David of Talna

views updated


DAVID OF TALNA (David b. Mordecai Twersky ; 1808–1882), ẓaddik living first at Vasilkov and afterward at Talna (Talnoye, Ukraine). He was the most celebrated of the eight sons of Menahem Nahum *Twersky, founder of the Chernobyl ḥasidic dynasty. Thousands of people came to his "court," which he maintained in luxurious style, even retaining a court jester. According to ḥasidic tradition his house contained a silver chair bearing the inscription in gold: David Melekh Yisrael Ḥai ve-Kayyam ("David, king of Israel, lives and is in existence"). This gave his opponents a means of denouncing him to the Russian authorities as a rebel against the government. He was thrown into prison and freed only after numerous appeals. In spite of his aristocratic way of life, he was a man of the people; his speech was flavored with popular proverbs so that it would be more readily understood by the common people. He was fond of music and brought to his court the most famous folk singers and musicians in the region. The Talna melodies became popular among both Ḥasidim and Jews in general. He wrote Magen David (1852), Birkat David (1862), and Kehillat David (1882).


P. Minkowsky, in: Reshumot, 1 (1925), 109–22; M.S. Geshuri, Ha-Niggun ve-ha-Rikkud ba-Ḥasidut, 3 (1959), 319–40.

[Avraham Rubinstein]