Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Reb Boruch'l of Mezhibuz - Blessed Above and Below

Chai Kislev is the yartzeit of Reb Boruch'l of Mezhibuz. He was born in 5613 (1752-53) to his father, Reb Yechiel "Der Deitshel" Ashkenazi, a great mekubal from Germany, and his mother, Udel, daughter of the Baal Shem Tov. Her name was spelled אדל, which the Baal Shem Tov said stood for אֵ׳שׁ דָּ׳ת לָ׳מוֹ. His older brother was Reb Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudlikov, author of Degel Machane Ephraim, and his sister was Fayga, mother of Reb Nachman of Breslov. His teachings are collected in Sefer Botzina D'Nehora.

Holy from the womb

When Reb Boruch first started learning Gemara, the melamed opened the Gemara to the first page, which is amud beis, but Reb Boruch said, "lets start from amud aleph, the front cover". He turned to the cover, which read קמא בבא, and said, "the letters stand for ב׳רוך ב׳ן א׳דל ק׳דוש מ׳בטן א׳מו - Boruch, son of Udel, holy from the womb of his mother".

Why Reb Boruch laughed at the Berditchiver

Reb Dovid Moshe of Chortkov, in Divrei Dovid, says that Reb Boruch was known to make fun of the holy, Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev. Once, Reb Moshe of Zvhil (son of the Zlotchover Magid) was by Reb Boruch and witnessed this. There was a man, Reb Yaakovka Mohliver, whose job was to entertain Reb Boruch by imitating the movements and gyrations that Reb Levi Yitzchok would do while performing various mitzvos. Reb Boruch would laugh and joke at this openly. Reb Moshe couldn't believe it; here was Reb Boruch making fun of one of the greatest tzadikim of his time. He let his thoughts be known to Reb Boruch, who explained himself.

He said that the Mekatreg comes before Hashem and says, "what need is there for Moshiach and the Beis Hamikdash? The Berditchiver in all his actions has in mind all the kavanos that the Kohen has in the Beis Hamikdash." "Therefore", said Reb Boruch, "I make fun of the actions of the Berditchiver in order to annul the words of the Mekatreg, since I make it seem that they are meaningless. In truth though, I know and believe that Reb Levi Yitzchok is a great tzadik."

Machlokes L'Sheim Shomayim

Reb Boruch'l also made machlokes on his nephew, Reb Nachman of Breslov. When Reb Nachman's mother, Fayga, complained to Reb Boruch, he replied that without his making machlokes on her son, Reb Nachman wouldn't be able to survive on this world. Perhaps, this can be explained by a piece of Likutei Mohoran, which was my impetus to write this, since the first thing to pop into my head at that point was Reb Boruch'l.

In Likutei Mohoran 88, Reb Nachman says that shefa and brocha can only come down to this world through a tzadik, because a tzadik is the only one that has what is necessary to accept the shefa and brocha, namely Ahava and Yirah. A tzadik has to hide these traits so the mekatrim won't steal them from him. That's what the posuk in Tehilim (147, 8) means, הַמְכַסֶּה שָׁמַיִם בְּעָבִים, "He covers the Heaven with clouds", meaning the tzadik has to cover the fire and water, which is his Ahava and Yirah. The posuk continues הַמֵּכִין לָאָרֶץ מָטָר, "Who prepares dew for the earth", meaning shefa and brocha (represented by the word מָטָר) comes down to the earth. But, if a tzadik is well known, and can't hide his Ahava and Yirah, then the mekatrigim can prevent the shefa from coming down. Therefore, Hakodosh Boruch Hu puts it into the heart of a second tzadik to make machlokes on him in order to cover the Ahava and Yirah of the first tzadik, allowing the shefa to come down. This is what it means when it says מחלוקת שהוא לשם שמים, "machlokes that is for the sake of Heaven" - a machlokes for the sake of a tzadik who is called שמים, because he has Ahava and Yirah, in order to bring down the מָטָר, which is the bechina of shefa and brocha.

This can explain the machlokes that Reb Boruch made on the Berditchiver and Reb Nachman and many other controversies between tzadikim. May this be the only type of machlokes in our midst and may we receive much shefa and brocha from Above.

Blessed Anger

Reb Boruch would teach and rebuke in, what seemed like, a very harsh manner. To prove he was correct in doing this he would quote the posuk (Lech Lecha 12, 5)וְאֶת-הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר-עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן , and the souls that they made in Charan. (This is referring to the people that Avrohom and Sarah taught about Hashem) He said that the word חָרָן should be read as חָרֺן, anger, meaning, Avrohom Avinu accomplished his task by using anger. When Reb Boruch passed away in 5672/1811, his talmidim found a Zohar open at a part that says: "There are two types of anger. One type of anger is blessed in the World Above and the World Below; its name is Boruch…"

One thing we can learn out from Reb Boruch'l is that. at times, tzadikim may seem to do things that defy logic, but there can be many lofty intentions behind them. Reb Boruch'l is buried in Mezhibuz, right next to the Baal Shem Tov, his father, his brother and many other great tzadikim.

May the zchus of Reb Boruch ben Reb Yechiel

protect us and all of Klal Yisroel


A Talmid said...

See a previous post from A Simple Jew on Reb Boruch of Mezhibuz.

A Talmid said...

The Skolya Rebbe ZY"A, a descendant of Reb Boruch'l of Mezhibuz, says that he has a kabbala in the name of Reb Boruch'l that on a day that one says the following chapters of Tehilim, 4, 17, 63, 65, 116, 137, 138, 150, he will have success in everything.

yitz said...

in the story about Rebbe Nachman, you say that "Reb Nachman's mother, Udel spoke to R' Boruch'l" ..

I believe you meant his mother, Faiga.

A Talmid said...


oops! thanks for pointing that out.