Living Legacy: Rav Naftuli Chaim of Dzikov-Viznitz

Living Legacy: Rav Naftuli Chaim of Dzikov-Viznitz

By: Yehuda Alter

Today, the tenth of Adar, marks the yohrtzeit of Rav Naftuli Chaim Adler, zt”l, the son-in-law of the Imrei Chaim of Viznitz, a Rosh Yeshiva and builder of communities in Eretz Yisroel.

He was born in the year 1913 in Yerushalayim to his father, Rav Mordechai Yehuda Adler, a grandson of Rav Dovid of Lelov, and a descendant of numerous luminaries in the Chassidic movement. His mother was Rebbetzin Tzirel, a daughter of Rav Elozor Nissan Horowitz of Tzfas, a son of the Dzikover Rebbe, Rav Naftuli Chaim Horowitz.

Tragically, his father was niftar when he was very young, and they moved into their grandfather's home in Tzfas. The times were difficult in Eretz Yisroel, and the entire family soon moved to Europe, where his mother remarried to the Mekor Baruch, a son of the Ahavas Yisroel of Viznitz.

Rav Naftuli Chaim spent these years immersed in Torah and avodah. He journeyed to the famed Yeshiva of Rav Menachem Mendel of Vishive, another son of the Ahavas Yisroel, which was possibly the most prominent chassidishe yeshiva of its time. 

Later, he stood at the right of his stepfather in building Torah and Yiddishkeit in the region. When the time came for him to marry, he was chosen for Rebbetzin Hinda, the daughter of the Imrei Chaim of Viznitz. Together, they built a home of Torah and chessed, Their wedding took place in Grosswardein, where the Imrei Chaim was then living, and following this, the couple went to Seret, to continue learning by the Mekor Baruch.

When WWII broke out, Grosswardein—which was then relatively safe—became a center for refugees. Rav Naftuli Chaim's two-room apartment became a chess center for chessed for as many people as they could humanely help.

As the conditions worsened, they knew they needed to escape Grosswardein. Through a harrowing ordeal, they escaped and finally arrived in Eretz Yisroel. There, they reunited with their uncle, the Damesek Eliezer, yet another son of the Ahavas Yisroel, and they began working to rescue the remaining family members, including the Mekor Baruch. 

As the refugees from the Holocaust began filtering into Eretz Yisroel, the Imrei Chaim felt a burning need to establish a community for them. Shikun Ahavas Yisroel in Bnei Brak was his brainchild, and his son-in-law, Rav Naftuli Chaim, would be his right hand in this endeavor. He traveled in postwar Europe for two years, gathering funds for this project.

When this project began to establish roots, he made his way to the side of his stepfather, the Mekor Baruch of Seret-Viznitz, and was instrumental in establishing the Seret-Viznitzer community in Haifa, and stood for years at the helm of Yeshivas Yachel Yisroel.

Rav Naftuli Chaim was beloved and admired by all the Viznitzer Admorim and chassidim, and helped countless individuals and institutions establish themselves in the period of rebuilding from the Churban.

Upon his passing in 1995, he left behind generations who followed in his ways. His son, Rav Yisroel Eliezer Adler, serves as the current Dzikov-Viznitzer Rebbe in Rechovot.

Many thanks to the venerated Viznitzer askan, R’ Chaim Meir Markowitz, for his gracious sharing of these historic images. 

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