Living Legacy: Rebbe Yisroel of Ruzin, zy”a
By: Yehuda Alter
The 3rd day in the month of Cheshvan marks the yohrtzeit of the holy Ruziner. Among chassidim it is said that, like the day of Yom Kippur, the day of the Hillula itself atones. The kedusha and the greatness of the heiliger Ruziner could fill volumes, and we endeavor today, in advance of the 173rd yohrtzeit, to give a humble glimpse into his biography.
He was born in the year 1796 to his father, Rebbe Shalom Shachna of Prohbisht, who was the son of Rebbe Avrohom Hamalach, who was a son of the Maggid of Mezrich. His maternal grandfather was the Me’or Einayim.
Rabbi Menachem Brayer, the father of the Boyaner Rebbe, and son-in-law of the previous Boyaner Rebbe, who was a direct descendant of the Ruziner, wrote a book on the dynasty (published by Artscroll/Mesorah), in which he wrote the following two stories about his holiness which was apparent from even the youngest age:
“Once when he was a little boy, he made a small garden to play in. His brother, Rebbe Avrohom, said to him, 'My beloved, you should know that it is almost Shabbos.' The boy raised his eyes to heaven and answered, 'Yes, I know.' His brother asked him how he, Yisroel, knew this. He answered, 'Don't you see that the sky is changing?' At that time, R' Yisroel was not yet 3 years old."
“Once, when R' Yisroel was 5 or 6 years old, his father entered the boys' room, as was his custom, to see his children. There he found his younger son walking back and forth alone, clapping, his hands, crushing his fingers and crying, out. "Why are you weeping, my son?" he asked. 'The boy stopped for a moment and said, "Father, I was just thinking of all the times I lifted my hands today, but not for the sake of Heaven."
The dynasty that came forth from the holy Ruziner is one of the greatest and wide-ranging, and had some of the greatest Admorim in the last 170 years.
The Ruziner was known to conduct himself with royalty. However, as he himself attested toward the end of his life, “I have not benefitted from this world even one thread; everything that I did was for the sake of Heaven.
He would always preach that emunah in Hashem gives strength, heals, and brings salvation.
In the final days of his life, the Ruziner was reclined in his sickbed facing the wall. One of his talmidim came into the room, and the Rebbe told him the following: Know that before the coming of Moshiach, even tzaddikim like myself will be tested in their emunah in Hashem. On another occasion, he said that before the time of moshiach, retaining our emunah will be akin to crawling up glass walls.
The Ruziner returned his holy soul to its maker on 3 cheshvan of the year 1850. The portrait brought here was recently uncovered due to a series of events. The kever of the Ruziner is in the town of Sadigora.