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[Page 92]

Learning from the Sages of Israel
(from Entsiklopedia li–godolei yisrael be–dorot ha–akhronism)

by Rabbi David Halakhami


Rabbi Zvi–Ber Friedman, the Maggid of Mezritch:

When he came to Mezritch, the Maggid of Kozienice said that he had learned eight hundred books of Kabbala, but that when he came to the Maggid of Mezritch, he came to the realization that he had not yet begun to understand them (p. 153).

Rebbe Elimelikh's sanctity was heralded all over, and thousands came to him in search of help and healing.

His numerous students settled in the cities of Poland and Galicia, and showed the ways of the Lord to the masses of the people. Among them were the Rebbe of Lublin, Rebbe Mendel of Rimanov, the Maggid of Kozienice, Rebbe Moishe–Leib of Sassov, Rebbe Avraham–Yehoshua Heschel of Apta, Rebbe Naphtali of Ropschitz, and others. Before his death, Rebbe Elimelekh placed his hands on the heads of his disciples and blessed them. He gave the sight of his eyes to the Rebbe of Lublin, and to the Maggid of Kozienice – the spirit of his heart (p. 165).?

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Rebbe Yaakov–Yoysef ben ha–Rav Zvi Katz of Polnoye:

… Rebbe Moishe of Kozienice told that his father, the Maggid Rebbe Yisroel of Kozienice once visited the town of Brody. While passing a certain house, he asked for an explanation of the odor of impurity emanating from it. It was explained to him that the Polnoyer's book, Toldot Yaakov–Yosef, had been burned beside this house, and even though a number of years had passed, traces of the deed were still discernible (p. 207).

His published works were: Beit Yisrael, on a number of Talmudic tractates; Maggid Mesharim, on the tractate Shabbat; Agunat Yisrael, on the granting of permission to abandoned wives to remarry; Avodat Yisrael; Ner Yisrael, on the Psalms; Gvurat Yisrael, and many other books on all the branches of Torah.


Rabbi Dov–Ha–levi Hurwitz in the name of Rabbi Azriel Hurwitz:

… at the time of his service in Lublin, he stirred up a great dispute over the permission granted an abandoned woman to remarry by the Maggid of Kozienice, whose decision had been published with an appendix in which the leading lights of the time indicated their agreement.

Rav Azriel opposed this permission, and in a pamphlet entitled Divrei Rivot attempted to reject and refute the Maggid's decree, which was published in his book, Agunat Yisrael. The Maggid relied for this case upon the agreement of Rav Pinkhas the Wonder–Worker, but Rav Azriel expressed his doubts as to whether Rav Pinkhas was really in agreement with him.

The Maggid answered him sharply, and refuted the argument of the Rav of Lublin with decisive proofs. With respect to Rav Azriel's suspicions regarding the agreement of Rav Pinkhas, the Maggid replied, “He has permission to ask the sage himself if I have added or subtracted even a single letter from his words” (p. 223).


Rebbe Moishe–Elyakim Beriah of Kozienice

Rebbe Moishe Elyakim Beriah was the son of the Maggid and the son–in–law of Rebbe Elimelekh of Lizensk. He learned Torah from his father and spent time in the courts of other tzaddikim, among them Rebbe Zishe of Onipol and Rebbe Elimelekh of Lizensk.

He was renowned for his greatness in revealed and concealed learning; for his piety, reclusiveness and fear of God. At first he was the congregational preacher in Ostrowca, but after the death of his father, he was authorized by the Seer of Lublin to take his father's place in Kozienice, where thousands and tens of thousands streamed to him.

The tzaddikim of his generation told mighty things of him, and granted him great respect.

Rebbe Avraham–Yehoshua Heschel of Apta said that he (Rav Moishe) and his father were comparable to King David. Rebbe Yerakhmiel of Pshiskhe also said that Rebbe Moishe's greatness would not be revealed until the coming of the Messiah.?

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In this book Be'er Moshe, Rebbe Moishe describes the ways of the true tzaddikim:

“It is the way of the true tzaddikim that their hearts are always shattered within them for the sake of the poverty and sorrow of the holy shekhina. The shekhina wants with all its heart to shower an abundance of all sorts of good and treasure stores of blessing upon Israel, but Israel cannot receive it, for their deeds are not worthy of it. Is there anything more sorrowful than a mother exerting herself to suckle a sick child who is unable to suck? How great her bitterness of soul over such a torment!”

“Thus is it in thousands upon thousands of comparable cases. It is known that the cow wishes to give suck more than the calf wants to be suckled, and the wish and desire of the shekhina is to benefit us with all the benefits in the world.”

“And it is over this that the tzaddik is to sicken, that his heart is to melt in his breast–continually.”

He cautioned his visitors about the importance of inner intention. He was accustomed to tell a story in the name of the Baal Shem Tov entitled “And the Skies Closed off their Rains.”

The rainy season had passed, and not a drop had fallen. What did the sages do? They decreed a fast, convened an assembly and prayed to the Lord with all their might. The Besht noticed one man in particular from among the simple people who was praying with great devotion, repeating the verse, “and he [God] shut up the heavens, so that there be no rain” (Deut. 11:17) several times, with tears and supplications until it became apparent that his words proceeded from his heart with purity of intention and wondrous honesty.

After he had finished, the Besht went up to him and asked him to explain the verse he had been repeating. The man answered simply, “And he shut up [atzar] the heavens, – I figured God would squeeze [ya'atzor] and wring the sky, the way you squeeze olives and grapes, until not a drop of rain would be left in it, and as far as 'there be no rain* goes, there'd be no rain in the heavens anyway because it'd all fall to the earth against its will and water the woods and vineyards.”

When the Besht heard this interpretation, he said that this man's prayer had been more effective than all the others, for it had been uttered with simplicity and purity of intention …

Rebbe Moishe of Kozienice died at fifty–one. His position was filled by his son, Rebbe Elazar, the son–in–law of Rebbe Yaakov of Kolbisow, himself the son of Rebbe Naphtali of Ropschitz. His other son was Rav Yissakhar, who published the works of the Maggid. His sons–in–law: Rav Yaakov–Yoel, the grandson of Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta; Rav Yosef Unger of Dombrowa; Rav Yitzkhah–Shlomo Mazlikhov, and Rav Mordekhai–Ze'ev Hurwitz, the grandson of the Seer of Lublin.

His published books: Be'er Moshe, on the Torah; Da'at Moshe, Binat Moshe, Kahalat Moshe, Pirkei Moshe, Mateh Moshe, T'filla le–Moshe, and Va–Yakhel Moshe on the Psalms (p. 244).?

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A Story About Rebbe Yitzkhok–Meir Alter of Ger

… the Gerer Rebbe was born in 1799 to Rav Yisrael Rotenberg, chief of the rabbinical court of Magniszow and Ger, and a hasid of Rebbe Levi–Yitzkhak of Berdichev and the Kozienicer Maggid. He achieved renown as a child prodigy and servant of the Lord, and the Maggid of Kozienice amused himself in studying Torah with the youth. One of the Maggid's hasidim once said to little Yitzkhok–Meir, “I'll give you a golden dinar if you can tell me where God dwells.”

“And I'll give you two if you can tell me where he doesn't,” replied Yitzkhok–Meir …

At first he frequented the Maggid, and after the latter's death, Moishe–Elyakim Beriah.

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The Maggid Aided the Aliya of Hasidim
Ha–Maggid Mi–Kozienice, (p. 115)

by Z.M. Rabinowitz

When the hasidic colony established in the Holy Land by Rebbe Mendele of Vitebsk found itself in financial straits, Reb Abraham Kalisker sent a special emissary to Poland in order to establish and collect a steady income for the settlement. The emissary, Reb Ephraim Fishel of Tzefat, journeyed to the courts of the Polish tzaddikim, among them that of the Maggid of Kozienice. The Maggid wrote his hasidim a letter in high style requesting support for the colony. This letter of encouragement laid the foundation for the Kolel Polin–Varsha and continued the chain of hasidic emigration and building of settlements until the time of the new aliya.

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The Maggid of Kozienice and His Way of Khasidus

by Aaron Zeitlin

Like his teacher, the Maggid of Mezritch, the Kozienicer Maggid was extremely frail, weak on his feet and welded to his bed.

He was born, a seven months' child, to a poor and aged bookbinder. It is inconceivable how his soul managed to sustain itself in his body, so immaterial was his very flesh. There did not seem to be even an ounce of flesh on his dried–up bones.


On a Sedan–Chair in the Bes–Medresh

He was carried into the bes–medresh on a sedan–chair. Boots were too crude for his feet, so he went about in stockings, under which a bearskin had to be laid in order for him to stand. His body was wrapped in hare–hide, and was so transparent that one rabbi said that, “the Kozienicer body has the clarity of a thousand Jewish souls.”

In this weak and scarcely living body dwelt a soul of flaming fire which kept the body alive. It accepted its sufferings without protest and surrendered itself to the will of God. For its sake and because of its merits, his body did not fall apart. Yes, his body even danced ardently when such was required in the service of the Lord – but entirely through the strength of his powerful soul.

When the Maggid was carried into the bes–medresh in the morning, two beadles took him down from the sedan–chair. The assembled hasidim stood in two rows on either side of the rebbe, holding candles in their hands, and led the rebbe, garbed in talis and tefillin, to the ark.

They handed him the sefer–toyre, and he – scarcely breathing, scarcely alive – strengthened himself and danced before the ark with the To rah in his hands. Afterwards, he danced before the menorah on the amud, and put the candles into it.

After the shmone–esrei he was so exhausted that he had to lie down on the hide spread beneath him. He was barely able to finish the davening. With the last of his strength, he was then taken home to his private chamber. A lion during the davening, on the way home he was unable to move a single limb, to raise a hand or a foot.


Was His Fame Unholy?

Hasidim began to come to this Jew, this Jew who was more spirit than matter. When his renown had spread, he grew very worried: Who knows whether this renown comes from evil spirits or not??

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But no. Polish Jewry needed a rebbe, a spiritual leader to pray for the community and for individuals. Congress (central part of) Poland, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was hasidic, and Jews grouped themselves around the Maggid of Kozienice and the Seer of Lublin. Reb Yisroel harnessed his frail body to the service of the Lord and of Israel.


Two Kinds of Noise

A letter of the Maggid's indicates how he was always able to strengthen himself against his illness through the power of his faith. In this letter, Reb Yisroel cites the Tikkunei Ha–Zohar to the effect that there are two types of noise (Hebrew: ra'ash, spelt resh, ayin, shin). There is one ra'ash in which God is not (lo be–ra'ash ha–shem: “and God was not in the noise/thunder”, 1 Kings, 19:11), and another which is the reverse, eresh (spelt ayin, resh, shin), a bed, or more specifically, a sick–bed. Through faith, eresh is transformed into esser (ten; spelt ayin, shin, resh), corresponding to the ten sefirot, and when this takes place the shekhina is at the sick man's bedside.

The Kozienicer observed that the first sort of ra'ash, the godless sort, is the noise made by the evil man (rasha, spelt resh, shin, ayin) who is by nature unable to bear any suffering. As soon as he starts to suffer, he starts to rebel and shray gevald. The righteous man, on the other hand, the man who is pious and just, accepts his suffering in silence, with love and faith, and becomes eser oysyoys (ten letters, i.e., the ten elemental letters, corresponding to the sefirot, through which the world was created. Eres has been transformed into eser). The righteous sufferer binds his sufferings to the shekhina and the suffering of the Messiah, and thus elevates his own illness to the highest levels.

And when this world has passed away, continues the Kozienicer, then everything will be moderated (i.e., the laws will be elevated to their heavenly roots), and the sick shall stand upon their feet. This standing upon weak and sickly feet is here meant both literally and figuratively.

This teaching has a biographical value, and illuminates the Kozienicer's mystical attitude to his illness as well as his spiritual gestalt. It must be realized that the teachings of great rebbi'im generally bear a direct relation to their personal modes of being. If one wishes to know something about them, one must first go to their teachings.


Did the Kozienicer Practice Tzaddikism?

Simon Dubnow claims that the Kozienicer Maggid cultivated the tzaddikism, as he labelled it, of “children, life and a living” for which Dubnow takes umbrage with him in the same way as he does with the Seer of Lublin and the Rebbe Reb Elimelekh of Lizensk for instituting the custom of giving pidyoynes (“ransom money”, the rebbe's payment for help and advice) and kvitelekh (written petitions given to the rebbe).?

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Nevertheless, there is a teaching in Avodat Yisrael which demonstrates that the Maggid of Kozienice was opposed to praying for “children, life, and a living”. We will first examine his teaching, and afterwards see why the Kozienicer took the praying for “children, life, and a living” upon his own shoulders.

The teaching is based on the statement of the Shulkhan Arukh that all ten men of a minyan must be in one and the same place. The Kozienicer goes beyond the statement's literal sense and reads an exalted, mystic hasidic intention into it.

One place, he says, means that the minyan must concentrate itself spiritually in one place and in God's name. The principle of every prayer is the completion of God's kingdom (malkhus, also the lowest sefira) so that God might be one and his name might be one. What, then, is to be done if the ten Jews who make up the minyan begin to ramble in their thoughts, each one somewhere else, despite their being together in a single room? If instead of completing and unifying God's kingdom, which is the purpose of prayer, each one is to pray for his own needs – one for life, a second for children, a third for a living, and so on – they are no longer a real minyan, for they are not in the same place spiritually. Although they find themselves in one location they are in truth scattered and dispersed.

Consequently, Jews may not pray for the satisfaction of their own wants while they are engaged in prayers of unification. Prayer is a mystical out into which a Jew may not inject his own private concerns.

