R' Isaac Horowitz, A.B.D. Stanislaw

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About R' Isaac Horowitz, A.B.D. Stanislaw

Rabbi in Ottynia and Zurawno, and rabbi of Stanislav from the years 5648-5664 (1888-1903). Author of the book "Toldot Yitzchak" (Lvov 1866)< "Mea Shearim" (Lvov, 1887). -- Rabbis of Stanislav of the Horowitz Family (Notes from the Family Tree), translated by Jerrold Landau, http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/stanislawow-arim/staph064.html

Rabbi Aryeh Leibush requested in his will that the members of the community appoint his son Rabbi Meshulam in his place. He even made several efforts to that end during his lifetime. On the other hand, Rabbi Meshulam did not leave any command of this nature. Apparently, he did not suspect at all that it would be possible not to appoint his son to replace him. Indeed, after his death, when the question of the rabbinical seat came up it was self evident that one of his sons should be appointed. However, the question was which one to appoint? Were his eldest son, Rabbi Elazar, still alive, here would be no question, for he would have had the right of the firstborn. However, since the right of the firstborn had been lifted and no clear will was left, there was a difference of opinion. The majority claimed that the rabbinate should pass to the eldest son, which was Rabbi Yitzchak. On the other hand, others, including some of the wealthy people and those of clear opinions, that the son who is greater in Torah must sit upon the rabbinical seat which had been occupied by the two former Gaonim. In their opinion, this was the second son, Rabbi Shaul the rabbi of Tysmienica. Rabbi Shaul himself, who knew that he was more proficient in Torah than his brother who was approximately two years older, agreed with them. Therefore, an election by the majority was proclaimed. The election campaign was very sharp between the supporters of both sides. The elder son Rabbi Yitzchak, the rabbi of Zhuravno, was elected by a decisive majority. It was still the winter of 5688 when he ascended the rabbinical seat, which he occupied with peace, contentment and great honor until the day of his death. Rabbi Yitzchak was born in Zalozce, where his father served in his first rabbinical posting at that time. Like his father, it was said that he was also a mischievous, active, lively and diligent child.

When Rabbi Yitzchak reached marriageable age, he married Tova Mirl the daughter or Rabbi Efraim Teomim, the rabbi of Krisnipoli (Krystynopol). She bore him a son, Rabbi Aryeh Leibush, and then she did not give birth fro seven years. From his mouth I heard about a wondrous portent of the Tzadik Rabbi Shalom Rokach, the head of the Belz dynasty of Tzadikim. When the Tzadik Rabbi Shalom read the note that was given to him by Rabbi Yitzchak, and saw that he had only one son, he blessed him saying: “From now you will have a child – have a child – have a child – have a child – have a child” – five times, according to the number of the five daughters that were subsequently born. My uncle told me about another wondrous portent: His only son, Aryeh Leibush, had weak bones. When he was 3 or 4 years old, he could not walk. He was brought to Rabbi Shalom of Belz to be blessed with a cure. The Tzadik put his hand on the legs of the child, rubbed them from the thighs to the feet, and the boy started to walk…

Rabbi Yitzchak, like his father Rabbi Meshulam, at first did not have the inclination to serve in the rabbinate, and wished to earn his livelihood in a different manner. He leased an estate. He began to run the estate in partnership with his younger brother Rabbi Shaul. The business did not succeed, and they were forced to abandon it. Only then did he turn to the rabbinate. The first rabbinical posting of Rabbi Yitzchak was in Ottynia near Stanislawow, where he lived for several years. Then he was accepted as the rabbi of Zhuravno, which was a larger community, and where the livelihood that he earned was more ample. He lived in that city for many years, and married off his son and daughters there. He wrote his books there, and was well liked and honored by the local residents. From there, he moved to serve in Stanislawow.

He wrote and published two books. One was Toldot Yitzchak, which he wrote in his youth. It is a book of sharp didactics. The second is a large book called Meah Shearim which includes 49 discussions of the Talmud, and in which he displays his sharpness and breadth of knowledge. He took pride in that book. He would say that his book Toldot Yitzchak was a book of a young man. The book Meah Shearim, which was published in the year 5647 (1887) has the approbations of two leaders of the generation: Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Orenstein the rabbi of Lwow and the rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Aharon Ettinga. The latter wrote: “… These are words fitting to he who said them, filled with wondrous sharpness and breadth, splitting mountains and breaking rocks…” Even though the eminent rabbi does not need my approbation, his will is my honor.”

Rabbi Yitzchak had a pleasant temperament. He was joyous, had a sense of humor, and was slow to anger. Nobody ever saw him angry. He was pleasant with his fellowman, receiving everyone pleasantly. He was modest who did not insist on his own honor. He was also pleasant to the youth. He appreciated the youth, loved children, and displayed special love to lively children with warm temperaments. He would worship with a clear, strong and pleasant voice. He would sometimes make his voice. I still remember when he blessed the new month, cantorializing “Chayim shel…”, his havdalah, sheva brachot, etc.

He would place great importance upon the significant sermons that the he would deliver, as was the custom of rabbis, on Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuva in the Great Synagogue. He would spend several weeks preparing the sermon. He would prepare the entire sermon in writing and after he finished the work, he would finally copy it all out, which would cover several sheets of paper. The following is the order of his sermons: he would open with a brief section of lore, stop the lore and come to the central main section in which he would discuss Talmudic discussions with comprehensive didactics and sharpness. He would then return to lore at the end, spending more time on it. On Shabbat Shuva the lore (aggadaic) section consisted of moral chastisement, and on Shabbat Hagadol, it would include general lore or issues of the time of year. At the end of the lore he would discuss several laws. These would not be straightforward laws that could be found clearly in the Shulchan Aruch, but rather laws that had some novel ideas from real life and experience – things about which nothing had yet been written. When he finished writing the entire sermon, my uncle would write out the list of sources. This list would identify exactly all of the places in the Babylonian or Jerusalem Talmud, Tosafot, Rambam, etc. which he would use to elucidate the Talmudic discussion, which was the didactic portion of the sermon. He would make several copies of the source material. He would write these out himself, unless one of on of the young people who was with him volunteered to help him do so. This was also no small feat, for in those days there were no photocopying machines, and it was necessary to write out each template individually. The list of sources was posted in most of the synagogues and Beis Midrashes. However, he sent a special copy to the homes of the known scholars, which was considered a sign of honor. In this way, anyone who wished to prepare for the sermon could do so. When the Rabbi stood on the Bima to preach, they were allowed to interrupt him, discuss matters, and dispute didactics with him. At times, the didactic discussion took on a very dramatic form: The rabbi was standing above the Bima enwrapped in a tallis, presenting the discussion with warmth and emotion, in the traditional didactic chant, punctuated by hand gestures and thumb pointing, for the topic was very detailed. On the side below, from the audience of listeners, there was a voice that asked, raised a difficulty, and opened up a dialog from above to below. The rabbi had to win, and was forced to have the last word, and pave a path between the two opinions. However, the pinnacle of interest occurred when two men, great scholars were among the audience. These were Reb Aharon Tzvi Weishaus and Rabbi Meir Wolf Zoslk. Their customary seats were on the east side near the Bima, one on the right and the other on the left. They would be called Yachin and Boaz[10]. If they would attend, the audience knew that things would be lively during the sermon. These two did not disappoint. When the rabbi entered the depths of his didactics, they began to ask and contradict from the right and the left, and the rabbi, from atop them, broke apart everything, demonstrated that one was not exact and the other had forgotten a certain Gemara or Tosafot, etc. He answered everything and was victorious. This scene also gave satisfaction to the less learned members of the audience, for the victory gave satisfaction to those who did not understand the depths of the didactic. However, as has been said, in general, this interruption was not a special right of these two excellent scholars. Everyone who had what to contribute was able to do as they said, even if he was a young man or a bachelor. He was entitled to make his contribution.

