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[Page 12]

Chapters from the Past

 

[Page 13]

Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov

by Amir Gilboa

Translated by Mary Jane Shubow

By the clay pits
the One above had no pity.
Therefore, Israel returned to the clay pits.

The snow covered the clay pits already
and covered the horse and covered the carriage
and there is no longer a clay pit. And his voice swiftly
and soon, like a wheel
in the snowy wilderness, enveloping like a prayer shawl
a single nation in the land.

He will cover his face in the flap of his cloak;
in the snowy wilderness, enveloping like a prayer shawl.
And his tears fall. And roses blossom
and their image is like that of a temple. And their image is like that of doves.
And their image is like that of Hannah on [her] seven sons.[1]'

And their image is like that of a candelabra with its seven branches.
And their image is like that of red rubies within the prayer shawl
that envelopes the nation, who worships happily
an incorporeal deity
who fades into the oblivion.
From his eye, a boiling tear
falls into the clay pits.

And his fingers knead, knead the clay.


Footnote

  1. This refers to Chana in the Book of Maccabees, who martyred herself along with her seven sons. According to the account of Josippon, Chana fell dead on the corpses of her already martyred sons. return


[Page 15]

History of the Jews in Radzivilov[1]

by Dr. N. M. Gelber

Translated by Mary Jane Shubow

The town's name points to the fact that its beginning was connected to the Prince of Radzivil's family, but it is not known when or by whom the town was founded.

The proximity of Brody hampered Radzivilov's growth. It is known that Ignacy Malchevsky was the town's owner in 1775, and Miyonchinsky inherited the town afterward. General Gaetan Miyonchinsky, a member of this family, obtained a permit to establish a printing house for Hebrew and Yiddish books on February 19, 1787.

During General Miyonchinsky's lifetime, the town owed the Warsaw banker Shults considerable sums, and after the town became his, he did a great deal to further its growth. When he owned the town, the renowned tannery was founded by Parisot, based on a permit from King Stanislaw August dated July 24, 1789.

The ownership of the town passed from Shults to the nobleman Gorzhynski.

In 1775 there were 298 Jews in the town.

In 1772, when Brody was transferred to Austrian possession, the trade route, which until then had gone through Brody, went to Radzivilov for only a brief time, even though Poland made every effort to draw tradesmen from Brody to Radzivilov by giving them all kinds of incentives. Only after some time did the tradesmen of Brody begin to send large quantities of merchandise via Radzivilov. And so Yitschak Tishminitski and Moshe Danovits of Brody sent large quantities of salt from Brody via Radzivilov, and from there they brought crops to Brody that they sent to Germany. Also, Brody wholesalers Leyzer Bik and Fayvel Herts sent large quantities of salt to Lithuania via Radzivilov.

[Page 16]

In 1788, some Jews from Brody, among them Duvid Asherovich, who was known as a lead, medical products, and graphite merchant, founded a gunpowder factory. It is not known how long this factory existed.

The first printing house already existed in 1818, when Haredim, A New Collection, by Rabbi Yosef, son of Mordekhay of Kremenets, and Midrash Shmuel on Ethics of the Fathers were both published.

At the beginning of 1819, the printer Yehonatan left the town, leaving his place open “for the famous, exalted rabbinic exalted person,” our teacher the rabbi Pinchas son of Asher Zelig Barats. He purchased typographic material for the printer in the town of Poritzk and then enriched it with various letters. With the help of expert workers, he completed the printing of five sections of Chok L'Yisrael during 1819. After completing this book, he published an expensive edition of The Kuzari and also a second section of Sifre with Zera Avraham's commentary.[2]

Due to competition from printers in Slavuta, the printer had to stop working, and he sold the rights to publish the book Chok L'Yisrael to the printer R' Aharon son of Yone. He sold the typographic material to Rabbi Yakov Finkelman of Berdichev. In one of the two printing houses that existed in this town, a prayer book containing Hasidic prayers and intentions was printed under the supervision of Rabbi Avraham Yehoshue Heshil of Opatów.[3]

During the Polish rebellion of 1830–1831, General Dvernitski's army corps operated in the vicinity of Radzivilov, with the support of the Radzivilov Jews.

