He Battled His Yetzer Hara Ruthlessly

Undoubtedly an unconventional chossid, Reb Zalman Moshe Hayitzchaki was devoted to the truth with his whole heart. He fought hard with his yetzer hara, using harsh and sometimes colorful terms to put it away.

Reb Schneur Zalman Moshe learned as a tomim in Lubavitch, later serving as a shochet and mashpia in Nevel and finally in Eretz Yisroel. He was a chossid and oved in the full sense of the word, and was known for the sharp and unapologetic style of farbrengen and demands he made from his listeners.

At the end of his life, he became paralyzed and could not speak well, and he passed away on the 3rd of Shvat, 5712 (1952).


For many years, Reb Zalman Moshe maintained a steady schedule of learning Chassidus. Each morning before dawn he would rise early to learn for six hours straight. When he finished he marked his place with a pencil. At times he was found to have only learned a number of lines, having spent the time internalizing it.


Reb Moshe Naparstak recounts:

We were a group of bochurim and Reb Zalman Moshe came to visit us. He was paralyzed and his speech was very unclear. In the middle of the visit, a Tanya was placed on his table. He took it and started kissing it many times as tears rolled down his cheeks…


Reb Yoel Kahan relates:

Reb Zalman Moshe was a special chossid and his davening was unique. When I knew him in Tel Aviv he was already paralyzed and he could barely speak, but every word of his davening was crystal clear.  

I once visited him one afternoon and found him wrapped in tallis and tefillin and reciting shir shel yom. I wondered why he was davening at such a late hour. Then I found out that he had davened in the morning but when he got to the Shir Shel Yom he had no strength left and he had to take off his tallis and tefillin.

In the afternoon, after he regained some strength, he put on his tallis and tefillin again, something very difficult for him being partially paralyzed, just to recite shir shel yom, kavei, and aleinu.


A Yid shared the following story from the early 1930s:

The hunger in the Soviet Union was severe, especially in Ukraine where I lived. In my town, the situation was so desperate that people sifted through garbage for food. Deciding to leave for Russia, where conditions were somewhat better, I wandered from city to city. In each place, I visited the shul, hoping for rachmones and a piece of bread.

One day, I arrived in Nevel and went straight to the shul near the train station. It was late afternoon, and the shul was nearly empty, save for one Yid davening in a talis and tefillin. I was surprised to see someone davening Shacharis so late. When he finished, he approached me warmly and asked about my visit. I told him bluntly that I was desperately hungry and hadn’t eaten for two days.

The chossid, understanding my plight, said, “I don’t have much at home, just some creamy cheese water. I’ll share it with you, but under one condition: you must sit opposite me and exclaim, ‘You old horse! You keep the thick part for yourself and give me the watery part?!'”

Intrigued and driven by hunger, I agreed. We went to his home, and he placed two plates on the table. He began to divide the cheese water, pouring the watery part into one plate and the creamy part into another. Then he hesitated, reminding me of our agreement. Reluctantly, but out of sheer necessity, I recited the line, “You old horse! You keep the thick part for yourself and give me the watery part?!”

To my astonishment, he smiled, switched the plates, giving me the creamy part, and kept the watery part for himself. This unique chossid was none other than R’ Zalman Moshe.

For sources, visit TheWeeklyFarbrengen.com

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