Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
September 9, 1789 OS
|Died||March 17, 1866 OS|
|Spouse||Chaya Mushka Schneersohn (daughter of Dovber Schneuri)|
Yehudah Leib of Kopys
Chaim Shneur Zalman of Liadi
Yisroel Noach of Nizhyn
Yosef Yitzchak of Ovruch
Shmuel Schneersohn of Lubavitch
|Began||May 5, 1831|
|Ended||March 17, 1866 OS|
|Main work||Shut Tzemach Tzedek|
Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (September 9, 1789 - March 17, 1866) also known as the Tzemach Tzedek (Hebrew: "Righteous Sprout" or "Righteous Scion") was an Orthodox rebbe, leading 19th-century posek, and the third rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic movement.
Menachem Mendel Schneersohn was born in Liozna, on September 9, 1789. His mother Devorah Leah died just three years later, and her father Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi raised him as his own son. He married his first cousin Chaya Mushka Schneersohn, daughter of Rabbi Dovber Schneuri. After his father-in-law/uncle's death, and a three-year interregnum during which he tried to persuade the Hasidim to accept his brother-in-law Menachem-Nachum Schneuri or his uncle Chaim-Avraham as their leader, he assumed the leadership of Lubavitch on the eve of Shavuot 5591 (May 5, 1831 OS).
He was known as the Tzemach Tzedek after the title of a voluminous compendium of Halakha (Jewish law) that he authored. He also authored Derech Mitzvotecha ("Way of Your Commandments"), a mystical exposition of the Mitzvos. He compiled major works of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi for publication, including the Siddur L'Kol Ha'Shanah (commonly known as Siddur Im Dach), Likutei Torah and Torah Ohr. He also authored a philosophical text entitled "Sefer Chakira: Derech Emuna" (Book of Philosophy: The Way of Faith).
He enjoyed close ties with other Jewish leaders. In the course of his battle against the Haskalah in Russia, he forged a close alliance with Rabbi Yitzchak of Valozhyn, a major leader of the misnagdim, which led to warmer relations between them and the Hasidim.
According to Baruch Epstein, his father Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein spent six months under the Schneersohn's tutelage, and learned most of his mystical knowledge during that time. This story is disputed by Hassidic historian Yehoshua Mondshine. Historian Eitam Henkin suggests that Rabbi Y. M. Epstein did meet with him, but only a few visits over a week or two, noting the testimony of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon that he heard about this directly from his teacher.
His close friendship with Professor J Berstenson, the Czar's court physician, often helped the delicate negotiations relating to the welfare of the community. He set up an organisation called Hevras Techiyas Hameisim to assist Jewish boy-soldiers who were being recruited and converted to Christianity by the Russian army. These soldiers known as Cantonists were taken away from the Jewish community to other villages. Schneersohn arranged for his students to pay them regular visits to keep up their spirits and discourage them from converting.
In 1844-45 he took steps to increase the enrollment and viability of the Lubavitch yeshivas in Dubro?na, Pasana, Lyozno, and Kalisz, expanding their enrollment to around 600 students in total. Repeated attempts by the authorities to entrap him using informers such as Hershel Hodesh, Benjamin the Apostate and Lipman Feldman failed.
He died in Lubavitch on March 17, 1866 at the age of 76, leaving behind him seven sons and two daughters. He was succeeded by his youngest son, Shmuel as the Rebbe of Lubavitch, while three of his other sons formed breakaways of the Chabad movement which continue to some extent even today.
He had seven sons:
1. Rabbi Baruch Shalom (1805-1869) did not become a rebbe in his own right; he chose to remain in Lubavitch and become a chasid of his youngest brother. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, was his great-great-grandson.
2. Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schneersohn (Maharil) (1808-1866) settled in Kopys a few months after the death of his father, where he founded the Kopust branch of Chabad. He died two months later. He had three sons:
3. Rabbi Chaim Schneur Zalman (1814-1880) was Rebbe in Lyady after his father died. He founded the Liadi branch of Chabad. He was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Yitzchak Dovber (1835-1910) of Liadi, author of Siddur Maharid, and his son-in-law, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak (d. 1905) of Siratin, a scion of the Rebbe of Radzimin.
4. Rabbi Yisroel Noach (1815-1883) of Nizhyn founded the Niezhin branch of Chabad. Although officially a Rebbe, he had only a small following. He had no successor. His son was Rabbi Avraham Schneerson of Kischinev, whose daughter, Nechama Dina Schneersohn, married Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.
5. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (1822-1876) was a Rebbe in Ovruch. He founded the Avrutch branch of Chabad. He was compelled to assume this position by his father-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel of Cherkas (son of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl and son-in-law of the Mitteler Rebbe) against his father's wishes. His daughter, Shterna Sarah,married the Rebbe Rashab. Thus, he was the maternal grandfather and namesake of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.
6. Rabbi Yaakov, although leaving descendants, died at quite a young age. He lived in Orsha. Little is known about him.