Living Legacy: Rebbe Ze’ev Volf of Zbariz
by Yehuda Alter
The third of Nissan marks the yohrtzeit of Rebbe Binyomin Tzvi Ze’ev of Zbariz, the third son of Rebbe Yechiel Michel of Zlochev, one of the earliest Admorim in the history of Chassidic movement. He was the brother of Rebbe Yitzchok of Radvil, Rebbe Mordechai of Kremnitz, Rebbe Moshe of Zvill, and Rebbe Yosef of Yampoli. Their father, the Zlochever Maggid, would praise them greatly.
As a young boy, he was rambunctious, and the story is told that at the time of his bar mitzvah, his father purchased battim for his tefillin and cried many tears into them on his son’s behalf. When they were filled with tears, the maggid dried them, and instructed the sofer, “now you can put in the parchment.” From that day forward a great change came over the boy, and he became unrecognizable in his pursuit of Torah and avodas Hashem.
He would grow to be a great tzaddik who would effect great yeshu’os for Yidden, and he was known for the simple manner in which he carried himself. About this temimus, simplicity, the holy Bnei Yisoschor remarked: “For this, one needs to be wise like Shlomo Hamelech (to be so great, and yet conceal himself thus).”
He related to every Yid, even the lowliest one, with great love and reverence, and he would refer to every Yid as a tzaddik. Once, two tzaddikim came to him and reported that there was a Yid who was moser, and would constantly tell the authorities bad things about his brethren, they wanted the tzaddik to agree with them and declare that he should be taken from this earth. Rav Zeev Volf asked them whether this Yid fasts on Yom Kippur, and they answered in the affirmative. He then lifted his eyes upward and cried out, “Hashem, you know how many tears I shed so that I should not hear anything bad about my fellow Yid.” When the tzaddkim heard these impassioned words, they agreed that they would not either want to take this person from this world—no matter how evil he was. Such was the ahavas Yisroel of Rav Ze’ev Volf.
His own avodas Hashem was otherworldly and with great toil and effort.
Following his wedding, he sat immersed in Torah and avodah in the home of his father-in-law, not knowing of the outside world. He journeyed to the courts of the holy Chozeh of Lublin and Rebbe Mendel of Rimanov.
Following the passing of his father, the Zlochever Maggid, he began to lead chassidim. Many would stream to him, including many great tzaddikim. They included Rebbe Sender’l of Komarna and his son, Rebbe Yitzchok Aizik of Komarna. Rebbe Hershele Zidichoiver, the Ropshitzer Rov, and others. His children were likewise great tzaddikim in their own right.
Reb Zeev Volf was niftar on the 3rd of Nissan, 1822, 201 years ago, and was interred in the beis hachaim in Zbariz.