The Mashpia From Whom Everyone Was in Awe

Childless for many years, they asked for brachos of the Maggid, R. Avrohom Kalisker and R. Mendel Vitebsker, without success. At last, the Alter Rebbe connected them with R. Mordechai “Hatzadik,” and R. Mordechai “Mashpia” was born.

R. Mordechai of Horodok was the son of R. Simcha Zisel, a talmid of the Mezeritcher Maggid and the Maggid’s talmidim. R. Mordechai was a chossid of the Alter Rebbe, Mitteler Rebbe, and Tzemach Tzedek. He was appointed by the Mitteler Rebbe to serve as a mashpia in Tshashnik, and the famous chossid R. Shmuel Ber Borisover was his talmid.


A businessman, but an oved Hashem, R. Mordechai’s father, R. Simcha Zissel, had traveled to the Maggid and been a chossid of his student, R. Avrohom Kalisker. When R. Mendel Vitepsker moved to his hometown of Horodok, R. Simcha Zissel became his chossid, though he didn’t fully understand his Chassidus. For many years, R. Simcha Zissel and his wife were childless, although they consistently asked for brachos from all these three tzaddikim.

Once, the Alter Rebbe visited Horodok, and R. Simcha Zissel was delighted that he was able to grasp his teachings. He saw this as a sign that he belonged to the Alter Rebbe, but was in a quandary about leaving his current Rebbe, R. Mendel Vitepsker. When he asked, R. Mendel encouraged him to ask the Alter Rebbe for a bracha for children.

The Alter Rebbe told him, “I can only give you advice: Soon an old Yid will enter town with a bundle on his shoulders. Invite him to your home, and he will promise you children.”

That old man was R. Mordechai “Hatzaddik” Bayever, student of the Baal Shem Tov. He promised them a child on two conditions: that the boy be given his name (even though he will still be alive), and that he become a student of the “Liozna Maggid” (the Alter Rebbe). That boy was R. Mordechai Horodoker.


As a bochur, R. Mordechai learned Chassidus and received a solid chassidishe chinuch from the chassidim in Horodok. Yet, his Chassidus was a mix, since his father was a “Kalisker.” R. Avrohom of Kalisk served Hashem with emotional expression and humbling activities, but his students turned those practices into the avoda, resulting in some wild behavior.

After his marriage at age eighteen, R. Mordechai came to the Alter Rebbe during his final years in Liozna. He later told his student R. Shmuel Ber Borisover, “The first statement that we heard from the Alter Rebbe was, ‘What is forbidden is forbidden, and what is allowed is unnecessary.‘ For some three or four years we labored with this until we integrated it into our lives. Only then did we enter into yechidus, to ask for a path in avoda.”

Years later, the Mitteler Rebbe sent R. Mordechai to serve as mashpia in Tchashnik and instructed the chassidim there to support him with two silver rubles a month. In Tchashnik, there were also Strasheler and Chernobyl chassidim which was the cause of some tension, but they were all in awe of R. Mordechai the mashpia.

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