He Didn’t Realize That the Czar was Deposed

Reb Dovid Kievman “Horodoker” was known amongst chassidim for being completely absorbed in Torah and oblivious to his surroundings, and Reb Itche Masmid said he wasn’t as mufshat as Reb Dovid…

Reb Dovid Kievman (Horodoker) was born around 5644 (1884) in Horodok. At the age of fifteen, he received smicha on all four parts of Shulchan Aruch and shortly after he traveled to study in Lubavitch. He soon became one of the elite tmimim who the Rebbe Rashab held in very high esteem.

In 5670 (1910), he married the daughter of a gvir from Vitebsk and then moved to the city of Vietka where he served as the rov for the next eighteen years, 5671-5689 (1911-1929). He was in Samarkand during World War II where he passed away shortly before Pesach 5703 (1943) in the middle of baking matzos.


Reb Dovid would daven for many hours every day, during which time he did not realize what was going on around him.

Once the Rebbe Rashab returned from a levaya and entered the zal. He started to say “Yoshev B’seiser” seven times, each time changing his seat (as is the minhag), until he came very close to Reb Dovid who was still davening. Reb Dovid however, was oblivious to the Rebbe Rashab’s presence. The Rebbe Rashab expressed great pleasure from this episode.

Reb Dovid would also spend time farbrenging with chassidim. One Shabbos after davening there was a kiddush, and the chassidim wanted Reb Dovid to join them. Despite the fact that the farbrengen was going on right next to him, Reb Dovid was so engrossed in his davening that he didn’t even realize it. The chassidim decided that all forty of them should begin singing loudly to attract his attention, but that did not help. It was only when they began dancing that he suddenly noticed. He finished davening and quickly


Reb Mendel Futerfas related:

One afternoon Reb Dovid asked me to accompany him to the train station. The train was scheduled to leave late at night, so I asked Reb Dovid why he needed to leave so early. Reb Dovid responded, “Chazal say a person should always set out when the sun is shining and it’s light outside.” To my remark that there were still many hours of daylight left Reb Dovid responded, “Whatever I am doing here, I can do there as well.”

With Reb Dovid, there was no concept of bitul Torah. Wherever he was, he could delve into a sugya of gemara or Chassidus — in the middle of the train station just like in the beis medrash. joined the farbrengen.


Reb Abba Pliskin shared a story highlighting the difference between Reb Itche der Masmid and Reb Dovid Horodoker.

When Reb Itche der Masmid would travel on the tramway, he would always go to the last car and sit facing the tracks. Reb Dovid, on the other hand, would walk straight into the middle car, surrounded by all types of people, and he didn’t notice anything.

Similarly, Reb Itche der Masmid once said about himself, “I’m not as mufshat (detached) from the world as Reb Dovid Horodoker.” To illustrate this, he noted that several years after the Russian Revolution, Reb Dovid still thought that Nikolai was the Czar. Reb Itche der Masmid concluded, “But I know that Nikolai is no longer the Czar!”


Dovid once complained to the Rebbe Rashab that being the rov of his town, he must read the local newspapers to find out about local happenings. The Rebbe replied, “I too am a rov, yet I don’t read newspapers…”

For sources, visit TheWeeklyFarbrengen.com

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