Shliach Discovers Mesiras Nefesh Yid

By Staff

The shliach in Chernovitz, Ukraine, Rabbi Mendel Glitzenshtein, with the assistance of Rabbi Yehoshua Vishedski of Kiev, recently discovered the headstones and resting places of the Mesiras Nefesh Yid, Reb Hirshel Rabinovitch, his father, and his brother.

Reb Hirshel was known as an energetic askan who worked tirelessly and raised huge sums of money to have Rav Levi Yitzchok, the Rebbe’s father, released early from his exile and brought to Alma Ata. He then cared for him and was with him when Rav Levi Yitzchok was nistalek. He was the one who notified the Chassidim about his passing. He also was able – by means of various messengers – to maintain a connection to and communication with the Rebbe even while in the Soviet Union.

In the coming years, he was also one of the inseparable parts of the Lubavitch underground in the Soviet Union, together with Reb Mendel Furterfas, Reb Moshe Vishedski, Reb Chaim Zalman Kuzliner, and others.

Plans are underway now to repair and refurbish the headstones, as time has taken its toll and the inscriptions are very hard to read.

Historian Schneur Zalman Berger sheds some more light on the personality that was Reb Hirshel Rabinovitch:

Reb Hirshel demonstrated true mesiras nefesh, in the fullest sense of the word. His activities on behalf of the Rebbe’s father when he was exiled in Kazakhstan, as well as for the community in Chernovitz, were true and actual acts of self-sacrifice. He never stopped thinking about the klal. when Reb Dovid Leib Chein gave the Rebbe – in yechidus – Reb Hirshel’s picture, the Rebbe is said to have stood up to his full height and said: You cannot imagine what this Yid did for my father!

Berger, b’hashgocha protis, just recently wrote extensively about Reb Hirshel’s acts of chessed in his book about Reb Moshe Vitebsker (Vishedski). While Reb Moshe was imprisoned and his family – with two newborn twins, among other children – left without a breadwinner, it was Reb Hirshel Rabinovitch that provided for them for many years until Reb Moshe was released.

Reb Hirshel had once received a walking stick from Rav Levi Yitzchok, zt”l, the Rebbe’s father. He would take that stick along with him when mesiras nefesh was “called for,” and he would see great success in his missions. One day he lost that stick and from then his mood changed drastically. He was a broken man. Ultimately, a few months later, on the 14th of Kislev, 5728/1967, he passed away, leaving no children behind.

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