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[Page 33]

The “ancient” Zabludow Pinkas is the old ledger kept by the Jewish Community of Zabludow from the year 1646 to 1816. This document is considered a very valuable and unique source for Jewish history in Zabludow, and in the surrounding region. The 280 page Zabludow Pinkas contains many insights into the history, organization, governance, and culture of the Zabludow Jews. The Zabludow Yizkor (memorial) book published in Buenos Aires in 1961 contains 34 pages dealing with this very old Zabludow Pinkas including a brief explanation of the Pinkas and it's significance, excerpts from the Pinkas, and photographs of some of the original pages. Below is an English translation of these 34 pages of the Zabludow Yizkor Book. In the original they are in Yiddish and Hebrew. This translation was a formidable task. The Yiddish parts written in 1961 are in standard current Yiddish dialect. However some of the Yiddish parts, and the Hebrew are as much as three to four hundred years old. Many old acronyms are used, and many expressions are those used by Chassidim. Thanks to Shmuel Kehati of Ra'anana Israel for his excellent job of translation.

Tilford Bartman

Sections from Pinkas Kehilat Zabludow

Translated by Shmuel Kehati

The old ledger of Zabludow is one of the unique sources of Jewish history for most of the towns in Lithuania. This document preserves forever, not only various details of Zabludow, but ordinances and regulations from the Lithuanian Jewish Committee, as well as meetings of the Committee of the Four Countries, and matters which concern the towns around Zabludow, such as Boroshtch, Wasilkow, Grodek, Lewkowo and Narewka. The ledger is now at the University of Jerusalem Library (Cat # 4-103). Although a few pages are missing at the beginning and at the end, it still contains 280 leafs, which means over 500 pages. The descriptions contained in it are from the years 5406 till 5676 (1646-1816), which totals 170 years. How it ended up in Jerusalem, is a separate story.

It is all due to the wonderful work of  Dr. Y. Kazanowitz from Bialystok who possesses the Ledger from Tiktin, as well. He turned them over to the saintly Prof. Shimon Dubnow, together with other material. A few portions from this ledger have already been published. Researchers and various scientists used the ordinances written in it in a long list of publications. Prof. Shimon Dubnow used it for his work “The Committee for the Four Countries of Poland” which was published in the book “The Jubilee for N. Sokolow”. Prof. Simcha Assaf also used material from the Zabludow Ledger for his work “The Bet Dins”. Later in this book we mention a few regulations from the Zabludow ledger, which were compiled from various collections. If we would have had the entire ledger in our possession, we would have shown a wider collection, which would probably have been the correct way. It is a pity that this remains just a wish and we are content with the following twenty-two regulations.

They were taken from:

  1. Simcha Assaf - “The Zabludow Ledger” - published in a bibliographical journal of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Kiryat Seffer”, first year, pamphlet 4, Shvat 1925.
  2. A. Tsherikower - “The Archives of Shimon Dubnow”, part 2, “Historical lists of Yiva”, Wilna 1937.
  3. Israel Hylprin - “The Ledger of the Committee of the Four Countries”, Jerusalem 1945.
We quote the documents in their original language, and where required we added to each one the necessary clarifications. (*See page 57) In addition to the regulations we quote from the original sources, we have a few items, which were passed from ear to ear. We gathered them from the work published by Michael Lipshitz, “Our Old Synagogue” which was part of “The Zabludow Ledger”, published in New York in 1925. Michael Lipshitz writes: [1] (* See page 57)

“it is told that a few people who did not respect the customs or laws, received flagellants on the large stone lying next to the synagogue. Indeed, in the old ledger there is a story of a young slaughterer who ate on a Jewish fast day, with a Gentile, in the neighboring village of Troscianica. The Rabbi and the leaders of the Jewish community waited for him to come to the afternoon Mincha prayer, and flogged him on the stone, followed by a detention in the Koone (* a room in the synagogue). After Mincha a few men spat on him, which served as his forgiveness.

The ledger contains a custom by the great Rabbi Bendett, author of “The Eternal Light”, that the town should not have a combination Cantor-slaughterer, since the Cantor-slaughterer they had some one hundred years ago, fell asleep during the “Kol Nidrei” prayer (* on the day of Atonement) as a result of exhaustion after carrying out slaughtering all that day.

The regulation not to bury Jews in their “Talit” (* The prayer garment) is another ordinance written in this ledger by the same Rabbi. This came about because once, it was unbearably crowded in the synagogue on the Day of Atonement, causing the crowd to begin shouting. When the dead bodies arrived at the synagogue, they were unrecognizable because they were all covered in similarly looking “Talits”.

These are some of the stories about the ledger which were learned by heart, and the following are the source regulations in chronological order:


The Sh. Assaf Collection:

1) Year 5419 (1659)

“You, the residents of the town of Wasilkow, may God protect you, … [2] … heard from the Heads of the State, may God protect them, to maintain a Yeshiva in each community that has a teacher; therefore, based on what is written above, take care that should the Rabbi, head of Beit Din of Zabludow, send you a few boys, keep them as is the custom in the towns in our area. Protect and keep our decree, and fulfill it without any delays or omissions.

Shalom, Sunday, first day of the month of Second Adar, 5419, here the Committee of Sielc.

Signed by the young Moshe Shapira. Copied precisely from the letter written by the Rabbi, Head of the Yeshiva, Head of the Beit Din, great teacher of the holy community of Grodna, may God protect him. Signed by Yehuda Leib, son of Dr. Yakov HaLevi Epstein, beadle of the community mentioned above.“

This document, a letter from the committee of Sielc in Lithuania, was accurately copied. The date must be 5415 not 5419, as it appears in the ledger of Lithuania. It is regarding the town of Waslikow, which is obligated to maintain a Yeshiva and, in any case, they have to accept the young boys sent by the Beit Din of Zabludow. As can be seen from this document, Waslikow was part of the Zabludow Community. In 1766 there were 138 Jews in Waslikow.

2) Year 5419 (1659)

“We have witnessed two incidents that these dear men, the honorable Mr. Meir, son of Mr. David Katz and his brother in-law the honorable Mr. Mordechai[2] that they buried the dead and were[2] thus each given a seat in the synagogue, the center bench across from the dais. The first seat went to the honorable Mr. Meir mentioned above, and the second seat, next to him, to the honorable Mr. Mordechai. The honorable Mr. Mordechai was accepted as a permanent member of the community, as well. They were given an exemption from paying taxes and other obligations, as well, for a whole year from Passover 5418 till Passover 5419. This is written as evidence, so that would not disappear … ”
This is a story about two men, Meir son of David, and his brother in-law Mordechai, who buried the dead when others did not want to. They were thus each given an important seat in the synagogue, the center bench across from the dais. Mordechai was accepted as a permanent member of the community, and both were given an exemption from paying taxes and other obligations, as well, for a whole year.

3) Year 5421 (1661)

“It was agreed amongst the heads and prominent members, along with the community and other common people, to establish a fast-day from this time on to eternity, for all those who started to fast on the thirteenth day of the month of Tevet, to further increase the saying of Slichot (* forgiveness) and to read from the Torah portion read on all other accepted fast days.

This was done here in the community of Zabludow, may God protect them, today the tenth day of Tevet 5421.

Signed in the name of all the leaders mentioned above: Shmuel, beadle of the community mentioned above.”

This is about the Pogroms, which took place in a few towns and cities during the Russian-Polish War, which started in 1659. The Russian Army which, in our history books is called “The Moscowites”, destroyed many towns which stood in their path. The greatest Pogrom occurred in Jezow, where 300 Jews were slaughtered on the twenty ninth day of the month of Kislev after a siege lasting twenty-nine weeks. Only two weeks later, on the thirteenth day of the month of Tevet, a similar Pogrom may have occurred in Zabludow. More stories of these events are found in the following documents.

4) Year 5421 (1661)

We wish to announce and introduce what was presented to us by the messenger from the community of Zabludow, may God protect them, saying that due to the problems given to them by God, as it is well known, they didn't have the means to pay money, … We decided to write that when the collector arrives to collect the dues … he should take from them one sixth less than they owe according to the list … That is how it will be, and will be executed from today for one whole year. All this we said, truly and honestly, today the twenty first day of Tevet 5421.

Signed - Kayem, known as Kadesh,
Signed - Yakov Trapha,
Signed - Shmuel son of Klonimus,
Signed - Aharon son of Yakov,
Signed in the name of all the leaders mentioned above:
Signed - Shmuel, son of Mordechai, beadle of the Zabludow community.”

It is evident from the signatures that this regulation was decided by the Grodna Community. It tells that when the messenger from Zabludow described the terrible conditions the community and the trouble afflicted on it by the enemy (see the previous document), it was agreed to decrease the levies and taxes of the Zabludow community, by one sixth.

5) Year 5423 (1663)

“Shalom to you, dear and pleasant heads of the holy Zabuldow community, may God protect you. Today we received a letter from the famous Rabbi, great teacher, Avraham, who served in your community, regarding money that was given to the enemy from Skwitter who lent you the money. He has been unable to return it for a long time, and many of the people who gave the money were released by us, from returning the money. You are obligated to pay fifty Lithuanian Shooks[3] to the Rabbi mentioned above. You should take great care to fulfill our decree, to avoid excommunication, ostracism and a ban, pay the fifty Shooks, as written in the debt-note that should be handed over to the Rabbi within one year, till New Year's Day 5424, according to schedule you will decide upon … ” Signed on Monday, the first day of Elul, 5423 , here the holy community of Grodna.
Signed by seven prominent men from Grodna.

This is a continuation of the story about the Russian invasion of Poland described previously. It appears that in order to pay the high taxes levied by the “Moscowites”, the community had to borrow money. One of the lenders, Avraham, demanded the return of his loan. He approached the Grodna Community to assist him or at least give him an obligatory note to be paid within a year, in payments to be agreed upon. The Zabludow community was warned that they might be ostracized

1773 Zabludow Taxpayers List


These two columns contain the final list made by the Zabludow leaders determining how much each member of the community should pay for the year 5533 (1773). The amount for each one is according to his financial capability. Half is according to the value of his home, the other half according to his property (a certain percentage).The list totals about one hundred and sixty taxpayers. The names consist of first names and the father's name, but some contain additional details telling us about the structure of the Zabludow Jewish community in the year 1773. We find, among some of them their profession such as: tailor, jeweler, smuggler, scribe, furrier, painter, slaughterer, medical doctor, teacher, speaker or wagon driver. Sometimes the name of his village is included, as well. This is the village (usually nearby) where they lived, and it was considered a part of Zabludow, such as: R' Yitzchak of Vazna, R' Isaac of Taflian, R' Avraham Pataker, R' Yeshaya of Saloniki, R' Shimon of Elivinawa, R' Mordechai of Ostrawka, R' Yakov of Padworka, R' Leib of Horodnika, R' Leib of Liza, R' Aaron of *??, R' Moshe Karliner, R' Moshe of Rachalavka and R' Hoshea of Krenica.

