Naḥman of Horodenka

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NAḤMAN OF HORODENKA

NAḤMAN OF HORODENKA (Gorodenka ; d. 1780), disciple of *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov; his son married Feige, the granddaughter of the Ba'al Shem Tov, and their son was *Naḥman of Bratslav. Little information is available on the personality of Naḥman of Horodenka and his teachings. From the scattered quotations in the early ḥasidic literature attributed to him, it appears that he occupied himself essentially with practical questions on the method of divine worship. His encounter with the Ba'al Shem Tov became the turning point of his life, as he himself confirms: "When I was a great pietist I immersed myself every day in a mikveh, so cold that nobody else could bear. When I came to my house and found the place so warm that the walls were almost burning, I did not feel the warmth for almost an hour. Even so, I could not rid myself from impure thoughts until I was compelled to seek the wisdom of the Besht [Ba'al Shem Tov]" (Shivḥei ha-Besht (1961), 112). This change of attitude expresses the complete reversal of his world outlook from ascetic to non-ascetic Ḥasidism. In 1764 Nahman emigrated to Ereẓ Israel with *Menahem Mendel of Peremyshlany at the head of a group of Ḥasidim and settled in Tiberias.

His journey was described by Simḥah b. Joshua of Zalozhtsy in Ahavat Ẓiyyon (Gorodnya, 1790; published a second time under the title Doresh Ẓiyyon, Jerusalem, 1887). Some teachings are recorded in his name by his father-in-law *Moses Ḥayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow in Degel Maḥaneh Efrayim, as well as in the Toledot Ya'akov Yosef by *Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye.

bibliography:

A. Rubinstein, in: Tarbiz, 35 (1965/66) 174–91; Horodezky, Ḥasidut, index; Shivḥei ha-Besht (1961), 112, 117–8, 126; Dubnow, Ḥasidut, 102–3, 291.

[Esther (Zweig) Liebes]