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[Pages 477-478]

Architecture and Art of the Synagogues

by Jacob Pinkerfeld

Translated by Myra Yael Ecker

Edited by Karen Leon

The ancient synagogues of Lwów, both “within” and “outside the town”, were constructed in timber. Not one of them remained standing after going up in flames in the frequent fires that swept through the town. The sole remains of an ancient synagogue, a single timber beam, was uncovered when digging the foundations of a building on “The Tinsmiths” (Blacharska) Street, some fifty years ago. The beam was decorated in geometric motifs superimposed by ornamental Hebrew text. The synagogues generally were very small and belonged to craftsmen's associations, such as: tinsmiths, goldsmiths, upholsterers, purgers [of kosher meat] etc., or to the diverse charitable societies. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the last of the ancient buildings were abandoned and their worshippers moved to Cheders on the upper floors of the new Batei Midrash [Torah–study schools] that were constructed during this period.

Among the synagogues that remained until the town was invaded by the Nazis in the Second World War, the oldest was the synagogue Turei Zahav [Golden Columns] or “Golden Rose” named after the wife of Nachman ben Izak (of the Nachmanowicz family who founded the building). The synagogue Turei Zahav superseded a much earlier building, constructed in the second half of the 15th century after the great fire of 1352. When the “old synagogue” became too small to contain the worshippers of the growing community, R' Izak ben Nachman appointed the Italian architect, Paolo Romano [Paulus Romanus], engaged in the construction of buildings in the town, to erect the new synagogue.

The building constructed in 1582, consisted of a hall with a single–colonnade, almost square – measuring around 11x9 meters – with an additional corridor, due west, and two rooms situated off it. After some years, R' Izak was granted a licence to enlarge the building, but he died, and the second stage of the building was undertaken by his son, Nachman, executed by the architect Paolo Romano, in 1595.

The partitions between the corridor and the two rooms were removed and the entire space was added to the hall of the synagogue by means of three wide openings that were pierced into the western wall. On the south side, a corridor was added to the hall, replacing the deleted entrance. Part of the corridor was allocated to a prison–cell, where delinquents were locked up following the judgement by the community's law–court, that held its sessions inside the synagogue hall.

A women's section that did not exist in the earlier period of the building, was constructed over the corridor and the lower wing, due west, annexed to the hall.

In front of the synagogue lay a spacious courtyard, connected by a passage from the street through the residence of family Nachmanowicz. The entrance from the courtyard was via the southern corridor that led to the lower wing of the hall. From here the hall was visible through the three wide openings that formed a kind of frame. The roof of the hall was made up of a series of Gothic domes. Along the symmetrical axes of all four walls, windows were pierced in their upper half, two on every side that spread magnificent light into the inner space. The high windows that terminated in pointed arches, were also in the Gothic style. The surprising aspect about this building constructed by an Italian architect during the period of the Renaissance, was that the other buildings he had constructed in town followed the style of the period. In my view, the deviation from convention rested on the instructions that the architect was given, to maintain the tradition and the architectural details of the old synagogue that the initiators still had in their mind's eye.

The hall's splendour rested on its wide Bimah [raised platform in the synagogue for reading from the Torah] situated at its centre. The Bimah's balustrades and its upper structure were made of beaten sheet–metal decorated in motifs of lions, ornamental plants and geometry. The stairs' banister leading up to the Holy Ark was also crafted of similar sheet metal.

Entirely different was the appearance of the two “great” synagogues, the one in the Kraków suburb, and the one in town – both from the seventeenth century. The period between the mid sixteenth century and the end of the eighteenth, was generally fertile for progression in the architecture of synagogues. Because of the improved economic condition in Poland and the wider autonomy of the Council of Four Lands during

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this period, independent architectural styles shaped the internal space of the synagogue. The most interesting among the stone built synagogues was the type with a centralized form, square on plan, with four columns that supported nine domed “areas”. In the central area bound by the four columns, was placed the Bimah, the dominant element in the space.

Among the oldest synagogues was the synagogue “outside the town” of Lwów, which was constructed in 1632. Its four heavy pillars, 1.13 meters thick, were built in ashlar. The flank of the square hall measured 20 meters, and its height almost 11 meters. Along all walls – at mid height – was a frieze of false arches, a motif very common to this type of synagogue in Poland.