In the years 1832–1835, merchandise worth approximately 15,000 rubles passed through Radzivilov, which benefited from the free city of Brody, a commercial center.

In 1870, 1,077 houses and 2,864 residents were counted in the town, but the number of Jews among them is not known. By 1888, the number of residents had grown to approximately 7,400, half of whom were Jewish. In 1897, there were 7,313 residents, including 4,322 Jews.

In 1910, there was a Jewish school in the town that included a class for crafts, a women's school, a Talmud Torah, and a number of cheders run by private teachers. There were also 2 synagogues and 14 houses of prayer, a Jewish hospital, and a home for invalids.

Most of the Jews, who owned 124 stores, worked in commerce. They also owned three candle factories, a brick factory, a lime furnace, and a flourmill. Twenty–four different craftsmen were counted in the town–all of whom were Jews.

[Page 17]

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Cossacks from a border corps conducted searches among the Jews, and while they were at it, they robbed and looted everything in their way. They also beat and arrested Jews, and some Jewish families were exiled to Siberia.

The town, which went back and forth between the Russians and the Austrians several times, suffered during the war years. A large part of the town was destroyed, and only a few Jewish residents remained. It was easier for the Jews during the Austrian occupation. The occupation authorities let them choose a community leader. At that time, Mr. Zaks was chosen as the head.

 

rad017.jpg
Market Street in Radzivilov before World War I

 

After the revolution, the Jews began to return to the town, and life began to return to normal. A democratic community was organized, and Mr. Moshe–Duvid Balaban was chosen as its chairman. Public life continued to develop–and then uprisings and changes in authority harmful to the Jews began. A group called Haganah [self–defense] was set up to protect the Jewish residents' property and honor. And indeed, the Haganah was very effective in carrying out its mission, especially when the authorities were changing, times that were always a cause of concern and constant fear.

This situation continued until the Polish armies conquered the region. The Jews hoped that now a stable and progressive government would arrive, but they were quickly disappointed. General Haller's soldiers began to torture the Jews, cutting off their sidecurls and beards, hitting and insulting them, humiliating and degrading them.

[Page 18]

Fortunately, this situation lasted for only a short time. With the stabilization of the government, things improved, and life returned to normal for the most part.

In 1921, when Poland was independent, the number of Radzivilov residents was 4,240, including 2,036 (48%) Jews. In 1935, the entire population came to about 12,000, of which two thirds were Jews.


Footnotes

  1. Footnote in original: See also “The Town and Its Events,” page 19. return
  2. Translation Editor's Note: Chok L'Yisrael (Law of Israel) is a compendium of Jewish texts designed for daily or weekly study. The Kuzari is a work of the medieval Spanish Jewish philosopher and poet Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, completed around 1140. Sifre (books) refers to either of two works of or classical Jewish legal Biblical exegesis. Zera Avraham is a commentary on Sifre by Avraham Lichtstein, rabbi of Plonsk in the 18th century. return
  3. Note in original: See also “The Print Shop in Radzivilov,” page 35. return


[Page 19]

The Town and Its History[1]

Translated by Mary Jane Shubow

Radzivilov is a border town on the Slovenya (Slonyuvka) stream, Kremenets district, 26 versts[2] from Pochaev, 5 versts from Krupets, 3 versts southwest of the Radzivilov train station, and 283 versts from Zhitomir, situated in a straight line with the city of Brody.

In 1870, there were 1,077 households in Radzivilov and 2,864 residents, of whom 79% were Jews (today the population is more than 7,400). There were a Pravoslavic church and a small chapel, a Catholic church, two Jewish synagogues, nine study halls, a grade–A customs house, a postal and telegraph office, three candle factories, a brick factory, a lime furnace, a flourmill, 124 stores, 248 craftsmen, and two market areas.

