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[Page 432]

Cover Pages of Old Books, Documents and Certificates

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Donated by Anita Frishman Gabbay



History of
Decrees Against Jews
Second booklet
By Ch. Y. Gurland
Printed by Yosef Fiszerv 5649 (1889)

[Page 433]

The Tribulations of the Times


This is a memorial to the difficulties and tribulations that we endured year by year from the years Tach and Tat[1]. For the two tails of the firebrands[2], with sharp swords. Had we not had some survivors, we might have all be destroyed, Heaven forbid. Therefore, so that the last generation will not forget, someone unique in his community arose and ??? of the thousands of victims, whose souls were for pillage. The author is the exalted Torah scholar, Rabbi Meir the son of Rabbi Shmuel of Szczebrzeszyn[3].

[Page 434]

Two compositions included in this book in photocopy. These are:

  1. Tzuk Haittim [the Tribulations of the Times], by Reb Meir the son of Reb Shmuel of Szczebrzeszyn, first printing, the year Krakow, 5410.
  2. Yaven Metzula [Deep Mud], by Rabbi Natan Nota Hanover, first printing, Venice, 5413.

Tzuk Haittim was reprinted in Salonika in 5412; in Venice in 5416 in the name of Yehoshua the son of Rav David of Lwów, omitting the name of the actual author; in the book of Ch. Y. Gurland, The Decrees against the Jews, fourth notebook, Krakow 5649. A. Yaari (Kiryat Sefer, 5698 – 1938, 375–377) he compares the Salonika edition to the Krakow edition (from Gurland), and the Venice edition, and comes to the following conclusions: 1) The Salonika edition is more precise than the Krakow edition (transcribed by Gurland). Whomever from now on comes to prepare a scholarly edition of Tzuk Haittim must rely on the Salonika edition, which is more precise. 2) The Venice edition was not transcribed from the Krakow edition, but rather from the second edition that was printed in Salonika. On the other hand, Y. Heilprin is of the opinion (Tzion Koh, 5720 – 1960, page 17) that 3) Gurland's Krakow edition is not sufficiently precise, and there is room to go back and test the conclusions arrived to by A. Yaari –– –– regarding the quality of the later editions and their common qualities –– –– the prefaces of the author and the “lawgiver” and several “fine versions” that Yaari notes in two later editions, and are not noted by Gurland. Therefore, he concluded that which he concluded. Both are found in the Krakow edition itself.

Yaven Metzula again appeared in its original, as well as in translation into several languages and in several editions. A popular edition appeared in the year 5705 (1945) with vowel marks and commentary by Y. Heilprin. It includes a literary introduction by Y. Pichman, and was published by Hakibutz Hameuchad.

[Page 435]

Translator's note: The photocopy on this page is uncaptioned. The top line is “In old Szczebrzeszyn.” The text is written in “Rashi script” and is seemingly meant as an illustration of a page of one of the two aforementioned books.

[Page 436]

Kol Mevaser (In place of the introduction)


Ch. Y. G. (Gurland) says:

Today I present before you, erudite reader, the third booklet of my large book: History of the Decrees Against the Jews, including a collection of all the books, articles, and memories, as well as all the dirges, penitential prayers, petitions, etc. that I have found and that I will still find – with the help of the Living G–d – in our vast literature, whether in print or in manuscript, relating to the decrees of Tach ve Tat during the days of Bogdan Chmiel and Ivan Gonta[4] in the year 5525 (1654)[5].

The first booklet includes: a) Slaughter in Uman during the time of Gonta in the year 5525; 2) for the decree during the time of Chmiel in the years Tach ve Tat (1648–1649); 3) Two dirges and a prayer for the aforementioned decrees; d) Leket VeShichecha, or various matters relating to those decrees[6].

The second booklet includes: a) Tzaar Bat Rabim [Agony of the Many] by Reb Avraham the son of Reb Shmuel Ashkenazi of blessed memory, who lived during the times of those decrees, with notes and commentary; b) appendixes dealing with Sam Hachayim [Potion of Life] by Reb Avraham Ashkenazi Opitiker from the community of Wolodimir in the State of Wolhyn (Prague, 5350); on the book Shivrei Luchot by the Gaon Rabbi Yechiel Michel the son of Rabbi Eliezer who was killed in the large, holy community of Nemirov (Lublin 5560); and on the book Yaven Metzula by Rabbi Moshe the son of Rabbi Avraham (Amsterdam, 5516)[7].

The third booklet, the one before you, delve into it, direct your wise eyes onto all its matters and chapters in general, and on the first article – the petition of Rabbi Moshe Nalel of blessed memory in particular – and you will hear new things, even hidden things that the ancient researches did not imagine[7]. And behold, oh reader, if you like the book and value the history of our people, I will tell you pleasant news,

[Page 437]



for after a search and great effort, I succeeded in dredging up a very precious stone from the sea of forgetfulness, I aroused myself to obtain and understand the pages properly, and the ideas in the precious book, one of a kind, that is not well known in our literature and among our people, called

Tzuk Haittim [The Tribulations of the Times][8][9]

A long book in poetic style about the decrees of the years Tach veTat by Re Meir the son of Reb Shmuel. Even though this book was published 238 years ago (Krakow…) it is more precious than pearls, literally like a … And the book Tzuk Haittim that is still in circulation and has very little essence, by Reb Yehoshua the son of Reb David of Lvov (Venice, 5416), is a complete forgery. For this man took all the words of Reb Meir and reworked it on his own accord. He is enwrapped in a stolen tallis, while calling out loud Shema Yisrael. So that people will not discover his travesty, he calls out before his readers and in his introduction Hamechokek, so that no one can change the headings at the beginning of the book. Instead of the true author, Meir the son of Shmuel, may the memory of the holy be blessed, he writes Yehoshua the son of the Gaon Rabbi David, may the memory of the holy be blessed. Thus, I will expose his forgery at length in my introduction to the book that will be printed in the fourth booklet, G–d willing[10].

Finally, I state today, to repeat my request multiple time that I already presented[11] to the rabbis and scholars who live and preach in our country and abroad, that they would do good to grant me of their munificence, that is the faithful transcriptions of the ledgers of their communities, of the memories of the life of their communities, and of the gravestones in the cemeteries of their cities, for the most part or a smaller part, regarding the decrees discussed in them – and I will thank them from the depths of my heart, and bless them with the threefold blessing from our pure, holy Torah. May they be blessed.

Odessa, the last day of Chanukah.

Ch. Y. Gurland

[Page 438]

{Uncaptioned: The introduction.}

[Page 439]


Hebrew University – the Department of the History of the People of Israel

Booklets for Students – Sources and Research

Rabbi Meir of Szczebrzeszyn     Rabbi Natan Nota Hanover:

Stories of the Decrees of the years Tach ve Tat

Jerusalem, 5725 (1965)

[Page 440]



Pleasant words, sweeter than honey for the old and young, simple explanations, innuendoes, explanations, investigations, strong warnings, which are beneficial and in good taste, and have an abundance of properness, wisdom, and understanding, equal to every person.

(In the words of our rabbi, the author, in his introduction)

Drawn and taken wholly from the holy book of the Zohar

By the wholesome scholar and kabbalist

Rabbi Yissachar Ber the son of Rabbi Naftali Katz, may the memory of the holy be blessed.

Author of Matanat Kehuna on the Midrash Rabba

The student of the Rema, may the memory of the holy be blessed

Divided into seventeen sections

And he called this composition by the name

Mareh Kohen

(The find is very precious, as it has not been published for 300 years)

And now we print it in a new, beneficial, arrangement

With an explanation of difficult words

Published by Pninim

The Holy City of Jerusalem, may it be built up 5720 (1960)

[Page 441]


The title page of the book in an earlier edition

Mareh Kohen

The wholesome, scholarly Kabbalist Rabbi Yissachar the son of Naftali Katz, who came and made a commentary and became renown in Israel.

Anyone who delves into his introduction to this composition will see and understand the benefit of it, for it is great. He elucidated the book of the Zohar,
and demonstrated to the Nation of G–d the strength of his expertise and the organization of his wisdom.

First edition

Beginning on Tuesday, 27 of Tammuz, 5359 (1589).

Here in the holy community of Krakow

Under the rule of our master, King Zygmunt III

By Yitzchak the son of Rabbi Aharon of blessed memory of Paraystis

In the second edition

This work began on Monday 11 Av, 5433 (1673)

At the behest of the wealthy benefactor Noach the son of Rabbi Chaim Peretz

Of holy blessed memory who was a Parnas and leader of the community of Poznań

Printed in Amstilerdam[12]

Published by the exalted wealthy man

Uri Weibsh the son of Aharon HaLevi, may the memory of the holy be blessed

[Page 442]

Introduction by the Rabbi, author, may the memory of the holy be blessed[13]

Yissachar the son of Naftali Hakohen, called Ber, from the community of Szczebrzeszyn, who lives in the country of Russia, may G–d raise it up; imbued with a wise spirit, the spirit of the holy G–d, the spirit of knowledge and fear of G–d, with pure, bright, clear words, as a clear day, with splendid language, bright and shining as the splendor of the firmament, sevenfold like the light of the sevenths, are these not the words of words, the matters of matters. These are matters which cannot be measured, pure water emanating from the sanctuary, here in the Holy of Holies, the supreme angel, the holy candle, the faithful servant, that is the bright, praiseworthy, renowned light, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, may the memory of the holy be a blessing – who in his great purity and supreme holiness, called it the Book of the Zohar. As is explained for everyone, with reasons and explanations, at the beginning of the Portion of Nasso. And behold even this, as is seen before our eyes with good view, with the words of our ancient ones of blessed memory, that if we have someone of renown with us today in this generation, he would be small, and merely just a small replica of him, a tiny portion of the great value, and he would also be speckled and spotted, lacking and not with anything extra. Nevertheless, if we had two mouths filled with song as the great sea, we would describe the righteousness of G–d, as a full day, with darkness and light – it would be insufficient to give thanks and praise to the L–rd of Hosts, Blessed be He, who left us some small remnant. One spoonful of satisfaction from him, with thousands of thousands and myriads and myriads of logical, spiritual notes standing above, high above the high, wonderful, powerful secrets streaming from his mouth, from true Kabbala, from the Merkava (chariot) mysticism, from the mystical emanations – are in this wonderful, sublime book, floating atop the waves, open and publicized to the eye of all hearts of wisdom, to those of clear vision, with a good eye, as the sun in its power. Blessed is he who gave of his wisdom to those who fear him.

[Page 443]

He did this as well, he grasped every prior thing with great brevity, in the Holy Tongue, for the community of those who do not understand the vernacular, with clarity, the holy words, shining as the sun. And I, in my paucity, who has no Torah, and not one of the traits that our sages of blessed memory have enumerated. I did not merit to see the countenance of the face of my grandfather, I saw only the back, and it is the fault of the Mareh. Only at the time when I studied Torah from my rabbis, may their light shine, Rabbi Yitzchak of the holy community of Poznań, did I hear from the peddlers who made the rounds in the Sanhedrins, that there is still an isolated branch from my great–grandfather. I searched and found it, to my heart's satisfaction. I delved into the honorable book by reading it with the quick quill of the scribe, in order to reprint it anew. Then my soul rested, as I said that this time, it is a bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, and this should be called[14] the fire of G–d, the offering of a pure priest on the fire. I spoke to the heart of my father–in–law, may is name be mentioned positively, the Torah giant Noach the son of a fruitful tree, the fruit of the tree of life such as Rabbi Chaim of holy blessed memory, who upholds the Torah of G–d, in order to establish it in a second printing, in the eyes of all living and speaking people in the field of the holy apples, to impart a good thing from the lips of those who slumber. In this merit, let songs ascend, in thousands of pathways, from great strength to He who neither slumbers or sleeps, the guardian of secrets, and let him send a banner of notations.

These are the words of the lowly, priest, of meager worth,

Avraham the son of Rabbi Eliezer Katz.

[Page 444]


In Elevation of the Soul

Of Rabbi Yosef Yaakov the son of Rabbi Yisrael Isser of blessed memory

And his righteous wife Sara Miriam of blessed memory

The daughter of Reb Shimshon of blessed memory.

Their illustrious son the rabbi, Gaon of great works in Torah and benevolence, Rabbi Chaim Shimshon Goldstein, may he live well, the rabbi of Kehilat Maarav in New York, assisted in the publication of this book.

All rights reserved

Printed in Israel

Hatechiya Press

[Page 445]


Midrash Rabba

On the Five Books of the Torah and the Five Megillot


Many commentaries from the early and latter commentators. Many of these were already printed separately in Midrashim or books. Many were in manuscripts up to this point, and we did not merit to see their light.

And these are:

  1. The commentary of Rashi on Bereishit Rabba, by Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki of blessed memory. We have corrected the man distortions and errors that existed in the earlier printings.
  2. Matnot Kehuna (complete) by the pious rabbi and Kohen, Rabbi Yissachar Ber the son of Rabbi Naftali Katz, who is nicknamed Berman the Ashkenazi of blessed memory, from the community of Szczebrzeszyn. Printed in its entirety as it was printed in Novoneshti and Padua, and we have resolved all the matters that were omitted from the most recent publications.

5645 (1885), Published by the Romm widow and brothers.

[Page 446]


The city of Szczebrzeszyn near Chełm is one of the oldest cities in Poland. Already in the 1300s, it was “a city full of scholars and scribes,” a center of Torah. Famous Torah sages lived there, in good merit. Even the regular householders were scholars, some of whom were authors of books who earned a name in Torah literature, which was disseminated throughout the entire Diaspora. As an example, we will present here the names of several authors of the city of Szczebrzeszyn, along with the titles of their books. A Kohen reads first[15] – he is the Gaon Rabbi Yissachar HaKohen Berman, one of the great scholars of Szczebrzeszyn, known for his book Matanot Kehuna on the Midrash Rabba. After him, –– a Levite, that is the Gaon Rabbi and Hassid Rabbi Yaakov Ish Horowitz, the brother of the Holy Shela[16], who published the book of his father, the Gaon Rabbi Avraham HaLevi with his own notes, on the topic of morality and Jewish law, Yesh Nochalin[17]. He disseminated Torah in public in Szczebrzeszyn, “Torah is sought from his mouth, and he is known in the gates for his deeds”[18].

One of the scholars of Szczebrzeszyn was the Gaon Rabbi Mordechai the son of Rabbi Naftali of Krezmir, the author of the books Ketoret Hamizbeach and Ketoret Hasamim, commentaries on the Targums[19]. The author of the book Korot Haittim, on the tragedies and slaughters endured by the Jews of Poland during the time of Tach ve Tat, was also a native of Szczebrzeszyn[20]; as was the Gaon Rabbi Eliezer the son of the Gaon Rabbi Yehoshua, the author of Damesek Eliezer[21].

The following were the rabbis and heads of the rabbinical court of Szczebrzeszyn that we know of:

  1. Rabbi Yeshaya Menachem the son of Rabbi Yitzchak, known as Reb Mendel Reb Avigdor. In his youth he served as the rabbi and head of the rabbinical court in Szczebrzeszyn[22]. Later, he was appointed as the head of the rabbinical court of Ludmir, and toward the end of his life, as the head of the rabbinical court of Kraków and the district[23]. He died there in the year 5359 (1599).
  2. The Gaon Rabbi David the son of Rabbi Yaakov, who came there as a result of the charter of the year 5347 (1587),[24].

[Page 447]


Shebreshin (Polish: Szczebrzeszyn), a city in central Poland.

There was an organized community from the middle of the 16th century. At the end of the century, a splendid synagogue was built in Renaissance style (it was burnt down in 1939).

