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Abraham Sussman - from Berdichew to Bevis Marks

Phyllis Abrahams

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks PHYLLIS ABRAHAMS, M.A. (Oxon), Doc. Univ. Paris Abraham Sussman was born in Poland in 1802. He came to England in 1839, earned his living in London for more than thirty years, and died in Jerusalem in 1881. No doubt this story sounds familiar to you, because it is very like the story of your own forebears. And indeed, Abraham Sussman's life-history is a typical piece of Anglo-Jewish history. The remarkable feature in this case is that Abraham Sussman actually wrote his autobiography?a vivid and often moving Hebrew narrative which covers the years 1802-1840, with some later episodes. It was my friend Moses Sanders who drew my attention to the existence of this material, and who most kindly lent me many of the books I needed for my amateur detection, and I am happy to express my gratitude to him and to many others who have helped me. But now let us turn to Sussman's own account of his childhood. 'I was born', he says, 'in the year 5562/1802, during Hanukah, in the town of Siedlce in Little Poland, the son of Joseph,' and the grandson of R. Eliezer, the Gabbalist, of Siedlce and Sanak. His father died in 5564/ 1804, at the age of 44. When Abraham was five years old (i.e., in 1807), his mother, Gittel, daughter of R. Judah Leib, married Jacob ben Ezekiel, 'and he brought me up as a father, and I was to him as a son. And he was righteous and pious, and I bear witness for him that all his life he used to get up at mid? night and occupy himself with reciting psalms, midrash, etc., until it was time to say the morning prayer'. Let us consider for a moment the world into which young Abraham was born. It was the year of the Peace of Amiens. Napoleon Bonaparte, now First Consul, was absolute master of France, and France was once more the leading Power in Europe. Poland itself, after three partitions, was nothing but a name. Thousands of Poles were prepared to give their lives in the service of Napoleon in the hope that the great conqueror would reconstitute their country. In 1809, when Abraham Sussman was a child of seven, a 'Grand Duchy of Warsaw' was set up, but it was entirely controlled by France, just as the later 'Congress Kingdom of Poland' (1815-1863) was entirely controlled by Russia. None of these political changes had much effect on the life of the Jews. Their social and economic status remained what it had been for at least a century; limited by force to the occupations of innkeepers, pedlars and hucksters, and moneylenders?tools of corrupt and avaricious landowners, scapegoats for the misdeeds of the aristocracy, and hated by the general mass of the population. Non-Jewish travellers in Eastern Europe could scarcely find language dark enough to describe the repulsive appearance and characteristics of the Jews of Poland. Our unhappy brethren had their own answer to these cruel blows. They could not overcome the circumstances which moulded their econo? mic life, but they could, and did, resist the temptation to accept degradation in their own eyes. They ceased to interest themselves in the political kingdoms of the Gentiles, and set up spiritual kingdoms of their own, ruled by the great Hassidic dynasties whose history is being minutely studied today in Israel and elsewhere. Of Hassidism itself I will say very little for the present?I will only remind you that it was founded in the middle of the eighteenth century by Israel Baal Shem Tov, and that it flourished first in Volhynia and Podolia. In the second generation of Hassidic Rabbis, elements of older mystical doctrines taken from the teachings of the 'Ari' (Isaac Luria) were in? corporated, and in spite of much opposition the movement spread rapidly through Lithuania, Poland, and Galicia. Abraham Sussman's narrative passes rapidly from 1807 to 1813. He tells us that while he was still studying the Oral and Written Law from 'eminent rabbis'1 he married Miriam Esther, daughter of Dov Baer ha-Cohen ben Meir; he married her in Lukow in the year 243</page><page sequence="2">244 Phyllis Abrahams 5575/1815, when he himself was only 13. His marriage was, no doubt, celebrated soon after his Barmitzvah, as was customary. His eldest child, a daughter, Hannah Rebecca, was born in 1818 and died in the following year. In 1819 his son Meir Joseph was born. And in the same year he moved to Zelechow to study 'Shehitoth and Bediqoth' from the experts working there. Zelechow was a town of some note in the Hassidic world. R. Levi Isaac of Berdichew,2 perhaps the most famous of the last great generation of Hassidic Rabbis, lived there during the years 1772-1785, when he was forced to leave Pinsk and settle in Poland. He had long since left Zelechow for Berdichew, but the Hassidic community of the place acknowledged his sovereignty, and the town was full of stories about him. It was here that Abraham Sussman met R. Baruch of Rukov,3 a disciple of Levi Isaac of Berdichew, of whom Waiden says (in Shem ha-Gedolim he-fladash), 'they relate marvellous things of him?may his memory shield us.' R. Baruch had a high opinion of him, and gave him qabbalah for shehitah. In Zelechow itself, at this time, there lived and reigned over the Hassidic community R.Jacob Simeon Ashkenazi (or Deutsch).4 He knew Sussman well, and gave him a testimonial for shehitah in 1820, when Sussman was 18. Sussman gives us a striking description of his death, which took place in that same year (1820). Abraham Sussman's reminiscences of Zele? chow went back further than this, however, extending to at least the year 1810. His descrip? tion of a great Hassidic wedding conveys something of the joyful excitement of the event. (See Appendix II, Baruk mi-Banim, pp. 97-98.) For some years, Abraham continued to work as a shohet in Zelechow and the neighbourhood. For a time, his life was uneventful, save for the record of family births, illnesses, and deaths. But now we find that world history is beginning to impinge upon the private lives of the Jews of Poland. Among the most terrible after? effects of the Napoleonic wars were the great waves of Asiatic cholera which swept through Europe (passing westwards from India, where it has always been endemic) at intervals from the thirties to the seventies of the last century. In their crowded villages and townships, the Polish Jews suffered with the rest of humanity. For a moving account of these events, and their consequences in the lives of humble folk, see Appendix I. I need not stress how much courage and determination were needed to bring a man across Europe from Poland to London, cover? ing a distance of about 1,000 miles, in the days before railways. We have very little informa? tion about the method of transport used, or about the way in which this journey was financed. And while we are discussing the question of finance, I take this opportunity of pointing out that nowhere in his autobiography does Sussman complain of poverty?in fact, he hardly mentions money at all. He was a man who took immense pride in his professional skill, and was satisfied with his wages whatever they may have been. And however great his sufferings, he never indulged in recriminations or personal abuse. Apart from the itinerary just mentioned, a little more information about his journey can be deduced from the testimonials, collected in the towns through which he passed, which he afterwards printed in his book Beth Avraham. These shed some light on the spread of Hassidism among the Jewish communities as far west as Rotterdam. But let us now turn back to Sussman's own narrative, and his account of his arrival in England and his life there. (See Appendix I.) Abraham Sussman was now established in London5 with his second wife and her first? born child, Baruch Leib (my own grandfather). There is a certain obscurity in the story of Sussman's life during his first years in England. Many years later, his grandson Israel wrote: 'Driven from Russia by a local outbreak of intolerance, a certain Jew arrived in London just before the Passover of 1840. A scholar of the old-fashioned type, he also belonged to a branch of the Ghassidim, whose Judaism is tinged with emotion, though it is not neces? sarily based (as is sometimes supposed) on ignorance. Our immigrant, who afterwards attained to a position of some eminence in the</page><page sequence="3">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 245 Anglo-Jewish community, inquired into the rituals prevalent in the various London syna? gogues, and found only one (Bevis Marks) in which the Hallel (Psalms cxiii-xcviii) figured as part of the service for the Passover eve. The Hallel was for him a significant factor in the religious life. Hence he attached himself to the above-named Sephardic congregation without hesitation, and with what proved life? long loyalty.'6 The link between the Polish immigrant and the Sephardi community of London was evidently provided by the Tiqqun he-Art, the prayer-book of the Spanish mystical school of Luria, which was used by the Polish Hassidim in preference to the normal Polish minhag. Thus it was that Abraham Sussman acquired the habit of attending the services of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation of Bevis Marks Synagogue, taking with him his young son Baruch Leib. Sussman himself never be? came a member of Bevis Marks, and his name is not to be found in the registers of that synagogue. He must have belonged either to some little stiehl or to the Great Synagogue in Duke's Place; I have not yet been able to trace his exact affiliations. But in 1849 the Elders of Bevis Marks accepted Baruch (then only just 18) as a student of the Medrash, with a bursary of 7s. 6d. per month. It would appear that he was already known as Barnett Abra? hams, and no longer as Baruch Sussman. According to an oral family tradition, the young Baruch presented himself alone to the head? master of an English school (said to be the City of London School, but this I think is a mistake), because his parents could speak only Yiddish. He explained that his name was Barnett (having already learned that this was the English form of Baruch). The headmaster then asked him what his surname was. The boy could not reply, for he didn't even know what was meant by the word. The headmaster asked him, 'What is your father's name?' The boy knew that his mother always called his father 'Avroham', so he said it was 'Abraham'. The headmaster added a final s to the name, and so young Barnett, and his brothers after him, were entered as 'Abrahams' in the school registers. What is quite beyond doubt is the fact that Barnett Abrahams was a young man of great ability and intelligence. In the same year that he entered the Medrash (1849) he was entered at University Gollege, again with the assistance of the Elders of Bevis Marks, who paid ?\ 10s. per annum for three years so that Barnett could follow a course of study intended for 'Masters of Unendowed Schools' and Ushers, in Latin, Greek, Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. He was awarded Certifi? cates of Honour for Mathematics in the sessions 1849-1850 and 1850-1851, and one for Natural Philosophy and Astronomy in 1850 1851. He matriculated in 1851, but did not take his B.A. until 1856. Long before 1856, however, he had been labouring in the service of the Sephardi community. In 1854 he became Assistant Dayan (although as a matter of fact there was no full Dayan for him to 'assist'), and two years later he became full Dayan. 'This appointment', wrote the late Albert Hyamson, 'absorbed him completely into the Sephardi community. He married [in 1854] a Sephardi girl . . . and for the few remaining years of his life Abrahams was, except for the accident of his birth, in the full sense a Sephardi.'7 We have, however, shot ahead rather too quickly. Let us return once more to the story of Abraham Sussman, now well established as a shohet in London. In his memoirs, he recounts some exciting episodes in his career as a shohet, and also the tragic death of his son Meir Joseph. (See Appendix V.) Two books he mentions both deal with questions of shehitah. Beth Avraham, published in K?nigsberg in 1853, is a commentary on Toreh De'ah. At the beginning of the book is a letter of recommendation by Nathan Marcus Adler, who had been appointed Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazi community in 1845, and who evidently became a personal friend of Abraham Sussman, for we are told that Baruch studied Talmud with his father and with the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Adler. As I have already men? tioned, Beth Avraham contains a number of other letters of recommendation of some historic interest. (See Appendix IV.) The year 1860 must have been one of the happiest years of Sussman's life. In it he</page><page sequence="4">246 Phyllis Abrahams published another book on shehitah called Wa yosef Avraham. It is a commentary on Moses Ventura's book Temin Mosheh (itself a com? mentary on Toreh De'ah), and was published in Lemberg. In the same year he published, also in Lemberg, a book of another kind called Zekor la-Avraham. This work is a compilation of quotations from Talmudic and Biblical sources, some on ethical subjects, but many on questions of shehitah; it also contains the long auto? biographical section which I have quoted almost in full, covering the events of his life from 1802 to 1860. In this book