“The Berdichever Rabbi”

(Courtesy Rabbi Asman)

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak had been a child prodigy, acclaimed in his early years as an illuy (genius). At the suggestion of his mentor, Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke of Nikolsburg, Levi Yitzchak traveled to Mezritch where he studied Chasidut under the Maggid of Mezritch for many years. He served as rabbi in the cities of Britchval, Zelichov, and Pinsk; and for the last 25 years of his life he was the Rabbi of Berdichev, which under his inspired leadership grew into a flourishing center of Chassidut.

The Berditchever is one of the legendary figures of Chassidut, revered for his enthusiastic dedication to Torah and Mitzvot, but above all for his consuming love of God and his people. He became known as the defender of the people of Israel. He would argue with God, charging Him with being too stern a father to His children, pleading for an end to the long and cruel exile.

His work Kedushat Levi is a classic collection of chassidic thoughts arranged according to the weekly Torah portions; it includes a commentary on Avot, and an appendix containing a number of anecdotes that reflect his saintly life and his role as attorney for the defense of the Jewish people.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak is one of the most popular and beloved figures in Jewish history. Born into a prominent rabbinical family, he studied with the famed author of the “Pri Megadim,” was himself a great scholar and served as rabbi of a number of Polish communities.

However, after meeting Rabbis Shmelke Nikolsburg and Dov Baer of Mezhirech, he was won over to Chassidism and eventually became one of the most influential leaders of Chassidism in Central Poland and the Ukraine. He is particularly famous for defending the Jewish people before G-d and always interpreting their actions in the best possible light.

His fervor in prayer and the fulfillment of Mitzvot are legendary. His song before Havdalah, “Dudele”, expressing man’s yearning and awareness of G-d’s presence, is still sung with tenderness and great feeling.

– See also the following link: http://rabbielimallon.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/a-dudele-by-rabbi-levi-yitzhak-of-berditchev/

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s work, “Kedushas Levi,” was published in his lifetime and is ever popular,representing an essential element in any Chassidic library.

R’ Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev was one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezeritch who was the successor to the Baal Shem Tov. He was the famous Melitz Yosher, a passionate believer in the inherent goodness of human beings. He always found a way to give another Jew the benefit of the doubt. His method of prayer can be described only as ecstasy.

Levi Yitzkhak from Berdichev was, indeed, one of the most prominent tzaddiks of the end of the 18-th century and a leader of the Volyn’s Hassids of that period. He saw the service to the Almighty not just in praying, but in the everyday actions as well as Baal Shem Tov, his spiritual leader did.

According to this doctrine the purport of the faith is in a permanent communication with G-d. This communication is possible only when a person is happy and cheerful. Levi Yitzkhak himself was talking to G-d just in this way. He was applying to the Almighty with his requests and even with claims not praying for himself personally, but for all the Jewish people.

Lots of people were calling him “a defender of Israel” and saying: “When we remember about the Berdichev’s Rabbi, the strictness of the Heaven’s justice softens.” There is the pray, in which the Rabbi challenges G-d directly:

“I, Levi Yitzkhak, the son of Sarah from Berdichev, has come to have a trial with You on behalf of the Israel, Your people. What do You want from the Israel, from Your people?”

Women in some congregations still say the pray before Shabbat, which had been created by Rabbi Levy Yitzkhak: “May the Lord give a power to the everyone exhausted…”

Rabbi Levy Yitzkhak from Berdichev died in 1810 and despite there was no the epitaphy on his grave, everyone knew who had been burried in there. A pilgrimage to the grave of the tzaddik is going on even nowadays.