The Kopust branch of the Chabad Hasidic movement was founded in 1866 by Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schneersohn after the death of the third rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn. The movement is named after the town Kopys in the Vitebsk Region of present-day Belarus, where Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schneersohn settled after his father's death.
The Kopust dynasty had four rebbes in total. Following the death of its last rebbe, the movement's membership dwindled and now has a few chasidim in Jerusalem and Chicago.
Kopust is an offshoot of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. The Chabad movement, founded by Shneur Zalman of Liadi, produced multiple offshoot groups through its over 200-year history. The death of the third Chabad rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneersohn led to a dispute over his succession leading to the founding of Kopust.
At the time of its founding, Kopust sought to be the rightful heir to the legacy of the first three rebbes of Chabad.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, also known as the "Tzemach Tzedek", had seven sons. Following Rabbi Menachem Mendel's death 1866, a dispute arose among several of his sons over the father's succession. While the youngest son, Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn assumed the title of rebbe in the town of Lubavitch, another brother, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schneersohn, assumed the title of rebbe in the town of Kopys in Belarus. Rabbi Yehuda Leib died less than a year later and was succeeded by his son Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Schneersohn.
The Kopust movement had four rebbes:
- Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schneersohn (1808-1866), known as the Maharil[a] of Kopust. He founded the movement after the death of his father, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Scheersohn.
- Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Schneersohn (1830–1900), oldest son of Rabbi Yehuda Leib, assumed his father’s position in Kopust. He is the author of a work on Hasidism titled "Magen Avot" ("Shield of the Fathers").
- Rabbi Shalom Dovber Schneersohn of Rechitsa (1834-1908), known as the Rashab of Rechitsa.[b] Succeeding his brother, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman, Rabbi Shalom Dovber served as the Kopuster movement's rebbe in the town of Rechitsa. Rabbi Shalom Dovber seems to have died without a successor.
- Rabbi Shmaryahu Noah Schneersohn (1842–1924), known as Shmaryahu Noah of Babruysk. Succeeding his brother, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman, Rabbi Shmaryahu Noah served as the Kopuster movement's rebbe in the town of Babruysk. Other sources claim Rabbi Shmaryahu Noah succeeded his brother, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Schneersohn as leader of the group in the year 1900 after Rabbi Shlomo Zalman died. He was rav of the chasidim in Babruysk from 1872, and founded a yeshiva there in 1901. He authored a two volume work on Hasidism, titled "Shemen LaMaor" ("Light for the Luminary").
It is thought that after the death of the fourth rebbe of Kopust, the adherents of the Kopuster movement rejoined the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
The oldest extant Chabad synagogue in Israel, the Ohel Yitzchok (אהל יצחק) synagogue in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem—also called the Baal HaTanya Shul (Yiddish: בעל התניא שול: "Baal HaTanya's synagogue")—active since 1900, was originally affiliated with Kopust. As a matter of fact, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Yosef Yizhak Shneerson, visited Jerusalem in 1929, he was pointedly not welcomed at this synagogue.
Relationship with Chabad-Lubavitch
While the Kopust movement originally was at odds with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement over the successor to the third Chabad rebbe, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn referred to the Rebbes of Kopust as "Admorim",[c] or rebbes. This may be seen as a sign of respect to the Kopust dynasty.
- Magen Avos of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Schneerson
- Shemen La'Maor of Rabbi Shmaryahu Noah Schneersohn vol. 1 vol. 2
- a Hebrew acronym for "Moreinu HaRav Yehuda Leib"
- a Hebrew acronym for "Rav Shalom Ber"
- Hebrew acronym for Adoneinu Moreinu v'Rabeinu, a term for a Chassidic Rebbe or Grand Rabbi
- Schneersohn, Yosef Yitzchak & Schneerson, Menachem Mendel. Hayom Yom. Introduction. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn, NY. 1946.
- Loewenthal, Naftali. Communicating the Infinite: The Emergence of the Habad School. University of Chicago Press. (1990): p. 244.
- Kaminetzky, Yosef. Y. Days in Chabad. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn, NY. (2005): p. 21.
- Kaminetzky, Yosef. Y. Days in Chabad. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn, NY. (2005): p. 93.
- Lowenthal, Naftali. Schneersohn, Shmaryahu Noah. Encyclopedia of Hasidism. Jason Aronson Publishers. London. 1996.
- Schneerson, Shmaryahu Noah. Shemen La'moar. Vol. 1. Kfar Chabad, Israel. (1964): p. 1. Available at HebrewBooks.org Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Schneerson, Shmaryahu Noah. Shemen La'moar. Vol. 2. Kfar Chabad, Israel. (1967): p. 1. Available at HebrewBooks.org Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Kaminetzky, Yosef. Y. Days in Chabad. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn, NY. (2005): p. 92-93.
- Baharan, David (3 January 2012). המבשר קהילות | בית חסידים הראשונים. המבשר (in Hebrew). Beitar Illit. pp. 12–13. OCLC 646840447. Retrieved 8 October 2013.