How can he be helped, then? This is where the tzaddik comes in. Only he, who has been refined from and cleansed of all earthly motives, has the right as well as the duty to pray for others. Thus does the tzaddik become one who prays for “children, life, and a living”; and in order that it not be said that the holds himself in great esteem because of his virtue, he takes a pidyen from his flock.

The tzaddik receives a pidyen so that heaven can have no complaints. If heaven should ask him, “Who are you, that you may do that which other Jews may not” the tzaddik can answer simply, “I'm a hired man.”

Such humility must make an impression. Since the tzaddik does not deny that he has been hired, he must be heard out – he speaks the truth.


The Kvitel is the Ransom of Life

The pidyen given the tzaddik is the redemption or ransom of life. But, whereas deliverance must be besought for each Jew individually according to the particular root of his soul, the tzaddik who is praying for him must first examine and hear him out, identify the man's essential nature, the root of his soul. He must also know his name and that of his mother; it is from these that the kvitel derives. The fact that one is named such–and–such rather than so–and–so is no accident; there is a secret in the arrangement of the letters, a secret having once again to do with the root of the soul, with the higher, spiritual discreteness of the person who is to be helped.?

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Letters and their arrangement occupy an important place in kabbalah. Letters are transposed, thus mitigating laws and annuling evil decrees, increasing mercies and brightness. We have seen above how ra'ash produces eres, and eres, eser, and what the Maggid of Kozienice has to say about it.

Is this all “practical”, commercialized Khasidus, as Dubnow contemptuously labels it? Nothing of the kind! Hasidism was founded on kabbalah from beginning to end, and is a direct result of the purest Baal–Shemian khasidus.

It can be asked whether kvitelekh and pidyoynos did not, with the passage of time, decline from their pristine, highly mystical level. It is, however, certain that in the time of the Maggid of Kozienice and the Seer of Lublin this matter stood on the highest rung of spirituality, despite the “observations” of misnagdim and maskilim (“the enlightened”) whose vain and malevolent words have been dug up with such eagerness by Dubnow.


The Maggid was a Great Scholar

A contemporary scoffer cracked wise at the expense of the Maggid's learning, saying that the Kozienicer simply had no time for study because he was tied up helping barren women.

This is sheer nonsense. The Maggid was not only a learned man, but a genius of the first rank, as was attested by Rav Khaim Volozhiner after discussing learned matters with him for a lengthy period.

We would, of course, have been aware of this even without such proof. It is enough to look into his books to see his academic, not merely his hasidic greatness. The Kozienicer is a representative of hasidic synthesis: he reads Maimonides in the light of the Baal Shem Tov; he is as at home in kabbalah as in Talmud; binds learning to holiness and is a great master of both the mystic and the revealed traditions. He takes midrashim and builds khasidus on them; he takes Pirkei Avot and the Maharal of Prague and does likewise. Everything is threaded into the great glittering fabric of hasidism.

Looking at a kvitel is bound up with a special power of the eye, with an acuity in looking through and piercing the veil of the material. Hasidim say that Rebbe Elimelekh of Lizensk had a sharp eye, and that the Seer of Lublin's was still sharper. They say that the Seer's sight was even more acute – if such a thing is possible – than the Lizensker's.


The Duke Bows his Head to the Maggid

The Seer's friend, the Kozienicer, had a reputation for acuity of sight, although not so great as that of the Seer himself. This acuity even produced admirers among the higher aristocracy of Poland. Prince Czartoryski bowed his head meekly to the sick, poverty–stricken old Jew from Kozienice. Prince Poniatowski sought his blessing and advice.?

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The pale, emaciated Kozienicer, who kept himself going only through the power of faith, blessed the highly placed gentiles, but only on the condition that they do favours for the Jews. The proud, mustachioed pans trembled and gave their promise.

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The Maggid Argues Things out with the Lord

by Menashe Unger

Reb Yisroel Hoffstein, the Maggid of Kozienice (born approximately 1737), was raised in the town of Apt, where his father, a simple bookbinder named Shabsi, was living. In the same way as he was born when his father was already steeped in age, so Reb Yisroel was very frail even in his youth.

His father was very poor, and could not hire good teachers for him. Even so, young Yisroel displayed a great aptitude for learning, and had a great passion for Torah. Even as a boy, he knew that he did not come from a distinguished family, and that he had on that account to make even greater efforts in his studies. It is interesting that the Maggid once said that if he knew that he came from the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (i.e., a distinguished lineage, and not simply a Jewish one), he would dance in the streets with his cap cocked to the side for joy.


The Candle did not Burn Out

From childhood on, young Yisroel gained renown as a prodigy. His eagerness for learning was so great that one Khanuka, when he was seven years old, he was given a three–groschen candle so that he wouldn't linger too long in the bes–medresh, because his father was afraid that he'd end up playing cards with the other boys. As soon as Yisroel began learning, he lost track of time, but the little candle kept burning and burning until midnight.

When Yisroel finally came home, his father, assuming that he'd been playing cards, took a whip and beat him. Little Yisroel lay in bed with his pains, but said nothing. Had he but told his father that he had been sitting in the bes–medresh learning, his father would certainly have believed him; but he did not want to reveal that the candle had burned so long out of respect for his studying, so he took the blows in silence and told his father nothing.

Hasidim tells that an angel came into the bes–medresh and so enjoyed Yisroel's studying that he gave fire to the candle so that it would burn until midnight.


Yisroel Becomes a Member of Ner Tamid

When Yisroel was seven years old, his father enrolled him in the Ner Tamid society. The purpose of the society was to hear toyre from Rav Moshe Nossen–Note Shapira of Apt. Reb Shabsi the bookbinder was one of the active officials of the society. The circumstances of Yisroel's acceptance into the society are recorded in its register: “On khol ha–moed Pesakh, 1744, the young boy Yisroel ben Shabsai was received into the society, and his father gave alms of three silver zlotys.” (See Le–Korol Ha–Yehudim be–Lublin, by B. Nissenbaum; Z.M. Rabinowitz, Ha–Maggid Mi–Kozienice).

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The young prodigy studied for a time in the yeshiva of Rav Dov Berish Katz, the Apter rav. The greatest minds of the Maggid's generation bore witness to his having been a great prodigy even in his youth. The gaon Rav Yitzkhok–Avraham, the rav of Pintschev and author of Keter Kehuna, testifies to this.

When Yisroel was somewhat older, he went from Apt to Ostrowca, to the yeshiva of Rav Yekhezkel, and from there to the Harachow yeshiva in Wohlin, headed by Rav Mordekhai–Tzvi Horowitz, the son of Rav Yitzkhakl Hamburger. After this, Yisroel wandered to many cities in Poland, Learning Torah.

Rav Aharon, the Brisker rav and author of Minkhat Aharon, wanted to arrange a marriage between Yisroel and his daughter, but nothing came of his plans.


A Melamed in Pshiskhe

Reb Shabsi passed away in 1761, and Yisroel moved to Pshiskhe in the district of Radom, which was a hasidic centre at the time. The preacher in Pshiskhe, Rav Avraham, introduced the young Yisroel to a new world full of mysteries, a world of kabbala, tzaddikim, and tales.