Almost one of a kind (a second known example is the synagogue of Zamość [Zamoshtsh]) was the construction of the high gallery for the boys' choir, supported by the south facing wall. A ladder with 15 steep risers and a single handrail near the wall, led up there. The galleries of the women's section were built above the entrance area, along the entire western wall, and the two sides of the hall.

After the synagogue “outside the town” was constructed, the synagogue within the town–walls was built at 54 Boimów Street. In 1797, the building was demolished by order of the authorities, for fear of collapse, and was re–erected in 1801. The internal space of this synagogue mirrored almost exactly the form of the old synagogue outside the town–walls.

Besides these three synagogues, there were scores of small synagogues, prayer Cheders and [Batei Midrash] Torah–study schools. Architecturally noteworthy among these are two large Torah–study schools built in the 18th century; one within the town and the other in the Kraków suburb. Both had large domed halls with heavy vaults on the ground floor, that also contained great libraries. On the upper floors were the prayer rooms of craftsmen's societies and associations that had moved there from the old timber buildings that had been vacated during the previous era.

In 1848, as assimilation started to spread among certain circles of Lwów's Jews, the synagogue of the “Enlightened” known as “the Temple,” was constructed. Its building illustrated the gradual severance from the architectural tradition of synagogues from earlier periods. This is evident in the layout of the space. Although the large, domed building had a centralized form, externally, this was not followed consistently inside the hall. The Bimah was not in its natural place at the centre of the hall underneath the dome, instead, it was placed in front of the Holy Ark's dais,


Dr. Oswald Hönigsman


and was reduced to a set table. The influence of Christian church architecture was further evident with the introduction of the preacher's dais in the form of a small high balcony [pulpit] near the northern wall. From the pulpit the rabbis delivered their sermons on the Sabbaths and holidays, intermittently in Polish and German. The women's section stretched along three sides of the wide hall, on two upper galleries. The top level, facing the Holy Ark, was occupied by the mixed choir and the organ.

Lwów's synagogues were distinguished by the abundance of Torah–scrolls and their decorations – crowns, salvers and Yads [pointers for Torah–scroll reading] Parochets [ornamental curtain in front of the Holy Ark in a synagogue] etc. An idea of the extent of the treasures in past centuries, can be deduced from the list of items of which the synagogues had been robbed during the riots of 1664: from the synagogue outside the town, 72 Torah–scrolls; 24 Keters [crowns], 60 Parochets, and from Nachmanowicz's synagogue, 65 Torah–scrolls, 34 Keters, 12 Parochets and 136 Torah–scrolls coats etc.

A large number of magnificent copper chandeliers hung from the vaults; light reflectors adorned with flora and fauna ornaments and even human figures decorated the walls. It is worth noting that two of the large, shallow copper and silver bowls at the Nachmanowicz synagogue, illustrated the spies carrying bunches of grapes, and another bowl illustrated Adam and Eve next to the tree of knowledge.

The bibliographical list offers extensive historical and illustrative material about Lwów's synagogues.

All notes in square brackets [ ] were made by the translator.


Dr. Majer Balaban: Zydzi lwowscy na przelomie XVI go i XVII go wieku. Lwów 1906.
Dr. Majer Balaban: Dzielnica zydowska, jej dzieje i zabytki. (Biblioteka Lwowska V/VI), Lwów 1909.
Dr. Alfred Grotte: Deutsche böhmische und polnische Synagogentypen vom XI. bis Anfangs des XIX. Jahrhunderts. (Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft zur Erforschung jüdischer Kunstdenkmäler in Frankfurt am Main VII/VIII 1915.
Rocznik Architektoniczny Uczniow prof. Szyszko–Bohusza w Szkole Politechnicznej Lwowskiej. 1913–14.
Dr. Jan Sas–Zubrzycki: Zabytki Miasta Lwowa. Lwów 1928.

