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Emor: Rebbe Reb Shmelke

The 2nd of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz of Nikolsburg, known as the Rebbe Reb Shmelke (1726-1778). The firstborn son of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh of Chortkov, Shmuel Shmelke traced his ancestry back to the Baal HaMaor and to Shmuel HaNavi. As a teenager, he and his brother Pinchas – who was to become the Ba’al HaFla’a of Frankfurt – would study bechavrusa; their chidushim were printed by Rav Pinchas in a kunterus called “Sheves Achim.” In their early years, Shmuel Shmelke and Pinchas studied Torah in nonchasidic Lithuanian yeshivos; but after traveling to Mezritch and meeting the Maggid, they became his ardent followers. After becoming a chasid, he became Rav of Ritchval, the site of his famous yeshiva that produced his many famous talmidim. After serving there for 10 years, he became Rav of Shiniva. Then, in 1773, he was invited to become Rav of Nikolsburg in Moravia. Although he was there only 5 years, he made a powerful impact, and he remains associated with that city to this day. Among his disciples are the Chozeh of Lublin, Reb Menachem Mendel of Rymanov, Reb Yisrael of Koznitz, Reb Mordechai Banet and Reb Moshe Leib of Sassov. His homilies and novellae were published in Divrei Shmuel, and anthologies of his Torah thoughts were published under the titles Imrei Shmuel, Nazir Hashem and Shemen Hatov. [Yated 2006 and 2007 says 1 Iyar]


“God said to Moses: Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and tell them: Each of you shall not contaminate himself to a dead person among his people (Vayikra 21:1).” “To a dead person among his people,” Rashi explains that this is only if the corpse is still “among his people,” and does not apply to a Meit Mitzvah, a corpse found in middle of nowhere.

We can read this as a lesson: it is our obligation to turn away from evil, because it is deeply rooted “among his people,” however, when through teshuvah of love the evil is transformed into good, at that point, it becomes a Meit Mitzvah, death that has been transformed into a mitzvah. (Divrei Shmuel – Rebbi Shmuel Shmelke of Nicholsburg)

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