Living Legacy: Rebbe Baruch Pinchos of Skolya, zt”l
By: Yehuda Alter
Sunday, 24 Adar, marks the 102nd yohrtzeit of the Skolya Rebbe, Rebbe Baruch Pinchos Rabinovitch, who was niftar in Vienna in 1920 at the age of 46.
He was born in the year 1873, in the Polish town of Yampoli (today in Ukraine), to his father Rebbe Eliezer Chaim, the son of Rebbe Baruch of Yampol—where the Skolya chassidus traces its roots. Up through the holy generations, the family traces their lineage to Rebbe Mechel Zlochiver (who is buried in Yampol), to Rashi Hakodosh and Dovid Hamelech, among many other great tzaddikim.
His son, Rebbe Dovid Yitzchok Eizik of Skolya-New York, would later write in his Sefer Mishneh Lechem about the incredible circumstance of his father’s birth and naming: “on the night of his birth, his father Rebbe Eliezer Chaim was not at home. His father, Rebbe Baruch came to him in a dram and informed him that his wife gave birth to a boy, and he should name him Baruch, after himself. A bit later, his holy ancestor, Rebbe Pinchos of Ostroh, came to him and requested the same.”
Needless to say, eight days later, the child was named Baruch Pinchos.
The kedusha of the child was clear from a young age, and from around the time that he was fourteen, he did not sleep in a bed the entire week—only on Friday night. Thus, he toiled in Torah through the nights, placing his feet in cold water to stave off sleep. He would regularly learn 18 dapim of Gemoro every day, among his other sedorim in all areas of Torah.
He married Rebbetzin Chaya Odel Bracha, a scion of the Ropshitz and Komarna dynasties. In 1901, he was called to Skolya, where he established his court.
When WWI broke out, the area of Skolya was particularly hard hit—with terrible suffering and displacement—and and like so many Yidden from the region, he fled with his family to Vienna. There, he found numerous tremendous Rabbonim and Admorim.
The Skolya Rebbe became known for his kedusha and his Torah—and it was said that he was able to tell the name of a person, and his entire family, as soon as he set eyes on them. When he received a kvittel, he could see the needs of the person in front of him, without hearing any details.
By the same token, he would tell his chassidim things they had done—which no one in the world knew. In this way, he would urge them to teshuvah. He was also known as a great ba’al mofes, affecting great yeshu’os for those who came to him with their troubles.
With his open eyes, he foresaw his own untimely passing at the age of forty-six—even as he was in optimal health. He broke down in tears numerous times in the year of his passing. He cried that his wife would be a young almana… but the decree had been sealed. On 24 Adar, his neshomoh ascended to the Heavens.
He authored great works on Torah and kabbalah; among them are Tal Oros, Anim Zmiros, Imrei Baruch and Divrei Baruch.
The Rebbe had two sons. Rebbe Yisroel of Kishinev, and Rebbe Dovid Yitzchok Eizik, who assumed his place in Skolya, and later came to America, where he re-established the court—and where it continues to flourish to this day under the leadership of his great grandson the Skolya Rebbe Shilta who continues his living legacy.