Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Remembering Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz
By Rabbi Dovid Zeitlin
Today (Wednesday), 12 Adar, is the yohrzeit of HaGaon HaChossid R' Shmuel ben R' Yeshayah Halevi Horowitz, zt"l, one of the extraordinary Breslever mashpiyim (teachers) of the past generation. He passed away in 5732 / 1972. All remember him as a giant in Nigleh, Nistar and Chassidus, who was constantly in a visible state of deveykus to Hashem. Reb Elazar Kenig, shlit"a, of Tsfas remembers: "Er iz gevein mufshat fun der velt . . . He was beyond this world." His lips were constantly occupied with words of Torah and Tefillah.
We are all indebted to him for his mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice) for all matters related to the Rebbe -- particularly for printing and disseminating ALL of the Rebbe's seforim during those very difficult years of poverty and hunger in Eretz Yisroel. He redeemed, compiled, saved and printed under extremely adverse conditions the writings of HaGaon HaKadosh R' Avrohom ben R' Nachman Chazan (i.e., he was the son of Reb Nachman Tulchiner, zt"l, leading disciple of Reb Noson zt"l). These works include Bi'ur HaLikkutim (on Likkutei Moharan), Chochmah U-Tevunah (on Sippurey Ma'asiyos), Kochvei Ohr (oral histories and traditions), etc. If not for Reb Shmuel, these "crown jewels" would have been lost forever.
He was a "flamm fieyr," a true "soul on fire," with an extremely profound sense of hiskashrus (spiritual bonding) to the Tzaddik. His unbelievable journey from Eretz Yisroel to Poland and Russia in the 1920s, in order to get to know and serve all Gedolei Breslev, is recorded in his multi-volume autobiography, "Yemey Shmuel." This courageous and dangerous trip, during those dark years of Communist oppression, and what followed upon his arrival in the Ukraine gave us a unique window into the various Breslover Chassidim in Uman during the last years of the community's existence. He spent three Rosh Hashanos in Uman during those years with mesirus nefesh. He was a unique figure, even amongst the great Chassidim of his day.
Reb Shmuel was a "baal tzurah" an impressive person to behold; he was also a yachsan (a person of noble lineage -- Reb Shmuel was a direct descendant on his father's side from the Shelah Hakadosh and many great tzaddikim). And he had "yichus atzmo" -- he was a model of devotion and dedication to all inyonim of the Tzaddik. He was a true inspiration for Breslover Chassidim and for everyone.
Reb Shmuel personally reached out to Jews from all walks of life and brought countless people closer to Yiddishkeit and Chassidus. A few years ago, a collection of his letters (both in Yiddish and Hebrew) were printed in the multi-volume "Michtevey Shmuel."
More recently, Breslever Chassidim in Monroe reprinted his powerful "Ma'amar Hiskashrus L'Tzaddik HaEmes," with additional footnotes. It sells for $6 a copy. Anyone interested in obtaining this ma'amar may contact the publisher: Gedolim Tzaddikim, 845-248-3449, or email email@example.com.
It is interesting that this fiery mystic and profound thinker was also known to personally prepare many special, tasty dishes in honor of Shabbos (I think he started on Wednesday). This was a great and serious avodah for him every week. But it is not really a contradiction at all. Deveykus in the Tzaddik is the same as deveykus in Shabbos Kodesh -- one is in Neshomah (soul) and one is in Z'man (time). Besides, the Zohar HaKadosh says of the Tzaddik: "Antt hu Shabbos d'kulo yomin . . . You are Shabbos of all the days."
Zekhuso yagein aleinu, may his merits shield us!