there is to be found a curious little story about the autopsy on Napoleon's body, and a fascinating folk story about the prophet Elijah and the poor Jewish tailor of Lublin. In this same year Barnett Abrahams founded the Jewish Associa? tion for the Diffusion of Religious Knowledge', which was the precursor of the Jewish Reli? gious Education Board. The Society provided a free Sabbath School for Jewish children, and also distributed gratis hundreds of pamphlets on Jewish religion and history, many of which were written by Barnett Abrahams. Barnett Abrahams was already Headmaster of Jews' College (since 1858), and the father of a family: four sons, Joseph, Abraham, Israel, and Moses, were born between 1855 and 1860. Barnett's pure, unselfish nature and simple religious faith made him much beloved. An oral family tradition shows that he was not without the normal frailties of humanity: he is said to have suffered from a violent temper, which he could only master with great diffi? culty, and so his wife kept special pieces of inexpensive crockery in a handy place, so that he could relieve his feelings by smashing them when he came home worn out by a really tiring day devoted to congregational business. There were, perhaps, certain things in Abraham Sussman's family life that did not run quite so smoothly as might have been wished. Baruch Leib had, as we have seen, married a Sephardi girl. Her name was Jane (Jael) Rodrigues Brandon, daughter of Abra? ham Brandon and Sophia (Simha) Nunes Martinez. Her father was a shoemaker, living in Houndsditch; his father, born in 1768, seems to have changed his name from Moses Rod rigues Lucina to Moses Rodrigues Brandon, for what reason I have been unable to find out. This Brandon family was not related to the better-known family of David Rodrigues Brandon; it was, in fact, quite undistinguished either for intellect or for wealth. Jane, however, must have been a girl of remarkable character. According to another oral family tradition, in the first days of their marriage her husband gave her a present. She looked at it and said: 4What is this?' He replied: 'It's a sheiteV. She said nothing more, but quietly put it in the fire, and her husband made no further attempt to make her cover her own black hair (which was still as dark as ever when she died in 1894). From the same oral source we learn that the young couple started their married life in the traditional style in the house of the young bridegroom's parents. But soon the bride began to press for a home of her own. The bridegroom reasoned with her, quoting from the Ten Commandments: 'Honour thy father and thy mother*. But she replied by quoting the words (from Genesis ii, 24): 'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife'. And so they did indeed leave the Sussmans' house and set up a home of their own. This must have been before 1858, when, as we have seen, Barnett Abrahams became Headmaster of Jews' College and took up residence in Finsbury Square. The gradual withdrawal of his most brilliant son from the home circle may have caused some pain to Abraham Sussman, and yet he must have felt that it was inevitable. In any case, it was a very small pain compared with what was to come. For Barnett Abrahams died of acute rheumatism on 13 November 1863, after a short illness, at the age of 32. The funeral took place on the day after his death. At one o'clock, a procession headed by the children of the Orphan Society entered the courtyard of Bevis Marks Synagogue. The orphans were followed by two men bearing lighted candles; then came two ministers of Bevis Marks, followed by 'a mob of ministers of other con? gregations, the Committee of Jews' College, the staff of the Beth ha-Midrash, and others.' They made a circuit of the synagogue, and then the Chief Rabbi, sobbing, preached and made an</page><page sequence="5">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 247 appeal for the widow.8 In 1906 the Rev. Isidore Harris could still recall the striking scene. 'Barnett Abrahams was buried on the day following his death amidst such demonstra? tions of widespread respect as had not been witnessed since the interment of the late Dr. Herschell. His pupils, though some of them were the merest youngsters at the time, are not likely to forget that cold winter's afternoon on which they followed in his funeral proces? sion?the grief-stricken crowd, the sobbing accents in which the Chief Rabbi pronounced his funeral oration in the courtyard of Bevis Marks, the bearers of lighted candles, the weird-sounding dirges sung over his bier the while it rested in that crowded mortuary hall at Mile End. All these things made an indelible impression, which even the lapse of 42 years has scarcely been able to weaken.'9 The Rev. Isidore Harris also tells us that 'his aged parents survived him', but in fact they were not what we would call aged today: Abraham Sussman himself was only 61, and his wife must have been some years younger than her hus? band. But he had already suffered much and had fought hard for mere survival, and so doubtless he presented a venerable appearance and looked much older than he really was. A fund was soon raised to assist Barnett's widow and her children (the necessity of such a fund proving in itself that neither the Rodrigues Brandons nor the Sussmans were in a position to offer substantial financial help). The widow was also assured of free schooling for her sons at Jews' College. There were now five children: Joseph, Abraham, Israel, Moses, and Sophia, and a sixth (Julia) was born after the death of Barnett Abrahams. Jane, with her children, moved from 10 Finsbury Square to a house in Spital Square, where for many years she carried the heavy burden of rearing a young family with frugal decency and independence. Not satisfied with the Hebrew teaching her sons received at Jews' College, she engaged Rabbi I. A. Meisels to give them supplementary teach? ing in their own home. To this intensive traditional religious education, she added something specifically English. 