RABBI DOV BAER BEN AVRAHAM OF MEZERITCH (Hebrew : דֹּב בֶּר
מִמֶּזְרִיטְשְׁ) (died December 1772 OS ), also
known as the
Maggid of Mezritch, was a disciple of Rabbi Yisrael Baal
Shem Tov , the founder of
His teachings appear in Magid Devarav L'Yaakov, Or Torah, Likutim Yekarim, Or Ha'emet, Kitvei Kodesh, Shemuah Tovah, and in the works authored by his disciples. His inner circle of disciples, known as the Chevraia Kadisha ("Holy Brotherhood"), included his son Rabbi Avraham HaMalach (The Angel), Rabbi Nachum of Czernobyl , Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk , Rabbi Zusha of Hanipol , Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev , Rabbi Boruch of Medzhybizh , Rabbi Aharon (HaGadol) of Karlin , Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk , Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke of Nikolsburg and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi .
* 7 Views and teachings
* 7.1 Published writings * 7.2 View of God * 7.3 On the ecstasy of prayer * 7.4 Role of the tzadik
* 8 See also * 9 References * 10 Further reading * 11 External links
The most common transliterations are Dov Baer, DovBer, or Dov Ber;
rarely used forms are Dob Baer or Dobh Baer which often depend on the
He was known as the Maggid — "Preacher" or literally "Sayer," one who preaches and admonishes to go in God's ways — of Mezritsh , and near the end of his life the Maggid of the town of Rivne where he was buried.
The German form Meseritz is sometimes used instead of Mezeritch.
Dov Baer was born in
Wołyń (now Volhynia) in 1710,
according to the
When he was young, he reportedly lived in great poverty with his wife. One legend relates that when a child was born, they had no money to pay the midwife. His wife complained and the Maggid went outside to "curse" Israel. He went outside and said: "O children of Israel, may abundant blessings come upon you!" When his wife complained a second time, he went outside again and cried: "Let all happiness come to the children of Israel — but they shall give their money to thorn bushes and stones!" The baby was too weak to cry, and the Maggid sighed rather than "cursing". Immediately the answer came, and a voice said: "You have lost your share in the coming world." The Maggid replied: "Well, then, the reward has been done away with. Now I can begin to serve in good earnest."
VISIT TO BAAL SHEM TOV
Dov Baer later became an admirer of Rabbi
Isaac Luria 's system of
One account has it that on account of his poor health he was persuaded to seek out the Baal Shem Tov for a cure.
He arrived at the Baal Shem Tov's house, expecting to hear
expositions of profound mysteries, but instead was told stories of the
latter's everyday life. Hearing only similar stories at each
subsequent visit, Dov Baer decided to return home. Just as he was
about to leave, he was summoned again to the Baal Shem Tov's house.
Baal Shem Tov opened an "Eitz Chaim" of Rabbi
Rabbi Dov Baer is reported to have learned from the Baal Shem Tov to value everyday things and events, and to emphasize the proper attitude with which to study Torah . The mystical philosophy of the Baal Shem Tov rejected the emphasis on mortification of the body in Musar and Kabbalistic traditions, seeing the greater spiritual advantage in transforming the material into a vehicle for holiness, rather than breaking it. This could be achieved by the perception of the omnipresent Divine immanence in all things, from understanding the inner mystical Torah teachings of Hasidic thought . Under the guidance of the Baal Shem Tov, Dov Baer abandoned his ascetic lifestyle, and recovered his health, though his left foot remained lame. The Baal Shem Tov said that "before Dov Baer came to me, he was already a pure golden menorah (candelebrum). All I needed to do was ignite it." Regarding his holiness, the Baal Shem Tov also reputedly said that if Dov Baer had not been lame, and had been able to ritually immerse in the mikvah , then he could have been able to bring the Mashiach .
Immediately after the death of the Baal Shem Tov in 1760, his son Rabbi Tsvi became the next Rebbe. After only a year he gave up this position. Among the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, two stood out as contenders to succeed him, Dov Baer and Yacov Yoseph of Polonne . Yacov Yoseph would later become the author of the first Hasidic book published ("Toldos Yaacov Yosef" in 1780), one of the most direct records of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. By collective consent, the Maggid assumed the leadership of Hasidism. In effect he became the architect of the Hasidic movement and is responsible for its successful dissemination.
Maggid was housebound because of his poor physical condition.
Solomon Maimon records an encounter with the Maggid
in his memoirs, in which he passes a strong negative judgement on the
Hasidic movement. He relates that the
Maggid passed the entire week
in his room, permitting only a few confidants to enter. He appeared in
public only on
He attracted a remarkable group of scholarly and saintly disciples,
including most of his fellow students of the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal
Shem Tov had travelled across Jewish areas, reaching out to and
inspiring the common folk, whose sincerity he cherished. He sought to
revive the broken spirit of the simple Jews. At the same time, he
would also seek out the great scholars of
The elite group of disciples, the "Chevraya Kaddisha" ("Holy
Society"), included Rabbi Aharon of Karlin , Rabbi Menachem Mendel of
Vitebsk , the brothers Rabbi
Elimelech of Lizhensk and Rabbi Zusha of
Hanipol , the brothers Rabbi Shmelka (later Chief Rabbi of Nikolsburg)
Pinchas Horowitz (later Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt-am-Main and
author of profound Talmudic commentaries), and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of
Liadi (author of the
OPPOSITION OF THE RABBIS
Hasidism spread rapidly as a result of Dov Ber's powerful
personality, gaining footholds in
The Maggid's pupils Rabbi
Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and Rabbi Shneur
Zalman of Liadi tried to visit the
The ban issued at Vilna drew the eyes of the world toward Hasidism. Rabbi Dov Ber ignored the opposition, but it is blamed in part for his death in Mezhirichi on December 15, 1772.
