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Registry of Chortkov's community
by Rabbi Dr. Efraim Zonnstien
(This translation is only a summary of Mr. Zonnstien work)
1. Early history
The city of Chortkov lies in a deep valley on the right bank of the river
Seret. Chortkov is the capital city of the region of Podolia known as Hot
Podolia. The first documented historical record, concerning the city of
Chortkov, is from the year 1427. An estate owner by the name of
Chortkovicy signed his name on a submission document that was given
by the town's Nobel Grodi Chrvinska to the Polish king Wladyslaw
Jagiello. In 1522 a landowner by the name of Czortkovski received
from King Zygmunt Starry (the old) a charter to build a town, according to the
German regulation, and name it Chortkow. From the first days of its
establishment, the city was frequently attacked by the Tartars who destroyed
it, and captive its citizens. During the Cossacks' revolt, the city fell
several times into the hands of the united forces of the Tartars and the
Hungarians. In 1672, Chortkov, and all the cities in Podolia, fell into the
hands of the Turks. In 1680 Chortkov's status was elevated by the Turks to be
the Seat of the Vice-Pusha. In 1683, the Turks were expelled from city by
Andrej Potocki. In 1699, as a direct result of the Carlovitz peace treaty, the
whole district of Podolia was given back to Poland and the ownership of
Chortkov was returned to the Potocki family. After the first partition of
Poland in 1772, Austria took control over Galicia and divided it into six
districts with Chortkov belonging to the Hilitzi district. In 1809 the control
of the district of Ternopol, with Chortkov included in it, was given to the
Russians and it was under their rule until 1815, when it was returned to the
Austrians. In 1846, Austria elevated the status of Chortkov to be the capital
city of the region, that included; Yazlovitch, Zalshchiki Kopychinzi and
The city's castle was build at the beginning of the 17th century by the Gilskei
family who owned the city. Later on, the city and its castle were given to the
Potocki family, and it was in their possession until 1787 when the ownership of
the city was transferred to the Sdovskei family. The last owners leased the
castle to the Austrian government.
In 1865, Princess Hironima Borkovska sold her palace, together with some of her
land in Starry Chortkov to Rabbi David Moshe Friedman, who is known
as the Rabbi from Chortkov.
During the days of World War I, for a few years, from 1914 to 1917, the city
was under the rule of the Russians. After the war, it was returned together
with all of Galicia to Poland.
You can find detailed information about the earlier days of the city of
Chortkov in the following books:
The first documented information of the existence of Jews in Chortkov is from
the year 1616, 94 years after the establishment of the city. We are sure that
Jews lived in Chortkov long before that year. In the Rabbinical book
Maseat Binyamin by Rabbi Binyamin Selnik, who was a rabbi in
Podhizi, we can find information about the early days of Chortkov, and also
information about some of the towns nearby.
Janus I Czolowski: 'Przeszlos'c' I Zabytki Wojewo'dstwa Tarnopolskiego
G. Hecht: ZiemiaZ 1926, Znicz Podola 1936 No.1
According the book Maseat Binyamin Chortkov's Jews, like many
other Jews from nearby towns like; Yaglnitza, Skala and others, traveled to
other countries to conduct their business. They traveled in a long caravans, in
large number of wagons, in order to bring back wine barrels. During the
Austrian rule of the district, Chortkov's rich wine merchants traveled for
their business and stayed away from homes for a long period of time. They were
the subject of a book written by K. A. Prabzoz: Die Juden von Barnov
nach Höheren Gesetzen
Reb David from Bolichov wrote in his memoir (page 46), about his father who was
a wine merchant. He is also telling us about a journey he took with his father
in 1739, traveling from Tismeniz through Bochach and Chortkov to Komeinitz,
where he sold a number of wine barrels for a few hundred Adumin
In the ancient cemetery there are a number of gravestones dated before 1648. To
find the ancient gravestones you have to face the Ohel of the Righteous Rabbi
David Moshe, of blessed memory, and then walk in a straight line towards the
city's hospital. I am copying here the engravings from two of the stones that I
saw with my own eyes. This is what is written on them:
With the growth of the community, after the year 1700, also the craftsmanship
of Chortkov's stone carvers improved and many of their carved stones are
extraordinarily beautiful. There was well known family in Chortkov, who
developed the art of stone carving, and her talented sons excelled in their
work. Many of the gravestones in towns like, Ternopol, Brody, Bochach, and
Zelotchov, were carved by Chortkov's talented stone carvers and known for their
Here lies an important affectionate confident and righteous woman, Mrs. Rivka
daughter of Yechiel of blessed memory, died on the 24th day of the month of
Tamuz 1623 may her soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting memory.
In the grave
among the graves
lies a woman
of good soul
Sara was her name
daughter of Yizhak
was buried on Monday 29th day of Sivan 1636.
K.A. Franchoz, a Jewish author who wrote his books in German, was born and
educated in Chortkov. In his book he is telling us legends about Chortkov's
Jews, from the early days before 1648. Among the many stories written in his
book, he is telling us (on page 62) about the time when Chortkov's Jews were
hiding in the synagogue from the servants of Duke Chtrtoriskie, who were
attacking them. They were in hiding until they were rescued by King Jagiello's
servants who arrived from the nearby town of Yaglinzia. In another section of
the same book (page 229), he is telling us a story about the dispute that broke
between the followers of Tlostie and the Jews from Old Chortkov (in the book
the place was called Old Barnov). Four hundred Jews were killed at
once, and all of them were buried, at the same time, in the cemetery. We don't
have any documentation to prove the accuracy of his stories. Those stories
might be a figment of the author's imagination or he might have based his
writings on folk tales.
Chortkov's Jewish community, and all the communities in Podolia, were destroyed
during the war of 1645. A very important entry, that was probably written on a
later date, after the year 1809, and during the days of Rabbi Yizchak
Rosenzveig, providing us with the following information: (Registry page 50
first paragraph) May it will be written to the last generation to be,
that in the year 1645 there were many troubles and murders in the country of
Okraina by the Chamil may his name be blotted out, who brought emergency to all
the district of Podolia, including Chortkov, when I heard from honest people
about the false accusations and the cruelty of people who murdered for no
reason a number of martyrs who sanctified the Lord's name may the Lord revenge
their blood, and therefore it is forbidden said the wise rabbis from the four
corners of the world, a son of Israel will never live here, until the year Taf
Samekh He' (1705) when the governor returned and asked to come and live here
and gives them freedom and by endeavor a permission was given to live
It is apparent from this entry, that during the war of 1645 Chortkov's Jews
suffered not only from the hands of the Cossacks, but they also fell victims to
false accusations that were being told by the Poles, who suspected that the
Jews formed an alliance with the Cossacks. That led to a massacre, and many
Jews were murdered. Therefore, we assume that the stories written by the author
Franchoz, were based on the events of 1645. The author Litvin, tells us in his
book, Jewish Souls (volume 5), that the section of the city known
to us as Vignanka, was called by that name, because the word
vignanka means deportation. It was the place where the Jews were
assembled before they were deported from Chortkov.
