torah and greatness in one place. Aside from his father-in-law Reb Yaakov Aharon, in that group the following people were found, his brother-in-law Reb Pinchas Hakohen and his young son, the genius Reb Chanoch Henech the Kohen, who became the Admor of Aleksandrow after the death of the Rim of Gur in the year 5626 (1866). As well, the son-in-law of Reb Pinchas, the Gaon Reb Yechezkel Nomberg, who later became the rabbi the community of Lodz, was also supported at the table of his father-in-law as he occupied himself with Torah. This group would often sit closed together in one room in the home of Reb Yaakov Aharon for several hours in a day as they discussed topics regarding novel ideas in the Talmud and responsa among themselves. They did not have to worry about sustenance, and they were able to dedicate themselves, and create a group of great scholars.
Reb Yaakov Aharon was a strong Misnaged, and he did not permit the few Hassidim in the town of Lutomiersk to pass through the entrance to his house. However, the times did their work. The Hassidic movement quickly spread through Poland, and in almost all communities, many joined the movement. The students of the Besht , and the students of his students such as the Chozeh of Lublin  and the Magid of Kozienice, did a great deal to spread Torah and Hassidism among the masses. Reb Shalom Tzvi, even though he was supported at the table of his father-in-law who was a Misnaged, clung to the Hassidic movement. On occasions when his father-in-law was out of the country on business, he hastened to pack his suitcase and travel to Przysucha  to the Holy Jew. He remained with the Rebbe for a number of months.
As is known, the Jew of Przysucha was one of the greats of Torah in his time, and he presented an intensive class in Talmud and halachic decisions every day before his students. Reb Shalom Tzvi, who came daily to hear the class, became not only an enthusiastic Hassid, but also a literal student of the Jew.
When Reb Shalom Tzvi returned from this long journey, his Misnaged father-in-law was already in his home, and he knew all that his son-in-law did. When Reb Yaakov Aharon saw him approaching the home from afar, he got up and closed the doors of his home before him, and did not allow him to enter. Reb Shalom Tzvi decided then to go to the home of the Hassidim. There he met the grandson of Reb Yaakov Aharon, the young genius Chanoch Henech, who was already then close to Hassidic ideology, who helped him set himself up with seven Hassidim in that community. Each of them volunteered to support the son-in-law of the wealthy Misnaged one day a week.
When Reb Yaakov Aharon heard from his grandson that Shalom Tzvi was eating on a daily rotation basis with Hassidim, he decided to change his relations with his son-in-law and invited him to return home. He made up with him, and finally made peace with the idea that Hassidim had penetrated his family.
Even after he made peace with Hassidism, Reb Shalom Tzvi did not change his behavior and his path. He continued studying diligently as he was supported at the table of his father-in-law. As well, when he traveled to Przysucha, he sat all day in the Beis Midrash bound to the Gemara. Hassidism imbued in him a spirit of joy, and he was always happy and glad to greet his Hassidic friends.
After the death of the Holy Jew of Przysucha in the year 5574 (1814), and the Chozeh of Lublin in the year 5575 (1815), Reb Shalom Tzvi moved to stand on the threshold of Reb Simcha Bunim of Przysucha. When he came to him for the first time, the Rebbe said to him Shalom Hirsch! I made for you a name like one of the great people of the land The Hassidim saw in this an agreement that Reb Shalom Tzvi should take upon himself the mantle of the rabbinate.
In the year 5583 (1823) when he ceased to be supported at the table of his father-in-law, he was accepted as the rabbi of the community of Grabowo in the vicinity of Leczyca. He served in this rabbinate for four years, until he was asked to take on the rabbinate of Zgierz, in the year 5587 (1827). From that time, Reb Shalom Tzvi served as the rabbi of Zgierz until the day of his death in the year 5637 (1877) at the age of 84.
The appointment as the rabbi of Zgierz did not come easily to him. The community of Zgierz indeed invited him to occupy the rabbinical chair, but an agreement of the civic government was also needed, who demanded certificates and approbations from well-known ordained rabbis. Reb Shalom Tzvi brought out his first certificate of ordination from the rabbi and Gaon Reb Moshe Aharon, the head of the Beis Din (rabbinical court) of Strykow, and a second certificate with the approbation of the Gaon Reb Chaim Auerbach the head of the Beis Din and rabbi in Leczyca. In it was written: I see in Reb Shalom Tzvi HaKohen a man wise in Torah and the fear of G-d. He is involved with all aspects of the worship of G-d. He is a fine speaker, and he is full and overflowing with Talmud and Jewish law. In my discussions with him, I have found him to be full of wisdom. All of his deeds are measured and weighed. Therefore I have taken it upon myself to speak good of him, to support him, and to say of him, he shall surely teach, he shall surely judge . Aside from this, he is already ordained from the prominent rabbi Reb Moshe Aharon of Strykow, and two are better than one. These are the words that were spoken in honor and awe of the Torah.
Regarding his student the rabbi and Gaon Reb Shaul Moshe Zylberman of blessed memory of Wieruszow (died in Tel Aviv), his son Rabbi Yehoshua Zylberman writes in his preface to the book of his father Responsa of Reb Shaul Moshe (Tel Aviv 5719 1959), that his father Reb Shaul Moshe was already considered a renown genius when he was a Bar Mitzvah, and traveled with his father to the Chidushei Harim  of Gur. The Rim examined him and discussed Torah matters with him for three hours. When he realized that he was destined for greatness, he advised him to travel to Zgierz to the Yeshiva of Reb Shalom Tzvi.
The community of Zgierz was at the time, the time of Reb Shalom Tzvi, one of the youngest communities of Poland. Textile production was established there, and Jews came to settle there from all corners of Poland in order to find a good livelihood. Reb Shalom Tzvi found there a wide vista for his activities. The young community became a place of Torah because of his Yeshiva and his activities among the householders. Reb Shalom Tzvi sat for most of the day with his students, and gave them classes in Talmud and halacha. He occupied himself with communal matters during the intermissions between lessons. At night he sat by candlelight and studied Torah. On Sabbath eves in particular, he prepared a candle by which to study.
The Gaonim of the generation valued Reb Shalom Tzvi as a Gaon and a Tzadik. The Gaon Reb Yitzchak Feigenbaum, who was the head of the Beis Din of Warsaw, a student of the Chidushei Harim and a Hassid of Kock, was also one of those who revered Reb Shalom Tzvi. His son Rabbi Yisrael Isser wrote in his book Or Pnei Yitzchak (Warsaw, 5699 1939): I heard from the holy mouth of the Admor of holy blessed memory, who told of the Gaon and Hasid Reb Shalom Tzvi HaKohen of holy blessed memory, the head of the rabbinical court of Zgierz, that when he studied with his students and erred in a difficult matter, he would open the Holy Ark, and supplicate and pray as one would do for a dangerously ill person.
The Rabbi of Zgierz was famous for being lenient in matters of Halacha, especially with regards to fasts. It is told that on one occasion, one of the residents of Zgierz, the grandson of the Gaon Reb Bendet of Lask, came to him on a fast day, and complained that his hunger was great, his thirst was strong, and he was feeling weak. Reb Shalom Tzvi advised him to break his fast, and added: Once I was siting in Lutomiersk during a fast day, and studying together with my nephew Reb Henech of Aleksandrow and my brother-in-law's son-in-law the Gaon Reb Yechezkel Nomberg (who was later appointed rabbi of Lodz). Your grandfather Reb Bendet of Lask came in to us with various foods in his hands, and requested us to taste a bit and break our fast, saying: I am certain that you will become teachers of law among Israel, therefore I want you to learn to be lenient with fasts.
And now, added Reb Shalom Tzvi, When his grandson comes to me with this matter, it is certainly my duty to decide leniently.
When a matter of forbiddenness or permissibility  was presented to him, and he found that the Taz was lenient and the Shach  stringent, he would decide like the opinion of the former, saying: How great is the Taz, and it is fitting to rely on his words. If the situation were the opposite, he would praise the Shach, and decide like him. Thus was his methodology of decision to decide in the manner of the lenient decisor. The ritual slaughterers (shochtim) of the city knew about this.
One of his decisions is fitting to record for eternity: On the eve of Passover, Reb David Handelisz (known as Reb Dovidshe), a wealthy, wise householder, entered into the pharmacy that was owned by a certain gentile. They debated the characteristics of the Jewish people. The pharmacist spoke disparagingly: they are friends of thieves, who only have monetary gain before their eyes. Reb Dovidshe contradicted him, proving that if you pay a Jew, the lowest of the low in Zgierz, any amount of money, he would not drink a drink of whiskey that day , which is forbidden according to his religion. Therefore the money is not the desire of the soul of the Jews. The pharmacist retorted that he was willing to guarantee that any Jew would drink whiskey in his home. Reb David accepted the guarantee and they bet a sum of eight ducats (the Jews of Poland called ducats: tukatn). The pharmacist sent for the Jewish barber to give him a haircut, and Reb David entered one of the rooms. After the barber did his job, the pharmacist paid him well, and honored him with a glass of whiskey. The barber declined, saying that it was the eve of Passover today. The pharmacist offered him one full ducat, two, three, until eight ducats. The barber did not agree, and left his house. Then Reb David left the room and received the money of his bet. On his way home, he entered the house of the rabbi and told him about this. The rabbi informed him that, in accordance with the law of the Torah, he must give over the money to the barber. Reb David accepted this decision with love.
The livelihood of Rabbi Shalom Tzvi was meager, but he made do with what he had. He even donated a large portion of his meager salary to charity. He was offered the rabbinate in larger communities, but the grace of the place was upon him, and he declined the various offers.
In the year 5617 (1857) he was offered the rabbinate in Kalisz, after that position had been abandoned by Rabbi Tzvi Chayes, and he agreed. At that time, Rabbi Yechiel Meir, the Tehillim Yid , who had been the rabbi in Gostynin, arrived in Zgierz. He was a Hassid of Kock, and was the friend of Reb Shalom Tzvi. The householders in Zgierz complained before Rabbi Yechiel Meir that their rabbi wished to leave them. When he later came before Reb Shalom Tzvi, he asked him why he wanted to leave? Reb Shalom Tzvi answered him that he was not satisfied being in a city that does not have a synagogue that is fitting for its name. Reb Yechiel Meir promised him that if he to remain in Zgierz, they would build for him a fine synagogue. That week, Reb Yechiel Meir called a meeting of the important householders of the city, and gave over to them the words of Rabbi Shalom Tzvi. Those attending the meeting immediately gathered on the spot 3,000 rubles, and a few days later they purchased a lot in the center of the city, and began the building of the synagogue.
In the book Tiferet Adam, a different version was found regarding the rabbinate of Kalisz, as follows: Reb Shalom Hirsch was called a few times to be the head of the rabbinical court in communities that were larger than Zgierz, such as Piotrkow and Kalisz, but he did not want to leave his city, where he had peace and quiet and was able to occupy himself with Torah and maintain a Yeshiva, for this was the entire desire of his soul. Once, the notables of the city of Kalisz came to him and asked him to accept the rabbinate of their city. He agreed to them. However, the matter became known to the heads of the community of Zgierz, who hurried to him and asked him: Are you prepared to leave us, and what are you lacking here? The rabbi answered them: Indeed it is true that I am in debt. The heads of the community asked him: How much do you owe? He answered that his debt is several hundred rubles. At that meeting, the wealthy notables who were gathered took upon themselves the obligation to give him the required sum, and they also took council and agreed to increase his salary. The rabbi retracted his promise to the people of Kalisz. They later asked him why he did not inform them earlier about his tight situation? He answered them simply: I cannot make myself so valuable)
From his youth, Reb Shalom Tzvi loved his fellow man and brought them near to Torah. At the time when Reb Shalom Tzvi reached the age of eighty, the researcher of Hassidism Dr. Aharon Marcus visited Zgierz. In his book Hassidism (page 244), he wrote of him: One of the dedicated elder rabbis, Reb Shalom Hirsch, the rabbi of Zgierz. I met him when he was eighty years old, and he is a man worthy of reverence.
When Reb Shalom Tzvi saw that there were breaches in the wall of Judaism, he was not afraid before any person. It is told that once a factory owner wished to open his business on the Sabbath. Reb Shalom Tzvi sent a message to him: If you are stubborn in this matter and you violate the Sabbath in your business, I will be forced to pray that your entire business be destructive, for in accordance with the law, only someone who destroys on the Sabbath is exempt. The prayer of the rabbi was accepted, for the quality of the merchandise of that factory declined, and the manufacturer lost all of his money. He was forced to close his factory.
During the time he lived in Zgierz, Reb Shalom Tzvi endeared himself to the masses of people as a Gaon and a Tzadik. Hundreds of people came to him to take counsel with him on various matters, and he answered everybody. However, he did not wish to be a rabbi.
It is told that when his first born son, Reb Yitzchak Mendel, was born, Reb Shalom Tzvi commanded to issue a declaration in his Beis Midrash that anyone who is in need of salvation should come to the circumcision ceremony, and he would assure them that they would be helped. One of the prominent men of the city, was Reb Yitzchak Zylberberg, the father-in-law of Reb Falik Kunsztam who had an only son who was mute. He brought his grandson with him and presented him before the rabbi. The rabbi gave the child a pear, and told him: This is a pear, take it and make the borei pri haeitz  benediction on it. The child took the pear, made the benediction and from then on began to speak.
By nature, Reb Shalom Tzvi was moderate and calm, and all of his steps were refined and measured. However, within his heart there was a fire locked up. When he was once asked by a Misnaged why he joined the Hassidim of Kock, he answered: the truth is like a nail that penetrates every place. The heat is the wall, and not a soft wall but a very solid wall. The stronger the hammer, the more powerful its blows, the better the nail penetrates the wall.
In the era of Kock, Reb Shalom Tzvi was already known as one of the greats of generation. On account of his influenced, many joined Kocker Hassidism, and Zgierz became a Hassidic community. Many of the Hassidim of Poland were opposed to the ways and the viewpoint of the Hassidim of Kock, and Reb Shalom Tzvi was the defender of that brand of Hassidism. Once, one of the Misnagdim asked him: If indeed the viewpoint of Kock is so important, what is the reason that many oppose it? Reb Shalom Tzvi answered: If the many would value the truth and only oppose the viewpoint of Kock, your question would have merit, but since the many also oppose the truth even more than they oppose the viewpoint of Kock, what can I answer you?
It is told that prior to the time that the Rebbe of Kock was closeted up in his home in the year 5600 (1840), he once turned to the rabbi of Zgierz and said: See Shalom Tzvi, to where I have come! The masses rule over me, this one wants money, this one wants a cure, etc., is this the reason why I am living here? Reb Shalom Tzvi answered him: To where should they turn if not to their rabbi? The Rabbi of Kock pointed out: Did you forget what is written: 'That make a man an offender by words, and lay a trap for him that reproves in the gate, and turn aside the just with nothingness' (Isaiah 29, 21). Those who go with nothingness do not wish to have something of substance, and are liable to cause even the Tzadik to stumble and become mislead!
After the Rebbe of Kock was closeted, Reb Shalom Tzvi groaned and said: I was silent when the Rebbe spoke to me, and I did not answer him because of fear of his glory, and it is too bad that I did not say to him what I thought about answering. What does the prophet say in the following verses: For when he sees his children, the work of My hands in his midst, that they sanctify My name, Indeed they shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall revere the G-d of Israel. That is to say in their midst, in the midst of the community, you can find those that sanctify G-d's name, and they will no longer mislead a Tzadik with naught, but rather: Those who err in spirit will know wisdom, and they that murmur should know instruction.
