Monday, December 17, 2007

Mei Shiloach - Yarzheit 7th Tevet

Today (8th Tevet) is the beginning of the three days of darkness. Look at my blog (the story so far) for more details.

Yesterday was the yarzheit of the Izhbitzer Rebbe, R' Mordechai Yosef Leiner. He was a Chasidic Rebbe and a radical thinker, taking the classical views of Chasidut (based on the Baal HaTanya) to extremes. He basically held that the world did not exist, and therefore there was no evil in the world, no suffering and no free choice.

Although he only wrote one book, his two students, his son, the Beis Yaakov, and his protege, R' Tzadok of Lublin, took his ideas and elaborated on them.

Here is the wikipedia entry on the Izbicer (Ishbitzer?)

Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica (Yiddish: איזשביצא, איזביצא Izhbitse, Izbitse) (1804-1854) was a Hasidic thinker and founder of the Izhbitzer dyansty of Hasidic Judaism. A student of the Rebbe Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (Polish: Przysucha and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (Polish: Kock). He originally settled in Tomashov (Polish: Tomaszów), then moved with his teacher to Kock and then in 1839 moved to Izbica. His leading disciple was Rabbi Yehuda Leib Eiger (1816-1888), grandson of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. His students included Rabbi Zadok HaKohen of Lublin (1823-1900), his son, Rabbi Yaacov Leiner (1828-1878) and Rabbi Gershon Henoch of Radzyn, his grandson.


Rabbi Leiner is best known for a doctrine of radical determinism: all events, including human actions, are absolutely under God's control, or as Rabbinic discourse would phrase it, by "hasgachah pratit." His second most famous idea is that if everything is determined by God, then even sin is done because God determines it. He presents defenses of various Biblical sinners, such as Korach, Pinchas, and Judah (in the incident with Tamar).

One of his most cited comments is on Leviticus 21:1 None shall defile himself for any [dead] person among his kin. Rabbi Leiner read the verse as a warning against the defilement of the soul. The soul is defiled when it is infected with the bitterness and rage that comes with senseless suffering and tragedy. Those who — like the Kohanim— would serve God, are commanded to find the resources to resist the defilements of despair and darkness. Despair is the ultimate denial of God, and surrender to darkness is the ultimate blasphemy.

Alan Brill of Yeshiva University has suggested that the teachings of Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschutz may have influenced Rabbi Leiner's thinking.

Relationship with the Kotzker Rebbe

Rabbi Leiner was the right-hand man of the Kotzker rebbe, by whom he was charged with overseeing the chasidim. In 1839 Leiner had a public and dramatic falling out with the Kotzker Rebbe. On the day after Simchat Torah of that year, Leiner left Kotzk with many of his followers to form his own hasidic circle.

The reasons given for the break are varied.


His thought influenced the mussar of Rabbi Isaac Hutner and Rabbi Moshe Wolfson.

Leiner's thought continues to have influence in the twentieth century, especially on Neo-Hasidism, and the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach is credited with the recent popularization of Rabbi Leiner's teachings. He apparently came across Rabbi Leiner's work in an old Jewish book store. He is quoted as saying that after initially being perplexed as to the peculiar nature of the teachings he quickly realized that in it lay the "secret for turning Jews onto the deeper meanings of Judaism".


Mei Hashiloach 2 volumes

Living Waters : The Mei HaShiloach translated by Betsalel Philip Edwards

May His Soul be Bound in the Bonds of Eternal Life

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