« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 23]

The Gostyniner Rebbe

 

The Good Jew from Gostynin

by Y.M. Biderman

Translated by Pamela Russ

 

gos023.jpg
Y.M. Biderman

 

It is said about the Gostyniner Rebbe, that each time he would return from a trip to Kotzk, he would stop on the small bridge, turn with great earnestness towards the direction of Kotzk, and then tears would flow from his eyes. These were tears of yearning, of great longing for the powerful spirit that beamed out from the fiery sun that shone in Kotzk.

The sun by nature melts things, making softer any blockages, and sometimes burning or desiccating them. The effect of its workings depends firstly on the substance of the object. In the chassidic world of his time, Reb Mendele Kotzker affected both types: some he burned and some he softened. The Gostyniner, the Kotzk sun made softer, filled his heart with more mercy, soaked his entire being with heartfelt kindness, superhuman grace, and boundless love.

When the great fire went out in Kotzk because Reb Mendele closed himself off in his room for many years, and from the Rebbe's close surroundings, angry, upset talk circulated that chased away the regular attendants, cooled down his followers, and caused a great tumult between the closest intimates – then, the two – Reb Itche Meir from Warsaw, later to be the Chidushei HaRim[1] and Reb Yechiel Meir …

[Page 24]

… Gostyniner, later to be called the Tehillim Jew [so named because of his remarkable trait of constantly reciting Tehillim (Psalms) with utmost emotion and fervor] – remained rock solid and loyal in their dedication to their Rebbe. The genius from Warsaw acknowledged Kotzk as the center of Torah and scholarship, and the Gostyniner good Jew agreed that in terms of substance, the ways of Kotzk were dictated from the deepest wells of goodness.

In his first contact with the Kotzker fiery pillar, he already took some of the light that came from there.

“Don't worry about us,” said Reb Mendele to Reb Yechiel Meyer, “we are not inventing anything new. We are working hard to bring out from each person that which is found inside him…”

Moreover, Reb Yechiel Meyer Gostyniner knew that with the Rebbe's strength, with the force of his glowing spirit that reached the heavens, his own inner hidden traits, that were covered with heavy layers of flesh–and–blood notions and drowned under a mountain of human habits and behaviors, would be elevated and refined to become factors that affect the person who carries them and affect his fellow man.

One could think that the distance between the strict, sullen Kotzker and the polite, mild, warm Gostyniner was great. In fact, they were often described as having opposing characters with distinct traits, differing in their demeanor, in their behavior, in their speech. But their origins were from one source. They reciprocally complemented each other. They were in the test of Hillel and Shammai[2] who expressed thoughts in various categories, and whose spiritual qualities were in contrast to one another. But they sat under one roof of Jewish law, approached one another, and had to depend on one another. Once a rift developed between the two of them – but they were kneaded from one dough and later generations tied them together and brought them closer. Both were the completeness of Jacob's ladder: Reb Mendele was with “his head reaching until the Heavens,” he floated in the skies, was removed from earthly matters that are relevant to the world and people; Reb Yechiel Meyer was …

[Page 25]

… “with his feet on the ground.” He was approached by people, helped them in their pain, and had an ear for their difficulties and woes.

When the wealthy Gostyniner businessmen asked Reb Yechiel Meyer before Shavuos, as he was preparing himself in his usual manner to travel to Kotzk, why he was travelling to Kotzk, and could they not celebrate the giving of the Torah [which is celebrated by the holiday of Shavuot] in Gostynin just as they do in Kotzk, the Gostyniner good Jew replied to them: “In Gostynin, they translate ‘you should not steal’ as meaning stealing from another person. But in Kotzk they interpret the phrase ‘you should not steal’ as meaning you should not steal from yourself. You should not disappoint yourself. Robbing from your mind is also stealing…”

Honesty towards others as well as to oneself was the way of Gostynin.

Both men had their chassidic origins in Przysucha. Kotzk was even sharper, more brilliant than Przysucha; Gostynin simplified Przysucha. Przysucha did not accept the concept of reciting Psalms; Psalms can also be recited by the simple people, without intellect. They didn't support the idea of reciting, repeating, or even reciting chapter after chapter of the holy Psalms. Kotzk went even further, saying that he who prayed today because he prayed yesterday, was an evil man because each prayer has to contain newness, and must evoke from it new sparks of holiness. In the opposite manner, regularity merely creates habit.

Gostynin viewed this differently. Chassidim tell that once, a sick person came to Reb Yechiel Meyer to ask for relief. The Rebbe gave him his tried and true remedy: reciting a portion of Psalms. The sick man responded:

“But Rebbe, I am a coarse individual, an ignorant man, and I don't understand the meaning of the words…!”

The Rebbe opened the sixth chapter of Psalms that begins with the words: “For the Conductor [God] with melodies…”[3], and then said to him:
“From this chapter you will see it, ‘For the Director [God] with melodies…’

[Page 26]

“… King David played on an instrument that had eight strings. There are instruments that have four strings and there are musicians who play on a katarinka [portable music box played by cranking], and they play without strings, but turn the handle back and forth and the music comes out of the music box by itself. The least that is required by the musician is to turn the crank. You have to do something. Also, in the prayers to God, you cannot rely on others, you have to pray on your own. Even one who does not understand the meaning of the words is obligated to recite Psalms, and the Creator will send a complete recovery for each word said.”

The Gostyniner Rebbe very often had his eye on the simple Jew. He searched him out to elevate him and give him a taste of Judaism. And in this search for the ordinary person, he himself was the embodiment of simplicity. Not with a simplicity that originates from crudeness or from naiveté, but a simplicity that was built on straightforwardness, refined modesty, and on elevated wisdom that borders on the other side of sharpness and insightfulness. The sharpness tries to peel away the levels and skins and to reach the kernel, to the center, to the essence, to the point, to the simple ordinariness. The Gostyniner simplicity was a step further from this sharpness. As he peels away all the covers and evil spirits, the simplicity reaches the substance, the foundation, to the bare truth.

With this thinking, we have to understand the scene in front of the locked door of the Kotzker Rebbe's room that was besieged by hundreds of chassidim. They waited for the moment when the holy Rabbi would reveal himself and they would be greeted by him, and the Rebbe remained alone in his room, in meditation, and did not want to reveal himself to his followers. It was Purim at the time, and the Gostyniner gathered his strength, and banged at the Rebbe's door:

“Rebbe! I am naked and barefoot! I do not have any Torah learnings or any good deeds! We are waiting that the Rebbe should fulfill the mitzva [positive commandment] and …

[Page 27]

… clothe the naked. Today [because it is Purim], we send gifts of food, and we have to give to everyone who stretches out his hand…”

How simple and humble were these words about nakedness and bare feet. These words caused every honest soul to tremble with their sharpness and simplicity. They also shook up the dejected Kotzker. He opened the door and took the Gostyniner Rebbe into his room.

“The more we get to the bottom of the treasure of the fear of Heaven, the more we see how much farther away we are from it,” he would say. And the same applies to the simplicity for which philosophers strive to find the formulas. The more you search for the simplicity, the more confused and complicated it becomes.”

“One can sit and study Torah and its laws for seventy years and hardly move ahead even an iota…”he would say. Of course, studying Torah and praying are great things. But the most important thing for him was the quality of a person's character. He demanded of himself uprightness and compassion. Within himself and his followers he looked not only for constraint and humility, but also for the feeling of unpretentiousness. He would mention the verse in the Torah portion of Vayikra [“…and he called:] “…And Aaron approached the altar…” The commentary Rashi says that Aaron hesitated in humility. Then Moshe asked him, “Why are you hesitating? You were chosen for this.” The meaning of this, the Gostyniner said, was that “You were chosen so that you would have the pains of embarrassment…”

The regimen of his daily behavior, tell witnesses, was that the Gostyniner tried to stifle within himself any trace of a negative thought. He took it upon himself to read every day his own personal code to remind himself, to remember, and absolutely never to forget how a person must behave with purity of thought, with honor of character, and with eternal, continuous, permanent self–control. “Do not forsake us in our old age…” – the Gostyniner translated this as …

[Page 28]

…–– even in old age, may we have the strength to overcome all the bad traits and desires that a person has within him. “Do not throw me into the hands of the Evil Inclination.”

It is a mitzva [positive commandment] to live like a Jew. You have to love every Jew. “The Kotzker Rebbe,” he would say, “already worked hard on me that love for a fellow Jew should be part of me. But it didn't work,” he would sigh, not being satisfied with his levels [of achievement]. “One has to love not only a fellow Jew, but this love has to be on such a level that it should also encompass an enemy.”

And the legend that wove itself around the striking personality of this holy Jew, tells of the following:

“Once there was a Jew in Gostynin who became ill. This Jew was known for his antagonism towards the Rebbe. Reb Yechiel Meyer knew about this Jew's hatred towards him, so the Rebbe assembled a quorum of ten Jews, and began to recite Psalms and pray for his recovery. The Rebbe fasted the entire day, and everyone was amazed, and even the Rebbe's mother was astonished.

“Why are you causing such a fuss by fasting because of a person who always persecuted you?”

Reb Yechiel Meyer replied: “You see, Mother, if I have an enemy, probably it was decreed in Heaven that I should have an enemy. Therefore, I am begging the Creator of the Universe that He should send a complete recovery to my enemy because if not this one, then I will have to find another enemy…”

For Reb Yechiel Meyer, love of a fellow Jew was coupled with total faith, and therefore it was completely pure, without biases and preconditions.

The people also say about this fine Gostyniner Jew:

“Reb Yechiel Meyer sent out two important men to collect money among the wealthy Jews, in order to help a needy Jew. The two men returned to the Rebbe and told him about a Jew, a rich man in town, …

[Page 29]

… who had closed his hand and in no way would he give any donation. The Rebbe exclaimed: ‘You cannot say anything bad about a Jew’, as it is written ‘You should not hate your brother with your heart.’ That means, with your good heart. If your heart is kind, then let it be kind so that you can do good things and not so that you can hate the other person who does not want to do good.

“ ‘And you should not be good only in your heart, but be good and pleasing in your words. The good word transposes the bad word and makes the good word even better. Your words have to be guarded, and wherever you can, you must throw in more good words. The word “good,” when it is used, brings good, for the good.’” Thus, in this essay about his personal behavior, goodness is the concept and the word that dominates this unusual document.

With love and devotion, he drew close to every Jew. Once, when a Jew, a wealthy man appeared in his courtroom, a clumsy looking man, with broad shoulders and a large belly, Reb Yechiel Meyer called out with such sincerity:

“So much Jew, may there be no evil eye!”

Once, his beadle asked a visitor who had come before daybreak from a journey to Gostynin, whether he had already recited the morning prayers. Reb Yechiel Meyer drew his attention to something:

“A Jew who comes at daybreak after long travels is not asked whether he has already recited the prayers, but is asked if he has already eaten breakfast.”

Also, from his religiousness, his fear of God, there shone a boundless love for the Creator and for His creations, to every type of person, to every Jew. They called him – the good Jew from Gostynin. That's how he was known in the Jewish world, and that's how he was popular in the non–Jewish world, who often came for help to the Gostynin tzaddik [righteous man]. He was not only a good Jew, a Rebbe, but he was a fine Jew – simply, a Jew, a fine one …

[Page 30]

***

Small and tossed aside, a town lay on a side road between Kutno and Plock in the kingdom of Poland, an insignificant spot on the map of Jewish settlements in the Polish exile. Unnoticed, the quiet Gostynin would have lived, in the spiritual way of the Polish–Jewish customary manner, had not a local personality, from the daily ordinariness, given the city an unusual aura, a singular aroma and glow with a rare heavenly light.

In the merit of the Rebbe, Gostynin remained part of the history of the wondrous Polish Jew. The Gostynin Jewish community is no longer here. It suffered the same fate as all the other Jewish communities of Poland. It was erased by the terrorizing demon. Its Jews died in the years of the gruesome tragedy.

Gostynin, however, is still alive, because the memories of the good Jew from Gostynin are still alive.

***

And in the hours of pain during the Jewish destruction and waste – go stand, dear man, on the bridge of generations, as the Gostyniner used to do as he longed for Kotzk – and drop a tear, a hot, thick tear, for the great lover of Jews, for the Jewish nation – a tear of longing, a tear of hope, that – – –

May his merit defend us.