6) Year 5423 (1663)

“Greetings to you the dear and pleasant leaders of the Zabludow community, may God protect you. Today, appeared before us, the honorable elderly man, … Moshe the son of our great leader Avraham who was a teacher in the community of Brisk. With a full heart he wishes to embark on a journey to the Holy Land, as did other great leaders of Brisk, as well as leaders of other communities in our country. It is a long journey, which requires assistance, as we all know. Therefore, we decided that you would immediately give the honorable man 20 gold coins with no procrastination or apology, so he will experience no delay in receiving it. Be very careful to fulfill all the above and we add a request to your great Rabbi, to ensure it will be done at once. We expect to obtain confirmation, and don't delay. Take care. Signed today, Tuesday, tenth day of Elul, 5423, in Grodna. / 7 signatures”

7) Year 5424 (1664)

“On Thursday, second day of the new moon of Chesvan 5424, The Mayor, Prakap Yon, demanded from the leaders of the community, may God protect them, to pay him a money belt containing four coins[4] , saying that they previously undertook to do so. The truth is that it was stolen from the enemy from Skwitter, may his name be erased, and it was agreed by the leaders of the community, may God protect them, to pay forty gold coins. Payment to be completed by the Greek New Year. The leaders, may God protect them, pledged security to this effect.”
This document reflects the sad effect of the Moscowites, may their name be erased, who caused the Jews great problems, by keeping the security. This case refers to a money belt weighing four pure silver coins that the enemy will entrust at the hands of the mayor, Prakap Yon, who was not a Christian. The community leaders pledged to redeem the belt. After a compromise they agree to pay forty Gulden by the Greek New Year, meaning the Provoslavic, and they pledged a security.

8) Year 5424 (1664)

“The decision reached by the great leaders of our community, may God protect them, about paying ransom to the enemy from Skwitter, may his name be erased, in exchange for the life of Jews during the coup d'etat that occurred in Zabludow. The total value of the Jews who lived in Zabludow at that time was 600 gold coins. These were Mr. Faibish of Rodaw and his brother-in-law Mr. Yecheskel, Mr. Noah son of R' Zalman, Rabbi R' Mair son of Rabbi R' Moshe. They are obligated to pay as much as will be levied on them by the leaders and the Rabbi of Zabludow. If they argue about it, the people mentioned above are obligated to pay triple the amount as would be decided by their Rabbi. All this would be done by force … and other punishments. Signed on Tuesday, twenty seventh day of Cheshvan 5724 in Grodna.
Yuda from Trapa,
Yitzchak Segal,
Shmuel the son of Klonimus”.
This letter, also from Grodna, refers to the consequence of the “Moscowites”, may their name be erased”. During this revolution Jews had to redeem a few Jewish lives from them. The time had come to pay the ransom. It was necessary to collect 600 Gulden from the residents. The decision on how to distribute the burden was left in the hands of the Zabludow community and its Rabbi, but this required all the means available, including punishment.

9) Year 5427 (1667)

“We levy heavy penalties and fines on all the communities of the countries[5] , the top leaders and every person who confiscates or seizes any property from another, or from those in the community or from the district, to pay the debt of a person or community. Unless, the person or persons could swear and agree that this is how much they owe. In this case, not more than this amount would be taken from them, even if it is taxes levied by the authorities. We decided the above in order to protect the innocent, every one would be free to act as he wishes, and no one would have to pay for another, and the land would not be closed for fear of abductors.

All the above I copied from a document[6] written by leaders of the countries[5] and additional Rabbis, may God protect them, from the city of Gramenz, 5427.

Signed by Avraham son of the late David of Lublin, Yakov Levi Safra of Tomaszow,
All this was copied from a copy of a copy.”

This is a decree of the Committee of the Four Counties against the custom of Jews at that time, to seize merchandise or cash money to pay for the debts of the community or taxes of the authorities. The decree warns that the debt should only be paid by those who owe it and only as much as they owe. This was done in-order to not restrict the people's land, that the land will be open to all, and that people will not fear the abductors. This was discussed a few times by the committee.

10) Year 5435 (1675)

“It was the custom in our community that people were appointed by lottery to take various responsibilities in the community. Over the past few years it wasn't done because people refused to accept the appointments under the pretext that the burden was too heavy and the work too great, citing the influx of the poor and needy, due to the increase of problems and hunger which caused many Jews to be unable to help. Therefore, after witnessing the situation and listening to the cries of the poor and the needy, we awakened to assist them and request the honorable R' Nachum son of R' Tuvia, to take it upon himself to assign by lottery those in need, to families and remove them from the streets and markets. In return he will be given a booth at the time of arbitration, around this coming Passover, 5735, as a member of the community, and no one can protest. All the above was decided by the community and agreed upon by the Rabbi, head of the Beit-Din, soul and spirit. I wrote it in this book so that it would be remembered, as I was ordered by the great leaders and by the Rabbi, head of the Beit-Din. David son of the late R' Yoseph HaCohen, beadle of Zabludow.”
This document reflects the dismal conditions of the Jewish community in those days. The number of poor increased, and the suffering heightened, causing people to refuse to accept community appointments. Lastly, they obtained the agreement of the prominent R' Nachum son of R' Tuvia to it take upon himself to allocate the poor to families. In return he would be appointed to be a community leader.

11) Year 5444 (1684)

“… (we) warn those who are concerned that no one from the community be allowed to sell his house to any Gentile … in any street, and in particular in the Jewish street or the market, without the knowledge of the Great Beit-Din of the Community of Grodna.”
This description is brought by Sh. Assaf in his book “ Kiryat Seffer”. It becomes clear that Jewish homes were sold to non-Jews. The time of this decree is between 5441 and 5448 (1681-1688) when the non-Jews issued a complaint to Princess Caroline Radzivil, who owned the town, against the Jews who did not fulfill the orders issued by her parents. They allege that the Jews do not adhere to agreement with the Radzivils, that they steal from them the beer industry, commerce and crafts, they settle in streets and areas in the city which were forbidden to them according to the privileges they were given. Jews who were allowed to live in Suraz Street have moved to Kabarow and Byelsk Streets. The Jews Pinchas and Sender even built themselves houses next to the Monastery. Those lodging the complaint asked the Princess that the Jews honor the previous agreement.

12) Year 5457 (1697)

“To the great Rabbi, Torah scholar, his honorable, Rabbi Avraham, soul and spirit, head of the Beit-Din, teacher of the Zabludow community, may God protect him.

Now after greeting you, we approach you about a matter between your community and the leaders of the community of Titkin, may God protect them, who acted incorrectly, and it is a serious thing in the eyes of God. Three years have past since the community of Titkin started making their own decisions, and neglecting the decisions of previous Rabbis. It was known to all the great Rabbis of Grodna, that they are not allowed to levy excommunication or ban, and they had previously ruled about the excommunication, on the entire community or on individuals, and we always abolish and notify these decrees in accordance to the power vested in us, thank God. Therefore, now as always, we are here to tell his honor not to adhere to them at-all and not to listen to their noisy words, loathe their ways, which have no basis or foundation, … to coerce you in any ban or excommunication. His honorable understands that they have shut him out while the great Rabbi R' Aryeh Yehuda Leib, head of the Beit-Din of their community, who dealt with this matter in the past, did not agree with what they did. As soon as the bright aura of the Great Rabbi, may God protect him, had disappeared from the above mentioned community, they resumed their writing, having no authority to force their control over an area that does not belong to them. To a bright man such as yourself, this should be enough … . , may you have peace, and your chair be steady, like your great mind, from God and from us, today, the twelfth day of Addar, 5457, here in Grodna, may God protect us.
The speech by the Rabbi and his disciples, the leaders of our community.
Signed by the head of the Beit-Din, R' Simcha HaCohen Rappaport and ten additional leaders of Grodna.”

This letter, from the head of the Beit-Din of Grodna and ten additional leaders, is connected to the dispute between Grodna and Titkin regarding under whose supervision the community of Zabludow should be. The previous section contains all the details of the dispute. The letter noted above was written two years prior to the last decision, which we have, in regards to this dispute, (document No. 8) from the year 1699. Today's letter is a recommendation by the people of Grodna to Zabludow not to fear any ban or excommunication, which will be levied on you from Tiktin, to strengthen and lift their spirits.

13) Year 5464 (1703)

“To the great leaders of the Zabludow community, may God protect you.
We heard from a few leaders in your community complaints that you have not acted in accordance with the laws regarding the lottery (* elections). You have not placed the slips of the polls, and their objections about the arbitrators who did not comply with the rules of nominations and appointments, as we have seen in their written and signed declaration, and your response was just an unfounded rejection. Therefore, we decreed on you excommunication, ostracism, ban and fine. You are to send two members, or those who could come on their own without any authorization, within three days of this notice, and permission for individuals to force the Beit-Din in this matter and clarify their rights in the matter of the laws of the ledger, as well as how they would be able to fulfill their rights without any protests or delays. In the meantime, neither the community nor the congregation should do anything until after the trial before us, taking no action what so ever. We decreed that the beadle be ostracized and that he must adhere to the above, warn them and hand it to the individuals concerned, in writing, without delay. You should not fear, nor acquire their services until after the trial. God forbid you should turn to the Gentile courts. Today, first day of Eyar, 5464, here in Grodna, may God protect us.

Signing on the letter, R' Simcha HaCohen Rappaport and six additional leaders of the community.”

This is a severe letter from the head of the Beit-Din and the community of Grodna to the Zabludow community in regards to the elections. It turns out that a few people complained to the Grodna community, to which Zabludow belonged in these matters, that the elections were not held precisely as required and the necessary rules were not kept regarding the elections. The head of the Beit-Din of Grodna demands that they appear in front of the Beit-Din within three days, and in the meantime they are not allowed to deal with matters concerning the Zabludow community. Under the threat of excommunication the beadle is ordered to bring the head of the Zabludow community to the Beit-Din.

14) Year 5508 (1748)

“Today we were approached by the leader, official, honorable Rabbi, R' Yehoshua Heschel, son of Rabbi R' Menachem, an inspector in our community, complaining bitterly that Rabbi R' Aryeh Leib son of Rabbi R' Yitzchak Segal (* written in acronym, meaning Deputy Levi), hit him in public in the market place. He presented, as evidence in front the leaders of the community the words of the manager on duty, the honorable R' Asher Laimel, understanding that if he lied he would be punished, who testified as follows:[7]

R' Leib Segal came to collect the monies due from two Lithuanians for a space in the grain market. R' Leib wanted to take two Guldens from the grain wagon, which was never done before. Rabbi R' Heschel told R' Leib Farber: “You are a fine human being, how can you take advantage of two Jews and oust them from the Market and change the custom”. R' Leib Farber replies: “What do you care ?! What am I asking already ? Two Guldens for the wagon ?”. The Rabbi said: “I'll hit you for this, for ousting Jews from the Market” and he got up to hit him, but did not hit him. R' Farber went, got a hold of a stick and hit Rabbi Heschel in front of all the people in the Market.

The honorable Rabbi R' Eliezer Lipman, son of Aharon, added his testimony, understanding that if he lied he would be punished[7] , in an exact and precise manner, not adding or deleting anything. All the above was accepted by us, the leaders, the community, the above mentioned witnesses, as required by law, without the presence of the two sides. We called our collector, the honorable Mr. Shmuel to bring the above mentioned R' Leib Farber and summon him to face a public trial. He refused and hit the collector and did not tell him that he was hiding (* ?). After discussing the matter, we, the leaders of the community decided, in accordance with the laws of our holy Bible, that since he tended to hit people, as had happened in previous cases, the following: He will be put in detention in the Koone, and in any case, on the forthcoming Saturday, from the start of prayers till after the prayers, and will be publicly flogged forty nine times on the stone in front of the synagogue, and he will no longer be considered a member of anything, and his name will be erased from the “Ner Tamid” (* Eternal Light) Community member's list[8] forever. He would never be reinstated as a member in this community or in any other in the entire world, and that his case will be publicized to serve as a deterrent and warning. This decision will be written in the community ledger to be kept for many years.

Today, the twenty first day of Sivan, 5518 , here in the community of Zabludow, may God protect them.”

