[In alphabetical order according to first name] A-C,D-L,
Rabbi Aharon ("the Great") of Karlin;
(1736- 19 Nissan 1772) was a disciple of Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch. He
was the pioneer of Chasidism in Lithuania, as is evidenced by the fact
that in contemporary sources, "Karliner" became a local synonym
for "chasid". He is remembered for the ecstatic and unrestrained
fervor of his prayer, for his solicitude for the needy, and for the moral
teachings embodied in his Azharos ("Warnings"). He was succeeded
by his disciple R. Shlomo of Karlin, after whose death the succession
reverted to R. Aharon's son, R. Asher of Stolin (d. 1823). The dynasty
still thrives today; the Chasidim are known for the volume of their communal
Aharon of Belz [1900 - 21 Av 1957], the fourth rebbe in the Belz dynasty,
was considered one of the purest holy men of his generation. In 1944 he miraculously
escaped from the Nazis and moved to Israel, where after a brief time in Jerusalem
he set up his court in Tel Aviv. The current Belzer Rebbe, who has established
a huge center in Jerusalem, is his nephew.
Rabbi Aharon of Chernobyl (1787- 8 Kislev 1871), eldest son and
successor of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, studied closely with his grandfather,
Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl. He became the Rebbe of thousands of Chasidim
in the Ukraine.
Rabbi Aharon-Yechiel Leifer [of blessed memory: ? - 1 Sivan 5760
(? - June 2000 C.E.)], was born in Bania, Rumania, where his father, Dovid,
served as Rebbe, a descendent of the famous Galitzean dynasty of Nodvorna
rebbes. As a young man he served as the Rabbi of Shatz, his wife's birthplace,
also in Rumania. He arrived in Israel shortly after the war of Liberation
in 5708 (1948 C.E.). Previously he had lost an entire family in the Holocaust,
but had married his deceased wife's sister and started a whole new family.
Legendary in Tzefat for his hospitality and kindness to those in need,
his home and shul were a center for Jews of all stripes for fifty-two
years. Beloved equally by Chasidim, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, by Europeans,
Israelis and Americans, his death a little before (or after!) the age
of ninety marked the end of an era in Tzefat.
Rabbi Avraham Benyamin Schreiber [of blessed memory: 5575-5635
(1815-1875 C.E.)], known as the Ksav Sofer - after the title
of halachic responsa , was the son of the illustrious Torah giant, the
Chatam Sofer, Rabbi Moshe Shreiber (5522-5599 / 1762-1839 C.E.),
and his successor as the head of the Pressburg Yeshiva, the most prestigious
in the Austrian-Hungarian empire and the largest in all of Europe.
Rabbi Akiva Eiger [1761- 13 Tishrei 1837], the chief rabbi of
Posen, Prussia for 23 years, was an acclaimed scholar whose analyses of
and innovative insights into the Gemora are studied in nearly all yeshivas.
Rabbi Aryeh Leib [25 Kislev 1725
- 6 Tishrei 1811], known as the Shpoler Zeide ('grandfather'-a nickname
given to him by the Baal Shem Tov at his circumcision), is famed as a miracle
worker and devoted to the succor of poor Jews in distress. In his early years,
he was a disciple of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, a leading figure in the first
generation of chassidim.The Lubavitcher Rebbe stated the possibility that the
Shpoler Zeide and Rabbi Leib Sarah's are the same person.
Asher-Yeshaya (Rubin) of Ropshitz (?-1845 or 1855) was the son-in-law of Rabbi
Naftali of Ropshitz, whom he succeeded as Rebbe. He authored Or Yeshai.
Rabbi Avraham Azuli (1570-1643), authored the well-known Kabbala
work, Chesed l'Avraham. He is the grandfather of one of the most
famous Sephardic sages ever, the Chida (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David
Rabbi Avraham the Malach ("the Angel") (1739-
12 Tishrei 1776). Son of Rabbi Dov Ber (the Maggid) of Mezritch. While
still a young man he committed to an ascetic and secluded lifestyle. Upon
his father's passing in 1772 he declined to assume leadership of the chassidic
movement, even though he was held in high esteem by all of hisfather's
main disciples. He wrote a work entitled Chesed L'Avraham. His
son, R. Shlomo Shachna of Probisht, was the father of the famed Chasidic
leader, Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin.
Avraham Landau of Chechanov[1784 - 5 Adar 1875], a disciple of R. Fishel of
Strikov and R. Simcha Bunim Of Pesishcha, was a renowned scholar and rabbinical
judge. He served as Rav and Rebbe in his community for 56 years, refusing all
offers to serve in larger, more prestigious posts. He authored _Zechuta d'Avraham,
Ahavas Chesed_, and many others. In 1943 his grave was dug up, and his body and
even his burial shrouds were completely intact!
Rabbi Avraham of Trisk
(1802 - 2 Tammuz 1889) was one of eight sons of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl.
was one of the eight sons of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, all of whom became
chasidic rebbes in their own right. In addition to being wee known because of
the success of his blessings, his approachability and friendliness to all comers
drew thousands of Chassidim to the court which he conducted for some fifty (50!)
years at Trisk. His book, Magen Avraham on the Torah and festivals, enjoys
great popularity among Chasidim, and among ywshiva students for whom it offers
Rabbi Avraham Wienberg, the Slonimer Rebbe [1804-11
Cheshvan 1883], was active in the spread of the Chasidic movement in Lithuania,
the stronghold of the opposition to the Chasidism. He was also a main organizer
of support for the religious communities in the Holy Land. His books include Chesed
L"Avraham, a deep mystical work, and Be'er Avraham on the Mechilta.
Rabbi Avraham Dov Auerbach of Avritch [1765-12 Kislev 1840], a Rebbe
in Europe for forty years and in Zefat for ten, was a disciple of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak
of Berdichev and the first two Rebbes of the Chernobyl dynasty.
One of his disciples was Rabbi Shmuel Heller, the chief rabbi of Zefat. His famous
book, Bas Ayin, was written in Europe, but he refused to allow it to be
printed until he could 'expose' it to the air of the Holy Land and refine it there.
His meeting with the philanthropist Sir Moses Montifiore in 1840 led to the beginning
of modern Jewish agricultural settlement in Israel. He is buried in the old cemetery
Rabbi Avraham Mattisyahu Fridman of Shtefanesht [1848 -
21 Tamuz 1933], in Romania, was the grandson of the holy Rabbi Yisroel of Rhzhin.
He succeeded his father, Rabbi Menachem Nochum, to be the second Rebbe in the
dynasty, in 1869. While famed for his miraculous powers and having thousands of
followers and admirers, he was also considered one of the true hidden tzadikim
of his generation. In 1969 his remains -- which witnesses alive today testify
were still as whole and fresh as the day he died! -- were exhumed and transferred
from Romania to Nachlas Yitzchok in Tel Aviv, where his grave is still a holy
site of prayer for thousands of Jews.
Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (1866 - 6 Sivan 1948), the son of
the Sfas Emmes, was the third Rebbe in the Gur dynasty. He was
the spiritual leader of over 250,000 Chassidim in pre-WW II Poland. In
1940, he managed to escape with three of his sons to Israel (then Palestine),
although the vast majority of his followers did not survive. He began
to rebuild the Gerrer community in Jerusalem, but he died there during
the siege of Jerusalem on Shavuos, 1948. He was known as the Imrei
Emmes, after the title of his major book.
Rabbi Avraham Shalom Halberstam, a descendant of the Divrei
Yehezkiel, son of the Divrei Chayim of Sanz, is the present
day Stropkov Rebbe in Jerusalem, living in Meah She'arim. He runs
several yeshivas and kolels in Jerusalem and other cities in Israel. He
is known for devoting himself to helping many who need to return to their
Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Friedman (20 Cheshvan
1819-11 Elul 1883), the first of the Sadigorer dynasty, was the second
son and successor of his famous father, the holy Rabbi Yisrael of Rhyzhin (1797-1850),
who passed away in Sadigora. His elder son, Yitzchak (1849-1917), became the first
Boyanner Rebbe. His younger son, Yisrael (1853-1907), succeeded him in Sadigora
as the rebbe of tens of thousands.
Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel (1755- 5 Nissan 1825) the Apter
Rebbe, was a main disciple of the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhinsk. He is also
often referred to as "the Ohev Yisrael," both after the
title of the famous book of his teachings, and also because its meaning
( "Lover of Jews") fits him so aptly.The Kapishnitzer Chasidic
dynasty descends from him.
Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel of Kopischnitz [4 Iyar 1888 - 16
Tammuz 1967], a great-grandson of the Ruzhiner Rebbeon his mother's side,
was named after his paternal ancestor, the Apter Rebbe. After WWI he moved
to Vienna and after WWII to New York on the Lower East Side. Wherever
he lived he was renowned for his supreme kindness and great ahavas Yisroel
(love of ones fellow Jew). His dedication to refugees of the wars was
especially extraordinary. In Israel, he opened an orphanage in Petach
Tikveh, called Beit Avraham, which exists until this day.
Rabbi Benyamin (ben Menachem Mendel) Mendelson [of blessed
memory: ?-24 Iyar 5739 (?-May 1979 C.E.)] was born in Plotzk, Poland.
He emigrated to Israel after WWII, where he became the founding rabbi
of Komemiyut, a religious moshav in the south, which under his guidance
and rabbinical leadership became one of the first settlements to observe
all the biblical and rabbinical agricultural laws which apply to the Holy
Land. He is still is considered a foremost authority on the laws of the
Rabbi Ben Zion
Halberstam of Bobov (1874- 4 Menachem Av 1941) at age thirty-one succeeded
his father, the first of the dynasty, as Rebbe of Bobov. He is often referred
to as the Kedushas Tzion, after the commentary on the Torah that he wrote. He
was murdered by the Nazis in 1941. His successor was his son Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam
(1907-2000), who rebuilt Bobov in the United States.
Rabbi Boruch of
Kosov* [?-13 Cheshvan 1782], an important disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch,
and of R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, worked actively to propagate and publicize
the ways and teachings of Chassidism. He is the author of "Yesod HaEmunah"
and "Amud HaAvoda."
to be confused with Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kosov, founder of the Vihznitz and
Rabbi Boruch of Mezhibuz [1753 - 18 Kislev,
1811] was the son of R. Yechiel Ashkenazi and Adel, the daughter of the Baal Shem
Tov.He moved from Tulchin to assume the Chasidic leadership in Mezhibuz, the town
of his holy grandfather. He was one of the pre-eminent Rebbes in the generation
of the disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch and had thousands of Chassidim.
