Living Legacy: Rebbe Mordechai Shraga of Husyatin

Living Legacy: Rebbe Mordechai Shraga of Husyatin

Yehuda Alter 

Shabbos, the 22nd of Iyar, marks the 129th yohrtzeit of the first Husyatiner Rebbe, Rebbe Mordehcai Shraga Friedman, zy”a, the sixth son of the Heiliger Ruziner, founder of the Ruziner dynasty of which there are so many prominent branches today. 

The Husyatiner was born in the year 1834, and his holy father said about him that a neshomoh such as this did not descend onto this world in 2,000 years.  

The Ruziner named his son for his uncle, Rebbe Mottele of Chernobyl, despite his being alive. He explained, people wonder why I named my son after my uncle who is alive. But they don’t know that Rebbe Mottele has not really been on this world for twenty years! 

A great childhood friendship existed between the Husyatiner and his nephew, Rebbe Yitzchok of Bohush, the son of his brother, Rebbe Sholom Yosef of Sadiger. Rav Yitzchok would later relate, “as children, we would gather piece of wood and make them into piles—but we had the kavonos of Kvodo Malei Olam, that Hashem’s Presence fills the world.” 

A tremendous kedusha was evident on the Rebbe even as a child, and he indeed was called to serve in the Admorus when he was still a tender 16 years old. 

In 1865, he relocated to the Ukrainian town of Husyatin with his chassidim and his family, and this is where he led the court, as did his son and successor, Rebbe Yisroel of of Husyatin.

The Rebbe built a magnificent Kloiz, which stood for many years, and this is where he and his son, Rebbe Yisroel, davened and led the court. The Kloiz stood adjacent to the Rebbe’s home. 

In addition to this son, his other son and two daughters were each illustrious personalities within the Ruziner dynasty, including his son-in-law, the Kopicienitzer Rebbe. 

In Husyatin, he greatly bolstered the Jewish communal life, and erected mikva’os, shuls, batei midrashim, and chadorim, etc. The conduct of the Rebbe is said to have been otherworldly. He would sit for hours in utter devekus, so much so, that his loved ones were concerned that his soul would leave his body, and they would be sure to distract him from time to time. 

Rav Shime’le Zelichover would say that the Husyatiner was a great warrior. “Every Yid has his personal battle with the yetzer harah, but the Husyatiner was a general—fighting for all of Klal Yisroel.” 

The Rebbe was niftar on 22 Iyar, the 37th day of the Omer of the year 1894, and interred in Husyatin, where the kever exists today. 

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