Rabbi Aryeh Leibush was a very famous righteous man and Gaon in his generation. He was already great in Torah when he was still young. The story about how he was appointed as the rabbi of Stanislawow is a testimony to his renown. The story was as follows: In the year 5543 / 1783 (some say 5541 / 1781), the community of Stanislawow had to appoint a rabbi and head of the rabbinical court, they wished to appoint great scholar of a good family. Since the good name of Rabbi Elazar the rabbi of Zalozce, the son of the Gaon Rabbi Itzikel Hamburger, reached them, they set their eyes upon him. The leaders of the city appointed a delegation of three honorable rabbis, one of them being the rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Yaakov the author of Chavat Daat who was later the rabbi of Lissa and at the time a resident of Stanislawow, and charged them with the task of traveling to Zalozce to investigate the worthiness of the aforementioned Rabbi Elazar, to see if his essence is according to the name that precedes him, and whether he would be fitting to be taken as the rabbi of the city. When the men arrived at the home of Rabbi Elazar in Zalozce, they did not find him at home, for he had gone to the surrounding area to attend a circumcision or for some other matter. In the house of the rabbi, they only found the son of the rabbi, Rabbi Aryeh Leibush, a young man who was supported at his father's table. He was sitting with a Gemara on his knees, rocking a baby in a cradle. The men entered into conversation with the young man, and the Gaon Rabbi Yaakov began to discuss Torah matters with him. The eyes of Rabbi Yaakov were opened wide, for the young man was found to be wondrously sharp and competent. There was great astonishment when Rabbi Yaakov turned to his friends and said to them: Let us put the crown of the rabbinate of the holy community of Stanislawow onto the head of this Rabbi Leibush even before Rabbi Elazar returns home and we meet him. These words surprised his two friends in the delegation, but the authority of Rabbi Yaakov left no room at all for dispute, and it was also clear to them that if Rabbi Yaakov had reached such a decision, they have no other choice but to agree to it. They kept the matter in their hearts out of politeness. When Rabbi Elazar returned home, they talked to him and told him what had happened. Rabbi Elazar answered: Is any father jealous of his son? The matter came from G-d, and may this be a fortuitous occasion. The delegates returned home and told the community about their journey and its results. They immediately agreed to send a letter with great honor to Rabbi Aryeh Leibush, appointing him as rabbi and the head of the rabbinical court. Thus was Rabbi Aryeh Leibush accepted as the rabbi of Stanislawow and the region.
The region was not a mere description of formality in those days, as it was in the latter times. For Rabbi Leibush was indeed the rabbi of the region (Kreis) of Stanislawow, for several cities of the area were subordinate to the rabbi of Stanislawow in several areas.
Rabbi Aryeh Leibush was accepted as the rabbi of Stanislawow with great honor and splendor, with the agreement of all the citizens of the city, and to the joy of all the leaders and scholars of the city, headed by the rabbi and Gaon the author of Chavat Daat Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa. He began his tenure with success. However, he had to pass one more test, and that was: the law of the land that was issued in 5532 (1772) by the Austrian Empress Maria Teresa that appointed a State Rabbi in Galicia. All rabbis in the state of Galicia had to be appointed by the authority of this state rabbi. This position had been given to Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein, who was at that time the rabbi of Zbaraz and latter settled in his native city of Brody. Rabbi Aryeh Leibush had to receive an authorization to be appointed as rabbi of Stanislawow from the aforementioned state rabbi, who would come once a year from his residence in Brody to the home of the rabbi of Lvov, where he conducted these authorizations. However, when he presented his request to the State Rabbi, the latter turned to the rabbi of Lvov and said, See how these young people are jumping to the top, by occupying rabbinical seats and becoming rabbis in important cities, in which my seat is only greater by virtue of its status. He said this and refused to sign the writ of authorization. Rabbi Leibush was humiliated and also angry at this elder rabbi, for he realized that the refusal to authorize him was not for legitimate reasons, but rather due to a grudge, for about 40 years earlier, Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein had been the recipient of a legal decision against him from the grandfather of Rabbi Aryeh Leibush Horowitz, Rabbi Yaakov Yokel of Glogow, the father of Rabbi Itzikel the rabbi of AHW.
In order to exonerate himself, Rabbi Aryeh Leibush turned to the rabbi of Lvov and said, Our rabbi, you are indeed the general rabbi of the state since you are the rabbi of the capital Lvov, and all rabbis of the state must be subordinate to you, for you are the greatest of the generation among us. This State Rabbi is only appointed by the government. If he wishes to question whether I am fitting to be appointed, let our rabbi examine both of us right here today and state his judgment in the honor of the Torah which of the two of us is greater in Torah. The rabbi of Lwow gestured to the State Rabbi that it is not fitting to refuse to authorize Rabbi Leibush Horowitz, and it will not add to his glory to enter into a dispute with this young rabbi who was known to him for his greatness in Torah and his excellent talents. Thus did rabbi Leibush receive the signature of the State Rabbi.
Rabbi Aryeh Leibush occupied his seat in Stanislawow with the glory of everyone. All members of the community and the region were filled with awe toward him. They also liked him, and his name spread throughout the Jewish Diaspora as a great Torah scholar, a righteous man with pure fear of heaven and modesty. The stories and legends that people told about their distinguished rabbi are testimony to this. Many of these remain to our day. During the latter days, the writers of annals were able to publish some of them, but many of them remained as part of an oral tradition. I will bring some of these stories and legends, not necessarily for their historical veracity, but rather as testimony about how the image of this man was portrayed, and how he was seen in the eyes of the wider community.
Indeed, Rabbi Aryeh Leibush sat on his rabbinical seat in the city of Stanislawow and its region in peace and honor, to the joy of the members of his community who began to recognized and understand his greatness in Torah, his righteousness, and his other sublime character traits. This was also to the satisfaction of the Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Loreberbaum, the author of Chavat Daat, who, as has been mentioned, lived at the time in Stanislawow and worked in large scale commerce and business. After a short period, when Rabbi Aryeh Leibush was approximately 25 years old, the Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Loreberbaum and his partner Reb Avraham Seinfeld came before him for a Torah judgment regarding a dispute between them regarding their partnership in a large enterprise. After the rabbi heard the claims of both sides, he adjudicated in favor of Reb Avraham Seinfeld. When the Gaon Rabbi Yaakov heard the judgment against him, he stood up without saying a word, and left the house of the rabbi in anger, slamming the door strongly behind him. That evening, Reb Avraham Seinfeld went to the home of his partner the Gaon, and through conversation and with proper respect, issued a reproof regarding his behavior in the house of the rabbi, who despite being of a young age was the rabbi of the city and also a scion of a good family, with a good name, and honorable and holy ancestors. Rabbi Yaakov answered him: But his adjudication was against a clear decision of the Code of Jewish Law. Reb Avraham said to him, Bring a book and let us see. How surprised he was when he looked in the Code of Jewish Law and suddenly realized that he had made an error, and the rabbi had issued a correct judgment. Rabbi Yaakov said in the name of our sages, A person does not see his own error. He admitted to his partner: I made a mistake, and the rabbi judged properly Reb Avraham said to him, Now it is appropriate for your honor to appease the rabbi for the embarrassment that you caused him. Rabbi Yaakov answered, It is not sufficient for me to appease him, I will go and receive and admonishment from him. The next day, Rabbi Yaakov went to the house of the rabbi, removed his shoes and received an admonishment, even those he was much older than him, since was already 40 years old, and was already known as a mighty Gaon. From that time, the love between the two of them grew, and they became close and faithful friends.