Reb Yisroel was popular in Pshiskhe. One of its wealthy residents, a certain Reb Yissokhor Ber, took Yisroel into his house and supported him with food and drink so that he could spend his time in study.

When Reb Yisroel –stopped eating at Reb Yissokhor Ber's, he became a melamed, and it seems that he had great pedagogical abilities, for his teachings contain many exemplar dealing with children. Thus he says in Avodat Yisrael (Parshat Ki–Tisa) that one must explain to a man how to become a good Jew by means of various examples. Just as a father who wishes to explain some concept or other to this child will package it in a familiar wrapping so that the child will understand it better––so should it likewise be done with adults.

With the money he earned from his teaching, Reb Yisroel purchased the Etz Ha–Khaim by Khaim Vital, as well as other books and manuscripts. Many books have been printed from manuscripts in the Maggid's possession, among them, Kitvei Kodesh, a florilegium; Divrei Shmuel by Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nickolsburg; and Kedushat Levi on Pirkei Avot by Rebbe Levi–Yitzkhok of Berdichev.

Hasidim say that when the Kozienicer came to the Maggid of Mezritch for the first time, he had already learned eight hundred books of kabbala thoroughly; but as soon as he crossed the Mezritcher's threshold, he realized that he still knew nothing (see Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim, Vol. l, p. 287).


A Tale of a Katinka

The Kozienicer Maggid believed that a man must work on himself, by himself until he has achieved something, and he himself fulfilled this precept. He wanted to learn everything by himself, so that he would be saturated with both the revealed and concealed aspects of the Torah.?

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He told his Hasidim to do the same thing: If you want to achieve something, you have to do it yourself.

It is told that a woman once came to him with a kvitel, weeping that she had already been married twelve years and still had no children.

The Maggid asked her, “What do you figure to do about it?” She did not know what to say.

The Maggid told her, “When my mother was old and still childless, she heard once that the Baal Shem Tov was coming to Apt. She went to, him with a kvitel, weeping that he should pray for her to have a child.”

“What do you want to do about it?” he asked her.

“What can l do when my husband is a poor and simple bookbinder?” she answered: “But I have one good thing which I will give the rebbe.”

“She ran right home and took out her best piece of clothing, her 'Katinka', and ran back with it to the inn where the Besht was staying. On her arrival, she discovered that he had already left for Medzibozh. With nary a moment's hesitation, she set out on foot for Medzibozh, having no money to hire a horse and wagon. She travelled from town to town until she reached the Besht and gave him the 'Katinka'.

“You have done well,” said the Besht, and he hung the garment on the wall

“My mother,” said the Kozienicer in conclusion, “then went on foot from town to town until she returned to Apt, and within a year she was blessed with a son, and I was born.”

“Well, I'll bring the rebbe a nice piece of clothing that I have at home,” said the woman, “so that l can be blessed with a son, too.”

“lt won't help,” said the Maggid. “You've already heard the story, but my mother had never heard any story” (Likutim Khidushim, Warsaw, 1898).

The Kozienicer Maggid was a disciple of Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nickolsburg and Rebbe Levi–Yitzkhok of Berdichev. From the Berdichever he learned to intercede for the Jews, to chat with God in the Berdichever manner, sometimes speaking to him in Yiddish and Polish.

It is also told in Eser Orot (p.76) that the Maggid used to sing in Polish and Hebrew on Purim. For example, he used to sing a song which began, “Jaki purim, taki lel–shimurim”. He also sang “Hulaj dusza bez koszuli” (“Let the Soul Dance Shirtless“, the body being considered as a garment of the soul) and “Kto rano wstaje, temu pan bog pochwaly daje” (“God blesses him who gets up in the morning”). Sometimes while davening he would say in Polish, “Moj kochanku”, my beloved (see Likutim Khidushim).?

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Why Have You Taken a Dislike to Us?

A woman once came to the Maggid and reported that her husband had thrown her out because she was ugly. “And could it be that maybe you are no beauty?” asked the Maggid ingenuously.

Rebbe,” she exclaimed, “If I was pretty enough for him under the khupe, I've now become by him ugly ?”

At once a trembling took hold of the Maggid. He gave the woman his blessing, and as soon as she had left the room began to pray to God, saying, “Master of the Universe, remember what this woman has said, remember the people of Israel! When the Jews said, “We will obey and hear, ” and you were wedded to the people .of Israel they: were “beautiful in your eyes. So why have you now taken a dislike to us?”” (Rav Naphtali Ha–Cohen Schwartz, Beit Naphtali, Munkacz, 1906).

Before Kol Nidre in the last year of his life, when he was already suffering greatly, the Maggid stood before the amud, and before he said the verse, “and the Lord said, I have forgiven according to your word,” he said, “Master of the Universe! There is no limit to your greatness. You know that I have davened before the amud all month, even though I am suffering greatly; and you know well that not for my own sake have I done this, but for the sake of your people Israel. Therefore I ask you: If I could stand up to daven before you although I am suffering so many torments, is it hard for you to say but two words? Therefore I request of you say what is written, And the Lord said, I have forgiven according to your word.”


The Lizensker's Disciples

Rebbe Reb Elimelekh of Lizensk raised up many disciples, but of these only three disseminated his teachings in Poland: the Maggid of Kozienice, the Seer of Lublin (Reb Yaakov–Yitzkhok Horowitz), and the Rebbe Reb Mendele of Rimanow.

These three tzaddikim walked one path of khasidus, and raised up hundreds of disciples, a large number of whom became rebbi'im in Poland and Galicia.

All three were very close to one another. Together, they issued statutes for Polish Jewry, and each held the others in great esteem. The Kozienicer wrote to the Seer of Lublin, “the rabbi, the great light of Torah and khasidus, a holy man of God.”


The Seer's Wife is Helped

After the Seer of Lublin had married his second wife and she had no children, she went to receive a blessing from the Maggid of Kozienice

The Kozienicer went to Lublin for the bris.

Hasidic legend supplies all the details of how the rebbetzin came to Lublin, and thus is the story told:?

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The Lubliner Rebbe had a hasid named Reb Leib Mimilus who had a sister–in–law named Beile. She was descended from the Bnei Yehoshua, Rav Yehoshua Heschel ben Falk of Lemberg, and had never been married. Reb Leib used always to submit kvitelekh in which he asked the rebbe to bless him with a worthy match for his sister–in–law, but the rebbe would always tell him to wait.

After the death of Tille, the Seer's first wife, the Seer sent a shadkhan to Reb Leib, and his sister–in–law was offered a match with the Seer of Lublin. Reb Leib and his sister–in–law both agreed to the match, and she was married to the Seer.

This second rebbetzin had no children, so she went to Kozienice and gave the Maggid a kvitel. On her arrival, the Maggid went out to meet her and said, “As long as you're here, you're no rebbetzin. As long as you're here, you'll eat and drink and then you'll listen to my prayer––and you'll be helped.”