[Pages 481-482]

Chassidism and Lwów's Community

by M. S. Geshuri [Bruckner]

Translated by Myra Yael Ecker

Edited by Karen Leon


What role did the Jewish Lwów play in the dissemination of Chassidism, and in its conquest struggles? Writers on the history of the Baal Shem Tov hardly mentioned whether he had visited Lwów, and only legend relates his participation in the (1759) Lwów debate between the Rabbis and the Frankists in front of Lwów's Archbishop, which, according to the pamphlet by R' Abraham of Szarogród, “A terrible incident in Podolia” (in the collected anthology from ancient books, Altona, 1769), was attended by the Land's rabbi, R' Chaim Rappoport, by R' Ber of Jazlowiec [Yazlovets] and by R' Izrael of Miedzybóz [Medschybisch], blessed be his name. Based on the minutes from the official meetings, Majer Balaban determined that none of the Polish sources made any mention of the Baal Shem Tov at this debate.

For scores of years, in the days of the Baal Shem Tov and the Podolia centre, Chassidism spread through Galicia and captivated most of the small communities and even spread into the larger communities of east-Galicia. Burgeoning Chassidism was noted at Lwów and Brody in the days of the Maggid of Mezeritch [Miedzyrzec Korecki], when his Galician disciples returned home.

R' Juda-Leib, “The Mochiach [preacher] of Polonnoye [Polonne]” (died 1770), as the Chassidim termed the disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, purposely chose for his first outing as a Chassidic Mochiach, Lwów, which was full of scholars and rabbis who at the time ruled it with no restrictions, and precisely at the great synagogue, where not every preacher and Mochiach was granted the privilege to stand on the Bimah [raised platform in a synagogue, used when reading from the Torah]. The Chassidic legend [Aggadah] recounts at length the Mochiach's endeavours to hold a sermon at Lwów's Great Synagogue in the presence of the community elders headed by the Rabbi. The sermon that focused on the sayings of the Baal Shem Tov, “greatly pleased them.” He managed to win the community's affections for Chassidism, and the Rabbi invited him into his home, to have him as a guest for three weeks. But it did not come to pass: the Rabbi died shortly after.

The objection of Lwów's rabbis to Chassidism, continued even after it had made great strides in Galicia. The Kraków community's decision of 10th October 1784 against the Chassidim, forbade any deviation from the instructions of Rabbi Mojzesz Isserles, or to change the style of prayer, or alter the customary tunes and pray while shaking, included among its signatories, Rabbi Izak ben Mardechaij HaLewi of Lwów,[1] who led the rabbinate of Kraków in 1776-1798. Still, the Kraków decision could not change the facts on the ground, and victory was with Chassidism.

But the objection of Galicia's rabbis to Chassidism was as nothing compared to the fight against it by the rabbis of Lithuania. The rift between them and Chassidism was not so deep, as most of Galicia's Chassidim and Tzadikim were engaged in the Torah. When the Tzadik R' Izrael of Ruzhyn came to Galicia, the scholars marvelled at him: Is this the man who does not read and does not study, who arouses the realm of Chassidism? They watched him and his followers with ridicule and derision. They wished to hear him elaborate on the Torah and to follow his doing as they were ready to watch and listen to the Galician Tzadikim. They were not satisfied with expressions derived purely from internal faith. This treatment of R' Izrael was expressed in the widespread legend: Once, R' Izrael came to Lwów and visited the Head of the Beth-Din, the renowned great scholar Rabbi Jakub Meszulam Ornstein. The Rabbi was convinced that they would discuss new Torah interpretations. However, the first words of R' Izrael were: What do they use for roofing, in Lwów? The great scholar replied: iron bars. The man from Ruzhyn responded: why? after all bricks are strong too, and aren't affected by fire? After R' Izrael left him, the Rabbi chuckled and said: Is this the man who spurs the world and its inhabitants and attracts flocks of Chassidim? The Tzadik Majer of Przemyslany [Peremyshliany], who at the time was at Lwów and was told of the conversation, said: The great scholar missed the meaning when the Tzadik of Ruzhyn wisely asked: Just as the roof covering protects the entire house, so the Rabbi has to defend the entire town, and he requires a breakable heart, just like bricks that break easily, rather than the toughness of iron bars. .

The great scholar, Rabbi Jakub Meszulam Ornstein (author of Jeschies Jacow [Yeshu'ot Ja'akov]) himself, was an ardent opposer of Chassidism, while his only son, R' Mardechaj Zew joined Chassidism. R' Mardechaj Zew

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invoked fear in the public, and although he grew closer to the Chassidim, he detested the Tzadik R' Izrael of Ruzhyn.

The great scholar Rabbi Józef Saul Natansohn who served on Lwów's rabbinate, proclaimed everywhere that he opposed Chassidism and hated the Chassidim, and protested that Chassidism underestimated the Torah.

During the time of Rabbi Józef Saul Natansohn, the Tzadik of Belz did not dare come to Lwów, following the Rabbi's warning that he should not enter the town. And although the Rabbi had no authority to withhold entry from Lwów, the Tzadik of Belz took heed in order not to provoke him. When he was in the vicinity of Lwów he stayed outside the town, and his well-wishers went to welcome him. The Chassidim did not dare cross the Rabbi, and in their conversations they referred to him as “The Rabbi, long may he live.” And in respect of the dispute between him and the R' of Belz, they said with humility: Best not to put our heads in between two big mountains.

Apart from Lwów's rabbis who detested Chassidism and objected to it, opponents also came to Lwów from elsewhere, further inflaming the fight. The preacher of the opposers, Israel Löbel, author of Sepher Vikuach [Book of Polemics], caused outrage with his sermons and his books, and he mockingly critiqued the Chassidism's books Tzava'at HaRabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov [The Testament of the Baal Shem Tov] and Keser Schem Tow [Crown of Shem Tov]. He arrived in Galicia from Warsaw, to disseminate his books against Chassidism. Because his activities had failed at Rzeszów [Resche], where the authorities disrupted the distribution of his books, at Lwów he was on his guard not to disseminate his books among the Chassidim, and even in his sermons he avoided mentioning them, preaching instead on morals in general. Nevertheless, his stratagems were to no avail. Lwów's government officials removed his books and kept them. The preacher Israel Löbel submitted a written protest to the authorities and dared submit a petition to Kaiser Franz, and was even granted an audience with the Kaiser to hand him his petition in person. The results of the enquiry were severe for the Chassidim: a total ban on the public meetings of Chassidim was enacted throughout the lands of Poland under Austrian rule, and several leaders of the Chassidim left their abodes and moved to districts of Poland and Warsaw “Until the wrath had passed.”

In those days, the fight of the Chassidim with the opposers, and of the Enlightened with the Charedim [ulta-Orthodox], took place within Bet HaMidrash [Torah-study school], the community hall or the Street of the Jews. However, the differences between the Charedim and Lwów's rabbis had subsided, and in the fight against the Maskilim [Enlightened], they joined forces and reconciled in order to form a united front against their joint foe – Haskalah [Enlightenment]. Rabbi Szymon Sofer [Schreiber], head of Kraków's rabbinical court, son of the great scholar Rabbi Moses Sofer (Chatam Sofer [Scribe's Seal]) of Pressburg [Bratislava], came and united the Orthodox with the Chassidim. The rabbis, who did not acknowledge Tzadikim, and always pitied the honour of their teachings, joined them so that the Orthodox and the Chassidim formed a single alliance.



With the blurring of the boundaries between Chassidism and the rabbinate, and after the differences between them waned, the Chassidim and the rabbis vowed a joint war against the Haskalah, which they considered a movement set to slay the soul of the Jewish People and wipe it out. Enlightenment and Chassidism could not coexist, despite the fact that the Hebrew Enlightened aspired to “combine wisdom with faith.” Chassidism clung to the love of the Jewish People and to the affection for Zion and Jerusalem, and it drew its strength from the Kabbalah, while the Haskalah demanded a scientific-critical approach to everything. Lwów was one of the towns where the conflict between Chassidism and the Haskalah had led to boycotts on both sides, the religious fanaticism increased in the Chassidic camp, and the fight reached the peak.

The Maskilim viewed Chassidism externally, without comprehending its social roots. They despised Chassidism which formed a stumbling block to the spread of the Haskalah, and hatred blinded them from seeing the positive aspect of Chassidism.

The Maskilim triumphed as the Austrian Kaiser, Joseph II, and with his authorisation – the school headmaster, Naftali Herz [Herc] Homberg, implemented coercive means to instil Enlightenment among the Jews and turn them into so called “useful” citizens.