Rabbi Chaim Vital (1543 - 30 Nisan 1620) Student of Rabbis Moshe
Alsheich and Moshe
Cordevero, but best known as the main disciple of Rabbi
Yitzchak Luria and the authoritative redactor of his doctrines, as
recorded in Etz Chaim ("Tree of Life"). Pri Etz Chaim
("Fruit of the Tree of Life"), and Shmoneh Sha'arim ("Eight
Gates"). Author of several books of his own as well. (For a
fuller biography) (For teachings of Rabbi
Chaim Vital translated into English)
Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) Ibn Atar (1696 - 15 Tammuz 1743)
is best known as the author of one of the most important and popular commentaries
on the Torah: the Ohr HaChaim. He established a major yeshiva
in Israel, after moving there from Morocco. Chassidic tradition is that
the main reason the Baal Shem Tov twice tried so hard (and failed) to
get to the Holy Land was that he said if he could join the Ohr HaChaim
there, together they could bring Moshiach. His burial site outside the
Old City of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, is considered a propitious
place to pray.
Rabbi Chaim Toledano (circa. 1700-1783) was the Rabbi of Sali
in Morocco in the generation after the Ohr HaChaim
left for Israel. In the book Tehila l'David he is described as
being "the glorious adornment of the sages...pleasing to G-d and
Rabbi Chaim-Yosef-David Azulai (circa 5484-5566; 1724-1806), better
known as the "Chida," which are the initials of
his name, is a highly respected Halachist, Kabbalist, historian and bibliographer.
Born in Jerusalem, his teachers included Rav Shalom Sharabi [the Rashash],
and Rav Chaim ben-Atar (the Ohr HaChaim). Eventually he wrote and published
71 works! His Shem HaGedolim is one of the most important source
books of Jewish literature and history. Several times he traveled abroad
for periods of over five years each, usually as an emissary of the communities
of the Holy Land, and once to serve as the Rav of Cairo. He lived the
last third of his life in Livorno (Leghorn), Italy, where he wrote most
of his major works and where he passed away at age 82 and was buried.
Rabbi Hayyim Pinto Hagadol ("the Great") [Tammuz 15,
5509 - Elul 26, 5605 (July 1, 1749 - September 28, 1845)], a descendant
of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto--the "Rif" of Ein Yaakov--was born
in Agadir, Morocco on the 6th Hilula of Rabbi Hayyim Ben Attar. At age
20, he became the head rabbinical judge in Mogador, exercising this function
for more than 70 years. The greatest Torah scholars of the generation
esteemed him, and Jews and Muslims alike venerated him. It is said that
Eliyahu Hanavi revealed himself regularly to him and studied with him.
On the day of his passing, at age 96, he promised his disciples that those
who would invoke his name on the day of his Hilula would see their prayers
Rabbi Chaim Tirar of Chernowitz [5520 - - 27 Kislev 5577 (1760
- December 1817 C.E.)] was a leading disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch
and of Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov. He authored a number of important
books, including Siduro Shel Shabbat, which explains the exaltedness
and holiness of the Seventh Day according to mystical principles of Kabbalah,
but is best known for -and by!-- the name of his esoteric commentary on
the Torah, Be'er Mayim Chaim. Towards the end of his life he moved
to Safed, where he is buried.
Rabbi Chaim Hager of Kosov (1768 - 25 Iyar 1854) succeeded his
father, R. Menachem Mendel, as Rav and Rebbe in Kossov in 1827. He is
the author of Toras Chayim. A prominent synagogue in Tsfat is named
after him. His son, Menachem Mendel, became the first Rebbe in Vishnitz.
Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz [of blessed memory: 25 Nissan 5553
- 25 Nissan 5636 (April 1793-April 1876 C.E.)] was the first Rebbe of
the Sanz-Klausenberg dynasty. He is famous for his extraordinary dedication
to the mitzvah of tzedaka and also as a renowned Torah scholar;
his voluminous and wide-ranging writings were all published under the
title Divrei Chaim. His eldest son founded the famous Sanzer synagogue
in Tsfat in the middle 1800's.
Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin [8 Sivan 5509 - 14 Sivan 5581 (June 1749
- June 1821 c.e.)] was the main disciple of the Gaon of Vilna, who selected
him to establish a yeshiva in 1802. The Volozhin Yeshiva became the most
important and most influential in Lithuania. His major work is the Nefesh
Ha-Chaim (perhaps inspired, some say, by the popularity of Tanya), dealing
with complex spiritual issues.
Rabbi Chaim Meir Yechiel Shapira of Mogelnitz (?-5 Iyar 5609/1849)
was raised and taught by his maternal grandfather, the Koznitzer Maggid.
He married the granddaughter of the Rebbe R. Elimelech of Lyzhinsk.
He was also the disciple of four leading figures of his generation: the
rebbes of Lublin, Pesichah, Apta, and Ruzhin.
Rabbi Chaim Chizkiya Medini [1832 - 24 Kislev 1904] was born and
raised in Jerusalem. After many years in Turkey, Buchara and the Crimea,
he returned to the Holy Land in 1878 and became the head of the rabbinical
court and main yeshiva in Hebron in 1880, where he successfully
revitalized the Jewish educational and social institutions. He is best
known for his monumental, universally-acclaimed 18-volume Talmudic and
halachic encyclopedia, S'dei Chemed (the only non-Chabad book ever
published by the official Chabad publishing company). Even the Arab inhabitants
of Hebron accepted him as a holy man. After his burial they tried to steal
his body and bury him in a mosque, but were unsuccessful.
Rabbi Chaim (Ben Baruch) Of Antunia [1863 - 25 Kislev 1931],
had many followers. He also served as the head of the Bukaviner Kollel.
Many of his teachings are published in "Tal Chaim."
Rabbi Chaim-Elazar Spira, the Munkaczer Rebbe (Dec 17,
1871- 2 Sivan, 1937) wrote and published over twenty books on the Jewish
Law, Torah, chasidism, and religious philosophy and customs. His most
notable work which made him world famous was the scholarly work, Minchas
Elazar, which contains six volumes.
Rabbi Chaim Zanvil Abramowitz (1890's-24 Tishrei, 1995), the Ribnitzer
Rebbe, was a main disciple of Rabbi Avrohom Matisyohu of Shtefanesht,
grandson of the "holy Rhyzhiner." The Ribnitzer was aacknowledged
by all Jews across the spectrum as a renowned performer of miracles. After
emigrating from Russia in 1973, he subsequently lived in Jerusalem and
Monsey, NY. It is known that from the 1930s until the end of his life
he fasted on all days when it is permitted to do so under Jewish law.
Rebbetzin Chaya "Moussia" Schneerson (25 Adar 5661-
22 Shvat 5748 / March 1901- Feb. 1988 C.E.) was the daughter of the sixth
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef-Yitzchak Schneersohn. On 14 Kislev 5689
(Dec. 1928 C.E.), She married the next-Rebbe-to-be, her distant cousin,
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (5662-5754/1902=1994 C.E.), in Warsaw,
in a wedding attended by many Chasidic rebbes and leading Torah scholars
of the generation. She devoted herself totally to supporting her husband
in his role as a leader of world Jewry, and was known in her own right
for her modesty, eruditeness and plethora of good deeds.
Rabbi David Twerski of Tolna [1808-10 Iyar 1882],
son of the famed tzadik, Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, had thousands of
chasidim that relied on his leadership. His works include Magen David.
There is a Tolner Shul in Safed even today.
Rabbi David Moshe
Friedman (20 Cheshvan 1828-21 Tishrei1903), the first Chortkover Rebbe,
was the fifth of the holy six sons of the famed R. Yisrael of Rhyzhin (1797-1850),
who attracted a large following after the death of his father. He is the author
of Divrei Dovid.
Rabbi David Biederman of Lelov (1746 - 7
Shvat 1814) was a close follower of the "Seer" of Lublin. He was known
for his extraordinary compassion for, and inability to see faults in, his fellow
Jews. His main disciple was Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki, whose son, Yaakov David,
was the first Amshinov Rebbe. Two printed collections of stories about him are
Migdal David and Kodesh Halulim.
Rabbi David Zvi
Shlomo Biederman (1844-5 Elul 1918) was one of the most respected rabbinical
figures in old Jerusalem through World War I, and the leader of its Chassidic
community. He was the official head of Kollel Warsaw, and in 1883 succeeded his
father as Lelover Rebbe.
Rabbi David of Zubeltov (1797 -
25 Iyar 1846) was the son of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kosov and the son-in-law
of Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov. He became a rebbe in his own right at the young
age of 29. He was held in great respect for his wisdom, even by the other rebbes
of his generation.
Rabbi Dov Ber [of blessed memory: c.5460 - 19 Kislev 5533 (c.1700-
Dec. 1772 C.E.)], the son of Avraham and Chava, known as the Maggid
of Mezritch, succeeded his master, the Baal Shem Tov, as the
head of the Chasidic movement. Most of the leading chasidic dynasties
stem from his disciples and his descendents. The classic anthologies of
his teachings are Likutei Amarim and Torah Ohr (combined
by Kehos Publishing as Maggid Devorav l'Yaakov), and Ohr HaEmmes.
Rabbi DovBer Shneuri [9 Kislev 1773 - 9 Kislev 1827] was the eldest
son and successor to Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of the Chabad movement.
The author of numerous deep, mystical texts, he is known in Lubavitch
circles as "the Mittler (Middle) Rebbe."
Rabbi Dov-Berisch Weidenfeld, [of blessed memory: 5 Shevat 5641
- 10 Mar-cheshvan, 5726 (January 1881-October 1965 BCE)], the "Tchebiner
Rav," served as the chief rabbi of Tchebin, Poland, until World
War II when he was exiled to Siberia and from there to Bucharest. After
the Holocaust, he came to Israel, where he was immediately accepted as
one of the Torah giants of the generation. Soon after he re-established
his yeshiva, Kochav MiYaakov, in Jerusalem. Three volumes of his great
work, Sheilos Uteshuvos Dovev Meishorim, have been published. Many more
were lost in the war.
Eliezer Ascari (1533-1600), a disciple of the Ramak
(Rabbi Moshe Cordevero), subsequently became famous as the author of Sefer Chareidim.
He also authored a commentary on the tractate of Brachot in the Jerusalem Talmud,
and is the composer of the popular Shabbat prayer-hymn: Yedid Nefesh.
Elazar Menachem-Mendel (ben Moshe Biderman) of Lelov (1827 - 16 Adar
1883), moved to Israel at age 24 with his father in 1841. After his father passed
away that same year, he became the chasidic leader of the Jerusalem Old City community
for the next 42 years, and was also highly respected by all the non-chasidim as
Rabbi Elazar of Reishe (1839-15 Tamuz 1910), a city in Galicia,
Poland, was a great-grandson of the Rebbe Elimelech of Lyzhinsk. He was best known
for miraculous healings, and for his book, Mishna Lemelech, on the weekly
Rebbe Eliezer Zusia Portugal [1 Cheshvan, 1898 -
29 Av 1982], the Skulener Rebbe, immigrated to the USA in 1960,
after imprisonment in Rumania and international efforts to secure his release.