Reb Shalom Tzvi was one of the first and most important Hassidim of Kock, and Reb Shalom Tzvi was invited to the wedding of the grandson of Reb Chaim Yisrael of Pilawa with the daughter of the Hassid Reb Zelig Frenkel of Zgierz, that took place in Kock. While he was travelling to the wedding, he caught a cold, and ran a high fever. When he arrived in Kock, they brought a doctor who wrote him a prescription for pills. The Rebbe was concerned about the sick man, and commanded that the pills that the doctor prescribed be brought to him. When the Rebbe saw the pills, he pointed out to the men who were standing before him: Does the doctor know that the sick man is already 66 years old? When the doctor heard this, he apologized and prescribed different pills. The Rebbe was right.
In the year 5625 (1865), his first wife died, and he was left with no male children. Reb Shalom Tzvi was 72 years old at the time. Reb Henech of Aleksandrow advised him to marry a young woman whom was suggested to him, and promised him that he would have sons from him. After the death of the Rim of Gur on the 23rd of Adar 5626 (1826), Reb Shalom Tzvi accepted the mastery of Reb Henech , listened to his advice and married a young woman. A few months later he took ill, and the doctors gave up on him. When the young wife saw that her husband was dying, she hurried to the Rebbe of Aleksandrow, crying out that she had promised her children, and where are they? Behold her husband was now lying on his deathbed, from which he would never arise according to the doctors. Reb Henech arose and traveled immediately to Zgierz to visit the sick man. As he entered the room in which the sick man was lying, contravening the advise of the Chevra Kadisha, who tried to prevent him from doing so as he was a Cohen , Reb Henech called out: This Jew spread Torah to the masses!. He repeated these words a number of times, and then returned to the prayer room in which the sick man would always join himself with his Creator. He remained there for about three hours, and then returned to the room of the sick man. A change had taken place in the complexion of the sick man. He opened up his eyes and said: Oy! The Rebbe of Aleksandrow is here! The Rebbe answered him calmly, When you return to your strength, you will come to me in Aleksandrow.
Reb Shalom Tzvi regained his health and lived another eleven years. During this time, two sons were born to him. The elder was Rabbi Yitzchak Menachem, who was coronated as Rebbe after the death of the Admor of Zyrardow. The second was Reb Shlomo Leib, who was the rabbi of Zgierz after the death of his father-in-law Reb Tzvi HaKohen.
Reb Shalom Tzvi continued to travel to the son of his brother-in-law the Rebbe of Aleksandrow, even though he was older than he was. He was always surprised that the Rebbe of Aleksandrow conducted himself in a different manner than was customary among the Admorim of the Beis Midrash of Reb Bunim of Przysucha. In Przysucha, Kock and Gur, they did not permit women to enter to the Rebbe, and in Aleksandrow, they entered the Rebbe with their requests. Once Reb Shalom Tzvi asked his Rebbe why he differed from the custom of his Rebbes. Reb Henech answered him: Being a Rebbe is a punishment, and we have already learned in the Talmud 'The Torah specifies that a woman is equivalent to a man with regard to all of the punishments in the Torah'.
Reb Shalom Tzvi served as the rabbi of Zgierz for 54 years. He was beloved by his community, but he never took any benefit from any person. His friends and admirers wished to bestow benefit upon him, and purchased a lottery ticket in his name. Once it won, and the prize was several hundred rubles. He wrote in his will: With regard to my wife Dvora, may she live, I promised her in her marriage contract a sum of 500 silver rubles, aside from all of the jewelry and clothing, if G-d grants me a male child from her. With G-d's help, when Yitzchak Mendel, may he live long and well, was born to me, I wondered from where I would be able to fulfil this promise, from where will it come, since the rabbinate does not provide enough for a livelihood. However, later the mercies of G-d were great for me, and the salvation came from a lottery, for which my friends purchased a ticket in my name, which won several hundred rubles several times. As well, several important people honored me on occasion with a large gift, may they be blessed by G-d. As well, some people of our town gave me gifts of money, may they be blessed by G-d, and I succeeded in collecting more than 400 silver rubles. I put them in a soft wallet that is resting in a box covered with iron. The box and what is in it should be for my wife on account of the money of the marriage contract, aside from all the jewelry and the clothing. The bed, bedding, and all household utensils should also all be hers, without taking into account the marriage contract. In the hard wallet there is a promissory note worth 1,000 gold coins. This should be for my son Yitzchak Mendel may he live. The wallet also has more silver coins from the money that I received from the redemption of firstborns, may they live . This should go to pay for the teacher who will learn with them. I am warning that nobody should dispute all of the above, and that matters should stand as stated in the will. Aside from this, there is another wallet in the box containing the sum of 1,000 gold coins. This should belong to my son Shlomo Leib, may his light shine. I sign this on the Sunday of the week of the Torah portion of Reeh  5634 (1874) in the holy city of Zgierz. Shalom Tzvi HaKohen, the head of the rabbinical court of Zgierz.
When Reb Shalom Tzvi returned his soul to the Above on the 6th of Tevet 5637 (1877), masses of Jews came from all of the surrounding cities and towns to participate in the funeral. The rabbi of Ozorkow eulogized him as follows: And the entire nation raised their voices in weeping, and rivers of tears, for a cedar from the cedars of Lebanon, the mighty ones of Torah, has fallen (From the eulogy that was written about him in Hamagid by the Maskil Avraham Yaakov Weisenfeld) (Hamagid, 5637 1877).
