Translated by Myra Yael Ecker
Edited by Yocheved Klausner
|Khmelnytsky at the gates of Lwów. His demand for the extradition of the Jews, and the municipality's refusal. Jewish participation in the defence of the town. The resumption of war in 1651. Extension of the contract between the Jews and the municipality. The siege of 1655. The trial to settle the debt owed by the Jews. The riots of 1664. The internal and the financial life. The influence of the Sabbateans.|
1648 was a time of tragedy and trouble for the Jews of Poland, severely damaging also the Jews of Lwów. In April 1648, at the head of his army, Khmelnytsky [Chmielnicki] drove westward from the Zaporizhzhya region [Zaporozhian Sich], and during the 6th15th May he defeated the Polish armed forces under the command of Potocki and Kalinowski. That brilliant victory signaled the outbreak of the general uprising by the Ukrainian citizens. They attacked Poles and Jews in the villages, towns and small towns, mercilessly destroying, robbing and killing everywhere.
The Jewish survivors fled westwards, with many successfully reaching Lwów before the siege. There they found refuge among the overcrowded community. The Jewish Quarter consisted of just two streets that contained forty nine houses; the facade of most of those had only two windows, 7 cubits wide. As the refugees numbered tens of thousands, they were housed with the community outside the town, around the great synagogue which was rebuilt in 1632.
In May 1648, the King of Poland died. The Cossacks took advantage of the interregnum and proceeded westward to Podolia and Volhynia, forging their way towards Reissen. The Polish armed forces under the leadership of Prince Jeremi Wisniowiecki, retreated to Lwów where they hoped to withstand Khmelnytsky. On the 27th September 1648, Wisniowiecki assembled the civil and the religious leaders, and demanded that the citizens back the defenders and donate, each according to their means. The warlord's words stirred enthusiasm in the population. A great deal of gold and silver was brought out from the monasteries, the churches and the Jewish synagogues, besides money which the citizens gave to the municipality. The money collected by the Ruthenians amounted to 27,398 Gulden, by the Armenians 24,502 Gulden, and by the Jews more than 10,000 Gulden. The value of gold and silver amounted to 300,000 Gulden.
Once the money had been collected and handed to the warlord, the armed forces left the town and news arrived that the Tatars were near Lwów. The town's residents had no option but to fend for themselves. The craftsmen allotted amongst themselves the defence shifts at the posts, the fortresses, and the town's towers. The Jews armed themselves too. They kept watch at those parts of the townwall that bordered with the Jewish Quarter, and participated in the protection of the town's suburbs.
In September 1648, Khmelnytsky's army, now reinforced by Tatar battalions under the command of Tugay Bey [Tuhajbej], stood at Lwów's towngates. The chronicler Rabbi Natan Neta, the son of the holy Rabbi Moses Hanover, described the massacres of 1648 and 1649 in his book Jewen Mezula [or Yeven Mezulah; Abyss of Dispair] (first published at Venice in 1653). He wrote of the siege of Lwów: After those events Khmelnytsky continued with all his army to lay siege to the holy community of Lwów, the capital which was one of the four great communities of Poland. A large holy town of sages and scribes. And when the enemy arrived, they sat there at nightfall in front of the high fortress, which stands outside the town of Lwów, and from the high fortress shot down at them and killed thousands of Greeks and Ishmaelites. But eventually, as they had no water there, they were obliged to leave the high fortress together with the Poles. And together they descended from the high fortress to the town of Lwów, and the residents set alight all the houses around the town walls, so that no enemy could hide around the town. Nonetheless, the enemy captured the high fortress, surrounded the town and laid siege to it. In the town terror spread, of leaving the house, for fear of the shafts of fire shot down from the high fortress into the town. Plague and great hunger was suffered within the town outside the sword bereaves and indoors terror. Some ten thousand souls died in the town of hunger and the plague. As time passed and they were unable to conquer the town, they blocked the springs outside the town, which supplied all the water the town's citizens drank, so that there was no water for the community to drink. So the entire community said: Why die of hunger and thirst? Let us send a message to the enemy, perhaps he will accept our assets as redemption of our souls. So the townspeople dispatched messengers to the enemy to compromise
they gave him silver and gold as redemption of their souls. As he approved of it, he told his servants: What do we gain from killing them? Let us take their assets as redemption of their souls. So he sent his captain of thousand, by the name of Glowacki, a minister in the Kingdom of Poland who, together with several Cossack ministers of the town, had pledged to him to rebel against the monarchy, to discuss with them a compromise. Till here the words of Rabbi Natan Neta Hanover.
According to Czechowicz, all the town's suburbs and the synagogue outside the town were destroyed by the Cossacks. The townspeople defended themselves courageously and it was their resistance which prompted Khmelnytsky's decision to attack the town. Before his attack on the 10th October 1648, he sent a letter to Lwów's municipality in which he demanded that the Ruthenians hide themselves in their church, and that the municipality hand over to him Prince Wisniowiecki and the citizens' assets. The townspeople replied that Wisniowiecki was not in town, and that the citizens who had sworn allegiance to the homeland would continue to protect the town, but they requested that he should not spill Christian blood in vain. To which Khmelnytsky responded that he believed the magnates were not in their hands, but he demanded the extradition of all the Jews with their wives and offspring, since they were the cause of the war, and the financial backers of the battles at Zaporizhia [Zaporoze]. To that wrote the mayor Martin Grosswajer in his report we replied: We are unable to extradite the Jews for two reasons. First they do not belong to us, but to the King, and they are subjects of the realm. Second they bear all the burdens and hardships of the time, and they are ready to die with us and even for us. Khmelnytsky sent a further letter with the priest Teodor Rudkiewicz, in which he demanded 200,000 Red Gulden. In case of refusal, he would attack the town and completely destroy it. On that occasion he waived the extradition of the Jews. He wrote: Those ugly and dirty Jews I leave you, I do not want them at all, they must however participate appropriately in the redemption payment, since they had raked many treasures in Ukraine.
