This Shabbos, 19 Kislev, is the 248th yahrtzeit of Harav Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, zy”a, the leading talmid and successor of the Baal Shem Tov.
Although the Maggid is known as the Mezritcher Maggid, after the town he settled and led his court after the petirah of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid and his Chassidim lived for a long time in the city of Rivne, Ukraine – some 40 kilometres from Mezritch, and official documents in the city finally confirmed the location of his beis medrash.
In recent days, the Chabad shliach in the city of Rivne, Rabbi Schneur Schneersohn (a tenth generation descendant of the Baal HaTanya of Chabad, zy”a), made a dramatic and surprising historical discovery, confirming that the only shul that survived the horrors of Holocaust is in fact the “Alte Kloiz” – the old beis medrash that was used by the Maggid and his Chassidim.
So far there have been speculations on the subject, but only recently has it become clear that documents held by the city authorities confirm this.
“We sent the documents to professionals to certify their veracity, and after an in-depth examination and discovery of additional documents, it was clarified beyond any doubt that the building was indeed the building called the ‘Alte Kloiz’ which was used by the Maggid and, according to what had been read, was erected in 1760, 260 years ago. It is difficult for me to describe in words the great excitement that filled me and those involved in the work when we realized the magnitude of the discovery.”
According to the shliach, Rabbi Schneerson, “we found signs of an ancient mikveh in one of the entrances to the building. According to evidence, this mikveh was used by the talmidim of the Maggid.”
Following this amazing discovery, Rabbi Schneersohn decided to restore the old beis medrash. “Since I arrived in the city, we have done our best to renovate the beis medrash several times, but its poor condition still requires extensive renovation lest it collapse, chas v’shalom. The roof, windows and walls are crumbling, and in the harsh winter, water, snow and strong winds leak from them. The first Rebbe of Chabad testified that, in the Maggid’s presence, miracles would ‘roll around under the table,’ but there was no time to pick them up. All this took place here in the beis medrash, a place where one can feel kedushah, and which is now in danger of collapsing,” warned Rabbi Schneersohn.
It should be noted that in addition to its spiritual value and historical importance, the beis medrash also serves as the only building in the possession of the local Jewish community and is where most of the community activities take place, with another building being leased for the benefit of educational institutions.
Among the prominent and known talmidim of the Maggid are: Harav Aharon of Karlin, the Beis Aharon; Harav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk; Harav Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl; the brothers Harav Zusha of Anipoli and Harav Elimelech of Lizhensk; Harav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev; Harav Leib Sarah’s and Harav Shneur Zalman of Liadi – the Baal HaTanya, zechusam yagen aleinu.