Menachem Mendel Schneersohn

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Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Lubavitcher Rebbe
Tzemachtzedek2.jpg
The Tzemach Tzedek
Term May 5, 1831 – March 17, 1866 OS
Full name Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Main work Shut Tzemach Tzedek
Born September 9, 1789 OS
Liozna, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Died March 17, 1866 OS
Lyubavichi, Russian Empire
Buried Lyubavichi
Dynasty Chabad Lubavitch
Predecessor Dovber Schneuri
Successor Shmuel Schneersohn
Father Shalom Shachna
Mother Devorah Leah (daughter of Shneur Zalman of Liadi)
Wife Chaya Mushka Schneersohn (daughter of Dovber Schneuri)
Children Baruch Shalom
Yehudah Leib of Kopys
Chaim Shneur Zalman of Liadi
Yisroel Noach of Nizhyn
Yosef Yitzchak of Ovruch
Yaacov
Shmuel Schneersohn of Lubavitch
Rada Freida
Devorah Leah

Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (September 9, 1789 (29 Elul 5549) – March 17, 1866 (13 Nissan 5626) OS) also known as the Tzemach Tzedek was an Orthodox rabbi, leading 19th century posek, and the third Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad Lubavitch chasidic movement.

Biography[edit]

The Tzemach Tzedek was born in Liozna, on September 9, 1789. His mother Devorah Leah died just three years later, and her father Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi raised him as his own son. He married his first cousin Chaya Mushka Schneersohn, daughter of Rabbi Dovber Schneuri. After his father-in-law/uncle's death, and a three-year interregnum during which he tried to persuade the hasidim to accept his brother-in-law Menachem-Nachum Schneuri or his uncle Chaim-Avraham as their leader,[1] he assumed the leadership of Lubavitch on the eve of Shavuot 5591 (May 5, 1831 OS).

He was known as the Tzemach Tzedek ("Righteous Sprout" or "Righteous Scion"), after the title of a voluminous compendium of halakha (Jewish law) that he authored.[2] He also authored Derech Mitzvotecha ("Way of Your Commandments"), a mystical exposition of the Mitzvos. He compiled major works of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi for publication, including the Siddur L'Kol Ha'Shanah (commonly known as Siddur Im Dach), Likutei Torah and Torah Ohr. He also authored a philosophical text entitled "Sefer Chakira: Derech Emuna" (Book of Philosophy: The way of Faith).

The Tzemach Tzedek enjoyed close ties with other Jewish leaders. In the course of his battle against the Haskalah in Russia, he forged a close alliance with Rabbi Yitzchak of Valozhyn, a major leader of the misnagdim, which led to warmer relations between them and the hasidim.[3]

According to Baruch Epstein, his father Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein spent six months under the Tzemach Tzedek's tutelage, and learned most of his mystical knowledge during that time. This story is disputed by hassidic historian Yehoshua Mondshein.[4]

His close friendship with professor J Berstenson, the Czar's court physician often helped the delicate negotiations relating to the welfare of the community.[1]

He set up an organisation called Hevras Techiyas Hameisim to assist Jewish boy-soldiers who were being recruited and converted to Christianity by the Russian army. These soldiers known as Cantonists were taken away from the Jewish community to other villages. Schneersohn arranged for his students to pay them regular visits to keep up their spirits and discourage them from converting.[1]

In 1844-45 he took steps to increase the enrollment and viability of the Lubavitch Yeshivas in Dubroŭna, Pasana, Lyozno and Kalisz, expanding their enrollment to around 600 students in total.[1][5] Repeated attempts by the authorities to entrap him using informers such as Hershel Hodesh, Benjamin the Apostate and Lipman Feldman failed.[6]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died in Lubavitch on 13 Nissan 5626 at the age of 77, leaving behind him seven sons and two daughters. He was succeeded by one of his youngest son Shmuel[1] as the Rebbe of Lubavitch, while three of his other sons formed breakaways of the Chabad movement which continued to some extent until the Second World War. These movements saw themselves as part of Chabad.

Several of his sons established Chasidic dynasties,[1] see #Sons.

Famous quote[edit]

A famous saying of the Tzemach Tzedek is Think good and it will be good (original Yiddish: Trakht gut vet zein gut). This expresses the Chabad view that simply by virtue of a person's trust in God, that person's prayer may be answered.

Sons[edit]

The Tzemach Tzedek had seven sons:[7]

1. Rabbi Baruch Shalom (1805–1869) did not become a rebbe in his own right; he chose to remain in Lubavitch and become a chasid of his youngest brother. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, was his great-great-grandson.

2. Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schneersohn (Maharil) (1808–1866) settled in Kopys a few months after the death of his father, where he founded the Kopust branch of Chabad. He died two months later. He had three sons:

  • 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 (d. 1908), known as the Rashab of Rechitsa.[8] Succeeding his brother, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman, Rabbi Shalom Dovber served as the Kopuster movement's rebbe in the town of Rechitsa.[9] 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.[10] He was rav of the chasidim in Babruysk from 1872, and founded a yeshiva there in 1901.[11] He authored a two volume work on Hasidism, titled "Shemen LaMaor" ("Light for the Luminary").[12][13][14]

3. Rabbi Chaim Schneur Zalman (1814–1880) was Rebbe in Lyady after his father, the Tzemach Tzedek died. He founded the Liadi branch of Chabad. He was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Yitzchak Dovber (1835–1910) of Liadi, author of Siddur Maharid, and his son-in-law, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak (–1905) of Siratin, a scion of the Rebbe of Radzimin.

4. Rabbi Yisroel Noach (1815–1883) of Nizhyn founded the Niezhin branch of Chabad. Although officially a Rebbe, had only a small following. He had no successor. His son was Rabbi Avraham Schneerson of Kischinev, whose daughter, Nechama Dina Schneersohn, married Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.

5. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (1822–1876) was a Rebbe in Ovruch. He founded the Avrutch branch of Chabad. He was compelled to assume this position by his father-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel of Cherkas (son of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl and son-in-law of the Mitteler Rebbe) against his father’s wishes. He was the maternal grandfather and namesake of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.

6. Rabbi Yaakov, although leaving descendants, died at quite a young age. He lived in Orsha. Little is known about him.

7. Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (Maharash) (1834–1882) of Lubavitch, his youngest son succeeded him as the Rebbe of Lubavitch.[1]

Ohr HaTorah[edit]

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson said of the Tzemach Tzedek's work "Ohr HaTorah" that it contains all the previous and future teachings of the Chabad Rebbes.[15]

Noted students[edit]

Works[edit]

  • Ohr HaTorah - Chassidic discourses
  • Sefer HaLikkutim - A Chassidic encyclopedia
  • Derech Mitzvosecha - An explanation of the mystical reasons for the Mitzvos[16]
  • Responsa Tzemach Tzedek - 8 vols.[17]
  • Sefer Chakira: Derech Emunah - exposition of Jewish philosophy

Notes[edit]

Tzemach Tzedek Responsa. His mastery in Talmud as well as mysticism won friendship from non-Hasidic scholars and helped resolve the Hasidic-Mitnagdic schism
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Encyclopedia of Hasidism, entry: Schneersohn, Menachem Mendel. Naftali Lowenthal. Aronson, London 1996. ISBN 1-56821-123-6
  2. ^ "Tzemach" (צמח) has the same gematria as "Menachem" (מנחם), and "Tzedek" (צדק) has the same as "Mendel" (מענדל). The original responsa Tzemach Tzedek were those of Menachem Mendel Krochmal. Schneersohn's responsa are known as Shu"t Tzemach Tzedek Hachadashot, "the new Tzemach Tzedek responsa". Rabbi Menachem Mendil Hager, the first Viznhitzer Rebbe, called his commentary on the Torah Tzemach Tzadik (צמח צדיק), because he spelled his name with an extra yod (מענדיל).
  3. ^ The Tzemach Tzedek and the Haskalah Movement, Official Chabad history.
  4. ^ The claim is in Mekor Baruch, chapter 20. But see Mekor Baruch - Mekor Hakzavim by Yehoshua Mondshein.
  5. ^ H. Rabinowicz (1970). The World of Hasidism. Hartmore House. p. 134. ISBN 0-87677-005-7. 
  6. ^ Sefer HaToldos Rav Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn MiLubavitch, Glitzenstein, A. H.
  7. ^ The introduction to Hayom Yom, by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
  8. ^ a Hebrew acronym for "Rav Shalom Ber"
  9. ^ Kaminetzky, Yosef. Y. Days in Chabad. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn, NY. (2005): p. 21.
  10. ^ Kaminetzky, Yosef. Y. Days in Chabad. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn, NY. (2005): p. 93.
  11. ^ Kaminetzky, Yosef. Y. Days in Chabad. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn, NY. (2005): p. 92-93.
  12. ^ Lowenthal, Naftali. Schneersohn, Shmaryahu Noah. Encyclopedia of Hasidism, Jason Aronson Publishers. London. 1996.
  13. ^ Schneerson, Shmaryahu Noah. Shemen La'moar. Vol. 1. Kfar Chabad, Israel. (1964): p. 1. Available at HebrewBooks.org
  14. ^ Schneerson, Shmaryahu Noah. Shemen La'moar. Vol. 2. Kfar Chabad, Israel. (1967): p. 1. Available at HebrewBooks.org
  15. ^ Sefer HaSichos 5752, Vol. 1, p. 6
  16. ^ Parts of Derech Mitzvosecha in English translation : Part one Part two In Hebrew
  17. ^ Chabadlibrary.org Online edition in Hebrew

External links[edit]

Acharonim Rishonim Geonim Savoraim Amoraim Tannaim Zugot
Preceded by
Dovber Schneuri
Rebbe of Lubavitch
1831—1866
Succeeded by
Shmuel Schneersohn