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[Page 155]

Figures and Personalities



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Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Hacohen Schwadron
of Blessed Memory

by Dr. E. Shaklai

Based on the book by Rabbi Y. Bromberg

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

The Schwadron family was known as one of the prominent families in Zolokhiv. The father of Rabbi Shalom-Mordekhai, Moshe, who was called R' Moshe Biyanover, was a scholar and a wealthy merchant, a recognized knowledgeable and learned man from among the followers of the Tzaddik Rabbi Meir'el of Przemysl [Pshemishell]. He used to set aside a tenth of his profits to charity. R' Shalom Mordekhai Hakohen grew up In that atmosphere of Torah and good manners.

He was considered a prodigy from childhood and a great unrelenting learner. He was a frequent visitor at the courts of Admo”rim and Tzaddikim [righteous]. The influence of those visits was considerable and became apparent in all his actions throughout his life. A story of the Rabbi testifies to that: He once fell seriously sick, and in his dream, he saw and heard how they judge him in the court of heaven whether to life or G-d forbid … and then one of the Tzaddikim said: “We need that youngster; he is destined to do great things for the nation of Israel on earth.” Years later, he visited the Admo”r from Raizyn. Shalom Mordekhai recognized him as his advocate he dreamed about at the court of heaven!

He received his rabbinic ordination from some of the great generational rabbis at the young age of 15. The first rabbi to ordain him was Rabbi Shlomo Kluger from Brody. He married that year and remained with his father-in-law, who freed him from worrying about his livelihood, thus allowing him to continue his studies of the Torah. R' Shalom Mordekhai did not want to earn his living using religious knowledge and preferred to be a merchant. His parents too, did not want him to become a rabbi. Therefore, he tried to be a merchant but was not successful. In 1866, he lost most of his wealth. That tipped the scales, and having no other choice, he agreed to serve as a rabbi in one of the cities. Over the years, he served as a rabbi in the cities of Potok, Yazlovets, and Buchach.

In 5642 [1881/2], emissaries from Brzezany came to R' Shalom Mordekhai to ask him to move to our city. He was happy with the offer and decided to accept it. As a great Hasid, he believed in the generation of Tzaddikim and in “Urim and Thummim[1].” He, therefore, decided to seek advice from both sources. He used to open the Bible, and the first words he read in the book directed his actions. He made his decision that time as well.

When he opened the Bible, he encountered the verse: “… and will teach you what to do” [Exodus 4:15]. He also received a rabbinical agreement [no rabbi's name is mentioned]. Based on that, he decided to accept the rabbinical position offer wholeheartedly.

He served as a rabbi in Brzezany for thirty years despite being offered more respected positions with higher salaries elsewhere. When they turned to him from the city of Kolomyy and a few years later from America, he refused to accept the offers and preferred to stay in Brzezany.

During those years, he acquired fame in the world. His was active well beyond the city limits. From all corners of the world, people turned to the Rabbi with questions about Jewish law, slaughtering, accreditation, Agunah dispensation [Heter], and more. He spent days and nights in withstanding the pressure, dedicatedly and patiently investigating and finding the correct answers (he once received 115 letters in a single week). He tried to answer all the letters he had received in the shortest time.

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Gaon Rabbi Shalom Mordekhai Hacohen Schwadron
Return letter written by MAHARSHA”M

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One of the Rabbi's admirers and a close friend, R' Fishel Bomze, told me a story about such an answer. “I once reminded the Rabbi about a certain question. The Rabbi sat down and wrote an answer on 8 full pages, with references to support it. When he finished, he said: 'Listen, my son, you would probably go out of here and tell everybody that the Rabbi is a genius. So, for your information, I received a similar inquiry a few weeks ago. During the last few weeks, I read, researched, and clarified with others until I arrived at that answer. This is the fruit of several weeks of work.”

He was considered an outstanding “answerer”; one in a generation, second only to Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson. Rabbi Nathanson said about him when he knew him and his knowledge: “I do not see, in our generation, a smarter scholar than him.”

The wide world knew him from the books he wrote. His writings are considered of great importance by the scholars. I will mention some of them here:

- “Mishpat Shalom M'Shulkhan Arukh,” 1871

- “Mishpat Shalom about 'Khoshen Mishpat'“

- “Responsa MAHARSHA”M “ [10 volumes]

- “Analysis and Innovations on Shulkhan Arukh, Permits and Prohibitions

- “Darkei Shalom,” 1929

- “MAHARSHA”M's “Analysis of the Mishnah”, 1932

The following publications received much publicity:

- “Da'at Torah,” 1891, about slaughtering laws

- “Gilui Da'at” about signs 61 – 69 of “Yoreh De'ah” and the Jewish laws of Terefah

These publications attracted a lot of attention. However, some great rabbis came out against it due to his tendency to ease in his rulings as much as possible.


The cover of the book (4th volume) “Responsa MAHARSHA”M”
The cover of the book “Da'at Torah”

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MAHARSHA”M's return postcard top Cairo


The following is another story I heard from Bomze. A question was asked of the Rabbi, on Passover Eve, about a turkey belonging to a poor Jew who fattened the bird a long time, especially for Passover. R' Shalom Mordekhai went into his room, immersed himself in books, lingered there for a long time, and finally made his decision: “There are some who claim that the turkey is Terefah, others claim that it is ‘Kosher.’ After much consideration, I decided to join the ‘Kosher’ Posek.” The MAHARSHA”M tried his best to make it easy for people.

He was a knowledgeable person and also an independent and original researcher. He was an exceptional and eloquent preacher, leaving an enormous impression on his listeners. His words penetrated the heart and were never forgotten. He was also a great scholar in the Jewish Aggadah.

He was an exemplary rabbi and leader of the congregation in his pleasant manners and educational personality. He was careful not to cause pain to anybody and was sensitive to people's honors. When people came to ask him a question or seek advice (many came to him to hear his opinion about their personal affairs), he never had the person wait for an answer. He treated people with love and peace, even if they were not religious.

The MAHARSHA”M was also a public activist. He made great efforts in public affairs. He always found time to study, research, and express his opinion about crucial public issues. During all his years, he made an effort to improve education methods, mainly in elementary education in the Khedders. He tried to prepare a uniform multifaced curriculum and invited Dr. Yosef Zelinger, a known Haredi educator, for that purpose. However, he was forced to abandon his plan due to the resistance of Haredi circles.

MAHARSHA”M Hacohen established a Yeshiva in Brzezany by the name “Tushia” [Resourcefulness]. Many young sharp and knowledgeable scholars came from there and became rabbis in many towns throughout Galitsia and beyond. It was easy for rabbis who received their rabbinical certification from Rabbi R' Shalom Mordekhai Hacohen to find a rabbinical position. R' Shalom Mordekhai's certification was the best reference.

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MAHARSHA”M participated in rabbinical conferences and expressed his decisive opinion, approved by everybody. That's what happened in the gathering that took place in Lviv on the matter of the financial settlement of Rabbi Meir Ba'al Hanes's Kupa [fund]. There were disagreements and disputes, and people feared that they would lead to a crisis and rip. To avoid such a catastrophe, a man with a strong character and influence had to be found as the chairman of the gathering. They elected MAHARSHA”M Hacohen unanimously to that role, and he succeeded in managing the conference with a strong hand, good taste, and knowledge to everyone's satisfaction and brought it to a successful end.

[Author] Moshe Tzinovitz wrote about MAHARSHA”M in an article: “His behavior in his daily relations is without bias. Concerning Torah-based verdicts – the verdict for the poor is the same as for the rich. He never uses anybody. He always serves himself for as long as he can, without relying on others. He is simple and humble in his behavior and does not impose his authority on others. He loves people and nature. Every morning he comes out his door and spreads seeds for birds and other animals.” People, even those who were not his allies, knew and respected him. It was known that Gentiles who had a dispute with a Jew came to litigate in front of the Rabbi. He was also respected by the district court judges who consulted with him on complicated cases. He knew foreign languages (he knew German fluently).”

His home served as a central meeting house, open to all, to spiritual and Torah people alike who came to listen to him and learn Torah from him. He had the strength and will to overcome life's difficulties. He was amazingly organized. He arranged fixed working hours for himself and managed his lifestyle according to that arrangement. His schedule included learning Gemara, Shulkhan Arukh, and other Poskim [deciders]. He never missed his daily lessons, which contained 25 Bible chapters, one Mishna tractate, and 18 Gemera pages.

MAHARSHA”M was born in 5595 (1835) and died in 5671 (1911).

During his fruitful years, he became famous throughout the world. He acquired the name of a brilliant “answerer” and Posek greater than his generation's greats.

In the wide world, he was known as MAHARSHA”M Hacohen – the Rabbi from Brzezany.


- A. Y. Bromberg – Sinai – 1952/1953, 32, pp. 295 – 299
- A. Feuchtwanger, “Khayei Yeshirim,” 1965, pp. 94 – 97
- Encyclopedia Judaica, volume 14, pp. 1484 – 1485.


The cover page of MAHARSHA”M's book, “Gilui Da'at”


Translator's Note:

  1. According to the Avnion Dictionary [https://www.milononline.net] the stones in the high priest's breastplate - by which he knew the answer to the questions asked of God during important decisions, It can also be used as a nickname for someone who is trusted without a doubt - a person or an idea. Return

[Page 161]

Brzezany's Rabbis

by Rabbi Meir Wonder

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

The importance of Brzezany was much beyond its geographical size. A place of honor was reserved for the city in the Torah world due to several phenomenon that characterize it over other locations:

High-level witted learners concentrated in the city. Its rabbis were exalted geniuses, and many moved from it to the rabbinic position in Lviv or other Torah cities. From the early days, the city contained a higher level of Yeshivas for studying the Seder Kodashim[1], which was not studied much in those days. The rabbinical position was held for hundreds of years until the Holocaust by one family – Halperin. More than twenty of Brzezany's rabbis came out of that family, one after the other.

The fog is still substantial in arranging the rabbis in a correct chronological order, particularly in the early periods. We listed them more or less in the proper order based on the information available to us:


Rabbi Moshe Mordekhai Hacohen

He was the son of Rabbi Nathan Neteh AB”D [Head of the Rabbinical Court] of Ostroh [Ostraha]. He served as the AB”D in Brzezany and R” M [Rabbi who teaches at the Yeshiva]. The fruits of his innovations in his teachings at the Yeshiva were published in the book “Tzon Kedoshim,” which he published together with Rabbi Avraham-Khaim Schorr. In the introduction, he writes about his Yeshiva: “We gathered great and extremely sharp people, and taught them the entire Seder.” He moved to become the head of the Yeshiva in Lviv and died there on 21 Tishrei 5391 (1630).


Rabbi Moshe, son of Rabbi Avraham

He moved from Brzezany to serve as the AB”D in Lviv, where he died on 29 Av 5424 (1664). Grand praises were etched on his gravestone.


Rabbi Mordekhai Z”K from Premishle

He was the son of Rabbi Meir, AB”D Lviv who died in 1654, and the son-in-law of Rabbi Menakhem-Mendel Margaliot, AB”D Peremyshliany [Premishleh].


Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh [Kharif]

He was the son of Rabbi Khaim, the rabbi in Kolomyya (died in 1673), the son of Rabbi [Yehoshua-Heshil Kharif, the author of the book] “Meginei Shlomo.” From Brzezany, rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh moved to become the rabbi in Drohobitz, Brody, and Lisky.


Rabbi Yitzkhak BABa”D

He was the son of Rabbi Yisaskhar Dov-Berish, an activist and leader of the Krakow community who was also called Krakover after his native city. Rabbi Yitzkhak moved from Brzezany to be the rabbi in Brody, where he died on 4 Tishrei 5465 [1704].

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Rabbi Menakhem Mendel son of Rabbi Asher [Potoker]

He was called Potoker, in tribute to his native city. His title is mentioned in his consent to the book “Dat Kutiel” in 5456 (1696). He was an AB”D and Posek in Brzezany. He died in Lviv on 3 Tevet 5477 [1716].


Rabbi Tuvia-Yekhiel-Mikhel Halperin

The first of Brzezany's rabbis from the Halperin family, who was known by that surname. His grandson, Rabbi Ya'akov-Shlomo Halperin, wrote in a pamphlet depicting the family tree of the family: “his name is the only information I could decipher.” According to Rabbi Ya'akov-Shlomo, the family held the rabbinical position in Brzezany for many generations. He claimed that the first rabbi was the son of the Viennese Minister Rabbi Shimshon Wertheimer, who settled in Brzezany after he was expelled from Vienna. Rabbi Israel, AB”D Svirzh, Lviv, and Rzeszów [Reisha]. Rabbi Israel was the son of R' Avraham, AB”D, Kovel,

Rabbi Tuvia-Yekhiel-Mikhel was the son of and descendent of Rabbi Elkhanan, author of Tosafot [Talmud commentaries], the Patriarch of the Halperin family. The latter was the son of Rabbi Yitzkhak, who was the son of Rabbi Shmuel from Vitry, who was the son of Rabbi Simkha Halperin, the author of “Makhzor Vitry[2]” and son of Rabbi Shmuel Halperin.

He was the son-in-law of Rabbi Yoel, AB”D Zavaliv (Zvolov) [could not be verified mk], and was also related to R' Leibush [?] and MAHARSHA” L [Rabbi Shlomo Luria (1510-1573)]. He served as Brzezany's rabbi for 52 years, from 5448 (1688) until his death on 21 Adar 5500 (1740).


[Rabbi] Yosef Khanina Halperin

He was the son of R' Tuvia. Some people spell his name as Khanania. He was born approximately in 5450 (1689/1690) and died on 22 Iyar 5524 [1764] (some say that he died on 11 Nisan 5530 (1770)).


Rabbi Yekhiel-Mikhel Halperin

He was the son of Rabbi Khanina. He was Berzezany's Rabbi and later AB”D of Skalat until he died in 5516 (1756). It was no wonder he served as a rabbi in Brzezany during his father's reign. It was a common practice that the local rabbi would have his son join as a “young rabbi” to assist him. In addition, we find in the literature that in addition to the Brzezany's rabbi, other rabbis served separately as the district rabbis.


Rabbi Avraham-Zerakh-Arye-Yehuda-Leib Halperin

He was the son of Rabbi Khanina, listed above. There is a certificate from 5544 (1784) where he is a signatory along with the members of his court. His consents appear in various books, published until 5570 (1809/10). He died on Saturday, 16 Tevet 5568 (1808).


Rabbi Khanina-Yosef Haleprin

He was the son of Rabbi Avraham Zerakh. Before his rabbinical position in Brzezany, he was a rabbi in Skivisk [?]. In Brzezany, he served as the district rabbi. He corresponded in length about the Halakha with [Rabbi Efraim Zalman Margolioth, author of] “Beit Efraim.” His consent from 5565 (1805) is known. He was buried in Lubartow.


Rabbi Tuvia-Yekhiel-Mikhel

The son of Rabbi Avraham Zerkah. His brother was Rabbi Elkhanan AB”D Peremyshlyany [Rabbi Khanina Yosef Halperin was also his brother]. He died on 20 Shvat5579 (1819).

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Rabbi Dov – Berish Halperin

He was the son of [Rabbi] Avraham-Moshe, AB”D Rohatyn, the son of Rabbi Tuvia. His sons-in-law were learned: Rabbi Arye Leibush, the father of Rabbi Yosef-Shaul Nathanzon, and Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh Burstein, the father of Rabbi Pinkhas of Siret. One of his consents appeared in a book published in 5570 [1809/10]. He died in 13 Adar 5601 (1841).


R' Tzvi-Hirsh Halperin

He was the son of R' Tuvia. He was one of the students of “The Seer from Lublin” [Rabbi Ya'akov-Yitzkhak Halevi Horwitz]. He died on 27 Nisan 5588 (1828).


Rabbi Naftali Hertz Halperin

He was the son of R' Tuvia. The sources differ on whether he was the 15th or the 18th link in the Halperin rabbinical dynasty. He corresponded about the Halakha with one of the greatest Hasidic scholars of the generation - the author of the book “HaShoel Ve'HaMeshiv” [Asker and Answerer” by Rabbi Yosef-Shaul Nathanson].

After his death, a storm erupted about who would inherit his rabbinic seat. Written and verbal testimonies about that storm have been preserved until today. The author of the family tree mentioned above writes: “The rabbinical seat in the name only is not whole, since somebody from outside our family would be afraid to approach it.” The Hasidic leaders harnessed themselves to the fight for electing the son of the deceased. The correspondence between them and the city's opponents is fascinating.


Rabbi Meshulam-Shraga-Feibush Halperin

He was the son of Rabbi Naftali. He married Khana, the daughter of Rabbi Asher Yeshaya Rubin. He was the son-in-law and the substitute of Rabbi Naftali [Tzvi] of Rupshitz. The community leadership refused to accept him as a rabbi since they wanted a Torah Gaon [genius], rather than a Hasidic Admo”r [honorific given to an outstanding Hasidic rabbi - rebbe]. It was written in his family tree that: "Although he did reach the teaching level of his ancestors, we were somewhat willing not to transfer the position to somebody outside of the family.” His generation's Tzadikim fought for him unsuccessfully, and Rabbi Khaim [Halberstam] of Sanz promised that in the end, the rabbinic position would be returned to the Halperin family, as indeed happened. Rabbi Meshulam passed away in 19 Elul 5634 (1874). He became known for his book “Sfat Emet” [The Language of Truth].


R' Yosef Shaul Nathanson

He was the son of Rabbi Aryeh Leibush Nathanson. He was born in 5571 (1810) in Brzezany. In 17 Shvat 5617 (1857) he was nominated to be the AB”D in Lviv. He was a Torah great and was called by the name of his book,”HaShoel Ve'HaMeshiv” [The Asker and Answerer] (see an article in this book about the Nathanson family by Dr. Shaklai - page 170).


Rabbi Shlomo Kluger

He was a preacher, Rabbi, AB”D in Brody, and the author of 375 books. In 5605 (1845) he accepted the offer to be the rabbi in Brzezany. However, immediately upon his arrival, he became mortally ill. He attributed that to the objection of Rabbi Meir of Peremyshliany [Premishlian] to the move. He took it upon himself to return immediately to Brody when he recovered. Sh”Y Agnon says that the head of Brzezany's community forgave him the downpayment they gave him, and he never returned.

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Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf Ya'akov Grizman

He was born in Rzeszow [Reisha] in 5600 (1840) to his father, Rabbi Shmuel, son of Rabbi Israel Ka”tz of Wielkie Oczy [Vilkutch]. He resided in Brzezany. He authored the book “Otzar Nekhmad” printed in Przemysl [Pshemishel] in 5636 (1875/6). He died in 5650 (1890) (see Encyclopedia of Khakhmei Galitsia, page 751).


Rabbi Yitzkhak Shemelkis

He was the son of Rabbi Khaim-Shmuel. He was called to be the Rabbi in Brzezany in about 5618 (1858) from his position at Zhuravno [Zuravna] after the city was without a rabbi for several years. In Brzezany, he served as the district rabbi for about 11 years. From there, he moved to Przemysl [Pshemishel] in 5629 (1869), where he was the rabbi for 24 years.

In 5653 (1893), he was elected as the rabbi of Lviv and served there until he died in 5666 (1906). He was considered a genius already when he served in Brzezany. He became a world-recognized expert, and Jews turned to him from the many corners of the Jewish world. A selection of the questions and his answers were published in four volumes while he was still alive. That selection was named “Beit Yitzkhak” [Yitzkhak's home], by which Rabbi Yitzkhak Shmelkis is known until today.


A letter of Rabbi Yitzkhak Shmelkis


Rabbi David Meir Feder

He is considered one of the Torah greats of his generation. He was the author of the books “SHU” T HaRaDa” M” [Responsa by the RaDa” M). He was a follower of the HaSaraf [burning angle] from Sterlisk [Rabbi Uri from Sterlisk] and Rabbi from Olesk [Alesk] [Rabbi Khanoch Henich Dov Mayer?]. He previously served as the rabbi in Svirzh. Based on the recommendation by Rabbi Shlomo Kluger, he was appointed as a religious judge and AB”D. As there was no rabbi in the city at that time, he fulfilled that role as well, although he was not officially nominated. He lived in Przemysl [Pshemishel] in his old age, where he died in 5658 (1898).


Rabbi Shalom Mordekhai Hacohen Shvadron

He was known around the Jewish world as the MAHARSHA”M. He was a rabbi in Brzezany for more than 30 years (from 5640 (1879/80) until his death in 5671 (1911)). He established the Yeshiva “Da'at Torah' in Brzezany and brought over superior rabbis-teachers. After his death, his sons-in-law had some pretensions to be nominated to replace him. However, since none of them was at his level, the rabbinical position returned to the Halperin family.