Jews engaged in the spice trade, and frequently visited the Lublin fair. The tribulations that afflicted the community during the Decrees of Tach ve Tat (1648–1649), were described by Meir the son of Shmuel in his book Tzuk Haittim (Kraków, 1650).

Over one hundred years later, there were 444 Jews in the city. After Szczebrzeszyn was included in Congress Poland (1815), the restriction on residency were lifted, and the community grew to a population of 2,450 toward the end of the century. Hassidic influence was very strong there.

In the elections to the city council in 1931, the General Zionists received three seats, Poalei Zion – one, Agudas Yisroel – one, and Bund – five. On the eve of the Second World War, there were about 3,200 Jews in Szczebrzeszyn.

The Germans entered on September 13, 1939. They retreated on the 27th, and returned on October 9th on the basis of the demarcation line fixed between Germany and the Soviet Union.

In August 1940, 300 Jews were requisitioned to register for forced labor. Most did not heed the command, and escaped. In May 1942, 100 Jews were killed by the German police.

The rest of the Jews were sent to Belzec in two deportations, in August and October of that year. Hundreds succeeded in escaping to the forests and Jewish fighting brigades, but only a few remained alive until the liberation.

{Translator's note: This is a printout of an Encyclopedia Judaica article on the town from Beit Hatefutzot Museum of Tel Aviv.}


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Tach and Tat refer to 1648–1649, the years of the Chmielnicki uprising. See https://www.jewishhistory.org/tach–vtat/ Return
  2. A reference to Isaiah, 7:14 Return
  3. Followed by an obscure acronym mnemonic for the year 5410 / 1650. Return
  4. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Gonta Return
  5. There is a footnote in the text here: See first booklet (pp. 4–5). Return
  6. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: Printed in the anthology: Beit Ohim first year, and in a separate, special booklet. Return
  7. There is a footnote in the text in these two places, as follows: Both were published in Bohemia in the second year. Return
  8. There is a footnote in the text, as follows: The scholar Dr. Steinschneider informed me in his letter that the book was also published in Salonika in the year 5412, and that he had seen in twelve years previously in the hands of Fischl Hirsch, bookseller in ???, but to my dismay, I was not able to obtain it by any means. After asking researchers and booksellers, and investigating in all the libraries, all my efforts were for not. I would wish to find it and obtain it in the near future! – the council of the secretary (XIX, 95). Return
  9. Parts of this photocopy are unclear and smudged, and other parts are obscure. I will put ellipsis […] on parts that I skip. Return
  10. There is a footnote in the text here: A copy from the book can be found in full in the city of … (Italy) was prepared at my request and through my efforts by the faithful transcriber Reb Y. Shapiro, there, and I thank him. Return
  11. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: See my brief introduction to the first booklet – and you will find it. Return
  12. Doing a web search for this book, and then following it to the publisher, it seems that this is a typo, and should be Amsterdam. Return
  13. These two pages are written in extremely cryptic form. It is replete with Kabbalistic innuendoes (one such innuendo is the “field of holy apples”). I have translated it somewhat literally. Hopefully the essence will come out, albeit the translation is very convoluted. Return
  14. Genesis 2:23. Return
  15. A Kohen is called to the Torah reading first, and therefore is honored by being mentioned first. A Levite is called to the Torah second. Return
  16. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_Horowitz Return
  17. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: Published in Prague, 5377 (1617). Return
  18. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: There in the introduction to the book. See the approbations of the book. Return
  19. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: Amsterdam 5420 (1660); 5431 (1671). Translator's note: Targum is one of various Aramaic translations of the Bible. Return
  20. There is a footnote in the text here as follows: See preface to the book. Return
  21. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: Published in Wilhemsdorf, 5478 (1718). Return
  22. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: Mentioned in the book Matanot Kehuna, Portion of Vayikra, section 2. Return
  23. There is a footnote in the text here, as follows: See the book Ir Hatzedek, and the writings of the history of Rabbi Demtibzer, pp. Return
  24. The original seems to end here, in the middle of an article, and indeed in the middle of a sentence (as does the previous footnote). Return


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