In 1876, merchandise worth 4,377,224 rubles was exported abroad via the local customs house, and merchandise worth 3,323,190 rubles was imported. In the past, local tradesmen had carried out smuggling deals on a large scale …

The train station is on the railroad line that goes from Zdolbunov up to the Galician border and connects with the Galician Karl Ludwig Road, 85 versts from Zdolbunov.

Radzivilov, the town's name, shows that its beginning is connected with the noblemen of the house of Radzivil, who had family connections with King John III and possessed considerable estates in Ukraine. It is not known who placed the town's foundations or why. In any event, it is clear that the settlement is not from ancient times, and its proximity to Brody allowed the town to grow as it should have. In 1775, when the town had 146 houses, its owner was Ignacy Malchevsky, head of the ministerial office. Afterward it was inherited by the sons of the Miyonchinsky family. One of them, General Kayetan Miyonchinsky, received a permit to establish a printing house for Hebrew and Yiddish books on February 10, 1787.

[page 20]

General Miyonchinsky's property was repossessed by his creditors during his lifetime after he lost and wasted it all on card games and drinking. Radzivilov fell to his primary lender, the Warsaw banker Karl Shults, who did a great deal to contribute to its growth. At that time, the famous tannery was founded here by Piotr Parisot in accordance with a permit of July 24, 1789, which he received from King Stanisław August. Radzivilov went from Shults's ownership to the Turan family, and then to today's owners, Graf Gorzynski. On July 1, 1863, a military battalion struck camp near Radzivilov under Jozef Vysotsky's command. Vysotsky had come from Galicia with the intention of penetrating Volhynia.


Footnotes

  1. From Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic Countries, edited by Bronisław Chlebowski, Władysław Walewski, volume 9, page 76, Warsaw 1888. return
  2. Verst–a Russian measurement of length equivalent to 1.06 kilometers. return


[Page 21]

Radzivilov, My Hometown

by Duvid Sheyn, of Blessed Memory

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman

 

rad021.jpg

 

I recall vividly my childhood in the town of Radzivilov. So much so that my family tells me that I remember things that occurred even before I was born. I don't know if this is true, but the town, its appearance, its surroundings, and its lifestyle are rooted deeply in my heart and have sustained me since my childhood.

I imagine that in order to get a correct understanding of Radzivilov's unique significance, it is important to know two things about the town. First, Radzivilov was a border town, and in it there was a central customs house. In czarist Russia, there were six customs houses, and one of them was in Radzivilov. Because of its geographic location, it was a convenient place for foreign trade. Goods, in particular grain, chickens, eggs, and similar products, were sent from Russia to western lands in great quantities. Many wealthy Jews were involved in this type of export, and they prospered greatly. They not only exported goods, but they were also involved in importing all sorts of products and particularly manufactured goods. The town also supported many agencies that were devoted to trade and tax issues, and these compatibly employed many clerks. Twice a day, from 10:00 to12:00 AM and from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, the railroad station would quake with a rumble of noise.

[Page 22]

Trains would come and go with the flow of riders. Many Jews were associated either directly or indirectly with this stream of activity, making their living this way. In addition to the train station, there was also what was called the “small” border, with only a four–kilometer separation between Radzivilov and the Austrian border; and from there to Brody was another five kilometers. And so many Jews found they could earn a living there, too. Because the surrounding area was relatively small, travelers would engage in the free flow of trade, and this, too, was a good source of income.

Because our town was a border town until World War I, there was always a large border patrol, a patrol of Cossacks and regular army. Of course, their presence offered another source of income, as well as a sense of security for the Jewish merchants and their workers. So Radzivilov was a place of prosperity, peace, and culture.

The second reason for Radzivilov's importance was that the Radzivilov Jews benefited from the presence of a very wealthy man named Moshe–Mendil Ginzberg. He actually lived in Petersburg (Leningrad, today), but his aging mother lived in Radzivilov, and he was very attached to her. His brother Shmuel Mos and his family also lived in Radzivilov, as well as additional relatives. Ginzberg, or simply “Moshe–Mendil,” as they called him, would visit his family frequently, and his visits were considered festivals in Radzivilov. Although his mother, Rosye, of blessed memory, would frequently give charity with outstretched arms, and many families would exist exclusively on her charity, when Moshe–Mendil came to the town, the charity and aid were even greater. It is correct to say that Moshe–Mendil supported many families.