He is the author of Noam Eliezer and Kedushas Eliezer, and was a
prominent follower of the Shtefaneshter Rebbe, but is best known for his superhuman
efforts to rescue Jewish orphans and refugees in Eastern Europe before, during
and after WWII and his continuing support of them, and his Chessed L'Avraham
network of schools for children that continue until today. Those who merited
to be in his presence were astonished by the length of his prayers and the beauty
and intensity of the tunes that he composed, many of which have become internationally
Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzhinsk [of blessed memory: 5477 - 21 Adar
5547 (1717 - March 1787 C.E.)], was a major disciple of the Maggid
of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov, and the leading
Rebbe of the subsequent generation in Poland-Galitzia. Most of the great
Chassidic dynasties stem from his disciples. His book, Noam Elimelech,
is one of the most popular of all Chassidic works.
Rabbi Eliyahu Hakohen of Izmir, Turkey [1650 - 1 Adar B 1729],
is best known as the author of Shevet Mussar, a major work
of Torah ethics and morality. He also wrote Midrash Talpiot. In the historical
work, Shem HaGedolim, it states, "Rabbi Eliyahu HaKohen of Izmir
wrote almost 40 books and turned many away from sin with his public lectures."
Eliyahu Kramer, the Gaon of Vilna (1720 - 19 Tishrei 1797) was one of the
most prominent figures in the Torah world of recent centuries, his erudition covered
the entire field of Torah scholarship (as well as natural sciences and mathematics)
on which he wrote some 70 works. Despite his extreme seclusion - his ascetic assiduity
has become proverbial - he exerted a powerful influence on Jewish affairs.
Feivish (Meshulam Feivish) HaLevi of Zabriza (Zebariz) studied under R. Yechiel
Michel of Zlotchov and R. Dov Ber of Mezritch. He was an authority on the laws
of writing Torah scrolls. His disciples included R. Menachem Mendel of Kosov.
His Yosher Divrei Emes is a basic work on chasidic thought, and his teachings
appear also in Likutim Yekarim.
Rabbi Fischel ("Fisheleh")
Shapira of Strickov (1743 - 17 Tevet 1822) was a disciple successively of
the Magid of Mezritch, the Rebbe Elimelech and the Seer of Lublin. He was known
for his extreme modesty and humility. His colleagues referred to him as "Oleh
Temimah" - "the unblemished offering.
[1764 - 16 Sivan 1813], the daughter of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was an erudite and
pious woman. As his first-born, and a special soul, she was especially dear to
her father and he would frequently deliver Chasidic discourses just for her. One
of her sons, Rabbi Aharon Zaslavski of Kremenchug, married Rebbetzin Chaya, the
daughter of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.
Rabbi Gershon of Kitov [?
- ca.1760] was the brother-in-law of the Baal Shem Tov and subsequently an important
disciple. He was the recipient of the famous letter from the Besht about his visit
to the heavenly abode of Moshiach, as well as other important correspondence.
In 1747 he moved to the Land of Israel, living first in Hebron and then in Jerusalem.
Hillel of Paritsh (1795-13 Av/Shabbat Nachamu 1864) was a chassid of
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Tsemach Tsedek, and as the chassidim used
to say, "half a rebbe" in his own right. He served as the Rabbi of Bobruisk
for many years, and authored Pelach HaRimon, a work of deep chassidic thought.
Rabbi Klonymos Kalman Halevi Epstein (?-1823), better known as
the Maor Vashemesh ("Light and Sun"), the title
of his mystical Torah commentary, was among the most celebrated of the
followers of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk. The Seer of Lublin said that
R' Klonymos was the reincarnation of the Tana Rabbi Eliezer ben Charsom,
who was a Kohen Gadol (high priest) during the Second Temple. In 1785
he started heading the Jewish community of Cracow. At the end of his life
he moved to the Holy Land. He is buried in the old cemetery of Tsfat.
Rabbi Leib Sarah's [of blessed memory: 5490 - 4 Adar I 5556 (1730
- Feb. 1796 C.E.)] was held in high esteem by the Baal Shem Tov.
One of the "hidden tzaddikim," he spent his life wandering from
place to place to raise money for the ransoming of imprisoned Jews and
the support of other hidden tzaddikim. The Lubavitcher Rebbe stated the
possibility that Rabbi Leib Sarah's and the Shpoler Zeide are the
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak (Deberamdiger) of Berditchev [of blessed
memory: 5500 - 25 Tishrei 5571 (1740 - Oct. 1810)] is one of the most
popular rebbes in chassidic history. He was a close disciple of the Maggid
of Mezritch. He is best known for his love for every Jew and his active
efforts to intercede for them against (seemingly) adverse heavenly decrees.
Many of his teachings are contained in the posthumously published, Kedushat
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson [1878-20 Av 1944], father of the
Lubavitcher Rebbe, was considered by the Rebbe Reshab to be one
of his three greatest chassidim. An outstanding scholar and one of the
leading Kabbalists of the first half of the 20th century, he was the Chief
Rabbi of Yekaterinoslav (a major Ukrainian city, today called Dniepropetrovsk)
until his arrest on the day before Passover in 1939. He was sentenced
to exile in Kazakhstan, in the village of Chi'ili, where his health rapidly
deteriorated. His extensive writings while in exile crammed into the margins
of his books, were rescued, smuggled out, and brought to his son in Brooklyn.
A number of volumes in the projected multi-volume set called Toldot
Levi Yitzchak have already been published.
Rabbi Meir of Primishlan [of blessed memory: ?
- 29 Iyar 5610 (? - May 1850 C.E.)], lived in abject but uncomplaining
poverty, yet exerted himself tirelessly for the needy and the suffering.
His divine inspiration and his ready wit have become legendary. He wrote
no works, but some of his teachings were collected and published by his
Chassidim after his death.
Rabbi Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtze (1851-19 Adar 1928) was a disciple
of R. Elimelech of Grodzinsk, who said that he would account it a privilege
if after his death R. Meir Yechiel would refer to him as his rebbe. An
outstanding scholar who lived an ascetic lifestyle, he led a following
of learned chassidim. His intricate sermons, which drew heavily on gematria,
came to be known as "Ostgrovotze pshetlach." They have
been collected in Meir Einei Chachamim, and his teachings on Bereishit
in Or Torah.
Rabbi Meir Abuhatzira, popularly called "Baba Meir"
(10 Tevet 1917 - 17 Nissan 1983), was the oldest son and designated spiritual
successor of the Baba Sali. The Lubavitcher Rebbe indicated
in private conversation that he was one of the pillars of the world. However,
he pre-deceased his illustrious father by two years. Born and educated
in Morocco where he became there one of the most important rabbis of his
generation as well as an accomplished Kabbalis. In 19??, he made aliyah
and moved to Ashdod, where, after turning down an offer to be chief rabbi
of Jerusalem, he lived reclusively for the rest of his life. Today, his
son Rabbi David, chief rabbi of Nahariya, is considered the scion of the
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk/Horodok [of blessed memory: 5490
- 1 Iyar 5548 (1730 - May 1788 C.E.)] was an elder disciple of the Magid
of Mizritch and one of the earliest Chasidic rebbes. He led the first
modern aliyah to Israel, in 1777, where he and three hundred Chasidim
and others settled in Tsefat (Safed). After a few years they moved to
Tiberias, where he is buried in the "students of the Baal Shem Tov"
section of the Old Cemetery. His works include Pri HaAretz and
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager of Kosov (1768
- 17 Cheshvan 1826) was the son of a close disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, and
himself a disciple of R. Moshe Leib of Sasov. He conducted a modest business until
persuaded by his contemporaries to become rav of Kosov, to which thousands of
Jews then flocked. Both the Vizinitz and Kosov dynasties stem from
him. His teachings are collected in Ahavas Shalom.
Mendel of Riminov [?-19 Iyar 1815],.was an important Rebbe in the third generation
of hassidism. His was a main disciple of the Rebbe Elimelech, and many rebbes
of the succeeding generation studied with him. His teachings are collected in
Menachem Zion and other works.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn [of blessed memory: 29 Elul
5549 - 13 Nissan 5626 (Sept. 1789 - April 1866)], the Third Rebbe of Chabad,
was known as the Tsemech Tzedek, after his books of Halachic
responsa and Talmudic commentary called by that name. He was renowned
not only as a Rebbe, but also as a leading scholar in his generation in
both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe [n.d.:
11 Nissan 5662 - 3 Tammuz 5754 (April 1902 - June 1994 C.E.)], became
the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law's passing
on 10 Shvat 5710 (1950 C.E.) He is widely acknowledged as the greatest
Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century. Although a dominant
scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah and fluent in
many languages and scientific subjects, the Rebbe is best known for his
extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet. His emissaries
around the globe dedicated to strengthening Judaism number in the thousands.
Hundreds of volumes of his teachings have been printed, as well as dozens
of English renditions.
Rabbi Menachem-Mendel ("Reb Mendel") Futerfas (1906
- 4 Tammuz 1995), was a near legendary Lubavitcher chasid, even for those
who knew him personally. In 1947 he was arrested for administrating networks
of underground yeshivas and Jewish schools, and for facilitating the repatriation
of thousands of Soviet Jews to Poland after WWII, and sentenced to 8 years
in Soviet prisons and labor camps, which he went through without compromising
any religious observances, despite the cruel pressure to do so. After
another six years in Siberian exile he was allowed to emigrate to England,
thanks to an appeal for family repatriation made by prime minister Harold
Wilson during his summit meeting in Moscow with Chairman Nikita Khrushchev.
In 1973 settled in Kfar Chabad, Israel, for the rest of his life.
Rabbi Menachem Nachum, the Maggid of Chernobyl [of blessed
memory: 5490 - 11 Cheshvan 5548 (1730-1787 C.E.)] and founder of the Chernobyl
dynasty, was a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov and senior disciple of the
Maggid of Mezritch. He is the author of Meor Enayim.
Rabbi Menachem Kalish of Amshinov [of blessed memory: 5620 - 16
Kislev 5578 (1860 - Dec. 1917 C.E.)], succeeded his father, Rav Yaakov
Dovid Kalish, the first in the Amshinov dynasty, in 1878, at the young
age of 18. Highly active and effective in deeds of kindness on behalf
of the Jewish community, he was referred to by the Sefas Emmes Rebbe
of Gur as "a remainder from the greatest supreme rabbinical court"
(in the early years of the Second Temple--see Avot 1:2). One of his sons,
Rabbi Yosef, became Rebbe in Amshinov, while a second son, Shimon-Shalom,
became a Rebbe in Otvotsk. The latter's great-grandson, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh
Milikowski, is the current Amshinover Rebbe in Jerusalem (his father around
that time was the Head of a Yeshiva in Tsfat!).
Rabbanit Menucha-Rachel Slonim [of blessed memory: 5558 - 24 Shvat
5648 (1798- Feb. 1888 C.E.)], for many decades the matriarch of
the Ashkenazic Jewish community in Hevron, was the daughter of the second
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi DovBer Schneuri. She and her husband, Rabbi Yaakov
Slonim, were sent to Hevron by the Rebbe in the early 1800's to bolster
its fledging Chabad congregation (originally started by fifteen Chabad
fanilies who moved there from Zefat!). Her grave there is today a place
Rabbi Meshulam-Zushya of Anapoli (see Zushya)
Rabbi Chaim Michoel Dov Weissmandl [1903 - 6 Kislev 1957] made
extraordinary but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to save the Jews of
Slovakia during the Holocaust. A survivor himself, he subsequently moved
to USA and in 1946 founded the Nitra yeshiva in Somerville New Jersey,
an attempt to inaugurate a Talmudic agricultural community. He subsequently
moved the yeshiva to Mt. Kisco, NY, where it still exists and flourishes.
Today he is best known for his pioneering work on Torah Codes in an era
Rebbetzin Miriam-Chaya Moscovitz was the daughter of the well-known
chasidic rebbe, Rabbi Meir of Primishlan. She married Rabbi Yoel Moscovitz,
who became the first Rebbe of Shotz. Her third son, named Meir after his
illustrious maternal grandfather, became the second Rebbe of the dynasty.
She herself was known to have the power to bless, and helped countless
number of people.
Rabbi Mordechai ("Mottel") of Chernobyl [of blessed
memory: 5530 - 20 Iyar 5697 (1770 - May 1837 C.E.)], successor to his
father, Rabbi Nachum, was the son-in-law of Rabbi Aharon the Great of
Karlin and subsequently of Rabbi David Seirkes, an important disciple
of the Baal Shem Tov. His eight sons all became major Chasidic leaders.
One of them Yaakov Yisrael Twerski of Cherkassy, the first Hornsteipel
Rebbe, married Devora Leah, one of the six daughters of Rabbi DovBer of
Lubavitch, son of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (match arranged by the
two grandfather-Rebbes), in order to maximize the possibilities for fulfillment
of the prediction, "the Moshiach will be born of the elder disciple
of the Maggid of Mezritch or the youngest."
Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitch (? - 15 Tishrei 1810), disciple
of R. Shlomo of Karlin; known for the fervor of his prayers, and for being
exceedingly charitable, particularly toward the poor of Eretz Yisrael.
Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna [?-15 Tishrei
1895], the great grandson of Rabbi Meir "The Great" of Premishlan, was
orphaned early and raised by his uncle, the famous Rebbe, Meirl of Premishlan
(see below). Chassidim from all over Rumania and Hungary streamed in to receive
his blessings. An extraordinarily large number of his descendents became Chassidic
leaders and Rebbes, including dozens in the world today. His teachings are collected
in Gedulas Mordechai.
R. Mordechai of Neshchiz [1740 - 8 Nissan
1800] was descended from the Maharal of Prague and Don Yitzchak Abarbanel. He
was a disciple of R. Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov. The ill and the unfortunate came
to visit him from long distances. It is recorded that he never uttered a negative
word about another person. He actively supported settlement in Eretz Yisrael.
He was succeeded by his son, R. Yitzchak of Neshchiz. His sayings were collected
in Rishpei Eish.
Rabbi Mordechai Dov Twerski of Hornisteipel
[1840-1904] was named after his two maternal great-grandfathers, Rabbi Mordechai
of Chernobyl and Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch. He was also a direct descendant of
Rabbi Zusha of Anipoli and the son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim of Sanz. A highly respected
Talmudic scholar, he was also the author of a popular book of Chasidic guidance,
Rabbi Mordechai-Tzemach (ben Suliman) Eliyahu
(1929-25 Sivan 2010), the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, was born in
Iraq. A noted sage in all areas of Torah study, as well as a significant kabbalist,
he was considered to be one of the leading authorities on Jewish law in Israel.
His son, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, is currently the Chief Rabbi of Tsfat.
Mordechai ("Mottele") Twersky from Rachmistrivka (?- 17 Iyar 1921)
moved to Jerusalem from Europe in 1908. He was known for his sharp mind and many
business men used to seek his advice. He himself was a skilled craftsman, who
did complex engravings from silver and copper. His father, Rabbi Yochanan Twerski,
son of the famous Rebbe Mottele of Chernobyl, was the first Rebbe of the Rachmistrivka
Rabbi Mordechai Shraga of Husyatin (20 Iyar 1834 - 22 Iyar
1894) was one of the six sons of Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin who became the head of
a dynasty in Galicia. His thousands of Chassidim included many prominent scholars.
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, known as 'RaMBaN' or 'Nachmanides'
[1194 - 11 Nissan (!) 1270], is accepted as one of the all-time great
Talmudic and Scriptural scholars. He was also a master kabbalist, a major
link in the transmission of Jewish mysticism. He is well-known as a champion
defender of the Jewish faith, as a result of his participation and victory
in a famous debate again Cristian clergy in 1263. As a result, he was
expelled from Spain. Subsequently, he moved to the Holy Land at age 70
where he composed his immortal commentary on the Five Books of Moses,
of which there exists an excellent annotated English translation, Nachmanides
on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel.
Rabbi Moshe Al-Sheich [of blessed memory: 5268 - 13 Nissan 5353
(1508 - April 1593 C.E.)] was the author of many works, including
important analytical explanations of Scriptures, which are highly regarded
even today (and in recent years have become available in English). He
was a student of R. Yosef Caro and member of his Beit Din in Tsfat.
He is buried in the old cemetery of Tsfat. (For a fuller
Rabbi Moshe De Leon (1238-1305) of Guadalhajara, Spain,
is best known as the first publisher of the Zohar (the teachings of second
century mishnaic sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, as recorded by his students that
constitute the primary text of Kabbalah). He is also the author of the Kabbalah
tome, Shekel HaKodesh.
Rabbi Moshe Kordevero (1522-23 Tammuz
1570), known by the anacronym of his name: Ramak, was considered
the head of the Tsfat Kabbalists until his death shortly after the arrival
of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria. Author of many major works of Kabbalah, including
Pardes Rimonim ("Orchard of Pomegranates"), in which he systematized
all kabbalistic knowledge that had been revealed until then. (For a fuller
Rabbi Moshe ben Mordechai Galante [of blessed memory: 5300-5374
(1540-1614 C.E.)] was one of four (along with Rabbi Yosef Caro, author
of Shulchan Aruch) to receive semicha from Rabbi Yaakov Beirav
in the 'renewal of semicha' controversy. He and his older brother Avraham,
who subsequently became the city's chief rabbi, lived in Tsfat
in the 1500's.
Rabbi Moshe ben Yonatan Galante [of blessed memory: ?-5449 (?-1689
C.E.)], was the grandson of Rabbi Moshe ben Mordechai Galente (see story
#1 in this book). He moved from Tsfat to Jerusalem around the year 5415
(1655 C.E.), where he became the Chief Rabbi of the city and was known
as "Rav HaMagen." He also founded a large yeshiva there,
and was succeeded as its head by his main student, the great rabbinical
suthority known as the "Pri Chadash."
Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudylkov [1748 - 17 Iyar 1800 was the son of R. Yechiel
Ashkenazi and Adel, the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov. He authored one of the
first primers of Chasidic thought, Degel Machaneh Ephraim ("Banner
of the Camp of Ephraim"), and thereafter was popularly known as "the
Degel." His holy grandfather testified about him that he was a Talmudic genius.
He served as the rabbi of Sudylkov for several decades, but then retired to Medzibuz,
the town of the Baal Shem Tov, at the end of his life, where he passed away and
Rabbi Moshe Pallier of Kobrin [1784 - 29 Nisan 1858] was
a close follower of the Rebbe, R. Mordechai of Lechovitch and afterwards of his
son, R. Noach. In 1833 he became the first Rebbe of the Kobrin dynasty, with thousands
of chassidim, many of whom subsequently moved to Eretz Yisroel. His teachings
are collected in Imros Taharos.
Rabbi Moshe Shreiber [1762-1839],
was a giant of Torah known as the 'Chasam Sofer,' after the title
of his volumes of responsa which have been significant to a high degree in the
modern development of Jewish law and thought. The yeshiva he founded in Pressburg
was the largest in Europe for many decades.
Rebbe Moshe of Peshevorsk
(1720 - 12 Tevet 1806) was the predecessor of the Peshevorsk dynasty (which since
1956 has been based in Antwerp). He was held in high esteem by the brothers R.
Elimelech and R. Zusha, and many other chassidic giants. It is said of him that
Rabbi Moshe Alshich often appeared to him and taught him Torah. His was famous
for the perfection and purity of the Torah, tefilin and mezuzah scrolls that he
scribed, which were eagerly sought after and are extremely valuable. He is the
author of the acclaimed Ohr Penei Moshe, commentary on the Five Books of
Moses and the five Megillot, and a subsequent volume on the Talmud.
Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sossov (1745-4 Shvat 1807) was the leading
disciple of Reb Shmelke of Nicholsburg. He also received from the
Maggid of Mezritch and from Elimelech of Lyzhinsk. Subsequently
a Rebbe in his own right with many followers, he was famous primarily
for his love of his fellow Jews and his creative musical talent. His teachings
are contained in the books, Likutei RaMal, Toras ReMaL Hashalem,
and Chidushei RaMal.
Rabbi Moshe-Zvi Giterman of Sevran [of blessed memory: 5535 -
27 Tevet 5597 (1775 - Dec. 1837 C.E.)] was a disciple of his father, whom
he succeeded as Maggid of Savran in 1802, and of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of
and Rabbi Boruch of Mezhibuz. He later became the Rabbi of Berditchev
after the passing of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak in 1810, and subsequently of
the towns of Uman and Kishinev as well. He had thousands of chasidim.
His Torah insights were collected and printed in the book, Likutey
Moshe Teitelbaum [1759-28 Tammuz 1841], known as the Yismach Moshe after
the title of his book of Torah commentary, was famed both as a scholar and wonderworker.
A disciple of the Seer of Lublin, he was instrumental in the spread of Chasidut
in Hungary. His descendants founded the dynasties of Satmar and Sighet.
Moshe Biederman of Lelov [? - 13 Tevet 1851] was the son of R. David of Lelov
and the son-in-law of "the Holy Yid " of Pshischah. He declined to officially
succeed his father as rebbe, considering himself unworthy of the position. He
moved to Israel in 1851, where he helped to strengthen the Chassidic community
in Jerusalem, although he passed away shortly after his arrival. He is buried
on the Mount of Olives, near the prophet Zacharia.
Rabbi Moshe Mordechai
Biderman (1903 - 24 Tevet 1987), sixth-generation Rebbe of Lelov, lived
in Tel Aviv for many years, then moving to Bnei Brak in 1964. He was accepted
also by many Karliner chasidim as the new Rebbe after the passing of Rabbi Yochanan
of Karlin-Stolin in 1956. When the sacred Kotel was recaptured in 1967, of all
the Chassidishe Rebbes, he visited it most. His prayers there lasted most of the
day. Because of his attachment to the Kotel, he moved back to Jerusalem and remained
there until 1981, at which time he became too weak to visit the Kotel and returned
to Bnei Brak. He is the author of Kedushas Mordechai.
Feinstein (1895 - 13 Adar B 1986) was born in Uzdan, near Minsk, Belorussia.
He became rabbi of Luban while young and remained there till 1937. After that
he immigrated with his family to the United States, to the Lower East Side of
Manhattan. There he became Rosh HaYeshivah of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim, which
became world-famous because of his presence. He also became the most important
halachic authority in the Americas, and his rulings were accepted worldwide. They
have been published in a multi-volume collection called Igrot Moshe.
Rabbi Moshe Weber [of blessed memory: 5 Kislev 5675 - 18 Adar
A 5760 (1914 - March 2000 C.E.)] was a central and beloved figure in Jerusalem's
religious community. Nearly every day he went to the Western Wall from
his home in Meah Shearim to pray and to help visitors wrap tefillin. Less
publicly, he distributed enormous sums of tzedakah to the city's poor.
It is known that, decades ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said of him that
he is one of the holiest and kindest people in the world. He published
several volumes of Torah insights in Yarim Moshe. There is an ongoing
periodical of his teachings distributed weekly called Shemu V'Techi
Nafshechem, which also offers for sale his audio recordings.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772 - 18 Tishrei 1810)
was the great grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. From early youth he set out on his
distinctive path in divine service -- ascetic study, solitary mediation, fiery
worship. His chasidim learned from him as well their lifelong quest for atonement,
the impossibility of despair for the man of faith, and a unique concept of the
nature and role of the tzadik. After a brief stay in the Holy Land the controversial
young Rebbe settled in Breslov in 1800, and then in Uman in 1802. His burial place
there in the Ukraine is a popular place of pilgrimage for his chasidim (and many
others), especially on Rosh Hashana. Most of his teachings were recorded by his
disciple R. Nasan Stenhartz. His books include Likkutei Maharan (kabbalistic and
moral teachings), and Sippurei Maasiot (stories). A large amount of his teachings
have been translated into English.
Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz [of blessed memory: 6 Sivan 5520 (the
same day as the Baal Shem Tov's passing!) - 11 Iyar 5587 (1760-1827 C.E.)]
became the rebbe of many thousands of chassidim. He was noted for his
sharp wit and humor and his elusive sparkling aphorisms. Some of his teachings
are collected in his works, Zera Kodesh, Ayalah Sheluchah, and
Imrei Shefer. Many stories about him appear in the book, Ohel Naftoli.
Rabbi Nosson Dovid (ben
Yerachmiel Rabinowitz) of Shidlowitz (1814 - 7 Cheshvan 1866) was the grandson
of the "Holy Yid" of Peshishcha and a miracle-working Rebbe of thousands
in his own right. His sons and several of his disciples also became rebbes.
Nota of Chelm [17??-18??], a disciple of Rebbe Elimelech of Lyzhinsk,
became a Rebbe in his own right and acquired many followers. He is the author
of Nota Sha'ashuim.
Rabbi Pinchas (ben R. Avraham Abba Shapiro)
of Koretz (1726 - 10 Elul 1791) was considered to be one of the two most
pre-eminent followers of Chassidism's founder, the Baal Shem Tov (along
with his successor, the Maggid of Mezritch). His teachings appear in various
collections (such as Midrash Pinchas), and are cited in the classic Bnei
Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz (1730-7 Tammuz
1805) was a follower of the Maggid of Mezritch, along with his older brother,
Rabbi Shmuel ("Shmelke") of Nicholsburg (1726-2 Iyar 1778). He
attained scholarly repute as the author of Hafla'ah (on Talmud and halacha),
HaMikneh (same) and Panim Yafos (on Scripture), and became the chief
Rabbi of Frankfurt. Like many rabbinical authors, he is commonly referred to by
the title of his most famous work, in this case as the Ba'al Hafla'ah.
His most illustrious student was R. Moshe Schreiber, the famed Chattam Sofer.
Rabbi Raphael HaKohen of Hamburg (1722-1803) was a prominent scholar
and author of Toras Yekusiel. He was the chief rabbi of several major towns in
Lithuania. He is famed for his saintly conduct. His disciples included the celebrated
Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin.
Rebbetzin Rivka Schneerson (1833- 10 Shvat 1914) a granddaughter
of Rabbi DovBer, the 2nd Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, at age 16 married
her first cousin, Rabbi Shmuel, who later became the fourth Lubavitcher
Rebbe. Surviving her husband by 33 years, for many years she was the esteemed
matriarch of Lubavitch, and chasidim frequented her home to listen to
her accounts of the early years of Lubavitch. She is the source of many
of the stories recorded in the talks, letters and memoirs of her grandson,
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe). The Beis Rivka network
of girls' schools are named after her.
Rabbi Salman Mutzafi (1900 - 17 Tevet 1975) was
a descendant of an illustrious family of Torah scholars who first arrived
in Baghdad during the Spanish expulsion. After serving many years as the
city's chief rabbi, he moved to Israel where he founded the Bnei Zion
Yeshiva. Recognized as one of the great kabbalists of his generation,
he is also the compiler of Siftei Tzaddikim: a guide for visiting
the graves of special righteous Jews buried in Israel.
Rabbi Sar Sholom of Belz [1779-27 Elul
1855] was the first of the Belz chassidic dynasty. He became the main rebbe of
Galician jewry, and had tens of thousands of chassidim. His teachings are collected
in Dover Shalom.
Rabbi Shabtai Slavtitski is the head Lubavitcher emissary in Belgium.
He has a large congregation in Antwerp, where he is well respected rabbinical
Rabbi Shalom Shachna (Friedmann) of Probisht (1766-1803) was the
son of R. Avraham the Malach and grandson of Rabbi Dov Ber (the Maggid)
of Mezritch. His wife was the granddaughter of Rebbe Nachum of Chernobyl.
One of their sons was the famed chasidic leader, Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin.
Shaul Yedidya Elazer Taub [21 Tishrei 1886 - 16 Kislev 1947], the second Modzitzer
Rebbe, succeeded his father, Rabbi Yisrael, in 1920. At the outbreak of WWII
he left Poland and eventually arrived in New York in 1940. He traveled extensively,
bringing Torah and niggunim to many communities, of which he composed close
to 1000 compositions! On his fourth and last trip to the Land of Israel in 1947
he fully intended to remain and settle, but he passed away that same year. He
was the last person buried on the Mount of Olives until after the 6 Day War.
Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the most important sages in Jewish history,
lived over 1800 years ago. Teachings in his name abound throughout the Mishnah,
Gemorrah, and Midrashim, while the Zohar, the primary source text
of Kabbalah, is built around Rabbi Shimon's revelations to his inner circle of
disciples. During the hours before his passing, on Lag b'Omer, he
disclosed the "most sublime" secrets of Torah, in order to ensure that
the day would always be an occasion for great joy, untouched by sadness because
of the Omer period and mourning for him. The seminal importance of the Zohar in
Jewish thought and the annual pilgrimage to Meron on Lag b"Omer are testimonies
to his success
Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz (1500-1580), a major kabbalist in 16th century
Tsfat, was the author of many important commentaries on Torah and
Kabbala. He is best known as the composer of the famous liturgical poem
"Lecha Dodi" (Come My Beloved"), sung by Jews worldwide
to welcome the Shabbat. (More about Rabbi
Shlomo Alkabetz; a new translation and commentary for Lecha
Rabbi Shlomo Luria, the "Maharshal," was
one of the leading Torah scholars of the sixteenth century. His writings are studied
and venerated still today. He served as Rabbi and head of the Rabbinical court
in Lublin, one of the most important centers of Jewish life at that time. He was
a relative of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, apparently his great uncle.
R. Shlomo of Karlin [1738-22 Tammuz 1792], was also a student
of the Maggid, as well as of Reb Aharon the Great of Karlin, whom he succeeded
in 1772, as well as adopting his orphan son. Most of the Chassidic leaders
of the next generation in the Lithuanian region were his disciples. He
died Kiddush HaShem, stabbed by a Cossack while in the midst of
the Amida prayer. His adopted son, Rabbi Asher, became the first
Rebbe of Stolin.
Rabbi Shlomo of Bobov [1848 -
1 Tammuz 1906] was the first rebbe of the Bobover dynasty, which he became shortly
following the death of his renowned grandfather, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. He
was noted for strengthening the Judaism of the younger generation and founding
numerous yeshivas. His chasidim numbered in the thousands.
(ben Benzion) Halberstam of Bobov, [1907 - 1 Av 2000], survived the Holocaust
along with only 300 chasidim, succeeding his father who was among those martyred.
Settling in Manhattan and then different locations in Brooklyn, he served as the
third rebbe in the Bobover dynasty for over 50 years, rebuilding Bobov to an even
more thousands than his father had before the war. In addition to being wise and
pious, he was noted for his steadfastness in not taking sides in disputes. Interestingly,
he passed away on the same Hebrew date as Aharon the High Priest, who was the
first Jew to be known for "loving peace and pursuing peace" (Avot 1:12).
Shlomo HaKohen Rabinowitz of Radomsk [1803-29 Adar 1866] was the author of
Tiferet Shlomo. His speaking ability and musical voice attracted thousands
of Chasidic followers.
Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer Alfandri (1820 - 22 Iyar 1930) was born in
Istanbul, Turkey, where his reputation for piety and wisdom was established
at a young age. He served as the chief rabbi in Istanbul (unofficially)
and Damascus, and subsequently in Safed for 20 years toward the end of
his life. He passed away at age 110 (!) in Jerusalem. Eight days before,
the world-renowned Rebbe of Munkacz, Rabbi Chaim-Elazar Shapira, made
a special trip from Hungary to meet with him, calling him the "the
top tzadik of the generation." Many of his rabbinical correspondence
on topics in Jewish law are included in his book, Sabba Kadisha. For more
information on his life and writings, see his entry in "Sages
of Safed" on our website.
Rabbi Shlomo-Zalman Lifshitz (1765-1839) was appointed Chief Rabbi
of Warsaw in 1821. In his influential book Hemdat Shlomo, he deals
with the problems of his generation, including assimilation. His rulings
about conversion still hold great weight today.
Rabbi Shlomo (Shlom'ke) of Zivhil (?-26 Iyar--yesod of yesod--1945)
was the first one of the dynasty to be based in Israel. For a long time
after he came to Jerusalem, no one knew his true identity as the Rebbe
to whom thousands had flocked in his native land, until a chance visitor
from his hometown revealed his secret to the stunned worshipers in the
shul he was attending. So once again he acquired thousands of followers
and admirers. Famed for his remarkable deeds of kindness, he particularly
concentrated on rescuing youths from missionaries and inculcating the
importance of the laws of family purity to the masses, while still finding
time to answer complicated questions in Jewish Law.
Rabbi Shlomo-David Kahane (1868 - 27 Kislev 1943) was onsidered
a leading rabbinical authority in his generation. He was the Chief Rabbi
of Warsaw and its rabbinical court for many years until the early years
of WWII, when he managed to escape the deadly clutches of the Nazis who
were hunting him and eventually arrive in Israel. He became the chief
rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem until his death in 1943. His "Committee
of Polish Rabbis in Israel" and his "Committee of Polish Rabbis
for Freeing Agunot" saved literally thousands of Jewish women whose
husbands' whereabouts were unknown as a result of WWII horrors, and enabled
them to remarry.
Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn [of blessed memory: 2 Iyar 5594 - 13
Tishrei 5643 (1834-Sept. 1882 C.E.)], the fourth Lubavitch Rebbe,
known as "the Rebbe Maharash," was the seventh
and youngest son of his predecessor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn,
"the Tsemach Tsedek".
Rabbi Shmuel Aceda (1538-1602) became in
1578 the head of a major yeshiva in Tsfat for the study of Talmud and Kabbalah,
and the author of a classical commentary on Pirkei Avot, Midrash Shmuel.
Shmuel Vital (1598-1677) was the son of Rabbi Chaim Vital, the foremost student
of The Holy Ari and the only one permitted to record his teachings. R. Shmuel
inherited these manuscripts and arranged the publication of many of them. Born
in Damascus where he officiated as a rabbinical judge for most of his life, he
moved in 1663 to Cairo, Egypt, where he remained till his passing. He wrote a
commentary on the siddur, according to the system of the Holy Ari, which
contained kabbalistic mediations for the prayers. He also wrote many other works,
most of them unpublished, and collected his own and his father's novel insights
on the Talmud.
Rabbi Shmuel of Kaminka (? - 1831), a senior student
of the Baal Shem Tov, was known as "Ish Elokim Kodesh Maod,"
- "a very holy G-dly man." He lived the latter part of his life in the
Holy Land, settling first in Tsfat, and was nearly 100 years of ge when he passed
away. Many of his teachings are printed in Chesed L'Avraham.
Shmuel (ben Avraham Yeshaya) of Karov-Vinagrov (? -15 Iyar 1820), a
major disciple of the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhinsk and then the "Seer"
of Lublin, became a rebbe in his own right upon the passing of the Seer in 1815.
Many rebbes of the next generation were his students.
Rabbi Shmuel Abba
Zikelinsky of Zichlin [19 Kislev (!) 5570 - 26 Elul 5639] was an important
disciple of Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshischah, and subsequently a Rebbe in his own
right with a large following].
Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke HaLevi Horowitz
of Nikolsburg (1726 - 2 Iyar 1778) was a major disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch
along with his younger brother, Rabbi Pinchas, who became the Rabbi of Frankfort
(see above). Many of the leading rebbes in Poland and Galitzia were originally
his disciples. Among the books he authored are Divrei Shmuel and Nazir
Rabbi Shmuel Munkes, an elder disciple of Rabbi Shneur Zalman
of Chabad, was known for his fervent and creative Chasidic service, and
his sharp sense of humor. Stories abound.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman [of blessed memory: 18 Elul 5505 - 24 Tevet
5573 (1745 - Dec. 1812 C.E.)], one of the main disciples of the Maggid
of Mezritch, is the founder--and "Alter Rebbe"--of the
Chabad-Chassidic movement. He is the author of Shulchan
Aruch HaRav and Tanya as well as many other major works in
both Jewish law and the mystical teachings.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Fradkin of Lublin
[1830-1902], A chasid of the Tzemech Tzedek and Maharash of Lubavitch,
was chief rabbi in Polotsk and then Lublin. When he made aliyah to the Holy Land,
he became a major rabbinical figure in the Jerusalem community. He is best remembered
for his important scholarly book, Toras Chesed.
Rabbi Sholom-Dovber Schneersohn [of blessed memory: 20 Cheshvan
5621 - 2 Nissan 5610 (Oct. 1860 - April 1920)], known as the Rebbe
Reshab, was the fifth Rebbe of the Lubavitcher dynasty.
He is the author of hundreds of major tracts in the exposition of Chassidic
Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (1765 - 12 Elul 1827) spent many years as a business
man and a pharmacist. He was a beloved disciple of "the Seer" and of
"The Holy Yid" whom he succeeded. Known as "a rebbe of rebbes,"
his major disciples included the Kotsker and the first Rebbes of Ger and Alexander.
Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov (1785 - 18 Teves, 1841), a renowned scholar,
nephew of Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk and disciple of the "Seer" of
Lublin and of Menachem Mendel of Rimanov. Best known for his scholarly and mystical
work, Bnei Yissaschar, which includes a chapter for each month of the year.
Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh of Chortkov was the father of the well-known Chassidic
Rebbe, Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg.
Rebbe Tzvi-Hirsh of Riminov [of blessed memory: 5538 - 29 Cheshvan
5608 (1778-Nov. 1847 C.E.)] was the attendant of the well-known Rebbe,
R. Menachem Mendel of Riminov, and subsequently his successor. He had
a reputation as a miracle worker. Some of his teachings are collected
in Mevasser Tov and in Be'erot HaMayim.
Rebbe Tzvi-Hirsh Eichenstein [1785 - 11 Tammuz 1831], founder
of the Zhidachov dynasty, was a prominent disciple of the Seer
of Lublin. He championed the position that the practice of Chasidism had
to be firmly based on the study of the Kabbala of the holy Ari of Safed.
He wrote and published numerous commentaries on Kabbala, including Ateret
Tzvi on the Zohar, and several on the weekly readings. The Malbim
was a student of his. He was succeeded by three nephew-disciples, including
Yitzhak-Isaac of Zhidachov and Yitzhak-Isaac-Yehuda-Yechiel of Komarno.
Udel, the only daughter of the Baal Shem Tov (in addition
to his one son), married one of her father's disciples, Rabbi Yechiel
Ashkenazi. Their children were Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudylkov,
author of the major Chassidic work, Degel Machne Ephraim; Rabbi
Boruch of Mezhibuzh, one of the leading rebbes of his generation; and
Feige, mother of Rabbi Nachman of Bretzlov.
("the Saraph") of Strelisk (? - 23 Elul 1826) was the disciple
of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin and of Rabbi Mordechai of Neshchiz, and the brother-in-law
of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kosov. He was called "the Saraph"
["fiery angel"] due to the ecstatic fervor of his prayers. He authored
Imrei Kadosh. His main disciple was Rabbi Yehudah Zvi Hirsch, the first of
the Stretyn dynasty.
Rabbi Yaakov Beirav [1474- 1 Iyar 1546] was born
near Toledo, Spain. As a young man, he studied with Rabbi Yitzchak Abuhav.
Subsequently, he wrote commentaries on the four sections of the Rambam
and on Talmudic subjects and published a volume of responsa. After serving
as a rabbinical leader in Fez, Morocco, and Cairo, Egypt, he became the
chief rabbi of Tsfat.
Rabbi Yaakov Yosef HaKohain of Polnoye [5470 - 24 Tishrei 5542**
(1710 - Oct. 1781 C.E.)] was one of the earliest and closest rabbinical
disciples of the Baal Shem Tov. He was the first to author a book of Chassidic
teachings, called Toldos Yaakov Yosef, which had a revolutionary
effect immediately upon publication. Subsequently, he published two other
chasidic classics, Ben Porat Yosef and Ketonet Passim. These
three books were the chief printed sources for teachings in the name of
the Baal Shem Tov. ** Not certain, Some say 5544 (1783)
and some say 5551 (1790)
Rabbi Yaakov Shimshon of Shepetovka [? - 3 Sivan 5561 (? - May
1801)], a descendant of Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropole, was a student of
the Maggid of Mezritch and Rabbi Pinchus of Karitz and a close friend
of Rabbi Boruch of Mezibuz. As a great authority in Jewish Law, he earned
considerable respect also in rabbinic circles. In 1794 (according to charedi.org),
he moved to Israel and settled in Tiberias, where he is buried.
Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Yisrael (Twersky) of Cherkas (1794
- 13 Elul 1876) was the son of R. Mordechai of Chernobyl, son-in-law of
R. Dov Ber of Lubavitch, and grandfather of R. Mordechai Dov of Hornisteipl.
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz [of blessed memory: 5505 - 9 Av
5575 (1745 - Aug. 1815 C.E.)], known as 'the Chozeh (Seer) of
Lublin', was the successor to R. Elimelech of Lizensk (1717-1787),
and leader of the spread of chassidus in Poland. Many great Rebbes of
the next generation emerged from his followers, including: the Yid
HaKodesh, Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, Meir of Apta, David of Lelov,
the Yismach Moshe, the Sabba Kadisha of Radoshitz, the Bnai
Yisasscher, Rabbi Naftali Zvi of Ropshitz, the Maor Vashemesh
and Sar Shalom of Belz. Many of his insights were published posthumously
in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Peshischa [of blessed memory: 5526-19
Tishrei 5574 (1766- Sept. 1813 C.E.)], The Holy Jewof Peshischa,
was the leading disciple of the Seer of Lublin, but subsequently
split off to form the famous Peshischa movement of Chasidut. Rabbi Simcha
Bunim of Peshischa and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk were among his many
disciples who became great Rebbes in their own right.
R. Yaakov Aryeh Guterman [of blessed memory: 5552 18 Tammuz
5634 (1792-1874 C.E.)], the Sabba Kadisha (holy
grandfather) of Radzmin, was a disciple of Rabbis Yaakov Yitzchak and
Simcha Bunim of Peshischa and of Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki, who he succeeded
as Rebbe in 1848. He was famed as a miracle maker.
Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira [1808 - 20 (19?) Tevet 1880] served as
the chief rabbi of Tafilalet, Morocco, until shortly before his death.
He was an accomplished scholar and kabbalist renowned for his piety, who
performed many miracles. His many distinguished descendants include his
grandson known as "Baba Sali." His written works include Torah
commentaries ("Abir Yaakov") ethical works (most of a kabbalistic
nature) and responsa on Jewish law. His tomb in Egypt is an official antiquity
site protected by the government of Egypt. On his yahrzeit a ceremony
attended by hundreds of devotees is held there, many travelling from Israel
Reb Yaakov Leizer (6 Tevet 1907 - 27 Cheshvan 1998) became the
second Pshevorsker Rebbe in 1976. Like his father-in-law and founder
of the dynasty, Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak Gevirzman, great-grandson of the
Rebbe Elimelech, "Reb Yankele" did not seek to open a
network of institutions. Even so, specially chartered planes would bring
hundreds of chasidim to Antwerp for every Yom Tov and occasion. Among
the visitors were often those who had come seeking salvation of one type
or another. Hundreds of stories abound about his Divine inspiration and
the miracles that he performed. His only son, Rabbi Leibish Leizer, is
the current Pshevorsker Rebbe.
Rabbi Yaakov Yehuda ("J.J.") Hecht (24 Cheshvan 1923
- 15 Av 1990) was sometimes described as the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Foreign
Minister. In 1945, he was appointed the official director of the National
Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE). In 1953 he
started one of the first camps for religious Jewish girls, Camp Emunah.
In the 1970's he became the administrative head in Crown Heights, Brooklyn,
of both Hadar HaTorah Yeshiva and Machon Chana Seminary. Rabbi Hecht also
was the official translator of the Rebbe's talks to children and for the
farbrengens on the radio. The Rebbe once described him publicly as one
of "the chasidim who share deep soul bonds with him."
Rabbi Yechezkel of Kuzmir [? - 17 Shvat 1856], a disciple of the
Seer of Lublin, was the grandfather of the first Modzitzer Rebbe,
a famous chassidic dynasty best known for its creative and exciting chassidic
Shraga Halberstam, (1813- 5 Tevet 1899), was the eldest son of the Divrei
Chaim, Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz. As an emissary of his father, he founded
the Sanzer synagogue in Tzefat. He served as the rabbi of Shinova from 1855 till1868,
and then again from 1881 till his passing. Many of his Torah insights into Scripture,
Law and Kabbalah are collected in Divrei Yechezkel.
Yechiel Meir Lifschitz of Gostynin [1816 - 21Shvat 1888] was sometimes known
as Der Tilim Yid (the Psalms Jew) because of his constant instruction to
those who came to him for advice and support that they turn to the reading of
the Book of Psalms. He was a disciple of R. Menachem Mendel of Kotsk and of R.
Yaakov Aryeh of Radzymin, after whose death he became chassidic leader in Gostynin.
His selfless and unsophisticated mode of living induced people to refer to him
as "one of the 36 hidden tzadikim." His teachings appear in Merom HaRim and
Rabbi Yechiel Michil of Zolotchov (1731-25 Elul 1786),
son of Rabbi Yitzchak of Drohovitch, was introduced by his father to the Baal
Shem Tov at a young age. He also became a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch.
It is said that his sermons consistently aroused his listeners to repentance.
Many of his teachings are collected in Mayim Rabim.
Rabbi Yehoshua Rokeach [of blessed memory: 5585 - 23 Shvat 5654
(1825 - Jan. 1894 C.E.)] was the fifth son and the successor to his father,
Rabbi Sholom, the first Rebbe of Belz. A major leader of Galician
Jewry, he was also the founder of Machzikei HaDas, perhaps the
first Orthodox Jewish organization to be involved in government politics,
and still a force in Israel today. Some of his discourses are published
in Ohel Yehoshua, a supplement to the book of his father's teachings,
Dover Sholom. He was succeeded by his second son, Yissachar Dov,
grandfather of today's Belzer Rebbe, who bears his name.
Rabbi Yehuda-Aryeh-Leib Alter
(1847 - 5 Shvat 1905), the Sefas Emes, succeded his grandfather the Chidushei
Ha- Rim to become the Rebbe of the Gur-Alter dynasty at the tender age of
19. Over the decades, he became one of the most influential Chasidic leaders in
Europe. His followers numbered in the tens of thousands.
Leib (Leibele") Eiger Of Lublin [1816 - 22 Shvat 1888] was the
grandson of one of the eminent Talmudic scholars of the century, Rabbi Akiva Eiger.
He became a chasid of R. Menachem-Mendel of Kotsk, and subsequently of R. Mordechai-Yosef
Leiner of Izbitz, upon whose death he became a Rebbe in his own right, in Lublin.
One of his close followers was Rabbi Tzadik HaCohen of Lublin. His published works
include "Toras Emmes" and "Imrei Emmes", both on the weekly
Torah readings and the holidays.
Rabbi Yehudah Leib of Kopust (1811- 3 Cheshvan 1866), an elder
brother of Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, established an independent branch
of Chabad Chasidism in Kopust after the death of his father, R. Menachem
Mendel of Lubavitch, the Tzemech Tzedek. Following his death in
the same year, he was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman of Kopust,
although many of the chasidim returned to Lubavitch.
Rabbi Yehuda Zvi-Hirsch Brandwein of Strettin [of blessed memory:
5540 - 11 Iyar 5604 (1780 - April 1844 C.E.)] was the leading disciple
of Rabbi Uri of Strelisk, whom he succeeded in 1826, and whom he resembled
in his ecstatic mode of prayer. He was highly praised by many of the tzadikim
of his generation. His teachings may be found in Degel Machaneh Yehuda.
He was succeeded by his son Rabbi Avraham Brandwein of Strettin.
Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam [1904-9 Tammuz 1994] the
Klausenberger Rebbe, also became the post-war Rebbe of the
Sanz Chassidim. One of the foremost Chasidic leaders of his generation,
he is best known for his revitalization of the study of Talmud through
"Mifal Shas" and the building of a hospital, Laniado
in Netanya, that functions at the highest standards of Jewish law and
Rabbi Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak Danziger of Alexander [1853
- 29 Tevet 1910] was a popular Chasidic leader in Poland of a wide range
of followers. His book Yismach Yisrael is studied by many different
Rabbi Yeshayahu Halevi Horowitz (1560-11 Nissan 1630] served many
years as chief rabbi in Cracow, Frankfurt and then Prague,
his birthplace. In 1621 he moved to Israel and became the chief rabbi
of Jerusalem. He is best known as the author of Shnei Luchot
HaBrit, a work of Scripture commentary and Jewish Law, and is usually
referred to as "the SHeLaH", the acronym of its title. He lived
the last years of his life in Tzefat although his burial place
is in Tiberias, only a few meters from the tomb of the Rambam.
It is a popular pilgrimage site, especially on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan,
which he himself recommended as a propitious time for saying the special
prayer for success in educating ones children that he composed.
Rabbi Yidele Horowitz, the Dzikover Rebbe (1905- 9 Cheshvan 1989),
was raised by his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Yisrael Hager, Rebbe of
Vizhnitz. After WWII, he moved to Tel Aviv, and then towards the end of
his life, to London, for medical reasons. Although known as a formidable
scholar and a man of exceptional character, he shunned the limelight and
abhorred any reverence or treatment as a Rebbe. He lived a very frugal
life. Absolutely all the monies forwarded to him by admirers and Chassidim
were immediately distributed to orphans and widows.
Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer [of blessed memory: 18 Elul 5458- 6
Sivan 5520 (Sept. 1698 - June 1760 C.E.)], the Baal Shem Tov
["master of the good Name"-often referred to as "the Besht"
for short], a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed his
identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul
5494 (1734 C.E.), and made the until-then underground Chasidic movement
public. He wrote no books, although many claim to contain his teachings.
One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at
Harivash, published by Kehos.
Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzira [1890 - 4 Shvat 1984] or Baba Sali,
as he was affectionately known throughout the Jewish world, was born in
Tafillalt, Morocco to one of Jewry's most illustrious families.
From a young age he was renowned as a sage, leader, miracle maker and
master kabbalist. In 1964 he moved to Eretz Yisrael, eventually settling
in 1970 in the Southern development town, Netivot, where thousands of
followers and admirers from all over the world and across the Jewish spectrum
streamed to see him and ask his blessing. Even today his burial place
there is a pilgrimmage site for tens of thousands of visitors. Since his
passing, several biographies have been published, including two in English.
Rabbi Yisroel (Ben Baruch) Hagar of Vizhnitz, Bukovina
[of blessed memory: 5620 - 2 Sivan 5697 (1860 - May 1936 C.E.)], had many
thousands of followers over the 43 years he served as Rebbe. After WWI
he headed a major yeshiva in Hungary. Because of his warmth and friendliness
to every Jew, he was known as "the Ahavas Yisrael."
Rabbi Yisrael Friedmann of Ruzhin [of blessed memory: 5557 - 3
Cheshvan 5611 (1797 - Oct. 1850 C.E.)] was a great-grandson of the Maggid
of Mezritch, at a young age was already a charismatic leader with
an large following of chassidim. Greatly respected by the other rebbes
and Jewish leaders of his generation, he was -and still is-referred to
as "The Holy Rhyzhiner." Six of his sons established Chassidic dynasties,
several of which -Sadigora, Chortkov, etc- are still thriving today.
R. Yisrael Haupstein, 1737- 14 Tishrei 1814, 'the Maggid' of
Koznitz, a major disciple of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech, and author of
the chassidic-kabbalistic work, 'Avodas Yisrael' and other books.
His miraculous birth is the subject of a popular Baal Shem Tov story.
Rabbi Yisroel Friedman (10 Iyar 1854 - 13 Kislev 1934), the
second Chortkover Rebbe, had chasidim numbering in the tens of thousands.
These included quite a few famous Rebbes and Rabbonim. When World War
I broke out he moved to Vienna, where he lived for the rest of his life.
In the first international convention ('Knessia Hagedola') of Agudas Yisroel
in 1923, he was elected to be the head, along with the Chafetz Chaim and
the Gerer Rebbe, both of whom deferred to him. His books, Tiferes Yisroel,
Yismach Yisroel, and Ginzei Yisroel, are considered classic works.
Rabbi Yisrael Alter (1895- 2 Adar 1977), known
as the Bais Yisroel, was the fourth Rebbe in the Gur dynasty. Following
the death of his father in 1948, Ger grew under his leadership to be the largest
Chasidic group in Israel. He lost his wife, children and grandchildren in the
Holocaust, and although he married a second time, had no further children. He
was succeeded by his brother, Rabbi Simcha-Bunim Alter, and then his youngest
brother, Rabbi Pinchas-Menachem Alter.
Rabbi Yisrael Taub (1849-13
Kislev 1920) was the first Rebbe of the Modzitz dynasty. He is best known
for his creative output of more than two hundred melodies, many still sung today
by Chasidic groups the world over. His most famous song was composed In 1913,
while undergoing surgical amputation of a leg, without anesthesia! He is also
the author of a book of Chasidic commentary on the first three books of the Torah,
Divrei Yisrael, by which name he is often referred to.
Meir HaCohen Kagan (1838-24 Elul 1933), popularly known as the Chafetz
Chaim after the title of one of his many influential books, was one of
the most important and beloved rabbinical scholars and leaders of the 20th century.
His other works include Mishna Berura, an authoritative, almost universally
accepted compendium of Jewish Law, and Shmiras HaLashon, about proper and
Rabbi Yisrael Yitzchak Kalish [1779 died 22 Nissan 1848] was the
founder of the Vorki dynasty in Poland. Previously, through travel
with his teacher, R. David of Lelov, he became a disciple of R. Yaakov
Yitzchak (the "Seer") of Lublin and of R. Simchah Bunem of Pshischah.