Already from his youth, Rabbi Aryeh Leibush excelled in his studies. He was diligent, and studied a great deal. He also had a sharp intellect for Torah and a wonderful memory. His paternal grandfather Rabbi Itzikel was a rabbi in Brody, and was later accepted as the rabbi of AHW (Altona, Hamburg, Wandsbek). Before Rabbi Itzikel left Brody, his son Rabbi Elazar traveled from Zalozce to Brody to take leave of his father. He took his five year old son Rabbi Aryeh Leibush with him, and brought him to his father. Rabbi Itzikel tested his young grandson, and realized that he was already fluent in the Five Books of the Chumash with the Targum Unkelos. Rabbi Itzikel placed his hands on him, blessed him, and said, I am sure that you will be a rabbinical teacher in Israel. (From the preface of the book Chaye Aryeh.) He studied Torah from his father Rabbi Elazar and later in the Yeshiva of the great Gaon Rabbi Yitzhak Charif in Sambor. He was one of his greatest disciples, dear to him like his own soul (Kitvei Geonim). In one response in his book Pnei Yitzhak, Rabbi Yitzhak Charif refers to him, among other statements, as A student who teaches his teachers. Finally, he was a student of his uncle the Gaon Rabbi Meshulam Igra, who was known as Rabbi Meshulam of Tysmienica or Rabbi Meshulam of Pressburg. Rabbi Meshulam was the one who ordained Rabbi Leibush. It is known that Rabbi Meshulam never ordained anyone except for three of his students, Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa, Rabbi Natan Neta of Podhajce, and our Rabbi Aryeh Leibush.
Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa was still living in Stanislawow when he published his famous book Pri Megadim on the Yoreh Deah section of the Shulchan Aruch. One he went to the house of the rabbi and praised this book. Rabbi Aryeh Leibush answered, I know the author and his level of Torah, and I can imagine what he is able to innovate. Let us take a bet to see if I am able to say his novel ideas at any place. They made a bet over mead. Rabbi Yaakov opened the Pri Megadim, and in every place, Rabbi Leibush found what his friend had innovated.
When Rabbi Aryeh Leibush was living in Stanislawow, the city was in a constant ascendancy, and the rabbi also grew in Torah and fear of Heaven, and was more and more revered by the people of the city who esteemed every word that emerged from his mouth. He was not a Rebbe who performed wonders and signs, but he had the power of Torah, and he did not shy away from a battle. Householders already knew to talk about the wondrous deeds that took place with me. He was known as a great person in the world of scholarship, and from near and far, rabbis began to turn to him with questions and response in Halacha. He was a Misnaged the son of Misnagdim, and various Hassidic Rebbes would praise him. One Tzadik lovingly nicknamed him in the vernacular (Panicz) (a Young Master). Another said that he was The guardian of the covenant. When Hassidim of Stanislawow would come to Rabbi Meirl of Przemyslany, he would say to them, Why do you have to travel to Meir? Do you not have Rabbi Aryeh in your midst, who is 'A Lion from the Heavens'. He always sent a greeting to the rabbi with love and awe through these people.
His custom and way of life was in the manner of Misnagdim rabbis. He was careful not to do anything at all unless it was in accordance with the Code of Jewish Law. However, we hear of no persecution of Hassidim or their Rebbes from him. He guarded what was his that is his own rights from the influence of Admorim. However, he never crossed the boundaries in this matter. Even in a place where he had some conflict with an Admor, he conducted himself politely and honorably, and refrained from attack. There were also cases where he expressed admiration. It is said that he was also involved with the study of Kabbalah; however we have no reliable source for this. It is only known that he made a redemption (he did not receive a redemption) with 160 coins.
It is appropriate to bring down the following stories on this matter:
Rabbi Leibush used to eat soaked matzo on Passover, unlike the custom of the Hassidim who were very careful about this. He was sitting at his table, eating a dish made from soaked matzo, when a woman entered and asked the rabbi: My husband does not eat soaked matzo, and only eats matzo shmura, whereas the members of the family eat regular matzo, and the dishes of my husband have become intermixed with the dishes of the rest of the family. The rabbi listened and said, From this it is obvious that a rabbi should not eat anything of which some people have a stringency of not eating. From then, he stopped being lenient upon himself in this matter.
Once, the famous Tzadik Rabbi Chaim of Kosow became involved in the matter of a shochet (ritual slaughterer) in a city in the region of Stanislawow that was under the supervision of the rabbi of Stanislawow. Rabbi Aryeh Leibush wrote to him on this matter: The law of Kosow is splendid for all of its followers (A play on words of Kosow and kasuv written). However, you should not get involved in a matter under the jurisdiction of the rabbi of Stanislawow. During that time, the first Hassidic Kloiz was set up in Stanislawow. This was the Vishnitz Kloiz. The rabbi found out that the Hassidim had not recited Tachanun on Pesach Sheni. He entered and warned them that they were not acting in accordance with the Code of Jewish Law. Once Rabbi Aryeh Leibush traveled to Russia to arrange a marriage, and passed through the area of Mezhibozh. He went to Medzhibozh and visited the Tzadik Rabbi Baruch, who received him with great honor. He prepared a repast in his honor. There were many fine delicacies on the table, as could be afforded by the Medzhibozh court, which conducted itself in an elaborate manner. They served soup with rice, and Rabbi Leibush did not eat. Rabbi Baruch asked him, Why are you not eating? Rabbi Leibush answered him that he has a custom not to eat rice. Rabbi Baruch issued a command to remove the rice from the table. Later, they served other foods which Rabbi Leibush had a custom not to eat. Each time, without complaint, Rabbi Baruch commanded that they be removed from the table.
It was said about Rabbi Aryeh Leibush that when he needed a book, he went to the bookshelf, and the book practically came out to greet him. He would always find the place that he wanted when he first opened up the book. One winter night, he approached the bookshelf and found the required book only with difficulty. He opened it and leafed through it, and could not find the place he was looking for. There was a person present and he asked: Why is it like this on this night? Then it became clear: It was the night of Nitl, and he had a custom not to learn on the night of Nitl.
Reb Dovidl Sofer was well-known in Stanislawow as a praiseworthy jester. When he entertained the gathering at weddings, everyone would be rolling with laughter. From where did he get his great power? He did not know how to explain wondrous Midrashim, to weave together words of Torah, or to compose verses. Song was not his talent either. His only special enchanting talent was with his gestures and movements. As soon as Reb Dovidl curved his lips, people immediately began to laugh. From where did such a power come, and why was he called Reb Dovidl Sofer (the scribe)? The story was as follows: when Dovidl was young, he served Rabbi Aryeh Leibush. The rabbi liked him very much and blessed him with length of days for his faithful service. He became a scribe after he left the service of the rabbi. Once a villager who was a wealthy innkeeper came to him with the request: Since I have a wife who is bitter and hostile and does not want to get divorced, Let Reb Dovidl write a Get (Jewish bill of divorce), and I will give it to her without her agreement. Dovidl was a joker. He stood up, took the Get paper and wrote on it the Purim hymn Shoshanat Yaakov from beginning to end, gave it to the man, and received a good payment in return. This became know to Rabbi Leibush, and even though he liked Reb Dovidl very much, he invalidated him from being a scribe. However, since the women did not get married to someone else and no mishap came from the incident, he comforted him and told him not to worry. He blessed him with grace. Indeed, that is the way it turned out. He was full of grace. His livelihood came easily. With the passage of time he became well off, and he also lived a long life.
Rabbi Aryeh Leibush did not sleep for more than one hour consecutively during the night. He would get up every hour, wash his hands, and return to bed until his wakeup time came. Once he go up early, and when he saw his sexton, who was sleeping in the next room, saw that the rabbi had already got dressed, he pointed out: Rabbi, your wakeup time has not yet come. The rabbi answered him: Do you not hear? The voice of the woman in the throes of childbirth is piercing the heavens! He walked to and fro in the room, and while he was still busy with the matter of the redemption, a man entered and screamed that his wife is having a difficult labor, is in danger and requires mercy. The rabbi answered him that he should go to his home immediately. Within the hour, the man returned and told the rabbi that his wife had given birth to a child in good fortune. I heard this interesting story from my uncle Rabbi Yitzchak of blessed memory, the rabbi of Stanislawow. He and his elder brother Rabbi Elazar of blessed memory (The rabbi of Rohatyn, where he is buried), during their youth, visited their grandfather Rabbi Aryeh Leibush. Their grandfather was already very old and did not hear well. They spoke to him through pipes. Once, in the middle of the night, he entered the next room in which the two boys were sleeping, grabbed them and took them under his shoulders, one on his right and the other on his left. He removed them from the room while they were still sleeping and brought them to another room. As soon as they entered the second room, the ceiling of the room in which they had been sleeping fell down noisily to the ground. How did this deaf old man sense this nobody could not. Obviously, people regarded this as a portent.