Rabbi Moshe-Israel Feldman

He married the daughter of Rabbi Yitzkhak, the son of the MAHARSHA”M. He was nominated to be the AB”D in Brzezany. When he failed to be elected to the rabbinical position there, he moved to Dragomiresti [Dragmiresht] and became a rabbi there.


Rabbi Shimon Baba”d

He was the son of Rabbi Moshe, AB”D Mikulintsy [Mikolinitz]. He married Leah, the daughter of the MAHARSHA”M. He was a rabbi in Yanov (near Terebovlya [Trembowla]) for many years. In 5669 [1908/9], he was nominated as rabbi of Bozanov[?] and was named after the town since. After his father died, he settled in Brzezany and served as the AB”D until his death in 5695 (1935).


Rabbi Uri Halevi Eisen

He served as a rabbi in Strettin and Svirzh. He settled in Brzezany, hoping to be elected to become the rabbi there, replacing the MAHARSHA”M. When his hope was dashed, he moved to Bobrka [Bobrik] (in 1920), where he died in 22 Tevet 5696 [1936]. His wife and children perished in Belzec, may G-d avenge their blood (Bobrik Yizkor book page 33[3]).


Rabbi Uri Halevi Eisen

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Rabbi David Zilber

He was a rabbinical court judge during the period before the First World War and after it.


Rabbi Avraham-Zerakh-Aryeh [Halperin]

He was the son of [Rabbi] Meshulam Shraga. He was born (approximately) in 5608 (1847/8). He was an Admo”r in Brzezany for decades. He is known by his book “Imrei Yehuda.” After the death of the MAHARSHA”M, the rabbinical position returned to him [as a member of the Halperin family]. He also groomed his son to become the rabbi after him. After the First World War, he settled in Lviv where he died on 10 Adar A, 5689 (1929), and was buried in Brzezany, where his son Rabbi Aharon [Halperin] resided.


Rabbi Meshulam Feibush (Zeida) Halperin

He was the son of Rabbi Avraham-Zerakh. He was born in 5775 and served as a rabbi in Khododriv [Khodorov] replacing his father-in-law Rabbi Pinkhas [Khodorov] when he was called by his father to serve as a rabbi in Brzezany. After his father's death, he became the Admo”r for the Hasids, replacing his father. He served as a rabbi together with his son Rabbi Khaim [Halperin] until the Nazi conquest. In 5703 (1942) he escaped to the neighboring town – Kozova, and that's where he perished. May G-d avenge his blood.


 Rabbi Uri Halevi Eisen


Rabbi Khaim Halperin

He was the son of rabbi Meshulam-Shraga (Zeida). He was born in Brzezany and served as a rabbi in the city with his father. Had a gentle soul and possessed a general education. He was active in charity associations. He was the last link in the dynasty of the Halperin rabbis that served in Brzezany. He perished with a large group of the city's residents, in the quarries near the village of Olkhovitz [Vilkhovets?], a few days after Yom Kippur, 5702 (1941).


Rabbi Khaim Halperin


A recommendation letter by Rabbi Shraga Feibush Halperin

[Page 166]

Rabbi Israel son of Rabbi Pinkhas Brandwein

He was born in Brzezany in 5635 [1874/5] to his father, the Admo" r from Stratyn, and replaced him there. He perished on Yom Kippur 5702 (1941) along with his daughter and his son, Rabbi Yehuda Tzvi and his children. May G-d avenge their blood.


Rabbi Pinkhas son of Ya'akov-Yosef Brandwein

He was the son of Ya'akov-Yosef, the grandson of Rabbi Mordekhai from Kremenets, the son of [Rabbi Yekhiel Mikel Rabinowitz], the maggid from Zolokhiv [Zlotzov]. He was called the Admor” r from Stratyn in Brzezany. He made Aliya in 5662 [1901/2], died in Eretz Israel, and was buried on the Mount of Olives on 27 Kislev 5676 [1915].

The following is a list of some of the prominent people who were born in Brzezany and moved to work in other places.


Rabbi Aharon son of Yehuda [Halevi]

Moved to Alksin [Alksinitz] and Brody (see the article about him in this book, page 172).