Translator's footnotes

  1. referring to Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Rotenberg–Alter, the first Gerer Rebbe, also called the Chidushei HaRim, (“New Concepts of Rav Itche Meir”) which were the titles of the scholarly books that he wrote Return
  2. Hillel and Shammai were two leading sages of the last 1st century BCE and the early 1st century CE, who founded opposing schools of Jewish thought, known as the House of Hillel and House of Shammai. The debate between these schools on matters of ritual practice, ethics, and theology was critical for the shaping of the Oral Law and Judaism as it is today (Wikipedia). Return
  3. King David composed this Psalm when he was sick and in pain. He intended this prayer for every person in sickness or distress, and particularly for Israel when it suffered oppression. Return


[Page 31]

The Gostyniner Tzaddik [Righteous Man]

by The Esteemed Rabbi Moshe Aronson (Israel)
Formerly Head of the Jewish Court; Sanik, the Gostynin Circle

Translated by Pamela Russ

Rebbe Yechiel Meyer Lipszycz, the Gostyniner Rebbe, was born in the year 5576 (1815), in Opoczno, Poland, to his father Reb Yakov Czwi, and his mother Soroh, daughter of the Opoczner Rav, Reb Yehuda Leyb Lipszycz. As a child, Reb Yechiel Meyer was already exceptional in his kind–heartedness. He would secretly divide his food and his pocket money among the poor children in cheder [religious elementary school].

In his early youth, his parents left him an orphan. First, his mother left this world, and soon thereafter his father, and Yechiel Meyer and his only sister Chaya Szprintze were left as complete orphans.

His uncle, the genius Reb Shmuel Noach Lipszycz, took him in, studied Torah with him, and raised him as his own child.

Years passed, Yechiel Meyer grew up, and became independent. His uncle brought him to Kutno to the large Yeshiva [school for religious school for older boys] of the Gaon [genius] Rebbe Moshe Yehuda Leyb Zilberberg, the author of the religious text Zayit Ra'anan [“fresh olive”]. Each day, Yechiel Meyer grew in his studies and very quickly became known in the Torah world as a prodigy.

One day, Reb Mordechai Wajngart came to the Zayit Ra'anan [meaning to Reb Moshe Yehuda Leyb Zilberberg] from Gostynin, having been sent by his wealthy father–in–law Reb Leybish, to ask for a worthy groom for his sister–in–law.

The genius of Kutno selected the best student from his yeshiva, Yechiel Meyer, who was also very admired by the rich Gostynin family. The match was made. Reb Leybish promised his future son–in–law lifelong financial support and a large dowry. Yechiel Meyer continued his Torah studies in the Kutno yeshiva until his marriage.

[Page 32]

After the wedding, he settled in Gostynin, devoting all his time to Torah, worshipping the Creator, and performing charitable deeds. It is told that after the long day of fasting, on the 17th day of the month of Tammuz, when the entire family sat down to the table to eat something after the day of fasting, Reb Yechiel Meyer disappeared. After a time, he returned, completely soaked from rain, but very cheerful. He had brought a guest with him…

But the good years passed quickly. His father–in–law, Reb Leybish the wealthy man, died suddenly and Reb Yechiel Meyer was forced to seek out a livelihood. He opened a food and tobacco store in Gostynin, where his wife was the primary worker. He only helped her when it was necessary.

Reb Meyer Kowaler, an elderly Kotzker chassid who lived in Gostynin at the time, had a great influence on the young Reb Yechiel Meyer, and he convinced him to go see the Kotzker Rebbe.

In Kotzk, Reb Yechiel Meyer became friendly with Reb Wolf Strikewer, and with time, both of them became close to the elderly Kotzker Rebbe. That was still the time when Reb Mendele lived in Tomaszow.

In Kotzk they called him the “religious Yechiel Meyer.” As time passed, Reb Yechiel Meyer distanced himself from people, isolated himself from the world, and in secret completely devoted himself to the study of Torah and chassidus.

At that time, the Gostyniner Rav, Rebbe Shloime, went to Sieradz; the head rabbinic seat in Gostynin was left empty.

The Kotzker chassidim of Gostynin went to see the Rebbe and ask whom they should take on as their new Rav. The Rebbe suggested Reb Yechiel Meyer. Reb Hersh Tomaszower sent along a letter in the name of the Rebbe to Reb Yechiel Meyer, in which he invited him to take on the position of Rav of Gostynin.

At first, Reb Yechiel Meyer declined. But with time, when his livelihood became less and less, he …

[Page 33]

… saw it as a sign from Above to address his difficult situation, and he took on the post of Chief Rabbi of Gostynin.

The moment he became the Gostyniner Rav, he came out of his seclusion, and completely devoted himself to the community. He went from one extreme to the other, and he lowered himself from the isolated levels and lofty, heavenly issues to the basic needs of each Jew in his community. He knew each Gostyniner Jew and tried to help in every possible way according to the person's needs. As the Rav of the city, he had his eye on the entire community in the city. More than once he was involved with appeasing city conflicts, resolving arguments between warring sides, and very often he was also the emissary of his community for the non–Jewish authorities.

