Gedaliah Aharon Koenig
Gedaliah Aharon Koenig (1921 – 7 July 1980), a respected Breslover Hasid in Jerusalem, Israel, was the driving force behind the establishment of the Breslov community in Safed, which is now led by his son, Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Koenig.
Born in the Old City of Jerusalem, Koenig became a Chabad Hasid during his teens. He was drawn to Breslov by Rabbi Abraham Sternhartz, a key figure in the chain of transmission of Breslov teachings from the early generations of the movement to the later ones. Sternhartz was the great-grandson of Reb Noson Sternhartz, the leading disciple of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Sternhartz immigrated from Uman, Ukraine to Jerusalem in 1936 and taught many students, producing Breslov leaders for coming generations. Koenig became one of Sternhartz's leading disciples.
At age 18, Koenig married Esther Yehudit, the daughter of Rabbi Dovid Moshe Ehrentrau of Jerusalem. His mentor, Abraham Sternhartz, performed the wedding ceremony.
When the Jews of the Old City were expelled by Jordanian forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Koenig followed Sternhartz to the neighborhood of Katamon. He eventually made his home in Meah Shearim.
It was Sternhartz who entrusted Koenig with the mission of establishing a Breslov community in Safed. Koenig gave his life for this cause, raising funds and working to establish this Torah center, beginning in 1967.
In addition to his work on behalf of the Breslov community in Safed, Koenig was renowned for his encyclopedic knowledge of Breslov teachings and Kabbalah. He wrote Chayei Nefesh, a book explaining the meaning of binding oneself to the tzaddik (in response to the Nefesh HaChaim by Rabbi Chaim Volozhin), which was published during his lifetime, and left many unpublished manuscripts filled with chiddushim (new Torah thoughts) on Likutey Moharan, Rebbe Nachman's major work. His collected letters, entitled Shaarei Tzaddik ("Gates to the Righteous"), were published prior to Rosh Hashanah in 2012 (5773) in two volumes. The following year, another two volumes were published, and further volumes are planned.
Koenig died in Manchester, England on 7 July 1980 (23 Tammuz 5740), while fund-raising on behalf of the Breslov community in Safed. (He shares the same yahrtzeit as Rabbi Moses ben Jacob Cordovero of Safed, with whom he felt a lifelong affinity.) His widow, Esther Yehudit, died on Shavuot day, 9 June 2008.
- Frankfurther, Rabbi Yitzchok. "Finding Happiness in Breslov: A conversation with Rav Elazar Koenig, shlita, of Tzefas". Ami, 12 March 2014, pp. 62-71.
- "HaRav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, Shlita". breslov.com. 1997. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Kramer, Chaim (1989). Crossing the Narrow Bridge: A practical guide to Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute. p. 447. ISBN 0-930213-40-8.
- Fleer, Gedaliah (2005). Against All Odds. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute. pp. 188–189. ISBN 978-1-928822-05-9.
- Kramer, Crossing the Narrow Bridge, p. 442.