Living Legacy: Rebbe Gershon Chanoch Henich (Leiner) of Radzin
By: Yehuda Alter
The fourth day of Teves marks the yahrtzeit of the first Radziner Rebbe, who is known for his unique position on the true techeiles for tzitzis, and also for his authorship of the monumental “Sidrei Taharos.” He was the founder of the Radziner dynasty and the scion of the Izbitzer dynasty.
The Rebbe was born to his father, Rebbe Yaakov of Itzbitz, known as the Beis Yaakov, the son of Rebbe Mordechai Yaakov of Izbitza, known as the Mei Hashilo’ach. They traced their lineage upward to great tzaddikim, all the way to the Ba’alei Hatosfos, to Rashi, all the way to Dovid Hamelech.
The Radziner Rebbe was known for his sharpness and brilliance. A great influence in his life was his grandfather, Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza, a talmid of the Yehudi Hakodosh, Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Parshischa, and the Kotzker Rebbe, zy”a. Following the passing of his grandfather, he learned much from his illustrious father, in Torah and kabbalah.
At a young age, he mastered the entire Shas with crystal clarity, with many Rishonim and Achronim. Later commentaries remarked about his complete mastery that it is difficult to fathom such levels of retention in even the most remote seforim of Yerushalmi, Sifri, Safro, and Tosefta.
In the year 1860, he became the rov of Radzin, Poland.
The Radziner Rebbe constantly preached about the importance of Yiras Shomayim, and didn't allow a day to pass without learning sifrei mussar. He would often take the sefer Reishis Chochma as he went to rest.
At the age of 29, he printed his monumental Sidrei Taharos. It is a collection of all the gemarah passages on the mishnayos of seder Taharos, which do not have gemara elucidation. The tzaddikim of his generation greatly lauded this sefer. He became active in seeking to discover the true source of techeiles, the blue dye which we are required to put on the tzitzis. After much effort, he identified this as the cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis).
He wrote the following in his sefer Pesil Techeiles:
“And with the help of Hashem it has come to my hands to extract, from the blood of the cuttlefish which is black as ink, the color techeiles, in a manner which nothing affects the color other than the blood of the chillazon; and the chemical additives are colorless and only work to extract the color from the blood.”
The Rebbe was niftar in 1891 and was interred in Radzin.
He was succeeded by his only son, Rebbe Mordechai Yosef, author of Tiferes Yosef.