Reb Shmelke’s Spiritual Practices
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, an dhe 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.
Reb Shmelke has at the end of his list of Hanhagot, Spiritual Practices: Read these things over three times each day. Make it a fixed rule for yourself, to be done always, without exception. And it is best if you read it once as soon as you wake up, once after the Morning Prayers and before you go out to work, and once after the Evening Prayers before sleep. (Shemen Ha-Tov #54)