Therefore, the two circumstances described above were the reasons for the economic stability of the Jews of Radzivilov. But in this town, which was not very large, there were also important factories, such as a button factory, founded by the sons of Ginzberg's brothers; a chair factory owned by Zundel Zaks; two candle factories–one belonging to Goldgardt–Liberman and the other to Struyman–Brandvayn; and also a brewery.

It appears that this was a town with a very good economy. There were also beautiful houses, not only on the main street, Alifov Street, but also on the rest of the streets. There were beautiful boulevards with carriages in the current fashion. All this influenced the public spirit, and even humble Jews were not considered beggars.

[Page 23]

 

rad023a.jpg
Button Factory

 

rad023b.jpg
Interior of the Button Factory

 

[Page 24]

In the town, there were also two clubs: one social club called “Grozhdinsky,” in Mokhan the pharmacist's home, and the other for chess, in Yone Sheyn's home. But these were not the only places for culture in the town. Even before World War I, there were many active Zionist organizations, which sold shekalim;[1] shares for the Colonial Bank; Zionist literature, including the newspaper called Hatsefira; and other publications in Hebrew. And in connection with our accounting of the Jewish residents who were not quite so famous, we must mention the town's Hebrew teachers: Sender Sefarim, who was known by the nickname Sender the Reader because of his work as the Torah reader at the Great Synagogue; R' Ayzik Shtof, a pedagogical wonder; Katz (whose first name I don't remember), who was considered the best modern teacher; Binyamin Finkelshteyn; and Avigdor Melman, also known as Avigdor the Writer, who primarily taught young girls. A little later, Avraham–Yehuda Polak came to the town from Berestechko. Binyamin Finkelshteyn and Avraham–Yehuda were both pioneers in establishing Hebrew courses for adults.

Numerous children continued their education in larger cities in the area: Dubno, Kremenets, Rovno. Other parents sent their children to cities farther afield to study at special Jewish schools. For example, I traveled to Warsaw to study in a school of trade run by Krinski, while Moshe Goldgardt's sons studied at the Kagan Gymnasium in Vilna. After the outbreak of World War I, the Kagan Gymnasium moved to Yekaterinoslav, and I got my diploma there. One fellow from Radzivilov even studied at the Hertzeliya High School in Tel Aviv.[2] There was a great emphasis on continuing education according to the social politics of the day. The general cultural level of the whole population was so high that it naturally created a strong desire to educate the young. If you take into account the small number of young people in relation to the general Jewish population in the town, there were a great many institutions for the young. There were, for example, two elementary schools that were free for all students, one for boys and one for girls, under the direction of Mrs. Sverska. It is obvious that any child could receive a basic education.

Because the level of literacy in the town was so high, there was a flurry of activity relating to the question of political socialism. In this small community, there were, apart from the Zionists, many different factions devoted to varying degrees of political interest, including the Bund, the Labor Zionists, and others. The youth of the town did not much follow these other groups in great numbers, calling them the “black shirts,” but they would read and consider them and even weigh their political theories.

[Page 25]

And in fact, a story about one “Bundovka” (Bundist) was spread by the heart and soul of the movement. It says that during a lengthy dispute, the simple fellow said, “Woe is me because of my hatred of Nicholas (meaning the Russian czar)–he is my father and my mother.”

