Living Legacy: Rav Menachem Mendel Leser of Strizov
The 16th of Av marks the yahrtzeit of Rav Menachem Mendel of Torna, ABD of Strizov, Galicia, who was known in his time as a great kadosh and baki in every area of Torah. Thousands of Yidden made their way to be with him and to be warmed by his fire.
He was born to his father, Rav Moshe Avrohom Dovid in the town of Torna in the year 5548 (1788).
Not much is known about his family or about his upbringing. He was the son-in-law of Rav Zvi Hirsch Goldhamer of Dukla who was also the father-in-law of the Ropshitzer Rov, making the two tzaddikim brothers-in-law. It is said that the Ba’al Shem Tov gave a brochoh to the father of Reb Tzvi Hirsch that he would have great generations—which came to fruition through his daughters and their illustrious husbands.
In the early years, he lived in Torna, where he sat and learned with incredible diligence. He became known for his great erudition in Torah, and the tzaddikim and lomdim of his generation accorded him great honor on account of this.
His avodas Hashem, too, was with a great fire, and many Yidden would come to witness his avodah. He was also known for his great avodah in being joyful—so much so that everyone who came in contact with him was affected by his joy.
He became close to the Rebbe Rav Mendele of Rimanov and the Chozeh of Lublin, and then journeyed to the court of the Koznitzer Maggid by whom he was greatly beloved.
His avodas hatefillah was otherworldly, and he was a regular ba’al tefillah in the court of his Rebbe, Rav Mendele of Rimanov. Once, Chassidim were returning home from Rimanov after being there Rosh Hashanah, and they stopped off in Lublin.
The Chozeh asked them, “Who davened before the amud on Rosh Hashanah?”
They answered, “The groiseh Rebbe Mendel (of Torna) davened both days.”
To this, the Chozeh replied, “I only heard one day.”
When they related the conversation to Rebbe Mendel of Torna, he said, “Yes, On the first day, I didn’t exert myself so much, so to leave some strength for the second day. This is why the Chozeh only heard me on one of the days.”
He served as the Rov of Strizov for a number of years, and many Yidden came to him there, receiving a derech in avodas Hashem. He led the kehillah in Strizov with great wisdom and paskened very difficult she’eilos. He then returned to his native Torna, where he continued to be mashpiah on many of his followers.
Sadly, he departed this world at the young age of 43 in the year 1831 and was interred in Torna.
He left behind his divrei Torah in the sefer Sovah Smochos, as well as Sheilos Uteshuvos Sovah Smochos.