web analytics
May 3, 2015 / 14 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Kidz
Sponsored Post


The Chassidim Of Germany

Tales of the Gaonim-logo

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the struggle between chassidim and their opponents, the misnagdim, reached its peak. In many cases, chassidim were barred from areas where the misnagdim were the majority. Certainly it was unheard of for a city to choose a chassidic adherent as its rav.

Yet, Germany – one of the heartlands of opposition to chassidim – did choose two great chassidim to be rabbanim in two cities.

The city of Frankfurt chose Rav Pinchas Halevi Horowitz while his brother, Rav Shmuel Shmelke, was appointed spiritual leader of Nicklesburg. Both brothers were students of the famous Maggid of Mezhirech, who was the spiritual heir of the founder of chassidus, the Baal Shem Tov.

How did this unusual situation come about? It’s a story of judgement and forgiveness.

The Rothschilds

The father of Reb Meir Anshel Rothschild, the founder of the fabulously wealthy dynasty, was a simple but truly pious and G-d fearing man. He was straight and honest in his business dealings, but he suffered from the discrimination and persecution that was directed against all Jews in Germany in the 18th century.

Crowded into their ghettos and suffering legal disabilities that make today’s claims of discriminations pale into insignificance, the German Jews suffered poverty and wretchedness.

Rothschild saw that he would have to change his location if he hoped to change his luck, so he decided to go east and become a peddler. He wandered throughout Poland, living the life of a nomad, until he came to the Galilcian town of Chortkov.

In Chortkov, he was accepted as a shamash in the beis medrash of Reb Tzvi Hirsch Horowitz, the father of Reb Pinchas Halevi and Reb Shmuel Shmelke.

He was a faithful and hard-working shamash and people liked and trusted him. He gradually started a small business wherein he sold sefarim, tefillin and tzizis. He managed to save a little money and things began to look up for him, until one day an event occurred that was to force him to leave Chortkov.

The Dispute

It happened that two merchants had a violent dispute over money. Coming before Reb Tzvi Hirsch, they demanded that he preside over a din Torah and decide which of the two was correct.

“Very well,” answered the rav. “But you must each put up a sum of money as guarantee that you will abide by the decision that I render.”

Both parties agreed and put up 200 gold pieces. The rav then sat back and listened to both parties outline their case.

After carefully weighing both sides, the rav rendered a verdict on behalf of one of the merchants. The loser paid and now the rav turned to the shamash and said,

“Get the money that this man gave me as security and return it to him.”

The shamash went out and returned, pale and trembling.

“Rebbe, the money is gone! Someone has stolen it!”

A search of the premises failed to turn up any sign of the money and suspicion was directed against the shamash who had access to the entire house.

“Rebbe, I give you my word that I had nothing to do with it,” pleaded the shamash.

“I believe you,” said the rav, “but I must ask that you swear an oath that you did not touch the money.”

Reb Meir Anshel was shocked. To swear an oath, who ever heard of such a thing? If his word was not good enough….

“I cannot swear an oath,” he cried. “I would rather pay from my own pocket despite the fact that I know I am innocent of all wrongdoing.”

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 “The Chassidim Of Germany”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Hundreds of Israeli-Ethiopians clash with police in a protest in Jerusalem against  police brutality and alleged racism.
Hundreds of Israeli Ethiopians Protest in Tel Aviv, Block Ayalon Highway
Latest Kidz Stories
Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

“If, however, he rules the other way – that something is not kosher when in reality it is kosher – and thus robs a poor man of his money, this is a far more serious thing.

Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

“Come now, I insist. Tell me what errand of mercy you are on so that I too may have a share in the mitzvah.”

Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

One of the most remarkable men in chassidic lore was Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, known as the Chozeh of Lublin. Rav Yaakov Yitzchak was responsible for chassidus capturing the hearts of the vast majority of Polish Jewry. He was not only a great scholar but also possessed humility and modesty, traits that drew many other […]

Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

The story of the Bnei Yisrael in the land of Mitzrayim is a tale that has become tragically repetitive in the history of our people. It is the story of a land which allows Jews to enter, devote their talents and energies to building that land and making it strong, only to have the inhabitants […]

The man has been found guilty and his soul is bitter because of it.

Now I know why Hashem punished us with the confiscation of our shul.

But the words would penetrate their hearts and each would say to himself: “But I, too, am doing this terrible thing.” In this way Reb Elimelech would inspire the people to teshuvah.

“I will tell you,” replied the rav. “I am very puzzled at why you suddenly desire to honor me and have me as your guest. What quality do you find in me that is new and worthy of merit?

“I wanted you to have a taste of the cold,” answered Rav Chaim. “This way, you too can feel the intense cold and realize the suffering of this man and his wife, who are now residing in a bitterly cold house.”

“Don’t worry,” said the king, “what could it be worth, two or three talents of gold? I’ll give you ten talents of gold, so you can forget about it.”

Shmuel HaKatan shook his head and said: “No, what happened here today is a sign not of great love. On the contrary, it is a bad omen.”

The arguments, however, could never appease his wife and one Thursday she came to him for money to purchase food for Shabbos.

He walked out of the room, making sure to leave the door ajar so that the two litigants could hear his voice.

Don’t you know Avraham, the famous dry goods merchant, who lives near the lake in a big mansion?

“What could I do? Your wife is hard of hearing,” whispered the poor woman barely able to talk.

“I would appreciate if you could give me some pointers on how to improve my wine,” said the wine merchant eagerly.

More Articles from Rabbi Sholom Klass
Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

“If, however, he rules the other way – that something is not kosher when in reality it is kosher – and thus robs a poor man of his money, this is a far more serious thing.

Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

“Come now, I insist. Tell me what errand of mercy you are on so that I too may have a share in the mitzvah.”

One of the most remarkable men in chassidic lore was Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, known as the Chozeh of Lublin. Rav Yaakov Yitzchak was responsible for chassidus capturing the hearts of the vast majority of Polish Jewry. He was not only a great scholar but also possessed humility and modesty, traits that drew many other […]

The story of the Bnei Yisrael in the land of Mitzrayim is a tale that has become tragically repetitive in the history of our people. It is the story of a land which allows Jews to enter, devote their talents and energies to building that land and making it strong, only to have the inhabitants […]

The man has been found guilty and his soul is bitter because of it.

But the words would penetrate their hearts and each would say to himself: “But I, too, am doing this terrible thing.” In this way Reb Elimelech would inspire the people to teshuvah.

“I will tell you,” replied the rav. “I am very puzzled at why you suddenly desire to honor me and have me as your guest. What quality do you find in me that is new and worthy of merit?

“I wanted you to have a taste of the cold,” answered Rav Chaim. “This way, you too can feel the intense cold and realize the suffering of this man and his wife, who are now residing in a bitterly cold house.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/tales-of-the-gaonim/the-chassidim-of-germany-2/2014/06/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: