The Rising Star of Chabad in Russia

Born to the esteemed chossid Radatz, Reb Mendel Chein was a gaon in Torah and an eloquent orator who served as a spokesperson for the Rebbe Rashab and Reb Chaim Brisker at the 1910 Rabbinic Conference.

Reb Mendel Chein was born in Tchernigov in the year 5640 (1879). He studied under his father the Radatz, who served as rov of the city and was a great gaon. He had a phenomenal memory; at age six he knew the whole Tanach by heart and at eighteen, the whole Shas and Rambam word for word, and many other seforim as well.

Reb Mendel traveled many times to the Rebbe Rashab in Lubavitch who was very much mekarev him. During the Rabbinic Conference of 5670 (1910), he played an important role, and the Rebbe Rashab held highly of him.

He married the daughter of Reb Shabsi Berman, a Chabad chossid from Lithuania, and shortly after assumed the position of rov in the city of Niezhin at the young age of 26. His brilliance soon became known and rabbonim from far and wide would come seeking his opinion.

Reb Mendel was killed al kidush Hashem on 4 Elul 5679 (1919).


It was a tense time: the Russian government was about to decree that all rabbonim must learn Russian. A meeting of rabbonim and maskilim was held in Petersburg in 5670 (1910), in which the Rebbe Rashab and Reb Chaim Brisker participated. During Reb Chaim’s speech, some maskilim began to ridicule what he was saying. The Rebbe Rashab wrote something on a note, handed it to his chossid, Reb Mendel Chein, and left.

After the speech, they opened the note to find out why the Rebbe had left. There he wrote that he could not take part in a meeting at which the words of gedolei Yisroel are ridiculed. Hearing this, all the rabbonim stood up and left as well.


During the Asifas Horabbonim, Reb Mendel became very friendly with Reb Chaim Brisker (who was much older than him), and their friendship continued afterward.

When Reb Chaim became sick, Reb Mendel called upon the rich people of Niezhin to bring a specialist from abroad to treat Reb Chaim. The wealthy men kept quiet until one man piped up and said, “You realize that Reb Chaim is not a young man anymore…”

Reb Mendel became angry and said, “Do you know what it means that Reb Chaim should live one more day? That he should put on tefillin one more time?!”


Due to the different armies fighting over the city of Niezhin during World War I, chaos reigned and there was not much control and protection for the civilians. Reb Mendel went together with a priest to meet with the city officials to try to calm the situation.

On their way back, they saw a group of gangsters coming towards them. The priest suggested that they should take shelter in a nearby church. Some Yidden went along, but Reb Mendel refused and instead risked his life and went into a Jewish hotel across the street. After a few moments, the gangsters entered the hotel.

Reb Mendel saw the end was near and he inspired all the Yidden present to do teshuvah and to make a resolution that if they will be saved they will strengthen their Yiddishkeit, especially keeping Shabbos. After reciting vidui with everyone, the gangsters entered and murdered him.

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