Reb Shalom Tzvi did not leave any books behind. During his youth, he authored a book Chanoch Lanaar (Educate the Lad) regarding matters of education, and used this book for the education of his two sons. However this book and other of novel ideas of Torah of his that were written were lost with the passage of time.
In the eulogy of Mr. Weisenfeld in Hamagid under the title The Tzadik is Lost said among other things: The Gaon and Hassid who was a Cohen was coronated with three crowns, the crown of the priesthood, the crown of Torah, and the crown of a good name. The crown of Torah, because he spread Torah publicly during the 54 years that he served in the rabbinate in our community. Fine young men streamed to him from all corners of the country, to study in his large Yeshiva. The crown of priesthood, because he was a priest (Cohen) of the supreme G-d, of the students of Aaron, who love peace, pursued peace, loved his fellowmen and brought them near to Torah . With the spirit of G-d that dwelled within him and with the spirit of grace that came from his lips, he drew near those who were far and returned their hearts to their father in heaven. However, the highest of them all was the crown of a good name, his great modesty, the holy Torah with which he occupied himself for its own sake, which is what merited him to be coronated with this crown, covered with graceful precious gems. He never exerted his leadership with a high hand, and he never told people to accept his will. He fled from honor. Despite the fact that honor was his lot in life, and the greatest of rabbis gave honor to his name, the honor did not affect his pure heart at all. With his great patience, his door was always open day and night to anyone who was in need, from the wealthy people to the cutters of trees and the drawers of water. The dew of his statements always was dispensed with calm, to penetrate the heart of his listeners
Translated by Doubi Swarc and Emanuel Frankel
Edited by Jerrold Landau After the death of Reb Shalom Tzvi in the year 5637 (1877), the community of Zgierz was left without a rabbi, until finally they found a fitting rabbi to take the place of Reb Shalom Tzvi, who was beloved and accepted by all segments of the community of Zgierz. They chose the rabbi and Gaon Reb Tzvi Hirsch HaKohen, who was the son of the famous rabbi and Gaon Reb Elazar of Pultusk, one of the important Hassidim of Kock, and the grandson of the light of the exile, Reb Yaakov of Lissa, the author of Chavat Daat and Netivot Hamishpat.
Reb Tzvi HaKohen was born and educated in the home of his father, the Gaon and Hassid Reb Elazar of Pultusk. When he attained the age of majority, he married the daughter of the Hassid Reb Leib Kahana of Cekanow. He was supported at the table of his father-in-law for many years, and he occupied himself with Torah and Hassidism. Reb Tzvi was the right hand man of his father, the Gaon Reb Elazar, and he often accompanied his father on his journeys. In the year 5616 (1856) his father Reb Elazar was offered the rabbinate of Plock. Reb Elazar traveled to Plock, accompanied by his son, to accept the rabbinate there. Reb Elazar lived in Plock for several years, and then moved to Pultusk.
In the year 5630 (1870), when his father Reb Elazar left the rabbinate in Pultusk and move to Sochaczew, the people of Pultusk accepted Reb Tzvi as their rabbi. There, he became known as a Gaon and a Tzadik, with a very dedicated personality. He had a great influence on the members of his community.
Reb Tzvi occupied the rabbinical seat in Pultusk for approximately eight years (5630-5638 / 1870-1878). In the year 5638, about one year after the death of Reb Shalom Hirsch the head of the rabbinical court of Zgierz, Reb Tzvi HaKohen was coronated in his stead as the rabbi of Zgierz. There are those who did not easily agree to his being chosen as the rabbi of Zgierz. They still remembered their first rabbi, Reb Shalom Tzvi, and were not able to get used to Reb Tzvi. However, he influenced them, saying: You still want your first rabbi, Reb Shalom Tzvi. I, my name is Tzvi, and if you make 'peace' ('shalom') with me, they I will be to you 'Shalom Tzvi' . And thus it was.
As he had done in Pultusk, he endeared himself to the members of the community. There was an incident of one of the members of the community in Zgierz who built his house on Chol Hamoed . Reb Tzvi asked them to desist from their work on Chol Hamoed due to the holiness of the festival. The householder said to him: How can I desist from my work, given that I have already paid the workers for their work on Chol Hamoed? Reb Tzvi did not think a great deal, he removed the sum of money from his pocket and gave it to him so that he would desist from the work.
Reb Tzvi was known as a great diligent learner, and he was always sitting with a Gemara in front of him, occupying himself with Torah. However, he did not ignore the issues of the world, and he had a sense of humor. It is told that once a tailor sewed a new garment for him. When the tailor brought him the garment, Reb Tzvi noticed that the garment was too short for his height. He turned to the tailor with the melody of the Gemara  and said: Tailor, tailor, why did you sew the garment only with threads, why did you not sew the garment also with wisdom?
For his daughter Tzipora, he took as a groom the young genius Reb Shlomo Yehuda Leib HaKohen, the son of the first rabbi of Zgierz Reb Shalom Tzvi. Reb Shlomo Yehuda Leib was supported at the table of his father-in-law the rabbi Reb Tzvi for ten years.
Reb Tzvi served in the rabbinate of Zgierz for twenty years, and as his son-in-law testified about him, he was a righteous and modest man.
Reb Tzvi continued in the traditions of his holy fathers. In particular, he inherited the character and traits of his illustrious grandfather the Chavat Daat of Lissa. He wrote many responsa in halacha to his father the Gaon Reb Elazar, an also to his brother-in-law the Gaon Reb David Dov of Lask, the author of the Responsa of RDD.
Reb Tzvi Hirsch died in the year 5658 (1898), and his place was inherited by his son-in-law Reb Shlomo Yehuda Leib HaKohen, the son of the old age of the first rabbi of Zgierz, Reb Shalom Tzvi of holy blessed memory.
Zgierz (Piotrkow region) On this past eve of Sukkot, there was weeping and mourning for the people of our city, for the rabbi and head of the rabbinical court, the modest and discreet Gaon Rabbi Tzvi HaKohen of holy blessed memory was suddenly taken from atop our heads. He was the son of the Tzadik and Gaon Rabbi Elazar of holy blessed memory, the head of the rabbinical court of Pultusk. The rabbi was approximately seventy years old when he died. During the final years of his life, he knew terrible sickness, and was oppressed with suffering. However, his suffering was the suffering of love, for there was no abandonment of Torah. His mouth did not desist from learning until his final moment. I described him as modest and discreet, for indeed he excelled greatly in those two good traits, and he was an example in them for those near and far. We can see his great efforts for Torah from the multitude of Torah writings that he left behind as a blessing, bundles of novellae in Halacha and agada (lore), written down, arranged and prepared for publication.
His sudden death frightened all of the cities around our city. Many rabbis, headed by the rabbi and Gaon of Lodz, hastened to come to eulogize and weep for him. Our townsfolk were able to see that they excelled over all of the neighboring cities in peace and truth, for they all put their eyes towards the son-in-law of the rabbi, the Rabbi and Gaon Shlomo Yehuda Leib HaKohen to fill the place of his father-in-law. The leaders of our city immediately asked the rabbi and Gaon of Lodz to give the rabbinic writ to him, and express congratulations to him on behalf of the entire community.
The young man Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Leib HaKohen, aside from being the son of the rabbi and Gaon Shalom Tzvi HaKohen who sat on the rabbinical seat here and spread Torah for about fifty years, and established many students who sit on the seat of judgements in the cities of Poland, is worthy in his own merit in a sublime fashion to that title. He is great in Torah, and was ordained by the Gaonim of the land. He is wise, knowledgeable in the vernacular, and in all the wisdom that is required of a rabbi of Israel. It has been three years since he passed the test in front of the gathering of examiners, and obtained his certificate of excellence.
Any person who knows the controversies and disputes that accompany every rabbi at his time of being chosen in a city with Jewish inhabitants, should rejoice at this heartwarming site, for all of the factions were united, and nobody opened his mouth in dispute.
The aforementioned conducted his rabbinate with a high hand. On the Sabbath of the Torah portion of Bereshit  he delivered a large sermon before a large crowd, spiced with words of moral instruction, pleasant to the ear who hears words that are acceptable to the heart. On birthday holidays  he preached about matters of the day in an appropriate fashion in the Russian language, and all of the members of the community were glad that their head was such an enlightened rabbi, who was able to serve the dual function of a rabbi of the community and as a representative of the community to the government and his majesty. Our joy was doubled when we saw that he did not rest and was not silent from the time that he ascended the rabbinical seat. From time to time, the heads of the community would call to him to repair breaches and fill gaps regarding communal needs.
Hope delighted him, for many of the people of our town stood at his right to help him whenever possible in accomplishing his desired. And now, honorable rabbi, G-d is with you, go forward with your strength, only be strong and vigorous!
A stranger and a settler.
(The final rabbi of Zgierz)
Translated by Doubi Swarc and Emanuel Frankel
Edited by Jerrold Landau Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Leib was born to his father Rabbi Shalom Tzvi HaKohen in the year 5627 (1867). He was ten years old when his father died, and he was educated, along with his elder brother Reb Yitzchak Menachem, by Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch, the second rabbi of Zgierz.
From his youth he excelled as a genius. He studied with the rabbi of Kutno, the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Yehoshua Trunk. When he reached majority, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch took him as a son-in-law, marrying him to his daughter Tzipora. He was supported at his father-in-law's table for about ten years. His father-in-law was like a father and teacher to him, and instructed him in Torah and the fear of heaven.
Regarding the statement of Professor Yechezkel Kaufman about the book of Oswald Spengler the Destruction of the Land of the West (published in the Rimon anthology of literature, 5682 / 1922 in Berlin), Rabbi Shlomo Leib writes his comment about it, that with regard to relations with Spinoza, Leibnitz and Kant, these matters never enter the mind at all. He places the entire broad and deep philosophy of Kant into a very narrow realm, and restricts them with split words and empty content. He also restricts the concept of time into his fundamental bounds, by negating reliance on the researchers who put nails in happenings and events of the eras. When the book of Professor Albert Einstein The Theory of Relativity was published in the 1920s, the rabbi expressed his admiration of this philosophy, and also hastened to explain its principals to intelligent people.
With all this, he found time to spread Torah to the masses especially to young men and youths who attended a regular class in Gemara and Jewish legal decisions with him. Even though he occupied himself with Torah and wisdom day and night, he was also a man of action, involved in all aspects of communal activity. He not only concerned with spiritual matters, but also with day to day physical activities. Therefore, he endeared himself to the masses of people in the city, who saw him as a defender who fought their battles and protected their status and rights.
