Thursday, May 18, 2006
Today is the 20th of Iyar, yahrzeit of Rebbe Mordechai of Chernobyl, son of the first Rebbe, R. Menachem Nachum. He was also the father of “the eight candles of the Menora,” his eight sons, all of whom became Rebbes in their own right: Rebbe Aharon of Chernobyl, Rebbe Moshe of Karistachov, Rebbe Yaakov Yisrael of Cherkasse [grandfather of Rebbe Mordechai Dov of Hornesteipel], Rebbe Nachum of Mekarov, Rebbe Avraham of Trisk, Rebbe David of Tolna, Rebbe Yitzchak of Skver, and Rebbe Yochanan of Rachmistrivka. Most of his writings can be found in his sefer, Likkutei Torah.
Rebbe Yitzchak of Skver used to sing the Zemer, “Bar Yochai,” on his father Rebbe Mordechai’s yahrzeit. He explained this by saying that his father had the neshama [soul] of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
Rebbe Mordechai’s grandson, R. Yeshaya Meshulam Zusia, son of Rebbe Aharon of Chernobyl, became blind. Those who heard of it told him that there is a segula for disease of the eyes – to travel to the grave of Rabbi Elazar, the son of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, in Meron, and pray there. He approached his father, Rebbe Aharon, to discuss this idea with him. Rebbe Aharon’s response was, “My grandfather, Rebbe Nachum, was like Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in his generation. Therefore, my father Rebbe Mordechai, is like Rabbi Elazar ben R. Shimon. Go to his grave, daven there, and you will be cured.” Indeed, this is exactly what happened.
The wife of Rebbe Yisrael of Rizhin, a nephew of Rebbe Mordechai, gave birth to a boy one year on the 20th of Iyar. He named the boy Mordechai after his uncle, although the latter was still alive. At the bris, the Rizhiner explained, “Although my holy uncle, Rebbe Mordechai, is still alive, his neshama has already ascended to the Upper Worlds many years ago.” Three years later, on the 20th of Iyar, Rebbe Mordechai passed away.
Rebbe Mordechai on Negina:
* The last letters of the words, “Ki bayom hazeh yichaper [referring to the day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which atones for one's sins] are the gematria of “rina,” vibrant song. [The ending letters are yud-mem-heh-reish, which are equal to reish-nun-heh, both equal 255]. There is a verse in Mishlei [Proverbs, 11:10] which says, “B’avod reshaim rina – when the wicked are destroyed, there is joyous song.” Rebbe Mordechai used to quote Rebbe Baruch of Medzibuzh, who explained that when an evil person is removed from the world, a new niggun is created in the world. This will be Hashem’s salvation for us, when all of the wicked ones of the world will be destroyed, and new niggunim will replace them.
* When the holy souls [of the Jewish People] stand in Tefilla [prayer] morning, noon and night before their Creator, in Awe and Love of Him; by moving all of their limbs, bones and sinews, they arouse the lofty powers, as the verse says [Koheles 9:10], “All that you find in your power to do, you should do,” and [Tehillim, 68:35] “Give strength to the L-rd.” Our Sages explain [the latter verse], that the Jewish People give strength to the Heavenly Hosts on High. This is accomplished through Love and Awe [of Hashem], which are called wings. That is, the wings below arouse the wings of all the Angels and Heavenly Hosts to sing Songs and Praises to the Creator. This is called Avoda [service], as our Sages explain that Avoda sheb’lev [service of the heart] is Tefilla.
* Originally, the Angels would sing a Song on High with a special niggun, and that niggun would later be sung at the Tish [table] of Tzaddikim. But now, the opposite is true: first the Tzaddikim sing a particular niggun at their Tish, and then the Angels sing a Song on High with that niggun.
Indeed, one of these angelic niggunim was composed by Rebbe Mordechai himself. [It is known as a "Belz Hakafa niggun;" however, Rebbe Yissachar Dov of Belz was a son-in-law of Rebbe Aharon of Chernobyl, hence this niggun "traveled" to Belz.]
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