 

rad025.jpg
Elementary School before World War I

 

Let us not forget to praise the scholars who instructed us and greatly influenced our understanding of Israel. It was out of the question that any young boy would not start out in a cheder for beginners. Two of them, I recall, were with R' Mikhel the Teacher (with whom I studied) and the other, with R' Zalman–Hirsh. After that, together with my friend Beni Gili, I went to R' Yisrael–Yone's cheder, and in this cheder we learned Torah and Rashi. At this level there was also R' Aba, whose teaching was a little more modern, as in a modern cheder. After that I went to R' Mordekhay Naftali's, who was the second cantor, or as they say, the deputy cantor, at the Great Synagogue. He taught Bible. After him, I studied Talmud and commentary with R' Dotsi the Teacher, who was considered a modern teacher. I studied with him in the summer months when I would come home from Warsaw for my yearly vacation. For sure, I had already acquired a good education, and I couldn't have learned more from these teachers, but I recalled in later years who the most important teachers were considered to be: R' Aharele, who in his last years lived in the community home for the poor, with his students supporting him.

[Page 26]

I remember him because my brother Fayvish was one of his students, and I was dispatched to bring him packages from our home; and R' Ayzik–Leyb, the most honored sage, whose dwelling was adjacent to Great Synagogue, on the other side of R' Itsikel the righteous, of blessed memory.

 

rad026.jpg
Trade School before World War I

 

Social Aid Organizations

Although Ginzberg founded many welfare organizations, much of the effort for social welfare fell on the shoulders of the many town residents, and both simple folks and people of means and prestige avidly opened their hearts, rising admirably to support the aid organizations. An example was the community home for the poor. The home had a bad reputation in many Diaspora towns, but not in Radzivilov. The old and the poor believed strongly in this type of aid agency.

[Page 27]

But because Radzivilov was a border town, we had a particular challenge to social aid: our town had become a transit point for the great numbers of ?migr?s streaming to America. They stole across the border to Brody in Austrian Galicia, and from Brody, the way would be clear straight to Hamburg or Antwerp. There they would connect with aid agencies, which would help them continue on to their chosen destination. But many of the emigrants were sick–eye conditions in particular– and the destination countries prohibited them from entering. Many of them returned to Brody, where the Austrian police apprehended them and transferred them to the Russian police in Radzivilov. And from there they were sent to “Atap,” or in other words, under guard from place to place, most of the time on foot, apart from the elderly and the ill, who were carried in wagons. The elderly naturally would remember this suffering as a punishment worse than death (for themselves) and especially for weak children. There were cases in which a family's children had applied for and received entry visas, but one child was refused entry. Certainly, in Radzivilov people tried to help those who had been left behind as orphans. But we often had to request entry visas from governments that were very far way, and we also had to petition governments that had blocked their emigration. They were put up in homes–singles and sometimes entire families. I remember that for an extended time a young girl of about 6–8 years old stayed with us until we could connect with her grandfather, who eventually came to collect her.

 

Religious Life

We revered religious life. But we were not as sophisticated as those who came from Poland and their towns. Most of our residents followed traditional Judaism. Sources confirm that the Great Synagogue had stood for 104 years, from its founding in 1811 to 1915, when an explosion was set off by the command of an Austrian officer during World War I. After the war, Ginzberg erected a stone building on the same foundation. But it wasn't like the original building. The original building was quite magnificent. It was created in the style of wooden synagogues, but it rivaled that of buildings made of mortar. It rose four stories high and had a dazzling ark, a large and high pulpit, fancy and solid furniture, and a huge chandelier with many branches shimmering like silver. This was raised and lowered, and in the middle of it all was a large, luxurious candelabrum. On the two sides of the ark were special seats of honor, separated from everything else. There was one for the “government” rabbi, and one for the “new” rabbi. On the walls were paintings taken from Biblical subjects.

[Page 28]

The cupola was devoted to the 12 signs of the zodiac. It was truly a Solomon's temple.

In my memory, there is a special place for the holidays. In particular, I recall the Days of Awe and the image of the evening of Kol Nidre, when the joyous and reverent worshipers prepared themselves for the Day of Judgment. Cantor Yankel Zvihiler[3] would ascend the pulpit looking entirely like an angelic messenger, his beard full and white, looming large among the congregation. The entire congregation was gathered and waiting in anticipation. Suddenly, a loud knock like Solomon's thunder was heard from the prots[4] in his hand, and the cantor's voice intoned Kol Nidre. Certainly the Kol Nidrei prayer was chanted everywhere, but in the Great Synagogue of Radzivilov, it was something spectacular.

