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Rav Chaim Chernovitzer: Body and Soul

The 27th of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Chaim (Tirar) Tchernovitz (or Chernovitzer) (1760-1816), author of Be’er Mayim Chaim. Born near Butchatch, Galicia (now Poland), he

studied under Rav Tzvi Hersh of Botchatch and became a Chassid of Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, Rav Shmelke of Nikolsburg and the Maggid of Mezritch. He became Rav in Tchernovitch in the Bukovina province of Romania, in 1789, and he remained there for 23 years. In 1812, war broke out, and Bukovina was annexed by Austria. The new government issues harsh anti-Semitic decrees, resulting in Rav Chaim’s departure, first to Botchan, then to Eretz Yisrael. He settled in Tzefas, where he lived privately for the last 5 years of his life. He is buried in Tzefas.

The body is only brought to life when the soul is blown into it. It becomes a container for the soul and has no life if not for the soul. A person of heart and thought will understand that the main part of a human being is his soul, and that his body is only a garment. He will never be caught up in making the secondary, his body, primary of his soul.

Immediately upon waking he will understand that his mission is to feed the main part of his life, which is his soul. He will nourish his soul through Torah and Mitzvot, and will understand that whatever he must do for his body is only to allow his soul to thrive and expand. (Be’eir Mayim Chaim – Bereishit)

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