Chapter 5
The Boyaner Rebbe,
The Pachad Yitzchok zt'l

  Among the many attributes that a person must acquire in order to ascend the ladder of Torah and mitzvos is the mido (character trait) of truly fearing one's Rebbe as the Mishna writes in Pirkei Ovos: "Yehei morah raboch ke-morah Shamayim, fear your teacher as you fear Hashem."

This mido which is usually acquired only after much toil and hard work was easily attained by even the most simple of the thousands of chassidim who flocked, en masse, to the first Boyaner Rebbe, Reb Yitzchok Friedman zt'l. He was known as the Pachad Yitzchok - not because of a sefer (book) that he had authored with that name - but because of the tremendous fear which one felt in his presence. The Boyaner chassidim would tremble in fright at the mere mention of the Rebbe's name.

The Rov of Yerushalayim, Hagaon Reb Velvel Minsberg zt'l, was once in Boyan and decided to take the opportunity to meet the Pachad Yitzchok. When Reb Velvel arrived in the Rebbe's beis hamedrash he found the chassidim standing, waiting for the Rebbe to enter to start davening. As the Rebbe approached, he perceived the newcomer and, lifting up his head, the Rebbe gazed at Reb Velvel with eyes that penetrated him deeply. "How can I explain what I felt?" Reb Velvel said. "I know that I am not an emotional person, nor am I easily impressed or frightened, yet when I felt the Rebbe's eyes boring deep inside me I became so frightened that my whole body started to shake and quiver. I was suddenly so overcome that my feet refused to support me. I felt so weak that I had to lie down and, tottering into a bed, I lay there and cried like a baby." Then Reb Velvel concluded, "If the Boyaner Rebbe was able to have such a profound impact on people by just looking at them, it shows what a great and holy tzaddik he must have been."

One of the greatest of the Boyaner Chassidim was the gaon Reb Dudia of Berditchev, author of the classic sefer Tehilla le Dovid on Shulchan Aruch. (code of Jewish Law) Once, when Reb Dudia was speaking to the Rebbe, the door to the Rebbe's room suddenly opened and Reb Dudia darted out and sat down on the first chair he saw. No sooner had he sat down than he jumped up and ran back into the Rebbe's room.

After Reb Dudia had finished speaking with the Rebbe he explained the reason for his unusual behavior to the chassidim. While Reb Dudia was speaking with the Rebbe, the Rebbe asked him to take a seat. The Rebbe's request put Reb Dudia in a quandary. To sit in the Rebbe's presence was out of the question, yet to disobey his request was equally impossible. The only solution was to run outside quickly and sit down, thereby fulfilling the Rebbe's command that he be seated, without sitting in his presence.

The following story, which was related by the Bohusher Rebbe zt'l of Tel Aviv, shows the extent to which the chassidim were in awe of their Rebbe. A man once came to the Pachad Yitzchok, crying that his son had left the path of Yiddishkeit (Judaism) and had decided to marry a goyishe woman. The man begged the Rebbe to save his son and somehow prevent the marriage from taking place. None of the chassidim knew what the Rebbe told the man, but as soon as the man returned home from Boyan his son cancelled the marriage and repented, becoming a true baal teshuva.(penitent)

For years the chassidim tried to find out what the Rebbe had said, but the man refused to disclose anything, saying that he had promised the Boyaner Rebbe that he wouldn't reveal what he had told him. In 1917, after the Boyaner Rebbe was niftar,(had died) the Bohusher Rebbe was in the city of Kishinov, Russia, where he met this person. Now that the Boyaner Rebbe was niftar the man said that he was allowed to reveal what the Pachad Yitzchok had instructed him. The Pachad Yitzchok had simply said, "When you arrive home go to your son and whisper my name Yitzchok ben Miriam in his ear three times."

The Rebbe was regarded as a chiddush (something novel) from his youngest years. Despite the fact that he was only a year old when his zeide (grandfather) the Ruzhiner was niftar, he said that he had known him and even repeated a number of things that he remembered hearing from him. His father, the Sadigerer Rebbe, would refer to his son as 'the Otzar ha-Torah', (Torah treasury)in tribute to his vast knowledge. When the gaon Reb Dudia of Berditchev came to Boyan he refused to answer the many shaalos (queries in Jewish Law) put to him saying, "Here I am not a posek (decisor) and I don't know how to learn!"

