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Meir Jehiel Ha-Levi (Holzstock, Holzstick) of Ostrowiec


MEIR JEHIEL HA-LEVI (Holzstock, Holzstick ) OF OSTROWIEC (1851–1928), ḥasidic rabbi and scholar. Meir Jehiel was born to a poor family of humble origin, but through his outstanding gifts became one of the foremost leaders of Orthodox Jewry. He was a pupil of Elimelech of Grodzisk and like him settled in Ostrowiec, where many thousands of Ḥasidim became his disciples. Meir Jehiel was acknowledged as one of the greatest scholars of his age, and for a time no important decision on halakhah or Jewish life was made without consulting him. His form of Hasidism was original; his sermons were based on complicated equations from *gematria by which he interpreted many texts in halakhah and aggadah. He was of an ascetic turn of mind and made a long series of fasts over 40 years. As he did not permit his books to be printed in his lifetime, only a fraction of his sayings and writings has been preserved. His son ezekiel (1887–1943), rabbi of Nasielsk, was his successor. Some of his sayings are found in Or Torah, edited by his disciple Judah Joseph Leibush (1920), and in M. Nomberg's Omer Man (1912).

[Adin Steinsaltz]

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