The Maggid was so frail that he referred to himself as a bag of bones, but he began davening with great ardour. After the davening, the rebbetzin went home. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

The Seer invited the Maggid to the bris, and the Maggid travelled to Lublin by way of Pulavy. On his arrival in Pulavy, Prince Czartoryski came out to meet him and invited him to his palace. The Maggid declined the invitation, saying that he had to go to Lublin, but that he would pay him a visit on his way back (Eser Orot, p.76).


The Halt Made to Walk

When the Maggid arrived in Lublin, the streets were full of people who had turned out to see him, among them many noblemen and noblewomen who wanted his blessing. Among these was a noblewoman with her son––he had scorched his feet and was unable to walk. The Maggid said to her, “Promise me not to raise the taxes of your Jewish tavern keepers, and your son will be helped”.

The noblewoman gave her promise. The Maggid ordered her son to bring him a light for his pipe. The boy got up immediately and began to walk (Eser Orot, p.77).


Reb Hersch–Melekh Goes to Kozienice on Foot

The rebbi'im held the Kozienicer Maggid in such esteem that once the Rebbe Reb Mendele went into an ecstasy at the shaleshides, and said on his return, “I heard an oracle in heaven that whosoever lives at the time of the Maggid of Kozienice and does not see him, will not be found worthy to see the face of the Messiah.”

This was heard by the Rebbe Reb Hersch–Elimelekh of Dinov, who took his pack and his staff and set out on foot for Kozienice immediately after havdole. He wore himself out with walking; he did not want to rest, so that he would come to Kozienice as quickly as possible. He did not go to an inn on his arrival, but made straight for the Maggid.

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The Maggid was already very ill at this time. He lay in bed with his hasidim standing around him. As soon as the Dinover Rebbe came in, he jostle d his way to the bed and peered over a hasid's shoulder in order to behold the holy countenance of the Maggid of Kozienice. After seeing it, he said, “Praised be the blessed Lord, that I have been worthy to acquire a rebbe for myself with the sight of my eyes!”


A Wedding in Zelechow

The degree to which the Maggid of Kozienice was honoured in Poland is attested by the description of Reb Avraham Zussman, who lived in his time, and who, while still a young man, went to London, where he became shoykhet through the good offices of Rav Nossen Adler.

In one of his books (Barukh Mevinim, Vilna, 1869, p.97; this is cited in Z.M. Rabinowtiz, Ha–Maggid Mi–Kozienice, p.77, whence we have it), Zussman writes:

“When I was seven or eight years old, there was a great wedding in Zelechow between Reb Mattele, a grandson of Rebbe Yaakov–Yitzkhok of Lublin, and the daughter of the wealthy Reb Avigdor of Zelechow. The Maggid of Kozienice and the Seer of Lublin, together with their students and their students' students, were at the wedding. There were countless hasidim present; so many that the town's houses could not hold them all, and people were practically sleeping in the streets.”

The ceremony was held on Friday. The Lubliner Rebbe came on Wednesday, and all the local dignitaries, in addition to a great number of hasidim, came to meet him in wagons and on foot. They accompanied him for over a mile. They came into town in the evening, and arranged all their wagons in a circle around the Lubliner's. They held a torchlight parade, going around the market a couple of times, and lights burned in every window. The celebration was enormous.

“The elderly Maggid of Kozienice arrived a day later and was accorded the same honour.”

“The ceremony took place on Friday in front of the shul. I recall that the streets were full of rainwater that day, so they laid planks from the house where the Maggid was staying up to the shul. Rav Yaakov–Shimon Deutsch, the rav of Zelechow, walked in the mud beside the Maggid and held his right hand; another distinguished man walked on the other side, and held his left hand.”

“The Maggid performed the blessings under the khupe, while the Rebbe from Lublin read out the marriage contract (the Maggid was smaller in stature and older than the Lubliner).”

“On shabbes before minkha, the Maggid came into the shul and delivered a sermon––the Lubliner was there listening.”

This description is very characteristic, for it gives us a picture of a rebbi'ishe wedding in the time of the Maggid of Kozienice and the Seer of Lublin.?

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The Kozienicer Intercedes for Jews

Like all the leaders of his generation, the Maggid of Kozienice understood that peace was the best thing for the Jews. He believed that it was better for King Stanislaw August Poniatowski to rule, rather than the lesser nobility, who had united themselves in various confederations. The nobility was engaged in a series of internecine struggles, and the Jews were the perennial victims of these wars.

When a law requiring Jews to serve in the military was about to be passed in 812, the hasidim sent a delegation to Josef Poniatowski, minister of defense according to hasidic legend one, of the Maggid's non–Jewish adherents. The hasidim persuaded him to repeal the ordinance; in place of military service, it was decided that the Jews would pay a tax of 700,000 gulden a year.

In 1810, an assembly of representatives of all the Jewish communities of Poland was held, a sort of Council of the Four Lands. Twenty delegates were chosen to go before the finance minister and the king to persuade them to annul the shekhita tax which was grievously oppressing the Jewish population. Local officials exploited the tax, and were stuffing their pockets with Jewish money.

The Maggid of Kozienice was also among the representatives chosen. After the selection, however, the governor of the district of Radom announced to the finance minister that the Maggid would be unable to attend “because he is old and frail”.


The Pedigree Starts With Me

Through his sayings and teachings, the Maggid of Kozienice has left us an idea of his thoughts on various subjects. So, for example, he did not think much of these Jews who fancied themselves the scions of noble lines.

Legend has it that there once came to him a Jew of distinguished family background, who was continually boasting about what great forebears he had. Said the Maggid to his hasidim, '“the difference between me and him is that one pedigree comes to an end with him, while another begins with me.”

The Maggid believed that peace must prevail among the Jews. He once said, “If all Jews would make peace and take one another by the hand, their hands would all become one hand which would be able to reach the Throne of Glory.”

The Maggid would on occasion make bold to speak to the Lord after the manner of Rebbe Levi–Yitzkhok of Berdichev. When he learned the Talmudic saying (Pesakhim, 87b), “God drove the Jews into exile only in order that proselytes might be added to them,” the Maggid lifted his eyes to heaven and said, “Master of the Universe, of what good is interest? Better to raise the principle––take your Jews out of exile and don't wait for any interest.”

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God is Everywhere

The Maggid once characterized hasidism in a couple of lines: “When you ask a simple Jew where God is, he will answer, ‘In heaven’. When you ask an educated Jew the same question, he begins to calculate: from earth to heaven is five hundred parasangs; from one heaven to the next, another five hundred parasang s. He will calculate and calculate until he has figured out where the Throne of Glory is located. Ask a kabbalist the same question and he'll enumerate all the upper worlds until he comes to the Throne of Glory. But if you ask a hasid, he'll tell you right away: ‘God is everywhere’.”

What Will He Give to the Poor?

The Maggid once taught a niggardly rich man how to eat. Once, a stingy rich man came to him. The Maggid asked him, “What do you eat every day?”

“A piece of dried bread with salt and a little boiled water.”

The Maggid reproved him. “That is no way to live. You must live in the world, you must eat fattened fowls and soup, and drink good wine.”

The rich man said that from then on he would act as the Maggid had told him.

After the rich man had left, the hasidim asked the Maggid why he had ordered him to eat such fine meals. The Maggid replied, “Why don't you understand? If the rich man, the miser, eats fattened fowl, he'll understand that a pauper needs at least a piece of bread. But if he is satisfied with a piece of bread, then what will he give the poor?” Thus did the Maggid understand the miser's nature.

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The Maggid's Rebbi'im and Friends

by Rabbi Dr. Meir Schwartzman

When the Kozienicer Maggid, Reb Yisroel Hoffstein, began to study with the Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nickolsburg, he was still living in Ricziwol, a small town not far from Kozienice. The Kozienicer went to Mezritch with Reb Shmelke, and became friendly there with the Rebbe Reb Elimelekh of Lizensk, whose student he later became.

The greatest men of his era gathered around Reb Yisroel. His students were renowned rebhi' im and tzaddikim in Poland, Galicia, Rumania, and Hungary. We will enumerate some of them here:

  1. Reb Eliezer Ha–Levi, rav of Tarnograd and author of No'am Meggadim on the Torah and Imrot Tehorot on the Psalms.
  2. Reb Itamar of Konskewola, author of Mishmeret Itamar.
  3. Arye–Leih Lifschitz, rav of Vishnitz.
  4. Reb Arye–Leihush, rav of Kishinev, author of Khomat Uriel and Gvurat Arye.
  5. Reb Gavriel Malakh, the Maggid's private secretary.
  6. Reb Gedalya Zelechower.
  7. Reb Gershon, the rav of Ricziwol.
  8. Reb Ber of Radoshitz, a great wonder–worker, a student of the Seer of Lublin and of Rebbe Meirl of Apt.
  9. Reb Dovid Kharif , a son–in–law of the Maor Va–Shemesh.
  10. Reb Zelig Schrentzker.
  11. Reb Khaim–Meir–Yekhiel, the Seraph of Mogielnica, the Maggid's grandson.
  12. Reb Yekhezkel Kozienicer, father–in–law of the Yehudi (der heiliker yid, the holy Jew) of Pshiskhe.
  13. Reb Yitzkhok Meizlish, a student of Rebbe Reb Elimelekh and the Seer.
  14. Reb Yitzkhok Oszerower.
  15. The first Gerer Rebbe, Reb Yitzkhok–Meir Alter, author of Khidushei Ha–Rim.
  16. Reb Yehuda–Leih Onipoler, author of Or Ha–Ganuz.
  17. Reb Yoysef –Meir Ha–Levi, the Shpeter Rebbe.
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  1. Reb Ydkele of Radzymin.
  2. Reb Yaakov–Tzvi Yol les, the Dinever rav, an eminent scholar and kabbalist, author of Melo Ha–Ro'im.
  3. Reb Yishayele Prager, author of Harei Besamim, Atzei Besam im, and Roshei Besamim.
  4. Reb Mendele Morgenstern, the Kotzker Rebbe.
  5. Reb Menakhem–Mendel Stern, the rav of Sighet, Hungary, author of Derekh Emuna.
  6. Reb Moishe Rotenberg, rav of Wlodawe, author of She–eylot u–Teshuvot Maharam Rotenberg––Ha–Akhronim.
  7. Reb Moishe Teitelbaum, rav of Ihel, Hungary, author of Yismakh Moshe, an eminent scholar and kabhalist, founder of what has become the Satmar dynasty.
  8. Reb Noah–Shmuel Lipschitz, the Turbiner rav, author of Zer Zahav and Minkhat Yehuda.
  9. Reb Faivel Kaminitzer.
  10. Reb Pinkhas, the Gniewaszower rav.
  11. Reb Hersch–Elimelekh of Dinov.
  12. Reb Hershele Zidtshever.
  13. Reb Sholem Belzer, founder of the Belzer dynasty.
  14. Reb Bunem of Pshiskhe, likewise a student of the Seer and Yehudi.
  15. Reb Shmuel, rav of Worka, author of Torat Shmuel and a student of Rabbi Akiva Eiger of Posen.
  16. Teb Shmuel–Shmaryahu, rav of Ostrowca, author of Zikhron Shmuel.
  17. Reb Shimon Deutsch, rav of Zelechow after Rebbe Levi–Yitzkhok left for Berdichev.

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Tales of the Hasidim of Kozienice

by Z.M. Rabinowitz


The Abandoned Wife

An abandoned wife, whose husband had gone to a land by the sea and disappeared, came to the Maggid and asked him to have mercy on her and to free her from the chains of being neither widow nor wife.

The Maggid asked her, “Would you recognize your husband if I showed him to you?”

“Yes,” she replied.

At once a basin of water was brought before her, and the Maggid told her to look into it and tell him what she saw.

She looked and said, “I see a great city with many streets and markets, men, women and children, and a great number of craftsmen practicing their crafts.”

“Look carefully at the street of the tailors,” said the Maggid. “You will recognize your husband there. Snatch the iron from off the sleeve.”

The woman followed his command, and grabbed both iron and sleeve. “Go to such–and–such a city,” continued the Maggid, “and on such–and–such a street go into the house of the rabbi, and tell him that your husband has taken another wife and that you want him to give you a divorce. Should your husband deny this, show him the iron and the sleeve as witnesses to the truth of your words, and the rabbi will force him to divorce you.”

The city in question was about three hundred parasangs from Kozienice, but the woman went by means of the power of “the shortening of the way” and arrived there in a few minutes. She went to the house of the rabbi, and made her request in the name of the Maggid of Kozienice. The rabbi summoned her husband immediately. At first, he denied everything, but after the woman showed him the iron and sleeve he agreed to free her and give her a divorce.

On her way home the “shortening of the way” did not operate. A long time passed before she returned home, the bill of divorce in her hand and the wonders of the tzaddik on her lips.


How Rav Shimon Ashkenazi Became a Hasid

Rabbi Shimon Deutsch–Ashkenazi, the rav of Zelechow, was a fervent misnaged, and his heart was far from hasidism. He once became mortally ill, and on Friday, the eve of the Sabbath, his soul passed from his body. He was not buried because of the approach of the Sabbath.

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After Shabbes the khevra kaddisha came to purify the corpse. Suddenly? one of them noticed a light tremor on the dead man's face. They returned him to his bed return to him and imagine their astonishment when they saw life gradually return to him.

After arising from his “sleep” Rav Shimon told the people surrounding him the story of what had happened. “I went up to heaven late on Friday. The heavenly household was preparing to receive the Sabbath. They fixed up a separate room for me. As I went in, I heard a sound of noise and tumult, and angels running and shouting, 'The holy Maggid of Kozienice is going to greet the Sabbath!”

“I wanted to push my way through and enter the crowd of angels, but they did not allow me to approach. 'Whoever did not see the Maggid while alive has no permission to look upon his face!”

“Shabbes morning, the noise in heaven recurred: ‘The Maggid of Kozienice is going to shakhris!’ I ran with all my might, and this time the angels let me .approach the holy Maggid. ‘Gut Shabbes,’ I said to him. He wrapped his face in his tallis and said nothing.”

“I wept bitter tears. Could it be that I would not merit to see the face of the Maggid? The angels took pity on me and advised me to go to the shaleshides, where I might be able to see him. When I approached him at the shaleshides, he hid his face again and said, 'Shimon, you are still young. Go back down! 'He took me by the ear and threw me to the ground, and that is how I was revived.”

After he had finished his story, Rav Shimon said, “Let's rent a wagon right away,” and at the first light of dawn he went to Kozienice. When he arrived, the Maggid ran to meet him and said, “I am here”. From that time on, Rav Shimon was a hasid devoted to his teachers, the Maggid of Kozienice and the Seer of Lublin.


The Deceased Fiancée

From a certain man, an intimate of the Maggid of Kozienice, a hasid who lived in the fear of heaven, the Lord withheld the blessing of children.

The man and his wife suffered great anxiety on this account, and from time to time they journeyed to Kozienice to ask the Maggid to pray for them to have children. The Maggid put off their request for many years.

Once the woman belaboured her husband, telling him to go to Kozienice and not to budge until the Maggid promised him a child that would live. The hasid went to Kozienice and tearfully implored the Maggid to have mercy on him, for his life was worthless without children. The Maggid replied, saying, “go to the Seer in Lublin, and tell him that I have sent you.”

The Seer told him to wait a while in Lublin, until he should show him what to do. One day he was called to the Seer, who said, “In your youth you were engaged to a girl whom you dropped after several years, and took yourself a different wife, prettier than she was. Heaven has therefore punished you by not allowing you children until you appease this woman and she forgives you for your great sin. Two months from now there will be a fair in the town of Balta. Go there and seek your former fiancée among the people at the fair, and ask her forgiveness.”

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The man went to Balta, a great distance from Lublin.

In the meantime, his money ran out.

When he got to Balta he wandered among the streets and markets for many days, but did not find his fiancée.

One day a heavy rain broke out, and he went into a nearby store to take shelter. A beautiful woman, bejeweled and finely dressed, who had also gone into the store to escape the rain, stood beside him. When the hasid saw her, he drew back for reasons of modesty. “Did you see him?” said the woman to her companions. “He jilted me when we were young, and he runs away from me even now.”

When the hasid heard this, he approached her and began to weep, begging her to forgive his betrayal. He added that he had been sent to her by the two leading tzaddikim of the time, the Maggid of Kozienice and the Seer of Lublin.

On hearing this last, the woman agreed to forgive him, provided he went to her .brother, a poor scholar, in Subalk, and gave him two hundred gulden as dowry money for his daughter.

The hasid was very glad, and he went to Subalk. He inquired about until he found the woman's brother. As soon as he entered the house, he sensed its great poverty.

The brother spoke from his heart: he had promised his daughter's fiancée a dowry, but there was not a cent in the house. When he heard this, the hasid took out the two hundred gulden and told him that his sister, Shifra, the hasid's erstwhile fiancée, had sent him to atone for his betrayal with this act of charity.

The brother was terrified, and cried out, “But my sister Shifra died fifteen years ago, and I buried her myself!” However, the hasid, whose faith in his rebbi'im was rooted in his heart, explained that she had come back from the dead at the behest of the two tzaddikim in order to be appeased by the hasid's charity and his mitzva of supplying the dowry of a bride.

The brother took the money from the hasid, with the blessing that the words of the Seer and Maggid come to pass.

And so they did. The hasid was blessed with children and grandchildren, scholars and hasidim all.


Principle and lnterest

When the Maggid was studying the Talmudic saying (Pesakhim, 87b), “God drove the Jews into exile only so that proselytes might be added to them,” he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Master of the Universe, what do you need with interest? Raise up the principle, be satisfied with its redemption and don't wait for any interest”

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A Tale of a Prince and a Dog

The Maggid of Kozienice used to lead the prayer on Yom Kippur. Once before Kol Nidre, he went up to the amud wrapped in his tallis and kittel,but was unable to open his mouth to pray because of the greatness of his sorrow. He merely wept without surcease. A couple of hours passed, and the Maggid had still not started to pray, but .was melting in his incessant weeping. Suddenly he turned to the congregation and asked, “Who here is from the town of Pilow?” The man answered that he did. “And do you know the dog of the prince?”

“Oh yes, that dog's very important to the prince,” continued the villager, to the delight of the Maggid. “lt's as big as a cow. The prince paid eighteen hundred pieces of gold for it, and built it a special house. Every day he feeds it the finest food, and drink. The dog committed a transgression recently: it snatched the meat from its master's hand without permission. The prince punished it and banished it from his sight.”

After hearing this story, the Maggid turned toward the amud and began to pray Kol Nidre with joy and ardour.

After the holiday the hasidim asked him to explain this. He told them, “On erev Yom Kippur a great accusation went out in heaven against the Jews, because of a work of charity performed by Prince Czartoryski. A poor Jew from the town of Mikow, near Cracow, was travelling from town to town in Poland to collect money for his daughter's dowry. He was a bashful man, and collected little money, barely enough to pay his expenses. Once as he was going along, he sighed and wept over the bitterness of his fate: a grown daughter at home, and poverty and want on the road. And behold, Prince Czartoryski was coming towards him in a coach harnessed with strong horses. He saw the wretched Jew and asked, ‘Why are you weeping, Jew?’”

The Jew told him of his poverty and troubles. The prince took pity on the Jew, and took a note for a hundred gold ducats from his pocket and gave it to the Jew as a dowry for his daughter.”

At once, an accusation went out in heaven against the Jews of Poland, all of whom together had not given one tenth of what Czartoryski had. The Maggid wanted to use the villager's story to soften the accusation, for Czartoryski also spent great sums of money on big dogs: “As far as Czartoryski goes, money is meaningless; the Jews of Poland are wretchedly poor, broken down, swept from place to place, and every cent is more important to them than a hundred of the prince's pieces of gold.” After showing why Israel should receive grace, the Maggid was able to begin Kol Nidre.


Why Do You Want to Abandon Us in Exile?

A woman complained to the Maggid that her husband had taken a dislike to her, and wan ted to marry someone better looking.

“Why has he grown tired of you?” asked the Maggid.

“He says I'm not pretty.”

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“And maybe, said the Maggid, maybe you really aren't pretty.”

“What, wasn't I pretty enough f or him under the khupe? So how com s I'm no good now?”

The holy Maggid began to weep. “Master of the Universe! Why have you abandoned your people Israel? Maybe we're not pretty enough for you. True we have sinned, but remember your words, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride. When we were under the khupe on the day of our betrothal, at the time of the giving of the Torah when we said we will obey and hear, we were pretty enough in your eyes, so why do you want to abandon us in the darkness of exile?”