When he turned fifteen he married Rebbitzen Malka, the daughter of the Rachmistrivka Rebbe, Reb Yochanan Twersky zt'l. The chassidim who came to Rachmistrivka were very impressed with their Rebbe's new son-in-law, his conduct already then placing him far above them. During his first Rosh Hashana after the chasunah, (wedding) Reb Yitzchok cried so much that a puddle of tears formed on the floor around his feet. That a young man just after his chasunah found so much to cry about was truly a wonder. When the Tolna Maggid saw him, he exclaimed, "This young man is totally spiritual, his body serves only as a cover for his neshomo." (soul)

Being the eldest of the Sadigerer Rebbe's children, Reb Yitzchok assumed his father's position in Sadiger together with his younger brother Reb Yisroel after their father's petirah in Ellul 5643 (1883). For over three years the two brothers sat together in Sadiger leading their father's chassidim. Although the two brothers were quite happy with this arrangement, the chassidim didn't take so kindly to the joint leadership. They found it difficult to cope with the new situation and they longed for the time when they would once again have just one Rebbe.

The two brothers decided to cast lots between them to see who would stay on in Sadiger and who would leave. It fell to the Pachad Yitzchok to leave Sadiger and on the eighteenth of Cheshvan 5647 (1887) he moved to the neighboring town of Boyan, thus creating a new chassidus - Boyan. The eighteenth of Cheshvan became a day of rejoicing in the calendar of his chassidim. As the Rebbe's son Reb Menachem Nuchem of Chernovitz once remarked, "From that day on the chassidim were able to draw themselves even closer to their Rebbe."
The palatial home of the Rebbe in Boyan

Many are the stories of the close bond which the Boyaner Rebbe formed with his chassidim. A chossid who used to be a regular visitor to the Pachad Yitzchok wasn't in Boyan for over seven years due to various problems that had prevented his trip. When the Yid (Jew) finally travelled to Boyan, he apologized for his absence, saying it had been a long time since his previous visit. "I know," the Rebbe told him. "It's already three years since you were here last."

Although the Yid was puzzled by the Rebbe's words, he didn't dare ask for an explanation. Instead he went to the Rebbe's son, Reb Menachem Nuchem, and asked him for an explanation. "If my father said that you were here three years ago, then he must have had a reason," Reb Menachem Nuchem told him. "Perhaps you intended to come and then in the end you didn't make it," Reb Menachem Nuchem asked him.

The Yid suddenly remembered and answered, "So it was! Three years ago I decided to come to the Rebbe and I made all the necessary preparations to come. I was already at the train station waiting for the train to leave to Boyan, when I was suddenly forced to turn back and cancel the trip."

"You should know," Reb Menachem Nuchem told him, "As soon as someone prepares himself to come to my father, my father takes him on his shoulders, and it is as if that Yid is already here."

The Rebbe instilled in his chassidim that their every act must be le-shem Shamayim. (totally for the sake of Heaven) He said that although a person who spends the day fasting, or abstains from sleep in order to learn through the night is praiseworthy, sometimes such conduct doesn't stem from the person's yetzer ha-tov, (good inclination) but from his stubbornness to give in even when he is overstraining himself. A person should eat when he needs to eat and sleep when he needs to sleep and thereby be able to serve Hashem with his full strength, rather than be in danger of overstraining and exhausting himself. At one of the Rebbe's first tishen (Rebbe's table, Chassidic gathering) he used this theme to explain the words of Chazal, 'Ein Kiddush elah be-mokom seudah', if a person wants to be mekadesh himself, it is only possible be-mokom seudah. Through sanctifying his every mundane act; his eating, sleeping and all his daily acts become le-shem shamayim.

The great awe and respect which the Rebbe was given wasn't just limited to his chassidim. The Rebbe's immediate family treated him also with the same reverence and deference that the chassidim accorded him. When the Pachad Yitzchok was niftar, (deceased) his eldest son Reb Menachem Nuchem was heard saying, "We have lost our father and our Rebbe." Similarly, when one of the chassidim called to the Rebbe's third son, Reb Avrohom Yaakov of Lemberg, "Rebbe, Moshiach (Messiah) should come already!" Reb Avrohom Yaakov answered him in a tear choked voice, "Yes, but the nechamo (consolation) will only be after techiyas ha-meisim... ." (revival of the dead)

The great esteem which the sons gave their father knew no bounds. Once, the Rebbe's son, Reb Menachem Nuchem, was asked why it was that whilst the Sadigerer Rebbe was alive his chassidim were well to do and didn't have to worry for their daily bread, while in Boyan many of the chassidim lived in poverty. After a long silence Reb Menachem Nuchem answered, "My holy father had no connection with his generation. He should really have come to this world much earlier!"

The Rebbe had an only daughter, Rebbitzen Miriam. When she became of age she married Reb Dov Ber of Chortkov in the year 5659 (1899). To the chasunah came the chosson's zeide, the Chortkover Rebbe, Reb Dovid Moshe zt'l. The Chortkover Rebbe asked his gabai to tell him when the Boyaner Rebbe went to daven Shacharis. When the appointed time arrived, Reb Dovid Moshe got up from his place and went over to the window to watch the Boyaner Rebbe go by. As the Chortkover Rebbe watched, he exclaimed, "All the Heavenly Angels are accompanying him on his way."

Although the Rebbe never visited Eretz Yisroel (in fact he hardly ever left Boyan, not even going to the towns that had large groups of Boyaner Chassidim), a large number of his chassidim settled in Eretz Yisroel, in Yerushalayim, Sefas, and Teveriah. The Rebbe was president of Kollel Volhin which was based in Yerushalayim, and shouldered the heavy burden of seeing to its upkeep, supporting many families in the Old Yishuv. The Rebbe was also instrumental in setting up Botei Horenstein in the Geula neighborhood of Yerushalayim. A wealthy Boyaner chossid, Reb Dov Ber Horenstein, didn't have any children, so the Rebbe advised him to build the houses as a memorial for himself.

Another wealthy Boyaner chossid who lived in Yerushalayim was Reb Yisroel Eliezer Goldwicht, the gabai of the Tiferes Yisroel Shul in the Old City. Despite his wealth he was very unhappy for he hadn't been zoche(merited) to children. On one occasion when Reb Yisroel Eliezer was in Boyan, he poured out his heart to the Rebbe, begging him for help. After a moment's thought the Rebbe told him, "We find in Chazal that there are four categories of people who are considered as if they are not alive (choshuv ke-meis). Two of these categories are someone who has no children and a poor man who has no money...."

Reb Yisroel Eliezer understood the Rebbe's words and answered, "Even if it has been decreed on me to be amongst those who are not considered living, I don't have to be included in the first category, I could be in the second group instead." Within a short time Reb Yisroel Eliezer lost all his money, suddenly becoming a pauper. Not only did this not serve to dampen his spirits, it confirmed the Rebbe's words, and not long afterwards his wife gave birth to a baby boy. His third child was the gaon (genius) Reb Chaim Yaakov Goldwicht zt'l, Rosh Yeshivas Kerem BeYavneh, (niftar 5755, 1995).

With the outbreak of the first World War, the town of Boyan was totally destroyed. The Rebbe and his family managed to escape in the last minute to Vienna, where they settled. Two years later the Rebbe became desperately ill and a Yom Tefillah(Prayer Vigil) was arranged which was attended by all the Gedolim (Torah Sages) in Vienna. As the Husyatiner Rebbe, Reb Yisroel zt'l, arrived to join in the tehillim (Psalms) he said, "Let us daven for the recovery of the tzaddik hador." (Righteous one of the generation) The Rebbe did indeed have a miraculous recovery and regained his health.

A year later on the seventeenth of Adar 5677 (1917) the Rebbe suddenly took ill. He summoned his wife and children and took leave of them all, one by one. After he bade them all farewell, the Rebbe started to sing a dveikus niggun (a melody of spiritual longing) and while he was singing, his holy neshomo ascended upwards. Zechuso yogein oleinu. (May his merit protect us)

Reb Yisroel of Boyan Leipzig
The Rebbe left four sons, all of them tzaddikim (righteous) and kedoshim. (holy) Each one moved to a different country where they set up their cour t, carrying on in their father's footsteps. The eldest son, Reb Menachem Nuchem, set up his court in Chernovitz, Bukovina. The second son, Reb Yisroel, moved to Leipzig, Germany, where his court served the many Ruzhiner chassidim who had fled there during the first World War. Reb Yisroel emigrated to Tel Aviv in 1939 where he was niftar in 1951. The third son, Reb Avrohom Yaakov, moved to Lemberg, Galicia, where he established a large court and yeshiva. Reb Avrohom Yaakov met a martyr's death at the hands of the Germans on the second of Ellul 1941. The youngest son, Reb Mordechai Shlomo, left Europe for New York where he was instrumental in building up the Torah community in the United States.

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