Chassidic leader. Grandson of Rabbi Aharon of Karlin I.
Rabbi Aharon of Karlin, son of Rabbi Asher of Stolin and grandson of Rabbi Aharon Hagadol (the Great) of Karlin, is also known as the Second Rabbi Aharon. When he was only 26 years old he was chosen as Karliner Rebbe. With prodigious scholarship in Torah, and unparalleled piety and humility, he led the Karlin chassidim; he attracted tens of thousands of followers who eagerly thronged around him, seeking the blessings of a man who was said to be endowed with ruach hakodesh (the spirit of holiness). Some even claimed that he had the soul of King David.
The period of R' Aharon's leadership included the dark days of the reign of Czar Nikolai I, but R' Aharon knew how to cheer-up his chassidim and help them to bear their heavy burdens. However, some powerful residents of Karlin objected to the extent to which song and dance permeated the Rebbe's "Court," and in 1864, the Rebbe himself was run out of town. He resettled in Stolin, and since then, this dynasty has been known as "Karlin - Stolin."
Like his father, R' Aharon was a strong supporter of the chassidic settlement in Eretz Yisrael, and many of his own chassidim moved there.
His grandfather-in-law, the Rizhner Rebbe said of him, that his desire for truth was so intense that if there were a crumb of truth under the floorboards he would rip them up with his bare hands to lay hold of it. He was also known to love all people and to draw them close.
His sermons and commentaries were compiled in the book entitled Beit Aharon containing brilliant flashes of chassidic insight on the weekly Torah portions and ethical teachings based on Kabbalistic themes. Birkat Aharon is an anthology of sayings and anecdotes of all the rebbes of Karlin-Stolin.
Stoliner Chassidim distinguish themselves for the extraordinary fervor and enthusiasm with which they pray and study. It is a style of prayer which is thunderous to the ear ("Splitting the Heavens"), a prayer which brings ones every limb into the service of God.
Today, Karlin-Stolin Chassidim are a dynamic force in the Torah world, maintaining outstanding yeshivot in Jerusalem, Teveria, Brooklyn, and other cities.
A wedding dress...
One day, a woman appeared before R' Aharon and wailed that her daughter had been engaged for several years, but that her family was unable to meet its financial commitments and the groom threatened to break the match. "How much do you need?" the Rebbe asked, and when a sum was named, he took out that amount and gave it to the distraught mother of the bride.
The next day, the woman returned. "Thank you, Rebbe," she cried. "You saved the match, but I can't afford a wedding dress." Again R' Aharon asked how much she needed and gave her the sum she named. After the woman had left, R' Aharon's wife challenged him: "Why can't her daughter get married without a wedding dress? What of all the paupers who have no bread to eat?" "At first," replied R' Aharon, "I, too, had that thought. However, I then asked myself why I did not have that thought until today. If I am truly concerned about hungry paupers, why did I not give that money away to hungry paupers yesterday? I therefore concluded that it was the yetzer hara (evil inclination) that was advising me not to give the bride's mother money for a wedding dress."
Rabbi Aharon of Karlin said, "I wish I could love a good Jew as much as God loves a wicked one"
May the merit of the tzaddik Rabbi Aharon of Karlin II protect us all, Amen.