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Hilula of Rabbi Yitzchak Levi of Berditchev

Published on Thursday December 2nd, 2021

On the occasion of the Hilula (anniversary of passing) of our teacher Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Torah-Box team is happy to present you with a brief account of his life. Whoever speaks of a Tzaddik on the day of his Hilula, the Tzaddik will pray for him! Light a candle and say "Lichvod haRav miBerditchev, zechuto yaguen aleinu" then pray. May his merit protect all of Klal Israel, Amen!

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was born in 1740 in the village of Oshakov. His father was Rabbi Meir, son of Rabbi Moshe of Zamoshtesh, son of a family of illustrious Rabbanim whose crown of Torah did not leave them for 26 generations.

In his youth, he was nicknamed "the genius of Jaroslav," which was the place where he learned. He lived for some time in Lubartov in his father-in-law, Rav Israel Perets' home. Under the influence of Rabbi Shmelke of Nikelsbourg, whom he met during his visit to Ryczywol, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak went to Mezerich and lived for several years in the house of the Maggid, where he began to follow the path of Chassidut. As of the the year 1761 (5521), he took the place of Rabbi Shmelke as Rav of Ryczywol. In 1765 (5525) he was appointed Rav in Zilikhov. Pursued by the Mitnagdim, opponents of Chassidut, he moved in 1771 (5531) to Pinsk, where he was both Rav and Rosh Metivta. The Mitnagdim also fought against him there and even attacked his house and plundered it.

From 1785 (5545), he was Rav of Berditchev, where he had the opportunity to establish a great center of Chassidut and to serve as the Rabbi and spiritual leader for twenty-five years until the 25th of Tishri 5570 (1810) when "a light of the world was extinguished" (in the words of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov). Due to Berditchev's great admiration for him, they did not take another Rav for their community in his place, and all the great Torah Sages who came after him were named "Dayan (Rabbinic Judge) and Teacher of Halacha".

The many famous stories about him highlight his virtues and describe a man of feeling and compassion, especially one who loved his Jewish brothers, and was a great defender of his people.


One day, a Chassid who belonged to his Chassidic court, came to his home. Being a former powerful lord, he described to the Rav the grave situation in which he now found himself: he had lost his property and had contracted heavy debts. "But I had pity on the poor," the Chassid told the Rav, "my financial situation has not been made public.

"Go buy a lottery ticket," the Berditchever Rav told him, "and you'll win the draw! "

"I have great faith in the promise of the Rav," said the Chassid, "but there are several months left until the date of the grand draw, and in the meantime, I must marry off my daughter, and I do not have the money at my disposal for this purpose! "

"G-d will come to your rescue," said the Rav, "and even before the draw, He will provide you with money!'' The Chassid took leave of his master, bought a lottery ticket, and resumed his life, full of confidence in Hashem and in His deliverance.
On the way, the Chassid stopped at an inn to spend the night. That same night, an important minister also spent the night in the same inn. The minister had a dream where he learned that in the adjoining room was a Jew with a winning lottery ticket. He dreamed that he had to exchange it with him, he should take his ticket and give him his in return. Indeed, the Jew's ticket was certainly a winning one, while his was worthless. He woke up, then went back to sleep and had the same dream again. He got up, came to his senses, addressed his servant to inquire whether there was a Jew in the inn, and if so, that he should appear before the minister. The servant made inquiries, and he found one Jew, whom he asked to appear before the minister.
The minister questioned him and told him that he knew that he had a lottery ticket in his bag! "I also have a lottery ticket," said the minister, "let us swap our tickets, and I will give you some money for this exchange." The Chasid, convinced by his Rav's promise that his ticket was a winner, adamantly refused to exchange it, even when the minister promised him an astronomical sum of thousands of gold coins, he was not ready to exchange it.

Now, the minister was convinced of the truth of his dream; the Jew's ticket was certainly a winning one. He ordered his servant, in his anger, to grab the ticket by force. The servant complied with his request and there was nothing left for the man to do. "In spite of everything," said the minister, "I do not want to rob you, and I will give you the thousand gold coins and my lottery ticket." The Chassid was forced to accept this, in spite of himself, and declared: "Hakol Letova (this too is for the good)". He went home and arranged his daughter's wedding with great pomp and praised Hashem for the past and thanked Him also for the future.

Shortly thereafter, the big draw took place. The winner was the lottery ticket given by the minister to the Chassid for a thousand gold coins!

The Chassid hastened to visit the Rav of Berdichev. When he entered the Rav's sanctuary, the Rav declared: "Know that I noticed that your Mazal, your luck, was at the lowest, so I was forced to send the "Master dreams" to address the heart of the Lord so that he would want to exchange his ticket with yours, because I saw that his ticket would be a winner, and not yours, and the thousand gold coins that he added was in order to cover your daughter's wedding. Because of this, at the beginning, you had a small deliverance, then the second time, a big one. "

Such was the greatness of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. May his merit protects us.

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