One Must Not Go To Kozienice

The Maggid heard of a great wonder: A misnaged had a son of thirty years after his wedding. The Maggid said, “Heaven wished to show the world that one must not go to Kozienice or Lublin for such things. The Lord hears the prayers of the childless, too.”


The Kugel of Domestic Harmony

A couple came to the Maggid for a divorce. The husband complained of his wife: “When I come home from shul on Shabbes, I really want to eat. My very soul Longs especially for a kugel. My wife sets the table and starts serving fish, meat, and other fine dishes, but when she gets to the kugel I'm already full and have on appetite for it.”

His wife answered, “It is a tradition in my family to eat the kugel at the close of the meal. A tradition is like the Torah, and I won't betray it even if it means divorce.”

“From now no,” ruled the Maggid, “make two kugels on Shabbes, one for before the meal, and the other for its end, so that you can fulfill your obligations to both your husband and the custom.”

From that time until this, it has been a custom to eat the “kugel of domestic harmony” as an appetizer on Shabbes.


Woe Unto Him Who Disturbs Them

Some Kozienicer hasidim once met Rabbi Meshullam Zalman Ashkenazi, later rav of Lublin, in an inn. He was a misnaged, and the hasidim failed to treat him with the respect due him as a scholar. Rav Meshullam–Zalman's father–in–law, the magnate Reb Yusefa of Kuzmir, complained to the Maggid that his hasidim were belittling his son–in–law.

The Maggid said, “I will answer you with a fable. A lion was teaching his son the rules of hunting. ‘Remember one major rule. You're the king of beasts, so don't be afraid of anybody except man.’”

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“While they were talking, an old man leaning on a stick went by. ‘Is that him,’ asked the son. ‘No,’ his father taught him. “He used to be a man, but now he's a dotard.”

“After this, a child went by. ‘Is that him?’ asked the little cub. ‘No, not him, either,’ said the lion. ‘One day he will be a man.‘”

“Suddenly, a hunter with a rifle on his shoulder went by. ‘That's him!’ shouted the lion. Just then the hunter shot, and the lion fell dead.”

“Hasidim are the same way. They are neither old men from the past nor men of the future. They are the men of today, young, strong, and holding their weapons in their hands. Woe unto him who disturbs them.”


The First Yakhsn

The Maggid of Kozienice came from a family with no pedigree whatsoever. He once met a rabbi who did not stop talking about his yikhus (pedigree). When the rabbi had left, the Maggid said, “the difference between us is that he is the last yakhsn (one who has yikhus) in his family, and I'm the first in mine.”


Why Should the Rich Man Eat Roast Chicken?

A rich miser once came to the Maggid. The Maggid asked him, “What do you eat every day?”

“I am satisfied with little; a piece of bread with water is enough for me.”

”that's no good,” said the Maggid, “you should enjoy your life. You should eat roast chicken, drink good wine, and take pleasure in every meal.”

The miser promised to fulfill the Maggid's command.

After he had left, the hasidim asked the Maggid why he had issued such a command. “If he eats roast chicken,” answered the Maggid, “he'll understand that the poor should at least have bread, but if he himself is satisfied with dry bread, he will undoubtedly think that the poor should be satisfied with stones.”

[Page 118]

The Paidyom Melody

by Dr. Sh.Z. Cahana, Tel–Aviv

Hasidim going up Mount Zion on the intermediate days of Passover sing a special melody called Paidyom which, they say, originates with the Maggid of Kozienice. Despite his frailty and ill–health, the Maggid .was filled with fervor and ardour in the service of the Creator, especially in those matters having to do, with the Redemption.

The Maggid worked hard for the Redemption, and ran ardently and fervently to greet the Messiah with a special tune which Kozienicer hasidim still call by the name Paidyom, which means “Come on! Let's go!” in Russian. They tell a wonderful story about this tune.

The Maggid's seders were regal and splendid. Everything shone and glittered with silver and porcelain. The table was covered in royal fashion with silver cups, the golden one of the prophet Elijah shining out among them.


A Guest at the Seder

The mood was one of messianic expectation. They were all dressed for the holiday in velvet capotes, the Maggid sitting on the snow–white cushions of the Passover seat in his white kittel. When the crowd was standing about the long, wide table waiting for the Maggid to make kiddush, the Maggid arose, holding the cup in his hand as if it were the cup of salvation. “I will lift up a cup of salvation.”

At that moment, the door was flung open savagely, and a guest entered, an uncouth, filthy fellow, a conscripted Jewish soldier with long mustaches and a torn caftan, his face a mass of wounds and scars. The rebbetzin was frightened by him; he did not suit the festive table. She had spent weeks making it shine, making it clean and beautiful, and in he comes with his dirty boots and filthy caftan where was she going to put him? .

The soldier did not wait for an answer; he took his sack and went to the head of the table, by the Maggid, and put his filthy sack on the spotless tablecloth near the Passover seat.

This deed called forth anger and chagrin on the part of the hasidim. They had wanted to seat him elsewhere, somewhere at the end of the table, far from the Maggid, but he would not permit this. He wanted to sit at the head of the table near the Czar, the Maggid. Since he had been in the army for twenty–five years (the term for which Jewish children were conscripted), he naturally wanted to drink a lot.

[Page 119]

The rebbetzin, who was very concerned about the beauty of her pesakh table wanted to take his filthy sack off of the tablecloth, but he would not let her. “When she asked him what kind of treasure he had in the sack, that he watched over it so closely, he answered madly and impertinently that it contained his entire exile––everything, from the day of his conscription until the present.”

As he said this, the Maggid trembled; he glimpsed the whole crude exile on pesakh night, and looked on the soldier with wonder. They smiled at each other mysteriously.

The guest spent the entire seder leaning on his sack as if it were a Passover seat and snoring, evidently very tired from his long journey.


Paidyom le–Tzion

When the cup of Elijah had been poured, and the door opened for Shfoykh Khamaskha, the guest leapt from his place, grabbed Elijah' s cup, and began dancing with it, singing Khasal Siddur Pesakh Ke–Hilkhasoy.

The guest sang and danced, and the Maggid with him, until they had reached the open door. They stood there for a while, looking outside, and suddenly the guest began to sing again, “Khasal Siddur Pesakh!” When he came to the words piduyim le–tzion be–rina (joyously redeemed unto Zion),he corrupted and distorted them into Russian, and sang in the Maggid's ear, “Paidyom le–tzion,” “Come on, let's go to Zion.”

Hasidim said that the Maggid then heard a call: “Go outside! Go to meet him! Why do you open the door and wait for him to come to you? Paidyom, go to him!” He grabbed the guest by the hand and they both went out to meet him, singing and dancing with fervour and ardour: “Paidyom le–tzion be–rina.”

This melody stayed with the Maggid for the rest of his life, accompanying him in his mystical labours to urge on the appointed time and bring the Redemption nearer.

The Paidyom march is the march of pilgrims to Mount Zion, the watchpost of the Temple, and the Western Wall, and will be so until the General Redemption.


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