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Nechmad Mizahav: Yitro

The 17th of Shevat is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yechezkel of Kazmir [Kuzmir] (1772-1856). Born in Plonsk, Poland A disciple of the Chozeh of Lublin, he was the grandfather of the first Modzitzer Rebbe. After opponents of chassidus drove Rav Yechezkel out of Plonsk, he moved to Shanana. Rav Yechezkel became an admor in 1827. After becoming famous throughout Poland, Rav Yechezkel moved to Kuzmir. One of the most idyllic towns in Poland, Kuzmir lies next to the Vistula river, in the shadow of a fourteenth century castle, reputedly built by King Casimir the Great. A Jewish community existed there since 1406 and, by Rav Yechezkel’s time, Jews comprised half the town’s population. Today, Jewish visitors to Poland pass through the town to visit the surviving shul and cemetery that date back to the sixteenth century. Rav Yechezkel’s Torah insights were collected by a son-in-law and published in the sefer, Nechmad MiZahav, which was reprinted, along with other divrei Torah of the dynasty, in the sefer Toras Yechezkel, in 1973.

One Shavuot, the Tiferet Shlomo wanted to spend the festival with our great master, the Chozeh. The Chozeh said, “Rashi comments on the verse, ‘And Moshe cam down from the mountain to the nation,’ that Moshe did not return to his business but to that of the people. What business could Moshe possibly have had other than the people? The only other matter on Moshe’s mind, was his own service of God and working on himself. However, he ignored his own service in order to teach the people.”

“You too, my dear student, must teach all those thirsty for your words rather than focus on your needs and spend the festival with your Rebbe.”

The 17th of Shevat is also the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yehuda Chitrik (1899-2006). A Lubavitcher chassid known for his encyclopedic memory, and for passing on the chassidic mesora of previous Rebbes. A book of translations of his stories, “From My Father’s Shabbos Table,” was published in 1991. Rabbi Chitrik was born in Russia and was sent by his father at the age of 15 to study at the central Lubavitch yeshiva near Smolensk, Russia. After World War II, he moved to the Netherlands and then to Montreal. He moved to New York City in 1983 after the death of his wife. He is survived by well as over 300 children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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