Two items in the Zabludow Ledger that are connected with year 5557 (1797). The top part tells about one of the five arbitrators chosen by lottery on Hol Hamoed (* intermediate days) of Passover 5557 (1797), the chief Rabbi Shmaryahu, son of R' Chaim, refused to accept the position, which caused a great dispute in the community. The local court master, who owned Zabludow, intervened.

The second tells about a meeting of the community leaders, prominent members of the community and seven honorable representatives, where it was agreed with the honorable R'Yitzchak, son of Menachem of Evaniski's hotel (* ?) that he pays his dues to become a member of the Zabludow community. It is clear from the document that R' Yitzchak receive, from that day, the rights to buy land, build houses, both in the street and in the market. He has the right to open a tavern and become a merchant, as do all the men who were born here or are here for many generations.

Written in the Community Ledger on the eighth day of Menachem-Av, 5557 (1797). There are two interesting details in this report: the story itself, and the way it is described. Firstly, one of the collectors wanted to collect more than was allowed by the ordinance, and was arguing with another to the point of hitting each other. When he was summoned by the community, he hit the messenger, as well. As told here, he was punished by the community by being flogged on the stone, and put in the “Koone” on the first Shabbos, during the prayers. Also, being publicly flogged forty nine times on the stone in front of the synagogue, and being erased from the “Ner Tamid” Community member's list forever. He would never be reinstated as a member of any other community and that his case will be publicized to serve as a deterrent and warning. It is worth noting that they spoke some Yiddish and therefore the testimony includes Yiddish words. We presented the document as it appears in its original form.

15) Year 5510 (1750)

“The beginning of wisdom is fear of God” (Psalm 111,10)
  1. Since it is customary here in this community, may God protect us that our ledger is acceptable and correct, and it became an ordinance of his majesty the Duke, and repeated. These decisions are not changed, except for new situations, namely that no disqualified persons[9] would be part of the community even for four generations, and people in the community will be legitimate so that there will be fifteen qualified men in the community, including the leaders.
  2. If a person does not wish to hold his “note” (* fulfill his obligation)[10] , then immediately when a poor man complains about him, the manager on duty must restore calm in the congregation and, with the Rabbi's assistance, punish the man and shame him in public. The community attendants will take food he prepared and give it to that poor man. He would be removed from any public position as they see fit, in addition to other punishments and fines.
  3. The only men exempt from having the “note” are the manager on duty, the Rabbi, Cantor, Beadle, servants of the community and those receiving allowances. However, the leaders not on duty are obliged to have one.
  4. No other appointments will be made besides three leaders, two “goods” (* honorary members), two (* ??) and two substitutes[11] for the manager on duty and the others. The substitutes should be accepted by the leaders and present at all community meetings. If the nominating men wish they can appoint four leaders, but in that case they can not have two substitutes, but only one for the manager on duty. If one of the managers on duty refuses to serve his term, then the substitute replaces him throughout the year.
  5. The manager on duty must host three preachers at his table on Shabbat and Holidays. If there are more, then he can send them to other families in accordance with their dignity. If the cantor has two singers, then the manager on duty can designate one of them to one of the families.
  6. If someone wishes to settle in the community, if he has family or is from the Main Beit-Din[12] , he must pay the community two Reds[13] for maintenance, and the Rabbi or the community can increase or decrease that amount as they see fit. They will not hold a polling booth and definitely will not hold any appointment for ten years from the time of his registration in the community ledger. Even if he has a title, it will be cancelled and void. If he is appointed, this too is cancelled and void. This decision is retroactive and for the future.
  7. The nominating persons can not appoint themselves, except for positions they previously held. Leaders for three years can not be appointed for a fourth year, except the chairman who is appointed by others or by himself.
  8. In the lottery, the one who receives “Teacher”[14] can put ten gold coins in the cash-box[15] and he will get the appointment. The one who receives “Member” [16] puts twenty gold coins in the cash-box and will be duly appointed. No one else can be appointed even if he is rich.
    The protocol of the old Zabludow Ledger, dated Thursday, the fifteenth day of the Second Addar, 5562 (1802), tells about a meeting of the community leaders, the Rabbi and the Beit-Din and the slaughterers (written in acronyms). At this meeting it became apparent that the slaughterers were not cleaning the meat properly, that unkosher fat and tendons were found in it. A set of regulation were agreed upon to prevent this from reoccurring.
  9. At weddings and circumcisions - of a affluent person, the one who donates fifty golden coins to the cash-box, the manager on duty is allowed to invite fifty guests to each meal, besides the ineligibles, Rabbi, Cantor, Beadle, Torah students and the poor. The beadle is not allowed to invite people to the meals without the permission of the manager on duty. For average people, thirty guests besides the ineligibles as described above, and for the low income men, twenty guests.
  10. A person supported by his father or father-in-law must attend the daily prayers, morning and night in the synagogue.
  11. Store owners are not allowed to open their stores till after the conclusion of the prayers in the synagogue. On Hol Hamoed (* intermediate days within Passover and the Tabernacles) they are not allowed to open the shutters, just the doors. The two men appointed to uphold the weights and measurements will observe the above noted rules, as well. When it will be proven, with witnesses, that incorrect weights or measurements were carried out, selling to Jews or to Gentiles, the fine will be four gold coins to the synagogue, two gold coins to the Beit-Hamidrash, and two gold coins to the court[17] . If a store renter will sell merchandise without the knowledge of the owner, he too will be fined, as detailed above.
  12. The slaughterers are not allowed to distribute the meat till after the conclusion of the prayers in the synagogue, and they are not allowed to be partners[18] , except from Passover to Shavuos. They are forbidden to keep meat for more then two days, after which time they must salt it, and not soak it in water.
  13. On the first day of saying Slichot (* before the High Holidays) the community must determine who the prayer leaders and the Shofar (* horn) blowers would be, to provide ample time for each prayer leader and Shofar blower to practice and prepare himself. Each prayer leader and Shofar blower must free himself from all his other activities, stay in the Beit-Hamidrash all day and learn, and especially during the last three days prior to Rosh Hashana (* New Year Day).
  14. When a guest arrives in a guest-house, another owner is not allowed to sell him barley, hay or any of the other needs of the guest, whoever he may be, without the owner's knowledge. The fine is as detailed in decision 11 above.
  15. A man who is not earning a living is forbidden from making malt and conducting business negotiations, except the barman who is allowed.
  16. The wax left from candles from the Day of Atonement can not be sold to any merchant, only on the condition that he keeps it and sells it as memorial day candles or to the synagogue.
  17. Holders of the cash-box are not allowed to be inspectors , and inspectors are not allowed to hold the cash-box.
  18. Those who do not give six hundred Polish Gold coins as a dowry are forbidden to have a wedding on Shabbos, only on weekdays.[19]

