by A. Shmualy
Translated by Sara Mages
The Admor (title of a Hassidic rabbi), Rabbi Shelomenu Friedman, of blessed memory, who died in Tel-Aviv, was the fourth link in the dynasty of the house of Chortkov.
The first link on the chain was Rabbi David Moshe, son of Rabbi Israel from Rozin. Rabbi Israel said about his sons, that they were like the six orders of the Mishna. And also said, that Rabbi David Moshe was against the sanctified order because he excelled in his holiness, way above the others.
Like his father, Rabbi David Moshe, he ran his court in royal manners. In the gloom of the Diaspora, he inflamed the hearts of his Hassidim, and encouraged them to seek salvation. Like a descendent of the royal house of David, he waved the royal flag in front of their eyes, and from Rabbi Moshe's Palace in Chortkov, he aroused the yearning among his followers for the renewal of the royal house of David.
His Hassidim knew, that Rabbi Israel from Rozin taught his sons: to wear shiny lacquered shoes from the outside, but without their soles on the bottom. And like his father, Rabbi David Moshe, he felt the sorrow and the pain of the Jewish people, while he was walking in his magnificent palace and his ornamental garden. From the outside, his lacquered shined, but at the bottom his bare feet stood on frozen snow. For all to see, there was comfort and abundance, but when no one was looking, there was fasting and self torture.
The leader of Israel
During the days of the second rabbi, Rabbi Israel, son of Rabbi David Moshe, there was a change in the chronicle order. Innocent people were lost, and the confident among them left. Education, spread like a fire among the young generation, destroying values and traditions. Rabbi Israel stood against it, he checked his house, strengthened his ranks, welcomed the young generation, and continued to run his kingdom with a strong arm.
During the First World War, the palace in Chortkov was destroyed, and the court was moved to the royal city of Vienna. The court, on 11 Heina Street, turned into a source of comfort and salvation. Many Hassidim looked up to their Rabbi, who lived in comfort in the capital city of Austria. Many told of wonders and miracles. Those stories were not told by lazy people, but by wise Jews, Torah scholars and dedicated Hassidim. And while they were talking, remembering Chortkov, their wide eyebrows were shaking in awe to its holiness.
During that time, Agudat Israel Movement was established, and the big conference took place in Vienna.
The rabbi from Chortkov gave a helping hand to the organizers of the new orthodox Jewry movement. He took part in the conference and also influenced its discussions and resolutions.
For thirty successive years, from 1904 to 1934, he set on his chair, and every year his stature as the nation's leader was strengthened.
When the rabbi died in 1934 he had two sons, the first Rabbi Nachum Mordechai, and the second Rabbi Bar who died a short time after his father's passing. Sitting on the rabbinical chair was the third link to the dynasty, Rabbi Nachum Mordechai.
In the tradition of his ancestors, his manners were also royal manners. His delicate personality charmed those near and far, and was expressed during the years of misery and depravations, sadness and pain. During the days of the horrible Holocaust. At the same time, the palace in Vienna was destroyed, the house of Chortkov fell, and most of Chortkov's loyal soldiers were burned in Nazi's crematories.
Rabbi Nachom Mordechai settled in Tel-Aviv. He lived in a modest apartment near a small synagogue, that synagogue that served as gathering place for the few from Chortkov who survived. Located there, was the small pure silver Holy Ark and the pure silver table, on which the notes that the Hassidim wrote, announcing themselves to the rabbi, were collected. From there, Rabbi Nachum Mordechai watched the masses of Jews walking to their death. Depressed, with a broken heart, he sat on his chair, and at old age succumbed to an illness.
In an uncomforted generation, full of miseries and sorrow, died the third link to the house of Chortkov.
Pillar of truth
Time arrived for Rabbi Shlomenu – and he declined. With grace and royalty he walked among the old Hassidim, the lucky among them, were blessed by the old rabbi, Rabbi David Moshe. But he did not want to be their rabbi. Even though they asked him, with fear and love, to sit on Chortkov's chair. They wanted him to be their rabbi because they saw in his personality the vision of his righteous ancestors. Many stopped and stared at Rabbi Slomenu when he walked in the city's streets.
The rabbi was extremely generous, and that secret was well know to the charity collectors in the country. He excelled with his love to Israel. He watched the events that were unfolding in the country from his room, surrounded by his ancient books and candelabras. In addition to his love of Israel, he also loved mankind.
With his departure, the dynasty of the house of Chortkov came to an end, and
the crown was orphaned.
Translated by Sidney C. Gelb
From my earliest youth the name Chortkov was for me like magic. My father, a Jew, a rich man, and a scholar had suddenly heard that the Harnastipeler Rebbe had made Aliyah to see the aged Chortkover Rebbe. Rev. David Moshe was the youngest son from Rizshiner. My father used to return each time an elated and fortunate for a visit by the Rebbe. I have in my childhood seen many Rabbi's - the Tsharnabiler, the Makaraver, the Rachmastrikivker, the Skvarer, the Staliner - and they were to me human beings, born of women. But the Chortkover to me shines in a special light, how from a distant, undreamed world, in deeds without legends for the Rizshiner and their children.
My father has once told that the Rizshiner said that one of their sons would bring the messiah (Mashiach). Thus from all the Rizshiner their remained only one son, The youngest, Reb. David Moshe from Chortkov, and it was clear that he would bring the Mashiach. My father used to also tell about the great wealth of the Chortkover (Hoif), from the Agroud (kindergarten), from the shteibel with its cheder, from the Rabbis chamber which was entirely gilded. It is clear that when my father decided to take me to the first time to Chortkov, and thus warned me about the bad influence of the freethinkers with the Mishkalim, and Zionists and it was for me, for a 12 year old youth, was a great experience.
The Journey alone was for me amazing, but beyond my wonder was revealed before my eyes when I saw the Chortkover yard, which was truly a palace and the entire spaciousness and opulence of it. There was no limit to my enthusiasm.
In Chortkov I saw the old Reb David Moshe, who appeared like an angel transparent and pure spirituality. I also saw Reb Yisraelitze, Reb David Mashas son, who had already had a wonderful stately appearance and a pleasant self understanding. Reb Yisraelitze had previously himself many admirers. I remember very well to this day how the young Chortkover received my father and me, in his salon and engaged in tasteful (or meaningful) conversation with my father and different subjects and he looked with affection at the youth who had come from Kiev to the Rabbi's yard.
I was once in the Chortkover Hoyf and the Chasidim called me the old Chasid after my third trip to the Rabbinate, when I came upon a story and I became eye witness, the Chasids said the youngster once saw a strong light, which harmed him!
Years have passed, the Old Chortkover didn't wait for the Mesheach and went directly to Israel. Afterwards came years of the first World War and the audacious Chortkover Hoyf where thousands of Jews dovined and danced with abandon became filled with Cossacks and in the Hoyf and the Shteibel they installed horses.
The Rebbe and his family moved to Vienna in exile.
Several years ago (the article was published in the Chortkover Yarein) I was in Vienna for the Pan Club Congress and I decided to go to see the Chortkover. The Rebbe had really not received anyone while he was not in the best of health, but when he heard the son of Reb Israel Meisel wanted to see him, he had me brought in to see him.
We sat for half an hour and conversed about affairs of the world. I was astounded at the proficiency with which the Chortkover expounded on every aspect of Jewish and secular living.
How the years fly by!
So soon the young Chortkover is 77 years old, also in the way we cannot go back!
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