There were many study halls in town. First, there was the Spanish Synagogue, which was very close to the ancient burial ground, where the old Jewish settlement existed many hundreds of years ago, even before the Spanish expulsion. Mainly “aristocrats” worshipped there. And there were the Great Synagogue, the Barani synagogue, the Ostrer kloyz[5], the Tailors' Synagogue, the Zamd Synagogue, and many other houses of worship associated with rabbis: R' Chayim the righteous, of blessed memory (the “old” rabbi); R' Itsikel; R' Levi; R' Yosele; the Trisk Hasidim; the Olik Hasidim; R' Zisi Kops (I don't know the origin of this name); and more. These, then, are the many synagogues and study halls of Radzivilov, and they all were always full of worshipers.

This is what was going on until 1914, when World War I broke out.


Footnotes

  1. Translation Editor's Note: Shekalim were tokens of membership in the Zionist Organization. return
  2. That was Mordekhay Peker, of blessed memory, who has since left the country and was a member of Degania.–Translator return
  3. That is, he was from Zvihil, or Novograd Volynskiy. return
  4. A kind of heavy bat with a handle made especially for this purpose. return
  5. Kloyz is Yiddish for a small study hall or synagogue. return


[Page 29]

The Life of the Jews in Radzivilov

by Tsvi Zagoroder

Translated by Mary Jane Shubow

The town of Radzivilov, whose name the Soviets changed to “Krasno Armeysk,” was located three kilometers from the Austrian border and about eight kilometers from Brody in eastern Galicia. In 1765, about 300 Jews lived there. The official count from the year 875 counted the Jewish community of Radzivilov as 3,054 souls, and according to the residents' census of 1887, there were 4,322 Jews in the town among a population of 7,312 residents.

 

rad029.jpg
Group of Hebrew School Teachers and Students

 

After the World War I, when the town's refugees returned to their homes, the population of Radzivilov grew to about 12,000, of whom about two thirds were Jewish.

Radzivilov served for a long time as a gate of Jewish immigration from Czarist Russia to the larger world, primarily to the United States of America. Because of the pogroms of 1882–1883–storms in the Negev–and the pogroms of 1904–1907,[1] the flow of emigration kept increasing, and many fled through the town across the border to continue on to their destinations. Many were also revolutionaries, liberal authors, and others who fled the persecution of the reactionary czarist government in their country.

The Jewish community always formed the majority of the residents of the town, and among them were families of distinguished lineage who were deeply rooted in the life of the place.

[Page 30]

The local intelligentsia was nourished by the nearby big cities in both Russia and Galicia. Commerce was well developed, and most of it belonged to the Jews. The central customs house in the town served as a source of abundant income for many families, some of whom had great wealth.

In Radzivilov there were a few cheders where the children of Israel learned Hebrew and Jewish studies and two Jewish government schools: one for young boys and one for young girls, and also a progymnasium for girls. Some wealthy people used to send their children to study in Dubno, Kremenets, and Rovno.

 

rad030.jpg
The First Zionist Youth Organization in Radzivilov in 1910

Seated, right to left: 1) Finkelshteyn, 2) Marder, 3) …, 4) Rayzer, 5) …
Standing, row A: 1) Grinberg, 2) Menachem Goldgart, 3) Ben–Tsion Betlin, 4) sister Gluzman, 5) Finkelshteyn, 6) …
Standing, row B: 1) …, 2) Zilberman, 3) Tsvi Gluzman, 4) Gluzman, 5) Leviten

 

[Page 31]

Radzivilov also had an active political life. A Zionist Organization was established in the town at the beginning of the current century. It operated underground in the days of the czar, but from 1917 on, when the revolution broke out, the organization appeared in the open among the rest of the parties, which increased their activities in Jewish areas. Zionist activity continued to grow, primarily under Polish rule: movements and parties multiplied–Youth Guard, Freedom, the Revisionists, and many others appeared. A farm for training pioneers in agriculture was also established in town.