The name of Reb Yechiel Meyer Gostyniner became popular very quickly. He was known everywhere as a Tzaddik [righteous person] and learned man, a lover of Jews, and a pursuer of peace. His name became famous in many cities outside of Gostynin. Wherever a conflict arose, the people involved would immediately go to Reb Yechiel Meyer, and he, with his good words, would conciliate the sides and restore peace.

“The good Jew from Gostynin,” was what he was called, even during his lifetime, not only because he truly was the symbol of goodness, but also because he saw only the good in all people.

“It is easier to be an expert in diamonds than in the simplest Jew,” he would say in his goodness. He intentionally gave of himself to the regular businessmen, to the Jews of the nation [committed Jews] and always made efforts for their benefits and well–being. He always made a point to see their grandeur, and to raise up the pintele Yid [spark of Jewishness] from the depths of their roots.

Each of his letters ended with the word “tov,” “good,” a hint that in every contact with the world and with people, goodness must prevail.

He was also called “the Psalms Jew,” because for each problem …

[Page 34]

… and for any human suffering he had one solution – to recite Psalms. He told one person to recite ten chapters, another one was told to recite the chapters designated for that day of the week, and a third person was told to recite the entire Book of Psalms. And when he himself recited Psalms he tore at the Heavens and nullified bad decrees.

His teachers were: Rebbe Menachem Mendel Morgenstern, the older Kotzker Rebbe; and after his passing in the year 5619 (1859) he went to the founder of the Gerer court, to the “Chidushei HaRim” [named after the title of his Torah works Chidushei (new thoughts) HaRim (of Reb Yitzchok Meyer)]; and after that to the Tzaddik, Reb Avrohm Landau, the Ciechanower Rav. Only after the passing of Rav Landau, in the year 5635 (1875), did Reb Yechiel Meyer consent to become Rebbe. He led his chassidim as the Gostyniner Rebbe for thirteen years, and he helped thousands of people with guidance and resources, and with his heartfelt prayers and blessings.

The Rebbe and his family lived in dearth themselves, because the Rebbe did not want to have pleasure from the materials of his chassidim, and everything he earned he divided among the needy.

Also, many non–Jews came to the Rebbe for advice and requests because they saw him as a Godly man whose words and blessings were fulfilled.

For forty years, Reb Yechiel Meyer Lipszycz was the Gostyniner Rebbe. On the 28th of the month of Shevat, 5648 (1888), the Gostyniner Tzaddik passed away. He left behind two sons: Reb Leybish and Reb Yisroel Moshe, who later was the rabbinic leader in Proskow. He also left behind a daughter, the wife of Reb Aaron Yakov, the son of Reb Dovid Zilberstajn of Gostynin.

The name of the Gostyniner Rebbe shines from holiness among the names of prominent Jews who brought comfort and leadership to the nation of Jews during the times of difficult exile.


[Page 35]

The Rebbe's Word

Translated by Pamela Russ

One can be a passionate person and at the same time a person of stature. There has to be no more explanation here. One can use his stature [intellect] only in the Name of God.

***

There are Tzaddikim [righteous men] who have eyes to see and ears to hear, a sense of smell and a sense of touch to recognize whether there is holiness in each thing.

***

There are chassidim who praise their Rebbe if he eats nothing. This is in the category of “…they don't see, they don't hear, they don't eat” (describing the idols or false gods who do not hear, see, or eat). This opinion would also include “they don't smell.” That means, that they have no scent of the Fear of Heaven. But what? They don't eat. In contrary to that, they don't see with prophecy and don't hear the call of Heaven.

***

I heard in the name of the Gerer Rebbe, may his memory be blessed – the Chidushei HaRim – on the verse “that you will merit through your holy work to uproot all the anger from yourself, which means from the depths of your heart.” All the people of Israel will heed your words and honor you, as is discussed in a treatise from the sages: “Every person who has the fear of God in him, will have his words heeded.”

***

All his years, Reb Yechiel Meyer did not want to become Rebbe. He was a student of the Kotzker Rebbe. After the Kotzker Rebbe's passing, he connected closely to the Chidushei HaRim and when the Gerer Rebbe passed on, he became close to Reb Avrohom Ciechanower, to whom he would travel. After the passing of the Ciechanower, under the …

[Page 36]

… pressure of his chassidim, he consented to become Rebbe. He was sixty years old at that time.

