Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reb Shimshon Ostropolier HY"D

3 Av is the yartzeit of the legendary tzadik, R’ Shimshon Ostropolier. He was a great Rov, tzadik and kabbalist who was killed al kidush Hashem in the gezeiras Tach V’Tat. A Magid (Malach) used to come to him and teach him secrets from the Torah and warned him of the impending decree on Klal Yisroel. Reb Shimshon in turn implored the people to do teshuva, which they did, but it was already too late, as it was determined from Above that the decree would be carried out.

It was also revealed to Reb Shimshon that if he and two of the other great tzadikim of the time would agree to give up their lives al kiddush Hashem, everyone else would be saved. Reb Shimshon agreed to this and also got one of the other tzadikim to agree. The third tzadik, however, did not agree, saying that it was forbidden for them to do such a thing.

The Ramchal says that Reb Shimshon asked the Satan why he bothers Klal Yisroel more than any other nation. The Satan answered that if Klal Yisroel gets rid of Shabbos, Bris Nilah and learning Torah than he will leave them alone. Reb Shimshon replied that it is better that more of us perish than to lose even one letter of Torah.

In the end, when the city was surrounded by the bloodthirsty enemies, Reb Shimshon gathered several hundred great tzadikim, they each donned a talis and burial shrouds and entered the Shul to daven. They davened, and kept davening, until the mobs entered the Shul and murdered them all al Kiddush Hashem. The date was 3 Av 5408/1648. Hashem Yinkom Domom.

Reb Shimshon wrote
Dan Yadin on Sefer HaKarnayim, a kabbala sefer, and Machane Dan on Zohar, which was never published. He determined that the root of his neshama was from Shevet Dan, therefore he used the name “Dan” for his seforim. The Chida, Ramchal and Bnei Yisaschor, among others quote him in their seforim. His writings can be found in Nitzotzei Shimshon.

There is a very famous and fascinating letter, on the Arizal’s commentary of the 10 plagues of Egypt, that Reb Shimshon wrote. He writes at the end of the letter that anyone who studies it, even once a year, especially Erev Pesach, will be saved from calamities for the year and will have success in all their endeavors. (
Here is the letter translated into English and here it is in the original Hebrew.) Many Hagadas have this letter printed. There are miraculous stories of people who read this and were saved during the holocaust. His yartzeit is also an opportune time to read this letter.

His descendants include, R’ Lieber of Berdichev, a great-grandson (ben acher ben), and the Toldos Yaakov Yosef.

May the zchus of the tzadik, Reb Shimshon ben Reb Pesach, protect us and all of Klal Yisroel.

3 Av is also the yartzeit of:

R’ Gedalia Ahron Rabinowitz of Monastrich HY”D (1919) ben R’ Yehoshua was killed in a pogrom in Uman with 700 others.

R’ Dovid Shapira (1934) ben R' Pinchas Leib

R’ Chaim Yechezkel Taub of Ozorov (1938) ben R’ Yisroel of Modzitz

R’ Yitzchok (1941) ben R' Mordechai Twersky of Skver-Kishinev was the first Skverer Rebbe in America.

R’ Yehoshua Heschel HaLevi Horowitz HY”D (1943) ben R’ Chaim Shmuel was a descendant of the Chozeh of Lublin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Rebbe of Velednik in Shearis Yisroel also quotes Reb Shimshon of Ostropol in Shovavim Shaar Beis