All the above was done with everyone's, including the Rabbi's consent, with huge fines, and ratified by the Honorable Court's Commissar [20] .

The eighteen decrees mentioned above resembles a constitution of the Zabludow community. We wish to present them in Yiddish, as well. (* They are repeated in Yiddish)

Notes from the Zabludow Ledger in regards to loans taken by the community or individuals from the local Aristocrats, and the manner in which these debts were paid. The first section tells that the community borrowed from the Lord Bishop Harriker, ten thousand Polish Gulden per year, with interest of seven hundred Gulden. It states that the money which was loaned is, connected to a scandal that occurred in earlier times, which secured money for the redemption of Jews. Later it tells that from this loan the following was paid: A two thousand Gulden debt with ten percent to the Princess Fany Bordanow, A debt with interest to Mr. Stalnik, taxes and expenses related to executions which were levied on the community. (This page is undated)

16) Undated

List of gifts which the community gave to the priests and functionaries on their Holidays. The list is shown with the Yiddish translation, showing how much and to whom they had to pay, in order to live in peace with the various communities and individuals.

To the Polish Monk
One liter of pepper, 36 big ones[21]
One liter of ginger, 18 big ones.
One liter of caraway seeds for one gold coin.
One loyt (* ?) of saffron, two gold coins.
One loyt (* ?) of cloves, 18 big ones.
Four jars of honey.
Two gold coins for meat.
Additional two gold coins for sugar.
Two bottles of plain whiskey and two liters of anise.
Two small boots per year.

To the Students[22]
Half a liter of oil, 18 big ones.
Half a liter of ginger, 9 big ones.

To the functionary
Two quarters of meat, three gold coins.

To the Bobov Monk
One liter of pepper, 36 big ones.
One liter of cinnamon, 18 Polish big ones.
One liter of raisins, 27 big ones.
Meat for 20 Polish big ones.
Half a bottle of good quality whiskey, 24 big ones.
Total: 4 gold coins and 8 big ones.

To ????
One liter of Pepper, 36 big ones.
One liter of cinnamon, 18 big ones.
Half a bottle of whiskey, 24 Polish big ones.
Meat for one gold coins.
Total: 3 gold coins and 18 Polish big ones.
To Dervitski
One liter of pepper, 36 big ones.
One liter of cinnamon, 18 big ones.
Two liters of raisins, 54 big ones.
One loyt (* ?) of saffron, two gold coins.
One loyt (* ?) of cloves, 18 big ones.
Three pieces of meat worth one gold coins.
Total: Seven gold coins and six big ones.

To the Mayor
Black leather worth six gold coins for both.
One liter of pepper.
Additional one jar of honey.
Total: Seven gold coins and 27 Polish big ones.

To Nevirovski, the Scribe
Meat worth 20 Polish big ones.

To the Minister of ???
One liter of pepper, 36 big ones.
One liter of loyt (* ?), 18 Polish big ones.
Two liters of raisins, 54 Polish big ones.
One loyt (* ?) of saffron, two gold coins.
One hoot (* ?) of cloves, 18 Polish big ones.
One string of sugar, four gold coins.
Total: Twelve … . gold coins.

As evident from the list, the Jewish community had many companions they had to satisfy. We see from this list what the clergy and the business people, desired: pepper, cloves, saffron, cinnamon, raisins, whiskey, sugar, honey, meat, boots and cash. The list gives us an idea of the prices of these items at that time.

17) Undated

“Despite all our announcements and bright warnings, that a Jew should not have any dealings with thieves and thefts, but despite all this, there are many thieves who sell to Jews. Therefore, we declare that, whoever he may be, who will be engaged in this business, be banned from our community and immediately loose all his privileges. Moshe, son of Mordechai, made a wrong deal today with Draigor buying a beast, and was caught and tied up in the castle, which is an obstacle to the entire community. Therefore, we sentence him to leave town with his wife and family, not to return to live here for the rest of his life. All this was decided at a meeting and agreed upon by the leaders, may God protect them, today, Wednesday the sixth day of Tevet.
Signed by Shmuel, son of the late Mordechai, beadle of the Zabludow community, for ever.”
The last document from the Sh. Assaf's collection we wish to translate exactly as it is written. It casts a shadow over relations within the community in those days.

This announcement says that:

We see that despite all the announcements and warnings we issued that a Jew will not have anything to do with thefts, unfortunately it is clear that Jews dealing with in theft is on the increase. Therefore, we declare that, whoever is engaged in this business, there is only one law for him. He will be banned from our community and immediately lose all his privileges.

Moshe, son of Mordechai, made a bad deal today with Draigor while buying a beast, and he was caught and tied up in the castle, which is an obstacle to the entire community. Therefore, we sentenced him to leave town within three days with his wife and family, not to return to live here for the rest of his life. All this was decided at a meeting and agreed upon by the leaders.

