Living Legacy: Rebbe Moshe of Pshevorsk
By: Yehuda Alter
The 12th of Teves marks the yohrtzeit of Rebbe Moshe Halevi of Pshevorsk, zy”a, known by the title of his sefer "Ohr Pnei Moshe". He was a Sofer Stam whose parshiyos of tefillin were written with such kedushah, they were prized by the tzaddikim of his generation and later generations.
He was born around the year 1720. His father was Rav Yitzchok Halevi.
It is worthwhile to quote the haskamah of the Chozeh of Lublin that attests to the greatness of the Rebbe. “He was so hidden, to the extent that it is unknown that he was a lamdan. In my youth, I drunk from his waters and I came to know that his every move was for the sake of Heaven and to create a nachas ruach for his Maker. He attained such a level that Rabi Moshe Alshich was revealed to him in his youth.”
The children of Rebbe Zushe of Anipoli wrote that their father was once at the home of Rebbe Moshe, and witnessed the way sparks of fire emanated from his pen as he wrote his holy sefer.
Thus, although his greatness was not apparent to the average person—due to his great efforts at concealment—the great men of his generation did recognize it, and they held him in the highest esteem.
He was a prime talmid of the maggid of Mezritch and of the Rebbe Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk.
As noted, the sifrei Torah and tefillin that he wrote were extremely prized by the tzaddikim. Once, Rebbe Mordechai of Neshchiz asked Rav Moshe to write for him a sefer Torah. He replied that he was already old and very weak, and he doesn’t know if he would be able to complete it. But if Rebbe Mordechai could assure him that he will live to complete it, then he will undertake the task. After Rebbe Mordechai’s assurance, he began the work, and indeed lived to complete the sefer Torah after five years.
His avodas Hashem was with such great intensity, that his body was greatly weakened all his years.
Among the many stories of his tzidkus and power to affect yeshu’os is the following story: Once, Rebbe Aryeh Leib of Tarnigrod, the father of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, came to the home of Rav Moshe and saw that he and the Rebbetzin were worried about something.
When he inquired about this, he was told they were about to marry off a child and had no money to do so. Immediately, he counted out 300 rubles and gave it to the Rebbetzin. She thanked him profusely, but then said, “we have another daughter who is in shidduchim. What will be with her?” Without hesitation, Rav Aryeh Leib counted another 300 rubles for this daughter as well.
Rebbe Moshe blessed him, just as you have brightened our eyes today, you should merit to have a son who will illuminate the world. Indeed, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz was born to him later on.
The Ohr Pnei Moshe, one of the greatest lights of the Chassidic movement, was niftar in Pshevorsk in the year 1805, and laid to rest there.