Living Legacy: Rebbe Hershele of Zidichoiv, zy”a
By: Yehuda Alter
This week, 11 Tammuz, marks the 190th yohrtzeit of one of the greatest lights of the Chassidic movement, a patriarch to countless Chassidic leaders from throughout the generations until this very day.
Rebbe Tzvi Hirsch Eichenstein, zy”a, was born in the town of Safrin, Galicia in the year 1763, to his father Rav Yitzchok Eizik who hailed from generations of great rabbonim. From a young age, he immersed himself completely in Torah, and would complete shas every single year.
He journeyed to a number of the Chassidic masters of his generation, and considered himself an ardent talmid from a number of them. Chief among them was the holy Chozeh of Lublin. It is said that once, in the last year of the Chozeh’s life, when he was already weak, they sought to be mechadesh the lovonoh, but it was not being seen in the sky.
Rebbe Hershele led his Rebbe inside, to a certain window… situated at an angle where the levonoh could never be seen. And there appeared a most clear and beautiful moon. The Rebbe explained: “Surely you think that my student moved around the walls of the beis medrash to make it easier for me to see the moon. No, he recalibrated all the celestial worlds in order to make it easy for me, as I am already weak.
Following the Chozeh’s passing, he made his way to the Rebbe Reb Elimelech, to the Rebbe Rebbe Baruch’l of Medzibuz, the Koznitzer maggid, and others.
When he assumed leadership of his own court, thousands journeyed to him. They saw his incredible avodah, and also incredible miracles. His avodas hatefillah was from another world, and the classic Zidichoiver nusach is still used to this day in many courts.
He was baki in every area of Torah, and a master of kabbalah. He left behind numerous classic, esoteric seforim, including Ateres Tzvi, Tzvi Latzadik, and others.
His avodah of mikvah was otherworldly. He would regularly make his way to the frozen river, break a hole, and immerse therein.
In 1831, a pandemic of cholera swept through the area. Rebbe Hershele expressed his wishes to be taken as an atonement for the generation.
His Rebbetzin was niftar a few weeks prior to him. Shortly thereafter, she came to him in a dream to inform him that it was decreed that he would soon be joining her in the World of Truth, and this is indeed was happened, on 11 Tammuz of the year 1831.
His tziyin in Zidichoiv has been a center of yeshu’os, and has always drawn large crowds. Rebbe Meir’l of Premishlan said that in Shomayim it was decreed that on the day of the yohrtzeit there should never be rain in Zidichoiv, so as not to inconvenience the visitors.
Rebbe Hershele did not leave behind any sons (his only son was niftar his lifetime). But through his four daughters, an incredible family has sprung forth, and continue his living legacy to this very day.