Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev

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Mausoleum of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak in the old cemetery in Berdychiv, May 2003.

Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (Levi Yitzchok Derbarmdiger) (1740–1809), also known as the Berdichever, and the Kedushas Levi, was a Hasidic master and Jewish leader. He was the rabbi of Ryczywół, Żelechów, Pinsk and Berdychiv, for which he is best known. He was one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch, and of his disciple Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg, whom he succeeded as rabbi of Ryczywół.[1]

Reb Levi Yitzchok was known as the "defense attorney" for the Jewish people, because he would intercede on their behalf before God. Known for his compassion for every Jew, he was one of the most beloved leaders of Eastern European Jewry. He authored the Hasidic classic Kedushas Levi,[2] which is a commentary on many Jewish religious books and laws, and is arranged according to the weekly Torah portion. He is considered by some to be the founder of Hasidism in central Poland.[3]

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok was known to have a very close relationship[clarification needed] with the famous Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov called him the Peér (glory) of Israel.[4]

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok composed some popular Hasidic religious folk songs, including A Dude'le and "The Kaddish of Rebbe Levi Yitzchok (A din Toyre mit Gott)." The Yiddish prayer "God of Abraham" recited by many Jewish men and women alike at the close of the Sabbath is attributed to him.

He died on the 25th of Tishrei, 5570 (1809) and is buried in the old Jewish cemetery in Berdychiv,[5] Ukraine, then under the control of the Russian Empire.

He had three sons. The oldest one, Maier, died at a young age. The second one, Israel, succeeded his father as leader of the Hasidic movement. One of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok's grandsons married the daughter of Dovber Schneuri, the Second of the Chabad Rebbe's and the first Chabad Rebbe to live in Lubavitch.

Books about Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev[edit]

  • Loving and Beloved: Tales of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, Defender of Israel (Menorah Books, 2016) ISBN 9781592644735


  1. ^ תולדות קדושת לוי, פרק ב. HebrewBooks.org (in Hebrew). Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  2. ^ קדושת לוי. HebrewBooks.org (in Hebrew). Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  3. ^ Szczepan Wojnarska, Anna Maria. "BEN MEIR LEVI OF BERDICHEV ISAAC". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  4. ^ תולדות קדושת לוי, פרק ד. HebrewBooks.org (in Hebrew). Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  5. ^ תולדות קדושת לוי, פרק ח. HebrewBooks.org (in Hebrew). Retrieved 7 March 2013.

External links[edit]