During the first years, after the Jews returned to live in Chortkov, the
Registry informs us that one of the families, who helped to rebuild the
community, was the family of the elderly Rabbi Chaim son of the Righteous Rabbi
Ysrael. In the ancient cemetery, there are a number of gravestones, and the
name son of the Righteous Rabbi Ysrael is carved on them. Among
them, is a gravestone from 1702 with the carving Rabbi Yizchak son of the
Righteous Rabbi Ysrael. It is without a doubt, that the righteous Rabbi
Ysrael was one of the Jews who were murdered in 1645.
We can learn from non-Jewish sources, that in 1630 the Turks and the Tartars
attacked Chortkov and the surrounding area, and took its residents captive.
During the days of King Yochanan Kazmiz, Chortkov was in the hands of the
Tartars, the Turks, and the Cossacks, who build their own towns in the area and
settled in them. In 1655, the Tartars attacked Chortkov for the second time.
They captured the castle, destroyed Chortkov and all the cities in the
surrounding area and took Potochi captive. In 1680 Chortkov's statues was
raised to be the seat of the district's Turkish governor Sobphshi.
In 1683, Andzi Potochi drove the Turks out of the city but Podolia was not
annexed back to Poland until 1699. Only then, all the assets were returned to
the Potochi family.
For a short period of time, Poland withdrew from the region of Bochach with
Chortkov included, and handed it of the Turks. Only after the Carlovitz peace
treaty of 1699, Poland obtained all of Podolia, including the city of
Kamienich, and by doing so brought peace to the region.
In the Jewish encyclopedia, written in German,(volume 5), Viznizer informs us
that in 1648 around fifty Jewish families lived in Chortkov. His information
came from the article Tit Hoin. According to my opinion, the writer
was mistaken, because in the list Podolia's cities that were destroyed, we
can't find a trace for a city by the name of Chortkov. The listing on page 422
is for the city of Chrkov in Bevlin, and not Chortkov in Podolia.
In 1745, Podolia was annexed back to Poland, and Chortkov was returned to
ownership of the Potochi family. In the community's Registry we can read that
the Jews were asked by the city's governor to build a new settlement in
Chortkov. The request was made in 1745. We assume, that a few Jews returned to
Chortkov long before that year, because in the cemetery we can find a
gravestone for Rabbi Yizchak son of the righteous Rabbi Ysrael, from the year
It is known to us, that the Jews received their rights from the city's governor
Stefhana Potocki in 1722. The original document was lost, but we know of its
existence in the magistrate, it was titled: Prawa nadane zydom m. Czortkowa
przez Stefana Potockiego 1722. In the document we can also find the names of:
Stefan P. Teresa Potocka, Joachin Potocki
A legal copy of the document is on file at the administration office, and an
Yiddish translation was published in the anniversary book for the Society of
Rabbi Shapira in New York.
According to that document, Jews who lived in Chortkov before that year, were
given the right to return and live in the city. All of the Jews were promised
the right ,to build homes and stores anywhere they wished in the city, and the
right to choose their occupations as they pleased. In return, the Jews had to
pay every year, to the city's treasury, the amount of 3 Zehovim for every house
that was build in the city, and only 1 Zahov for homes that were build across
the river near the castle. For a store with an apartment the tax was 5 Zehovim,
and a store without an apartment paid the tax of only 3 Zehovim. Exempt from
the tax was the rabbi's home (in the original document he was called Doctor),
the hospital and the home of the cantor. The Jews were allowed to make and sell
beer and vodka, and were allowed to sell them any place they found suitable,
and without any restrictions. For each beer keg covered with a lid, they had to
pay 18 Zehovim, for a pot of honey-syrup 10 Grush, and for a pitcher of beer
only one Zahov. It was not allowed to hold a market on Sabbath and it was
forbidden to bring a Jew to justice in the courthouse on Sabbath.
It was allowed to send a Jew to jail, only if he was caught stealing. The
Jewish Judge was the city's governor or his substitute. In a case,
when a Jew was not satisfied with his trial and with the judgment given to him
by the governor's substitute, it was his right to appeal his case in front of
the governor. The Jews were exempt from military work in the castle, and from
road constructions. The Jews could only bring other Jews to trial in a Jewish
court. Jewish tradesmen were forced to join a general union (a guild) and had
to pay for that right 6 Zehovim. In addition, they had to pay, every year, the
sum of 24 Grush for the purchase of wax for the monastery.
In all the cities, that were privately owned by the Nobles, Jews were forced to
pay taxes and recognize the judgment of the city's ruler. On the other side, it
was the duty of the Nobles to protect the Jews. Chortkov's Jews respected and
loved their governor, who gave them their rights. They called him: The
honorable and charitable master, His Majesty Fan Starosta from Lvov, governor
and ruler of our community (Registry page 367).
The young community of Chortkov earned a name for itself when Rabbi Zvi Hirsh
Horovitz, who is known even today by the name Rabbi Reb Hirsheli, was hired to
be her rabbi and educator. He was considered, together with Rabbi Segal from
Lvov ,and the Rabbi from Stanislave, to be the Gaon (genius) from Podolia.
From Chortkov's religious school, came many genius rabbis who serve many large
communities in the west. Among them were the two brothers, Rabbi Smuelike and
Rabbi Pinchas, sons of the righteous rabbi, Rabbi Hirsheli from Chortkov. His
students worked as teachers and instructors in the important communities of
Nikelshborg in Moravia, and Frankfurt on Main, which was a very important and
large Ashcenazi community of that time.
Chortkov's community was connected to the blood libel of the city of Yampol.
The Congress of the Committee of Nations, that was being held in Konstntibov,
decided to send a delegation to the Pope in Rome. Leading the delegation was
the mediator Rabbi Eliakim son of Asher Zelig. An entry in Chortkov's Registry
reads: paid to the Rabbi Alyakom and Rabbi Tzadok for the expenses for
traveling to the city of Roma to plea for the Jews of Poland according to the
estimate that was decided by the leaders of the country, we owe only two
hundred Polish Zh' to pay for the estimates mentioned above
2. Internal life
During the first period of the existence of Chortkov's community, most of its
members came from two important families. The family of the leader, our teacher
and rabbi, Rabbi Yakov, and the family of the elderly leader, our teacher and
rabbi, Rabbi Chaim son of the righteous Rabbi Ysrael. In 1741 members of the
Bresler family contributed large sums of money to pay for the needs of the
community. In the 19th century, there was a well-known family, who for some
reason was called Die Kinder (the children) and also
the well-known Rosenzveig family. The wealthy families build homes all over the
city, and stores in the city's center (in the market). Most of the Jewish homes
were build near the river Seret, later on, the Jews build homes in the upper
part of the city. The owners of homes, stores, distilleries, wine cellars, and
honey-syrup, paid taxes to the city's governor, and taxes to the community.