On the first Shabbath, when he tasted the food at his [ceremonial] “table,” he called out to his chassidim: “It seems that I am not a Rebbe. I am enjoying the food!”

***

He used to say:
“There is no better remedy book than the Book of Psalms.”

Once, he commented to a chassid:

The community thinks that I can cure the sick. If this would be the case, I would visit every sick person, go to their home, go to his city, to cure him. But, instead, I recite Psalms. Let him also recite Psalms!

***

Reb Yechiel Meyer would recount:

Once I came to Przasznysz. Reb Hanoch Henech was the Rav there before he became the Alexander Rebbe. When Reb Hanoch Henech found out that I was coming to see him to greet him, he asked that all the candles of the Shabbath candelabrum be lit and he dressed in his Shabbath finery in my honor. He stayed with me all the time and said that a Torah scholar is likened to the Shabbath. A deep love bound us together.

***

When Yechiel Meyer came to the Chidushei HaRim in Warsaw, he first went to an inn near the Beis Medrash [Study Hall] to put away his packages. At that moment, there was a group of free–spirited young men who were playing cards and at the same time were joking around at the expense of the Chidushei HaRim, and were mocking him.

Reb Yechiel Meyer blocked his ears and left the house. He thought that he might have to “tear his garments” [as a sign of mourning], since that is the commandment when one hears a Rebbe humiliated. But then he considered that it would not be becoming to present himself in that manner with torn clothing to the Rebbe. He went to the Beis Medrash and searched in the religious books as to what the law would say …

[Page 37]

… and he could not determine the answer. He went to the Rebbe and told him what had transpired. The Chidushei HaRim replied:

“Yechiel Meyer, if we would have to tear our garments in mourning for each insult of these types of people, we would have to go around all torn up and tattered.”

***

There is a story about a Jew who brought a bottle of aged, expensive wine to Reb Yechiel Meyer. The Rebbe asked him if he had also locked the door with a steel chain, as the wealthy men of that day used to do. When the wealthy man replied that –– yes, he had done that, the Rebbe asked him: “And what will you do if Elijah the Prophet will want to enter your home and will find the door locked with a steel lock?”

The Rebbe did not accept the gift.

***

Once, a prominent, wealthy man came to the Gostyniner and wanted to give him a monetary gift. But the Rebbe did not want to accept it. The wealthy man strongly persisted, but the Rebbe remained steadfast. The wealthy man asked the Rebbe: “What is your reason?” The Rebbe replied: “Do you owe anyone money?”

The wealthy man said that he did.

“If so,” the Rebbe continued, “then first you must repay your debts, as it is written: ‘First you pay off your debts, then you can give donations…”

***

The Gostyniner Rebbe had a chassid, Reb Leyb the estate–owner. Each time that the Rebbe would travel to Czechanow to the Rebbe, Reb Leyb would take him in his carriage.

So, there's a story, that Reb Yechiel and his son Reb Yisroel …

[Page 38]

… Moshe and the chassid Reb Leyb arrived in Czechanow, and together they went to Reb Avrohom Czechanower to greet him.

The following day, the Czechanower Rebbe sent his beadle to the inn to invite Reb Yechiel and his son for lunch. Reb Yechiel was very puzzled as to why he had not also invited Reb Leyb to the meal, as was the usual manner. Reb Yechiel Meyer was worried that perhaps Reb Avrohom had simple forgotten. So he went to the Rebbe, and asked why he had not also invited Reb Leyb.

Reb Avrohom replied with great shock: “Was Reb Leyb here last night with me? I did not see him!”

The Gostyniner rushed back to the inn and told Reb Leyb to recite ten chapters of Psalms and to go once again to the Czechanower Rebbe to greet him. Reb Leyb did exactly that. When he arrived, Reb Avrohom looked for him intently and then said: “Now I have seen you. Please join me for lunch.”