Dov Ber assigned future territories of influence to his leading
disciples. After the death of the
Maggid in 1772, these disciples
dispersed to their assigned territories. Under the
Baal Shem Tov and
then the Maggid, Hasidism had flourished in
The Maggid's disciple
Elimelech of Lizhensk began Hasidism in Poland.
His classic work Noam Elimelech focuses on the
Hasidic doctrine of the
Tzaddik (Saintly leader and Heavenly intercessor for the wider
community). Schneur Zalman of Liadi described Noam Elimelech as the
Hasidic "book of the righteous". In
Hasidic history, Noam Elimelech
became the spiritual doctrine for General-Hasidism, giving birth to
the many leaders, successors and dynasties of mainstream Hasidism, and
inspiring the emotional attachment and spiritual bond of the common
folk to their
Later dynasties such as Peshischa -Kotzk would break away from this General- Hasidic emphasis on Tzaddikim and mysticism.
Among the other followers of Dov Ber in the academy of Mezeritch, the
brother of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, Rabbi
Zusha of Hanipol holds a
beloved place in
Hasidic tradition. Reputedly unable to receive a full
teaching from the Maggid, as his excitement caused him to have to run
out of the room in dveikus , his holy example personified the elevated
soul of the
Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
VIEWS AND TEACHINGS
Further information: Hasidic philosophy
Maggid left no writings of his own. Many of his teachings were
recorded by his disciples and appeared in anthologies "MaggiD DebaraV
le-Ya'akoV" (מגיד דבריו ליעקב the last letters of which
title spell "Dov"), known also under the title of Likkutei Amarim
("Collected Sayings"), published at
VIEW OF GOD
For the Maggid, God manifests Himself in creation, which is only one aspect of His activity, and which is therefore in reality a self-limitation. Just as God in His goodness limited Himself, and thus descended to the level of the world and man, so it is the duty of the latter to strive to unite with God. The removal of the outer shell of mundane things, or "the ascension of the spark," being a recognition of the presence of God in all earthly things, it is the duty of man, should he experience pleasure, to receive it as a divine manifestation, for God is the source of all pleasure.
ON THE ECSTASY OF PRAYER
Rabbi Dov Ber's view of prayer was that it is the purpose of the life on earth to advance until the perfect union with God is attained. Thus the vegetable kingdom serves as food for the animal kingdom, in order that the lower manifestation of divinity, existing in the former, may be developed into a higher one. Man being the highest manifestation has a duty to attain the highest pinnacle in order to be united with God. The way to achieve this, he argued, is through prayer, in which man forgets himself and his surroundings, and concentrates all his thought and feeling upon union with God.
Like the Neo-Platonists, he said that when a man becomes so absorbed in the contemplation of an object that his whole power of thought is concentrated upon one point, his self becomes unified with that point. So prayer in such a state of real ecstasy, effecting a union between God and man, is extremely important, and may even be able to overcome the laws of nature.
ROLE OF THE TZADIK
Rabbi Dov Ber taught that only the tzadik is able to remove ALL his thoughts from earthly things and concentrate COMPLETELY on God. Because of his union with God, he is the connecting link between God and creation, and thus the channel of blessing and mercy. The love that men have for the tzadik provides a path to God. The duty of the ordinary mortal is therefore to love the tzadik and be subservient to him. In this connection Hasidim cite the classical Jewish teaching that Scripture considers one who serves Torah scholars to be cleaving to the Almighty Himself. Many Jews outside Hasidic circles argued that there can be no intermediaries between man and God, and this was one of the reasons that some non- Hasidic rabbis objected to Hasidism (see Misnagdim ). Hasidim believe that the root cause of this disagreement, as of all disagreements on questions of Torah, is lack of diligence in investigation.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I see Kaufmann Kohler this edition 1991, p.
98-99. ISBN 0-8052-0995-6
* ^ Martin Buber, Die Erzählungen der Chassidim, 12. Auflage,
Zürich: Manesse Verlag, 1992, ISBN 3-7175-1062-2 , p. 194
* ^ This Day in Jewish History 1772: The Maggid, Untrained
Successor to Baal Shem Tov, Dies,
* Dubnow, Voskhod, ix. Nos. 9-11; * Grätz , Gesch. der Juden, xi.98 et seq. and note 22; * Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, The Great Maggid, a comprehensive biography, 1974 * Kohan, in Ha-Shaḥar, v.634-639; * Ruderman, ib. vi.93 et seq.; * Lobel, in Sulamith, ii.315; * Rodkinsohn, Toledot 'Ammude ha-ChaBad, 1876, pp. 7–23.
* Beyond the Letters: The Question of