web analytics
May 27, 2015 / 9 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part VII)

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch

In 1648 and 1649 Bogdan Chmelnitzky and his hordes of Cossack warriors perpetrated an annihilation campaign against the Jews of Poland and the Ukraine. Almost 100,000 Jews and 300 communities perished at the hands of these murderous mobs. All of the Jews, including infants, were targeted for murder; the general populaces nearly always joined in the attacks, and the torture and degradation of Jews was an integral aspect of the murderer’s procedures. None of those who survived were spared pillage and plunder, looting and larceny. The Chmelnitzky massacres were a holocaust, no different than the Holocaust we are all familiar with. Only the techniques were not as efficient and modernized, as it was not captured on film.

After these devastations it was only natural to hope for – indeed to expect – the arrival of the Messiah to redeem the tattered masses from their misery and squalor. Their desperation was so great that they were ready to believe the outlandish assertions of a Greek Jew named Sabbatai Zvi, who claimed to be the messianic redeemer.

But Sabbatai Zvi was an imposter, a persuasive one with a good public relations team but no more than a charlatan that misled an anxious and desperate people.

And if his deceit was not great enough, he dealt a crushing blow when he converted to Islam to avoid punishment.

The Sabbatai Zvi debacle brought on its heels a subsequent fiasco with the emergence of Yaakov Frank, who claimed to receive Divine revelations. Against the warnings of the rabbis, Frank managed to keep Sabbateanism alive until he encouraged his followers to adopt Christianity.

The horrendous debacles in the Jewish community were concomitant with the convulsions in Poland that followed the Chmelnitzky massacres. There were the Tatar incursions from Crimea, the Moscow War and the Swedish War, each one accruing more bloodshed, suffering and destruction to the beleaguered Jews of Poland. Thousands were killed, thousands were forcibly converted to Christianity and the remainder was uprooted, scattered, persecuted and exiled.

It was at this time that the Church renewed and strengthened the blood libels, accusing entire Jewish communities of having murdered a Christian child so that the victim’s blood could be utilized as an ingredient for matzah. From 1700-1760 not a single year passed when a libel was not attempted, and dozens of court cases were brought to trial in order to further aggravate the hatred of the Jew.

Eventually the central institution of the Eastern European Jews, the Vaad Arba Artzos (Council of Four Lands) was compelled to send a delegation to Rome to appeal to the pope to issue a decree that Jewish law does not require the sacrifice of a Christian child prior to Passover for the purpose of matzah-baking.

There was a stiff head tax on every single Jew. A communal tax and additional taxes and fines were periodically imposed. The inability to pay one’s tax to a local landowner meant imprisonment – often for the entire family.

The ability to earn a livelihood to just live, let alone the execrable taxes and fines Polish Jewry was burdened with, was no easy feat. Vast numbers of professions were forbidden to Jews, leaving only a few realms of despised employment available, such as money lending and running taverns for the local Polish landowners.

For the simple, peasant Jews, and even for the modestly more successful ones, the situation was extraordinarily bleak. The only person that had offered any hope was Sabbatai Zvi, and the aftershocks of that disaster were still palpable. The rabbinic leadership was unable to relate to the masses and offer solace.

Indeed, there was a total disconnect between the rabbis and the people. The few rabbis that dared to speak out about the corruption that prevailed among their colleagues who had acquired their positions by bribing officials, faced punishment or banishment. The less courageous blamed the suffering on the diminishment of Torah learning. The solution to the privations, the torment, the poverty and the false accusations, they pressed, lay, as always was the case, in repentance.

The rabbis had no novel ideas to suggest a formula that was specifically adapted to the times. On the contrary, anything that seemed to vary in even the minutest detail from age-old tradition was viewed as dangerous and squarely verboten.

Sabbatai Zvi was a memory too painful to dissipate, and the early signs of the Enlightenment from Berlin had already broken through the surface.

It was then that the Baal Shem Tov was revealed. (To be continued)

Chodesh tov – have a pleasant month!

Those interested in screening Rabbi Teller’s acclaimed documentary, “Reb Elimelech and the Chassidic Legacy of Brotherhood,” should contact him at hanoch@hanochteller.com.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part VII)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
PA's soccer chief Jibril Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee.
Mass Arrests of FIFA Officials Omit PA Terrorist Rajoub
Latest Judaism Stories
Leff-052215

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Staum-052215

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

Torah

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

God and the divine origin of His Torah are facts even though we do not fully comprehend them.

So if we basically live the same life, why should he get eternal reward and not me?”

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

In Parshas Pinchas the Torah introduces the Mussaf for Shavuos by describing it as Yom HaBikurim when we bring the new offering.

Rachel was thrown by the sight and began to caringly think whom this person might be.

The desert, with its unearthly silence & emptiness, is the condition in which the Word can be heard

The census focused on the individual, proving each is created as irreplaceable, unique images of God

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

The Honor Of Reading The Kesubah
‘Witnesses Sign Only After Reading…’
(Kesubos 109a)

Why does the Torah use two different words for “to count,” and what does each indicate?

From Bemidbar on and in Nevi’im, the nation is viewed primarily by its component parts, the tribes

More Articles from Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Rabbi Hanoch Teller

I felt terror posing questions to Rav Elyashiv doing so only twice in the 9 years I was in his shiur

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

Rav Elyashiv favored books about gedolim with 2 caveats: accuracy; and no distasteful elements

Humility often confused with low self-esteem, truly means that a person realizes his true worth

If we are certain that God is on our side, we can easily become arrogant and even cruel

Reb Shlomo Zalman could not endure honorifics applied to him because of his enormous humility

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/chodesh-tov/reb-elimelech-mlizhensk-part-vii/2012/04/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: