R' Meshullam Zalman Joseph Zilberfarb, Admur Toprov

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Meshullam Zalman Joseph Zilberfarb

Hebrew: Meshullam Zalman Joseph זילבערפארב
Also Known As: "Meshullam Zalman Joseph"
Birthplace: Oles'k, Volyns'ka oblast, Ukraine
Death: Died
Cause of death: Perished in Holocaust
Immediate Family:

Son of R' Moshe Zilberfarb of Rovno and Leah Zilberfarb
Husband of Chaya Bracha Zilberfarb
Father of R' Chanoch Henich Dov Zilberfarb, Admur Botosani-Koidanovo-Tel Aviv; R' Mordechai Solomon Haim Zilberfarb of Toprov; Rebetzin Rivka Pearl Schapiro (Zilberfarb); Sheintze Menucha Waldman; Sarah Yentes and 1 other
Brother of Chava Horowitz

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About R' Meshullam Zalman Joseph Zilberfarb, Admur Toprov

Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb, grandson of the Admoyer from Olesk, became Rabbi in 1896. He also led the Admo”r court according to the tradition of Olesk and the Koydanov Chassidim. He held both posts until he was killed in the Holocaust, either in Belzec or according to some, shot in the forest.


Great hassidic rabbi Zalman Zilberfarb was born in Rowne to Moshe and Lea. He was a rabbinical court head. Prior to WWII he lived in Toporow, Poland. Great hassidic rabbi Zilberfarb perished in the Shoah at the age of 70.


         On 24th June 1941, two days after the German invasion of the USSR, Wehrmacht soldiers entered Toporow. In broad daylight they took Jews captive, including Rabbi Zilberfarb. They imprisoned them in the Great Synagogue and the Germans and Ukrainians abused them.
         On 26th June 1941, with the encouragement and permission of the Germans, they were slaughtered by the Ukrainians. There was a manhunt through the streets and 180 Jews were captured and taken to the forest and killed. They took the opportunity of rounding up other groups of Jews and adding them to the mass grave.
         “Toporov” - Encyclopedia of Jewish

Communities in Poland, Volume II

(Toporov, Ukraine)

Y i z k o r B o o k

for the Communities of



Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb

A. Dubinsky

Translated by Angela Brice

The rabbi, Reb Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb, known as the “Toporower Rabbi”, was born in 5628 (1868), in the town of Rowne,* the son of the devoted Chassid, Reb Moyshele Zilberfarb. His grandfather was living there at that time, the wealthy Reb Eliezer Scheinczes, great-grandson of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz and descendant of the renowned Shapira family, whose ancestors were amongst the exiles and martyrs of the city of Speyer in Germany at the time of the Crusades. The mother of Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef was the rebbetzin Leah, the only daughter of the admor (our master, teacher and rabbi) Rabbi Chanoch Henich from Olesk [Olesko], author of “Lev Sameach” (“Rejoicing Heart”), a scion of the distinguished Schorr family and descendant of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdyczow.

Reb Eliezer Scheinczes was a Chassidic figure well-known throughout Volhynia and Galicia. A person of impeccable purity, the very image of men of piety and influence from days gone by, he was great both in knowledge and in wealth. A deeply religious man who loved the Truth, he sought faith and lived a pious life. His generosity was boundless; every year he distributed an abundance of wealth to charity. His knowledge of the Torah, both the hidden and the revealed, was renowned, though he behaved with humility and modesty.

Reb Eliezer Scheinczes was a Trysk (Turzysk) Chassid and all his life was considered an exemplary disciple of the maggid Rabbi Abraham, one of the eight sons of the maggid Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl. However, he also endeared himself to all the tzaddikim of his generation, and allied his family with the families of many of them. A Zilberfarb family tradition speaks of the admor Rabbi Yehoshua of Belz, who attended the famous Chernobyl wedding. In the middle of the feast he was obliged to return to his home in Galicia, by a decree from the Russian authorities. On the way back he stopped at Rowne, and stayed in the house of Reb Eliezer Scheinczes, who took great care of him and attended to him personally. When Rabbi Yehoshua of Belz was about to continue on his way, he asked Reb Eliezer at the time of parting, “How shall I bless you?” Reb Eliezer answered, “Riches, I have already; good, upright sons, the Lord has already bestowed upon me – the greatest blessing I could have would be for my sons to be betrothed into families of tzaddikim and holy men.” The rabbi of Belz blessed him according to the request of his heart. And indeed, Chassidim would say, the blessing came about, and Reb Eliezer merited joining with many of the admorim of his generation, including the family of Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin and Rabbi Moshe Tzvi of Svaryne.

His son, Rabbi Moyshele Zilberfarb was the spitting image of his father. He was of good ancestry and very industrious, gracious to everybody and beloved by all, modest in all his ways and righteous in all his actions. He was the son-in-law of the author of the “Lev Sameach” of Olesk and earned the admiration of his father-in-law, more than all his followers. At times of prayer and worship, he would become like burning fire and on the Sabbath his face would shine with excitement so that he was scarcely recognisable.

Rabbi Moyshele, like his father, belonged to the Chassidim of the maggid of Trysk and followed all the traditions of the House of Chernobyl. On Friday nights he would recite all the Psalms, as did the admorim of Chernobyl, and he did so also at his wedding feast. His father-in-law, the author of “Lev Sameach”, father of the bride, was sitting beside him and listening to his rendition of the Psalms with devotion and outpouring of the soul, in a way that only a devout Jew like Reb Moyshele could do. He was greatly occupied with carrying out the commandments regarding charity, gave away much of his money and raised funds for “anonymous charity”. He carried out acts of kindness to everyone and approached every Jew with love and devotion, but tried to conceal his deeds. He preferred modesty in worship. Every day a minyan (quorum of ten men) would gather at his house for morning and evening prayers. In the building where he lived he set openings in all four directions, in honour of the visiting rabbis who flocked to his home and lodged there. All the great admorim who came through Rowne, would lodge at the house of Rabbi Moyshele. “I am jealous of the Sabbath of Reb Moyshele Zilberfarb”, one of the admorim once said, although Reb Moyshele never led a group of followers or a community and never presided over public meals. And the admor added, “Great tzaddikim would have craved to have on Yom Kippur the measure of simple fear of G-d that Reb Moyshele demonstrates every day”.

Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef, son of Reb Moyshele Zilberfarb, stood out too, from childhood, in the manners of holiness he displayed, as a worshipper of the Lord, full of awe and purity. It struck the heart to see the Rowne lad, when he retired to a corner and prayed with sweetness and enormous enthusiasm, with wonderful devotion, loudly and brilliantly. The mighty sound of his prayer echoed for great distances.

Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef spent his childhood in the court of his grandfather, the author of “Lev Sameach”, in Olesk, where he furthered his knowledge of Torah and worship and acquired understanding and fear of Heaven from his distinguished grandfather. Rabbi Chanoch Henich loved his favourite grandson, who was outstanding in Torah, and never stopped loving him. For some time the young Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef even slept in his grandfather's room. Although the rabbi would not willingly suffer the presence of a stranger whilst he slept, he was pleased with that grandson of his and even affectionately approved of it. Rabbi Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef was only 12 years old when the tzaddik from Olesk departed from this world, nevertheless his impression remained in the young man's heart. To serve the Lord with joy, to love people and do good deeds, to be genuine and straightforward like a truly humble man – these, like his forefathers, he revered above all things.

At a very young age, he was betrothed by his father to the daughter of the admor Reb Aharon of Koydanov, grandson of Rabbi Shlomo Chaim of Koydanov, one of the most famous admorim of Belarus. When Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef got married he left Rowne for the court of his father-in-law, where he continued to study the Torah, in pure worship, and adopted much of his father-in-law's method, which characterized a new trend and a unique school of Chassidic thought. The delicacy of his soul, his pleasant ways and noble character, his fear of Heaven and degree of Torah learning endeared him to all those who surrounded him in the new place, who had not previously encountered the Galician type of Chassid.

The services and ways of the Lithuanian Chassidim of Koydanov were very different from the Chernobyl-Galician atmosphere, in which Rabbi Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef was brought up. But the differences were merely external. Actually, Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef Zilberfarb blended in his character the different approaches, into a glorious peak of pure Chassidic perfection, with magnificent harmony. For he was a wonderful man and wonderful were his traits and ways.

The first to carry the flag of Chassidism in Lithuania was the Saba Kadisha (Holy Grandfather) Rabbi Mordechai from Lachowice, the eminent disciple of the admor Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, who was a pupil of the great maggid of Mezerich. He founded a new school of Chassidism, which was intended for the distinguished and elevated. His pupils were inspired and capable themselves of leading thousands of followers, but they preferred to humble themselves at the feet of their great rabbi and drink from the fountain of his knowledge. The legacy of his flame was carried on after him, by his son the admor Rabbi Noah from Lachowice and his disciples, generations of admorim of the dynasty of Kobrin and Slonim. The Saba Kadisha was descended from the author of “Levushim” (“Garments”), Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe, and he, who was named after him, would also sign his name “Mordechai Yaffe”.

One of the sons of the Saba Kadisha, who died during his father's lifetime in the prime of life, was Rabbi Aharon, a tzaddik and saintly man who was consumed by the flame of his own soul, leaving a small child, called Shlomo-Chaim. Little Shlomo-Chaim was educated at his grandfather's knee, the Saba Kadisha from Lachowice, until the age of bar mitzvah, when his grandfather arranged his engagement to the daughter of his rabbi's daughter (the admor Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin), who was brought up in his mother's father's house, the rabbi Reb Asher the Great from Stolin. The wedding took place in Stolin on the 13th of Shevat 5570 (1810). However, a short time before the wedding service, the Saba Kadisha passed away and was buried in Stolin. Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim stayed in the house of his grandfather, the Rabbi of Stolin, having learned from him ways of worship and Chassidism. He frequently used to visit the sanctuary of the tzaddikim of that generation: Rabbi Baruchl of Medzhibozh, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement; the rabbi, author of “Ohev Yisroel” (“He Who Loves Israel”) from Apta and the five sons of the maggid of Zloczow, the maggid Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, Rabbi Avraham Dov from Abritsch, Rabbi Moshe Tzvi of Svaryne, Rabbi Yisroeltchi of Ruzhin and the author of “Beit Aharon” (”House of Aharon”) from Karlin. After years of study, he moved to live in Koydanov, and at the death of the son of the Saba Kadisha, his uncle, the admor Rabbi Noah from Lachowice, in 5593 (1833), began to lead the followers of the house and thus was founded the glorious Koydanov dynasty.

The colour and flavour of this Chassidism was not a direct development from the Lachowice Chassidism of the Saba Kadisha. It was founded not only for the distinguished, but also embraced the masses and the simpler folk.

Koydanov Chassidism cultivated in its followers a naive belief in the tzaddikim, leading to belief in the Lord, and aroused in them the desire to study and worship with joy. Many Chassidim flowed to Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim's sanctuary from all over Belarus and Lithuania. Even in Vilna, the stronghold of the Mithnagdim, he had faithful followers, who stuck by him with every thread of their hearts and souls. Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim bequeathed to Chassidism a wealth of nigunim (melodies), a treasury not lacking in pearls of wisdom, sayings, discourses and new interpretations which enriched Chassidic thought. One of his melodies was passed in the traditional way, from one person to another, from the mouth of the Rabbi Neta of Abritsch, one of the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov who would not sleep all Sabbath long, and on Sabbath night would memorize Massechet Shabbat (Talmudic tractate) to this tune, and as for his sayings and his wit, they spread rapidly through the Chassidic world.

His son, the admor Rabbi Baruch-Mordechai, told, according to his son Rabbi Shalom of Brahin, in his book “Divrei Shalom” (“Words of Shalom”) that his father Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim once rebuked him strongly for harbouring melancholy feelings. When asked why he particularly argued against this when other shortcomings of his were worse, he answered, “With regard to other things, you will surely repent, but not for your sorrow, it is very likely that you will never repent for your sorrow.” Chassidim relate the meaning of “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” as the rabbi interpreted it, while saying to an ascetic hermit, who had chosen to hide away from the follies of this world: “Why do you hate your body? Were you not an ascetic hermit, you would love your body with true love. Therefore go forward, love mankind with a true love, for they are not hermits, withdrawn from the world and they don't abstain from the ways of the world...” And to another Chassid who said to him “Rabbi, I am old and near the end of my days, will you teach me how to die?” the Rabbi answered, “Do you know how to live? Better to learn first how to live, before asking how to die”.

And indeed – all the days of his life, Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim taught others “how to live”, and by his personal example he served as a venerable model for his Chassidim. His sayings were collected in the book “Imrei Ra.cha.sh” (“Sayings of Rabbi Chaim Shlomo”), which is full of glowing pearls, genuine gems of wisdom. On the 17th of the month of Av 5622 (1862), Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim passed away and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Baruch Mordechai, who did not long outlast him and died at Rosh Hashana 5631 (1870). His place was filled by his oldest son, the admor Rabbi Aharon of Koydanov, who set and consolidated the character of the Koydanov Chassidim, which had spread and expanded in the meantime. The “stieblach” (small prayer rooms) of the Koydaner Chassidim had spread to every city and town of the country and all basked in the glory of the admor Reb Aharon.

He was a genius in Torah and in Chassidism, acted and encouraged others to act, for the sake of the Orthodox community of Eretz Israel and even founded a special kollel (congregation) called the Koydanover Kollel, and built a beautiful and elegant bet midrash (house of learning) in the Holy City with his own money. Rabbi Aharon died at the age of 58, on the 16th of Elul 5657 (1897), leaving his three sons: Rabbi Yosef Perlov from Minsk, Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim from Koydanov, Rabbi Nechemia, who lived in Baranovitch (Baranovtsy), in the latter part of his life, and also a daughter, Chaya Bracha, born in his old age, who was married to Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb.

So long as Rabbi Aharon from Koydanov was alive, his son-in-law, who years later was known as the “Rabbi from Toporow”, was to be found beside his pew, learning Torah and Chassidism from his mouth. When he passed away, Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef settled in the Galician town of Toporow, the place where he was invited to take the honoured place as rabbi of the community, and to which he introduced in abundance the righteousness of the Koydanov Chassidim. He was ordained into the rabbinate by the geonim Rabbis Shlomo HaCohen from Vilna and Shalom Mordechai HaCohen from Brezan (Brzezany), and afterwards settled in Toporow, where he held office for forty years.

Officially he served as rabbi of Toporow – head of the community, in charge of all its spiritual needs; in reality he presided as admor, continuing the tradition of his sacred ancestors of Berdychow and Olesk, according to the interpretation which he brought from Koydanov. In his later years, his awe-inspiring appearance and his noble and radiant bearing endowed him with a special charm. He gave the impression of being far away from all that belonged to our mundane world, his head bestowed elsewhere, in high places. However even at a younger age, his appearance appealed to all those who saw him. His face was radiant with holiness and people were bound to him as if by magic, for he was a holy man and his graceful countenance was enchanting.

It is true that in Polesia, in Belarus, and in the regions of Lithuania, the Koydanov Chassidim were labeled: “Lithuanian Chassidim”. But of course, there was no market for this “Lithuanian import” in eastern Galicia where the Toporower rabbi settled. How was it, then, that he appealed to Galician Jews? It seems that the main influence was the “Siddur” (“daily prayer book”) that he brought with him from his father-in-law's house in Koydanov. This should be mentioned as being one of the main things that Rabbi Aharon from Koydanov bequeathed to those who came after him, his Siddur. This Siddur, entitled “Or Hayashar” (“The Light of Righteousness”), was written and compiled by “the perfect scholar, the kabbalist, recognized as holy, a man of G-d, our teacher, the Rabbi Meir Poppers, a tzaddik of blessed memory, whose light is cast on the land and its people” [the name Meir means “casting light”]. It was adopted by the admorim of the House of Lachowice and Slonim, Koydanov and Stolin. When Rabbi Aharon passed away, he left the Siddur to those who followed his way, amongst them was the Toporower rabbi. To the faithful followers of the House of Koydanov this Siddur became a source of comfort and consolation, a great foundation of faith from which they derived enlightenment, counsel, direction and religious zeal. To this Siddur the Toporower rabbi, with his frank countenance and warm Chassidic heart, added another Siddur, the “Lev Sameach” Siddur of his righteous grandfather, the rabbi Reb Chanoch-Henich of Olesk, these two works came to be “the Jachin and the Boaz” of the dynasty of the Rabbi of Toporow.

A man of soul and fine character, the rabbi dedicated his life to G-d quietly and with modesty. His family and followers told glorious tales of his wonderful conduct. He lived frugally and filled his days and nights endlessly with studying the Torah. He excelled at everything, but avoided being conspicuous. He was far from seeking the trimmings of leadership. He lived simply and modestly, avoided seeking honour and behaved without prejudice in all his actions, so that he was justifiably considered an example of a perfect man.

He was a great worshipper of the Lord, excited by prayer, he would cry out to the depths of his soul. His roar at the time of saying the Shema, would reach right up to Heaven. Drops of sweat would fly from him then, and his face burned like a torch. Even when he received “offerings” from the poorest most dejected Jews, with requests attached, he would seem to plead towards Heaven, as if he shared in the suffering of the individual, and furthermore, in the suffering of the Divine Presence, who sorrows for the troubles of every Jew, and say: “I am burdened” [Mishna, Sanhedrin 6, 5].

And how graciously and cordially he received everyone who approached him. He had a little notebook in which he wrote the names of everyone who came to him and the names of their mothers, so he could pray on their behalf. The purity of his faith and the purity of his heart expressed perfection, complete consistency, complete abstention from the vanities of this world, and he attained exalted peaks above and beyond the material world.

He was a sweet person and won the hearts of all who encountered him. He used to visit the Lithuanian yeshivot, in the towns of Lithuania in which his father-in-law's ancestors dwelt in the past, and everybody there was drawn to him with extraordinary love. Even the Slonim Chassidim in Baranovitch, who had reservations about the Koydanovers, admired him and liked him, and even flocked to his prayer services.

The years of wrath arrived and as all the Jewish communities in Galicia were being wiped out, so too came the turn of the community of Toporow. On Yom Kippur eve, 5701 (1940) [should be 5703 (1942)], a pack of Nazi soldiers burst into the bet midrash of the Toporower rabbi and beat him ferociously. After the fast the rabbi slipped away and hid in a nearby forest. His Chassidim, who were worried about his well-being, decided to roast some potatoes for him and lit a fire, and thus the Nazis discovered and captured them. From there the rabbi was sent straight to Belzec extermination camp, where he was put to death along with his younger son, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Chaim (hy”d). His son and successor, the admor Rabbi Chanoch-Dov Zilberfarb, shlyt"a (may he have a long and good life, amen), of Koydanov, survived the war and now resides in Tel Aviv.

  • In an official document he was described as Rabbi Jozef Zalman Silberfarb, born in Olesko, March 1, 1870. Return


About R' Meshullam Zalman Joseph Zilberfarb, Admur Toprov (עברית)

זילברפרב, משולם זלמן יוסף, בן משה. נולד בערך בתרכ"ט,1869. אחרי נישואיו עבר לווהלין. בתרנ"ו,1896,חזר לגליציה, והתקבל כאב"ד ואדמו"ר בטופורוב, שבאזור לבוב. כשכבשו הגרמנים את העיר הם תפסו אותו ועוד כמה יהודים כבני ערובה. הם הוחזקו בבית הכנסת, והגרמנים והאוקראינים התעללו בהם. בערב יום כיפור תש"ג,1942, פרצו הגרמנים אל המקום שבו התפלל והכוהו באכזריות. במוצאי יום כיפור נמלט אל היער הסמוך. שם גילו אותו הגרמנים ושילחו אותו לבלז'ץ. מקורות: אלה אזכרה, ה, עמ 86-81; ספר זכרון לקהילות ראדיחוב, לופאטין והסביבה, עמ 419-411; פנקס הקהילות, גליציה המזרחית, עמ 253, 254; וונדר, ב, עמ 992-994; אלפסי, אנציקלופדיה לחסידות, ג, עמ שפו- שפז;

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