According to Registry, those who were called money owners, were the
only members of the community who had the right to vote.
In Chortkov, there were different kinds of tradesmen, who according to the
first set of rules, did not have the right to vote. There was only one person,
our teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Meir Katz, who was given the right to vote because
he donated a considerable amount of money to the building of the synagogue.
According to the anniversary book, that was printed in New York in 1932 for
Rabbi Shapira's Society, the association Poalei Tzedek was
established in 1721 and in 1722 it was split into two independent associations.
During the same year, the Tailors' Society rented the small synagogue, that was
located in the hallway of the big synagogue, for a period of 3 years.
Throughout the first years of the Jewish settlement in Chortkov, there was a
large number of needy people, who according an entry in the Registry from 1739,
received the amount of 2 Adumim (gold coins) for Rosh Hashanah.
We know the number of Jews who lived in Chortkov and the nearby villages in
1765. In his book The number of Jews and Karaites in the year 5671,
Professor Meir Balaban informs us that; in the city of Chortkov and in the
villages nearby, there were 812 souls plus 56, all together 868 souls. The
number of Jewish homes in Chortkov in the year 1722 was 110, 69 of them in the
city's market. The number of Jewish stores in the market was 35. The number of
Christian homes at the same year, was 142 and only 4 of them in the market. In
the suburb of Vignnka there were at that time 36 homes, and in Old
Chortkov 81 homes. We can find a proof in the Registry from 1766 that says:
if he owns a home in the Rynek or a store in the
Rynek he is allowed to put his ballot in the ballot
meaning if a person did not own a home in the city's
market (rynek) or a store, he did not have the right to vote or the right
to be nominated to a community job.
From a statistical data we learn that in 1797 there were 121 Jewish homes in
Chortkov and 232 Christians homes. According to the book The Land
written by G. Hect in 1926,
in the year 1809, the population of Chortkov, Jews and non-Jews together,
consisted of: 727 homes, 906 families and 3930 persons.
At the head of the congregation stood the community leaders, who together with
the rabbi managed all the community's matters. As is was traditionally done in
all of the Jewish communities in Poland and Lita, the elections and nominations
took place, every year, on the first day of the intermediate days of Passover.
The same positions were filled in each election. Four head leaders, three
beneficiaries, and one replacement, 3 collectors for great charity, 2
collectors for Eretz Ysrael, 3 collectors for Talmud Torah, 3 collectors for
the construction of the synagogue, 2 trustees or accountants, leader of the
court and 3 judges for the first court and the same for the second. The
elections and nominations were executed according to special rules that were
mandated many years before, and it was necessary to get the approval of the
city's commissioner. When the region was taken over by Austria, there were
changes and long intervals in the election and nomination, and no more than
three or four head leaders, who were called by the German name
Regierer (governors) were nominated.
Even though, Chortkov's community was no longer under the control of the Lvov's
community, it continued to operate by her rules, as it is written in the
Registry; and also today we live by their rules. Discipline was
enforced by the community leaders and those who disobeyed the head leaders,
were given a stiff fine and their right to vote was taken away.
The leaders together with the trustees, looked after the expenses and the
income of the community.
The Bochach peace treaty of 1672, removed Podolia from Poland. As a direct
result, there was a temporary separation between a number of communities and
the Lvov community (in the region of Ros). When Podolia was returned to Poland
after the Carlovits peace treaty of 1699, Podolia's Jews tried to rid
themselves from the control of Lvov, in matters of taxes and religion. But, the
Lvov community and the committee of the Ros region, continuously tried to
reunite the regions and bring the communities of Podolia back under their
During the years of the Brody's fame, the region's assembly usually took place
in the city of Brody or in the towns nearby. In 1738 Chortkov's community sent
representatives to the region's assembly in Brody, in 1741 to Bialokamin and in
1830 to Podkamien.
In 1739, and also in 1765, the community paid for the right to build a
synagogue. The first time the sum of 42 Adumim, and the second time 1000
Zehovim. At the beginning, there was only one Beit Midrash (house of learning)
named after Rabbi Harsheli. It was build during the first days of the Jewish
settlement in Chortkov and is still standing today. According to the Registry
it was a place used by Torah Scholars. In 1754, the construction of
the synagogue was under way. The Registry informs us that Rabbi Meir Katz
donated money for building it, and for strengthening it with a stone wall,
because until now we only had a wooden building, and for that reason he was
given the right to vote even though he was only a tradesman and not a money
owner. In 1808 the number of worshipers grew, and in the Registry we can
find a detailed list of the places and the names of their owners. There is also
a list of Torah Scrolls and dome lights.
The rabbi and the community leaders mandated the rules concerning the
community's finance, the elections and nominations, they evaluated the Shamaim
(caretakers), monitored the accounts of the community leaders and the trustees,
and also enforced the regulations on tavern owners, making sure that they don't
purchase their wine elsewhere and that they pay their taxes.
In the Registry, we can read stories about special events that occur in the
Chortkov's community, but we don't know for sure if those stories are based on
real historical facts. At any rate, it is typical that a large number of
community Registries talk about horrible events or
miracles concerning community leaders, who risked their lives to
save Jewish lives.
The Registry is in front of us originated in 1738, and in it are the first
entries from that year. At the present time (1932), this old Registry is
located at the community's office. This Registry is not the first, it was
proceeded by another one, the first Registry of Chortkov's community. In that
Registry, we can find a lot of important historical information, and most of
all, information about the community's finance and income. The documents
included in it, are of official and legal matter, and were used to solve legal
questions and arguments. Because the Registry was available to the public, and
many people were using it, in more then one occasion, unworthy people ripped
out pages or changed the entries as they saw fit, and to their own benefit. For
that reason, a severe warning is written on the first full page, stating;
if a person raises his hand to add one word in the Registry without the
wish of the Torah Scholars, or without the knowledge of the rabbi, the
president of the court or the righteous teachers of our community
person whose arrogant heart tells him to raise his hand on this Registry
to erase and to write or register on the Registry, that person who has a wicked
heart have done the forbidden task all by himself making his own decision
without a public meeting or the knowledge of the rabbi and the president of the
The last entries in the Registry are from the times of Rabbi Moshe Natan
Rosenzveig. The last entry is from 1853. As a result of a quarrel that broke
later on, nothing was entered in it and it was almost forgotten. Later on, it
was found thorn and neglected in the attic of Rabbi Yokal Horovitz. From there,
it was taken to be repaired and was given to the hands of the righteous rabbi,
Rabbi David Moshe of blessed memory. Today the Registry is in the possession of
the community's directors, who received it from Rabbi Ysrael Rapoport, a
relative of Rabbi David Moshe. In 1917, at the end of the World War (the
first), Rabbi Ysrael wrote an entry in the Registry, informing, that it was
hard to get Ethrogim for the holiday of Sukkot.
It is clear that the order of the pages, that we see today, is not the first
and the original order. In some places the pages are reversed, many pages that
belong to the end of the Registry are now at the beginning and vice versa.
