RABBI LEVI YITZCHAK OF BERDITCHEV (1740-1810)
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was one of the greatest leaders of the Hassidic Movement. The Chozeh of Lublin (“Seer of Lublin”) was known to say “Every day, I set aside a time to thank the Almighty for sending the soul of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak to the world”. Rabbi Levi Yitzhak was a unique blend of a learned Sage who successfully inspired thousands of pupils, a leader of fervent prayer that would emotionally move the congregation, and a “Defense Attorney” for the Jewish people.
He was born in Hoshakov, Galicia, in 1740, to Rabbi Meir, who was head of the Jewish High Court at the time, and under whom he studied Torah. He married the daughter of the wealthy Rabbi Israel Peretz of Lubartov, Poland, where he continued his studies, together with Rabbi Joseph Teomim, author of the Peri Megadim commentary on the Shulhan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law).
In nearby Ryczwol, Rebbe Samuel Shmelke Horowitz was the Rabbi. Levi Yitzhak traveled with him to the Maggid (Preacher) of Mezhirech, successor of the Baal Shem Tov. He studied under the Maggid and joined the intimate circle of his pupils. Later, Levi Yitzhak himself became the Rabbi of Ryczwol and, after that, of Zelechow and Pinsk. While in these towns, he suffered from the Mitnaggedim who opposed Hassidism.
Levi Yitzhak is especially known for being the Rabbi of Berditchev, central Ukraine, where he remained from 1785 until his death, and for being the “Defense Attorney” for the Jewish people. He is considered one of the founders of Hassidism in Central Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine. The need to pray fervently and with devotion is one of his basic principles, described in his work “Kedushat Levi” – a classic collection of Hassidic thoughts. While praying, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak would jump in ecstasy, a practical demonstration of devotion to G-d.
In his prayers he would speak to G-d of the merit of the Jewish people and praise their moral standards and devotion. His advocacy was based on his deep understanding of the essence of the people and their unique ethical value. “No one has the right to speak evil of the Jewish people, one may speak only in their merit. ….Only one who extols the righteousness of the Jewish people is worthy of being their leader”. (Kedushat Levi)
Rabbi Levi Yitzhak’s love of the people and devotion to the Creator were exemplary and he is a source of inspiration for many Hebrew literary works.
At the 200th anniversary of his death, an official medal is issued in his honor. Rabbi Levi Yitzhak is represented on the medal by a figure enveloped in a Talith (prayer shawl), beseeching mercy for the beloved children of the Creator. In the foreground are typical buildings of the Berditchev Shtetl. The medal reverse, common to all the medals in the series, represents the wisdom and holiness of our Jewish Sages.
Written by Rabbi Shahar Rahmani, direct descendant of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak, 8th generation.
|RABBI LEVI YITZCHAK – Gold Medal14K gold medal; Dia. 30.5 mm; Wt. 17 g; Max. Mintage 100||RABBI LEVI YITZCHAK – Silver MedalPure Silver; Dia. 39 mm; Wt. 31.1 g; Max. Mintage 555.||RABBI LEVI YITZCHAK – Bronze MedalBronze; Dia. 39 mm; Wt. 25.5 g; Max. Mintage 1000.|
Design: Aharon Shevo