Wednesday, 14 December 2011

18 Kisleiv - Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Baruch of Mezhibuz

Chai Kisleiv marks (today the 200th) Yahrzteit of the Tzaddik Rabbi Baruch (ben Yechiel Michel) of Mezhibuz (1753-1811) - the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. He is the son of the Baal Shem Tov's daughter Aidel. Rabbi Baruch's sister is also well known as being the mother of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. He also had a brother who was also a Tzaddik, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim (author of the Degel Machane Ephraim.) Many go to pray at the gravesite of Rabbi Baruch today.

In his youth, when his parents asked the Baal Shem Tov which tractate of Gemara would be best to begin teaching him, he answered, "Baba Kama," - בבא קמא - because these words contains the first letters of, "Baruch ben Aidel is holy from the womb of his mother" - "ברוך בן אדל קדוש מבטן אמו". His grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, died when he was still a young child of just 7 years. He spent much time around the Maggid of Mezritch (whose Yarhtzeit falls on the 19 Kisleiv - tomorrow!), until many years later at the bequest of the Chassidim, he himself became an Admor (Rebbe.) In no time at all, thousands were knocking upon his door for blessings and advice. He had a fiery temper and temperament - though his brother R' Moshe Chaim Ephraim was quite the opposite! 

When he became ill, he refused to ask the advice of doctors and to make use of medications.

Though he was a Rebbe in his own right, the main flow of leadership in Chassidism went from the Baal Shem Tov to the Maggid of Mezritch and then to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady (1745-1812) whose release from prison is celebrated tomorrow - the 19th Kisleiv. The Alter Rebbe (as he was known) was both an authority in the revealed Torah, having written the Shulchan Aruch HaRav as well as an authority on the hidden Torah, having written the Tanya (and Torah Ohr and Likutei Torah.).

For more on the stories of the start of the Chassidic movement and the leaders including wonderful stories about the Tzaddikim Nistarim - the hidden Tzaddikim of that time - make sure to read "Lubavitcher Rabbi's Memoirs" written by the previous Chabad Rebbe - Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson.

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