On the 12th of Adar II 5594 (1834), ten years before his death, he wrote a will with in his own writing. In the will, he commanded that on his gravestone, there should not be inscribed any words of praise, but only: The Rabbi who served for so and so years in our community and the region as head of the rabbinical court and teacher of righteousness. He moved to Tysmienica close to the time of his death and lived there until his last day. He died there on the 29th of Kislev 5604 (1843), and is buried there.
He left behind many writings, response, sermons, and Torah novellae. He never published any of his books during his lifetime, and most of his manuscripts were burnt or stolen. It is said that many of them fell into the hands of plagiarists who published his novellae in their own names. Many yeas after his death, his grandson Rabbi Elazar, the rabbi of Rohatyn, the eldest son of his son Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar, at the behest of his father published some of the novellae of Rabbi Aryeh Leibush on the Torah, and organized them into a book by the Torah portion. He called the book Pnei Aryeh, and added his own essay to this book called Ateret Zekeinim. This book was published in 5634 (1873) in Przemyslany by his son Rabbi Shalom Alter of blessed memory, the rabbi of Tluste.
A few years before he left Stanislawow and moved to Tysmienica, when he was already close to 80 years old, he called his son Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar, the son of his old age, who was serving as the rabbi in Zalozce, and ordered him to move his residence to Stanislawow to help him conduct the rabbinate. Apparently, his intention was to transfer the rabbinical seat in his lifetime to Rabbi Meshulam, who he had chosen to take his place after him. In his will, he asked the residents of Stanislawow to appoint his son Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar as their rabbi to take his place for on his chair no stranger shall sit. In this section of his will, he waxes eloquent in praise of his son, stating: I testify that I have not attained half of the wise heart of my son, with his Torah, sharpness and expertise. After his death, they fulfilled his will in Stanislawow, and coronated Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar with the crown of the rabbinate with great honor in place of his father.
I already incidentally told above about Reb Tzvi Mendelsberg of Kazimierz. He was a scholar of a good family, very wealthy and with connections to the government. This wealthy man had a daughter who came of age, and he wished to obtain a groom of good family and a scholar for her daughter, who was educated in Bible, Targum, the Polish language and also French. Reb Tzvi, who was the son-in-law of the Gaon Rabbi Meshulam Igra of Tysmienica, heard that the rabbi of Stanislawow, who was his wife's cousin, had a son who was a genius. Therefore he traveled to Stanislawow to get to know him and to examine him to see if he could make a match for his daughter if he would be found appropriate. Rabbi Aryeh Leibush received his relative with love and honor, and when he found out the reason fore the visit, he asked his sexton to summon Meshulam, so that he can introduce him to the guest. The sexton went out and found Meshulam jumping through one of the gardens. He surprised him, and brought him to his father's house. The lad made a strange impression upon Reb Tzvi, and he lost his spirit: Is this the genius whom I thought to take for my daughter? He thought in his heart that apparently, G-d had not made his journey successful, and that he had undertaken such a long journey for naught. Rabbi Aryeh Leibush sensed this, saw the perplexity of the guest, turned to him with a smile and said: Do not worry, in-law, do not fear, the matter came from G-d, and I promise you that my son will be a rabbi and great teacher in Israel. The match was concluded.
This shows that Rabbi Meshulam was not among the diligent ones during his youth, but his sharp mind, sharp grasp and good memory stood for him. However, once he got married at about the age of 20, and was supported at his father's table, as was the custom in those days, a change came over him. He began to sense that he was missing the appropriate expertise in areas of Torah. What did he do? He gathered together several students, entered the Old Beis Midrash, and began to study with great diligence. He did thus for an entire year. He occupied himself with Tractate Ketuvot for nine whole months. He delved into all the difficult discussions in this tractate for the scholars had said that this tractate encompasses the entire Talmud, and is known as the little Talmud. He did this with great concentration, wide scope and sharp depth. After this year, he left the Beis Midrash with great character and stature, and became the great person, as he was later known to the world.
At first, Rabbi Meshulam did not want to accept the yoke of the rabbinate. His wife Reizel worked in business. She ran a liquor distillery, and he occupied himself with Torah and Divine service. Once his father returned from a journey that had brought him to his birthplace of Zalozce. He blessed his son with a Mazel Tov and informed him that he had received for him the writ of the rabbinate (consis) of Zalozce. Rabbi Meshulam was very surprised by this event, for this was not his desire, but he did not any choice, for he could not go against the word of his father. He turned to his father and said, But father, I am not yet sufficiently expert in the Shulchan Aruch so that that I can be a rabbinical teacher. When his father heard this he agreed to postpone his journey to the place of his rabbinate, so that he could prepare himself for the rabbinate. Rabbi Meshulam closed himself up in the four ells of Halacha, and within a few months had mastered the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch, to the extent that they were fluent on his tongue.
He lived in Zalozce for approximately 15 years until he was called by his father to Stanislawow, apparently around the year 5600 (1840), to help him run the rabbinate. The children of Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar were born in Zalozce, except for the youngest of them, which included my father of blessed memory and three younger daughters, who were apparently born in Stanislawow. Rabbi Meshulam occupied the rabbinical seat of Stanislawow and was greatly honored and loved by the entire city, from great to small. Everyone recognized his righteousness, greatness in Torah, pure character, clean hands and love of truth, which contained no taint of favoritism. The politeness on his face was so great that every utterance of his mouth was seen as a portent. A wondrous network of legends and stories were woven around him. Everybody knew how to tell something about their own rabbi, and thus were legends formed in the hearts and mouths of the people. These were preserved in the city for decades after his death. We cannot delve into the depth of these legends, but I will mention some here.
On account of his diligence in studying day and night, rumor spread through the community that one could not find the rabbi sleeping even for an hour. Reb David Lebensart (the father of the poet Avraham Lebensart) told me the following: during my youth when I came to Stanislawow and heard the wonderful stories about your grandfather, I had my doubts and cynicism about such matters, that I considered to be exaggerations. When I was told that nobody knows when the rabbi sleeps, I kept this matter in my heart. One night, I went to the mikva early in the morning. It was 2:00 or 2:30 a.m. and I remembered that story about the rabbi. I thought in my heart that now I would certainly catch him sleeping. I will go to prove this to myself and dispel this exaggeration. I went secretly to the house of the rabbi. How surprised was I when I approached the back of the window and saw the old man sitting with a Gemara opened before him and a tallow candle in his hand. I said to myself: Okay, this time I did not succeed. Once, an important visitor came to my father-in-law's house. A fine party was arranged for him, and we sat down until midnight. I went with the guest to accompany him to his hotel which was close to the house of the rabbi. Now, I thought, it would be good try again, for if the rabbi gets up early at 2:00 a.m., he is certainly sleeping now. I went and approached the window. I was indeed surprised when I saw the same thing: he was sitting with an open Gemara and a tallow candle in his hand.
That Reb David told me another story: A resident of Vienna who lives in Stanislawow, Freund, built the first steam mill in Stanislawow. In the winter, he wanted to grind flour for matzos in his mill, and he invited the rabbi to examine and approve the kashruth of the mill. He sent a find wagon hitched to two galloping horses for the rabbi. As Rabbi Meshulam left the house, his wife followed him and said to him before he ascended the wagon, For the sake of G-d, do not take less than a ten' from this wealthy German for your work. Rabbi Meshulam spent the entire day in the mill. He searched through the cracks and crevices and found everything to be in the finest order, kosher for the strictest of people, and he granted him the certificate of kashruth. When he finished his work and he took leave of the owner of the mill, the latter placed a five bill into his hand. Rabbi Meshulam saw that this was not a ten, and turned to him apologetically, Mr. Freund, it is not my manner of granting kashruth certification for profit, or to dispute the amount, but what can I do this time, for I am forced in this matter to retain the peace in my home. For the rebbetzin told me that I should not be satisfied with less than a ten. When Mrs. Freund saw the sincerity of the rabbi, he gestured to him that he understood well, and made sure to give him something more. 
The renowned Rabbi Meshulam lived in a small dwelling: A room with a bed chamber on the first floor in which he studied, conducted the offices of the Beis Din, and held worship services morning and evening. There, they also housed the grandchildren who were always in his house. There was a similar room with a bed chamber on the second floor, where the rebbetzin took care of her affairs, and the female grandchildren stayed. There was also a separate kitchen. The kitchen also served as a place for feeding the poor, a sort of miniature public kitchen. The oven was always on, and one could always find something hot for anyone in need: in the morning coffee, and soup during the day. The rebbetzin had a sensitive heart and a generous hand. The heads of the community felt that it was not in accordance with their honor that their rabbi should live in such a meager home. They advised him to move to a larger home that they wish to prepare for him, but he refused, for he did not want to alter their standard of living. His great father had also lived in this home, and Heaven forbid that he should ask for more
There is a story of a certain man, Chaim Meisel, who opened his store on the Sabbath. Rabbi Meshulam sent people to him to entice him with all types of enticements that he should repent of his public Sabbath desecration and that there should be no breach in the city, where everyone from great to small honors the Sabbath. Not only did Meisel not want to agree, but he also mocked the delegation and spouted words of disparagement against the rabbi who sent them. The rabbi arose and went himself to the man who disparaged him, attempting to speak words of reproof to his heart. The rabbi promised him that he would suffer no loss from this, and on the contrary, his influence would increase, and a blessing will reside on the work of his hands. However, the man persisted with his rebellion and refused to listen. The rabbi left him in anger and cursed him. The curse of the rabbi was fulfilled very quickly. Meisel fell ill with a severe and unusual illness that year. He then repented of his deeds and sent for the rabbi to appease him and to ask him to forgive him. The rabbi told him that he was indeed prepared to forgive him for the slight to his personal honor, but he was not able to cancel the decree that had been sent down over the breach of the honor of the Torah. This story was on the mouths of the people of Stanislawow until the last generation.
Reb Avraham Halpern was great among the wealthy people, not only in the city of Stanislawow, but also throughout the breadth of the State of Galicia, for not even in Lvov could a Jew as wealthy as him be found. He would customarily go to the rabbi on the Eve of Yom Kippur to receive a blessing from his mouth. He would bring a bag full of coins and give it to the rabbi to distribute to the poor at his own discretion. One on Yom Kippur Eve; Reb Avraham entered the house of the rabbi and found him weeping with bitter tears. When the good hearted, wealthy man turned to the rabbi jovially and said, Rabbi, why are you weeping? Behold you, thank G-d, are sitting on our seat with honor without any want, your children are following in your path and most of them are already renowned rabbis, you have satisfaction, so why are you worrying? The rabbi answered him, But my heart is broken as I remember that there are Jewish youths in the army, and some of them do not have the ability, perforce, to rest and celebrate this great awesome Day of Judgment Reb Avraham Halpern had many children and all were exempt, of course through the intercession of the father, from army duty. That particular year his youngest son Mendel was drafted to the army, and the treasures of his father did not succeed in freeing him.
One man, who had large scale business enterprises, who was regarded as a Gd fearing man, and his wife was regarded as even more pious, would often come to the rabbi with detailed questions about what is forbidden and what is permitted. In the city, there were rumors about this pious man that he was not careful about monetary laws. Once they came to the rabbi, as usual, with a question. The rabbi first answered the question about what was permitted and what was forbidden, and added at the end: But I wish that you would come to me with a gold coin, so that I can examine to see whether or not it is kosher
Reb Izak Halpern, who was known is Izi the Shochet, had fine character traits from his youth. He was a scholar, knowledgeable in Halacha like one of the experts, an expert shochet, and his chalaf (shochet's knife) was second to none. He was hired by the community as an assistant to the shochet when he was still young, and he remained in this position for many years. Despite his personal talents and his special connections, he did not succeed in being promoted to a regular shochet. The community felt that this was on account of the elder. The story goes as follows: Izi was one those would worship at the rabbi's house, and perhaps was also his student. He was beloved and dear to him. However once the group of young men and youths who worshipped in the rabbi's minyan in his room played a joke, and Izi got angry and displayed traits of anger that were not pleasant. The Edler noticed this and to him in a joking manner in Russian: Izi, nie budish popom (You will not be a priest ).
His wife Rebbetzin Reizel was known for her sharp statements and adages. Once someone attempted to tell her some gossip that someone had said about her. She did not want to hear and said, First, I do not believe you that he said thus, and second, even if he did say thus, he at least said it no in m presence, and now you want to tell me this in my presence... The Rebbetzin had an independent streak. She conducted a business with pearls and precious stones, which was not pleasing to her husband the rabbi, but the household peace was not disrupted because of this. When she was old she purchased a field adjacent to the house of the rabbi and built a two story home on it. The rabbi did not agree that the rebbetzin should own a mansion, and objected to this. The scoffers said that the building of the house cost her several times its value, for the suppliers of material and workers cheated her and padded the accounts. The house was finished, but the rabbi would not step into it. Once, one of the tenants made a circumcision and honored the rabbi with being the Sandek. The custom in Stanislawow was that the circumcision was conducted in the home of the father of the child. However, this time, they were forced to bring the baby to the rabbi, since he did not want to enter that house.
Rabbi Meshulam never dealt with money. All of the money that came in was immediately turned over to his wife the rebbetzin. Reb Yudel Haber told me that, despite this, he would keep some money from the eyes of the rebbetzin and guard it so that he would be able to perform secret charitable acts that even his wife would not know about. This secret money was kept with one of his confidantes or students who were faithful to him. Everything was kept as a great secret. Reb Yudel himself served as the faithful trustee for some time, and that is how he knew about this.
Reb Meshulam was very handsome. His gaze, countenance and splendor of conduct instilled awe upon anyone who saw him, even gentiles. Many of those who looked up to him, especially his descendents, desired to have a picture of him, but he never agreed to have himself drawn or photographed. Stories also arose regarding this: Photographers tried to secretly direct their cameras to him many times on the street. Despite the fact that he was already blind, he sensed this and turned his face to a different direction.
Throughout his days, he disseminated Torah and had many students. Some of his students later became Torah giants, famous and learned rabbis. As far as I know, the following were among them: Reb Yankel Widenfeld the rabbi of Grzymalow; Rabbi Alexander Shmuel Halpern the rabbi of Gologory and later a rabbinical judge and preacher in Lwow Rabbi Binyamin Aryeh HaKohen Weiss the rabbi of Chernovitz; Rabbi Pinchas Rimalt the rabbi of Chorow and Zalukhuv; The grandson of Rabbi Chaim Aryeh Leibush the rabbi of Krakow; Dr. Netanel Lipa Karpel who later lived in Iasi and was one of the founders of Chovevei Tzion and Zionism, one of those who encouraged aliya to the Galilee and the president of the First Zionist Congress; Dr. Yeshayahu Gelbhaus, a teacher in the rabbinical seminary of Vienna; and Rabbi Aharon Tzvi Hirschel Weishaus, the renowned erudite wealthy man of Stanislawow. Every important youth attempted to be counted among his students, for the saw this as a status symbol. They were a something if they were a student of the rabbi. Anyone who wished to be known as a possessor of Torah was considered splendorous if he could say that he studied with the elder. Once I met the refugees of Stanislawow in Vienna. Among then was Karl Hauswald the owner of a knife workshop and enterprise who spoke Yiddish as one of the Jews. When he heard that I was a grandson of the elder rabbi, he said in Yiddish, Of which rabbi, Rabbi Meshulam? I studied with him. Even this gentile knew the custom of the city, that if one mentions Rabbi Meshulam, one takes personal pride in claiming that he studied with him
His prayers were recited with emotion, devotion, and deep pouring out of the soul. Whatever was recited out loud before the congregation, in the manner of rabbis, such as the reading of the Shema which he started from Vesamtem et Devarai, Kiddush, Havdalah, the blessing of the Omer, Sheva Brachot, etc. he would say in a clear, pleasant voice with a special melody, which would make a deep impression upon the listeners. This melody was passed down from him to his sons and grandchildren as a family style. I remember how as a young child, in my heart, I was filled with holy awe when I heard his recitation of Havdalah at the conclusion of the Sabbath, as he recited Veshavtem Mayim Lesason Mimayanei Hayeshua (And you shall draw water with joy from the wellsprings of salvation
The custom in Stanislawow was that the rabbi leads the Neila service in the Great Synagogue on Yom Kippur, and that he comes to the old Beis Midrash on Simchat Torah night to worship and recite Atah Hareita. The Gabbaim (synagogue trustees) would go to the house of the rabbi along with the honorable members of the Beis Midrash on Shmini Atzeret in the late afternoon. The sexton would bring a pot of mead, and they would celebrate a party until the time for the evening service came. Then they would accompany the rabbi to the Beis Midrash for the Hakafot (Torah processions).
On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, he would elongate the Mincha Shmone Esrei greatly, and he would order the prayer leader to not wait, as was customary, until he concluded his prayers. On one occasion, the congregation had concluded the evening service while he was still reciting the Mincha Shmone Esrei. They would say that this Mincha service was a form of introspection on the year that was passing.
Some of his grandchildren, the sons of his sons, were knowledgeable in secular subjects, languages and sciences. These included Rabbi Chaim Aryeh the rabbi of Krakow, and Rabbi Aryeh Leibush the son of my uncle Rabbi Yaakov Yokel who was still a bachelor during my grandfather's lifetime. Their knowledge of secular wisdom was not a secret before grandfather, and he treated this positively. He also did not find it problematic that the peyos of these grandchildren were combed and trimmed, so long as they excelled in the study of Torah. On the contrary, it is said that when his grandchildren who lived in the region of Belz visited, and their peyos were grown unkempt in accordance with the Belz style, he was not happy with this style.
Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar wrote three books, which he brought to publication himself. He was his first of his lineage who did this. This fact was already pointed out by his grandson Rabbi Pinchas the son of my uncle Rabbi Shaul, who stated in his eulogy for Grandfather (Ayin Dima page 66): I will bring one more favorable fact about my grandfather of blessed memory, and that is that he was the first among the entire chain of holy Gaonim, his fathers and grandfathers from generation to generation to whom G-d gave the favor of being able to publish his precious books to the light of the earth while still alive. This was not the case with his fathers (up the paternal line) even though they were known as true and holy Gaonim on all corners of the earth. Nevertheless, they were not able to publish their didactic and sharp words to the world. His books include: a) responsa Bar Livai, Volume I and Volume II; b) Shibcha Demara on the Passover Haggadah; c) Kli Chemda on the Torah. It is said in the aforementioned eulogy (page 48) that the order of publication of the books is in the order of his spiritual growth; a) Bar Livai Volume I was published as the first fruits of the author. In it, he displays wondrous sharpness and didactic depth appropriate for such a great person as he, and he shows his first delving in to the Torah; Bar Livai Volume II is centered more on practical Halacha; Shibcha Demara is his first step away from didactics, in which he delves deep into the path of private scholarship, in the easiest path of lore; Kli Chemda on the Torah was directed to the wider audience. Approximately 20 years after his passing, my brother-in-law Rabbi Moshe Berger of Bucharest published Bar Livai Volume III. The book Shivcha Demara on the Haggadah was no longer available in the marketplace shortly after its publication. My father published a second edition in the year 5655 (1895). The largest renown in the world of scholarship was reached by the book Bar Livai. As was customary in those days, when famous authors were nicknamed after their books, he was known by the name The Bar Livai. The following small episode demonstrates for us the reason that the scholars held Bar Livai in esteem. When I visited Rabbi Chaim Heller when he was in Tel Aviv, the conversation turned to the Bar Livai. When Rabbi Chaim Heller heard from me that I knew him in person, he looked at me in surprise and said, This is not possible, it is certainly a mistake on your part. It was with difficulty that I was able to convince him that my words were true, and furthermore, that he was my grandfather. Rabbi Heller said to me, In my mind, the Bar Livai is etched as one of the early ones. (Incidentally, some of the rabbis in Rabbi Meshulam's generation refrained from turning to him with questions of practical Halacha, for he would always draw from the early sources, and it did not bother him to derive Halacha in a manner that was different from the famous latter decisors. As is known, not everyone could deal with this methodology.)
Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar was a staunch Misnaged. He worshipped in the Ashkenazic style, did not want to familiarize himself with the ways of the Rebbes, and did not allow them any influence in matters of his community. However, his opposition to Hassidism was not extreme. He did not participate in bans or persecution of Rebbes, and did not distance from himself Hassidim who traveled to Rebbes. He held in esteem those Rebbes who were known to him as scholars on account of their Torah. Some of those whom he recognized as pure in their ways he esteemed because of their honesty. However, it was impossible not to have some specific clashes, and we know about these from several stories. As is known, the Rebbes would travel for Sabbaths to various cities in which they had Hassidim. Stanislawow was a major city, and there were many Hassidim there. However when it came the turn of Stanislawow for the Sabbath, the Rebbes, such as the Admorim of Kosow, Vishnitz and others would not come to the city itself, but would rather stay in one of the nearby villages such as Brodshin (Bohorodczany), Ottynia, etc., for this rabbi was a difficult for them. It was not possible not to visit him, for he was the rabbi of the city. However, if they were to visit him, there was no certainty that he would honor the Tzadik in a way that was appropriate for his honor, both in the Tzadik's eyes and in the eyes of his Hassidim. Therefore it was best to bypass the city. Once Rabbi Avrahamche of Stratyn spent the Sabbath in Stanislawow. On the Sabbath after the services he went to the house of the rabbi for a Kiddush. The reception was not apparently up to the high standards of the guest. The Tzadik left the house of the rabbi with a grievance. He took revenge and went strait to the mikva, as if to say: one gives a greeting to the rabbi, and then one has to immerse The legend continues on he was punished for this. In any event, that Tzadik never came to Stanislawow again for the Sabbath. There was a friendship between the renowned Tzadik Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Tsanz (Nowy Sacz) and Rabbi Meshulam. Once Rabbi Chaim was traveling to the son of the Rizhiner in Sadagora. On his way there or back, he passed through Stanislawow and visited Rabbi Meshulam. During the conversation, Rabbi Meshulam asked him in surprise, Rebbe of Tzanz, why is it in your honor to travel to them? If the Rebbe desires you honor, he has the pedigree of his fathers no less than yours, your honor is great in Torah and there is not, so why do you undertake the journey? Rabbi Chaim answered him, apparently with a bit of chastisement: Rabbi of Stanislawow, we are traveling to unite Jews! To this Rabbi Meshulam answered in jest, Rabbi of Tzanz, yichud is forbidden from the Torah.
Rabbi Meshulam participated in the large rabbinical convention in Lvov in the year 5640 (1880). As is known, the court of Belz conducted high politics, so to speak, and Rabbi Meshulam did not approve of this manner. However, the hand of Belz and its Machzikei Hadas was on top when they began to organize the statutes in the German language. Rabbi Meshulam objected to the participation of the government authorities in internal communal matters, and advised that the book of statutes be written in Hebrew. He offered the following reason for his recommendation: If you organize the statutes in German, the language that they (i.e the Reformers) know very well and we do not, we will have the lower hand, for they will be able to place stumbling blocks before us without us noticing. This will not be the case if we write the statutes in our own language, which we have full command of and they do not However, as has been said, the power of Belz was superior, and Rabbi Meshulam left the convention, which did not leave a recognizable stamp upon the life of Galician Jewry.
Regarding his relationship to Hassidism, it is appropriate to point out that his eldest son Rabbi Elazar, the rabbi of Rohatyn, tended to Hassidism and used to travel to the Tzadik Rabbi Yehuda Tzvi of Rozla, and his father did not object. On the contrary, my father told me that when Rabbi Elazar was a guest at his father's home for the Sabbath, the local Hassidim of Rozla would come to visit. On Friday night, Rabbi Meshulam left the room and went upstairs, as if to go to sleep, so that Rabbi Elazar could sit with the Hassidim in celebration without interruption. The Hassidim would sing and dance there until late at night, as was their custom. It is also worthwhile to point out that after the incident took place with the son of the Rizhiner Rabbi Dov of Leva, and Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of holy blessed memory of Tzanz started his great attack on the Sadagora Hassidim who were all descended from the Rizhiner, Rabbi Meshulam stood on the side. He also took issue with the deeds of Rabbi Dov Leva. Even though Rabbi Chaim, the Tzadik of Tzanz, was very dear and honorable to him, Rabbi Meshulam restrained himself and did not enter the dispute. Only after the Sadagora supporters gathered in Russia, declared a ban upon Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz and poured vituperation upon him, was the Tzanz side able to convince Rabbi Meshulam to also publish a letter in support of Rabbi Chaim and against his disputants. This letter was completely in support of Rabbi Chaim, protected him, and cast aspersion upon the proclamation that was published in the name of Rabbi Ber of Leva. It dissected the proclamation with a sharp knife. However later, when Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz issued an further proclamation in which he broadened his attack to the Hassidim of Sadagora, saying, as long as they persist in their rebellion, they are separate and set apart from the Jewish community, it is forbidden to marry them, their bread is considered as gentile bread and their wine as gentile wine, and we one cannot join with them in any holy mater (Smashing the Sinners, 5644 / 1884), did Rabbi Meshulam step back from the dispute. He said that as long as the Rabbi of Tzanz disputes with the Rebbes of Sadagora, he is prepared to support him, but if his goes out against the Hassidim and extends the dispute and chasm in the Jewish community, saying that they cannot marry each other, is it possible to hear of such a thing? He regretted that he had written his letter and demanded that it be retracted and not be published, but this was to no avail, for the letter was already published (Yalkut Haroim, 5644). Father told me that when the matter of Rabbi Ber became known, the Rabbi of Tzanz declared, How great are the words of the wise! The Rabbi of Stanislawow warned me not to travel to them.
After the elder rabbi reached the age of 80, approximately two and a half years before his death, his eyes dimmed and he became blind. The doctors said that he had damaged his eyes by studying so much at night to the light of the tallow candle. However, his mouth never desisted from study even during his blindness. He sat and studied by heart, taught his students, and even answered questions, including questions about chickens.
Rabbi Meshulam had five sons and four daughters. The five sons were all rabbis who were Jewish leaders. They are a) The eldest son Rabbi Elazar who was, as has been mentioned, the rabbi of Rohatyn. He died at the age of 42 during the lifetime of his father. My father told me that when the news of the death of his son, who was particularly dear to him, reached Rabbi Meshulam, he accepted the judgment in silence, and only one large tear rolled down his cheek. However, his anguish was so great that his memory weakened for an entire year. b) Rabbi Yitzchak the Rabbi of Zurawno, who filled his place in Stanislawow after the death of his father. c) Rabbi Shaul the rabbi of Tysmienica. d) Rabbi Yaakov Yokel the rabbi of Delatyn. e) Father of blessed memory, Rabbi Yosef, the Rabbi of Ucie Zielone.
During the last year of his life, he called his son Yosef, my father of blessed memory, and ordered him to move to Stanislawow to assist him in fulfilling the duties of the rabbinate. A day or two before Grandfather's death, a husband and wife came before Father to get divorced. Father asked them why they wished to get divorced, and they told him their complaints. Father began to speak to their hearts to reconcile and make peace between themselves. He tried various approaches, but they both agreed that it is impossible, there is no way of reconciling, and they request that the rabbi arrange the Get (bill of divorce). When my father saw that there was no choice, he wished to fulfill their desire. At that time, Grandfather was lying in the next room, seriously ill and on his deathbed. Suddenly he called Father to enter and told him, Please hear me, I do not agree to write a Get for this couple, as I have heard from their complaints, should not get divorced. Go tell them in my name that they should reconcile. Father entered the room and told them, Be aware that Father told me that you must not get divorced, but rather must reconcile. The husband answered first and said, Is this what the holy rabbi said? And what, if the rabbi tells me to jump off the roof, would I not listen to him? They both left and reconciled. It is possible that this incident was a symbol, for the final rabbinical matter that he dealt with before his death was to bring peace between a man and his wife
On the 20th of Cheshvan 5648 (1888, Rabbi Meshulam Yissachar passed away at the age of 84, after he had served as the rabbi of Stanislawow for approximately 48 years. There was a very deep mourning in the city that day. All of the stores were closed, and all of the residents of the city went to accompany him on his final journey. Crowds also came from the nearby cities for the funerals. From among all of the important eulogizers, it is worthwhile to mention those of his sons whose eulogies were published: Ayin Dima the eulogies of his son Rabbi Shaul of Tysmienica and of the two children of Rabbi Shaul who were Rabbi Chaim Aryeh the rabbi of Krakow and Rabbi Pinchas who was later a rabbi in Bohorodczany; Medor Dima the eulogy of his son Rabbi Yaakov Yokel the rabbi of Delatyn; Alon Bachut the eulogy of Father of blessed memory in the Great Synagogue of Stanislawow on the 30th day (shloshim) after the death of his father.
Rabbi Meshulam did not leave a written or oral will. He was buried in the cemetery of Stanislawow, and the community erected a canopy over his grave.
Rabbi Yitzchak was born in Zalozce, where his father served in his first rabbinical posting at that time. Like his father, it was said that he was also a mischievous, active, lively and diligent child.
When Rabbi Yitzchak reached marriageable age, he married Tova Mirl the daughter or Rabbi Efraim Teomim, the rabbi of Krisnipoli (Krystynopol). She bore him a son, Rabbi Aryeh Leibush, and then she did not give birth fro seven years. From his mouth I heard about a wondrous portent of the Tzadik Rabbi Shalom Rokach, the head of the Belz dynasty of Tzadikim. When the Tzadik Rabbi Shalom read the note that was given to him by Rabbi Yitzchak, and saw that he had only one son, he blessed him saying: From now you will have a child have a child have a child have a child have a child five times, according to the number of the five daughters that were subsequently born. My uncle told me about another wondrous portent: His only son, Aryeh Leibush, had weak bones. When he was 3 or 4 years old, he could not walk. He was brought to Rabbi Shalom of Belz to be blessed with a cure. The Tzadik put his hand on the legs of the child, rubbed them from the thighs to the feet, and the boy started to walk
Rabbi Yitzchak, like his father Rabbi Meshulam, at first did not have the inclination to serve in the rabbinate, and wished to earn his livelihood in a different manner. He leased an estate. He began to run the estate in partnership with his younger brother Rabbi Shaul. The business did not succeed, and they were forced to abandon it. Only then did he turn to the rabbinate. The first rabbinical posting of Rabbi Yitzchak was in Ottynia near Stanislawow, where he lived for several years. Then he was accepted as the rabbi of Zhuravno, which was a larger community, and where the livelihood that he earned was more ample. He lived in that city for many years, and married off his son and daughters there. He wrote his books there, and was well liked and honored by the local residents. From there, he moved to serve in Stanislawow.
He wrote and published two books. One was Toldot Yitzchak, which he wrote in his youth. It is a book of sharp didactics. The second is a large book called Meah Shearim which includes 49 discussions of the Talmud, and in which he displays his sharpness and breadth of knowledge. He took pride in that book. He would say that his book Toldot Yitzchak was a book of a young man. The book Meah Shearim, which was published in the year 5647 (1887) has the approbations of two leaders of the generation: Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Orenstein the rabbi of Lwow and the rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Aharon Ettinga. The latter wrote: These are words fitting to he who said them, filled with wondrous sharpness and breadth, splitting mountains and breaking rocks Even though the eminent rabbi does not need my approbation, his will is my honor.
Rabbi Yitzchak had a pleasant temperament. He was joyous, had a sense of humor, and was slow to anger. Nobody ever saw him angry. He was pleasant with his fellowman, receiving everyone pleasantly. He was modest who did not insist on his own honor. He was also pleasant to the youth. He appreciated the youth, loved children, and displayed special love to lively children with warm temperaments. He would worship with a clear, strong and pleasant voice. He would sometimes make his voice. I still remember when he blessed the new month, cantorializing Chayim shel , his havdalah, sheva brachot, etc.
