יום רביעי י"ז בשבט תשפ"ב 19/01/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Rav Zev Wolf Kitzis zt’l

Rav Zev Wolf Kitzis was originally one of the most ardent opponents of the Baal Shem Tov - and eventually became one of his greatest followers

Motty Meringer 30/10/2009 09:00
Not much is known about the earlier years of Rav Zev Wolf Kitzis, other than that he was born around the year 5460 (1700). He served as Rav of the community in Toltzin, and later held the position of Av Beis Din in the town of Medzibuzh. When Rav Zev first arrived in Medzibuzh, the town had not yet become the famous founding center of the Baal Shem Tov’s movement. With the arrival of the Baal Shem Tov in subsequent years, Rav Zev set out to investigate the Rebbe and his unusual ways. His initial reaction was one of great opposition, but after a short while he became one of his greatest followers. Chassidic lore has it that this turnabout was the result of a remarkable incident:

On Erev Shabbos the Baal Shem Tov had the custom to begin davening Mincha early in the afternoon and linger over the Amidah for several hours. Rav Zev, who was constantly dogging his steps became angry at this behavior and claimed that it is not possible to daven for such a long time with the correct level of Kavanah. Rav Zev approached the holy Baal Shem Tov as he was immersed in prayer, and lifted his Tallis so as to see what he was doing. Rav Zev took one glance at the face of the Baal Shem Tov and fainted.

After he regained consciousness, he became seriously ill and was bedridden for three months. He explained to those around him the reason why he had fainted – instead of the radiant, healthy countenance of the Baal Shem Tov that all knew and recognized, the visage that met his gaze when he lifted up the Tallis from the face of the Tzaddik was pale as death, eyes protruding from their sockets from intense kavanna and streaming with tears. From that moment on Rav Zev humbled himself before the holy Baal Shem Tov, and became his devoted student.

After he became a Chassid of the Baal Shem Tov, he protected his Rebbe and the derech of Chassidus in many debates that he held with the ‘Misnagdim’ (opponents of Chassidus). It is told that the Baal Shem Tov himself once said to Rav Zev – ‘What stands between me and you is a mere hairsbreadth; but this hairsbreadth you will never be able to cross.’

Rav Zev was a tremendous Gadol in Torah, and proficient in all its hidden treasures. He was extremely meticulous in all areas of Mitzva observance. It is told that he would not eat meat that was not koshered in front of his eyes, even if his Rebbe the Baal Shem Tov would partake of that meat.

Like his great Rebbe the Baal Shem Tov, Rav Zev too aspired to go to Eretz Yisrael and even began to make his way there. Before he set out on his journey, he approached the Baal Shem Tov for a bracha. This he received, after which the Baal Shem Tov gave him a word of caution – that wherever he should go on his travels, he must pay great heed to the questions people ask him, to ensure that the answer he gives is the complete and absolute truth. Rav Zev accepted the warning and left on his way.

In the course of its voyage, the ship bearing Rav Zev was hit by a storm and was blown entirely off course. When the storm abated, the vessel laid anchor on a remote island to repair the damage it had incurred during the storm. Whilst the sailors were busy repairing the ship, Rav Zev alighted and began to wander around the island. Deep in thought, he didn’t pay attention to the passing time and the calls of the sailors to return to the ship; by the time he turned around and made his way back to the shore, it was already too late– the ship had set sail, and he was left behind on his own.

With no choice, Rav Zev began to walk around until he came to a large, beautiful house that stood in the heart of the island. From its entrance emerged an elderly man with a flowing white beard and white robes. He turned to Rav Zev and invited him to stay in his home for Shabbos, after which he could leave on the ship that was to set sail the next day. Rav Zev was relieved to have somewhere to stay, and together with the old man he went to the mikveh and prepared for Shabbos. When Shabbos was over, his host accompanied him to the shore where a vessel was waiting to set sail, and a moment before Rav Zev was to embark the elderly man turned to him and asked: ‘So tell me, what is the situation of the Jews in exile, and how do they live?” Rav Zev was in a hurry to board the ship, as he was afraid it too would leave without him and he would be left stranded once again. He quickly responded: “Hashem’s mercy knows no end, He helps His people in every place they find themselves.”

The elderly man departed, and as soon as the ship set sail Rav Zev began to think about the answer he had given the old man. Perhaps this was the very question that the Baal Shem Tov had in mind when warning him not to deviate one iota from the truth; if so, thought Rav Zev in dismay, he should have told the old man how much the Jews are suffering in Galus, and how they are oppressed...

In trepidation, Rav Zev made an about-face and returned to his Rebbe in Medzibuzh. Indeed, the holy Baal Shem Tov said to him: “You should know, this old man whom you met was none other than our forefather Avraham; each day he comes before Hashem and asks about the welfare of his children, and Hashem answers that He protects them from all suffering. Hashem told him that as a proof, here is Rav Zev Wolf Kitzis - an upright, honest Jew, on his way to Eretz Yisrael – he will testify that the situation of the Jews in Galus is good. For this purpose He turned your boat off course, so that you should meet up with Avraham Avinu and he could ask you about his precious children in exile. Had you answered him as I instructed you to, the Geulah that we yearn for so desperately would have arrived.”

Rav Zev Wolf Kitzis passed away on the 12th of Cheshvan 5548 (1788), and lies buried in Medzibuzh next to the grave of his great Rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov.