As we finished a series of articles on the Ershter Ruv z”l, we’ll continue with a series on the Mitele Ruv z”l. Reb Yehoshua Rokeach known to Chasidim as The Mitele Ruv z”l, was the youngest son of the Ershter Ruv.
The Mitele Ruv z”l shaped Belz in very significant ways built on the foundations laid by the Ershter Ruv. Many of the deep fundamental Torahs in Belz, the approach to communal affairs, and even a few important Niggunim in Belz originate from the Mitele Ruv.
The Mitele Ruv z”l led Chasidim and much of Yiddiskeit in a time that historians call the “Golden Age” of Chasidim. Although serious threats to tradition were already on the horizon, through the leadership of the Tzaddikim it didn’t permeate the vast majority of the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe until WWI.
The Mitele Ruv’s leadership extended far beyond Belz and had a great impact on the whole region. Many of the Galician and Hungarian Chasidish Rebbes were students of the Mitele Ruv. With founding Machzikei Hadas he was the first Torah leader to use the democratic process to secure the integrity and purity of Yiddishkeit.
There are many fascinating stories and teachings from the Mitele Ruv that are very relevant for today’s times. We are excited to start this series and explore them together with our readers.
YOUNGER YEARS OF THE MITELE RUV Z”L (INCL. STORY ABOUT TECHEILES)
When the Mitele Ruv reached his Bar Mitzvah, his father asked him what gift he’d like. He answered that he wants a pure and holy Guf (body). The Ershter Ruv responded, “A pure Guf and a holy Neshamah I gave you already when you were born!”
At the time, most children of Rebbes would also travel to other Rebbes to learn from them. The Mitele Ruv however, didn’t; he only studied with his father and drew much from his father’s Torah and Kedushah. Later in his life, the Mitele Ruv remarked that he still remembers a Torah that his father said when as he was holding him on his shoulders as a baby.
The Mitele Ruv explained why he didn’t travel to other Rebbes. He said that his father opened all the doors of Torah and Chachmah for him and didn’t instruct him to travel, so he understood that he shouldn’t.
The Mitele Ruv was a great Masmid from a young age but he would always hide his Avodah. His father once remarked, “Even from me my son tries to hide, but I know that he is מלא רוח חכמה like Yehoshua Bin Nin!”
When the Mitele Ruv was very young, his father once took him outside and showed him the sky when it had a certain color, but he didn’t explain why he is showing it to him. Many years later the Radzhiner Rebbe came to the Mitele Ruv to spread his idea of renewing ‘Techeiles’. The Mitele Ruv then understood why his father showed him the color of the sky, since the Gemara says that Techeiles is the same color as the sky. The Mitele Ruv saw that the Radzhiner’s Techeiles is not the same color as the sky and said that he disagrees that it is Techeiles.
SHIDDUCH WITH THE APTER RUV Z”L
As we elaborated last week, the Mitele Ruv z”l’s primary Rebbe was his father, the Ershter Ruv z”l. The following is an interesting story, which although we have no grasp at all in these matters, is still fascinating.
The Ershter Ruv recounted to his Talmid R’ Shalom of Kaminka z”l, that he once wanted to reveal a matter to his son, the Mitele Ruv, but he didn’t want to hear. The Mitele Ruv said that he is yet worthy to learn these hidden matters, and, he added, that if he’ll need to know those matters in the future Hashem will help that he should understand it.
The Ershter Ruv responded that there are matters that are supposed to go בקבלה from generation to generation and one can’t reach it by themselves and that’s why he wants to teach him. The Mitele Ruv asked the Ershter Ruv from where did he receive it? He answered, from the Chozeh of Lublin, who received from Rebbe R’ Elimeilich, who received from Rebbe R’ Ber of Mezritch, who received from the Ba’al Shem Tov.
The Mitele Ruv then asked from where did the Ba’al Shem Tov receive it? The Ershter Ruv said, “from the Navi אחיה השילוני – ‘Achia Hashiloni’”. The Mitele Ruv further asked, “And from where did Achia Hashiloni received it?” The Ershter Ruv said, “On Achia Hashiloni are you asking? He is a Navi and received it from Hashem Himself.” The Mitele Ruv said, “So Tatte, one can understand it in the right time when they reach that level, without receiving from others.
The Ershter Ruv saw that he didn’t accept the reasoning, so he said to the Mitele Ruv that he should listen because of Kibud Av. The Mitele Ruv sat with awe and listened to every word. “However,” continued the Ersheter Ruv to R’ Shalom of Kaminka, “when I just started to put forth the matter, I realized that my son is already well versed in the subject!”
Again, we don’t understand this story at all, but it gives us a glimpse in the Madreigos of Tzadikim that we have a Zechia to be connected to.
When the Mitele Ruv reached marriageable age, he was ‘meshadech’ to a great granddaughter of the Apter Ruv z”l. The Shidduch was foreseen by the Apter Ruv.
When the Ershter Ruv traveled to the Apter Ruv z”l, the Apter Ruv gave him bentching after the Tish. This was a rare thing and prompted the Apter Ruv’s son to ask him why he did so. The Apter said, no one understood the entire Torah that I said, only this Yungerman. One day, you’ll be ‘meshadech’ with him and the couple will have a son that will light up the world!