3. The Rabbi and the Righteous Teachers
We bring you here a full list, but in few details, of Rabbis who
served the Chortkov community during the years and generations as
they are listed in the Registry, and in more details, a list of the Grand
Rabbis and Zaddikim, who were well known
throughout the region and beyond it.
Legends and tales bring out the holiness and the miraculous powers of Rabbi Zvi
Hirsheli. It is told, that before his death he blessed his parishioners,
telling them that if a fire broke in the city no more then three homes will be
burnt. Chortkov's Jews insist that he did make that blessing, and that his
blessing came true during the World War (the first). Many nearby towns were
burnt to the ground, but only two homes were burnt in Chortkov. There are many
legends about a encounter between Rabbi Hershili and the founder of the
Hassidot Rabbi Israel Ba'al Ha'shem Tov (Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer of Medziozh)
many rabbis harassed him at that time but he saw his
greatness and his holiness and did not give a helping hand to his
enemies. Another folk tale is putting Rabbi Meir Enshil Rothschild in the same
tavern with Rabbi Harshili, and telling us that as many as ten members of the
Rothschild family came to be blessed by Rabbi Hershili. We assume that the
origin of this tale is a result of the fact that Rabbi Pinchas, son of Rabbi
Hershili, served many years later as a rabbi in Frankfurt.
From the beginning of the new settlement in Chortkov, in the year 1705,
there was not a rabbi or a president of the court, only the prominent
scholar, our teacher and master Rabbi Moshe Makrmniz who was our righteous
teacher and president of the court.
In the year 1725 served as a rabbi, our teacher and master, president of the
court, Eliezer Lipman, who was a president of the court at the holy community
The rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Shemuel son of Rabbi and teacher Rabbi Moshe son
of our teacher and master Rabbi Avraham who was the president of the court in
the holy community of Stanov, was welcome here at the year 1725.
The famous genius rabbi and teacher Rabbi Zvi Hisrsh Halevi Horovitz
welcome here in 1725.
In 1734 we accepted the rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Ysrael, who was the son-in-law
of the genius rabbi mentioned above. He served as our rabbi until 1766.
In the year 1754, there was a man whose name is not permitted to be
remembered here. In this language, the Registry is informing us about a
man who was caught in the net of Yakov Frank's movement that spread during
those years. There is a possibility, that his name was Avraham Zvi Hirsh, whose
signature can be found on the community's accounts from 1754.
In 1769 we accepted the rabbi and teacher Rabbi Yhoda Leib Teomim from
the holy community of Yaritshov near Lvov and he was here until the summer of
8, In the year 1775 we accepted the rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Eliezer
Lipman from Zolkvva who was president of the court in the holy community of
Yanov but he did not live for many years, and was summoned to the heavenly
council in 1777.
In the year 1778 was accepted the bright grand rabbi and righteous
teacher, Rabbi Moshe Bharab, the great Rabbi Shelomo Dov, who was president of
the court in the holy community of Gloga. He was summoned to the heavenly
council in the year 1809.
During the life of Rabbi Moshe son of Rabbi Shlomo Dov we accepted to our court
Rabbi Moshe Yitchak Rozenzveig son of Rabbi Eliezer, that we mentioned
and since he knew to how to speak and write German, the government
appointed him to be the district's Rabbi, even though, Zalescikia was the seat
of the district. We can assume that his appointment as the region's Rabbi came
after Podolia was transferred from Russia to Austria.
After him, served Yakov Natan son of Rabbi Yitzchak Rosenzveig son of the
mentioned above, between the years 1844 to 1853. Many stories provide us with
the fact that he carried his position in high standard.
During the days of the district's Rabbis from the Rosenzveig family, who served
as judges, in addition to those that were already mentioned, Rabbi Yehoshoa
Yehoda our master and teacher Rabbi Moshe, Rabbi Ysrael-Meir our master and
teacher Yisaschar Bar and also Rabbi Ysrael Arye Visman who died in Eretz
After the district's rabbi, Rabbi Yakov Natan, we accepted Rabbi Shelomo
Naftali son of our teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Nachom member of the Zaumer family.
It is being told, that after Rabbi Yakov Natan Rosenzieg a rabbi from
Galig was accepted and during his time a major argument broke in
In 1866 Rabbi Yeshaiho Meir Kahana Shapira was accepted as the district's
Rabbi. We will talk about his personality later on.
As the result of the argument that broke after the righteous rabbi, Rabbi David
Moshe Ben Rabbi Ysrael, was brought from Sdigora to Chortkov, we accepted again
Rabbi Baroch Meir Frish from Sasov to be the community's rabbi and president of
the court. Rabbi David Moshe pitched his tent in Chortkov in 1865,
and at that time, he bought his palace and his estate from Princess Borkovska.
After the death of Rabbi Baroch Meir, served in his place, his grandson Rabbi
Yakov Landa, who died in 1926 and also Rabbi Ysrael Rapoport.
According to the testimony of Shelomo Yitchak Hilperin, president of the court
in Ternopol, he was related to the genius Rabbi Eliyaho son of Avraham Aba and
grandson of the famous Cabbalist Rabbi Temrlish from Vienna who died there in
1666, he was also a rabbi in Chortkov and died at a young age.
(In this section there is an argument regarding to the service of Rabbi Dov
Out of all the rabbis who served the Chortkov community, the first to earn a
name in the rabbinical world, was Rabbi Zvi Hirsh son of Meir Havelvi Horovitz,
who was known by the name the rabbi Rabbi Hirsheli from Chortkov.
The old Beit Midrash was named after him, and it is in existence even today.
Many folk tales were strung around his personality, connecting him with Rabbi
Ysrael Ben Eliezer of Medzibozh, and also with the wealthy man, Rabbi Meir
Enshil Rothschild. His wisdom and sharpness in the Talmud was well known
throughout the rabbinical world. Rabbi Yechzkel from Pruge wrote at the
conclusion of his work that we can't rely on him without the permission
of the three pillars of the world and they are: Rabbi Yizchak from the district
of Lvov, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh from Chortkov, and the rabbi from Stanislov.
Recorded in the Registry are the rights that the rabbis had in community
matters. The rabbi together with a community trustee monitored the elections
and all the final decisions had to be approved by them. It is also recorded
that all the community's expanses had to be approved and sign by Rabbi
Hershili. In a later time, we find the signatures of the district's rabbis,
from the Rosenzveig family, on all the important community documents.
There isn't any clear information in the Registry about the salary that was
paid to the rabbis. Also, in the list detailing the wages of the community
clerks and community expenses from the year 1778, we can't find any information
about the salary that was paid to the rabbis. It is possible, that the rabbis
did not get paid regularly, and their income came from their services as
slaughterers. But it is known to us, from other sources of information, that
the rabbis who worked in the big cities during the 17th and 18th centuries, in
addition to an apartment and income from different jobs, received a weekly
salary of 8 to 10 Zehovim.
An entry in the Registry from 1785 provides us with detailed information about
the salary that was paid to the cantors. In 1738 the sum of 104 Zehovim was
spent on an apartment for the cantor. In 1739 7 pots of honey and a small
sum of Grash (?) was paid to a visiting cantor. We can also
find detailed information about the salary that was paid to the three
synagogue's caretakers (Shamashim) Reb Zvi Shemesh received 100 Zehovim,
Reb Shemaya 55 Zehovim and a third caretaker received 36 Zehovim. Also listed
is the amount of 40 Zehovim that was paid in 1786 to a night watchman and 24
Zehovim to a community scriber.
4. Community appointees
As it was traditionally done in all the of Jewish communities in Poland,
Chortkov's community elections also took place, every year, on the firs day of
the intermediate days of Passover. The community Registry is listing all the
yearly nominations from 1741 to 1807 (for unknown reasons to us, as of 1750,
the elections took place every two years). After the conquer of Galizia by the
Austrian army, the elections did not take place during the years 1776 to 1780.
From 1780 until 1808, after the government took away the wide range of rights
that were enjoyed by the Jewish communities, once every three years, three
leaders and three Gabaim were nominated. Starting in 1796 and onwards, after
the Austrian Kaiser, Yoseph the Second, gave Ashkenazi surnames to all the
Austrian Jews, were can find among the nominees, who were called at that time
by the name Ragirar, names of well known families, who are well
known even today in the city of Chortkov.
In the list of nominees from 1741 to 1778 we can always find four
masters chiefs and leaders, three for the public good, and one to replace
them, three collectors (Gabaim) of great charities who supervised all of the
charity work in the community. Two trustees who inspected the community's
accounts, and it is said on them in the Registry they knew all that was
happening in the community they controlled the accounts and a community loan
could not be taken without their knowledge
Two collectors for Eretz
Ysrael that collected contributions for the poor in Israel and sent them
through Lvov, three collectors for the study of the Torah, three collectors for
building the synagogue. In addition, nominated every year were, leader of the
court and three judges
and in addition, one to three Gabaim to
light the candles. And all of this come to an end, with the acceptance
and the permission of the arbitrating chiefs and as witnesses, came the
leaders and the arbitrators. Those nominations were approved the
commissioner the governor secretary, as it was the custom in all
the towns that were the privet property of the governors.
There were set rules for electing public appointees. The right to be elected to
a public office was given in stages. First the person had to serve in a low
level job, and after a number of years serving in that job, he was able to
climb to a higher and more important position. One of the most important
positions was, the collector for great charity. In order to get that job, first
the person had to be nominated as a collector for Erects Israel, or a collector
for Talmud Torah and serve in that position for at least 3 years. After three
years as a collector for great charity, it was possible to be elected as one of
the seven town's trustees, and only after serving in that job, it was possible
to be elected as a chief or a head leader. There were those, who because of
their importance or their financial situation, were elected as leaders for
life. There were also rules forbidding the nomination to a public office
because of family connection, but those rules were not enforced. In Chortkov
for example, the community was based on two large family, and it was impossible
not to elect most of the leaders out of these families.
Tradesmen did not have the right to be appointed to a community position, but
when it was needed to enforce the walls of the synagogue a
permission was granted to Rabbi Meir Katz to put his ballot in the ballot
box because he was an honest man and injustices never touched his lips.
The same rabbi, Rabbi Meir, was elected a number of time as the synagogue's
Gabai and also as the Gabai who lights the candles. Voting rights were also
taken away from those who insulted the heads of the community.
Out the large number of leaders and nominees, whose names are listed in the
Registry, I only list here the names of a few, because of their special
Rabbi Arye Leib son of Rabbi Yesschar Dov, who always had a position in the
community from 1741 to 1770.
Rabbi Avraham son of Rabbi Ysrael, who was called, Rabbi Avtzi Bresler, worked
as a leader for many years, from 1738 to 1763, and was also the community's
Rabbi Arye-Leib son of Rabbi Moshe, was a head leader a number of times, from
1747 to 1758, he was as it is carved on his stone the leader of the
community old and full of years.
Rabbi Naftali Hirtz, son of Rabbi Ytzchak, sometimes known by the name, son of
the Righteous Rabbi Yitzchak, received his position according to an order given
by the governor, and with the approval of the head leaders and the rabbi in the
eastern wall. Was one of the community's head leaders and also one of the first
governors during the Austrian occupation.
Rabbi Yakotiel son of Reb Yakov, who sign the bill, when the community paid her
share for the journey to Rome.
Among the first governors, during the Austrian occupation were: In 1796 Rabbi
Yisschar son of Rabbi Kafirnan and Rabbi Yona Phishbach from Yaglnzia. In 1804
Rabbi Shaul Rosenzveig and Rabbi Yehoda Leib Rathoizer. In 1816 Rabbi Yakov
Landa and Rabbi Meir Shoval. Rabbi David Vizer in 1811.
Our rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Benyamin Izik Americh, grandson of Rabbi Ysrael
son of Rabbi Benyamin from Meherimlov and the author of the book Tifferet
Ysrael, who owned the third place in the synagogue next the eastern wall.
The Americh family was a large and well-known family who originated from the
city of Americh in Germany.
5. The synagogue
The holy synagogue is mentioned numerous times in the Registry.
From those entries we are able to learn about the construction of the building
and its maintenance.
It is apparent, that during the first years of the Jewish community in
Chortkov, Jews were given the right to build a synagogue, and for that right
they had to pay a fee. In the Registry we read about a loan money for the
right, in 1739 the sum of 42 Adumim, and in 1766 the sum of 1000 Zahav.
At that time, a house of learning (Beit Midrash) already stood on its
place in Chortkov. Even today, it is called by the Jews Beit
Ha'Midrash of Rabbi Hershili. In 1755 the construction of the synagogue
was under way, and in charge was his Highness Rabbi Meir Katz who
received from the masters the right to put his ballot in the ballot
According to the Registry, the building had to be a strong building a
synagogue surrounded by a stone wall, because until now, the
synagogue was build out of wood planks, and in 1754 it was decided to fortify
it, and build around it a strong stone wall.
In the 1722 bill of rights that was given to the Jews by the Graff Potockie -
in front of me is the Hebrew translation from the anniversary book in memory of
Rabbi Shapira - it is written: they are given the permission to use their
own synagogue. From those words it is reasonably clear, that a synagogue
was already standing, but on the other hand, we can interpret those words
differently and read: a synagogue will be build here in the future.
But, according to my opinion, it was not surrounded by a stonewall.
There are many legends connecting the building of the synagogue to an earlier
period, but according to my opinion, those legends are not based on true
historical facts. Hact in his 1926 book Adama (land), presenting us
with a legend, about a synagogue that was build in the 16th century. In his
book Jewish Souls(volume 5), Litving assures us that the synagogue
was build by the Polish king Sovieskei. The author Franzos is going farther
(page 62 of his book) and telling us about a synagogue that was build in the
Middle Ages, and was called by the Gentiles the Jewish Fort. It is
also told in a folk tale, that when the synagogue was being build, a priest
laid the corner stone, and therefore, the first worshipers to enter were
condemned. The story is probably based on the fact, that when the synagogue was
completed, a number of Chortkov's Jews became followers of the Frank's Movement.
