Zalman Moishe HaYitzchaki
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (October 2013)
Shneur Zalman Moishe HaYitzchoki, usually known familiarly as Reb Zalman Moishe, (c. 1872-3 Shvat, 1952), was an Orthodox Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi in pre-war Europe, and towards the end of his life, in the Land of Israel. Specifically, he served as a Mashpia (Hasidic mentor) and shochet. He was a follower of the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz.
Reb Zalman Moishe was born in Nevel, Russia, to his father, Reb Dovber ("Berel Der Shoichet"), who was the Chabad shochet in Nevel. The surname HaYitzchoki indicated their lineage to Rashi. His mother was Rochel Zisselson, the daughter of a prominent Lubavitch family in Nevel. He married Neshe Reines of Zhembin, the Reines's were a prominent Rabbinic family in White Russia.
After marrying, Reb Zalman Moishe began studying unofficially part-time at the Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva in Zhembin, and this brought him to become intensely devoted to the study of Chabad Chassidus. He would come to attend the lectures on this topic delivered by Reb Shmuel Groinem Esterman, the official Mashpia.
Several years later he moved to Schtzedrin, a small village founded by the Tzemach Tzedek, and populated exclusively by Chabad Chassidim. He accepted the request of the village's inhabitants that he come practice shechita. This was during World War I, a time when abject poverty prevailed. Nevertheless, Reb Zalman Moishe was careful to distribute all his earnings to the needy.
After his father died in 1919 he returned to Nevel to replace his father as the city's shochet. He immediately became one of the central personalities in the city, and his home became a centre for Chassidic farbrengens.
In the year 1933 he decided to immigrate to the Holy Land. In order to file his application he moved to Moscow, where he stayed for two years, until his application was accepted in 1935. He then moved to Tel Aviv.
In the early 1940s he suffered partial paralysis, and would spend most of the day studying the Chasidic discourses of the Rebbe Rashab, and praying at great length.
His children were:
- Sarah (1904-1997) wife of the Mashpia Rabbi Avrohom Drizin (Mayorer) (1900-1991)
- Shmuel (1906-1986)
- Faya (1920-1983) wife of Rabbi Meir Borovski (1915?-1994?)
He is buried in Tzfas.
Reb Zalman Moishe was known for his sharp and even crude style of rebuke during farbrengens. However, those who knew him well understood that the "real" Reb Zalman Moishe was refined and considerate. Nevertheless, he used this approach at farbrengens because he believed that then is the appropriate occasion to deal with the animal soul, which understands no other language.
When he arrived in Tel Aviv, some elderly Chassidim there were upset at Reb Zalman Moishe’s sharp style of farbrengens. They wrote a letter of complaint to Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, who replied, saying that their letter caused him “great pain and much sorrow of the spirit,” and completely dismissed their complaints.
A characteristic episode is told concerning his sense of submission to the Chabad Rebbes: The Rebbe Rayatz once turned to him at a farbrengen and said something to him. Afterwards, the other Chassidim asked him what the Rebbe had said. "I didn't hear one word," he responded, "only one thought bothered me at that moment: When will the Rebbe already remove his holy eyes from my disgraceful face?"
For many years he maintained a regimen of study of Chassidus: Early every morning he would study for six consecutive hours. He would then go to work for several hours as a shochet. He would then eat something, rest a bit, and pray for several hours.
Held in high esteem
The Rebbe Rashab would refer to him affectionately as "my Zalman Moishe." He was held in such high esteem by the Rebbes of Chabad that the Rebbe said that "an aphorism of Zalman Moishe is told over in the house of the Chabad Rebbes (Beis HoRav)." In the condolence letter sent by the Rebbe to the family after his death, the Rebbe referred to him as a Tzaddik. This is extraordinary, as the Rebbe had not referred that way to any other Chossid.
The Rebbe Rayatz said of Reb Zalman Moishe to the Chabad residents of Tel Aviv: “He is one of the few unique ones who diligently study and comprehend Chassidus. He is expert in many discourses of my father [the Rebbe Rashab]. They should strive to find him an appropriate position as a shochet, and draw him exceedingly close.”
Reb Zalman Moishe’s distinguished students included Reb Mendel Futerfas, Reb Nissan Neminov, and Reb Yoel Kahn. Once Reb Nissan said to Reb Mendel, "Listen, Mendel, the small amount of Chassidic enthusiasm that we have is from what we received from Reb Zalman Moishe!"
- Anoshim Chassidim Hoyu, Yosef Yitzchak Kaminetzki, Israel, 2003, p. 11
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- Yosef Yitzchak Kaminetzki, pp. 33-34
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