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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Elimelech Weisblum of Liszensk
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Hebrew Name(s): אלימלך מליז׳נסק; נועם אלימלך
Other Names: Noam Elimelech, Elimelech of Liszensk
Period: Acharonim — 18th Century
Location: Poland
Dates: 1717–1787

Biography:
Elimelech of Liszensk, Rabbi and Talmudist, was a disciple of R. Dov Baer (Maggid of Mezeritch) the successor of the Ba'al Shem Tov. R. Elimelech and his brother, R. Meshulam Zushya of Anipolo are both central figures in Ḥasidic tradition. Elimelech is remembered as a saintly scholar while Zushya presented as a "saintly simpleton" although he was, indeed, well versed in Ḥasidic  philosophy. Elimelech of Liszensk was a member of the inner circle of the Ḥasidic  movement in his time and in Noam Elimelech he proved a fully developed mystical theology on the doctrine of the Tzaddik. His work is often subtitled "The Book for the Righteous" because it provides instuction, for the spiritually minded, in the mystical pathways.
 
Rabbi Elimelech is credited with being the first to bring Hasidism to Poland and although, after the death of The Maggid of Mezeritch, there was no single leader as successor in the Ḥasidic  
movement many of the Maggid's circle considered Rebbe Elimelech to be his successor.
Elimelech of Liszensk influenced: The Chozeh, or Seer, of Lublin,  Avodas Yisrael (The Koznitzer Maggid,) Rebbe Mendel Rimanover, Ohev Yisrael (the Apta Rav,) Kalonymous Kalman Epstein (Maor VeShemsh,) and Naftali of Ropshitz (Zera Kodesh).

Works:
Noam Elimelech; Tzetel Katan

Comments:
Tzetel Katan is a seventeen point program on how to be a good Jew (holy ways of conduct). Tzetel Katan is printed as a small booklet for yeshiva students and is sometimes included in siddurim. The work encourages high ideals.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote regarding Tzetel Katan,
"Rabbi Elimelkh presents us with an exalted picture of human potential. Standing at its apex is the Tzaddik, who is as much a denizen of the spiritual worlds as he is of the physical universe. But through the program of the Tzetel Katan, every person can strive to attain an absolute relationship to God" (Kaplan, The Chasidic Masters).

 

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