Ḥanokh of Aleksandrow

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ḤANOKH OF ALEKSANDROW (1798–1870), ḥasidic ẓaddik and leader; son of Phinehas ha-Kohen of Lutomirsk. He became a disciple of *Simḥah Bunim of Przysucha (Pshiskhah) and Menahem Mendel of *Kotsk, and served as rabbi in *Aleksandrow near Lodz, and later in Nowy Dwor, and in Pressnitz. Ḥanokh spent most of his life in the circles of the Ḥasidim of Przysucha and their successors in Kotsk and Gur, and in 1866 Ḥanokh succeeded Isaac Meir *Alter as leader of Gur Ḥasidism (see *Gora Kalwaria). He settled in Aleksandrow which had become a center for Kotsk-Gur Ḥasidism. Ḥanokh continued the Kotsk trend in a mystical religious interpretation. He emphasized the value of Torah study which he termed "internal worship." Ḥanokh taught that every mitzvah must be performed from within and not merely externally. Man should dedicate his entire being to the performance of a mitzvah and in turn shall receive the strength of his being from the mitzvah he performs. His devotion effects a transformation in the world order and causes a divine emanation. Ḥanokh taught that while a man should occupy himself with the entire Torah and all the mitzvot, he should select one mitzvah for his particular attention. Of himself Ḥanokh states: "I have chosen the quality of humility."

Ḥanokh believed that everyone could follow the path of Ḥasidism by his own efforts, and that the ẓaddik was merely a guide. However, a compelling attachment exists between the ẓaddik and his community: "The true leader successfully serves God with the aid of the Ḥasidim who gather round him." Ḥanokh emphasized joy and happiness in life, but his joviality concealed a serious thinker. His teachings are distinguished by brevity and acuity. Only a few of his writings – responsa on halakhic questions, letters and sermons, poems and riddles – have survived in manuscript. Most of his teachings were recorded by his disciples and are published in Ḥashavah le-Tovah (1929); his stories and sayings are collected in Si'aḥ Sarfei Kodesh (1923).


P.Z. Gliksman, Tiferet Adam (1923), 56–58; L. Grossman, Shem u-She'erit (1943), 12; A.Y. Bromberg, Mi-Gedolei ha-Torah ve-ha-Ḥasidut, 14 (1958); L.I. Newman, Hasidic Anthology (1963), index; M. Buber, Tales of the Hasidim, 2 (19663), 312–8.

[Esther (Zweig) Liebes]