Abraham ben Dov of Mezhirech

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ABRAHAM BEN DOV OF MEZHIRECH

ABRAHAM BEN DOV OF MEZHIRECH (known as ha-Malakh ("the Angel"); 1741–1776), ḥasidic sage. A contemporary who watched Abraham on the Ninth of *Av bewail the destruction of the Temple, remarked: "Then I understood that it was not in vain that he was named by all 'the Angel,' for no man born of woman could have such power." A solitary ascetic who mainly concentrated on study of Kabbalah, Abraham did not emulate the tradition of popular aspects of Ḥasidism instituted by the Ba'al Shem Tov and by his father, considering them "too earthly." His ideal of the *ẓaddik was directly opposed to the usual type of such ḥasidic leaders, being "one who is incapable of leading his contemporaries, one whom they would not tolerate because he is immersed in learning and unable to descend 'to the lowest grade' in order to lift up his generation." In his youth Abraham was a friend of *Shneur Zalman of Lyady with whom he studied Talmud and Kabbalah in Mezhirech. He was the author of a commentary on the Pentateuch Ḥesed le-Avraham (Czernowitz, 1851). His son, Shalom Shraga (1766–1803) of Prohobist, was the father of Israel of *Ruzhyn (Ryshyn), the first of the Ruzhyn dynasty.

bibliography:

A. Zak, Kerem Yisrael (1931); Horodezky, Ḥasidut, 2 (19534), 49 ff.; Dubnow, Ḥasidut (1932), 213–4; M. Buber, Tales of the Ḥasidim, 1 (1968), 113–7.

[Nachum Arieli]