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Section: Stories   Category: Gedolim Biographies
Chasidus's Two And Only - The Magid Of Mezritch

The family of Rav Dov Ber the Magid of Mezritch had a Megilas Yuchasin, a family tree linking them back all the way to Rav Hai Gaon.  When a fire totally destroyed the family's home and all their possessions went up in flames, Rav Ber's mother cried over the loss of their treasured Megilas Yuchasin.  Rav Dov Ber consoled her and told her that a new family tree will one day start from him.  Indeed it did, for the successor to the Baal Shem Tov, and the single undisputed leader of the second generation Chasidim.

Rav Dov Ber was born around the year 1704.  His early Rebbi was his father Reb Shlomo the Av Bais Din of the town.  He later went on to learn in the Yeshiva of the famed gaon the Pnei Yehoshua in Lvov.  The Pnei Yehoshua considered Rav Dov Ber a Talmid-Chaver, a student and peer.  Although his scholarship was worthy of the most prestigious rabbinical positions he chose to become a Magid and held that position in number of cities including Koritz, Dubno, and Rovna

With a lame left foot and failing health due to his ascetic lifestyle, no less than his Rebbi the Pnei Yehoshua, urged him to seek out the Baal Shem in hopes of meriting a cure from the tzaddik.  After a rough start when he almost went home after hearing only simple stories from the Baal Shem, the Baal Shem then explained to him a difficult piece of Kabala.  From that day on the Magid was bound heart and soul to his Rebbi the Baal Shem.  After the petira of the Baal Shem in 1760, although the Baal Shem had many outstanding personalities among his chasidim, they all accepted the Magid of Mezritch as their undisputed leader.

While the Baal Shem catered to the masses, the Magid was more of a Rebbe's Rebbe, attracting the leading minds of the generation and converting them to Chassidus.  He sowed the seeds of Chasidus with these talmidim who eventually became great Rebbes in their own right and spread the light of chasidus across Europe.  Among them were counted the Baal HaTanya, Reb Elimelech MiLizhensk and his brother Reb Zusya MiAnipoli, Reb Shmelke MiNicholsburg and his brother Rav Pinchos Horowitz (the Baal HaFlaah and rebbi of the Chasam Sofer), Rav Menachem Nochum MiChernobyl, and the Kozhnitzer Magid.  His son was the Rav Avrohom the Malach from whom descended the Ruzhiner dynasty.

It was during the leadership of the Magid that the famous Cherem, ban against chasidim was signed in Vilna by the Vilna Gaon and the entire Vilna Bais Din in 1772.  Under the strain of the backlash against chasidus and his failing health, the Magid was Niftar less than six months of this terrible blow.

The Magid was the last universally accepted leader of the Chasidim.  After his death Chasidus became a more local affair with various leaders each holding their own court in their own territory.  The Magid defined and clarified most of the eventual chasidic thought and grew it from a local phenomenon into a world wide force.  Yehi Zichro Boruch!

RELATED ARTICLES:biography  Magid of Mezritch

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