During the letter exchange there was no lull in the fighting, but Khmelnytsky continued in his attempts to prevent the attack on the town. In response to his demand the municipality sent a delegation made up of: the mayor Czechowicz, alderman Wachlowiez, the Armenian Zechnowicz, the Ruthnian Lawrysiewycz, and the intermediary of the Jews Szymon.. After a protracted negotiation, during which the intermediary Szymon was insulted in the Cossack camp, they reached a compromise according to which Khmelnytsky would receive gold, silver and merchandise in the value of 546,276 Gulden. The Jews participated not only in cash, but also in expensive goods, in funds and properties of charitable enterprises as well as in mortgages they had received in exchange for loans, thus losing the capital as well as the interest. An entire year of deliberation with the municipality followed, as to the share of the Jews in the redemption sum. An agreement was only reached in 1649, in which the Jews pledged to participate in the sum of 84,000 Gulden.
Khmelnytsky received the promised sum and retreated toward Żółkiew [Zhovkva], but still there was no rest for the citizens of Lwów. For a long time they continued to suffer hunger, thirst and disease. In the Jewish Quarter a terrible overcrowding prevailed. Due to lack of space, the refugees were scattered in the streets, yards and at the gates of houses, exposed to the cold and rain, disease and epidemics. Abraham ben Samuel Ashkenazy, in his book Sorrow of Many or Eulogy to Poland, complains, saying: Over these I weep (Poland) day and night, over the blow to the holy community of Lemberg [Lwów], a great town, for there was no other like it in the diaspora. How those haters came and surrounded every path, to uproot the Nation like scattered lamb, and inside the blow is duplicated, epidemic and every mishap, even water there was none. For in ancient times a special device fitted with pipes let water from a single spring outside the town, into the town, and from there door by door. And now that the haters came and severed the spring, no cure or channel was found. So they made an excellent repentance, accepted by His throne. Six thousand of the Chosen People died. And had they not given a great fortune to the wrongdoers, they would in their entirety have been like burnt offering, and you God stood still. Avenge the blood of the righteous who gave praise and adoration, and to you God the power and the glory.
The active participation of the Jews in the defence of the town was noted in the praises for their strength and bravery by the nobles at the Sejmik of Sudova Vyshnia [Sądowa Wisznia].
On the 17th October 1648, Jan Kazimierz [John II Casimir], the brother of Wladyslaw IV, was elected King of Poland.
But the peace and quiet had not yet arrived for the Jews of Lwów who had to accommodate and absorb the thousands of refugees as well as their livelihoods. In 1651, war broke out again between Poland and the Cossacks. Once again Khmelnytsky came out with slogans against the Jews, and his troops were given carte blanche to destroy whole communities and mercilessly to annihilate the Jews.
In 1652, the contract between the Jews and the municipality of Lwów had come to an end. The Jews wished to renew it, unaltered, but the townCouncil saw here a convenient opportunity and tried to curtail their rights. When the King heard of it he ordered to extend the contract. The municipality refused to comply with his order, and when he visited Lwów on the 20th June 1653, the German merchant, Atelmaier, loaned the municipality money
to make presents to the King and his retinue in order to attain a ruling against the extension of the contract. The Jews did not rest and did not remain silent either, and eventually, on the 3rd July 1653, the chancellor, prelate Roźycki confirmed the contract despite the townspeople's lobbying. On the 29th September 1653, the community leaders were invited to the municipality and received a message that the Jews were forbidden all trade in merchandise made of Marocco [Saffian] leather. The community leaders strongly objected to the prohibition. On that occasion the delegates of the Jews were: Rabbi Izak ben Abraham Katz, Aron ben Cwi [Tzvi] Segal Meszkisz, Jekusiel Zelman ben Eleazar, Cwi [Tzvi] Hirsch ben Efraim, the intermediary Fiszel Selman [Zelman], and Mardochaj ben Mojzesz.
In February 1654, the Jews and the municipality agreed on, and signed a new contract for an annual cost of 4,000 Gulden, valid for eight years. That contract included no negative changes in the condition of the Jews, and they were even granted some easements. They were permitted to trade in merchandise up to the value of 1,580 Gulden, at fairs outside Lwów. In case they required additional capital, they were to enter into partnership solely with Christian merchants. At the fairs they had to keep to the opening hours set by the municipality.
According to the contract the payment was destined solely for the defence of the town. Annually, the town Council elected two legal representatives who, together with the town's translator, were responsible for overseeing the precise implementation of the terms of the contract. The Jews were obliged to undertake not to buy the nobles' sympathy with bribes. According to the old custom they had to submit to the municipality's Council a detailed list of the merchants and the wealthy Jews.