The note is not dated, but from the signature of the beadle, Shmuel, son of R' Mordechai, we can estimate that it was approximately in 5421 (1661). It is possible that the “Draigors” are military units which roamed the area during that war. In the writings of that year we find the real signatures

Three notes in the old Zabludow Ledger have to do with regulating the monies given to the monthly administrators for distribution to the outside preacher, cantors and those who reproached the community to cover their transportation and living expenses. The first notes are from Monday, twenty first day of Chesvan, 5522 (1762), while the (third) last one is from the first day of Hol Hamoed (* intermediate days) of Passover 5528 (1768). At the beginning it was decided to allocate twenty Guldens a month for this purpose. At the end it was changed to sixteen. The following men are signed under the last note: R' Eliezer, son of the late R' Avraham, beadle of the Zabludow community, Chaim, son of the late R' Pinchas, Cantor and distinguished member of the Zabludow Community.


Collection of Professor Shimon Dubnow

The following documents were published by A. Tcherikover who took them from a larger collection. The first three documents are from the Zabludow collection, are written in Yiddish and they deal with Jewish livelihood, privileges, competition etc. As can be seen, they are all from the beginning of the eighteenth century. The first talks about those who teach Jewish livelihoods to the Gentiles, i.e. they teach the Jewish trades to the Gentiles, thus depriving Jews of their source of income. The following two ordinances from this collection have to do with internal Jewish matters and relations between Jewish merchants. Lastly, the fourth document is a decision about two Jewish worker's societies in Zabludow, who share even their place of prayer. We don't exactly understand the meaning of the old Yiddish.

18) Year 5460 (1700)

“Listen you, the entire community, to the announcement of the leaders that which is already known by all, that the sources of livelihood for Jews are dwindling, as a result of our sins, and the Gentiles' is on the increase. … Therefore today we declare a major ban, similar to that of Joshua Bin Noon, that no one accept beer[23] , as much as one ton per Gentile per week, and definitely not for a new job which was not there before, and we didn't see, i. e. whiskey, will only be taken from Jews, in order to fulfill the commandment of the bible as mentioned above. Those who transgress will be banned, excommunicated and set apart from the people of Israel, will be punished by the entire ninety nine curses mentioned in the Bible and in Deuteronomy[24] , and obviously all the curses will be on him if he reveals the secrets, and definitely the content of this decision to Gentiles. This, besides other punishments which might be levied on him by the Head of the Beit-Din, with fines, seizures, detention in Koone, removal from office, etc. in order to deter and warn the people.
Signed, on the twelfth day of Tevet, 5460, in Zabludow.”
19) Year 5514 (1754)

“Listen you, the entire community, to the announcement of the leaders, which was already announced several times before, that sellers in stores, man or woman, will not dare leave their position in the store, and in particular not stand in other stores, and not talk badly about one another … and a few men and women do not observe this. It is befitting that they be severely and harshly punished, be put to shame and embarrassed, but we pity them this time. From this day on, we declare a big ban, that no one dare leave his position in a store, and go to other stores, and run to Herberingen[25] that we were not asked, in particular not to talk … Those who will not abide … (will pay a fine of two olds[26] to the community, and two olds to the court , besides being put to shame and embarrassments).
Tuesday, twenty second day of Tamuz, 5514.”

20) Year 5516 (1756)

“Listen you, the entire community, to the announcement of the leaders and the rich[27] , declaring and announcing that no one, including any visitor who wishes to live in our community, be allowed to be engaged in any business, any merchandising, and may not occupy any store of The Committee, to prevent causing damage to the community. This is to be announced in the synagogue and Beit-Hamidrash with mention of a great ban etc.
Fourth day of Adar, 5516, in Zabludow.”
In this announcement everyone in the new and old section of the town is warned not to accept any business or Committee Store because it harms the community.

21) Year 5512 (1752)

“Regarding quarrels and fights between the leaders, the tailors and furriers when they were together, as ordered by the local leaders of the community, may God protect them. … we are requested by the community to separate them to two parts, and we, the undersigned, have promised today to bring peace, as described below, and here are the details: The upper synagogue, which belonged to both parties, will be given solely to the Furriers' Society, including the Holy Ark and the center dais, and they will have the authority to remove the Torah scroll from the synagogue … only they must have a proper Torah Reader and have a curtain on the Ark as is customary, and a Torah cover, and they will not converse or fight during the reading of the Torah, and they are forbidden to accept any tailor into their Society... . In regards to the furriers and lining workers, they should behave as detailed in previous ordinances. Today, Tuesday the eighteenth day of Eyar, 5514.”
What was the origin of the dispute is not mentioned in this document. It is clear though, that the leaders of the furriers' and the tailors' societies, which were together, had a dispute and approached the community to clear things up. Actually they wished to be separated. The decision was, as decided, that the upper synagogue which previously had served both, will now be solely for the furriers. They received the Holy Ark, and the center dais, and they did have the authority to remove the Torah scroll from the synagogue … but they must have a proper Torah Reader and a curtain on the Ark, and a Torah cover, and they will not fight during the reading of the Torah or converse, and they are forbidden to accept any tailor into their Society. From this ruling it is clear that “Kiershners” are lining workers.

Lastly, we bring the last document taken from the collection of Israel Hylprin's “The Ledger of the Four Countries”.

22) Year 5444 (1684)

“Regarding loans carrying large profits, we have previously written, once and again, how to act … [2] and we hereby repeat and clarify the decision of the Four Countries, may God protect them, and it is forbidden to sway to the left or to the right from that decision. Now, when the poor of your community are complaining bitterly about small loan and big profits that they can't return, who can disregard the poor and the needy ? Therefore, this decision is valid, and this is what we decided: Loans, smaller than a hundred gold coins but larger than fifty, will be considered as a hundred and in accordance to its worth. Loans smaller than fifty gold coins are not subject to the decree and they are not allowed to take more than half a big one from every Polish Shok. Those who take more than half of a big one out of two gold coins, is considered steep interest. The existing loans are void and the new ones will be calculated. Today, Thursday the nineteenth day of Sivan, 5444.
Signed by Uri Faibish Kahana, trusted scribe, in the loyal town of Titkin, who writes and signs the decisions of the leaders, the counts, and main officers and leaders, may God protect them, including the honorable, great head of Beit-Din, heart and soul.”