Rabbi Dr. Lau Berdowitz

The rabbi of Meiddling near Vienna (see the article about him in this book (page 179).


Rabbi Shmuel Tzvi Margaliot

He was the head of the Beit Hamidrash for education rabbis in Florence (see the article in the book, page 178)


Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Bergman

He was the rabbi of Berlin (see the article in this book, page 180)


Rabbi Shmuel Shapira

He was Domet”z [rabbinical judge and teacher of righteousness] in Dobromyl and AB”D Zolochive [Zlotzov] until he died in 5688 (1928).


Rabbi Yehuda-Leibaleh Roze'

He was the rabbi of Brzezany [natives] in Brooklyn, New York (see article in this book, page 181).


Rabbi Yehoshua Widerker

The leading student of the MAHARSHA”M in Brzezany. He was the rabbi in Neustadt [possibly the city called Prudnik, Poland], and from 5679 (1918/19), AB”D of Przemysl [Pshemishel] until he perished in the Holocaust.


R' Meir - Sofer Sta”m

It was known, in the middle of the 19th century, about R' Meir, a Sofer Sta”m [a person who writes Torah scrolls, tefillin, mezuzahs, and scrolls], a learned scholar and G-d fearing person in Brzezany who left his mark in the responsa literature.


Rabbi Yoel Ginsburg

He was born in Zhovkva [Zholkva, Zolkiew] to his father, the rabbi of Khodorov. In his youth, he served as the head of the Yeshiva of the MAHARSHA”M in Brzezany. He later served as the rabbi of Burshtyn. He was shot by the Germans in Bukachivtsi [Bokshevits]. May G-d avenge his blood.

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Rabbi Pinkhas-Moshe Burstein

He was born in Brzezany on 18 Kheshvan 5589 (1828) to his father, Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh, and his mother, Vitel, the daughter of Rabbi Dov Halperin. He lived in Brzezany for many years and gradually became a more prominent Torah figure. He was the cousin of the author of the book “HaShoel Ve'HaMeshiv” [The Asker and Answerer,” by Rabbi Yosef-Shaul Nathanson] from the city of Siret in Bukovina (“Encyclopedia shel Khakhmei Galitsia”, page 471)


R' Joel Halperin


Rabbi Menakhem-Mendel Halperin

The son of Rabbi Meshulam (grandson of Rabbi Naftali Hertz). He was known to many by the name of Rabbi Mendeleh. He was an Admo”r in Brzezany, Dukla, and Wislo[?], He had Hasids of his own and managed his own court. His Hasids did not live in peace with the Hasids of Rabbi Avraham Zerakh Halperin. Rabbi Mendeleh was tall and skinny. He had dreamy eyes and a relaxed and pleasant character. His economic situation was not very good. He came, twice a year, from Dukla to Brzezany, where he had a synagogue. He benefited from the support of his Hasids. He died in Dukla while his family perished in Brzezany. May G-d avenge his blood.


R' Tzvi-Hirsh Halperin


Rabbi Moshe Winer

He was a rabbinical judge and a teacher in Brzezany, a unique and fascinating character. A great scholar with a broad general education and a modern approach to public affairs. He was a Zionist and a member of the “HaPoel HaMizrakhi.” Brzezany's residents respected and favored him for his sincerity and honesty. Before the First World War, he was a teacher and secretary to wealthy person in Bukovina, Mordekhai Koren, in Shopnitz near Chernivitsi [Tzernonvitz]. He consulted in matters related to families and businesses. In the early 1930s, he joined the rabbinical court in Brzezany. He perished on Yom Kippur 5702 (1941). May G-d avenge his blood.


Rabbi Alter Grosvaks

He was a Stratyn's Hasid, short stature with a long beard, gay eyes, and fiery in nature, He moved heavens and earth during his praying. He prayed with a loud voice. He was also a milk merchant. During the First World War, he served in the Austrian Army. He used to say that he was inspired. He was told that he was destined to be a congregation leader. Since then, he abandoned civil life and dedicated himself to holy work. His behavior was like the one of a rabbi, but a crowd of Hasids who believed in his power were missing. Following the phrase “There is no prophet in his own town,” the people of Brzezany did not believe in his virtues. He was forced to try his luck in other places. He moved to Yaroslav, where he lived until his death. His son, Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh, was a rabbi in Narayiv [Naryov]. The people of that town talked about his greatness and work.