Some of his teachings and stories involving him appear in Ohel Yitzchak
and Hutzak Chein. His son R. Yaakov David founded the Amshinov
dynasty, while his son R. Menachem Mendel continued the Vorki dynasty.
Rabbi Yissachar Dov [1765-18 Sivan 1843], the "Sabba
Kadisha" (holy grandfather) of Radoshitz, was a disciple
of the Seer of Lublin and of the Holy Yid of Peshischa.
Famed as a miracle maker, he lived in poverty as a simple tutor.
Yitzchak of Drohovitch--a leading kabbalist in his generation and father of
R. Yechiel Michel Zlotchov (1731-1786), a major disciple of the Baal Shem Tov,
who first went to the Besht as a boy with his father.
Luria (1534-5 Av 1572), Known as "the holy Ari," revolutionized
the study of Kabbalah and its integration into mainstream Judaism during the two
years he spent in Zefat before his death at 38. Much of Chasidic thought is based
on the Ari's kabbalah teachings, as recorded by his main disciple, Rabbi
fuller biography) (For teachings of the Ari
translated into English)
Rabbi Yitschok Twerski [1812 -17 Nissan 1885], also known as Reb
Itzikl, the first Rebbe of Skver, was one of the eight sons of
Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl. (Today, the Skverer Chasidim are famous
for the entire town of their own, New Square, which they incorporated
in upstate New York.
Rabbi Yitzchak-Isaac Taub of Kaliv [of blessed memory: 5504 -
7 Adar II 5581 (1744 - March 1821 C.E.)] was an orphan goatherd in his
youth until he was "discovered by Reb Leib Sarah's and brought to
study under Rebbi Shmelke of Nicholsburg. Subsequently he also studied
under Rebbi Elimelech of Lizhinsk. Known as "the Sweet Singer of
Israel," he became a seminal figure in the spreading of chasidism
Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac of Zhidachov
(1804 - 30 Adar A, 1872) was descendent of the Tosfos Yomtov and the nephew and
successor of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch of Zhidachov. He was a major scholar as well as
a chassidic rebbe, who authored commentaries on Talmud, Midrash and Kabbalah.
His thousands of followers included some of the leading scholars and rabbis of
the generation. His four sons were all considered tsadikim, including the first
rebbe of the Komarna dynasty.
Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Yehuda Yechiel Safrin ben Alexander Sender
of Komarno [25 Shvat 5566 - 10 Iyar 5634 (Feb. 1806 - May 1874 C.E.)],
was one of the most prolific and respected expounders of the Kabbalah
teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. He insisted that every Jew should study
the Zohar and the Writings of the Arizal, and emphasized the importance
of Kabbalistic meditation. A close disciple of his uncle, Rebbe Tvi Hersh
from Zhiditchov (the Komarno dynasty is considered a branch of Zhiditchov),
he was a hidden ascetic for many years, only later known for his genius,
piety and ability to work wonders when he became the Rebbe of thousands
of chasidim. He authored volumes of deep insights on Jewish mysticism,
as well as on Mishnah and Jewish Law. His commentaries include Heichal
HaBrachah on the Torah, Otzar HaChaim on the commandments,
and Zohar Chai on the Zohar.
Rabbi Yitzchak-Isaac of Homil [1780-1857], author
of Chanah Ariel, was such an outstanding disciple of Rabbi Shnuer Zalman
and Rabbi DovBer, the first and second Rebbes of Chabad-Lubavitch, that when the
latter passed away in 1827, Reb Isaac was seriously considered as a candidate
for the succession. He refused, instead becoming the chasid of the eventual third
rebbe, the Tzemech Tzedek, who was twenty years his junior.
Meir Rothenberg/Alter (1789-23 Adar 1866) of Gur was the successor
to Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk and the founder of the Gur dynasty. He was popularly
known as the Chiddushei HaRim, the title of his classic work of Torah analysis
and interpretation. His charisma and concern for the masses resulted in Gerrer
chasidus having a very large following.
Rabbi Yitzchak-Meir of Kapichnitz
(21 Kislev 1862 - 2 Tishrei 1936), the first in the dynasty, was a direct
descendant of Rabbi Avraham-Yehoshua Heshel, the Apter Rebbe, for whom
his son and successor was named.
Rabbi Yochanan Twersky, (1816 - 4 Nisan 1895) the first Rachmastivka
Rebbe was known for his humility. He was the last to pass away of the
eight sons of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl and was highly respected among
the righteous of the generation.
Rabbi Yochanan Twersky of Rachmastrivka (1903 - 20 Kislev 1981)
became the 5th Rebbe in the Rachmastrivka dynasty in 1950, after having
immigrated to Israel together with his father and grandfather in 1926.
He rebuilt this branch of Chernobyl Chasidut almost from scratch, including
founding the Meor Einayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, after years of suffering
and exile. His two sons, Yisrael-Mordechai and Chaim-Yitzchak, became
the Rebbes after him, each with thousands of followers, in Jerusalem and
Rabbi Yoel Baal Shem of Zamostch (1613-1688?) studied five years
with great success under Rabbi Joel Sirkes (the "Bach")
and another five years under Rabbi Eliyahu Baal Shem of Wurms, the great
kabbalist and founder of the "hidden tzadikim" movement, whom
he eventually succeeded. He in turn passed the mantle to Adam Baal Shem,
who designated Israel Baal Shem Tov as his successor, under whom the movement
became revealed in 1734 and known as the "Chasidim."
Yoel Teitelbaum [1888-26 Av 1979], miraculously escaped from Bergen-Belsen
in 1944, after which he went to the Holy Land. In 1947 he moved to the USA, where
he established himself as the Satmar Rebbe, in the Williamsburg section
of Brooklyn, doing extensive work in establishing Torah education networks. Famed
as the leader of Hungarian Jewry and the largest Chassidic group in the world,
and as the spiritual leader of the opposition to a secular-based Jewish government
in Israel, he was also one of the greatest Torah scholars of his generation.
Yomtov Lippman Heller [1579-1654], is known as the "Tosefos Yomtov,"
after his major commentary on the Mishna, the most famous of his many scholarly
works. As a young man, he studied in Prague under the Maharal and subsequently
under Rabbi Eliyahu Baal Shem, a predecessor of the Baal Shem Tov. In Cracow,
he succeeded Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, the "Bach" as chief rabbi, and
Yaakov Yehoshua, the Sema, as rosh yeshiva.
Rabbi Yonasan Eibeshitz
(1660 - 21 Elul 1764) was chief rabbi of many cities, including Posen, Prague
and Altuna. He died in Metz at over one hundred years old. He authored many important
books on Jewish law, scripture and thought.
Yosef Caro (1488-1575) was the chief rabbi of Tsfat from 1546.
Author of several major works, including Shulchan Aruch ("The Prepared
Table"--Code of Jewish Law), a compendium of the laws of the Torah governing
a Jew's entire life: personal, social, family, business, and religious. Notwithstanding
subsequent revisions, it remains the foremost authoritative work on Jewish law
and practice and is universally accepted by Jews the world over.
Yosef Saragosi (14xx-?) First chief rabbi in Tsfat's recorded history.
Laid groundwork in 1490's-early 1500's for Zefat to subsequently become a major
center of Torah scholarship. Sometimes known as "Tzadik HaLavan" because
of a miracle that occurred in his name.
Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Bagdad,
the Ben Ish Hai (27 Av 1834 - 13 Elul 1909), is one of the most
important Sephardic Jewish sages in the last two centuries. At the age of 25,
he succeeded to his father's rabbinical position and continued in it for 50 years.
In 1869 he visited the Holy Land and was offered the position of Rishon LeZion
(Sephardic Chief Rabbi), but he did not accept. A great scholar and Kabbalist
and highly regarded as a pure and holy man, is rulings are adhered to still today
by many Sephardim world-wide. He published many important books on Jewish law,
Midrash, Kabbalah and Ethics.
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld of blessed memory: 5608 - 19 Adar
A 5692 (1848 - March 1932 C.E.)] studied under the Katav Sofer
at the renowned Pressburg Yeshiva in Austria-Hungary. He was a Torah leader
of the Ashkenazi community in the Old City of Jerusalem for nearly sixty
years, and became its official head after the death of Rabbi Shmuel Salant
Rabbi Yosef Meir
(ben Rabbi Samuel Tzvi) Weiss (18 Adar 1838- 6 Iyar 1909), founder of the
Spinker dynasty, attended the Chasidic masters of Belz, Vizhnitz, Zhidichov
and Sanz, and studied under several prominent rabbinical sages in his native Hungary.
In 1876 he became a Rebbe in his own right, eventually attracting many thousands
of followers including prominent Torah scholars. He authored a number of important
books, of which the most well-known is Imrei Yosef on the Torah readings
and the festivals. He was also famous as a miracle worker. After many years of
being buried abroad, his remains were brought to Israel in 1972 and reinterred
in Petach Tikvah; his body was completely intact!
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn [of blessed memory: 12 Tammuz
5640 - 10 Shvat 5710 (Jan. 1880-June 1950 C.E.)], known as the Rebbe
Rayatz, was the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, from 1920 to 1950.
He established a network of Jewish educational institutions and Chassidim
that was the single most significant factor for the preservation of Judaism
during the dread reign of the communist Soviets. . In 1940 he moved to
the USA, established Chabad world-wide headquarters in Brooklyn and launched
the global campaign to renew and spread Judaism in all languages and in
every corner of the world, the campaign continued and expanded so remarkably
successfully by his son-in-law and successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel
Rabbi Yossel of Torchin (1782-1818) was the
son of the Chozeh of Lublin, and some say that the Seer viewed him as his
successor. All respected him as a man of great piousness.
Zalman Leib ("Yekutiel Yehuda" in Hebrew) Teitelbaum, the Sigheter
Rav (? - 6 Elul 1883) and author of Yetiv Lev, was a chasid of Rabbi
Chaim Halberstam of Sanz. He was a grandson of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum of Ujheley,
the author of Yismach Moshe, who was the forerunner of the Satmar and Sighet
dynasties. The present Satmar Rebbe in Williamsberg, NY is his great-grandson
and is named after him.
Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf of Zhitomir [?-(Purim) 14
Adar 1800] was one of the inner circle of disciples of the Maggid of Mizritch.
He is the author of Ohr Hameir, one of the early foundation texts of general
Rabbi Zushya of Anapoli [of blessed memory: ? - 2 Shvat
5560 (?-Jan. 1800 C.E.)], was a major disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch,
successor to the Baal Shem Tov. The seemingly unsophisticated but
clearly inspired "Reb Zusha" is one of the best known and most
beloved Chassidic personalities. He and his famous brother, Rebbe Elimelech
of Lizensk, spent many years wandering in exile, for esoteric reasons.