The contract itself improved the relationship between the Jews and the townspeople, who had to withstand for the second time an invasion of Reissen by Khmelnytsky's army.
After he had surrendered to the Russian Czar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1655, Khmelnytsky went to war with Poland for a second time, and attacked it from the East. The Swedes took advantage of the situation and invaded Poland from the West, conquering several regions.
One of the Russian army corps which joined Khmelnytsky set out towards Lwów. The town commander, General Krzysztof Grodzicki, ordered to burn down the suburbs. On the 25th September 1655, the first companies of the enemy army were seen near the town, and the negotiation over a ceasefire began a short while afterwards. Among his conditions, the Russian General Buturlin demanded that all the Jews with their women, children and their possessions be handed over, as they were haters of Jesus and the Christians.
Once again the municipality declared that such a demand would not be satisfied, but that it was ready to pay redemption money according to the townspeople's ability. After lengthy deliberations Khmelnytsky agreed to accept a ransom of 60,000 Gulden. Of that, the Jews paid 8,000 Gulden in cash, apart from merchandise and valuable mortgages.
In 1656, after that blockade was lifted, Lwów was attacked by Prince Rakoczi of Transilvania. He too received redemption money, a large part of which was contributed by the Jews, then he left the town.
The municipality demanded that the community pay off 26,520 Gulden, the remaining debt of the redemption sum which had been paid in 1649; contribution towards the defence expenses (ammunition, fortifications, guarding) 11,500 Gulden; redemption payment of 1655, 9,200 Gulden; fortification of the town in 1657, 7,800 Gulden; debt payment to the municipality, 23,043 Gulden; liquor payments from the Jews of the suburbs, 18,000 Gulden; a total of 96,162 Gulden. The Jews replied that their financial situation had shrunk as a result of liabilities imposed on them during the siege as well as the damage caused by the fires, and consequently they were unable to bear the debt payments, at the time. The municipality paid no heed to their excuses, and sued them. The verdict handed down by the royal tribunal in the years 1663, 1666, was in favour of the town. After an appeal by the Jews however, the Chancellor delayed the execution of the verdict and appointed a new investigation committee in 1667. The relationship between the Jews and the municipality deteriorated due to the trial. Already in 1656, at the start of the disagreement, the municipality demanded that the King forbid the nobles from leasing out flats and shops in their properties, to the Jews. The King confirmed the demand and ordered that the Jews keep their shops and storerooms solely within houses of Jews. In 1658, the municipality succeeded also in obtaining a royal decree forbidding the Jews from practicing medicine, except for doctors who had been accredited by Catholic universities. In the same year, King Jan Kazimierz issued a special instruction according to which the Jews of Lwów who had any legal claim, were forbidden from expropriating houses and realestate from local Christians without an official court ruling. Financially, the Jews found themselves in much reduced circumstances. Especially grave was the situation of the community outside the town which depended on the benevolence of the castellan (burgrave) and his officials. In 1653, they were forbidden the trade in salted fish and liquor.
In the years 16581660, the authorities escalated their hostile policy toward nonCatholics, which led to intercongregational tension. The 1658 decision by the Sejm to expel all the Aryans by the 10th July 1660, also increased
the hatred of the Jews. In the Sejm, demands were also voiced to expel the Jews, but due to representatives of the Church stating that the Jews owed them vast sums, no actual proposals were submitted.
That was followed by the period of bloodlibel charges and attacks on the Jewish Quarters. In 1663, students from the Lwów Jesuit seminary attacked the Jews outside the town, insulted people, broke the windows of their flats, and led to fistfights. The situation was greatly aggravated when at Lwów and the adjacent small towns suspected persons distributed letters, supposedly from the pope, the emperor and the King, that permitted the beating up of Jews.
Since the clashes recurred time and again, the Jews decided to resist the rioters. From the Starosta Jan of Groß Kuntschitz [Kończyce Wielkie; Great Kunchich] as well as from the castellan, who were keen for the Jews to reside in the suburbs, they received an approval to defend themselves with firearms. The Jews bought the arms, learnt the proper way to use them, and kept guard day and night near the synagogue. The precautions by the Jews increased the anger of the thugs who burst in violently, on the 23rd May 1664. It was a Catholic holiday, the Jesuits conducted a festive procession and the Ruthenians arranged a reception for the new archbishop Zeliborski. The Jews, who feared a calamity, approached the Starosta in advance to ask for his protection. Before the holiday, a company of soldiers was sent from the castle to the Jewish Quarter. The holiday took place on a Saturday, but despite the sanctity of the day some 400 armed Jews, mostly young men, assembled in front of the Synagogue then split into three companies: one company, under the command of Leiser was stationed near the royal mills; the second company, under the command of Kuczka near the butchers' shops, and the third company, under the command of Turczyn at the Synagogue square. In the early afternoon, farmers from the surrounding villages together with apprentices and servants of the town's nobles began to throng. When they saw the Jews standing ready and armed, they mocked aloud and started to throw stones at them. The defenders hit right and left and succeeded in repelling the attack. The mob began to disperse, but the Jesuits' students who were armed, encouraged and urged them not to retreat. They attacked again, but again they were fought off by the Jews who fought heroically, according to the chronicler Jozefowicz of Lwów, who was not known for his sympathy for the Jews.
The victory of the Jews might have been complete were it not for the sudden betrayal of men, from the unitcorps sent by the Starosta, who joined the attackers. The defenders could not withstand the multitude that now outnumbered them tenfold, and they started to retreat. The rioters broke into the houses, robbed and ruthlessly murdered the old, women and children. Then they broke into the synagogue, destroyed all the contents, took out the Torah scrolls, tore and desecrated them. The cantor, Rabbi Szmul [Samuel] ben Jozef Chajote who was immersed in prayer at the time, was ruthlessly murdered. On the same day 102 Jews were murdered and over 200 were wounded.
On the 8th June, after the massacre, Stanislaw Potocki the Starosta of Lwów, sent a message to all the local authorities regarding the riots which have erupted by the students and the craftsmen, during which they murdered Jews, took over their houses in the onslaught, carried out major robbery and even took children captive, and as I hear the riots have not yet ceased. Since he learned that the ruffians fled from Lwów with their plunder, he turned to all the authorities with the demand to arrest any man found with booty, valuables or a Jewish child, and send him to his seat (at Podhajce [Pidhaitsi]).
When the events at the Jewish suburb became known in the town, the Council sent beadles to calm down the rioters, but they too were beaten up. The survivors of the suburb managed with great difficulty to escape into the town and find shelter there. Among the survivors was Rabbi David HaLevy, the author of Turei Zahav, who on that very day had lost two sons, Rabbi Mardochaj and Rabbi Salomon.
The rioters continued with their assaults and tried to break into the town, but by order of the municipality the gates of the townwalls were shut in their faces. At the Jews' request, the head of the Jesuit monastery stood in front of the gate to the Jewish Quarter within the town, in order to stop the students from passing the Quarter's gate before they had managed to shut it. These measures were of little avail. The students continued to threaten from the rooftops that bordered the Jewish Quarter, and even began to invade from there. As the danger increased, the town Council demanded funds from the Jews which, supplemented by funds from the town, paid for the mobilisation of one hundred armed soldiers. The Jews were not satisfied and turned to the chief military commander, Stanislaw Potocki. On the 8th June 1664, when the riots first started at the suburb, Potocki sent a notice to the town Council stating that the command of Lwów and its suburbs was handed over to the artillery officer Ferdynand Wolf, and that one had to stand by him. Following the Jews' petition, Potocki sent two cavalry companies under the command of Tarnawski. He gave them an explicit instruction not to stay with Jews, but only in the houses of Christians, within and outside the town lodging under duress and coercion. This fact formed
an additional ground for the students to incite the masses against the Jews, accused of that burden.
The 12th June 1664 was another Christian holiday and there was fear of renewed riots. In order to preempt any trouble the Council convened a meeting of the craftsmen's guilds, to convince them not to join the rioters, but their response was total indifference. The mayor, the renowned historians Bartlomiej Zimorowic, visited the Jesuits and asked them to prevent the students from acts of violence. Although they promised to do their best, it was clear that they would not keep their promise.
The students assembled for prayer in the Dominican Church. The Council sent the town's beadles and assistants to participate in the protection of the Jewish Quarter, but many of them refused to obey the instruction. After the prayer the students left for the Jewish Quarter at the head of a mob of craftsmen's apprentices and the poor. They succeeded in breaking in, and with rage and fury they attacked the houses of the Jews. To prevent any mob outside the town from joining the rioters, the mayor ordered to shut the town gates. The town's citizens were recruited and a delegation was sent to the Catholic archbishop, Jan Tarnowski, as well as to the Jesuits, to employ their full influence on the youths to stop the riots. Meanwhile, Tarnawski and his cavalry had reached the closed town gates and forced them open, which allowed the mob outside to enter the town and increase the rows of rioters. Forcing the gates open led to a conflict between commander Tarnawski and the Council members, and consequently the armed citizens left their posts. The rioters prepared for a new attack. Tarnawski ordered his soldiers to beat the mob, and he even fired a cannon in order to disperse them, but all his efforts to control the situation were to no avail. The riots continued till dusk and their results total destruction of the Jewish Quarter, pillage of money, collaterals and jewelry. With spite and fury they killed and slaughtered over one hundred souls, scholars, renowned men, wealthy men, leaders, who were our protection on the day of wrath. And in the pandemonium they stole a few hundreds of thousands of their money and gold, and great rabbinical judges were also killed. On that day 129 Jews were killed, among them rabbis, community leaders and scholars, such as the great scholar [gaon] Samson ben Bezalel [Bazyleja]; heads of the Yeshivot: Menachem ben Izak, Elieser ben Aszer, Izak ben Samuel, Moyses ben Haim, Aron Jechiel ben Jozef, Mardochaj ben Salomon; the judge and head of the ritual lawcourt [BethDin] Rabbi Juda Leib ben Mojzesz Margulies; the community leaders and elders: Samuel ben Juda, Salomon ben Samuel, and his son Abraham, Mardochaj ben Jechiel Kohn, and Dawid [David] ben Daniel. More than two hundred were injured, some of whom died later of their injuries.
A few days later the students tried to attack homeless Jews who roamed the streets. This time, men of the civil guard got involved, and using firearms they caught the attackers and handed them over to the municipal lawcourt. A civilian named Stontel, who sided with the Jews, the Armenian priest Szymanowiez and a few other Christians were injured and killed in the shootings.
