יום ראשון ד' בניסן תש"פ 29/03/2020
Search
  • 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!

    Read More...

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.

    Read More...

Place

  • 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.

    Read More...

Join Our Mailing List!

Please add a Valid Email Address
Join
Thanks!

Reflections

A Legend of Greatness: The Maggid of Mezritch

The exalted position of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, was inherited by his foremost disciple Reb Dov Ber, ‘The Maggid of Mezritch’. Under his leadership the ranks of Chassidus swelled and grew, as followers flocked to him from throughout Poland and beyond.

David Lazar 10/12/2009 08:00
The path that brought him to the Baal Shem Tov and to Chassidus is an intriguing story all of its own. The miraculous tales involving Reb Yisrael, the holy Baal Shem Tov, seemed to have wings and news of the legendary wonder-worker spread throughout the continent. The Maggid’s wife brought these tales to her husband, in her attempts to persuade him to travel to the Tzaddik and perhaps find a cure for his foot ailments that bothered him persistently. The Maggid, on his part, was not overtaken by these stories at all, maintaining that they were mere exaggerations; however his wife’s unceasing entreaties finally brought him to the door of the Baal Shem Tov. From here on, the close bond forged between the two became history, as the Maggid saw in the Baal Shem Tov a saintly teacher and the Baal Shem Tov perceived in the Maggid a disciple who would become his successor, continuing his lifetime’s work.

שלומי מושאיוב
The bed, ladder, and oven in the special room built especially for hte Maggid of Mezritchg near the Beis Midrash of the Ba'al Shem Tov in Mezbuzh [שלומי מושאיוב]

The Maggid of Mezritch was born in the town of Lokatch, located near the city Rovno. The actual date of his birth is subject to differing opinions - there are those who estimate that he was born in 5464 (1704), but according to Reb Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura (the first) he was born in the year 5458 (1698), and was exactly the same age as the Baal Shem Tov himself. But about the great talents he was blessed with and that singled him out at a young age, all are of one opinion. Young Dov Ber was sent by his father, an impoverished Melamed, to study Torah in the city of Lvov - home to the renowned Yeshiva of Rav Yaakov Yehoshua Falk, the ‘Pnei Yehoshua’.

Before settling in Mezritch, Rav Dov Ber served as Maggid in the city of Torshin, and after that in Koritz and Dubno. He was blessed with powerful oratory skills, and an unusual power of persuasion.

Aside from the painful problems in his feet, the great Maggid also suffered a lengthy wait to merit offspring. At one point his wife begged him, from the depths of her suffering, to divorce her so that he could marry another woman and merit to bear children. But the Maggid repeatedly postponed her suggestion. When he arrived at the Baal Shem Tov and recognized his sublime greatness, he requested a blessing for children, and received a promise that he would bear a son who would become great. So it was, and in the year 5501 (1741) their son Avraham was born, who was to be known as ‘the Malach’ because of his inherent holiness.

After the Baal Shem Tov’s passing his son Reb Tzvi was chosen as prince and leader of Chassidus. Soon after his appointment however, at the Seudah of the second day of Shavuos 5521 (1761), Reb Tzvi stood up and announced that his father had requested that his position at the helm of Chassidus be transferred to Rav Dov Ber of Mezritch. He blessed Reb Dov Ber with a resounding ‘Mazel Tov’, and removed the cloak that had belonged to his holy father.

From then onwards Mezritch became the seat of Chassidus. The Maggid did not travel extensively as his teacher had done before him, but sent his disciples to spread the light of Chassidus throughout Poland and beyond. Three large centers of Chassidus were founded by him in Lubavitch, Karlin and Hordok, and many of his great students travelled to the Holy Land and spread Chassidus there.

Amongst his outstanding disciples are Rebbe Aharon of Karlin, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Bertichev, the brothers Reb Zusia of Anapoli and Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, Rebbe Shmuel Shmelke of Nikolsberg and also Reb Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the ‘Admor haZaken’ of Chabad who the Maggid appointed to study with his son, Reb Avraham the Malach.

His followers say that the whilst the Baal Shem Tov had ‘Sixty Men of Strength’, sixty chosen lions from the choice of his followers whose task was to disseminate his teaching throughout Europe, the Maggid had one hundred-twenty such ‘Men of Strength’. Under his leadership the movement of Chassidus grew by leaps and bounds, and over the years other branches of Chassidus were founded. The Maggid’s great grandson Rav Yisrael Friedman, for instance, founded the Chassidus of Ruzhin, which itself branched out into other illustrious groups such as Sadigur, Shtefenesht, Boyan, and others.

 Y. Fridman
The tent of the burial place of the Maggid of Mezritch in th city of Anapoli [צלם]

 In the year 5532 (1772) the Maggid moved to the town of Anapoli, home to his close disciple Reb Zusia, after a severe plague hit the town of Mezritch. Alas his days in Anapoli were numbered – seven months after he arrived, on a Sunday 19th of Kislev in the year 5533 (1772), his pure soul departed this world. The members of the Chevra Kadisha argued with the Chassidim as to who will carry out the Tahara (ritual washing before burial); the Chevra Kadisha claimed that this was their sacred mission, whilst the Chassidim responded that just as they had served the Tzaddik during his life, they would serve him in death too. The final ruling was that the Chevra Kadisha, and any of the Chassidim who were registered as members of a Chevra Kadisha in their various hometowns, would take part in the Tahara. One of the participants was the Admor of Chabad. When the holy Maggid was brought to the Mikvah, told over the Lubavitcher Rebbe, they let go of the body and it immersed itself three times... As our Sages say, ‘Tzadikkim are greater in their death that in life’.

The Maggid of Mezritch did not write Sefarim, and his words were recorded by his students and published as ‘Maggid Devarav l’Yaakov’, ‘Or haTorah’ and ‘Or haEmes’.

About his teacher and mentor the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid would say that - ‘If only we would kiss the Sefer Torah with the same love as the Baal Shem Tov kissed the children as he led them to Cheder’. Talking about young children, the Maggid teaches three fundamental lessons we can learn from a child and implement them in our Avodas Hashem: A child is always happy; never sits idle for a moment, and when he asks for something he cries.

Another famous teaching of the Maggid is the seven principles we can learn from a thief: his main work is done at night, and if he doesn’t succeed one night he’ll try again the next. Thieves belonging to a group will sacrifice their lives for their friend; a thief puts his life on the line even for a small matter and even for a doubtful outcome; what he steals at night he sells during the day; he does not publicize his thefts and finally, he will not exchange his trade for any other.

Such were the priceless gems of wisdom we received from this towering personality, the holy Maggid of Mezritch. He left behind a legend of true greatness, both in Torah and in fear of Heaven.

 Y. Fridman
Tombstone of the Maggid of Mezritch [צלם]
  1. 1. picture
    moshe kurtzer 11/12/2009 15:17
    great article but picture on top is the admor of chabad R schneur zalman of liadi