Monday, May 21, 2007

Reb Wolf Zhitomir Does Teshuva For Clapping His Hands

Erev Shavuos, 5 Sivan, is the 210th yahrzeit of Reb Zev Volf of Zhitomir,
was one of the greatest talmidim of the Magid of Mezritch, with his seat
being between Reb Ahron of Karlin and Reb Mendel of Vitebsk. He is the
author of Ohr HaMeir, one of the essential texts of Chassidus. He may not
be as well known, because he didn't leave behind a dynasty, but in the world
of Chassidus, the Ohr HaMeir is among the most respected seforim.

Reb Volf's way was to never show any outward sign of emotion in serving
Hashem, such as clapping hands or davening loudly. He said this could only
be done when you feel inside the way you want to express yourself outside.
Reb Volf said that in all his life he never showed any outward signs except
once. This is what he said happened:

He was in the Beis Medrash one Erev Shabbos, with many of the other
tzadikim, and the Magid was sitting in his house, which was adjacent to the
Beis Medrash, reading the parsha,
shnaim mikra v'echod targum. (He always
did this in a closed room, without anyone watching.) The door to the Magid
accidentally opened and all the talmidim in the Beis Hamedrash saw him in
this great state of kedusha - there was such a light coming from the face of
the Magid. The brothers, the Rebbe Reb Shmelke and the Haflah, and the
brothers, the Rebbe Reb Meilech and the Rebbe Reb Zisha ran out of the Beis
Hamedrash from fear. Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev was rolling under the
benches, feeling like his neshama was going to leave him.

And Reb Volf, from seeing this awesome sight of the Magid reviewing the
parsha, simply clapped his hands. Reb Volf said that for the rest of his
life he did teshuva for this outward sign of emotion - the clapping of his
hands. Praiseworthy is he whose teshuvah is on such an act.

What can be learnt out from this is that even those who follow tzadikim that
say to daven with outward emotion should strive to internalize in their
neshama the expressions the do externally.

Reb Zev Volf ben Reb Shmuel HaLevi of Zhitomir

Zchuso Yogen Aleinu

It is also the yahrzeit of R' Chaim Yaakov Safran of Komarna (1969) Author
of Shabbos Sholom U'Mevorach and Beis Avos. He was the son of R' Avrohom
Mordechai of Bureslov. Moved to the USA and the to Eretz Yisroel.

12 comments:

chabakuk elisha said...

Gevaldig!

yitz said...

Great story, but where did you get that date for his yahrzeit. My sources have it as Purim d'Prazim, 14 Adar 5560. Please clarify!

A Talmid said...

Yitz-
I have seen it listed as Purim in a few places, but most places have it listed as 5 Sivan - Chassidus by Alfasi and several bios in publications.

yitz said...

Interestingly, the "yarzheit.com" website [that's how they spell it!] lists both! Be curious to know if there's a Rebbishe source for this. I have nothing against Alfasi, just curious. Eliezer Steinman's "Shaar HaChassidus" sefer does not list a yahrzeit for him, altho he does for most others.

Devorah said...

The website yarzheit.com is not kosher. Please see this link
http://shiratdevorah.blogspot.com/2008/06/definitely-not-kosher.html

Devorah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joshwaxman said...

"He said this could only
be done when you feel inside the way you want to express yourself outside."

But he did this (clapping) as a natural reaction and reflection of what was inside. As you wrote, "And Reb Volf, from seeing this awesome sight of the Magid reviewing the
parsha, simply clapped his hands."

So what did he have to do teshuva for? He did nothing "wrong," even within his own definition of the term!?

In terms of "Reb Volf's way was to never show any outward sign of emotion in serving Hashem, such as clapping hands or davening loudly. He said this could only be done when you feel inside the way you want to express yourself outside."
I agree with the sentiment (though of course it doesn't need my haskama)!

Anonymous said...

This is a well known story. As to why he needed to do teshuvah for something he really felt inside, it's simply because on his level he thought maybe he didn't really have the same feeling inside. Tzadikim are held to a much higher level than your average person.

joshwaxman said...

true, but this is holding *himself* to a higher level than any other person, for something that he himself suggested as a middas chassidus in the first place.

tzaddikim being on a higher level is always an available answer, but here, he was not showing off for anyone. indeed, in general he suppressed any overt expression, so if this slipped out, it seems to me that it was *entirely* an expression of his inner sentiment, such that by definition it would be equal to it.

and to say that his inner emotion was *not* equal to a simple clapping of hands seems very hard to accept, when it was a sight which caused the Rebbe Reb Shmelke and the Haflah, and the brothers, the Rebbe Reb Meilech and the Rebbe Reb Zisha to run out of the beis medrash, and to cause Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev to roll under the benches. mere clapping seems like an understatement, rather than an overstatement. so i still can't understand it.

it seems that he is rather saying that for himself, any outward expression at all, even justified by the internal, is something for which to do teshuva. why that should be is not something I can relate to, or necessarily agree with.

Kol Tuv,
Josh

Toby said...

Does anyone know where I can find the genealogy of Rabbi Ze'ev Wolfe?

Toby

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where is his Tziyon?

Damesek said...

dunno if you are still around, anon, but the ohr hameir is buried in Ivnitz, a small town in Ukraine. Its between Kiev and Barditchev if I recall correctly.
www.damesek.blogspot.com