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Karlin Hasidism (Cont'd)

Letter C

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Letter from R. Aharon the Second to his daughter Miryam and to his son-in-law R. Avraham-Yaakov of Sadagora, 29.7.1866
'With God's help, on the firth day of the week… [17th] Av… [29th July 1866], here in the Holy Congregation of Stolin… To my dearly loved son-in-law… the renowned hasid, our Teacher and Master, Avraham-Yaakov… and to his wife, my daughter… Miryam… and to their sons, my dear grandchildren… their dear daughter… Hadassah Feige… and to her husband… our Teacher and Master, Avi-Ezri-Selig… and to their daughter Nehamah Gittl… and their son, Hayyim Meir Yehiel… and to their son, my grandchild… our Teacher and Master, Shelomo… to his household (may it be blessed!), to their daughter… Perl… to her husband, our Teacher and Master Menahem Nahum Dov… to their son… our Teacher and Master Yitshak… to his household… To their daughter, the dear, sweet and beautiful bride, Sarah Rivkah… may good fortune attend her marriage. To their son… Yisrael… to their daughter, the comely and pious bride, Ruhamah-Bathsheva… May they all live long, contented, joyful and peaceful lives… in peace and every good!

Thank God, we are alive and well, your mother and I… I have received letters from my dear son and (praise be to His Name) he is alive and well… and also my granddaughter… Hannah… and her husband… the son of the holy man, our Teacher and Master Mordekhai. Also from my dear daughter… Tsipporah Feige… and from her husband… our Teacher and Master, David… I have received letters and (praise be to His Name) they and their children, my dear grandchildren… are alive and well. May it be granted us to receive only good news from you and to send you only good news. Thanks and praise to His Blessed Name for His goodness and favor to us in keeping us alive and preserving us until this time of the marriage of their child, my granddaughter, the bride Sarah Rivkah… to her young man, the excellent bridegroom… Yisrael Shalom Yosef… You may be sure that it was my fervent wish and desire to travel to you and rejoice with you, as always, and I have already informed you, in my letter of last week, that I set out on the journey, but then returned to my home… for the reason given there – that there was not sufficient time, so close to the Holy Days, for me, with my [limited] strength, to go there and back, and because of the heavy rains. Therefore, I am specially sending my dear and excellent friend, the hasid, our Teacher and Master, Yomtov Simhah… the bearer of this letter, to you… and I have instructed him to speak my blessings for me… And this is my marriage blessing. May the marriage of your daughter, the bride… to her dear bridegroom… take place at a good and fortunate hour, may their union prosper, and may they be blessed… with a generation of upright and righteous offspring… with many long years of life and peace, with all the blessings uttered by … our holy forefathers… I hope for the gracious favors of the Blessed Name… and His many mercies, that He should grant us good fortune, together with all our Jewish brethren, and long life… that we may all… rejoice in the sons and daughters and grandchildren that you have and that will be born to you, for length of days and great happiness. I pray you, my beloved children… to rejoice as if I were in your midst, and my blessing… will come to you from here… When you write to me truly that you are happy, you will literally revive my soul… The rest of my blessings and good wishes will be delivered by my friend, the above-mentioned bearer of this letter. And now my loved ones, my children and my granddaughter, the dear bride, and her dear groom… gladly accept the gifts that I am sending – from myself and from my household… a pair of large candlesticks, and from our followers [sc. The Hasidim] a pair of smaller candlesticks and a fine wire-thread basket. May you have light and joy, when you sue them on Sabbaths and Holy Days. And may you, my beloved children… and grandchildren… be granted every good and blessing and deliverance by the Lord of Peace… With every good wish… from me, your ever-loving father who prays for your … well-being, Aharon the son of our Teacher and Master Asher [the righteous man of blessed memory).

The letter of our dear daughter… written on the fifth day… arrived safely and gave us great gratification.

After writing the above letter, we were happy to receive your telegram sent on the third day of last week, 19th Av. As regards my consent to the postponing of the huppah by several days, in the month of Elul, I can that such was my wish from the start. And that was one of the things that I instructed our friend, the bearer of this letter, to tell you [when he brings you]… our congratulations and good wishes.

Enclosed herewith is a letter from your mother… and my granddaughter and my son's son-in-law.'

The following descendants of R. Aharon the Second of Karlin, in addition to those mentioned in the two previous letters, are referred to in this third letter: Nehamah Gittl, the daughter of Hadassah-Feige and R. Avi-Ezri-Selig Shapira of Drohobich. She was the wife of the Tsaddik R. Yisrael of Husyatin, who as already noted, was the son of R. Mordekhai-sheraga of Husyatin, the son of R. Yisrael of Ruzhin. After the First World War, R. Yisrael of Husyatin made his aliyah to Erets Yisrael, where he died in 1948. R. Hayyim-Meir-Yehiel, their son, who is mentioned in this letter was like his father, the Rebbe of Drohobich. He died in 1924.

R. Shelomo, the grandson of R. Aharon the Second, mentioned in this letter, married Rahel-Leah, the daughter of the Tsaddik, R. Tsevi Meshareth of Rymanov, and later Feige, the daughter of R. David of Berdichev. In the tragic affair of the son of R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, R. Dov-Baer of Leovo, who became a free-thinking maskil, the Hasidim of Sadagora accused R. Shelomo of allocating, by his own decision and against the judgment of his father, R. Avraham-Yaakov, a burial place or R. Dov, who was his uncle, in a separate corner of the ohel [burial plot] of the head of the family, R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, and not next to the latter's grave. The Sadagora Hasidim used to say that R. Shelomo died the same year as punishment for his act.

R. Yitshak, the son of Miryam and R. Avraham-Yaakov, was, as already stated, the founder of the Boyan dynasty, one of the important and influential branches of the Ruzhin family. His wife, Malkah, was the daughter of the Tsaddik R. Yohanan of Rahmistrivka, the son of the Maggid R. Mordekhai of Chernobyl. R. Yitshak died in 1917.

His brother, R. Yisrael, who is also mentioned in the letter, succeeded his father, R. Avraham-Yaakov, as Tsaddik in Sadagora and was the leader of the Sadagora hasidim till his death in 1906. His first wife was the daughter of his cousin, R. Yitshak of Buhush, the son of R. Shalom-Yosef, his father's brother.

The Ruhamah Bathsheva mentioned in the letter was the wife of her cousin, R. Yisrael of Chortkov, the son of the well-known Tsaddik, R. David-Moshe of Chortkov, who, like R. Avraham-Yaakov, was also a son of R. Yisrael of Ruzhin. R. Yisrael of Chortkov died in 1933.

This letter was written -- as stated at the head of the letter – on 17th Av [July 29th] 1866.

The hasidim of R. Avraham-Yaakov of Sadagora, the successor of R. Yisrael of Ruzhin in Sadagora, were followers of his two sons: R. Yitshak of Boyan and R. Yisrael of Sadagora, both of them the grandsons of R. Aharon the Second of Karlin.

These genealogical details prove that, among the descendants of R. Aharon the Second of Karlin mentioned in these three letters, there was not a single one that formed a marriage alliance with someone who was not "the son or daughter of holy men", i.e., was not also from a family of Tsaddikim. This was in keeping with the well-known practice prevailing in the families of the Tsaddikim of inter-marrying to preserve their distinguished lineage. This tradition -- as is also shown by the genealogical details contained in these letters -- resulted in marriages between close relatives, e.g. between cousins and the like, such as are genetically undesirable.

The close bonds of friendship established between the Karlin and Kozhenits dynasties in the time of R. Asher the First were maintained in R. Aharon the Second's day, too. This is evident from the following letter found in the Stolin genizah – undated in the original -- from R. Aharon the Second to the Kozhenits hasidim:

'Warm greetings to the beloved of the Lord... who frequent... the threshold... and his descendants...

'Were I to try to relate in detail... the love... that my Father and Teacher implanted deep in my heart... there would not be space enough, for he never ceased praising [R. Yisrael]. Thanks be to God... that after him [R. Yisrael of Kozhenits] there came forth a scion of his stock... a delightful child, whom... I raised and brought up at my table..[i.e., in my house]… a clever and knowledgeable boy... filled with the spirit of wisdom... who… has now reached the age of marriage... Therefore, let my friends... who have followed in their holy path [i.e., that of the Kozhenits Tsaddikim] from generation to generation, let them awake and rouse themselves, and let them help one another to contribute gold from their pockets generously, according to their means and beyond their means… For... the delightful boy is a fine person... and with God's help everyone will find his own satisfaction in him. I trust that the leaders of the generation, too... will hasten to fulfill my wishes… to awaken the hearts of those that follow them [i.e., their hasidim] and to raise as much money as possible. May the merits of their holy forefathers aid them and assist them... in all their affairs with success and blessing... in all that they do and in all that their hearts desire... These are the words of their loved one who prays for their welfare and good...

Aharon the son of R. Asher...'

“… A delightful child whom... I raised and brought up at my table... who... has now reached the age of marriage' for whose marriage R. Aharon the Second requests the hasidim of Kozhenits 'to contribute gold from their pockets generously, according to their means and beyond their means,' was one of the descendants of R. Yisrael of Kozhenits, R. Yerahmiel-Moshe. This R. Yerahmiel-Moshe was educated in Stolin, in the house of his step-father, R. Asher the Second, and subsequently became the Tsaddik of Kozhenits.

In R. Aharon the Second's days, the influence of the Haskalah ['Enlightenment'] in Western Europe, began to penetrate into Lithuania, bringing with it liberal social ideas. Hasidism now faced a new challenge. It now came under attack from the maskilim, just as a hundred years previously it had been attacked by the Rabbanim, and it displayed the same stubborn power of resistance in meeting this second onslaught as it had in meeting the first. Eventually, this conflict did great damage to Karlin hasidism and led to its decline, but not until after the death of R. Aharon the Second.

The teachings of R. Aharon the Second included in Beth Aharon are described as follows in the introduction to that volume: 'Excellent sermons... what was uttered explicitly... by the lips... of R. Aharon [the Second]... faithfully recorded true words, one out of a thousand of his holy sayings... The writings of our Master and Teacher of blessed memory [R. Aharon the Second]... were collected together and annotated in his own hand, various annotations on various subjects. Whenever he referred to these holy writings, he called them Beth Aharon...

Beth Aharon

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Also, we have seen fit to include other excellent matters which we found written down in the hand of our Teacher's followers, who wrote them down for themselves as a record of his holy words that they heard from his holy mouth at various times when they were in his holy residence. [151] In the volume Beth Aharon, which was published three years after R. Aharon the Second's death, we find many such expressions as the following: 'He began to speak,' 'the Rebbe said,' 'the Rebbe spoke a great deal about this,' 'the Rebbe raised a question,' 'the Rebbe repeated,' 'he reported his Father as saying,' 'he related on the authority of the holy Rebbe, R. Shelomo Karliner,' 'afterwards he spoke a great deal himself and said,' 'he ended with a blessing,' 'he was asked,' 'he said in the name of the holy Rebbe from Mezhibozh [R. Barukh],' 'the holy Rebbe of blessed memory asked a difficult question,' 'in the year 1872, on the holy Sabbath, Portion of the Law Be-Haalothkha, before he was laid to rest... he said.' These repeatedly stressed expressions confirm that most of the contents of the book were indeed written 'by his followers... who wrote them down for themselves... that they heard from his mouth'.

On the other hand, we also find such expressions as the following: 'As I heard from my revered father,' 'in my youth I asked my revered father,' 'according to the parable related to my revered grandfather, the holy Tsaddik [R. Aharon the Great] of Karlin,' 'as I heard in the name of the Tsaddik, our Teacher and Master, R. Sh.[elomo] of Karlin,' 'I have heard it said in the name of our Teacher and Master R. M.[ordekhai] of blessed memory from Neshkizh,' 'we spoke,' 'we said,' and the like. These expressions are evidence that some of 'the holy writings... were... annotated in his holy hand.' In his sermons, R. Aharon the Second frequently quotes from his father and also from R. Shelomo of Karlin, whom he refers to as 'the holy Tsaddik of Karlin.' He also mentions his grandfather, R. Aharon the Great, whom he calls 'R. Aharon Karliner.' He likewise quotes from the homilies and parables of other Tsaddikim, such as R. Barukh [of Mezhibozh, R. Elimelekh [of Lizhensk], the Tsaddik of Kozhenits [R. YisraeI], the Tsaddik of Polonnoye [R. Yaakov-Yosef], R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, R. Nahum of Chernobyl, R. Levi-Yitshak of Berdichev, R. Mordekhai of Neskhizh, the Rebbe of Lublin [R. Yaakov-Yitshak], R. Zusya of .Anipol, R. Mendel of Bar, The Rebbe of Apta [the Tsaddik R. Avraham-Yehoshua- Heshel: 'as I heard from the Tsaddik of Apta']. Another source used by R. Aharon is 'the siddur [prayer- book] of R. Yaakov-Koppel.' Sometimes he attributes the same idea both to his father and to R. Shelomo of Karlin; and certain ideas which he attributes to his father are the same as those attributed by the hasidim, in their 'Collected Sayings,' to R. Asher the First. In R. Aharon's sermons, there is not much casuistry. Instead, there are many explanations and parables, sometimes even in Yiddish, which made the book more accessible to the simple uneducated hasid. From references in the text, it is clear that these hasidic homilies were delivered over a period of many years, from 1841 to 'the holy Sabbath... before he was laid to rest' (1872).

On the way in which a Jew should pray, R. Aharon speaks as follows: 'In worshipping... the Almighty, one should not keep on repeating the same prayer mechanically, but should add and add again. Every prayer must have fresh vitality infused into it.' 'The uniting of the worlds is achieved primarily by prayer.' 'Even the man of least worth is not permitted to despair... "For is not my word like fire?" Just as fire lights up the darkness, so will the Holy Name give him light... in all his trials.' 'Everyone must take care to bring himself closer to the Source of Life when he prays, and, of course, when he studies and when he performs any of the commandments.' 'Every word that a man utters should bring him closer to the Source of Life.” One should stand up to pray only in a joyful frame of mind. 'Whenever a prayer is uttered something is born… And when is something born?... When the prayer is uttered joyfully. But prayer uttered (Heaven forbid!) in sadness bears no fruit. When God has aroused a man's spirit and soul to pray joyfully, then he exalts all the previous prayers.' 'Every word spoken by man in the presence of the Almighty, Blessed Be He, must be spoken clearly, vigorously, and joyfully… This is the meaning of “Thou shalt make a window for the ark”. [Heb.: tevah] – that you should bring light to the written letter'. [Heb.: tevah]. Not only when praying should a man be happy, but whatever he does should be done joyfully, for, by joyfulness he will be able to remove himself from everything evil and to bring himself closer to the good.' 'One must beware of sadness and melancholy, as of all the other sins and vices.' 'The essential thing is to perform every commandment joyfully, not sadly.' The consonants of the Hebrew word for 'thought' [mahashavah] form the word for 'joyfully' [besimhah]; hence, repentance… comes primarily from joyfulness and delight; and delight and joyfulness come primarily from repentance.'

Apart from prayer, there is still another way that brings the Jew closer to his God – the way of Torah (the study of the Law). 'Not only in prayer, but also in our study of the Law, we must continually, every day, find fresh, renewed vitality. “Give us our portion in Thy Law”... this means: give every single one of us the share in the Law that is his… One man finds spiritual vigor in the study of a single verse, another in the Gemara, a third in the Zohar. Each one must seek for and find his own spiritual vigor and sanctity in the Torah.' At the same time, R. Aharon stresses the part played by the ordinary Jew in creating this sanctity: 'The People of Israel… bring holiness to everything… Here is the proof: a Scroll of the Law written by a heretic is unfit for use… even though the letters are exactly the same as those written by a Jew. For the truth is that what matters is the sanctity drawn from the living power of the Creator, that the Jew infuses into the letters.' R. Aharon is reported to have summed up the relationship between the study of the Law and prayer in the following dictum: The study of the Law is an obligation, prayer a need.

Not only prayer and the study of the Law, but every act that a man performs is a form of Divine worship. Not only in the study of the torah and in prayer, but also in things that a man does of his own free will, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, walking, sexual intercourse, and the like, and in all other human activities, everyone must take care not to remove himself (Heaven forbid!) from the Almighty, Blessed Be He, but only to bring himself closer thereby to His Holy Name.

'Whenever a man does good deeds he is sowing a seed in Heaven that will bear fruit… If a man does not sow the seed, he will not reap the harvest. Hence, in spiritual matters a man is obliged to sow mitzvoth and good deeds, and thus bring it about that the Holy Name should shower down upon him His great light and every spiritual and physical blessing in this world, and that there should be complete communion… The flesh is purified until it becomes all spirit.'

Prayer, study, and good deeds were given to man for one purpose only – to enable him to attain to the living power of the Creator. 'Everything that is done in the world… contains within it the living power of the Creator,' 'and when all creatures are exalted spiritually by us, our righteous Messiah will come.' 'When a Jew is born, he is born with his good portion, with all the faculties required for him to be equipped to receive his good portion. And what is this portion? “For the Lord's portion is His people” – the living power of the Divinity… the vital force which He implanted in His people Israel, was all taken from on high, that is, from His Holiness, Blessed Be His Name! For, as is known, man is a portion of the Most High.' 'Every Jew can attain to the living power of the Holy Name. Even the smallest of all, and the least of all, and the lowest of all.' What, then, prevents them? 'When a man knows that he is nothing and that there is nothing in him, then, whenever he wishes it, the living force of the Creator can pervade his whole being… But when he thinks himself something, then there is no room for the living power of the Creator to spread in him.'

The purpose for which everything was created is the attainment of perfection, and 'we, the people of Israel, were created for the complete perfection that is to be attained… speedily in our days. The world shall be purified and restored to perfection; all things shall be one, and there shall be peace in the world.' 'Everyone must know that the whole universe and every human being are like a lamp and vessel that receive the living power and light of the Holy One Blessed Be He.' But 'the light of the Holy One Blessed Be He cannot go together with anything physical in this lower world of ours. Hence, His intention… in creating this world was to make the two worlds one, that man should be freed from his physical trammels and everything should be raised up to His will… but then came the sins of the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Tower of Babel and the men of Sodom. There followed two thousand years of chaos, when the Divine Presence withdrew to the Seventh Heaven and this lower world was separated from the higher world and the Divine Providence almost abandoned man… But afterwards, when the two thousand years of Torah commenced and God's light began to shine in this world, when the patriarchs together with all the righteous ones and Moses our Teacher brought back the Divine Glory to earth, and everything was purified and raised up to the Holy One Blessed Be He – then the two worlds were made equal. For this is the essence of His will… that every physical thing in this world should be elevated to the spiritual level.' 'For, in truth, the spiritual is far removed from the physical, and the physical is far removed from the spiritual. Only when Israel cleave to the Holy One Blessed Be He by keeping His Law and worshipping Him and obliterating themselves, only then do they bring His Holiness and light down to this world and only then can they ascend to the higher sphere… in body.' 'For the worlds were created solely for the purpose that each of them should be filled with the light of the Holy One Blessed Be He and be constantly reviewed. Thereby is this world kept in being.'

R. Aharon attributes to the Tsaddik the exalted role of radiating some of the 'hidden light' on the world. The first light that was hidden away was sealed up in the Tsaddikim… not for the world to come, but for the Tsaddikim that were to arise in every generation, that they should attain to the light by their good deeds.' By their actions, the Tsaddikim raise up all things to the heights; where they become a torch… a great light for all this world.' All the Tsaddikim attained to the hidden light by their spiritual self-sacrifice… until they became men of great righteousness. It would… seem natural to wonder (since the Lord hid the light away): Why did He create it at all?... So that afterwards every man should search for the hidden light.' To this end, everyone must bind himself in his prayers to the Tsaddikim, who are bound to the holy patriarchs.'

Prayer, study, and good deeds hasten the day of redemption. 'Every day, nay every hour, a man must bring the world nearer to the coming of the Messiah: as we have already said on the verse “All the days of your life” – this includes [lit.: brings in] the days of the Messiah, so that everyone must… by his deeds bring the world nearer to the coming of the Messiah: Moreover, 'every Jew is also in himself a kind of Messiah,' for every Jew is obliged to think and know that he is unique in the world, and that no other person like him has yet existed in the world. For if there had already been anyone like him in this world, there would have been no need for him to exist… Every single person is something new in the world and must in this world perfect his character… and his Jewish knowledge which are an integral part of this being, until all the worlds shall be perfected by the whole community of Israel, and… the righteous redeemer shall come.'