As part of the Zionist endeavor, the Tarbut School's establishment must be mentioned, in which instruction was totally in Hebrew from 1924 on. Many of its students received special training and immigrated to the Land.

There were also many important public institutions in town, such as a hospital and an invalid home, and 16 synagogues, including our glorious and grand Great Synagogue.


Footnote

  1. Translation editor's note: Jews referred to these pogroms as “storms in the negev,” negev meaning south. return


Rabbi Itsikel of Radzivil

by Ben–Chayim

(From the book Israel's Right–Ten Lights by Yisrael son of Yitschak Simche. Petrikov Printing, 5667.)

Translated by Mary Jane Shubow

Rabbi Yechiel Mikhel, the magid of Zloczow (born in 5486 [1726]), passed away on 25 Elul 5546 [1786]), son of the righteous R' Yitschak Drobitsher, was one of the young students of the BEShT[1]. After the BEShT's death, he traveled to the magid of Mezhirichi. He had five sons, all eminent Torah scholars. Hasidim called them the magid's five Books of the Torah. They are R' Volf of Zbaraz, R' Yitschak of Radzivil, R' Moshe of Zvihil, R' Mordekhay of Kremenets, and R' Yosef of Yampol.

Some of R' Yitschak of Radzivil's interpretations of Ethics of the Fathers and works collected by under the name Or Yitschak [Light of Yitschak] appear in the prayer book Harei Besamim, by R' Yeshaye Moshkat, head of the rabbinical court of the Holy Community of Praga near Warsaw, son–in–law of R' Itsikel, the righteous one, of blessed memory.

[page 32]

During a third Shabbat meal, when R' Itsikel was sitting with others around the table, he said that his father, the holy rabbi and teacher Yechiel Mikhel of Zloczow, of blessed memory, came to him in a dream during a Sabbath afternoon nap and said to him: “Did you know, my beloved son, the explanation of what is written [Gen: 38:11] And Judah said to Tamar his daughter–in–law, sit as a widow in your father's household until my son Shelah grows up'?”

He answered, “I did not know its meaning.” And he explained it when he woke up: “And Judah said–He, the Holy One, blessed be He, has a name of four letters–;to Tamar his daughter–in–law–she is the gathering of Israel– sit as a widow in your father's household–we were, being Israel in the Diaspora–until my son Shelah grows up–are the initials of Hamachazir Shekhinati Letsion, that which returns my Divine spirit to Zion, and the final letters of yitgadaL veyitkadaSH shmayaH, magnified and sanctified is His Name.”[2]

The copier said: One day during the counting of the omer in 5725, I went through the gates of the Rambam Library in Tel Aviv to ask about R' Itsikel's teachings. I found the book Ten Lights, in which the author also included From His Awesome Steps by R' Itsikel, of blessed memory. After I copied the section presented above, written in the margin of the page, I found the date of the public celebration of his holy memory, 11 Iyar, may his soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life.

Late that evening, when I sat down to copy the words onto a clean page, I was suddenly struck in a flash by the date 11 Iyar: indeed, that day was 11 Iyar! And all those Jews on whose behalf, as the observance of a commandment, the author of Ten Lights wrote down the date of the public celebration of R' Itsikel's memory, where are they now? Suddenly I felt that the entire world was empty, and my soul was turbulent. I left the house and walked in the fields for a long time. Later, I returned home, and everyone was already sleeping. I put a skullcap on my head, stood in a corner of the wall facing east, and silently said Kaddish. Afterward, I even soiled my lips with two drops of brandy–for the ascent of his righteous soul with those who followed him, sleeping in eternal sleep. May God avenge their blood.


Footnotes

  1. Translation editor's note: BEShT stands for Baal Shem Tov (master of the good Name), Rabbi Yisrael son of Eliezer, a Jewish mystical rabbi who is considered to founder of Hasidic Judaism. return
  2. Translation editor's note: In Hebrew, the first letters of the words in the phrases in boldface are H–Sh–L and L–Sh–H, the same as the letters highlighted in the final two Hebrew phrases. return

 

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