Chernobyl (Hasidic dynasty)

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Chernobyl is a Hasidic dynasty that was founded by Grand Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky, known by the name of his work as the "Meor Einayim" (meaning "vision", lit. "the light of the eyes"). The dynasty is named after the Ukrainian town of Chernobyl, where Rabbi Nachum served as the maggid ("[communal] preacher").

Rabbi Twersky was a student of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Hasidic movement) and his pupil and chief disciple the Maggid of Mezritch. He is considered one of the pioneers of the Hasidic movement. His book Me'or Einayim ("Light [of One's] Eyes"), comprising insights on the weekly Torah portion, reflects his proclivity to Kabbalah. It has gained widespread acceptance as one of the major works and foundations of Hasidic ideology.

Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky was succeeded by his son, the Rebbe Mordechai of Chernobyl – also known as the Chernobyler Magid. Throughout his life Rabbi Mordechai collected large amounts of money for tzedakah (charity), but before his death he regretted not collecting even more than he did. His thoughts, sermons and discourses were published in his book Likutei Torah, which was praised for its holiness by other Hasidic leaders. Throughout his teachings, Rabbi Mordechai stressed the importance of pure speech and pure thought as a condition for a proper prayer connection. He also spoke of including all Jewish souls in one's prayer, even evil people. By doing so, evil people will stand a better chance of repenting (teshuvah).

Rabbi Mordechai was succeeded by his son Rebbe Aaron of Chernobyl, as his successor in Chernobyl. All of Rebbe Mordechai's eight sons became rebbes in different cities.

The Chernobyl dynasty includes the rebbes of Chernobyl, Cherkas, Turisk, Talne, Korestchov, Makarov, Skver, Rachmastrivka, Malyn, Hornosteipl, Machnovka, Ozarnetz, and several others.

Chernobyl Hasidism as a movement survived the ravages of the Holocaust, although many of its members perished. There are many scions of the Chernobyl dynasty alive today. Generally, at present, anyone with the last name Twersky (or Twerski) is likely to be a descendant of the Chernobyl dynasty.

The Chernobyl dynasty[edit]

The founder of the Chernobyl dynasty was Rebbe (Menachem) Nochum, the Meor Einayim, a disciple of Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov, who established the Hasidic movement. He was also a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch:

  • Grand Rabbi Menachem Nochum Twersky of Chernobyl (1730–1797) – author of Meor Einayim, disciple of the Baal Shem Tov
    • Grand Rabbi Mordechai Twersky (1770–1837) – the Chernobyler Maggid, son of the Meor Einayim – had eight sons who each became a rebbe and founded his own dynasty.
      • Grand Rabbi Aaron Twersky of Chernobyl (1784–1871), eldest son of Rebbe Mordechai
        • Grand Rabbi Yeshayo Meshulom Zishe Twersky of Chernobyl (1814–1881), son of Rebbe Aaron
          • Grand Rabbi Shlomo BenZion Twersky of Chernobyl (1870–1939), son of Rebbe Yeshayo Meshulom Zishe
        • Grand Rabbi Boruch Osher Twersky of Chernobyl (d. 1905), son of Rebbe Aaron
          • Grand Rabbi Shlomo Shmuel Twersky of Chernobyl-Brooklyn (d.1936), son of Rebbe Boruch Osher
            • Grand Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Twersky, Chernobyler Rebbe of Boro Park (1902–1983), son of Rebbe Shlomo Shmuel – the last Chernobyler Rebbe who was born in Chernobyl
              • Rabbi Shlomo Twersky, son of Grand Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Twersky, Rabbi of "Beis Chernobyl" in Lawrence, New York;
                • Rabbi Zvi Twersky – Rosh Mesivta of Yeshivas Mercaz Hatorah in Talpiot, Jerusalem, son of Rabbi Shlomo Twersky of Lawrence, NY;
        • Grand Rabbi Menachem Nochum Twerski of Loiev, son of Rebbe Aaron
          • Grand Rabbi Mordechai Twerski of Loiev (1840–1905), son of Rebbe Menachem Nochum
            • Grand Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshl Twerski of Loiev-Tshudnov (1860–1914), son of Rebbe Mordechai of Loiev
            • Grand Rabbi Boruch Bentsion Twerski of Loiev-Uman (1875–1945), son of Rebbe Mordechai of Loiev
      • Grand Rabbi Yitzhak Twersky of Skver, son of Rebbe Mordechai
      • Grand Rabbi Avrohom Twersky of Trisk, son of Rebbe Mordechai, author of Mogen Avrohom (d. 1889)
      • Grand Rabbi David Twersky of Tolna, son of Rebbe Mordechai
      • Grand Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Twersky of Cherkas, son of Rebbe Mordechai
      • Grand Rabbi Yochanan Twersky of Rachmastrivka, son of Rebbe Mordechai

Famous scions[edit]

Among the famous scions of the Chernobyl dynasty are:

External links[edit]

Sources[edit]

Yitschak Alfasi (2006). תורת החסידות Torat haChasidut. Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook. pp. 297–373.