web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 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/PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas addresses Central Committee convention in Ramallah.
Abbas Underscores PLO’s ’3 NO’s’ in Ramallah Rant
Latest Judaism Stories

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Mordechai on the King's horse, being led by Haman

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

Daf-Yomi-logo

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

More Articles from Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Rabbi Hanoch Teller

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

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

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.

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

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: