After 150 Years, Famed Chossid’s Sefer Reprinted

First printed in 1868, and never since, the sefer ‘Oholei Yosef’ by Rav Eliyahu Yosef Rivlin, a chossid of the Mitteler Rebbe and Tzemach Tzedek, was hard to come by. Until now, that is. 

By reporter

A new print of a 150-year-old sefer is giving Lubavitchers a renewed chance to study from the works of one of the renowned chassidishe rabbonim of the early generations of Chabad.

‘Oholei Yosef’ is the name of the sefer authored by Rav Eliyahu Yosef Rivlin, a renowned gaon who was one of great chassidim of the Mitteler Rebbe and Tzemach Tzedek. It was printed once in 1868, and never since.

Rav Eliyahu Yosef was born in approximately 5565 (1805) in Ulla, Belarus to a family of chassidim of the Alter Rebbe. Originally a chasid of the Alter Rebbe’s talmid Reb Aharon of Strashele, he later became a chossid of the Mitteler Rebbe and Tzemach Tzedek. Rav Eliyahu Yosef lived in Dribin, and is known by the name of that town, before serving as Rov of Polotzk and eventually moving to Eretz Yisrael in 5617 (1857). Reb Eliyahu Yosef passed away in 5625 (1865). His chidushim in Nigleh were published under the title Oholei Yosef, and some of his writings on Chassidus have also been published.

Originally, Rav Eliyahu Yosef traveled to Rav Aharon of Strashele. Once, he was invited to a relative’s chassuna. These relatives were Lubavitcher chassidim and they merited for the Mitteler Rebbe to join their simcha. Rav Eliyahu Yosef asked his Rebbe, if he should still go, since there was a divide between Rav Aharon and the Mitteler Rebbe. Rav Aharon told him that he should attend the wedding banquet, but he shouldn’t go to hear the Mitteler Rebbe recite Chassidus.

During the chassuna, the Mitteler Rebbe was sitting enclosed in his room, and then he suddenly entered the dining hall and began reciting a maamar. Rav Eliyahu Yosef, who was seated at the head table, could not escape due to the intense pushing. He heard the maamar with great pleasure and thus became a devoted chossid of the Mitteler Rebbe.

Throughout the generations, Lubavitcher rabbonim have studied and quoted from his sefer, especially on the topic of vestos. But with no new print in over a century, it became harder and harder to get one’s hands on a copy.

In more recent years, a scan of the sefer was available on online seforim sites, but those offered only a scan of the 150-year-old print. A new print of the sefer was long overdue.

While learning hilchos niddah, the members of Kolel Ohel Yosef Moshe of Buenos Aires, Argentina, founded by Rabbi Chaim Lapidus, came up with the idea to reprint the sefer. Over the course of a few years, the kollel yungeleit, headed by Rabbi Sholom Boruch Lapidus, worked on retyping the sefer and adding copious footnotes and cross-references. Aiding them was their rosh kollel at the time, Harav Chananya Yosef Eisenbach a”h.

After much effort, they recently published the section of Oholei Yosef on vestos, which covers approximately one-third of the full sefer. They plan to continue and reprint the entire sefer over the coming years.

Being that the Kollel did not publish the sefer for financial gain, they are offering a free pdf of the entire section they published especially for readers to download and learn.

Click here to download the full reprinted section.

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  1. See אג”ק חלק א עמוד שיז – מכתב קסה, וחלק ט עמ’ רכב – מכתב ב’תתמא where the Rebbe says he was a תלמיד of the Alter Rebbe.

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