THE MITELE RUV Z”L and TECHEILES 630 864 rhecht

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.


The second Rebbe of Belz was Reb Yehoshua Rokeach, known to Chasidim as “Der Mitele Ruv z”l”. The Mitele Ruv was the youngest child of the Ershter Ruv z”l.

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.


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!

Jan 29, 2019


Today is the Yartzeit of Reb Yehoshua Rokeach z”l, the second Belzer Rebbe, referred to by Chasidim as “Der Mitele Ruv”.

His Keduashah, ‘Tzidkus’ (righteousness), and leadership shaped Belz and the whole Jewish community for many generations.

Like the series of articles that we are doing on the First Belzer Rebbe, the Sar Shalom, we’ll do a series of articles on the Mitele Ruv.

The following are some of the happenings of the Mitele Ruv’s life that were recorded by the Bilgorayer Ruv z”l, some of which he repeated from his brother, the Ruv z”l, Reb Aharon.

The Tzurah (figure) of the the Mitele Ruv was magnificent and brought an awe on everyone.

The Mitele Ruv was very excited about Chidushei Torah. He himself used to constantly be ‘mechadesh’ Chidushei Torah and derived great pleasure when other people were ‘mechadesh’.  The Mitele Ruv once gave the Sefer Urim Vetumim (from Reb Yonoson Eibshitz) as a gift to show appreciation to someone who was ‘mechadesh’ Chidushei Torah.

The First Belzer Rebbe put learning Torah as the central Avodah in Belz, as discussed here. The Mitele Ruv stressed Lomdus and learning with a Chiyus Gemara and Meforshim. When the Sefer Chiddushei Harim, a great work in Lomdus on Gemara from the first Gerrer Rebbe, appeared in print, the Mitele Ruv bought it for all his grandchildren.

All Avodas of the Mitele Ruv were very hidden, but when one entered his house, he was always seen learning Torah.

The Torahs of the Mitele Ruv are the fundament of much of the Belz thought and Torahs. The Friedige Ruv z”l said that the Torahs of the Mitele Ruv are built on strong fundaments like the words of the Rashba.

His davening was like the roaring of a lion and was with a great Yirah before Hashem. Some nights he used to Daven throughout the whole night for Yeshuos for Yidden.

The Arugas Habosem (the first Pupa Ruv z”l) writes that when one came to the Mitele Ruv for a Kvittel it felt like going to a father who has great Rachmanus and Ahava. He made everyone feel welcome, even people who weren’t in the best state spiritually. He’d first help them and then guide them to improve spiritually. The Pupa Ruv z”l writes that he himself when he would travel to the Mitele Ruv he was filled with excitement just like when one visits his father.

Much can be written about the Mitele Ruv’s great leadership in countering the manipulations of the enlightened Jews. Although the Haskalah – The Enlightenment movement was in full swing in western Europe, like Germany and France, it was just starting to influence Eastern Europe. Belz was then in Galicia, which at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Maskilim in Galicia had their stronghold in Levov (Lemberg) and opened an organization, ironically called “Shomer Yisrael”. Many of these Maskilim were observant but wanted to undermine Orthodoxy and especially Chasidic life.

The Mitele Ruv established the organization “Machzikei Hadas”, which did many activities, including organizing Frum Yidden to vote. The whole idea of Machzikei Hadas and its many activities were unprecedented, especially by a Chasidishe Rebbe. The Mitele Ruv said “only right before the time of Mashiach will the benefit of Machzikei Hadas be fully understood”.

The Mitele Ruv partnered with Reb Shimon Sofer, the Ruv of Krakow, to lead Machzikei Hadas. Reb Shimon Sofer was a son of the Chasam Sofer and not a Chasid. This dual-leadership underscored that the threat of Maskilim and of Haskalah is to every Yid who is a Yirei Hashem.

The Maskilim used tactics of gaining control of the religious institutions in cities and towns and advancing their agenda from within. They gained power by influencing the population who had no idea of their true motives. They also tried to influence the government in Austria to enforce their agendas.

Machzikei Hadas fought their efforts by opening a weekly newspaper and bringing awareness to the public of the Maskilim’s activities. Also, it pushed for Yirei Hashem to be in the leadership in Kehillos and pushed for the election of government officials who favored allowing the Frum Yidden to continue their way of life without interference.

The awe of the Mitele Ruv even had a big impact on the Maskilim and they considered the Mitele Ruv’s responses when deciding on activities. Many times they backed off of their initiatives in fear of the Mitele Ruv.

In the near future, we’ll iy”H expound on the life of the Mitele Ruv z”l and how much it can teach us for our times.

The Bilgorayer Ruv writes that the Mitele Ruv constantly davened for Klal Yisroel for matters concerning the Klal and for matters concerning the Yachid. “Now too”, writes the Bilgorayer Ruv, “when he is not anymore in this world, he davens for us and for all of Klal Yisroel in the other world”.

זכותו ותפילתו יעמוד לנו ולכל ישראל ונזכה לביאת המשיח במהרה בימינו אמן!




    Let's meet

    Let’s schedule a time to meet for strings and quality service.