Living Legacy: Rebbe Yisroel of Husyatin
By Yehuda Alter
The 29th of Kislev marks the yohrtzeit of the Husyatiner Rebbe, a grandson and namesake of the "Heiliger Ruziner," who spent the later years of his life in Tel Aviv, until his passing in 1949.
He was born to Rebbe Mordechai Shraga Feivish of Husyatin, in the year 1857.
From a young age, he basked in the glow of his holy father, who instilled in him that the greatest value is being understated and hidden in all matters. Rebbe Yisroel would be known for his entire life for an extreme emphasis on being away from the limelight, and conducting himself b'hatzneiah leches, in hidden ways.
One incredible story to this effect occurred when he was a child. A woman came to Husyatin to pour out her heart to the Rebbe's father, the first Husyatiner Rebbe, about the fact that her husband had disappeared many years ago, and she was left alone. As it was the time of Yomim Nora'im, she was unable to get in to see the rebbe. Her friends advised her to approach the Rebbe's young son, which she did, and he immediately said, "Your husband is in this place," not too distant from where they were.
The woman was in disbelief. Why would her husband—who was taken away by force for harsh labor—not return home? She waited to approach the Husyatiner Rebbe until after the Yomim Tovim, but he said nothing to her.
She said to him, "The rebbe's son said that he is in a certain city."
"If so," said the rebbe, "then travel there."
Indeed, she journeyed there and found him immediately. It turned out that for most of the time, he was in a faraway place and had recently returned to the area, and they returned home together.
But then the Husyatiner called in his son and admonished him not to engage in such revealed avodas in the future.
Later in life, his entire conduct brimmed with a regal quietness. During his tish, he would not speak at all— and nevertheless, the aura that permeated the room was enough to bring the attendees to teshuvah.
There was one exception to this style in avodas Hashem, and this was during the na'anu'im on Sukkos. His avodah would take many hours, at the conclusion of which he would he be drenched in sweat from great exertion. He would explain that he had a tradition from his ancestor, the maggid of Mezrich, with regard to the na'anu'im.
It is well-known that the Nazis, ym" sh, we're close to entering Eretz Yisroel in the year 1944. Then, the Husyatiner Rebbe, together with Rav Shloimke Zviller and Reb Ahreleh Roth, the ba'al Shomrei Emunim, went out to the Tziyun of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh. Following this, the Husyatiner Rebbe said to his companions, "I'm certain that the rashah will not come in to the holy land, for I saw the name of Hashem hovering above the holy kever."
In a tzavaah that he wrote many years before his passing, he asked that his body be brought to Yerushalayim, and if this weren't possible, then Tzfas or Teveria. Who could have foreseen that at the time of his passing in 1949, har hazeisim would be in Arab hands—if not for this great Tzaddik?
Indeed, he was interred in Teveria, where his resting place continues to attract many Yidden every year.