Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Did You Learn In Mezeritch?

They asked Rabbi Aharon of Karlin, "What did you learn in Mezeritch?"

"Nothing at all" he said.

"What do you mean?" he was asked.

"That's right," Rabbi Aharon replied, "in Mezeritch I learned that I am nothing at all."

Then they asked Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, "Well, what did you discover in the beis medrash of the great Maggid of Mezeritch?"

"I discovered that there is a G-d who is the Master of this world and all other worlds."

"But, Rebbe, everyone knows that!"

"No," Rebbe Levi Yitzchak replied. "They say it everywhere, but in Mezeritch they know it."

(Eser Oros)


At December 20, 2005 at 7:21:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

Beautiful pics, and quotes.

Some more gems:

1. A misnaggid once complained to R. Zev of Zhitomir: "I am a well-respected scholar and a wealthy man, yet I feel no pride. But my son-in-law, who doesn't reach my ankles, you have dragged off to Mezritch, where he battles pride day and night!"
"That's why he went to the Maggid," explained R. Zev.
"What do you do at the Maggid's?" asked the fuming misnaggid. "What greatness is there without Torah or good deeds? I was in Vilna and heard true Torah from the Gaon himself!"
R. Zev answered with a smile, "In the Maggid's Beis Medrash, one realizes that he can live seventy years filled with pride, while believing with perfect faith that he has never tasted pride in his life!"

2. One of the Maggid's students once asked another: "Where will our sins lead us?"
"Is that what we learned in Mezritch?" the other berated him. "I'm not worried about sins, for which we can repent. What concerns me is our mitzvos: How can we raise our heads with such mitzvos?"

3. For seven years, R. Avraham - once a protege of the Vilna Gaon - sat in an attic in Kalisk, immersed in Torah and communion with HaShem, and oblivious to the outside world. One day a Jew from Kalisk burst into R. Avraham's secluded room and shouted, "How can you sit there in such isolation? Go out and seek the great light in Mezritch! The great Maggid says, '...the earth is full of Your possessions' [Tehillim 104:24] - that is, the earth is full of means of acquiring Godliness."
"Is that what he said?" responded R. Avraham. Electrified, he leaped out of his window and made his way to Mezritch.
Returning to Kalisk after his first encounter with the Maggid, he visited his former mentor, the Gaon of Vilna. "What did you see in Mezritch? What innovation did you find there?" asked the Gaon.
"'Vechai bahem' - and you shall live by them" was his brief reply.
"One remark by the Maggid would suffice for a long time," he later commented. "And we would guard it in holiness and purity until the next one came."

4. When he returned to Politzk, R. Azriel was asked what he had learned at the Maggid's. "The Maggid," he replied, "taught me that one must daven with a seething, torn heart, as if a cruel armed bandit were about to slay him!"

5. As in Medzibozh, not every lesson in Mezritch was taught conventionally. One found holiness and Divine genius in everything. Every movement spoke volumes. As R. Leib Sarah's related, "I traveled to the Maggid not to hear Torah from him, but to see how he ties and unties his shoelaces."

6. "Before I came to my master, the Maggid of Mezritch," said R. Yisrael, the Maggid of Kozhnitz, "I learned eight hundred books of Kabbalah. But when I met him, I discovered that I hadn't begun to learn!"

7. "Before I came to Mezritch," said R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, "my main means of worship was intellectual contemplation, for I dared to think it would arouse love and fear [of God] within me. In Mezritch I learned that on the contrary, love and fear arouse the intellect!
"When the Maggid opened his mouth," he said, "the Shechinah spoke through him and he was not in this world...." Another time he declared, "What do we know of Ruach HaKodesh of wonders? In the Maggid's house we drew Ruach HaKodesh in full measure; the miracles rolled under the benches, and there was no time to pick them up."

8. What else did the author of the Tanya gain from the Maggid? "Elsewhere one learns how to master the Torah. In Mezritch, one learns to let the Torah master you."

9. Perhaps the most impressive testament to what Mezritch was all about came from outside the Chassidic world. R. Simchah of Buberka once asked his teacher, R. Yosef Teomim, author of the Pri Megadim commentary on the Shulchan Aruch, how he felt in the Maggid's Beis Medrash.
"Like a gentile entering a synagogue on Yom Kippur," answered R. Yosef.
"At that moment," said the Trisker Maggid, who related this story, "it was proclaimed in heaven that the halachah was according to R. Yosef, and his books would be accepted as authoritative throughout the Jewish world."

At December 20, 2005 at 7:28:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz: Thank you very much for sharing those beautiful quotes!! I especially liked #8.

At December 20, 2005 at 11:21:00 AM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

ASJ & Yitz,
Thank you for the great quotes, stories and photos!
I remember like yesterday hearing the previous Bobover Rebbe tell the story of the Maggid's passing - the way he told it was very moving.
In case you haven't heard it... (I'll try to keep it short):

There was a plague in Mezritch, so they quarantined the city not allowing anyone in our out.
When the Rebbe, Reb Zusia of Anipoli heard this, he went to the local authorities and asked to get a release for his Rebbe, the Maggid, but they refused, saying that the risk was too great. He complained that the Maggid was an elderly man, and it is imperative that he be allowed to leave, but to no avail.
Finally R' Zusia said, "I guarantee to you, that if you let him out, no one will die in Anipoli for a year's time.
The local authority asked if he will swear to it, and R' Zussia did, after which the Maggid was allowed to leave Mezritch for Anipoli.
It was the 19th of Kislev - and exactly one year later the Maggid passed away. True to his word, not a single person died throughout that year's time. If you go to Anipoli, you will not find a singe grave marker of someone who passed away during the year - but, on 19th of Kislev - together with the Maggid - there were many deaths, since all the people who were to die within the year lived on till that date, as R' Zusia had sworn.

At December 20, 2005 at 11:48:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Chabakuk Elisha: Thanks for sharing the story which is most appropriate for today.

Anapol is a tiny, tiny shtetl. Even smaller than my family's shtetl. The picture of the Ohel above was taken in Anapol's Jewish cemetery. An elderly Ukrainian woman controls the keys to the Ohel and let us in. Apparently, a lot of Israeli-born Chassidim visit this place since she tried to talk to us in broken Hebrew.

Walking down further to the right (in the picture) - at the far end of the cemetery is a memorial which marks the site of a mass grave where Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

I do know if there are any Jews left remaining in Anapol today.

At December 20, 2005 at 1:56:00 PM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

Wonderful stories and quotes I had not heard before. The first part of this post sounded like the classic stories out of Novordok...

At December 22, 2005 at 6:26:00 AM EST, Blogger J.Klein said...

I love Hassidic stories.

Do you have more

At December 22, 2005 at 6:56:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Jaim: Yes I do. Keep reading my blog and I will be sure to post more.


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