Living Legacy: Rebbe Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin, zy”a
Elul marks the 121st yohrtzeit of the great Rebbe Tzaddok, whose voluminous
writings and teachings have illuminated the way for generations. A wondrous
tzaddik who introduced completely unique ways of looking at Torah and
Yiddishkeit—blending the revealed, hidden, and chassidic Torah, along with the
traditions that he received from his holy Rebbeim—we take a look at his living
Rav Tzaddok was born in the year 5583 (1823) in the town of Krizburg, Lithuania, to his father Rav Yaakov Hakohen Rabinowitz who was the Rov of the town. His father’s love for him was boundless. When he was six years old, he fell off a wagon, and hearing that his son was injured, his became extremely weak… eventually passing away. The young Tzadok, while injured, recovered from his wounds. He was orphaned at the age of six.
His kedusha and his brilliance were apparent from a young age. As a very young boy he would go outside to learn by the light of the moon, since they were too poor to afford candles. He was raised by his uncle, the Rov of Krinik, who sent him to learn under Rav Yosef Shaul Nothenson, in Lublin. Although he had been raised a misnaged, his search led him to the court of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbitza, with whom he became tethered with heart and soul.
He refused the Rabbonus of Lublin, as well as other offers—preferring to spend his days and night immersed in avodas Hashem, and writing prolifically—until the passing of his Rebbe, Rebbe Leieble Eiger of Lublin, in 5648 (1887), when he assumed the helm of the Lubliner Chassidim, until his passing in 1900.
He was known to fast all day, only breaking his fast when he completed a masechta in Shas. He left behind perhaps the most prolific collection of writings by any leader in the chassidic movement.
His Torah is still being learned to this day, steadily gaining a wider audience. Greater numbers of marbitzei Torah are disseminating Rav Tzadok’s Torah—in which they see a unique appeal to our generation, the one before Moshiach. The works of Rav Tzadok are seen by many as a sort of encyclopedia to understanding more generally the Toras Hachasidus of the Ba’al Shem Tov and his talmidim—taking on the most existential questions in Yiddishkeit, of failing and brokenness.
While other Tzaddikim refrained from discussing these awesome ideas openly for fear of their views being abused and misused , Reb Tzadok haKohen , following in the lead of his Rebbe the Mei haShiloach, wrote explicitly about this process for the sake of granting Jews the courage never to forsake their journey toward closeness with Hashem.
Many of his sayings have become popular and oft-repeated.
He would say: “It is true that our generation has experienced ‘katnus hamochin,’ narrowing seichel; but our hearts have grown wider,” —suggesting that the pathway to our generation is through our hearts… which can be turned towards our Creator.
He greatly emphasized the power of Emunah, especially during the difficult days before Moshiach. “Those who will strengthen themselves with emunah will merit redemption.”
May the merit of the great tzaddik and his Torah indeed stand by us as we await the imminent geulah.