Lwów had a Maskilim circle. The wealthy and freethinking Juda Leib Mieses [Miezes]; Tzvi [Cwi] Natkes, known by the Orthodox as “the false prophet” because he brought examples from the Books of Prophets to substantiate his preaching about Enlightenment; Izak Erter; Salomon Jehudah Rappoport [Shir] etc. In the custom of the Maskilim, they used to meet and criticise, the delusions of the Chassidim whose numbers rose in Galicia at the time, and the ignorance of the rabbis and the Torah teachers, and they attracted the young men who crowded the Torah-study school and spurred them to research wisely, to study the Bible and grammar, foreign languages and read Enlightenment books. They educated, free of charge, all those craving for wisdom.

Juda Leib Mieses, born at Lwów in 1798, was one of the extreme polemicists who fought Chassidism with excessive severity. In his book Kinath Haemeth [Kin'at HaEmet; The True Zealousness] (Vienna 1828), he attacked the bastion of Chassidim that he despised, by expressing his opinions on reforming the religion, and he spoke much on the need to reform the Jewish prayer and the need to do away with the reciting of liturgical poems and so on. He preached for war against the belief in spirits, devils

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and witchcraft that had gathered strength among the people, with the spread of the “Baal Shem Tovist sect.” The book made a great impression among the circles of the Maskilim and the Charedim, and enraged most of the Chassidim. However they feared him and did not harm him even though he fought them furiously, and specifically forbade any fight against the rabbis. He published Dawid Caro's book, Techunath HaRabanim [The Rabbis' Trait], with supplements and corrections. This book started the war of the Maskilim against the rabbis, and it besmirched them with such expressions as “the rejectors of wisdom and the contemptuous of reason,” whose language “is wild, spent and distorted,” and who only know how to further tighten restrictions.

Salomon Jehudah Rappoport, who hailed from Lwów, also wrote a pamphlet, Ner Mitzvah [Mitzvah Candle], that he intended to publish, but for fear of the “sanctimonious” it remained in manuscript form and was only published after his death (Nachlat Jehudah [Yehudah's Legacy] 1863). Shir served as treasurer and trustee for the leasing of the [Kosher] meat tax, it provided him with an income for some 25 years, at Lwów, until receiving the position with the Tarnopol rabbinate. Joseph Perl of Tarnopol used to visit the towns of Galicia for the purpose of trade, including Lwów, and here he was negatively affected by the Haskalah. Born into an Orthodox family, he adhered to Chassidism which led to his extensive knowledge of Chassidic literature and of the Chassidim's lives. And this Chassid turned into a Maskil, who hated Chassidism and even wrote a couple of satires about it: Megaleh Tamirin [Detector of Secrets] and Bochen Zadik [Tzadik Examiner], choosing satire as his fighting weapon against Chassidism and fanaticism, and against ignorance and the declining standards that had permeated the Jewish population. Perl aimed his spears of satire at the Chassidim and the fanatics whom he considered to be “walking in darkness and fighting the light.” He published his books at Lwów.

Dr. Izak Erter (1791-1851), a cousin of Joseph Perl, even surpassed him in the field of satire. In one of his satires, Chassidut VeChochmah [Chassidism and Wisdom], he joked about the Chassidim who, “like the beast in the field,” will follow and be attracted by the “Rebbes” and the “Tzadikim” who deceived with their cunning and mischief. Perl found the remedy for Chassidism in the sciences. He did not spare his tongue-lashing from the assimilating Maskilim, however. Izak Erter also joked about the cantors, who, without harmony, produced a mixture of voices, roaring like lions while supporting their windpipes with their fingertips, cheating the people in their fictitious righteousness, while drinking spirits with hollow, rash people and with actresses and also “spiced wine they slake and delicacies sate them at the honour of every wedding and every circumcision.” This criticism was not levelled at the simple, popular prayer leader who, in a voice that choked back tears and with a pure heart and devotion to God, begged for mercy on his senders, nor was it levelled at the cantor who was familiar with the music, who sang with a choir accompanied by an organ, but at the cantor who was not a “prayer leader” nor was he even able to read music, a passing individual common in Galicia at the time, was the subject of his wrath.

