Chassidishe Fire in the Soviet Cold


A new sefer on the life of Reb Moishe Vitebsker, written by Schneur Zalman Berger, was recently published by Chazak.

Reb Moishe Vishedsky, also known as Reb Moishe Vitebsker, was a man of mesiras nefesh who worked to strengthen Yiddishkeit in the Soviet Union and in Eretz Yisrael.

Born in 5671/1911 in Vitebsk, when he was 12 years old his local cheder was closed by the Communists. He soon began learning in the yeshiva in Nevel, which was followed by years of wandering, evading the authorities and learning in the underground yeshivas.

During that time, he found himself in Yekatreneslav where he merited to spend time near the Rebbe’s father. A meeting with Reb Chonye Marozov introduced him to the world of askanus haklal (community service).

In 5706/1946 he attempted to cross the border into Poland with many other Chassidim, but unfortunately missed his chance. Upon another attempt three years later, he was apprehended and served eight years of a ten-year sentence in Siberia.

In 5726/1966 he was finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union and go up to Eretz Yisrael, where he served as mashpia and a dugma chaya for some 20 years until his passing on 13 Teves 5746/1985.

Reb Moshe was a true mekusher who did everything according to the teachings of the Rabbeim. In return, he received many brachos and much encouragement from, and experienced many mofsim through the Rabbeim.

The sefer extends over several periods and contains chapters from the times of Chassidim who shone with the Chassidishe fire, even in the Soviet gehenom.

Many first time revelations are brought – collected from interviews, as well as publications from those time periods, the Rebbe’s library, the KGB archive, and more. Historian Schneur Zalman Berger brings to light this very important piece of history in his latest work.

The book is written in simple language and is suitable for all ages. It is more than just a history book. It tells the reader about Reb Moishe’s remarkable mesiras nefesh and hiskashrus to the Rabbeyim; it tells the story of how he created a warm, Chassidishe environment in otherwise cold, dark days.

The sefer also contains sensitive material about an attempted escape from Russia to Romania in 5709/1949. It also speaks about the arrests – including Reb Moishe’s – that came in the aftermath of the failed attempt, and the connection that the KGB discovered between that failed attempt and the successful escape that happened through Lemberg/Lvov in 5706/1946.

Through Hashgacha Pratis, Reb Moishe and Reb Mendel Futerfas crossed paths very often in the Soviet Union. They met in prison in Leningrad, on the way to Siberia, and then again in Chernovitz after being released. They both settled in Chernovitz for some time, where they worked together to strengthen yiddishkeit and help the needy.

After being allowed to leave Russia, Reb Moishe was told by the Rebbe to be the menahel of the Beit Sefer L’Melachah in Kfar Chabad. His influence on the talmidim there is remembered by them to this very day.

The new biography can be purchased online here.

In keeping in line with the Rabbonim's policies for websites, we do not allow comments. However, our Rabbonim have approved of including input on articles of substance (Torah, history, memories etc.)

We appreciate your feedback. If you have any additional information to contribute to this article, it will be added below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

advertise package