In this document they decided what interest is allowed for small loans. A small loan is a loan of less than fifty Gulden. They are not allowed to take more than half a big one from every Shok Taking more than half of a big one out of two gold coins, is not allowed. This ordinance is signed by the scribe from Titkin but it is found on the second leaf of page 125 of the Zabludow Ledger, as well.

In addition to these twenty two ordinances, decisions and announcements, we find in the Zabludow Ledger ordinances from Lithuania, from 5410 (1650), about luxurious clothes. We discuss this committee in the next chapter. I wish to note that it is not by chance that the Grodna ordinances of this committee are included in the Zabludow Ledger. It confirms our conclusion, that the committee of year 5410 originates from Zabludow, and not as it is accepted, that the origin is not known.


  1. We bring this quote precisely as it appears in Lipshitz's publication, and with his responsibility. The following documents are brought in their exact text. We skipped over their explanation and we filled in the erased words. Return
  2. The original text contains erased words. Return
  3. Lithuanian 'Shook' - in other places it appears as 'Shuk' and Polish 'Shok', as well, which is sixty big 'Groshen'. It was called 'Kapa', in Polish. Return
  4. The word 'Zkook' used here usually refers to the 'Mark'. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Poland one 'Zkook' was worth 48 big 'Groshens'. This is how it is written in Rabbi Yehoshua Falk's book (Meirat Einayim): “It is known that in the local language 'Zkok” , meaning 'Mark' is 48 big Polish”. In other times 'Zkook' was “Shok”. The Czech 'Mark' the 'Zkook' was worth sixty big. Return
  5. Meaning the four countries of Poland. Return
  6. It transpires that this decree was copied from the Ledger of the Four Countries' Committee, number 202. Return
  7. This is an acronym. This exact form is used in rabbinical collections of evidence. When the evidence is a quote heard from someone else, the evidence must be given in the exact text it was heard. The same form is quoted in the Questions and Answers books for collecting evidence in the same text it was said, and in our case, it was in Yiddish. Return
  8. This is an acronym. Return
  9. Disqualified - it means those relatives who can not testify in Din Torah (* Jewish court) because they were disqualified being family relations who may be biased. Return
  10. 'Platyn' means a note. It was customary that each family be given a note with a number in a numerical sequence. When a guest arrived in town, the numbers were used like a lottery. If someone refused to host the guest, it was considered as though he removed himself from the community. Distribution of the notes was done by the nominating persons. Return
  11. Replacements. The source of the Hebrew word is from the reading of the Torah, when there is no Cohen (* priest) or Levi, then another is called instead, using this word. Return
  12. Here the meaning is for the Grodna community. Return
  13. Reds - means red Guldens, which in Polish are called 'Tchervany Zloty'. The worth of one 'Red' was, in the sixteenth century, twice as much as normal, in the eighteenth century its worth rose to eighteen copper Guildens. Return
  14. Teacher - In the six hundredth and ninety second decree of the Lithuanian Ledger which was decided in the assembly of Homsk in 1667 (translated in Yiddish): “It is forbidden for any Rabbi to ordain a student and bestow on him the title of Teacher unless, he is conversant in the Torah, and the Torah is his main goal in life, while work is secondary. He must be married for at east eleven years, and not younger than thirty. Return
  15. Cash-box. The word used is 'Kroopki', 'Karapak', 'Krabki' or ' Karabka'. The exact translation from Polish means “A box”. The intent is for the income coming from various community levies, arising from the decrees in the various towns. Taxes were placed on meat, candles, salt, yeast etc. It was customary that if someone borrowed some money from the cash-box, then in return, he would be engaged in collecting the levies. Return
  16. Member - In the same assembly in Homsk in the next decree number six hundred and ninety three it says: “It is forbidden for any Rabbi to ordain a student and bestow on him the title of Member unless, he is married for two years. He must also be a prominent man, well known by his proper behavior within the communities. In this case the Head of Beit-Din has the authority, with two other Heads of Yeshivos, to bestow on him the title of “Member”. Return
  17. The Court refers to the Local Duke or Aristocrat's court. Return
  18. This was decided so the slaughterers would not join to raise meat prices without having any competition. Return
  19. This was decided to prevent spending too much money on Shabbos. Return
  20. In general, these decrees were translated into Polish and became the official ordinance of the local Duke or Aristocrat. Return
  21. Big - Sometimes it refers to Polish and in other times to Lithuanian. It means the smaller Polish coin - the 'Groshen'. Thirty Groshen were worth one Gulden. In other times the Lithuanian Big was worth a bit more than the Polish. At the end of the sixteenth century four Lithuanian bigs were worth as much as five Polish ones. Return
  22. Students - it refers to the Clergy Seminars. They presented a real source of problems to the Jews. In Jewish literature many instances exist where these students were the main organizers of Actions against the Jews in many towns. In the ledgers of the Four Countries, as well as the Lithuanian ledgers it discusses many decisions where they refer to them as “the running of the students”. Large sums of money were paid to satisfy these students and their Professors and saturate them. This was a fountain of cash for the “religious” Christian institutions, collecting this ransom money from the Jewish communities. Return
  23. The meaning of the Hebrew word is Beer or drinks in general. The meaning of this sentence is not clear. Return
  24. It refers to the curses mentioned in the Reproach. Return
  25. It means a lodge or small hotel, from the German word “Herberingen” Return
  26. Old - refers to the Polish “Talar”, to differentiate between the old “Talar' and the new one. The older was dearer. Return
  27. Refers to those individuals who paid taxes to the community or the state. Return


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