R. Aharon the Second remained all the rest of his life in Stolin. He died on the 17th Sivan, 1872, [152] while passing through the small town of Mlynov, near Dubno, in Volhynia, and was buried there. Thereafter, he was given by his followers the additional names of 'the man of Mlynov' or 'the holy grandfather.' Since the teachings of R. Aharon the Second comprise the major part of the volume Beth Aharon, he himself is often referred to by the hasidim by the name of this book, according to the Jewish practice of naming writers after their works. [153]

Letter of R. Asher the Second to his followers 1872 or 1873

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G. Ha-Yenuka [The Child] (1873 - 1921)

R. Aharon the Second's successor was his son, R. Asher the Second. The situation then prevailing in the 'court' at Stolin may be gathered from a letter, signed by R. Asher the Second and written in the hand of one of his followers, which was sent by R. Asher to his hasidim after his father's death.

'With the help of the Blessed Name!

'Life and blessing... to my beloved ones... our loyal followers... May they be blessed... with every good, they and their wives and their children and descendants… with a good and long life... Our beloved followers know the painful burden of debts left... by our Master, my revered Father... and they all know how great were [my father's] sufferings on this account in his lifetime... how he was pained to the very depths of his being... and how the voice of the creditors was heard every day... Now, therefore, I am sending our dearly beloved friend... the bearer of this letter, to all... our followers to collect their contributions... according to the list that he shows them. Let them take good note of the greatness of the need. Moreover, I request that my office in such a great matter as this should not be changed... and everyone that trod the threshold of the holy residence of... my Father... should be quick to carry out these my words, to honor 'him and to give his holy spirit rest in Paradise; and also to remove the great sorrow that is caused by this. Let them all rise up as one man to pay the sum required... generously and gladly. Let them help... and encourage one another to pay their contribution speedily to our friend, the bearer of this letter... according to the list. Heaven forbid that they should he late, or should put off... their response, but let them bring it themselves. Let them contribute through the bearer of this letter, and let them give generously. For he that gives generously will receive an additional blessing. It is not to be believed that there will be even one of our followers that will shut his ears… and not feel bound to perform this great duty, nor remember his reverence for his Teacher... Even as the love of him was deeply implanted in their hearts in his lifetime so now it is their bounden duty to be quick in showing respect for his memory... Everything will be... under my supervision... I trust... that they will hearken to my words for their own good... and that the Hidden Light may pour down every blessing upon them... to bring blessing upon their houses in peace... and in long life... and that their names may be constantly mentioned on our lips... Wherever they turn may they prosper... that all may be well with them always...'

In his practical interpretation of hasidic doctrine R. Asher the Second occupies a special place among the Karlin Tsaddikim. He was very greatly influenced by mystical doctrines and laid greater stress than his predecessors on the importance of immersion in the mikveh [the ritual bath] which 'washes away the uncleanness of the body and instead infuses it with holiness.' There are many reports of how he would remain immersed in the mikveh for hours on end, to the uncomprehending astonishment of the local mithnaged population. The few passages of biblical exposition attributed to him in Beth Aharon all deal with 'purification by immersion in the mikveh.' In the 'Rules for Daily Conduct' quoted in his name in the same volume, R. Asher bases the whole order of the day's work on the one principle of joyful 'inner worship,' as against 'sadness and grief (Heaven forbid!),' on religious awe, love, and humility, which 'purifies and perfects all the human qualities.' Again, 'attachment to the Tsaddikim is very efficacious, to prevent any error in soul-searching'; and 'levity is the exact opposite of hasidism.' [154]

R. Asher the Second's period of 'leadership' as the Stolin Rebbe was of short duration. He died only a year after R. Aharon the Second, on the 15th Av, 1873, in the small town of Drohobich (Galicia), and was buried there. Hence the additional names given him by the Karlin hasidim: 'the man of Drohobich,' or 'the young Rebbe,' to distinguish him from 'the old man of Stolin,' R. Asher the First, and from 'the holy grandfather,' R. Aharon the Second. [155]

The death of R. Asher the Second caused a crisis in the ranks of Karlin hasidism, since he left no adult successor. His only son, Yisrael, was then about four years old (hasidic tradition has it that he was born on 10th Kislev, 1868), and thus not only the child, but all the Karlin hasidim, too, lost a father. In this critical time, the Karlin hasidim resolved to meet the danger by standing firm in their loyalty to the Karlin dynasty, and therefore proclaimed the Yenuka [Child] Yisrael to be their Rebbe. This proclamation of a small child as a Rebbe aroused comment in the Jewish press, particularly in a satirical article, entitled Hithgalluth ha-Yenuka bi-Stolin [The Revelation of the Child in Stolin]. [156] This satire is presented in the form of a long letter, written supposedly by a hasid in the characteristic Hasidic style, in which the writer goes into ecstasies about the 'miracles' and 'marvels' of the Karlin Tsaddikim, including those performed by the Yenuka.

When R. Yisrael grew up, he not only made a name for himself by his intellectual ability and practical vigor, but he also won the deep affection of his followers by the warm paternal interest that he took in every one of them. They loved him for the impartial way in which he used to preach and reprimand as he thought necessary, without making any distinction between rich and poor, between someone from a good family and a simple Jew. His sense of realities and his experience in worldly affairs enabled him to help his followers with good advice in time of trouble. R. Yisrael was also very tolerant and mixed freely with people from all strata of the population, thus winning the respect even of his opponents. With his knowledge of Russian and German he had close connections with the secular authorities, and used to intercede with them on behalf both of the whole community and of its individual members. The Hasidim relate that once when a troop of soldiers descended upon Stolin with the intention of carrying out a pogrom, R. Yisrael invited the commander to a meal; and when the latter told him that he had not come to Stolin to eat for 'other matters,' and asked R. Yisrael who his children were since he did not wish to harm them, R. Yisrael replied: 'All the Jews of Stolin are my children.' The story ends with the words: 'So there was no pogrom in Stolin.' [157]

True to the tradition of his father and grandfather before him, R. Yisrael held open 'court' in Stolin for the Karlin Hasidim, especially on Sabbaths and Festivals. R. Yisrael was not in the habit of expounding the Torah, and yet on the Penitential Days, Stolin – so eye-witnesses relate – was crowded with Hasidim who would come from far and near, from Kiev and Warsaw and from as far away as Odessa, and a few even from Palestine. On Simhath Torah and on the Seder Night of Passover, the tunes of R. Aharon the Second, sung with joyful fervor, would resound through the small town till late into the night. Unlike the other Karlin Hasidim, R. Yisrael used himself to pray silently. However, he conducted the melavveh malkah to musical accompaniment. He and his three sons together made up a quartet which occasionally performed various pieces of secular music in addition to liturgical tunes. For R. Yisrael, playing music was one of the forms of Divine worship, which was therefore to be preceded by washing the hands. [158]

The influence of the Haskalah movement, which had first begun to be felt in R. Aharon the Second's days grew stronger in R. Yisrael's time. The nationalist and socialist movements at the turn of the century, together with the secularization of Jewish education, alienated the younger generation of Jews from hasidism. Indeed, R. Yisrael's own followers used to relate that he himself spoke sadly of Karlin hasidism as a phase that was drawing to a close.

R. Yisrael set down some of the main points of his 'credo' in two testaments, one addressed to his family and the other to his followers. [159]

In the testament to his family R. Yisrael writes as follows:

'When my spirit departs, no time shall be spent on ceremonial tributes of respect. If my end comes while I am traveling, my body shall not be carried to my home, unless the place be only a few hours' distance from Mlynov [the burial place of R. Aharon the Second], Karlin [the burial place of R. Aharon the Great and R. Asher the First], or Drohobich [the burial place of R. Asher the Second]. If it be the local custom to set up an ohel [structure over the grave], mine shall not be a large one but only medium-sized. If it be the custom to set up a tombstone, only my name and my father's name shall be inscribed on it, without any titles… [For winding-sheet] they shall take my kittel [a white garment worn by Jews on the Penitential Days and on the Seder Night], and the other cerements shall be made from the garments of my fathers… In the first year, in all the towns where there are followers of mine, they shall study Ein Yaakov [a volume containing the Talmudic Aggadah], and if there is a Talmud study circle, they shall complete one tractate in my memory. And in the circles in which I am registered as a member, care shall be taken to divide up the Talmud in such a way that in the course of ten years the whole Talmud shall have been studied in my memory.

'I herewith earnestly request my sons to do their utmost to educate their own sons (and to use all their influence with others, too) in traditional Judaism and H\hasidism after the old manner without any compromises. The main thing is the study of the Talmud… which makes all that know it conduct themselves better. When the children grow up, let them be taught writing and language, things that are naturally necessary, and let them not be like the fools of the present day whose whole education is derived from journals and stories. Their parents shall take care that their teacher be an elderly man of known probity. They shall also give good heed to the education of their daughters, for on that depends the corner-stone of Judaism – the family; and they shall endeavor to find them husbands soon after they reach marriageable age.

'I counsel my sons not to meddle in communal affairs or in any worldly matters, especially not in money cases or matters concerning the secular authorities. For in the course of my long life I have never seen anyone that emerged from all this unscathed and unhumiliated, except in such matters as the study of the Talmud and the use of the mikveh. The greatest principle of all is not to flatter anyone in the world, for this sometimes leads to the opposite result, as our Sages remarked: “Every flatterer eventually falls into the power of the one whom he flatters.” Hence, this shall be the sign to my followers to which of my sons to turn [i.e., which of them to choose as my successor]: the one that shall admit no flatterers, show no special favor to any man, make no special effort to win followers, and not become involved with the secular authorities.'

Then follow the detailed instructions about the division of the property as a whole:

'My Scrolls of the Law shall be divided up between my sons, but the holy Scroll of my grandfather of blessed memory shall remain in Stolin as long as my beth-midrash stands and those that worship in it pray in the hasidic manner. Afterwards they shall come to some agreement among themselves, according to the decision of pious Jews.'

'This will was written in the hand of our holy Rebbe, in the presence of the undersigned… on the second day of the week, the 2nd of Teveth, [5]681 [1920], in Stolin.'

Signature of two witnesses.



The Grave of R. Yisrael “The Child”
of Stolin in Frankfurt-on-Main

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The following is the text of R. Yisrael's last injunctions to his followers:

'… The second day of the week… the 12th of Tammuz, [5]681 [= 1921], Stolin.

'For the sake of my brethren and companions I shall utter… words that come from the heart to our loyal followers… that these words should be inscribed on the tablets of their heart... in the true hasidic manner... Let every single one of them be truthful and sincere; let him never speak hypocritically, but let his outward manner truly reflect his inner thoughts. Let him obey the injunction of the verse: "Know Him in all thy ways" [Provo 3, 6]. Let every one of them guard his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit, and let him utterly eschew lying and arrogance. As it is written: "The arrogant man is an abomination to the Lord" [Prov. 3, 6]… I pray that the Lord may graciously grant us length of days and years, with all good and pleasant things. True, the net is spread out over all living things; and since all men are mortal, I exhort our followers (may they live long!) that, in a hundred years from now, there should be no dissension between them arising from the sect of flatterers and hypocrites, for no flatterer shall come into the Lord's presence, but that they should all form one united band. This shall be a true sign for them: that one of my sons… in whom there shall be all these qualities, who shall not be a flatterer or hypocrite, and shall eschew lies, and shall not belong to... a company (here, between the lines, the following words have been added in his own holy hand: a company of the Zionists and especially of the Mizrahi), [160] but who shall be one of those that fear the Lord, who shall not have his sons and daughters taught in schools, not even in Hebrew schools, nor make any effort to have himself chosen Rebbe -- he shall be their [sc. 'my followers'] leader and head. (From this point the testament is written in his own holy hand): "When I could no longer see clearly enough to write in my own hand, I ordered my family to write at my dictation. In witness whereof I sign my name

Yisrael the son... of R. Asher...'

Signature of two witnesses.

R. Yisrael died at the age of 52 on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, 1921, far away from his native town, in a convalescent home in Homburg, Germany. He was buried in Frankfurt-on-Main, and is therefore to this day referred to by the Karlin hasidim as 'the man of Frankfurt.' [161] Amongst the hasidim at large, and even among the mithnagdim, he is known as 'the Yenuka of Stolin.'

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