He would place great importance upon the significant sermons that the he would deliver, as was the custom of rabbis, on Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuva in the Great Synagogue. He would spend several weeks preparing the sermon. He would prepare the entire sermon in writing and after he finished the work, he would finally copy it all out, which would cover several sheets of paper. The following is the order of his sermons: he would open with a brief section of lore, stop the lore and come to the central main section in which he would discuss Talmudic discussions with comprehensive didactics and sharpness. He would then return to lore at the end, spending more time on it. On Shabbat Shuva the lore (aggadaic) section consisted of moral chastisement, and on Shabbat Hagadol, it would include general lore or issues of the time of year. At the end of the lore he would discuss several laws. These would not be straightforward laws that could be found clearly in the Shulchan Aruch, but rather laws that had some novel ideas from real life and experience things about which nothing had yet been written. When he finished writing the entire sermon, my uncle would write out the list of sources. This list would identify exactly all of the places in the Babylonian or Jerusalem Talmud, Tosafot, Rambam, etc. which he would use to elucidate the Talmudic discussion, which was the didactic portion of the sermon. He would make several copies of the source material. He would write these out himself, unless one of on of the young people who was with him volunteered to help him do so. This was also no small feat, for in those days there were no photocopying machines, and it was necessary to write out each template individually. The list of sources was posted in most of the synagogues and Beis Midrashes. However, he sent a special copy to the homes of the known scholars, which was considered a sign of honor. In this way, anyone who wished to prepare for the sermon could do so. When the Rabbi stood on the Bima to preach, they were allowed to interrupt him, discuss matters, and dispute didactics with him. At times, the didactic discussion took on a very dramatic form: The rabbi was standing above the Bima enwrapped in a tallis, presenting the discussion with warmth and emotion, in the traditional didactic chant, punctuated by hand gestures and thumb pointing, for the topic was very detailed. On the side below, from the audience of listeners, there was a voice that asked, raised a difficulty, and opened up a dialog from above to below. The rabbi had to win, and was forced to have the last word, and pave a path between the two opinions. However, the pinnacle of interest occurred when two men, great scholars were among the audience. These were Reb Aharon Tzvi Weishaus and Rabbi Meir Wolf Zoslk. Their customary seats were on the east side near the Bima, one on the right and the other on the left. They would be called Yachin and Boaz. If they would attend, the audience knew that things would be lively during the sermon. These two did not disappoint. When the rabbi entered the depths of his didactics, they began to ask and contradict from the right and the left, and the rabbi, from atop them, broke apart everything, demonstrated that one was not exact and the other had forgotten a certain Gemara or Tosafot, etc. He answered everything and was victorious. This scene also gave satisfaction to the less learned members of the audience, for the victory gave satisfaction to those who did not understand the depths of the didactic. However, as has been said, in general, this interruption was not a special right of these two excellent scholars. Everyone who had what to contribute was able to do as they said, even if he was a young man or a bachelor. He was entitled to make his contribution.
When the Zionist movement arose, Rabbi Yitzchak was not among its members, but he did not display any opposition at all to it or disrespect to its adherents. During his day, the enlightened ones began to arise and made efforts to establish their own Temple headed by an enlightened rabbi and preacher. They did not dare to do this during Rabbi Meshulam's lifetime, for they knew that the elder would not have tolerated this and had the power to block their efforts. However Rabbi Yitzchak no longer had the same strength. Furthermore he was a calm man, without any harshness at all. Therefore, they laid the cornerstone of the Temple building in the year 5655 (1895). They arranged a celebration and invited Rabbi Yitzchak. He responded to them and came to that event. This awakened the ire of the zealots. However he, the modest and tolerant person, felt that it was not appropriate to push away any segment of the community.
It is fitting to tell he about the issue of complications in justice that took place during his day. The Laszkowicz estate belonged to a Polish count named Orlowski. This estate had a yeast factory that was directed by a high official named Director Neuman, a Jew who was fully or partially an apostate. This yeast also had customers in Stanislawow and its region, and the Stanislawow agent was Uziel Meisels, a refugee from Warsaw who was known in the city as Uzielish with the Peyos due to his two long, thick peyos, the likes of which were not found in the entire city. They were curled and reached his knees. Someone came to Rabbi Yitzchak after Passover and told him that Neuman was not only the official, but also a partner in the business, and he did not write a bill of sale for Passover. The rabbi proclaimed a ban on this years on account of the chometz of sinners, which is the chometz of a Jew owned over Passover and of which it is forbidden to derive benefit from. His brother Rabbi Shaul the Rabbi of Tysmienica also proclaimed this ban. When Neuman found out about this, he hastened to Stanislawow, came to the rabbi with his agent Meisels, and spoke harshly to him, What have you done, honorable Rabbi? You issued a ban upon the products of our factory, and this is a legal crime, for according to the law of the state, bans are punishable by harsh imprisonment. The rabbi answered that as the rabbi of the community he is responsible for ensuring that the community does not stumble upon forbidden products. His only intention was to clarify the reason it was forbidden on account of chometz that had been owned over Passover. There is no ban or taint of a ban here. However Neuman stood his ground that this is a ban, and stated that he would turn the matter over to a government prosecutor. The rabbi became somewhat afraid, for if Neuman succeeds in his attempts to paint the matter in other colors and present this as a ban, it is possible that this would cause great trouble. There was already an incident with one rabbi in the region who was sentenced to harsh imprisonment because of a ban. Furthermore, Neuman claimed that the reason for the ban is incorrect. As proof he brought the contract that was made between the count who owned the factory and him, in which it says that Neuman has no partnership in the business and in the products that was sold. His only position is as chief administrator, and he was entitled to receive a set salary with the additional sum if the profit reaches a certain level. In this clause the rabbi found a pretext to extricate himself from the complications and a possibility of canceling the previous ban, for if a Jew is not a partner in the business itself, he does not own a portion of the merchandise, and the yeast belongs to the Polish count, this is the chometz of a gentile which does not have to be destroyed for Passover, and upon which the prohibition of chometz that a Jew owned over Passover does not apply. The rabbi sat down and wrote a note repealing his ban. When Neuman received the retraction, he went to Tysmienica to Rabbi Shaul. He also repealed his ban after reading the section of the contract. Apparently, there was reason for the rabbi brothers to assume that they had been cleared from this difficulty. However, this was a mistake, for Neuman had plotted a large plot. He wanted to earn a profit from this business and also to take revenge. He went to the state prosecutor and explained to him the entire incident. He portrayed it as a scandal with respect to the relations between the Jews and his landlord Count Orlowski. For there were two very wealthy Jews in Stanislawow, Yitzchak Goldfeld and Philip Lieberman. Each one had their own yeast factory and they looked badly upon the development of Count Orlowski's factory, whose produce was well-liked by its customers. Therefore, they went to their two rabbis and influenced them to find a Jewish legal pretext to proclaim a ban upon the products of Count Orlowski. The two rabbis listened to them, proclaimed a ban, and have already caused a loss to the count of so many thousands due to merchandise that was sent to Jewish customers, returned because of the ban and went bad in the interim. This is aside from the loss due to the losing of regular customers. Due to this, the prosecutor must bring them all to justice.
The magic word: ban (kl¹twa) had its effect, and the prosecutor paid close attention as he saw before him the chance to arrange a sensational case. Primarily, two wealthy, renowned and honorable Jews, as well as two renowned rabbis would be captured at once. An investigation was started, which lasted for many months. Following it, a writ of accusation (oszustwo) against these two wealthy men as the primarily accused and the two rabbis as accomplices in the crime was issued. This writ regarded the crime as being that the accused plotted to gain monetary benefit from the loss of the count, who was their competition. This is a felony according to Austrian law. A tumult and confusion arose with respect to the ban, but the prosecutor was not able to arrange a writ of accusation on the basis of this perversion, so he was forced to satisfy himself with something prosaic, an accusation of commonplace fraud, exaggerated to a major crime (zbrodnia), the penalty of which is serious and the judgment of which takes place between adjured judges. The accusation was based on the exaggerations of Neuman, whose master had in the interim lost several thousands for according to Austrian law; the seriousness of the crime in such cases of fraud is measured according to the magnitude of the loss that was caused. However, the due process of this type of accusation caused the chief accused to be the fraudulent competitors, for they alone stood to reap benefit from the loss caused to the count. Even after great investigation, the prosecutor was unable to prove that any benefit would accrue to the rabbis from this. The only thing that occurred was that the rabbis worked for the benefit of their important members of the community and assisted them in their intrigues, so they have to stand in judgment This writ of accusation was several pages long, and a large portion of it dealt with the essence of the bill of sale for Passover, which the prosecutor terms as an apparent contract (kontrakt pozorny). My uncle, the rabbi of Tysmienica sat me down in his home for several days to copy over the writ of accusation for the defense attorneys of the two brother rabbis. All four of the accused presented a protest against the writ of accusation. The case was conducted before a court of adjured judges with extreme sensationalism. The Polish newspapers, which were then completely anti-Semitic, either in small measure or in large measure, and there were no liberally inclined newspapers among them in the form of the large liberal newspapers that were published in the capital of Vienna, which of course protested against this situation. There was a small article with a large headline: Rabini przed Sadem (Rabbis before the court of justice), which attracted interest. Those newspapers began to get involved in this case. They mixed into the pot, and add any spices that they desired. All of them sent special reporters to the court, who filled the lines with details, descriptions and comments, over and above the stenographer's account of all the deliberations and testimony.