'Mrs. Barnett Abrahams was a charming singer and pos? sessed a great store of English songs and ballads. R Night after night she would sing to her children and to the end of his life Israel Abrahams would recall these songs . . . [She] also had an extraordinary knowledge of English folk-lore, and one of her stories was included by the late Joseph Jacobs in his English Fairy Tales9.10 The story in question was 'The tale of Mr. Miacca', recorded in about 1890 by the Australian-born Joseph Jacobs (one of the founders of the science of folk-lore in this country) 'from memory of Mrs. B. Abrahams, who heard it from her mother.' Joseph Jacobs was one of the many struggling young students and professional men who were made welcome at the house in Spital Square; and thus it came about that a story told by the mother of Jane Rodrigues Brandon found its way into hundreds of English nurseries?which is as good a way as any of securing literary immor? tality. Mrs. Barnett Abrahams was naturally anxious that her sons should become industrious scholars, and did her best to ensure their regular attendance at school. Abraham Suss? man no doubt agreed with her in theory, but saw no great need for regular school attendance in practice. He would frequently waylay the boys, especially the third son (Israel), and ask them to step in to his home and read the news? paper to him. For this service he offered the fee of Is. a time?a munificent sum to offer a boy at that date. Sussman's daughter-in-law, while defending the conduct of her boy with proper loyalty ('My Israel knows more when he stays away than your Israel does when he goes to school,' she told a neighbour), objected strongly to her father-in-law's behaviour. She had no intention of breaking off relations between the two households but was forced to insist that these day-time visits must cease. In other ways, too, it became clear that she lived in a different world from Abraham Suss? man. As soon as the older children were safely housed in school, she took pride and pleasure in improving her own education. She started going to lectures on elementary science and hygiene, and her children long remembered the day when she went upstairs to the bathroom and carried out in practice what she had just learned from the lecturer: she knocked up a</page><page sequence="6">248 Phyllis Abrahams whole row of nails in the wall and gave each child its own towel?gone for ever were the days of the communal towel, by which the germs of disease were spread throughout the whole family. Where Abraham Sussman lost 10 children, this young mother reared her six in safety, and also took in her little niece Ada Cor cos, whose mother had died of puerperal fever in North Africa. These are the true vic? tories of humanity, and Jane Abrahams was as great a conqueror as Napoleon himself. But we are a long way, here, from the world of Abra? ham Sussman, with his nostalgic memories of Eliezer the Cabbalist's miraculous amulet. Abraham Sussman, however, was a very busy man, much occupied by the affairs of his profession, for he was now Chief Shohet. He was also the father of two other sons, Solomon (born in 1843) and Mordecai (born in 1844). It is possible that his son Moses died about this time. Nothing more is heard of him in his father's reminiscences, but in the absence of synagogue records in connection with the Sussman-Abrahams family, I cannot fix the date of the death of Moses, or of the marriage of Solomon, nor can I provide any information about the later life of Esther Reisel, Abraham Sussman's second wife, the mother of his English family. In 1869, Sussman published another book, Baruk mi-Banim (Wilna), a com? pilation of ethical sayings from Biblical and Talmudic sources, issued in memory of his son Baruch. (See Appendix II.) The compiling of this volume seems to have encouraged the author to look back with longing to the days of his youth in Poland, for after he has celebrated the virtues of his son Baruch, he starts to record a series of Hassidic reminiscences: first, the death of R. Jacob Simeon Ashkenazi, and then some stories he had heard about his own grandfather R. Eliezer. Finally he gives his account of a Hassidic wedding: 'And I will end with the joy of a wedding . . . and it is impossible to imagine, or to relate, or to write down, the joy that there was in the whole town.' One thing he remembered clearly from those days so long ago: that joy is a holy and a blessed thing, stronger far than all mortal pain and grief. In this same year another grandson was born to him: Lionel, son of Mordecai Abrahams and Sylvia Green (Mordecai Abrahams's wife was the daughter of Michael Levy Green and niece of the Rev. Aaron Levy Green). Of the fabu? lous career of Lionel Abrahams I need only say that he eventually became Assistant Under? secretary of State for India, became K.G.B, in 1915, and died in 1919, predeceasing his father by four years. In 1871 Sussman published yet another volume, Wa- Ycfas Avraham (Wilna). This book, which, he tells us, had received the approbation of R. Joseph Saul Nathanson, of Lemberg, consists almost entirely of corrections and addi? tions to his earlier works. There are signs in it that he was again reverting in his mind, and with loving nostalgia, to the days of his youth. Quotations from Jewish mystical literature are frequent, and it is clear that he is still corres? ponding with friends in Galicia and Poland. In the following year, 1872, he published Sefer Millel Avraham, printed in London in square-letter script. This too is a compilation of texts, with corrections of previous works, and this too includes a story about one of the Hassidic Rabbis in Zelechow. (See Appendix in.) Abraham Sussman was now 70 years old, and the time had come for him to retire. We have seen how, for some years, his thoughts had been much occupied with the past; how he had filled his leisure with studying mystical litera? ture and recording his reminiscences of the Hassidic Rabbis of Lublin and Zelechow. It is not, therefore, surprising that in the following year (1873) we find him established inJerusalem. What were his motives in settling in Jeru? salem ? No doubt he felt the traditional desire to 'die in Jerusalem', made even stronger by the mystical belief that prayer is more efficaci? ous in the Holy Land than anywhere else in the world. He may well have believed that he would end his days living the kind of life that Israel Zangwill described so vividly in his story To Die in Jerusalem (1899). But if he expected to spend most of his time 'enswathed as with heavenly love' (as Zangwill puts it), he was not reckoning with the social conditions in Jeru? salem?or with the demands of his own nature. He had not been long in Jerusalem before he made the acquaintance of the journalist Israel</page><page sequence="7">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 249 Dov Frumkin. Born in 1851 of a family belong? ing to the Habad movement, Frumkin was taken by his parents in 1860 to Jerusalem, where he married the daughter of Israel Back and took over the management of the latter's Hebrew newspaper, Ha-Havatseleth. When Sussman met him, he was still a young man, an excellent linguist, and well versed in traditional Jewish scholarship, being the grandson of Aaron ha-Levi of Starosselje (1766-1828), a well-known Zaddik of the Habad branch of Hassidism. He was also a public-spirited man, founding a Hebrew library, helping in the settlement of Yemenite Jews in the Holy Land and in the foundation of a Home for the Aged. Soon after his arrival in Jerusalem, Abraham Sussman became a foundation-member of Frumkin's latest creation, the Society called 'Tifereth Yerushalayim'. It was a benevolent society, its aims being to help the poor Jews of Jerusalem, regardless of their national or theological affiliations, to further the education of Jewish children, and to work for the welfare of Jerusalem and the neighbourhood. In 1875, this society founded a Hebrew library, to which the name 'The Montefiore Library' was given. Sussman must have been pleased to be associ? ated with this work, for he was himself a considerable scholar, and he had dedicated his best-known book, Beth Avraham, to the great Sir Moses Montefiore in 1853. Sir Moses, too, was delighted with the honour paid to him, and many Jewish scholars in the Diaspora donated their books to the library. But soon the library was bitterly attacked, not only by those who disliked the idea of a secular library but by Frumkin's personal enemies, who were numerous. It was said that it was full of heretical books and that it was disgraceful to associate the name of Montefiore with such a den of iniquity. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem ('Rishon-le-Tsion'), Ashkenazi, issued his ban (herem) against the library, on the grounds that it contained not only Karaite books but also works by R. Isaac Baer Levinsohn. For a short time Sir Moses continued to send money to the library, but when he learned that the scheme had incurred Rabbinic condemnation he insisted that it must no longer be called by his name. Poor Sussman must have been horrified by this affair. He had probably had no con? ception of the disputes between the different groups of communities which were already raging among the Jews of the Holy Land, and especially in Jerusalem. He dissociated him? self from Frumkin and joined forces with another journalist, Isaac Michael Elijah Cohen. Cohen, who was born in Lithuania, had been a shohet in Jerusalem. Not being very successful as a shohet, he had left Palestine and wandered eventually as far as K?nigsberg, where he learnt the art of lithography and printing. He returned to Jerusalem, working as a journalist and lithographer, and joining with the printer Back in the management of Ha-Havatseleth. Soon, however, he quarrelled with Frumkin (Back's son-in-law), and left the paper to found one of his own, called Ariel, in which he savagely attacked Frumkin and his heretical library. He went to Vienna, where he somehow persuaded the Emperor Franz Joseph to give him some modern printing machinery. And when he returned to Jerusalem, he added Sussman to the editorial staff of Ha-Ariel. This paper was now a monthly, giving news of local interest, but including articles of a scholarly nature as well as poems and short stories. Sussman's connection with Ha-Ariel lasted for about two years. In 1877, Cohen made his peace with Frumkin and returned to the staff of Ha-Havatseleth, taking Sussman with him. It is possible that Sussman was employed on the Yiddish supplement which was started after he joined the Editorial Board. There was also a Rabbinic and literary supplement which may have needed his assistance. Whatever the exact nature of his work, we can easily conjure up for ourselves a picture of the old scholar and shohet making his way to the printing-house so vividly described by the late Judge Frumkin, I.D. Frumkin's son. The dwelling-house, which contained the press, was several storeys high, but it was built in steps on the side of a steep hill, so that the roof of one storey formed an open courtyard for the next. I. D. Frumkin published all sorts of books and pamphlets, but his paper absorbed most of his time and energy. He spent many hours reading proofs, writing articles, reading foreign telegrams and letters, and translating short stories, and left</page><page sequence="8">250 Phyllis Abrahams as much as he could of the actual business and technical side of the printing-house to others. So it is possible that Sussman's services were technical rather than scholarly. Frumkin's activities were always of a controversial nature. During these years he was waging a continual battle against the whole system of halukkah. Later on, it was in his house that Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's first child was born (the famous 'first Hebrew-speaking child'). It is difficult to reconcile Abraham Sussman's association with Israel Dov Frumkin with his own Hassidic origins and leanings. I can only suppose that here, in Jerusalem, the combative and active side of his character took charge once again. He saw that there was work to be done and a battle to be fought, and he could not resist joining in. But one final glimpse of Abraham Sussman's life in Jerusalem shows us the veteran warrior in a more peaceful mood. In 1877, hearing that the Beth ha-Midrash belonging to the Mish kenoth Yisra'el Synagogue was heavily in debt, he donated 100 Lira to the work. As a token of gratitude, the Beth ha-Midrash was given the name 'Beth Avraham'. And so he passes from our sight in a blaze of glory, as a real millionaire?as any Jew was considered who was not subsisting on the donations of the faithful.11 In the Jerusalem Tear Book, edited by A. M. Luncz for the year 1881 (Vienna, 1882), the following entry appeared: '1881. Died on Friday the 16th Shevat the venerable Mr. Abraham Sussman, and was interred with much honour. The deceased was first butcher (Shochet) in London and when his advanced age prevented him from performing the duties of his office, he settled in Jerusalem. During the short period he was permitted to live here, his noble character gained the love of all with whom he came in contact. With his scanty means he not only showed himself as a benefactor to many of the poor, but he also gave Lira 100 to cancel a debt incurred for the synagogue of the Building Society "Mish kenoth Yisra'el" I have not been able to discover where Abraham Sussman was buried, and whether his grave has survived intact the destruction caused by two great wars and many civil dis? turbances. But it is legitimate to hope that his tomb has been treated with respect. He was a valiant man, who well deserved that his bones should rest in peace. %* This paper was delivered to the Society on 10 June 1964. NOTES 1 Isaiah Press (in Meah Shanah Birushalayim, Jerusalem, 1964) refers to Abraham Sussman as 'Abraham Sussman mi-Telz'. Tels, or Telschi, was a town in Lithuania where a famous Yeshiva was founded in 1881 by R. Eliezer Gordon. I have not found any other mention of Sussman's sojourn in Tels. 2 R. Levi Isaac of Berdichew (1740-1809). On this, perhaps the most famous of the last great generation of Hassidic Rabbis, see Dubnow, Vol. II, pp. 43-51. His connection with Zelechow dates from the period 1772-1785, when he was forced by the mithnaggedim to leave Pinsk and settle in Poland. Abraham Sussman apparently never met him, but there may have been some contact between them, since R. Levi Isaac was on friendly terms with Sussman's grandfather Eliezer, the Cabbalist of Siedlce. 3 R. Baruch of Rukow (Ip'Tl). A disciple of Levi Isaac of Berdichew, and Maggid Mesharim of Rukov, Waiden says of him: 'They relate terrible and marvellous things of him?may his memory shield us'. 4 R. Jacob Simeon of Zelechow (Ashkenazi or Deutsch). According to Waiden (Shem ha-Gedolim he-Hadash), he was a disciple of Jacob Isaac of Lublin, and himself had many disciples. In 1820 he gave Sussman a testimonial which is printed in Beth Avraham. Sussman describes his death-bed in Baruk mi-Banim, pp. 96-98. He appears to have died in the same year (i.e., 1820). 5 According to an oral family legend, Abraham Sussman, on his first arrival in England, sold pins in the street for a living, before he again became a shohet. 6 Israel Abrahams: Festival Studies, London, 1906, p. 156. 7 The Sephardim of England, London, 1951, pp. 304-305. 8 Jewish Chronicle, 20 November 1863. 9 Jews' College Jubilee Volume, London, 1906, pp. xxv?xxviii. 10 Herbert Loewe: Israel Abrahams, London, 1944, p. 7. 11 The sources used for this account of Abraham Sussman's life in Jerusalem are: Gat (Ben-Zion):</page><page sequence="9">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 251 Ha-Tishshuv ha-Yehudi be-Erets-Yisra'el, 1840-1881 (Jerusalem, 1963); Frumkin (Gad): Derek Shqfet Birushalayim (Tel-Aviv, 1955); Press (Isaiah): Meah Shanah Birushalayim (Jerusalem, 1964). 12 This translation has been kindly suggested by Dr. Samuel Sacks, who adds that the spelling is, of course, not the normal Hebrew word for such a disease. 13 Normally the roles would have been reversed, and the Hassidim of Lublin would respect the commands of the Hassidim of Volhynia. 14 Mr. Salmond S. Levin, Chairman of the London Board of Jewish Religious Education, has kindly suggested that the well-known '[Jews'] Infants' School' is meant by this apparently mis? spelt phrase. 15 The threefold soul. This idea was developed in the Zonar&gt; Dut *s a very ancient conception, going back to the Greek classical philosophers and beyond. 16 R. Jacob Isaac of Lublin. Dubnow calls him Jacob Isaac (Hurwitz) of Lancut and Lublin. The Encyclopedia Judaica enters him under Horowitz. He had been a disciple of Dov Be'er of Mezerich and of Elimelech of Lisensk, and also of Levi Isaac of Berdichew when the latter was living in Zelechow (hence his connections with Zelechow). He was the author of a number of Hassidic books, and was known as 'the Seer' (Htinn). Aaron Waiden applies to him the text in Daniel, iv, 6: 'and no secret was difficult for him'. He died in 1815. Dubnow recounts a striking legend about his death which was evidently not known to Abraham Sussman. S. Dubnow, Geschichte der Chassidismus, Vol. II, pp. 76, 243-253.) 17 R. Avigdor of Zelechow. Not yet identified. 18 Israel the Maggid of Kozienice. An immensely popular preacher, famous also as a wonder-worker and healer. During the Napoleonic campaign of 1814, R. Israel, with his close friend R. Jacob Isaac of Lublin, made heroic efforts in prayer to hasten the coming of the Messiah, believing that these wars were the 'war of Gog and Magog'. (Dubnow, loc. cit; Sussman, however, apparently does not know this story.) 19 The writer adds in a footnote: 'The son of Matel, and this was the name of his mother'. The bridegroom was Jacob Isaac ben Hindah Motel, his mother being the daughter of R. Joseph, the second son of the 'Seer of Lublin', R. Jacob Isaac of Lublin. The bridegroom's father was R. Nahum, Zaddik of Makarow. 20 Zalman (Solomon) ben Abraham Tiktin died in Breslau in 1843; appointed Rabbi in Breslau in 1824. Strongly anti-Reform, a firm opponent of Geiger. 21 Jacob Meshullam Ornstein died in Lemberg in 1839; appointed Rabbi in Lemberg in 1806. Strongly anti-Reform, a firm opponent of Erter. 22 Joseph Asher Lemiel, of The Hague, is mentioned by Waiden as a great gaon, well known in his generation. onsroi npsn rnsrrcr? mm APPENDIX I Zekor le-Avraham (Lemberg, 1860). 1. On the reverse side of the title-page, Sussman describes a sermon preached by his son Baruch Leib at the Sephardi Synagogue, Sha'ar ha-Shemayim, in London, on Wednes? day, 28 Nisan 5614/1854, by command of the Queen, 'for the salvation of our army'. The preacher explained that it is legitimate to pray for the welfare of the Gentiles, and used the parable of a ship which is in danger. In such circumstances, the Jewish passengers must co? operate with the others in order to save the ship. 2. Qunteras Joseph, pp. 46 (b) -48 (a). Abraham Sussman was born, he says, in the year 5562/ 1802, during Hanukah, in the town of Siedlce (f^lW), in Little Poland, the son of Joseph. His righteous father died on Tuesday, 5 Teveth, in the year 5564/1804, at the age of 44. When Sussman was five years old (i.e., in 1807), his mother, Gittel, daughter of R. Judah Leib, married Jacob ben Yehezkiel, 'and he brought me up OlVtt) as a father, and I was to him as a son. And he was righteous and pious (hassid), and I bear witness for him that all his life he used to get up after midnight and occupy himself with reciting psalms, midrash, etc., until it was time to say the morning prayer. And it seems to me that I remember that he died four years before my mother.' After this, while he was still studying the Oral and Written Law from 'eminent rabbis' in Siedlce, he married Miriam Esther, daughter of Dov Baer ha-Cohen ben Meir; he married her in Lukow (nilKjT1?), in the year 5575/ 1815 [presumably, after his Barmitzvah]. In the year 5578/1818, his eldest daughter, Hannah Rebecca, was born, 'and she was aged 1 year 2 months' [sic, presumably when she died]. His son Meir Joseph was born on Friday, 25 Siwan, 5579/1819. In that year he studied 'Shehitoth and Bediqoth* in Zelechow</page><page sequence="10">252 Phyllis Abrahams (ZlXrpVsn) from the experts working there. 