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1 Meshullam Feibush Heller and His Circle in Eastern Galicia From the very first words of Yosher Divrey Emet, Meshullam Feibush Heller identifies himself as an adherent of Hasidism, the Jewish mystical school which traces its origin in the middle of the eighteenth century in the Ukraine to Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Ba'al Shem Tov (c. 1700-1760).1 However, while Meshullam Feibush clearly acknowledges the Ba'al Shem Tov as founder of the movement and occasionally cites his teachings, the major portion of the material that he presents is drawn from the teachings of three of the Ba'al Shem Tov's disciples, R. Dov Ber Maggid of Mezeritch, R. Menahem Mendel of Premishlan, and R. Yehiel Mikhel Maggid of Zlotchov. of these three, there is no doubt that Dov Ber is generally considered the most important. Known by Hasidim as the Great Maggid, Dov Ber (1704-1772) is, according to Hasidic legend, the chosen successor of the Ba'al Shem Tov.2 It is Dov Ber's disciples who are generally considered to have been most responsible for the spread and popular success of Hasidism in eastern Europe. Nevertheless, although Dov Ber's influence permeates Meshullam Feibush's writings, a close master-disciple relationship does not seem to have existed between them. Indeed, the nature and extent of Meshullam Feibush's relationship with each of the four Hasidic masters is suggested in the very opening of Yosher Divrey Emet. He asked me to write "upright words of truth"3 and faith which were heard from the enlightened ones of the generation, wonder workers, full of the holy spirit, whom I had personally seen, their fear and awe [of God] was like that of an angel, and all of them drank from one stream, namely, the divine Rabbi Israel Ba'al Shem Tov ... ,4 However, I only merited to see the face of his disciple , the divine R. Dov Ber, and later I acquired sacred writings [containing] his holiness' words5 [which] arouse the heart of [thosel who tremble for the service of God in truth. Several times I was also in the presence of the oak, the divine R. Menahem Mendel of Premishlan. But most of all, to distinguish between the dead and the living, [I am expounding] what I heard from the mouth of the holy of holies, son of saints, zaddiq son of a zaddiq, the exceptional rav, our divine master and teacher, R. Yehiel Mikhel [of Zlotchov], may his light shine.6 10 Uniter of Heaven and Earth This passage tells us much of Meshullam Feibush's background. We see that he associates himself with the school of Israel Sa'al Shem Tov. Although he has never met him personally, he has had the opportunity to learn from three of the Sa'al Shem Tov's direct disciples. Since one of these, Menahem Mendel of Premishlan, emigrated to the Land of Israel in 1764/ it may be that Meshullam Feibush only became interested in the teachings of the Sa'al Shem Tov during the period between the latter's death and Menahem Mendel's departure from Eastern Europe, that is, sometime between the years 1760-1764. As for Dov Ser, although Meshullam Feibush did indeed meet him, his knowledge of the Maggid's teachings is very much influenced by posthumously circulated writings which he has but recently obtained. These writings must be the manuscripts that were indeed circulated by disciples of Dov Ser during the mid to late 1770sg We may also note that, while Meshullam Feibllsh mentions encountering Menahem Mendel several times, he only states that he "managed to see the Maggid of Mezeritch." The wording suggests that the two may have met only once. This reading is supported by other evidence in the text. Although reference is often made to Dov Ser's teachings in our text, in many cases the teachings are quoted from the manuscripts . Otherwise, Dov Ser's teachings are usually presented as having been heard from one of his disciples. Only once does Meshullam Feibush actually quote a teaching of the Maggid as something that he himself heard directly. And I heard from the mouth of the holy of holies, the divine R. Dov Ber of blessed memory, on that Shabbat that I spent with him while he was alive, when they asked him about a certain midrash, and he spoke concerning an analogy there in midrash [Leviticus Rabbah1.. 9 The text implies that Meshllllam Feibush visited the...


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