A large number of the Christian citizens of the town showed some sympathy for the Jews, and many concealed refugees and saved them. Stanislaw Potocki, the Starosta of Lwów who was also the Voivode of Kraków, wrote to the Kraków municipality and demanded the extradition of the rioting students who had fled there.
The authorities investigated forthwith. The municipality was accused of negligence and insufficient care to maintain order and prevent the outbreak of riots. The municipal lawcourt was instructed to collect evidence from the Jews about the extent of the damages. The community leaders within the town Zelman Lewkowicz and Samuel Judkiewicz, and the community leaders outside the town Aron Dawidowicz and Michał Judkowicz, appeared before the lawcourt and delivered the report about the damages in the presence of the Starosta and the clerks. In the suburbs outside the town some 1,000 persons from all strata of the Jewish community were injured including: rabbis, merchants, craftsmen, and the extent of their damages came to 300,000 Gulden. The number of injured within the town was also large, and the damage had reached 700,000 Gulden. In the two synagogues, ornamental curtains to cover the front of the Holy Ark [Parochot], candelabra and some KeterTorah, and holy vessels were stolen and destroyed. In the synagogue outside the town, which contained walls of the fortress, one of the pillars was destroyed and the damage amounted to 70,000 Gulden.
The pogroms at Lwów shocked not only the Jews throughout Poland, but also the heads of the Polish clergy and nobility. The archbishop of Luck [Lutsk] Mikolaj Prazmowski, the Voivode of Sandomierz Jan Zamoyski, the priest Szoke on behalf of Queen Ludwika Maria as well as many magnates submitted written complaints about the injury to citizens loyal to the King whose rights, guaranteed in writing, were no less than those of the rest of the town's population. All of them stressed that these events defiled the name of Lwów, and that the municipality had to compensate the Jews, and were it not to do so shortly, steps would need to be taken against the town.
The Sejmik which convened at Wisznia [Vyshnia] at the time, demanded a thorough investigation. King Jan Kazimierz [John II Casimir Vasa] was also astounded by the events at Lwów, and on the 22nd June 1664, 10 days after the riots, he sent from Wilno [Vilnius] an order to all the authorities and Councils announcing that irresponsible persons were passing through targeted areas with fake documents in their hands. They were inciting the population against the Jews, murdering and stealing from them. Such actions were against the law, and the local authorities had to take action against those people, as well as to suppress in advance any riots and disturbances.
One of those magnates, Leszczynski, the Starosta of Lutsk, appeared at the gates of Lwów accompanied by his men, and attacked the townspeople. The civil guards succeeded in fighting off the invaders and in capturing some of them. Stanislaw Bieniewski, the marshal of the Lublin Tribunal, considered it a grave insult to the nobility, and on the 4th August he sent a harsh letter to the municipality of Lwów in which he demanded the immediate release of the captives. As the municipality did not fulfill his demand, Bieniewski filed a court case against it, in which the town's advisors were accused. The verdict was later annulled by the King since the matter was strictly under his own authority or that of the Sejm.
On the 30th June 1664, following the repeated demands of the Jews, the King appointed an investigation committee. The committee was made up of: two noblemen, two senators, two priests and the King's Secretary. The committee concluded that the municipality was guilty, of neglect in protecting the Jews, and of the rampaging of the rioters. The municipality argued that the students of the Jesuit seminary were solely responsible for the riots, since Tarnawski's squadrons had been sent to protect the Jews. Although those squadrons were ineffective, the municipality could not be held responsible for that, and besides the Jews, Christians were also killed during the riots. The committee was not swayed by the argumentation of the municipality, and continued to collect evidence, and once the enquiry was concluded all the information was transferred to the royal lawcourt. Behind the scenes rumours spread that the Jews bribed members of the committee, although there was no justification or proof.
On the 24th July 1668, a verdict was issued in which the town's Council was ordered to pay compensation główcyzna to the families of the murdered, and to the injured, for grief and healing. In addition it had to pay the King's Treasury a monetary fine for every Jew killed or maimed. Four of the town mayors, four advisors and four members of the Council of forty, whose names were to be decided by the Jews were to be punished by imprisonment for one year and six weeks.
According to the verdict the municipality was made to pay for all the damages to the synagogues, to dwellings, property, mortgages and cash, as well as for the cost of the courtcase. The Jews were promised, that in future they would own their houses and the existing synagogues that required restoration, as well as the right to rent flats in the houses of Christians.
It is not known how far the verdict was carried out. One can only surmise that a compromise was reached since the Jews had no wish to see the reciprocal relationship strained once more, especially during a period marked by religious intolerance. At Lwów the municipality forbade all Protestant worship consequently the Scottish merchants who had resided in the town for hundreds of years, were expelled. The way the Jews were treated was affected in no small measure by religious persecution, although the source of tension was not purely religious, but also economic.
It should be noted that in 1670 the Sejmik at Wisznia again debated the riots, and pleaded against the government which had not settled the matter of the destruction of the Jews evidence that the verdict had not yet been executed. After the riots the Sejmik at Halicz [Halych] demanded the punishment of the guilty of the bloodbath.
In 1669, Jan Kazimierz relinquished the throne. Mikhal Wisniowiecki [Michael I] was elected his heir, a man with liberal views but helpless at holding on to the reins of power. Immediately after his coronation all the privileges of the Jews of Poland were confirmed, including the rights of the Jews of Lwów.
What was the way of life of the Jews of Lwów during the pogroms, murder and robbery which lasted over thirty years?
The Jewish Quarter within the town remained in a state of overcrowding. The Jewish area only circumscribed 49 narrow plots of land which obliged Jews to reside also outside the Quarter. The process of leaving the Quarter started already in 1633. The population overflow moved to the community outside the town, at the Krakowite Quarter, which in time became larger than the community within the town. In the years 1648 and 1655, the community suffered greatly. Almost all the houses were burnt down in the fires that broke out, and the residents had to flee and find shelter outside the community. A great many refugees from towns, small towns and villages who had escaped from the sword of the enemies also streamed into Lwów, so that the overcrowding in the Quarter inside the town increased even further. The Jews of the suburb who were attacked by the enemies were also obliged to flee into the Jewish areas within the town, and there was no option other than to spread into the streets of the Christians, against their wishes. The townspeople considered it a breach of contracts and reacted harshly. On the 26th May 1656, under pressure from the town, King Jan Kazimierz issued a regulation according to which the Jews were not permitted to lease or rent accommodation or warehouses in the houses of Christians.
In case of contravention of the regulation the authorities were entitled to remove the Jews from the flats and to punish the Christian owners. These regulations were to no avail, since they were never kept.
The Lwów communitylife was similar to that of other communities in large towns. The control was in the hands of a circle of distinguished men who by the system of voting were assured the final say over the management of the community, and the choice of the dues collector at institutions and companies. The annual elections mostly took place during chol hamoed of Passover. There were three separate ballot boxes: in one names of the leaders, the respected, and community members called up to the Torah. In the second names of the dues collector on
|A Polish Jew|
the community boards, and in the third names of the rest of the tax payers. The beadle used to remove two slips of paper from the first ballot box, emptying the rest into the second ballot box. From it, he again removed two slips of paper, emptying the rest into the third ballot box. Lastly, two slips of paper were removed from it too. The six men whose names were extracted from the three ballot boxes were the voters, and they elected the new community leaders. Occasionally the authorities intervened in the selection of the men. There were incidences when the Jews lobbied men within the authorities to obtain jobs in the community, although according to the 1583 decision of the Council of Four Lands, the candidates for Rabbi and communityleader were forbidden from lobbying the king or the authorities.
The ruling circle usually exploited its position for its own pleasure and benefit, such as: loading the yoke of taxes on the multitude, attaining monopoly and economic advantages, legislating regulations against the admittance of foreign Jewish merchants without the permission of the monthly communityleader. Thus for instance, the community of Lwów decided that Jews who came to Lwów to trade, were not permitted to sell leather or other merchandise directly to craftsmen, or to other Christian buyers. Instead, they had to sell such items to local Jewish traders. The community issued particularly severe regulations against foreign merchants who clandestinely sold their goods to hostelries in the suburbs. The community leaders were punctilious about the economic activity of the communities in the surrounding small towns (province). They were obliged to purchase their Etrogs [Citrus fruit required for the ritual celebration of Tabernacles] at Lwów; they were forbidden from selling liquor to Christians at Lwów, and so forth. From time to time such action led to conflicts, between the representatives of the small towns and the Lwów communityleaders, at the regional committee.
Within the autonomous organization of Polish Jewry, the Lwów community was the centre of the ReissenPodoliaBraclaw province [Land]. Its communityleaders and elders were the Land leaders, mostly without any representation from the other communities in the Land. The 1692 ruling by Voivode Marek Matczynski (Clause 2), had already stated clearly that the leaders of the two communities of Lwów were the leaders of the Land, who fulfilled their roles in accordance with the set statutes and privileges.
After the massacres of 1648, the situation had completely changed. The communities of Lwów which had been gravely hit by the riots, were economically greatly depleted and consequently their controlling influence and status decreased. In contrast, the communities of Brody, Tarnopol, Buczasz [Buchach], and especially Żółkiew [Zhovkva] rose greatly after 1648.
The names are known of those communityleaders who had signed the commitment to participate in the ransom payment in 1640, of those who had signed the contract with the municipality in 1654, and of those who were murdered in the riots of 1664. The names of some of the leaders who took part in the sessions of the Council of Four Lands are also known: Rabbi Jekutiel Salman, Rabbi Aronsz of Lwów (in 1661), Rabbi Samuel ben Jakob of Lwów (in 1666), Rabbi Izak Eizyk ben Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Aronsz of Lwów (in 1667 and 1671), the son of Gaon [great scholar] Rabbi Salomon ben Reb Izak Abraham Charif (in 1672).
Almost throughout the years of the [Jewish] autonomy in Poland, Lwów was the seat of the principal dues collector for the Eretz [Erec] Israel fund. His title was President of Eretz Israel. The funds collected for Eretz Israel from the communities of Poland and Lithuania by the dues collector for Eretz Israel, were sent annually to Lublin, to the Council of Four Lands, and from there to Lwów for the President of Eretz Israel.
The Presidents known to us, apart from Rabbi Nachman ben Rabbi Izak, the founder of the old synagogue within the town, were: the renowned gaon [great scholar] Rabbi Abraham ben Rabbi Izrael Katz Rappoport Szrenzel [Schrenzel], Rabbi Abraham Fiszel ben Rabbi Cwi [Tzvi], who had been head of the rabbinic court and leader of the Council of Four Lands (he died at Lwów in 1653), and Doctor Simcha Menachem deJonah.
Among the intermediaries active at the time are known: Rabbi Szymon who together with representatives of the town, participated in the negotiations with Khmelnytsky and the intermediary Mardochaj ben Mojzesz, who conducted the 1659 negotiations of the trade contract.
The Rabbis who served within the town were: Rabbi Majer ben Abraham (of sacred lineage), in the years 16381654, the Rabbi, Reb Naftali Herz ben Judah Zelki [Selki] of Kraków, died in 1669; Rabbi Cwi [Tzvi] Hirsz ben Zacharyasz [Secharja] Mendel Klausner, in the years 16691684. Born at Kraków, he played an active role in the sessions of the Council of Four Lands. In 1684, he was elected Rabbi at Lublin and left Lwów. The community outside the town was served by the following rabbis: Rabbi Meschulam ben Abraham Askenazy was elected after the gaon Rabbi Jozue ben Rabbi Jozef, author of Megine Schlomoh, had left Lwów; Rabbi Jozef ben Eliakim Giec [Goetz], soninlaw of MaHaRaM of Lublin, died in 1652; The gaon Rabbi Dawid ben Samuel HaLevy, author of Turei Zahav, died in 1667. The last rabbi of that community was Rabbi JehudaJudel ben Mojzesz of Lublin, who died in 1697.
From 1680 onwards a single rabbi, Rabbi Mojzesz Pinkas ben Izrael served both communities. He was a native of Lwów. On his maternal side he was the greatgrandson of Rabbi Jezaja [Jesaja] Horowitz [Hurwitz]. His wife was the granddaughter of Rabbi Abraham Szrenzel Rapoport (Ethan Haezrachi). He participated in the Council of Four Lands, in 1673, 1684, 1687, 1688, 1697, 1718,
During that period the Rabbi received a weekly salary of 810 Gulden, a costfree flat, and a special pay for two homiletic sermons on Great Saturday [Shabbat Hagadol = the Sabbath before Passover] and Repentance Saturday [Shabbat T'shuva = the Sabbath between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur]. The regional Rabbi received 5 Thalers for each homiletic sermon, while the town Rabbi received 2.5 Thalers.
That period, fraught with tribulations and calamity, formed a suitable setting for the spread of Sabbataj Cwi's [Shabbatai Zevi's] movement among Poland's Jews. After the years 16481649, an anxiety spread among the Jews over the continuity of the Jewish people, and that movement which raised the hope of a return to Zion and the recovery of Jewish independence in Eretz Israel, found a response there, although its aims were not political but religiousmystical. A significant role in the successful spread of the movement lay in psychological factors. The general mood among the Jewish population was particularly suited for absorbing beliefs and mysticism. For there is no country like Poland wrote at the time the physician Tobiasz Kohn [Tuviyah Cohn or Kats] where the belief in demons, jesters, sorcery and so on, is so embedded both among the Jews and the Christians. Interestingly, when the movement first spread in Poland, those who had been most affected by it, were the respected, and heads, of the Jewish population. One of the first to set off for Constantinople was Rabbi BrachiaBirach Shapira, author of Zerah Birach [Birach's Seed], a relative and heir of Magid Mesharim [Preacher of Righteousness] at Kraków, Rabbi Natan Schapira, author of Megale Amukot [Revealer of the Depths]. From there he sent detailed information about the revelations of Shabbatai Zevi. After his demise (1666) at Constantinople, the Rabbi of Kraków, Rabbi AryehLeib ben Zacharaya Mendel (author of Tikunei Teshuva [Prayers of Repentance] in Yiddish) got in touch with the people of the messiah and disseminated the writings of Natan HaAzzati. After a while letters and leaflets reached Poland relating the miracles and wonders which Shabbatai Zevi had performed in sight of the entire Jewish community. The rumours about the messiah also spread to Lwów, and their influence was so great that the rabbi, Rabbi David HaLevy author of Turei Zahav, sent to Constantinople (Purim 1666) his son Rabbi Izajasz [Isaiah] and his stepson, Rabbi AriehLeb ben Cwi [Tzvi] Hirsch the rabbi at Komarno, to give praise and thanks to Shabbatai Zevi.
The two set out, and in June 1665 they reached the Gallipoli Fortress where they made contact with his disciple, Abraham Hichini [Yachini], and together with his prophet, Rabbi Moses Servil of Prousa [later, Bursa], they set out a second time for Gallipoli. On the 26th of July, Shabbatai Zevi granted them an audience. When they told him of the massacres and the slaughter in Poland in the years 1648 and 1649, he responded: You need not tell me anything, after all in front of me lies the book Tsuk HaItim [Distress of the Times] which contains all the massacres in all the communities. Then he added, And why am I sitting in my red robes and my Torah Book is dressed in red? For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and a year of redemption is coming. After that he divulged to them many secrets according to mysticism, and began to sing songs and praises and refrains in an alphabetical sequence. When he reached the 7th letter he cried out loudly: [Zechor aniyaii umerudai] remember my poor and my wretched and he wept profusely. He drew his visitors closer to him, held the hands of Rabbi Izajasz HaLevy and said to him: Are you the son of the author of Turei Zahav? and he replied: Yes, our lord. Then he asked Rabbi [Aryeh] Leib: Are you the son of the wife of the author of Turei Zahav? And he replied: Yes, our lord. He inquired after the elderly father, Rabbi David HaLevy, and they told him: Our lord!, our father is eighty years old with weakness in his hands and feet, and while we were at Constantinople an old man told us that he had fallen off the building, and was dying. And our lord the messiah sent him some food as medicine, and ordered to tell him that tomorrow he will walk with his stick, and that is what happened; may our lord give us something as medicine. Shabbatai Zevi gave them a piece of sugar and said: Let him eat this and he will recover
immediately. After that, he gave Rabbi Aryeh Leib a silk shirt, and told him that his father should wear it on his body and say the verse so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Rabbi Izajasz HaLevy turned to him and said: Our lord, I am his son, and his son comes first. To which Shabbatai Zevi responded in Yiddish Be quiet! Then he produced from his bag a kerchief coated in gold, and told him: Take this and tie it around your father's neck, for his greatness, dignity and splendour. And he added: The shirt in which Rabbi Leib will dress his father, is no great thing as it is solely for the body, but you will do something deserving of you, which is greatness and respect for your father. Afterwards, he ordered them to sit next to him, and a bowl full of fruit was set in front of them. He gave them two reddish gold, and after wrapping them in a gold embroidered kerchief he said: I crown you my emissaries and ministers, in this world. After some song and dance he ordered his men to go and leave him with the messengers from Poland. When they were alone, Shabbatai Zevi revealed to them great secrets according to the Kabbalah, and the two declared that we will be servants waiting upon his doors, and he replied that that was unnecessary, but that they had to deliver to their brethren good tidings, salvation and comfort. He sent a letter for their father, in which he promised to avenge the Jews' retribution, and he requested that the kabbalist, Rabbi Nehemiah HaKohen, should come to him. The two sons of Rabbi David HaLevy left him with admiration, and when they returned to Poland they spoke much about his wealth and dignity.
After their return, Nehemiah HaKohen who had prophesied that the days of the Messiah were nigh, set out to see Shabbatai Zevi. He was sent by several communities who bore his travel expenses, in order to ascertain if there was truth in the words of salvation and consolation apprised by Shabbatai Zevi. Nehemiah stayed three whole days with the messiah. The splendour and the external glory did not change his views, and he created a deep rift among the followers of Shabbatai Zevi. After a stormy argument between them, he despaired of the messiah, and when he realized that Shabbatai Zevi's men plotted to kill him, he escaped and informed the authorities of the fortress, that he wished to convert to Islam. His intension was to thwart Shabbatai Zevi, and save the Jews from the danger of the spread of his movement. At Adrianople [Edirne] he submitted his denunciation of Shabbatai Zevi as a rebel of the kingdom, which led to the final crisis before the conversion of Shabbatai Zevi to Islam.
Nehemiah HaKohen returned to Lwów, repented and returned to the bosom of Judaism. He did not talk of his plight, but only said that they should hope for the true Messiah and not for that one. The followers of Sabbateanism blamed him for bringing the great messianic awakening to a fatal end, and for causing the conversion of Shabbatai Zevi to Islam. They pursued him so far that he had to leave Lwów (1675).
Despite the deep disappointment caused by Shabbatai Zevi conversion to Islam, many in Poland remained faithful to him. It is not known how many of those were at Lwów, or what their influence was on the community.
The Sabbatean movement attracted a wide circle of people, and its extensive spread did not escape the notice of the Christians and even worried them. On the 22nd June 1666, Stanislaw Sarnowski, the bishop of Pshemish [Przemyśl] wrote a pastoral letter to his faithfuls, in which he ordered to ban the Jews from parading and distributing images of Shabbatai Zevi. In a special order of 4th May 1666, King Jan Kazimierz stressed the issue of rumours which circulated among the Jews about the appearance of their messiah (Sabbataj Cwi [Shabbatai Zevi]).
Economically, as said, there was a substantial decline after the riots. Habitually, the Jews were mainly engaged in trade, but the foreign trade which had passed through Lwów, westwards, was no longer in their hands.
In the 17th century, crafts began to occupy a major part of the economic life. In 1627, a [Jewish] tailors' association had already existed. According to its regulations, apprentices were not permitted to accept work from Christian tailors. The tailors themselves, however, employed Christian apprentices. One after the other, more craftsmen's associations were established, such as: glaziers, goldsmiths, tanners, tinsmiths and furriers who had to withstand a tough struggle from the Christian furriers. The associations were organized in the fashion of the Christian craftsmen's guilds. They had the right to judge members on professional as well as the association's issues. The legal court of the association was made up of a patron, who was usually the association's rabbi, and principal members. The association's rabbi was elected by its members and approved by the deputyvoivode. Appeals against verdicts were heard at the lawcourt of the deputyvoivode. His office oversaw the jurisdiction of the associations as well as of their administrative practice. There was even an association of pedlars.
The craftsmen had two Torahstudy schools [Batei Midrash] of their own, and one knows of synagogues and Torahstudy schools for bakers, tinsmiths, furriers, tanners and singers. They founded also their own societies, such as the Psalm Society and the Morning Guards Society.
Notes CHAPTER 7
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