'And in the year 5580/1820, a great miracle happened to me. In the month of Teveth I was travelling from Siedlce to Lukow at night, and suddenly there was a storm of wind and snow which is called zawierucha (S?mTYIK!) [a Polish word used in Yiddish], and after this we lost our way, for the road was covered with snow, and the Gentile driver of the cart took the horse and rode off on it to find the way, and he too was lost with the horse, and we were left, I and another Jew, sitting in the cart by ourselves all night long, and after midnight wolves howled at us (123 *\VW) and we fled?we walked, we fell, we got up, until daylight shone upon us, and then we came, utterly exhausted, to a village?may the Name be praised to all eternity, for we heard that many people died that night in the storm, but with God's help we were saved.' In the same year, after Passover, he was appointed shohet in Shenitsa (-NITIW), near Kalshin (J^Vkp), and a little further from Warsaw, and he remained there for five and a half years. Two daughters were born there, Feiga Hayya and Eva Rachel. In the year 5586/1826 in the month of Marheshwan he received an appointment in Lukow. In the year 5587/1827 a daughter was born and died, aged one day. In the year 5588/1828 his son Eliezer was born, 'and in the year 5589/1829 I had a great dispute with my fellow shohetim, and the Almighty knows who was in the right! And in the year 5591/1831, on 21 Kislew, on a Sunday, my mother Gittel died, whose memory is a blessing.' 'And on the Sabbath, 2 Teveth, in that same year [5591], I became very very ill, so that my life was despaired of by all, but in His great mercy God saved me, and in two weeks I recovered. But while I was so ill that I did not know my right hand from my left hand, there died my son, the dear and clever child Eliezer. And on Monday, 3 Shevat, in that same year, my wife died in childbirth, giving birth to a stillborn son; may their souls find rest in Gan Eden. And in the month of Iyar of that year there was the time of wrath [an epidemic] of cholera (SH '?Vin) in my town, and I fled from the town to the villages; and in the same year there was also war between the Poles and the Tsar of Russia. And once while I was walking alone from one village to another through the forest, a soldier met me in the forest and chased after me to kill me, but with the help of the Name a miracle befell me and I escaped from him and his rifle (H?lt^ H2p), which he fired after me, but he missed me and did not touch me, may His Name be blessed for ever, amen and amen.' On New Year in Tammuz of that year he married his second wife, Esther Reisel, daughter of Rabbenu Baruch, dayan. 'On Sunday, last day of Passover 5592/1832, there was born my dear and distinguished son Baruch Leib, dayan of the Sephardim in London (may the Almighty sustain them). And in the year 5593/1833, I was suddenly smitten with cholera. And my wife called the physician (KDVI), whom they called doctor (TttpfcO), who was a Gentile, and he came and saw me, and he told my wife to come to his house after a quarter of an hour, because the remedies were not ready in his house, but he had to prepare them, and in a quarter of an hour everything would be ready. And my wife did as she was bid, she waited a quarter of an hour and then went to his house, and took the medicine from him and returned to my house to give it to me?and while she was on the way home, a Jewish woman came to my wife (and this woman was one who knew me). And she whispered into my wife's ear, saying: T came out to meet you to warn you not to give this medicine to your husband, that he may live, for there is death in this medicine. For I was with the doctor in his house, which they call apothek (p^DDX), and I heard them con? sulting together and saying that this illness was a great danger, likely to spread to the rest of the population, and so they agreed among themselves to put death in the medicine. Be watchful, therefore, and don't give it to your husband, that he may live'. And it was true that there was a deadly potion (DIDn ?D) there, but with the help of the Name I was saved from death to life. And by a miracle, no harm came to any other person. And I was better the next day, and on the day after I went to the market, and the physicians came to see</page><page sequence="11">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 253 me, and thought it a marvellous thing.' In Teveth 5594/1834, his little daughter Gittel Jente died, aged one year one month. In Elul 5595/1835, his son Jacob Isaac was born. 'And in the year 5597/1837, on Tuesday, 20 Av, I left my house and my inheritance and the land of my birth, very suddenly, because of "informers" (0*H01?). And in the month of Elul, while I was escaping via Lentshne (VWVMb), I myself fell ill of cholera, during the epidemic which was there at that time. But with the help of the Name I was saved from death and recovered. And in the year 5598/1838, in the month of Teveth, while I was thus in exile [galuth] in Galicia, living in fear and terror because I had not got the permit which they call a pass ]VVT) SnD) (OKD "pXpty, there died my son, the child [Jacob Isaac], because of the longing he had for me. And a short time before his soul departed hence, he cried out: "My father, my father, I want to see you and talk to you!" and then his pure soul went forth. And always, when I remember this, I am seized by a kind of spasm (pttf). And in the year 5599/1839, on the 8th day of the month of Marheshwan, I came to England via Lemberg, Cracow, Breslau, Berlin, Strelitz, Schwerin, Hamburg, The Hague, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam'. England, he reminds us, is a country well known to Jewish scholars, for it was the home of R. Meir of England, and in London there lived the famous R. Solomon (from whose works Sussman had quoted in an earlier book). London was also associated, he says, with other Jewish notabilities, such as Abraham ibn Ezra, David Nieto (head of the Sephardi community), and David Tebele Schiff, chief Rabbi of the Great Synagogue. [Nieto died in 1728 and Schiff in 1792.] 'And in the month of Kislew I was accepted as shohet and bodeq in the town of Leeds (f in that country. And in the year 5600/1840, on the eighth day of Tammuz, I was urgently summoned (TliOpS X*1p3) to return to London, to serve them there. And in the year 5601/1841, in the month of Elul, I was accepted by them in a permanent capacity. And in the year 5602/1842, on the ninth day of Sivan, my wife (may she live!) with my clever son Baruch Leib (may he live!) came to me there in London from Poland. And in the year 5603/1843, on the third day of Second Adar, on Saturday night, there was born to me my dear and clever son Israel Solomon . . . and in the year 5604/1844, on Rosh Hodesh Iyar, there was born my dear and clever son Aaron Mordecai'. Then follows an account of some exciting episodes of his career as a shohet in London. For instance, in Elul 1845 a beam used for suspend? ing carcases in the slaughterhouse fell on his head, 'and there was only a step between me and death', and in Teveth 1846 an ox rushed at him, cornered him, and struck him with its horns 'over my heart', but with the help of the Name he was saved, and was not even hurt. On another occasion he fell when holding his knife, and though he did not cut himself, he injured his hand in the fall and was ill for three weeks. 