The ire of fanaticism attacked Erter and his colleagues. Rabbi Jakob Ornstein published a warning that the Maskilim: Shir, Erter and so on, were inciters and agitators, and that one had to distance oneself from them because they were to be considered banned and ostracised. The boycott was soon annulled due to the Austrian government's intervention. Meanwhile however, Erter was deprived of his livelihood when parents stopped sending their children to “the inciting and agitating” teacher, and he was obliged to leave Lwów.

Salomon Jehudah Rappoport had a friend and helper in a high ranking officer at the Lwów bureau of the Kaiser's Governor. He was a righteous among the nations, and without any prompting, he assisted the Maskilim and charged their persecuting fanatics for the insults. In time, he was appointed the Tarnopol Land-Minister, and he protected Salomon Jehudah Rappoport for as long as he served as rabbi in that town. So when Shir was boycotted at Lwów, he went to demand satisfaction for the insult at the Maskilim. Rabbi Jakub Ornstein was forced to proclaim the boycott annulled, by order of the government, which forced the Rabbi to hold a sermon at the synagogue and say that there was no boycott and no ban, but rather, that Shir and his colleagues had to be treated with respect. It was said that Rabbi Jakub Ornstein fell ill with grief. The Maskilim won the “boycott,” but were on the losing side in their fight against the Chassidim.

R' Nachman Krochmal who resided at Żółkiew but frequently visited Lwów and influenced his Maskilim colleagues, was also subject to the zealots' anger. They declared that as he was on friendly terms with the Karaites' “Chacham,” he had abandoned the ways of the Torah. R' Nachman Krochmal published an “apology” in which he refuted the accusations of his opponents from the “sect of the sanctimonious,” who were themselves persecuted, and “having attained power their courage rose to the point of corruption, and may the Lord save us from a persecuted who has turned persecutor.” But only few had R' Nachman Krochmal's moral courage, as many among the Maskilim were affected by the Charedim's persecutions and rejoined the circles of the Chassidim, with their joy-filled homes: The chassidic students rejoiced, told miraculous anecdotes, imbibed “Tikun,” danced and sang because “the Rebbe ordered to be happy.” Those Maskilim unable to withstand the pressure, retraced their steps and rejoined the Chassidim circles. Even one of Salomon Jehudah Rappoport's loyal relations, Samuel Byk, abandoned the Haskalah and declared his sympathy for the “sanctimonious,” he spoke with reverence about the Tzadikim and the Chassidim. Byk concluded that love of the Jewish People took precedence over the Haskalah, and that it was preferable to join the Chassidim in their ardent,

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communal faith, and to write in Yiddish for the community, than to copy the Gentiles and engage in their wisdom and remove oneself from the Jewish People. The move by Byk, one of the greatest Maskilim and writers, threw confusion among the helpless Maskilim in face of the Chassidim who started to make demands everywhere. There were many reasons why the Enlightenment backslid in Galicia in face of Chassidism, only at Lwów did it hold fast.

In (5600) 1839-40, Lwów's Enlightened built the new “Temple.” The Chassidim did much, however, to disrupt its construction. Every night, Belz and Sacz [Sanz] Chassidim demolished whatever had been built, smashing the stones, splitting the quicklime and shattering the building tools so that eventually the building constructors had to appoint soldiers for security. Only when the zealots realised that they would be unable to attack the building, did they decide to take revenge on its principal promoter, Rabbi Abraham Kohn.

At the end of the nineteenth century the struggle between the Maskilim –or the “Germans”– and between the Chassidim, over the governing of the community, gathered force.

For long, the leadership was in the hands of the Maskilim. And then the Chassidim attempted to wrestle it out of their hands. The Maskilim noticed that the majority of the community was attracted to R' Szymon Sofer [Schreiber] and to the Tzadik of Belz. So they made changes to the community rules in order to keep hold of the leadership. It did not work, however. The Chassidim won the elections. The Maskilim found fault with the elections, declared them invalid, and the fight started again, leading to the Maskilim's victory with help from the satirical pamphlets written by a young Maskil, member of the Szomer Izrael Association. The Maskilim attributed the defeat of the Chassidim to this young man's messages.


