Tzadikim

Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin

Chassidic leader.

Born: Pogrpbisht, Ukraine,, 1797
Died: Sadagora, Galicia, 1850
 

Popularily known as the Rizhiner.

Rabbi Yisrael the founder of the Rizhin dynasty, was born to Rabbi Shalom Shachna of Prohovitch (who was a son of Rabbi Avraham HaMalach, the son of the Maggid of Mezrich) and his wife Chava a day after Rosh Hashana.

When only 15 years old he succeeded his father as chassidic rebbe of Prohovitch (near Kiev). With his phenominal talent for organization, the young rebbe built  the community into a chassidic center. In Rizhin he conducted his "court" in a palace with all the trappings of royalty, maintaining a staff of servants, an orchestra of musicians, and a splendid horse-drawn coach. Thousands of chassidim, attracted by the glitter and the opulence, rallied around to the Rizhner. The rebbe's motive for the ostentatious display of wealth was to raise the standards of Torah and Chassidut. He derived no personal enjoyment from it. He was said to walk on hard peas that he placed inside his elegant leather shoes. He often fasted, and he slept only three hours each night.

As a result of false accusations of treason, R' Yisrael was imprisoned for two years in Kiev. After his release he fled to Sadagora where he was acclaimed more than ever before.

Compilations of his commentaries were published under the titles Irin Kaddishin, Knesset Yisrael, and Pe'er Layesharim. His comments, many of which are based on kabbalistic themes, attest to his great wisdom and piety. He was the father of the chasidic dynasties of Sadagora, Chortokov, Boyan, and others, all of which are keeping alive the Rizhiner tradition today with large yeshivot and chassidic centers in Israel and the United States.

Chassidic tradition maintains that R. Shalom Shachna possessed a "spark" of King David's soul and that his son R. Yisrael of Rizhin had a spark of King Solomon's.

For more about the Rizhin dynasty, read Beit Rouzin (Hebrew).

May the merit of the tzaddik  Rabbi Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin  protect us all, Amen.

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