In 1770, twenty years after the construction of the building and the wall
started, the work was not completed due to lack of funds. In order to draw
income, it was decided to lease places in the synagogue. On the stone Mezuzah,
located at the entry from the corridor to the synagogue, it is carved:
this is the gate to the Lord Taf Kuf Lamed Alef the righteous will enter
it, meaning, that the stone wall was completed in 1771, and a Mezuzah was
put in the entryway, but the building itself was not finished until 1779, eight
years after funds were collected for the completion of the building. It is also
certain, that only the walls and maybe the roof were standing, but the ceiling
the dome and the women sanctuary were not finished it stood many years
free in the air without a building around it.
From stories told by the elderly of our generation, we learn that during the
uprising of 1848, when the Russians passed through Galicia to help the Austrian
Kaiser, the synagogue was leased to the army, and the income was used for the
building of the dome.
Among the old religious relics that belonging to the synagogue known with
A large, nine branches candelabra, with a Polish eagle in its center stood on
the reader's stand. A few years ago, an exhibition of ancient Jewish religious
relics and jewelry took place in Poland, and this candelabra towered among all
other ancient relics belonging to Poland's Jews.
An ancient silver goblet, with the inscription: this goblet belongs to
the society of
perpetual light of the holy community of Chortkov. And the blessing
who has created the fruit of the vine. The year Taf Kuf Zadik Bet
A brass charity box from 1832, that was used for collecting money, carved on
it is the shape of two lions and the words: here in Chortkov this charity
belongs to Gemilut Hesed only that is the year Taf Kuf Zadik Bet (1832)
Two identical Torah ornaments. Carved on one of them it was donated by
the woman Sara daughter of the Honorable Rabbi Yoseph of blessed memory - and
her daughter Leah daughter of the Honorable Rabbi Zvi of blessed memory from
1794 and carved on the second one is the word Sabbath.
Table of Contents
The Rabbinical Dynasty in Chortkov
By Mordecai Zilberg
Rabbi David Moshe Friedman, of blessed memory, was born in 1827 to his father
Israel from Rozyn and his mother Sara. At first he sat on the Rabbinical Throne
in the town of Potok and later on he moved and settled in Chortkov.
Rabbi David Moshe was a modest man that kept away from world affairs and spent
all his days studying the Torah and the relationship between man and his
creator. Everything about him showed his spirituality. He was consumed
idea that took over him: How could he bring forward salvation and
He felt the pain of his tortured people who were suffering from riots,
persecutions and poverty. In order to find a way to end their suffering, he
lived a tortured life, keeping himself from the pleasures of the world, though
surrounded by luxury and abundance. He ate very little, just enough to keep the
spirit in his body. He stayed awake at night dreaming of salvation and
redemption for the Jewish people.
His love of Israel and his love of humanity were his guiding light. By nature
he was a peacemaker and kept away from conflicts and quarrels.
at this time there was a fierce argument among the city residents. Between
those who followed Rabbi Shapira, who was a person with modern ideas
Exceptional Ideas in the spirits of the times. He educated the
workers and the poor. He preached, orally and by writing, many years before
Herzl, about settling in Eretz Israel." There was a fierce argument
between him and the Hassidim, who with their strong senses felt that the
smell of skepticism was coming out of all his doings. This fierce
fight turned very quickly into a cruel civil war. Even though, the Rabbi
ordered his Hassidim to restrain themselves, he did not have enough power to
control them and to solve the dispute.
In those days, the Hovevei Zion Movement (Lovers of Zion), started to
develop and later on also the Zionist Movement founded by Dr.
Herzl. While the argument, that I wrote about earlier, centered only in the
city, the Zionist Movement split the Jewish people into two
On one side were the enthusiastic followers and on the other side were the
jealous opponents. Also among the Rabbi's entourage were the same two
One Gabbai (manager or treasurer of a synagogue), was an enthusiastic
Hovevei Zion. Another Gabbai was a strong opponent to the Zionists
and acted with ridicule and mockery towards the movement and its leaders. Maybe
it is useless to mention the negative stand against the Zionist Movement
of one unimportant person. This man stood at the threshold of the Rabbi's
room and everyone who wanted to visit the Rabbi had to go through him
is possible that a great historical and important opportunity to the
Zionist Movement was lost because of this evil and jealous man. Who
knows, maybe the Zionist Movement had a better chance to
not for the negative actions of this average person. There were a lot of
attempts to draw the religious Jews, who had a lot of influence in those
towards the Zionist Movement. All these attempts failed (as it is told by
Rabbi Y. L. Maymon in his memoirs). Rabbi Aharon Marcus, an author and
philosopher, who was a Hassid and an enthusiastic Zionist, decided to
use his power to influence the Rabbi to support the Zionist
Movement." After many attempts, the Rabbi finally agreed to meet
committee and talk about the Zionist Movement." When the committee
that included also Dr. Rabbi Y. Tahon and Dr. Zaltz arrived, the same Gabbai
started to talk against the Zionists and asked: Could Herzl lead us to
Eretz Israel? Could Herzl be our Messiah?" The meeting with
the Rabbi ended without any results.
Later on, there was another attempt by Rabbi Landau from Peshmishel to
intervene between Dr. Herzl and the Rabbi from Chortkov. Dr. Herzl gave Rabbi
Landau a letter he wrote to the old Rabbi. In the letter he asked his
permission to meet with Rabbi Israel, the son of Rabbi David Moshe. After the
Gabbai read the letter, that was given to him to read to the Rabbi, he
dismissed the whole matter. Saying that the letter does not worth anything and
it was like a pebble on top of a flask." (meaning that its legal
value is worthless and its only value is to seal an everyday storage
The purpose of the matters written here are not to remind us of old sins.
These matters are written 17 years after the establishment of the State of
Israel, and it is tasteless to renew an old argument that lost its
facts given here are as they had happened, for the purpose of remembering
historical truth. They can't take away from the Rabbi's greatness, from the
influence and the spiritual leadership that he had on his large Hassidic
To understand the reasons why the Rabbis had so much influence on their
Hassidim we have to start from the beginning. From the first days of the
Hassidic Movement." The movement started after the riots and the
murders in Kamenitz during the years' 1648-49 and after the bitter
disappointment from the False Messiah Movement lead by Shabtai Tzvi
and Yakov Frank. If we look at the fundamentals of the Hassidic
Movement we can find the search for a way out from the difficult life of
the Jewish people. The Hassidic Movement was the Jewish spiritual
reaction to life of suffering, oppression, riots, lack of confidence and
humiliation that was the way of life, at that time, for the Jewish people. The
major foundations of the Hassidic Movement are: Yearn for redemption. The
belief that redemption will be arriving soon, breaking the barrier between the
rich and poor and between the scholar the illiterate and many more. The
admiration of the Rabbi and the belief in his wisdom supported the Hassid when
he talked to him and asked for his advice. Believing that the Rabbi's advice is
correct and his blessing might come. Just looking at the face of a Hassid after
he received the Rabbi's blessing we can understand the influence the Rabbi had
on his Hassidim. It was no wonder why many Hassidim left their families during
the holidays and travel hundreds of miles to visit the Rabbi. It helped them to
forget day-to-day troubles and to find themselves, even for a short time, in an
atmosphere of happiness, dancing and excitement in the company of the Rabbi.
In the history of the Hassidic Movement the name of Rabbi David
Moshe, of blessed memory, the founder of the Rabbinical Dynasty in
written as one of the greatest Hassidim.
The Rabbi died on Hosanna Raba 1904.
Rabbi Israel son of Rabbi David Moshe, of blessed memory,
Second generation to the Dynasty born on 5 Iyyar
After the death of Rabbi David Moshe, his son Rabbi Israel, inherited the
Rabbinical Throne in Chortkov. Unlike Rabbi David Moshe, who spent all his days
in G-d's work, Rabbi Israel was interested in world affairs. He spoke fluently
in German, a popular language among the intelligent Jews in Galicia. During the
life of Rabbi David Moshe the most popular phrase among the Hasaisim was:
blessing you asked from the old man but advice you asked from his
son. Rabbi Israel was a handsome man and was elegantly dressed.
followers were thousands of Hassidim not only from Galicia but also from Poland
On the eve of the first world war, as he was doing every year, the Rabbi and
his family left for the resort town of Maribad. After the war broke and after
the Russians invaded Chortkov he settled in Vienna. He visited Chortkov a few
times during the holidays but lived in Vienna until his last days.
Rabbi Israel was active in religious organizations. At first he was involved
with Hetachdot Hahardim (Orthodox Organization). Later on he was
the leader of Agudat Israel and was interested in the Return
to Eretz Yisrael Movement and the establishment of religious settlements
Rabbi Israel died in Vienna on the 13 of Kislev 1934. An honorable place is
being kept for him in the history of the Hassidim.
Rabbi Nachum Mordecai son of Rabbi Israel, of blessed memory.
Third generation to the Rabbinical Dynasty - born in 1875
When Rabbi Nachum Mordecai took over the Rabbinical Throne, after the death of
his father Rabbi Israel, the world stood in the shadows of the events were
happening in Germany after Hitler's rise to power. It was the beginning of the
destruction of the Jewish centers, who were the only sources for the
The Hassidim's decline started after the brake of the First World War and
continued in a fast pace. After Rabbi Nachum Mordecai immigrated to Israel in
1939 the Hassidic Movement from Chortkov had very little impact and
only a small group of followers stayed by his side. It took a lot of efforts to
rescue Rabbi Nachum Mordecai and his family from the Nazi hell in Vienna and
bring them to Israel. He died after a long illness on the 18th of Second Adar
1946, just a few years after he sat on the Rabbinical Throne in a modest
apartment in Tel-Aviv (Israel).
He was a noble man with a gentle soul.
Rabbi Shlomo son of Rabbi Nachum Mordecai, of blessed memory.
Fourth and last generation to the Rabbinical Dynasty.
After the death of his father, Rabbi Nachum Mordecai, Rabbi Shlomo sat for a
few years on the Rabbinical Throne in Tel-Aviv. Until his death of serious
illness he was known for this charitable work, love of truth and
With his death, the Rabbinical Dynasty from Chortkov, that lasted for four
generations came to an end.
Rabbi Shlomo died in 1958.
The Court and its customs
During the year, the number of people traveling to visit the Rabbi was
relatively small maybe a few hundred a week. There were those who came to ask
the Rabbi for his advice and to seek a cure for the sick. There were those who
could not find a husband for their daughters and those who came to complain of
unemployment. During the holidays, mostly during the High
thousands of Hassidim traveled to visit the Rabbi.
The trip to visit the Rabbi was a great spiritual experience for each
It gave him a chance to break from his daily routine. It was like a transit
from his secular world to a sacred world. The Hassidim traveled in a group as a
Team." Along the way, Hassidic music was played and songs were sung
in high spirits and excitement. They stopped to visit old acquaintance and in
the process made new friends. They talked about the Rabbi and discussed the
Torah. The anticipation for meeting the Rabbi face to face gave the
special and different flavor that could not be experienced by any other
traveler or a tourist. Sometimes it was necessary to sneak across the border
between Russia and Austria.
When they reached the Rabbi's town, the rich Hassidim stayed in hotels while
the poor among them were hosted by the Rabbi. In the first
Reception they escorted the Rabbi on his walk from his apartment to
prayers at the synagogue. The Rabbi and his entourage walked in the space
between two lines of Hassidim who were greeting and blessing the Rabbi and his
attendants. When they arrived to the synagogue, the Rabbi entered a
room called the Golden Room." The Hassidim congregated in the
sanctuary and the cantor immediately started with the public prayers. After the
prayers, they escorted the Rabbi back to his apartment and went back to
place were they were staying for lunch.
In a later hour that afternoon a Table was set in a large building
that was called Salash." Along the length of the room stood a large
table, on one side of the table were bleachers leaning against the wall
reaching all the way to the ceiling. On the other side were benches with back
support. The Hassidim crowded behind them, pushing to see what was
listening to the Rabbi talking about the Torah and getting ready to
snatch the leftovers."
After the Rabbi blessed the bread and sliced a piece from the chalah, the
Gabbai divided the slice to very small pieces. Since a scrap will not
satisfy the lion those who were sitting way back, were only able to get a
few crumbs. Also in the tradition of snatching of the leftovers
there was one rule first come first served. Those who lost, never
complained. During the meal the cantor and his choir sang songs. When
was over, there was silence in the hall. Everyone was listening to the Rabbi
discussing the Torah.
When the Table service was over, the congregation escorted the
Rabbi to his apartment and immediately the Hassidic dancing started. In the
square in front of the Rabbi's home they danced in a big circle. Those who
could not join the circle broke into it and formed a circle inside it and
others formed new circles next to it. They sang in a powerful voice:
Purify our hearts we are your humble servants... The dancing and
singing lasted until they lost their strength. Sweat covered their faces but
none of them was troubled with such a small inconvenience knowing that the
Rabbi was watching them through his window, enjoying the sight. The elders
among them were the first to leave the circle for a short rest. Their places
were taken immediately by fresh and passionate dancers who encouraged the other
dancers and did not allow the chain to break. At sunset, when it was time for
Mincha services, the crowd jumped and ran, as if ordered, towards
the window from which the Rabbi was watching the dancers. Loud shouts came from
the crowd: The Rabbi will lead us to Eretz Israel! - Next year in
Jerusalem! The window opened and the Rabbi, in a few words, responded to
their quest. After the window closed the crowd dispersed for Mincha and Ma'ariv
After the holidays were over, it was time for the Visit to the
Rabbi's room and time to say farewell. The Gabbai stood at the threshold
surrounded by a crowd of Hassidim pushing their way in. The Gabbai decided who
was the first or last to get in. Those who missed his signal and lost their
turn, patiently waited until it was their turn again. The Hassid who entered
the Rabbi's room had a note with him that he prepared earlier. On the note,
written in Hebrew, he listed his needs and requests. While the Rabbi was
reading the note, the Hassid left a Pidyon (present) of his table.
