The Holy Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1810) was one of the leading disciples of the Maggid of Mezeritch (who succeeded the Baal Shem Tov after his passing). On the very day that the Berditchever was born, the Holy Baal Shem Tov was said to have conducted a special “Tish” (celebration). With great joy he announced to his Chassidim that a very lofty NESHAMA (Soul), that of the spiritual defender of the Jewish people, had just entered the world!
While the Holy BESHT was celebrating, it is said that the Satan was incensed that Rebbe Levi Yitzchak’s soul was allowed to enter the world. The Satan tried very hard to prevent this from happening, claiming to HASHEM that if the Neshama of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak were to come into the world, he (the Satan) would no longer be able to succeed in his mission of promoting evil.
Even at a very young age Rebbe Levi Yitzchak demonstrated unparalleled levels of AHAVAT YISRAEL and a deep sensitivity to the plight of his fellow Jew. His ability to find positive traits in every Jew, regardless of that person’s past misdeeds, were indeed legendary. He constantly advocated vigorously in front of HASHEM and His Heavenly tribunal on behalf of the entire Jewish people and soon acquired the title of “Saneygoran Shel Yisrael” (the defense council of the Jewish people).
Rebbe Levi Yitzchak authored the classic chassidic text “Kedushas Levi”, a commentary on the Torah.
Rebbe Yisrael of Ruzhin, known as the “Holy Rizhiner”, loved telling stories of the tzadikim, but most of all he enjoyed telling stories about Rebbe Levi Yitzchak. He said that simply mentioning Rebbe Levi Yitzchak’s name is already a story in and of itself.
The Holy “Chozeh” (Seer) of Lublin, was a contemporary of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak. He noted that everyday he thanks and blesses the Almighty for bringing down the soul of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak into the world. Just as we have a mitzvah to say a blessing when we see the wonders that God put in the natural world, so the Chozeh would bless G-d for putting Levi Yitzchak, whom he considered the greatest wonder, into the world.
Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the “Tzemach Tzedek”, said that thanks to all of the positive advocacy that Rebbe Levi Yitzchak had advocated on behalf of the Jewish people during his life, a new Hall of Merit was formed in Heaven called “the Hall of Levi Yitzchak son of Sarah Sasha” (his mother’s name).
Indeed it is a great SEGULA to recite his holy name “REB LEVI YITZCHAK BEN SARAH SASHA” in times of need or distress to bring salvation.
Some of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak’s great students include: The Holy Kozhnitzer Maggid (author of Avodas Yisroel), Rav Moshe of Savran, Rav Avraham Dovid of Botshash (author of Eshel Avraham on the Shulchan Aruch, and Da’as Kedoshim on the Siddur), Rav Aharon of Zhitomir (author of Toldos Aharon), and Rav Shmuel of Kaminka among others.
Though Rebbe Levi Yitzchak had children, they did not take the mantle of his leadership after his passing. Even in Berditchev, a stronghold of followers of the secular haskalah movement, he was considered a unique and singular Rabbi, and because of the great love the townspeople had for him, they never again sought another Rabbi to fill his place, and made do with a Beit Din (a halachic court) of Rabbis, but there was no Rabbi for the entire town. There is no other example of something like this occurring by any other Tzadik.
Rebbe Levi Yitzchak also composed the beautiful Tfillah (prayer) titled “GOTT FUN AVRAHAM”. This Tfillah, originally written in Yiddish, is recited on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) prior to HAVDALAH. It is said by both men and women, and the minhag (custom) is to recite it 3 times consecutively.
Below is the original Yiddish version:
גאט פון אברהם, פון יצחק און פון יעקב! בעהיט דיין ליעב פאלק ישראל פון אלעם בייזען אין דיינעם לויב. אז דער ליעבער שבת קודש געהט אוועק, אז די וואך זאל אונז קומען צו אמונה שלמה, צו אמונת חכמים, צו אהבת חברים, צו דבקות הבורא ברוך הוא; מאמין צו זיין בשלש עשרה עיקרים שלך, ובגאולה קרובה במהרה בימינו, לתחיית המתים, ובנבואת משה רבנו עליו השלום. ריבונו של עולם! דו ביזט דאך הנותן ליעף כח גיב דיינע ליעבע אידישע קינדערלעך אויך כח דיך צו לויבען און נור דיך צו דיענען; אז די וואך זאל אונז
קומען צו געזונד און צו מזל און צו הצלחה און צו ברכה און צו חסד און צו בני חיי ומזוני,
לנו ולכל ישראל – ונאמר אמן
Below is an English translation:
God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, protect your beloved people Israel from all hurt, in your love. As the beloved holy Sabbath goes away, that the week, and the month, and the year, should come to us with perfect faith, with faith in the sages, with love and attachment to good friends, to attachment to the blessed Creator, with belief in your thirteen principles of faith, and in the ultimate redemption, may it be soon, and the Resurrection of the dead, and in the prophecy of Moses, our teacher, may he rest in peace.
Lord of the world! You are the one who gives strength to the weak! Give your beloved Israelites more health and strength so we can love you and serve you, only you, and no other, Heaven forfend. And the week, and the month, and the year, should come to us with mercy, and health, and auspiciousness, and blessing, and success, and riches and glory, and to children, and long life, and abundant food, and Divine providence, for us and all Israel, and let us say, Amen’