Lwów was acclaimed for the printing houses where Bibles and books of scholarly literature were published, thus greatly enriching Jewish literature. The printing houses quietly pursued their “sacred work” without a tremor.

In (5548) 1787, a year after the demise of the Tzadik of Lizhensk [Lezajsk], R' Elimelech [Weisblum], his son R' Eliezer published at Lwów the book Noam Alimelech [Elimelech's Grace] that caused quite a stir among the opposers. The Chassidim, on the other hand, received the book with much joy, and for several years the book was published numerous times and was found in almost every house, turning it into a masterpiece of Chassidism.

After the publication of the book Noam Alimelech, there was a ten years' lull in the publication of Chassidic books at Lwów, and the list of the published Chassidic books, by subject, were as follows:

  1. Books of Legend, or Righteous Lives of the Chassidim: Vikucha Rabba [–ben HaChassid LaMitnaged; Great polemics–between the Chassid and the opposer] (5627) 1866-7; Maggid Sichot [Jewish mystical preacher of discourse] (Chassidic Discourses of MoHaRaN [R' Nachman] of Braclaw [Bratslav]), Lwów (5622) 1861-2; Sichot MoHaran [R' Nachman's Discourses], Lwów (5620) 1859-60; Schewuche Huran [Praises of HuRan; probably MoHaRaN] (5624) 1863-4; Jeme Mahrnat [The days of Mahrnat; MoHaRaN] Lwów (5636) 1875-6; Seider HaDores MiTalmideh HaBaal Shem Tov [Genealogy by the Disciples of the Baal Shem Tov] Lwów (5625) 1864-5; Shivchei HaRav [The Rabbi's Praise] [published] by Michael Levi [Rodkinson] Frumkin, Lwów (5624) 1863-4; Adas Zadikim [Edat Tzadikim; Congregation of the Righteous] by the above mentioned, Lwów (5625) 1864-5; Sipurei Zadikim [Tzadikim's Tales] by the above mentioned, Lwów (5624) 1863-4; Maseh Zadikim [Tzadikim's Events], Lwów (5625) 1864-5; Kahal Chassidim [Chassidic community], Lwów (5626) 1865-6.M.
  2. 2. Books of Chassidic Theory: The righteous' anthology by four of the close followers in God's true path: the Baal Shem Tov; the Maggid [R' Dov Ber] of Mezhirichi [Miedzyrzecz Korecki]; R' Menachem Mendel of Przemyslany; and R' Jechiel Michal of Jampol [Yampol], Lwów (5552) 1791-2; Tzavaat HaRiBaSh [Testament of R' Israel Baal Shem Tov], Lwów (5622) 1861-2; Tanya [fundamental text of Chabad Chassidic philosophy] by R' Schneur Zalman of Lyady, Lwów (5624) 1863-4; Darke Cejdek [Darchei Tzedek VeHanhagot Yesharot; Righteous Ways and Honest Leadership] written by R' Zecharjasz Mendel of Jaroslaw, Lwów, (5556) 1795-6; Keduschas Lewi [Kedushat Levy; The Sanctity of Levy] by R' Lewi Izak of Berdyczów [Barditchev] about “Pirkei Avot,” Lwów (5623) 1862-3; Yismach Lev [Gladdened Heart] by R' Nachum of Chernobyl, Lwów, 1848; Or HaMair [The Shining Light] by R' Zeev Wolf of Zytomierz [Zhytomyr], Lwów (5620) 1859-60; Mevaser Zedek [Herald of righteousness], by R' Issachar-Bär of Zloczów [Zolochiv], Lwów (5610) 1849-50; Or HaGanuz [Light of the Secreted] (Elucidation of the Tanya Book), Lwów (5611) 1850-51; Or Torah or Mze Torah [Torah Light] by the Maggid of Mezeritch, Lwów (5623) 1862-3; Darke Jescharim [The Ways of the Righteous] (The Guidance of R' Mendel of Przemyslany), Lwów (5622) 1861-2; Likute MoHuRaN, Lwów (5636) 1876; Likute T'philos [Prayers Compilation] by R' Nachman of Niemirów [Nemyriv], Lwów 1876; Sipirei Masioth [Fairytales] by R' Nachman of Braclaw, in Hebrew and Yiddish, Lwów (5662) 1902; Ner Mizwe veToras Or [Candle of Good-Deed and Torah of Light] by the “Middle” Admor of Lyubavitsh, Lwów (5620) 1860; Avodas Halewi [Work of HaLevi] by Ahron HaLewi of Stashelye, Lwów (5602) 1842; Kle HaRoim [The Seers' Tools] by R' Zevi Elimelech Szapira of Dinów [Dinov], Lwów (5609) 1848-9; Igereth Hakodesch [Sacred Episle] Lwów (5619) 1858; Likute Remal MeSasów [Anthology of Rebbe Mojzesz Leib of Sasów] (5633) 1873; Muer Weschumesch [Maor veShemesb; Light and Sun] by Kalonymus Kalman Epstein of Kraków, Lwów (5620) 1859; Kesones Pasim [Kutonet Passim; Striped Gown] by R' Izak Jozef HaKohen from Polonnoye, Lwów 1866 (5626); Likutei Schoschanim [Anthology of Roses] R' Mojzesz Cwi [Tzvi] of Sawran [Savran], Lwów 1874; Derech Chasidim [Chassidic Path] An Anthology arranged alphabetically, Lwów (5636) 1876; Scheiret Israel [The Remainder of Israel] by R' [of] Wieledniki [Novi Velidnyky] with consent of the great scholar Rabbi Jozef Saul Natansohn and an introduction by the publisher and arranger Michael Lewi, Lwów (5624) 1864; Bozina Dinhora by R' Boruch of Miedzybóz, Lwów (5640) 1879.
Lwów became the prime source for the dissemination of Chassidism books to Russia and Poland.

