It Smelled Like Moshiach In His Home

A leading talmid of the Baal Shem Tov and Mezritcher Maggid, Reb Mendel Horodoker was the Alter Rebbe‘s Rebbe until he moved to Eretz Yisroel. Yet, he could not tell inside his house if Moshiach had arrived.

Reb Menachem Mendel Horodoker (also known as Reb Mendel Vitebsker) was a great talmid of the Baal Shem Tov and Maggid of Mezritch.

Initially charged by the Maggid with the task of spreading Chassidus in Russia, Reb Mendel later accepted the leadership of the chassidim in White Russia after the Maggid’s passing.  A short while later, Reb Mendel relocated to Eretz Yisroel, accompanied by a large group of chassidim.  

Author of the sefer “Pri Haaretz” amongst others, Reb Mendel passed away in Tverya on the second of Iyar, תקמ”ח (1788), and is buried there.


Two years after the Maggid appointed Reb Mendel to spread Chassidus in Russia, Reb Mendel visited the Maggid.  In Yechidus, the Maggid asked, “What did you achieve with the Yidden of Russia?”  Rabbi Mendel replied, “I found their clothes torn and hearts complete; I worked on making their clothes complete and their hearts torn.”

(The poverty-stricken Yidden in Russia struggled to properly plan their activities and make a living, hence the torn clothes.  Yet their hearts were complete, unaware of their true purpose.  Reb Mendel helped them significantly increase their wealth, and caused their hearts to tear from the work of repairing their spiritual lives).


After the Maggid passed away, a letter arrived for Reb Mendel relaying the news.  His talmidim decided it would be best to give Reb Mendel the letter after he lit Shabbos licht (as he lit the licht himself).  Reb Mendel read the letter and said nothing.  Shabbos continued as usual, with no noticeable changes in Reb Mendel’s mood or behavior.  On Motzoei Shabbos, immediately after havdala, Reb Mendel fell in a faint…


One Simchas Torah, Reb Mendel lamented to the Alter Rebbe, his prodigy, that he knew one hundred pirushim on “Ata hareisa”, each describing a unique level of avoda.  Being yet to achieve these levels, he did not want to recite the psukim.  

The Alter Rebbe responded, “A person can never stand in the place where his eyes reach.  When he arrives at that point, his view will extend even further.  Similarly, even if the Rebbe reached all the levels described in these pirushim, the Rebbe would see new levels to reach.”

Reb Mendel accepted the answer and began reciting the psukim.


The great student of the Maggid and mentor of the Alter Rebbe, Reb Mendel Horodoker, had a chossid who repeatedly requested a bracha for children, but without success. Finally one time, he pleaded so much that the tzaddik told him, “I cannot help you. However, because of your emunas chachomim, you fully deserve that HaShem should grant your request.”

And indeed, that chossid merited having children.


One day, after Reb Mendel settled in Eretz Yisroel, a delusional man climbed the Har Hazeisim in Yerushalayim and sounded a shofar. Soon the rumor spread that Moshiach had arrived, setting off a great commotion in the street.

When word reached Reb Mendel, he went to his window and sniffed the air. “No,” he said, “Moshiach has not yet arrived. On that day, ‘the world shall be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as the waters cover the sea,’ and ‘all flesh will perceive’ the reality of the Creator. I do not sense the Elokus that will permeate the world in the era of Moshiach.”

The renowned mashpia Reb Groinem said: “Why did Reb Mendel need to go to the window to sniff Moshiach? Because the all-pervading truth of Hashem was already a reality within the walls of Reb Mendel’s room.”

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