R' Joel Halperin


Translator's Notes:

  1. From Wikipedia: Seder Kodashim is the fifth Seder in Mishan. The main subject of the Seder is the work of the sacrifices in the Temple and other matters related to this subject… The word that alludes to the Seder is “Khokhmat” [Wisdom] probably because its laws are more complex and wiser than others. Return
  2. According to Sefaria.org the original author of the “Vitry Makhzor” was Rabbi Simkha Halperin of Vitry. He lived in Vitry France at the time of Rash”i. Return
  3. The original Hebrew version of Bobrka's Yizkor book appears on the website of the NY public library: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/f6bd8080-5656-0133-8805-00505686d14e. The book is being translated and published on the Jewishgen.org website: https://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/bobrka/bobrka.html Return

The family of the Halperin Rabbis

by Moshe Bar-David

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Jane S. Gabin

The family of the Halperin rabbis was one of the oldest families in our town. The city's rabbis came from them for generations. The dynasty of Halperin rabbis began at the beginning of the seventeenth century, starting with the reign of Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel, who sat on the rabbinical throne for fifty-two years – from 1688 until his death in 1740 (according to the family tree. His daughter Rachel, the wife of Rabbi [Aryeh Leib Lev Falk] of Hanover, Germany, is also mentioned in that tree. She died in 1775).

It is interesting to note that the prominent pedigree came from the women's side of the family. The wife of Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel, Miryam, was the daughter of Rabbi Aba'leh[Avraham] of Belz. The latter was the son of the Rabbi from Buchach and Stryy [Rabbi Elkhanan Halperin]. On his mother's side, he was the grandson of the famous Rabbi Shlomo Luria [Rasha”l], from Ostroh [Ostrog] and Lublin, and a descendant of Rashi”. Rabbi Luria was born in 5270 (1510) and died in 12 Kislev 5334 (1574).


Family tree of the rabbis of the Halperin family
See also:

Translator's note: 1. According to the article on page 161, R' Mendeleh was R' Meshulam's son not his grandson.

[Page 169]

The genealogy book of the Halperin Family

[Page 200]

Yoshe (Yosef) Ast – The Book-Seller

by Moshe Bar-David

Translated by Joseph Schachter

The only Yiddish bookstore that sold both Hebrew and Yiddish books in our town was operated by the “bookseller”, Yoshe Ast. He was not just any old bookseller who sold books to others without himself reading any of them, but to the contrary he read them before he sold them. At one time Yoshe Ast had been a grain merchant, and later he began to deal with books. He was a devout Jew, well grounded in [Torah] learning, and, yet, was also enlightened, loved a Hebrew scholarly text as well as a modern Hebrew novel and good Yiddish literature. He read every book and knew all his customers and knew what to offer them. He also had Holy Books [religious literature], tales of the Sages, and occasionally a rare manuscript. He knew a great deal and was familiar with the families of many previous generations who lived in the city, their pedigree, their rise and fall, and the complicated branches of the families, as well as a bit of local gossip. One could say that he was a living encyclopedia of the town. He was a friendly and upright person. The young people would happily patronize his bookshop and would listen to his talks about authors and their works, Rabbis and good Jews from the past and the present, a deep well-spring with much knowledge. His shop was in Yerucham Leber's house and he lived on the Bernardine Street near Shloimele Prisant's house. He had two children, a son Yehoshua (Shike) and a daughter Dvorke, both well educated as teachers. Both, while living in Brzezan, were members of Zionist youth organizations in which they were actively engaged. In later years they lived elsewhere having taken educational posts in Congress Poland.

Yoshe Ast who gave good advice to many Jews was not able to find a solution when he himself really needed one. His honest and high moral stature presented him with a dilemma he couldn't overcome. When his son-in-law became enmeshed in business difficulties and involved his father-in-law as a witness – and since Yoshe felt he would have to testify under oath in court – which was against his principles, he was unable to bear the burden, he took it to heart and several days before the trial he died of a heart-attack. The Jewish population was orphaned without a Yiddish bookseller who for more than a generation provided them with their needs of Yiddish and Hebrew books.

[Translated by Joseph Schachter - June 4, 2012}

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