The Yiddish writer A. Litwin, who visited Zgierz in the year 5672 (1912) wrote an article on Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Leib entitled: Jeremiah the Prophet from Zgierz. He called him by this nickname since he witnessed him weeping and lamenting about the national and economic destruction of the Jewish people of that generation. This was not about the ideas and research that were culled from his writings, but rather that which his eyes saw and what took place with him over the previous five or six years. He wrote with the anger of the prophet, and with the blood of his heart: I am the man who witnessed oppression . He wrote page after page with the moan of pain and agony, and came to the terrifying conclusion: The Jewish people is quickly approaching the time of national and economic destruction. One by one, Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Leib outlines the tribulations and persecutions that come upon the Jewish people like a thief. Behold electricity, which so to speak came to bring progress and benefit, robbed the livelihood of one hundred Jewish wagon drivers. Zgierz is a city of industry and manufacturing, but almost all of the factory workers were non Jews, rather they were Poles and Germans. Despite this, hundreds of Jewish families earn their livelihood from these workers through their small business and handicrafts. However now came a revolution, and overturned the plate. The workers organized themselves into cooperatives to obtain and market their needs, and they no longer required the services and stores of the Jews. Therefore, all of the Jewish storekeepers and artisans in Zgierz became impoverished, and many of them were forced to take up the wandering staff, to wander afar to find livelihood and sustenance. Only a few storekeepers and peddlers remained, who maintained a hold on their livelihoods with their fingernails. However, even these diminished in number with the passage of time. There was one area which was not oppressed, neither on account of the electricity nor on account of the cooperatives, for they were not able to take away the rights: this is the weavers. However even these people were pushed by their Jewish brethren, the large scale manufacturers, who opened textile factories in Zgierz that pushed aside the small scale weavers.
More from the article of the aforementioned writer: Through the years, there was an organization called Machzikei Hadat , which was set up by the Orthodox manufacturers. They founded a Yeshiva and supported several dozen youths. The rabbi was invited to the opening celebrations to deliver a lecture to the guests. In his lecture, the rabbi deliberated over the painful question that left him with no rest: the destruction of economic life in the city. He severely blamed the large scale Jewish manufacturers who refused to accept Jewish workers. These words kindled their wrath. They complained to him: Why does the rabbi become involved in matters that are of no concern to him? He should speak of matters regarding strengthening of faith, and not in matters that are not in his realm. These words hurt him deeply, and he stopped his sermon in the middle.
He would participate in meetings of the communal council on a regular basis, and he would give his opinion on all matters that were open for deliberation. He also appeared at every public event, festive gathering, or protest rally. His words were always presented in a high and fiery fashion.
His regular sermons in the synagogue gave forth an echo within the community. As was the custom, the time of the beginning of the sermon was previously announced in all synagogues. Many people could be seen streaming in to hear the words of the rabbi. Among these, most prominent were the Yeshiva students, Torah scholars, Hassidim, and those scholars with sharp minds, who left the shtibels wearing their silk cloaks and shtreimels on their heads, so that they could also greet the rabbi, and stand within his realm during the time of the sermon. These people came for the most part to hear words of Torah, ideas and words of wisdom regarding sublime matters of Torah and Judaism, and particularly about man which was a central theme in all of his sermons: man in his battle with his impulses, man with his Divine spark and his desire for completeness, man as the crown of creation, the ways of man in self dedication and sublime traits, etc. He dealt with these topics generally in the latter half of the sermon, and they found favor with those who understood Kabbalah.
Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Leib did not belong to any faction. He stood above all of the factions on the Jewish street, and therefore was able to reprove them whenever he saw them straying from the straight path and moving towards improper behavior.
In the year 5691 (1931), he succeeded, after great effort, to see his novellae, deliberations and ideas published in the book Neve Shalom in Piotrkow. He writes the following in the introduction, among other things:
I also hereby mention positively my brother the rabbi and sharp Gaon Reb Yitzchak Menachem may he live long, my righteous sister Chaya may she live, and my sister Breina may she live.
Similarly, I mention the kindness of my father-in-law the Rabbi and Gaon Tzvi HaKohen of holy blessed memory, the head of the rabbinical court of Zgierz, who was like a father to me. I was supported at his table for approximately ten years. He was to me a rabbi and teacher. I studied from him all the days of his life. I recognized his righteousness and modesty when I was still living with him. A midnight never came with him asleep. He barely knew the form of a coin, for money was not valuable in his eyes. He distributed his income to charity secretly. He was humble, but nevertheless, he was not embarrassed in front of mockers. Whenever he saw a breech of any form regarding religion, he became like a roaring lion. He did not like fame. He was a holy man, the son of the holy Gaon Reb Avraham of holy blessed memory the head of the rabbinical court of Sochaczew, and the son-in-law of the light of the exile Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa of holy blessed memory, the author of Chavat Daat. My righteous mother-in-law Sara Blima of blessed memory was of good heart. The breadth of her wisdom cannot be described. I was peaceful and content in their home. My righteous wife Tzipora may she live, inherited the spiritual riches of her parents of blessed memory.