[Page 39]

A Pamphlet about Behavior
(What the Gostyniner Rebbe Wrote for Himself)

Translated by Pamela Russ

  1. I heard from a holy Jew, who said to me, maybe you were created in order to complete the thought that will take you to the level of the holy ones.
  2. Also, for the love of a fellow Jew – become accustomed to it all your life.
  3. And another holy Jew said to me: “First, adorn yourself. See that your own deeds should be good ones.”
  4. I thereby take upon myself a strong and solid vow, with the help of the Creator, blessed be He, and with His great mercy and grace, to chase away from my mind and from my heart all inappropriate thoughts.
  5. Also, the thoughts that the Evil Inclination brings into the mind sometimes, some which he can describe, and some that from the start are recognized to be foolish and empty, and not to infuse them with words of Torah and moral conduct, for the good.
  6. To distance oneself from praise, from all those objects and words that bring to coarseness.
  7. For sure to distance oneself from empty speech.
  8. And from speaking too much, which leads to sin, and distancing oneself from the fear of God and humility, just as a fool who releases every breath from his mouth. And on that subject it is said: “The barrier around wisdom is silence.”
  9. And to protect oneself greatly from all sorts of anger and severity.
  10. And if, God forbid, something happens that will stimulate anger and severity, I take upon myself, with the help of the Creator…
[Page 40]
    … to wait at least a quarter of an hour in order to slowly become calmer and protected from anger and control myself with the help of God.
  1. And if at some time I will be forced to discipline the people, I take upon myself to recite at least five chapters of Psalms, and to ask for mercy, that I should not stumble with my words.
  2. And to speak with words of love and prayers, as the one who is raising a child speaks to him – with love and with total goodness.
  3. And I am obliged to read these writings every day, for the good.
  4. To keep in mind: May the honor of your friend, that means of your dear soul, be beloved to you with total goodness.
  5. Remember that you are punished for open sins of the past through pain, may it not befall us, through cruel acts that are fitting for this. How good, therefore, is it to suffer for all that is due to a person on this world, and to fulfill his “turning the cheek to the one who slaps,” and then be soaked with shame, and with that to celebrate for the good.
  6. Especially, since through that, one suffers and one nullifies his own desires and wishes, and he conducts himself according to the virtues of the Creator Who does good things for everyone and is good to everyone; and he stills his own anger, and contains his temper and is full of mercy – through this, he unites with God, the Almighty, for the good.
  7. And fulfill, “Leave all your worries to God” and He will carry out everything for the good.
  8. And also speak thoughtfully, for the good.
  9. And especially, that in this way the Creator will be able to rest with the people, and enable the person to become…
[Page 41]
    …the resting place for His holiness, as it is written “…until I find a place,” and also the holiness of the Shabbath should rest upon him, for the good.
  1. Who is a chassid? He who conducts himself piously with his Creator, for the good.
  2. A small prophecy, “and you will search,” and so on.
  3. A leader must use all his virtues of mercy, as it is written in Psikto [commentary], for the good.
  4. The prophet took care of me, etc. That is the well of life and foolishness, all with good.
  5. I heard from the holy Gerer Rebbe, of blessed memory: The children of Noah did not sacrifice any perfect [complete] offerings, but for the children of Israel, just eating the perfect offerings was done with great sacrifice, for the good.
(From the sefer [religious book] “Mei Ha'yam” [“Waters of the Sea”], Lodz, 5648 [1888])
Translated from the Hebrew


Bibliography about the Gostyniner Rebbe

Translated by Pamela Russ

Zer Zahav u'Minchas Yehuda [A Golden Wreath and the Offering of Yehuda], printed at the beginning of Sefer Hamachria [the Decisive Work], by Reb Yeshaya of Trany.

Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Words of Holy Fire], by Rav Yoetz Kim Kadish.

Mei Hayam [Waters of the Sea], new thoughts on the Torah, published after the death of the Rebbe, by his relative Reb Shimon Menachem Mendel of Gubraczew, together with Reb Nosson Note Hakohen, head of the Jewish court in Kolbiel.

Divrei Shmuel [Words of Samuel], by Reb Noach Shmuel Lipszycz, the Gostyniner Rebbe's uncle.

Admorei Polan [Great Rabbis of Poland], by Eliezer Steinman.

Gute Yidden in Poilen [Good Jews in Poland], by M. Feinkind.

Przysucha un Kotzk [Przysucha and Kotzk], by Menashe Unger.

Migedolei Hachassidus [From the Giants of Chassidus], Book 11, Admor [esteemed Rav] Reb Yechiel Meyer Lipszycz, may his memory be blessed, by Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Bromberg.

A letter from the esteemed Rav Yitzchok Yehuda Trunk to Sholom Asch in which the last Rav from Kutno tells the famous writer details about the Gostyniner Rebbe, published in the journal Heimish, Number 37 and 38–39, 1959.

 

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
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.

  Gostynin, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2019 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 16 May 2016 by JH