Some left a large gift and some very little. After the Rabbi finished to read
the note, he sometimes asked a question, sometimes gave advice and at the end
gave his blessing and stretched his hand for farewell.
The miracle of the Rabbi from Chortkov, Rabbi Moshe, of blessed memory
In order to complete the story of the Rabbinical Dynasty in Chortkov, it is
important to put in writing the following miracle for two reasons:
To give some idea about the quality and the nature of the miracle. Was the
fruit of the Hassidim's imagination, connecting the Rabbi with unnatural
events? Maybe what looked in the eyes of the Hassidim as a miracle, was not a
miracle at all? Maybe it was the results of great wisdom and good judgment or
the result of a wise strategy, using the right situation at the right time?
When the Rabbi's advice saved a person from trouble and severe judgment, it is
no wander that the story, that was passed from person to person, from
generation to generation, was added to and was decorated in the
imagination of those telling it. In the eyes of the Hassidim it was an
exceptional event, that could only be labeled as a miracle.
In our times,
people have many interests to think about. But, those were times when instead
of conversations about satellites circling the earth and men landing on the
moon, the Hassidim's only topic of conversation was the Rabbis and their
miracles. Also the common people, who did not travel to visit the Rabbi, were
listening to these stories. It is important to remember these times and the
generations of people, that the Hassidic stories of miracles helped. They
helped to fulfill their days and fed their souls. They sustained them in time
of trouble and gave them hope and strength. They helped them to cope with the
prosecutions forced on them by cruel dictators during the long years in exile.
The miracle in the distillery in Mylnizia
The story was written by Dr. Yigendorf, a citizen of Bat-Yam (Israel), the
grandson of the recipient of the miracle. He heard the story from his
grandfather, Avaraham Yigendorf, of blessed memory.
And this is how the story went: In the town of Mylnizia in Eastern Galicia,
lived a Jewish man by the name of Nagler. He owned a distillery that he leased
from a Polish landowner by the name of Golokovsky. One night, a farmer broke
into one of the rooms in the Distillery in order to steal a bucket of alcohol.
In the room stood a three meter tall barrel full of hot alcohol. The farmer
failed in his mission, fell into the barrel and drowned. The Austrian
government was quick to press charges against Nagler in the district court
house in Ternopol. They claimed that as the owner of the distillery, he was
responsible for the farmer's death. Nagler received the letter, written by the
district prosecutor, on Friday, the trial date was set for the following
Tuesday morning at the district court house in Ternopol. The news of the
upcoming trial ruined his Shabbat's rest. After sunset, he hitched a couple of
horses to his carriage (at that time there wasn't a train service in the area).
Nagler traveled to Chortkov on his way to Ternopol were he was going to hire a
lawyer to defend him. The trip lasted all night and he arrived in Chortkov
early Sunday morning. After a lot of efforts he was able to meet with the Rabbi
(the Rabbi met with his Hassidim only in the evenings). When the Rabbi heard
his story and the severe verdict that was waiting for him, he encouraged Nagler
and wished him luck. He also ordered Nagler to send his driver and carriage
back home and to take the mail wagon that was leaving for Ternopol early Monday
morning. Nagler was shocked when he heard the Rabbi's advice and tried to
explain to him that it was an impossible thing to do. The mail wagon was slow,
stopping to change horses in each town all the way to Ternopol. It stopped in
towns like - Kopetzinza, Horostkov, Trambola and Mykolintza. He will arrive in
Ternopol late Monday evening, long after the law offices were closed. If he
could find a lawyer, he will not have enough time to prepare his defense for
the early Tuesday morning trial. The Rabbi heard Nagler's argument and insisted
that Nagler should listen to his advice and take the mail wagon. Nagler, who
new that he should not refuse the Rabbi's advice, gave up. After he left the
Rabbi, he immediately sent his carriage back home and checked into a hotel room
in Chortkov. He was restless all day and could not sleep all nigh.
On Monday morning, when he sat in the mail wagon, on his way to Ternopol, he
could not stop sighing. A woman entered the wagon and sat next to him. Nagler's
non-stop sighs attract the woman's attention. She turned to him and wanted to
know what was wrong and why was he sighing so much. I feel as bad as you
do, she said, and I don't sigh like you." Then she told him her story:
I have an only son and he is very sick. The doctors gave all hopes for
his life. I was told that only the Rabbi from Chortkov can help me in my time
of need. Even though I'm Christian I traveled all the way from Ternopol to
visit the Rabbi. He wished my son full recovery and even gave me charms
and while she was talking, she took out the charms and showed them to Nagler
saying: I believe in the Rabbi and believe that my son will recover from
his illness. The Christian woman belief in the Rabbi and the kisses she
poured on the charms encouraged Nagler to tell her what had happened in the
distillery and the fact that he is facing a severe sentence. When he was done
telling her his story the woman started to calm him down saying: My
husband is a judge in the district court house in Ternopol. Maybe he can do
something to help you." Her words gave Nagler new hope. He stopped sighing
and started to think on how he could meet with such a dignified man. Finely the
woman found a solution: She had two suitcases. One she would take home with her
and the other she will give Nagler so he could bring it, a quarter of an hour
later, to the address she had given him. And that's exactly how it had
happened: They arrived in Ternopol at 8 o'clock in the evening. The
one suitcase and went home quarter of an hour later, Nagler brought the second
suitcase to the address she had given him. When he arrived to her home he was
welcomed at the door with great respect by her husband. In a way of an educated
man, he invited Nagler to come in. The woman told her husband what had happened
to Nagler and that he will be put on trial at the district court house the next
morning. Then, her husband asked for his name and after he was told
that it was
Nagler, he turned to Nagler and said: I have read your file,
relax and go
home in peace. Nagler thanked them and rush into town to find a lawyer
that will represent him in court the next morning.
On Tuesday morning, at the appointed hour, Nagler and his lawyer were at the
courthouse. At exactly 9 o'clock, his case was brought in front of the
Only a quarter of an hour later, the judge read his sentence, acquitting Nagler
of all charges.
Nagler happiness was twice fold: That he was cleared of all charges and was
able to cope with the emotional stress before the trial. That he never gave up
and followed the Rabbi's orders to send his carriage back home and take the
mail wagon. It was the only way for him to meet the woman who helped him and
saved him from a severe sentence that was waiting for him. We can tribute this
miracle to the great wisdom of Rabbi David Moshe Friedman, of blessed
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