After the death of my father-in-law of blessed memory, the people of my city of Zgierz, may G-d protect them, chose me to fill the place of my fathers. I have dwelt with them for these 33 years in quiet and contentment. They generously provide all of my needs, and they still recall their love of my parents of blessed memory. There is peace and contentment in my city with the transmission of the traditions of fathers to sons. I thank them and all of the communal administrators, particularly my friend, the well to do man, the head of the community Eliezer Sirkes may G-d bless him, who helped me with his money and the communal coffers to publish my work. May G-d reward them for their generous deeds with bountiful livelihood, life and health, from their young ones to their old ones.
My G-d recall for good my dear and accomplished son, Rabbi Shalom HaKohen, may he live long, and his wife Rivka the daughter of the Torah oriented man Reb Yeshaya, and my baby grandson Tzvi may he live.
As well as my dear daughter Dina may she live, and her husband, my dear and accomplished son-in-law Rabbi David may he live, the son of Rabbi Yosef Pacanowski, the author of the book Pardes Yosef may he live, and my eldest grandson, the baby Shalom Tzvi may he live.
I will also mention my sickly daughter Breina may she live. May G-d send her a complete recovery in the midst of all the sick of Israel. And may I merit to see contentment from her daughter Sara may she live.
Zgierz, 7 Adar 5691 / 1931.
The author Shlomo Yehuda Leib HaKohen, the head of the rabbinical court of the community of Zgierz.
Reb Shlomo Yehuda Leib did not merit to publish his Torah novellae and novellae of Jewish law. Their lot was the same as the lot of the rich, ancient, and broad rabbinical library of the rabbi there was one lot for them and for all the cultural and spiritual property of Polish Jewry under the government of the cruel Nazi vandals.
Indeed, just as Jeremiah the prophet prophesied in his time, he also bore the news about what the enemies were doing to his people and his community, in which he served with the rabbinical crown for 41 consecutive years. He saw with his own eyes the synagogue, from which he had preached for all the years about love of Israel and love of one's fellowman go up in flames and be destroyed. Woe to the eyes who saw such! He wandered around to find a refuge for himself and his family. Thus did he arrive in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. There, in the Warsaw ghetto, he as well as a significant portion of Zgierz Jewry found temporary refuge after the expulsion. Among them, there were some people of means who supported him. The rabbi was taken to Umshlag Platz  during the large scale aktions of 5702 (1942). From there he was sent to the Nazi death camps. May G-d avenge his soul. May his soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life.
- The acronym of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hassidism. Back
- The Seer of Lublin. Back
- Pronounced Pshischa, as it is known in Jewish Hassidic literature. Back
- This is the traditional text of Jewish ordination: Yoreh Yoreh means he shall surely teach, and Yadin Yadin means he shall surely judge. Back
- The pseudonym of one of the Gerrer Rebbes (many famous rabbis are known by the name of their magnum opus). Back
- In Hebrew Isur veHeter referring to areas of Jewish law where a decision is needed if something is forbidden or permitted. Back
- The Taz is the Turei Zahav, and the Shach is the Siftei Kohen, the pseudonyms of the two main commentators on the Code of Jewish Law. Back
- Whiskey and other fermented grain products (as well as all leavened products), are forbidden on Passover. The prohibition begins from mid-morning on the eve of Passover. Back
- The Psalms Jew. Back
- This refers to a Jewish law regarding the Sabbath. There are various labors forbidden by Torah law on the Sabbath. However, they are only forbidden by Torah law if done in a positive manner. If done in a destructive manner, they are only forbidden by Rabbinic law. An example would be the prohibition of tearing cloth. This is forbidden by Torah law if done for the purpose of sewing, but forbidden by rabbinic law (i.e. exempt from the penalty) if done for destructive purposes. Back
- He who creates the fruit of the tree the benediction to be recited prior to eating fruit. Back
- He accepted Reb Henech as his own Rebbe. Back
- The Chevra Kadisha is the burial society. A Cohen (Jew of the priestly caste) is forbidden to be in contact with a dead body, and therefore does not enter the room of a dying person. Back
- It is a Jewish law that a first born male son, who is not the son of a Cohen mother or father, must be redeemed for the value of 5 silver coins from a Cohen. The rabbi, being a Cohen, was often the officiant at this ceremony, and therefore received the 5 coins each time. This ceremony is called Pidyon Haben, The Redemption of the Firstborn. Back
- Around the end of the Hebrew month of Av, in late summer. Back
- A quote from the Mishnaic tractate of Pirke Avot. Back
- Chol Hamoed is the intermediate days of the festivals of Passover and Sukkot. These are semi-festival days, where work is permitted, however unnecessary work is to be avoided. Back
- It is customary to study Gemara with a singsong chant. Back
- The week after Simchat Torah. Back
- National holidays, such as the birthday of the czar. Back
- Maimonides' main philosophical work. Back
- Rabbi Yehuda Loew of Prague, to whom the story of the Golem is attributed. Back
- A quote from Lamentations, 3:1. The Book of Lamentations is attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. Back
- The Upholders of the Faith. Back
- There is a Torah commandment to bring the first fruits up to the Temple in Jerusalem. These were decorated with extra fruits. The reference here is to an enhancement or an embellishment of a fundamental idea. Back
- The area in Warsaw that was used to round up Jews for deportation to death camps. Back
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Zgierz, Poland Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2016 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 26 Jun 2004 by MGH