Aryeh Leib of Shpola

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ARYEH LEIB OF SHPOLA (1725–1812), ḥasidic *ẓaddik, a popular miracle-worker and faith healer; known as the Shpoler Zeide (the "grandfather from Shpola"). Aryeh Leib belonged to the third generation of *Ḥasidim in the Ukraine, and was a disciple of Phinehas of Korets. While beadle in Zlatopol he became celebrated among the common people as a "saint" and a healer who helped the poor. Stories circulated about the numerous miracles he was said to have performed. Aryeh Leib was also active in communal affairs. He took part in the assembly of Jewish leaders which was held at the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century, probably at the initiative of *Levi Isaac of Berdichev, to discuss the anti-Jewish measures which the Russian government was considering. Aryeh Leib encountered opposition from *Baruch of Medzibezh, who despised Aryeh Leib for his affiliation with the common folk. When *Naḥman of Bratslav settled in Zlatopol, near Shpola, serious differences arose between the two ḥasidic leaders, both over matters of principle and out of personal rivalry. Aryeh Leib's simple, popular approach to religion in which he emphasized the importance of unsophisticated faith was incompatible with Naḥman's mode of leadership. Aryeh Leib's teachings show traces of the current messianic expectations that 1840 would be the year of redemption. None of his writings has been preserved. Tales of the miracles he reputedly performed were collected in Tiferet ha-Maharal (1914).


Ḥorodezky, Ḥasidut, 3 (19534), 28–29, 155 ff.; A.B. Gottlober, in: Ha-Boker Or, 5 (1881), 383–6; A.G. Duker, in: J. Starr Memorial Volume (1953), 191–201; Halpern, in: Tarbiz, 28 (1958/59), 90–98.