The chief justice and the prosecutor scrutinized the 12 adjured judges with great care, lest they include even one Jew. They did not even let any Maskilim enter the list, for these circles may have had some contact with the circles to which the accused belong. Third, they ascertained that none of the adjured judges would be local residents. Farmers and professionals who did not have any contact with Jews were accepted. The chairman was the chief adviser of the court, Turteltaub, who was an apostate and had a reputation for strictness. In this case, he made efforts to be as strict as possible, in the manner of apostates who try to hide their Jewish origins by behaving as veteran Jew haters. I recall the grotesque impression that this Turteltaub made. Each time that he mentioned the bill of sale which was the common thread throughout the entire case , he would change his pronunciation sometimes saying star machira, at other times saying sheetar machira, as if he had never heard this word before. The case lasted for three days, and the hall was packed to the brim. New entry tickets were issued for each sitting and the former ones were invalidated. They only issued a small number, so that the audience could sit comfortably, but each time, the hall got filled up some how or another.
The prosecutor and chairman tried through all means to accentuate the intrigue of the accused who tried through their machinations to inflict destruction upon the poor count. They particularly tried to trip up the two rabbis. The rabbis claimed in their defense that as rabbis, it was their duty to issue a ban, and only when they found out about the aforementioned clause in the contract that showed that a Jew was not a substantive partner in the business itself and in the ownership of the merchandise, did they see a possibility of revoking their ban. It was difficult for the innocent rabbis, who were not fluent in the Polish language in which the secular judgment was conducted, to explain the religious reasoning. This was especially the case since the reason for permissiveness was not the same for both of them. The rabbi of Stanislawow permitted this because of clarification, and he had difficulty explaining to the gentiles the issue of someone who clarifies something from the outset. However, I remember how Rabbi Shaul brought with him the Tur, opened it up and showed the court the text upon which he relied. Their common defense attorney was not pleased that they both did not use the same reasoning, but he did not succeed in convincing them to hide the truth. The verdict of the adjured judges was that the two rabbis were unanimously acquitted. These simple gentiles determined that the rabbis were performing their religious functions and doing what their religion commanded them. With regard to Mr. Yitzchak Goldfeld, seven voted to accuse him and five to acquit him. Since according to the law, the accusation had to be with a two thirds majority, he was also acquitted. His defense lawyer was Dr. Nathan Lewenstein of Lvov, who was not yet at that time a representative in the Sejm and parliament, but was already known as an excellent attorney, and many attributed the acquittal of Goldfeld to the power of influence of his defense attorney. Mr. Lieberman was found guilty and sentenced to a year of harsh imprisonment. This sentence was later suspended after an appeal. However, at the time that the verdict was published, the Polish newspapers prepared tasty treats for their readers, describe to them with satisfaction and sharp mockery how the wealthy Jewish Maskil was sentenced to harsh imprisonment on the crime of fraud, and his status of captain was revoked (Lieberman was an Uber Lieutanant in the Austrian reserve army).
Rabbi Yitzchak was not a Hassid of any Admor, and did not conduct himself in the ways of Hassidim, but he also was not a staunch misnaged. On account of his pleasant disposition to everyone and his calm character, opposition was not part of his makeup. On the contrary, he displayed affection for any Rebbe who visited him. When he was still young, he visited the Tzadik Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Tzanz, who displayed special affection to him and honored him. At the table celebration during the Sabbath meal, he would seat him next to his seat, and in the middle of the meal, he would lean over to him and tell him lightheartedly, are we not both descendents of the Chacham Tzvi, who was not of the Hassidim. Even when he lived in Stanislawow, Rabbi Yitzchak displayed tolerance and admiration for the Hassidim and the Rebbes. During the lifetime of Rabbi Meshulam, the shochtim of Stanislawow who had Hassidic leanings were wary of displaying this publicly, but now each one traveled to his own Tzadik in the open. Furthermore, they would bring the rabbi a greeting from the Tzadik. Once, Rabbi Yitzchak was invited to Laskowce to kasher a large meal for Passover, the trip to Laskowce took him through Czortkow. Rabbi Yitzchak arranged his journey so that he would spend the Sabbath in Czortkow with the Tzadik Rabbi David Moshe. This journey took place every year, and he spent the Sabbath in Czortkow. each time. This greatly angered the misnagdim of Stanislawow very much, but the rabbi, in his innocence and modesty, did not understand what was wrong, for how could one travel to Czortkow. and not visit the Tzadik. And if one was doing so, why not do it in an honorable fashion and for the Sabbath?
He would take a student along with him for this journey. For the most part this was my brother Rabbi Tzvi, who our uncle loved very much, and appreciated his humor and his talent for jokes. He also told me some things about these visits to the court of Czortkow., such as the protocol and ethics of the court which Rabbi Yitzchak did not value and did not conduct himself accordingly. A large crowd was gathered in the anteroom before the room of the Tzadik, and the gabbai would shout loudly, Make way for the Rabbi of Stanislawow! However, the crowding did not abate. According to the accepted protocol of the court, the rabbi was to wait until the gabbai cleared the way. The intention, of course, was that the rabbi should stand for a while, and the crowd would see the power of the court, for great rabbis are subordinate to it. However, Rabbi Yitzchak did not pay attention to the custom of the gabbaim. He made his way himself, and he was quickly in the next to the door, having taken along his nephew. When the door opened up, the gabbai wanted to separate the rabbi from the youth who was with him, for how could a gabbai of the rabbi enter into the private room of the Admor. However my uncle did not let go of his hand, and he brought the youth in. In the room they exchanged greetings, and a chair was set up for the rabbi next to the chair of the Rebbe. After the rabbi was asked to sit down, he was brought a snack of cake and wine. The rabbi tasted, and wished the Tzadik lechayim (to life) as was customary. However, after that, the rabbi took the goblet and offered it to his nephew, Hershel, you should also drink lechayim!
Nevertheless, his visits to Czortkow. did not change the manner of Rabbi Yitzchak at all. He did not become a Czortkow Hassid, and did not become any more Hassidic than he was before, and no more of a misnaged than he was before, for during his life, he never took one side or the other. However, from this point, Hassidim who returned from Czortkow. would bring greetings to the rabbi more frequently. Rabbi Yankel Ehrlich did this more than others. He was an intelligent, sharp Jew, who was expert in the ways of the world however any Jewish life that did not have a connection to Czortkow was not of any value to him.
Rabbi Yitzchak's wife, Rebbetzin Tova Mirl, was a wise woman who had a man's mind. Some called her with the nickname Bismarck. She loved to take part in the rabbinical proceedings. She always kept some grandsons and granddaughters in her house. She would educate and raise them. She conducted herself properly with only one fault she was always immersed in debts. She borrowed and paid, borrowed, and paid. Of course, the rabbi tolerated this, and the domestic peace was not disrupted.
Even though Rabbi Yitzchak got along well with people, never got angry, never angered anyone, and the awe of him was not like that of his father, the following incident took place: Mordechai Bikel, a wealthy man who wore a short suit, an erudite man in his own eyes, a Kohen, a fierce tempered man, got angry at the rabbi because of a Torah adjudication that he lost or some similar matter, and burst out against him with brazenness and cursing, with his loud voice. The rabbi was silent as was his manner, accepting the embarrassment but not embarrassing others. However, this matter made him very angry. He said, I do not forgive him. Within a brief period, Mordechai Bikel became afflicted with paralysis. He repented for his wrongdoing; for he believed that he was punished in this manner. He sent for the rabbi to appease him. This was considered a portent in the city
Rabbi Yitzchak sat on the rabbinical seat of Stanislawow in peace and calm. He also lived a long life and died at an old age, but not as old as his ancestors, for he did not reach 80. He was approximately 78 at his death. He died on the 20th of Cheshvan, 5664 (1904), and was laid to rest in the canopy beside his father.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2018 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 5 Feb 2007 by MGH