When the Zionist movement arose, Rabbi Yitzchak was not among its members, but he did not display any opposition at all to it or disrespect to its adherents. During his day, the “enlightened ones” began to arise and made efforts to establish their own “Temple” headed by an enlightened rabbi and preacher. They did not dare to do this during Rabbi Meshulam's lifetime, for they knew that the “elder” would not have tolerated this and had the power to block their efforts. However Rabbi Yitzchak no longer had the same strength. Furthermore he was a calm man, without any harshness at all. Therefore, they laid the cornerstone of the Temple building in the year 5655 (1895). They arranged a celebration and invited Rabbi Yitzchak. He responded to them and came to that event. This awakened the ire of the zealots. However he, the modest and tolerant person, felt that it was not appropriate to push away any segment of the community.

It is fitting to tell he about the issue of complications in justice that took place during his day. The Laszkowicz estate belonged to a Polish count named Orlowski. This estate had a yeast factory that was directed by a high official named Director Neuman, a Jew who was fully or partially an apostate. This yeast also had customers in Stanislawow and its region, and the Stanislawow agent was Uziel Meisels, a refugee from Warsaw who was known in the city as “Uzielish with the Peyos” due to his two long, thick peyos, the likes of which were not found in the entire city. They were curled and reached his knees. Someone came to Rabbi Yitzchak after Passover and told him that Neuman was not only the official, but also a partner in the business, and he did not write a bill of sale for Passover[11]. The rabbi proclaimed a ban on this years on account of “the chometz of sinners”, which is the chometz of a Jew owned over Passover and of which it is forbidden to derive benefit from. His brother Rabbi Shaul the Rabbi of Tysmienica also proclaimed this ban. When Neuman found out about this, he hastened to Stanislawow, came to the rabbi with his agent Meisels, and spoke harshly to him, “What have you done, honorable Rabbi?” You issued a ban upon the products of our factory, and this is a legal crime, for according to the law of the state, bans are punishable by harsh imprisonment.” The rabbi answered that as the rabbi of the community he is responsible for ensuring that the community does not stumble upon forbidden products. His only intention was to clarify the reason it was forbidden on account of “chometz that had been owned over Passover”. There is no ban or taint of a ban here. However Neuman stood his ground that this is a ban, and stated that he would turn the matter over to a government prosecutor. The rabbi became somewhat afraid, for if Neuman succeeds in his attempts to paint the matter in other colors and present this as a ban, it is possible that this would cause great trouble. There was already an incident with one rabbi in the region who was sentenced to harsh imprisonment because of a ban. Furthermore, Neuman claimed that the reason for the ban is incorrect. As proof he brought the contract that was made between the count who owned the factory and him, in which it says that Neuman has no partnership in the business and in the products that was sold. His only position is as chief administrator, and he was entitled to receive a set salary with the additional sum if the profit reaches a certain level. In this clause the rabbi found a pretext to extricate himself from the complications and a possibility of canceling the previous ban, for if a Jew is not a partner in the business itself, he does not own a portion of the merchandise, and the yeast belongs to the Polish count, this is the chometz of a gentile which does not have to be destroyed for Passover, and upon which the prohibition of chometz that a Jew owned over Passover does not apply. The rabbi sat down and wrote a note repealing his ban. When Neuman received the retraction, he went to Tysmienica to Rabbi Shaul. He also repealed his ban after reading the section of the contract. Apparently, there was reason for the rabbi brothers to assume that they had been cleared from this difficulty. However, this was a mistake, for Neuman had plotted a large plot. He wanted to earn a profit from this business and also to take revenge. He went to the state prosecutor and explained to him the entire incident. He portrayed it as a scandal with respect to the relations between the Jews and his landlord Count Orlowski. For there were two very wealthy Jews in Stanislawow, Yitzchak Goldfeld and Philip Lieberman. Each one had their own yeast factory and they looked badly upon the development of Count Orlowski's factory, whose produce was well-liked by its customers. Therefore, they went to their two rabbis and influenced them to find a Jewish legal pretext to proclaim a ban upon the products of Count Orlowski. The two rabbis listened to them, proclaimed a ban, and have already caused a loss to the count of so many thousands due to merchandise that was sent to Jewish customers, returned because of the ban and went bad in the interim. This is aside from the loss due to the losing of regular customers. Due to this, the prosecutor must bring them all to justice.

The magic word: ban (kl¹twa) had its effect, and the prosecutor paid close attention as he saw before him the chance to arrange a sensational case. Primarily, two wealthy, renowned and honorable Jews, as well as two renowned rabbis would be captured at once. An investigation was started, which lasted for many months. Following it, a writ of accusation (oszustwo) against these two wealthy men as the primarily accused and the two rabbis as accomplices in the crime was issued. This writ regarded the crime as being that the accused plotted to gain monetary benefit from the loss of the count, who was their competition. This is a felony according to Austrian law. A tumult and confusion arose with respect to the ban, but the prosecutor was not able to arrange a writ of accusation on the basis of this perversion, so he was forced to satisfy himself with something prosaic, an accusation of commonplace fraud, exaggerated to a major crime (zbrodnia), the penalty of which is serious and the judgment of which takes place between adjured judges. The accusation was based on the exaggerations of Neuman, whose master had in the interim lost several thousands – for according to Austrian law; the seriousness of the crime in such cases of fraud is measured according to the magnitude of the loss that was caused. However, the due process of this type of accusation caused the chief accused to be the fraudulent competitors, for they alone stood to reap benefit from the loss caused to the count. Even after great investigation, the prosecutor was unable to prove that any benefit would accrue to the rabbis from this. The only thing that occurred was that the rabbis worked for the benefit of their important members of the community and assisted them in their intrigues, so they have to stand in judgment… This writ of accusation was several pages long, and a large portion of it dealt with the essence of the bill of sale for Passover, which the prosecutor terms as “an apparent contract” (kontrakt pozorny). My uncle, the rabbi of Tysmienica sat me down in his home for several days to copy over the writ of accusation for the defense attorneys of the two brother rabbis. All four of the accused presented a protest against the writ of accusation. The case was conducted before a court of adjured judges with extreme sensationalism. The Polish newspapers, which were then completely anti-Semitic, either in small measure or in large measure, and there were no liberally inclined newspapers among them in the form of the large liberal newspapers that were published in the capital of Vienna, which of course protested against this situation. There was a small article with a large headline: Rabini przed Sadem (Rabbis before the court of justice), which attracted interest. Those newspapers began to get involved in this case. They mixed into the pot, and add any spices that they desired. All of them sent special reporters to the court, who filled the lines with details, descriptions and comments, over and above the stenographer's account of all the deliberations and testimony.

The chief justice and the prosecutor scrutinized the 12 adjured judges with great care, lest they include even one Jew. They did not even let any Maskilim enter the list, for these circles may have had some contact with the circles to which the accused belong. Third, they ascertained that none of the adjured judges would be local residents. Farmers and professionals who did not have any contact with Jews were accepted. The chairman was the chief adviser of the court, Turteltaub, who was an apostate and had a reputation for strictness. In this case, he made efforts to be as strict as possible, in the manner of apostates who try to hide their Jewish origins by behaving as veteran Jew haters. I recall the grotesque impression that this Turteltaub made. Each time that he mentioned the bill of sale – which was the common thread throughout the entire case , he would change his pronunciation sometimes saying “star machira”, at other times saying “sheetar machira”, as if he had never heard this word before[12]. The case lasted for three days, and the hall was packed to the brim. New entry tickets were issued for each sitting and the former ones were invalidated. They only issued a small number, so that the audience could sit comfortably, but each time, the hall got filled up some how or another.

The prosecutor and chairman tried through all means to accentuate the intrigue of the accused who tried through their machinations to inflict destruction upon the poor count. They particularly tried to trip up the two rabbis. The rabbis claimed in their defense that as rabbis, it was their duty to issue a ban, and only when they found out about the aforementioned clause in the contract that showed that a Jew was not a substantive partner in the business itself and in the ownership of the merchandise, did they see a possibility of revoking their ban. It was difficult for the innocent rabbis, who were not fluent in the Polish language in which the secular judgment was conducted, to explain the religious reasoning. This was especially the case since the reason for permissiveness was not the same for both of them. The rabbi of Stanislawow permitted this because of “clarification”, and he had difficulty explaining to the gentiles the issue of “someone who clarifies something from the outset”. However, I remember how Rabbi Shaul brought with him the Tur, opened it up and showed the court the text upon which he relied. Their common defense attorney was not pleased that they both did not use the same reasoning, but he did not succeed in convincing them to hide the truth. The verdict of the adjured judges was that the two rabbis were unanimously acquitted. These simple gentiles determined that the rabbis were performing their religious functions and doing what their religion commanded them. With regard to Mr. Yitzchak Goldfeld, seven voted to accuse him and five to acquit him. Since according to the law, the accusation had to be with a two thirds majority, he was also acquitted. His defense lawyer was Dr. Nathan Lewenstein of Lvov, who was not yet at that time a representative in the Sejm and parliament, but was already known as an excellent attorney, and many attributed the acquittal of Goldfeld to the power of influence of his defense attorney. Mr. Lieberman was found guilty and sentenced to a year of harsh imprisonment. This sentence was later suspended after an appeal. However, at the time that the verdict was published, the Polish newspapers prepared tasty treats for their readers, describe to them with satisfaction and sharp mockery how the wealthy Jewish Maskil was sentenced to harsh imprisonment on the crime of fraud, and his status of captain was revoked (Lieberman was an Uber Lieutanant in the Austrian reserve army).

Rabbi Yitzchak was not a Hassid of any Admor, and did not conduct himself in the ways of Hassidim, but he also was not a staunch misnaged. On account of his pleasant disposition to everyone and his calm character, opposition was not part of his makeup. On the contrary, he displayed affection for any Rebbe who visited him. When he was still young, he visited the Tzadik Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Tzanz, who displayed special affection to him and honored him. At the table celebration during the Sabbath meal, he would seat him next to his seat, and in the middle of the meal, he would lean over to him and tell him lightheartedly, “are we not both descendents of the Chacham Tzvi, who was not of the Hassidim”. Even when he lived in Stanislawow, Rabbi Yitzchak displayed tolerance and admiration for the Hassidim and the Rebbes. During the lifetime of Rabbi Meshulam, the shochtim of Stanislawow who had Hassidic leanings were wary of displaying this publicly, but now each one traveled to his own Tzadik in the open. Furthermore, they would bring the rabbi a greeting from the Tzadik. Once, Rabbi Yitzchak was invited to Laskowce to kasher a large meal for Passover, the trip to Laskowce took him through Czortkow. Rabbi Yitzchak arranged his journey so that he would spend the Sabbath in Czortkow with the Tzadik Rabbi David Moshe. This journey took place every year, and he spent the Sabbath in Czortkow. each time. This greatly angered the misnagdim of Stanislawow very much, but the rabbi, in his innocence and modesty, did not understand what was wrong, for how could one travel to Czortkow. and not visit the Tzadik. And if one was doing so, why not do it in an honorable fashion and for the Sabbath?

He would take a student along with him for this journey. For the most part this was my brother Rabbi Tzvi, who our uncle loved very much, and appreciated his humor and his talent for jokes. He also told me some things about these visits to the court of Czortkow., such as the protocol and ethics of the “court” which Rabbi Yitzchak did not value and did not conduct himself accordingly. A large crowd was gathered in the anteroom before the room of the Tzadik, and the gabbai would shout loudly, “Make way for the Rabbi of Stanislawow!” However, the crowding did not abate. According to the accepted protocol of the court, the rabbi was to wait until the gabbai cleared the way. The intention, of course, was that the rabbi should stand for a while, and the crowd would see the power of the court, for great rabbis are subordinate to it. However, Rabbi Yitzchak did not pay attention to the custom of the gabbaim. He made his way himself, and he was quickly in the next to the door, having taken along his nephew. When the door opened up, the gabbai wanted to separate the rabbi from the youth who was with him, for how could a gabbai of the rabbi enter into the private room of the Admor. However my uncle did not let go of his hand, and he brought the youth in. In the room they exchanged greetings, and a chair was set up for the rabbi next to the chair of the Rebbe. After the rabbi was asked to sit down, he was brought a snack of cake and wine. The rabbi tasted, and wished the Tzadik lechayim (to life) as was customary. However, after that, the rabbi took the goblet and offered it to his nephew, “Hershel, you should also drink lechayim!”

Nevertheless, his visits to Czortkow. did not change the manner of Rabbi Yitzchak at all. He did not become a Czortkow Hassid, and did not become any more Hassidic than he was before, and no more of a misnaged than he was before, for during his life, he never took one side or the other. However, from this point, Hassidim who returned from Czortkow. would bring greetings to the rabbi more frequently. Rabbi Yankel Ehrlich did this more than others. He was an intelligent, sharp Jew, who was expert in the ways of the world – however any Jewish life that did not have a connection to Czortkow was not of any value to him.

Rabbi Yitzchak's wife, Rebbetzin Tova Mirl, was a wise woman who had “a man's mind”. Some called her with the nickname Bismarck. She loved to take part in the rabbinical proceedings. She always kept some grandsons and granddaughters in her house. She would educate and raise them. She conducted herself properly with only one fault – she was always immersed in debts. She borrowed and paid, borrowed, and paid. Of course, the rabbi tolerated this, and the domestic peace was not disrupted.

Even though Rabbi Yitzchak got along well with people, never got angry, never angered anyone, and the awe of him was not like that of his father, the following incident took place: Mordechai Bikel, a wealthy man who wore a short suit[13], an erudite man in his own eyes, a Kohen, a fierce tempered man, got angry at the rabbi because of a Torah adjudication that he lost or some similar matter, and burst out against him with brazenness and cursing, with his loud voice. The rabbi was silent as was his manner, accepting the embarrassment but not embarrassing others. However, this matter made him very angry. He said, “I do not forgive him”. Within a brief period, Mordechai Bikel became afflicted with paralysis. He repented for his wrongdoing; for he believed that he was punished in this manner. He sent for the rabbi to appease him. This was considered a portent in the city…

Rabbi Yitzchak sat on the rabbinical seat of Stanislawow in peace and calm. He also lived a long life and died at an old age, but not as old as his ancestors, for he did not reach 80. He was approximately 78 at his death[14]. He died on the 20th of Cheshvan, 5664 (1904), and was laid to rest in the canopy beside his father.



About R' Isaac Horowitz, A.B.D. Stanislaw (עברית)

גאב"ד זיראוונא


שמות הרבנים בסטינסלבוב

   אריה-לייב אאורבך, כיהן כרב בסטניסלבוב בשנים 1750- 1740.
   הרב יהודה, כיהן בשנים 1764-1784.
  • הרב אריה לייב הורוביץ, כיהן בשנים 1784-1844.
בנו של הרב לייב הורוביץ, הרב משולם יששכר הורוביץ, כיהן בשנים 1845-1881


בנו של משולם יששכר, הרב יצחק הורוביץ, כיהן בשנים 1887-1904.

[תרגום: יעקב קירשבראון, 2011]