The Maskilim, however, did not sit idly either, and from time to time they printed at Lwów a polemic book or pamphlet, such as Megalle Temirin by Joseph Perl, Lwów, 1864; Kinath HaEmeth by Juda Leib Mieses, Lwów, 1879; Orot MeOfel [Lights from darkness] (about R' DovBer Friedman of Sadagura [Sadigura; Sadhora]) by M. Ornstein, Lwów, (5642) 1882.

At a certain point, the printing of Chassidic books at Lwów was confronted with a serious obstacle in the form Tarla, a one-time Maskil, later converted to Christianity, who was appointed principal censor over the publication of Hebrew language books in Galicia, and he avenged himself on the Chassidim for the dispute he had had with the Rabbi of Belz. For as long as the publication of [Hebrew] books

[Pages 489-490]

required his approbation, he did not permit the printing of Chassidic books in Galicia, and he even ensured that books printed abroad be confiscated. Tarla had belonged to the circle of Shir's Maskilim and his friends, having converted to Christianity he nonetheless continued to frequent Shir's home and spend time with the Maskilim.

Most of Lwów's Jews were God fearing and observant, but there were also Enlightened Jews who had given up the encumbrance of the Mitzvot, not overtly, but privately. Very few at Lwów belonged to the faction of the Chassidim. Within the town there was just one Kloyz, prayer-house of the Chassidim, where prayer followed the Sephardi style, however its worshippers were not disciples of a particular “Rebbe,” and as most of them were merchants who regularly travelled to the capital, Vienna, they were referred to as: They are not Sadigura Chassidim nor Belz Chassidim, but Vienna Chassidim… These Chassidim were congenial, and did not envy anyone. Outside the town there were one or two Kloyzes too, and their Chassidim were largely disciples of the Belz Rebbe, and they held no sway.[2]

On the Sabbaths, High days and holidays the prayer-houses were filled with loud Chassidic chants in the style of their respective Tzadikim's houses. And they nurtured first rate “prayer leaders” who filled an important role in the town's religious life.[3]


All notes in square brackets [ ] were made by the translator.
[The spelling of names was mainly taken from publications by Dr. M. Balaban, names/titles were added as they were spelt at Lwów at the time.
The spelling of printed works were taken from the title page of the actual publication, where ever possible.]

Original footnotes

  1. Grandson of Jozue [Joshua] Reizes [Reices] who was executed by fire at Lwów in 1728. Return
  2. For Chassidic Kloyzes and prayerhouses– see article by Z. Zohar. Return
  3. See article on Cantoring. Return


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