'Blessed be He and blessed be his great Name who performed these miracles for me'. Then immediately he returns to his family chronicle. In the year 1848, on Tuesday, the 28th day of Elul, his son Meir Joseph died of cholera (here spelled 37*vVlj?). 'Then there was taken from me the delight of my heart, my son the Zaddik and Hassid, the wonder of his generation, Meir Joseph', leaving three sons: Isaac Jacob, Moses, and Samuel Solomon. In the summer of 5609/1849, the writer was again ill of cholera (SH "'Vlfl), which was raging in London, but he recovered with God's help. But in the month of Av his little daughter Beyla died, aged ten months. 'And when I call to mind all these deaths, fear and trembling come upon me . . . May God remember me, and rear up for me the remnant that remains to me, in His great mercy, that they may live to learn Tor ah, and go under the Huppah, and perform good deeds, amen and amen. . . . And in the year 5612/1852, on the eve of New Year, on Tuesday night, there was born to me le-mazzal tov my son, the child of delights, clever little Moses. May God in His great mercy enable me to rear him up for Torah, Huppah, and good deeds, amen and amen.' Then follows a list of his publications: Beth Avraham, Ze^or le-Avraham, and Wa-yosef Avraham. Finally he informs us that his son-in law Simhah Bunam died in Tammuz 1856 (of</page><page sequence="12">254 Phyllis Abrahams Din ^Vin [ Phaemophilia or some such blood disease]12), and his other son-in-law, Shammai, died on the ninth of Av in the same year. P. 59a. He gives statistics of kosher slaughtering in London, 'where I have practised as a shohet now for more than 18 years'. Every week, he says, nearly 200 oxen, 400 sheep, and 50 calves are slaughtered, and sometimes more. P. 78a. He again mentions the visit of Abraham ibn Ezra to London, and declares: 'To this day there is in London a big square (ISfl) with many houses in it, and it is called after his name Ibn Ezra Square pi7S?DpO), and they have a tradition that the hakam stayed there, and I was in it times without number'. After the time of Ibn Ezra, the Jews were expelled from England and it was nearly 400 years before they returned; but now they dwell here in safety, 'and I hope that things will remain the same until the coming of the Redeemer, amen.' He now continues with a legend of Napoleon, 'Banaparot Napoli', as he calls him DTIKjDXlNl) CVlDNJ, the 'hammer of the nations'. After the Emperor's death on the island of 'Sentilena' (KT^?ttK)), the doctors came and dissected his body. They left the body for a short time in a locked room, but on returning they found that the heart was missing. After a long search, the heart was eventually found in another part of the house, in a mousehole. This story is said to have been taken from a history of Napoleon written in French and in English and in a number of other languages, and to be very well known. P. 56a. Another anecdote concerning Sussman's grandfather Eliezer: When asked a tricky she'elah during Passover, he used to say: 'Go away now, and I will give you an answer tonight'. Pp. 78b-79a. A legend of Lublin. In former times it was the custom in Lublin that when the Rav was known to be dying, they used to ask him who was to be his suc? cessor. It happened that the Rav was on his death-bed, and the parnassim hastened to his bedside to ask him the customary question. He replied that he himself did not know, but that they must seek out the first man to fall ill after his death, for he would be able to tell them. Shortly afterwards, the Rav died, and the whole town was in an uproar, looking desper? ately for the first case of illness. Soon they found their sick man: he was a poor tailor who lived in a hut outside the town, and very few of the townspeople knew him. However, when the Burial Society notified the parnassim, they trooped to his bedside. The sick man was astounded at the visit of so many rich visitors, but eventually he told them to send and invite the Rabbi of Ostrog [in Volhynia] to come to Lublin. He warned them that the Rabbi would refuse at first, but in the end he would accept the invitation. Then the poor tailor died. The Lubliners did as he bade them, and sent an impressive delegation to Ostrog. The Rav refused the invitation, explaining that his ancestors had been Rabbis in Ostrog for 100 years, and that he would not leave the place where he was born and where he hoped that he, too, would be buried. When the parnassim saw that no offers of wealth would induce him to leave Ostrog, they told him about their visit to the poor tailor of Lublin. When he heard their story, the Rabbi replied that he would go with them at once. So they travelled to Lublin together, and he was received there with great joy and honour. After the Sabbath se'udah, they asked him to explain his mysterious behaviour, for, they said, they themselves knew nothing at all about the poor tailor. 'I too know nothing about him', replied the Rabbi, 'except one thing. It was my custom, after shaherith, to lock the synagogue door [on the inside]. Then I used to wrap myself up in my talith and continue to study and pray by myself. One day I raised my eyes and saw a man. I was startled; but he said: 'Don't be afraid, I am a mortal being, sent to you by the prophet Elijah, to make known to you that you must hasten and correct such-and-such sins that are being committed in your town'. The Rabbi asked him who he was and where he came from, and the man replied that his name was Feibush and that he came from Lublin, where he was a tailor. When</page><page sequence="13">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 255 the Rabbi heard him say that he was not a Rabbi, not a parnass, in fact, no-one of any importance, he declared that he would not believe in his message. Suddenly, however, Elijah himself appeared in person. The terror stricken Rabbi was thus forced into submission. And this was the reason why the Rabbi of Ostrog hastened to fulfil the commands which the holy tailor of Lublin had uttered on his death-bed.13 APPENDIX II Baruk mi-Banim (Wilna, 1869). Preface. In the preface, the author informs us that one night, when he was in bed, God put it into his head to compile this book [which consists mainly of ethical sayings from Biblical and Rabbinic sources] and he never rested until he had done so; and he gave it its title in memory of his son, who was a diligent preacher of ethics to the people, and 'who loved God with all his heart and all his soul all the days of his life in truth and integrity'. P. 51. Baruch used to study Tanna debe Eliyahu on Sabbath evenings, and he wrote a com? mentary on Pt. 1 ('Seder Eliyahu Rabba'). His favourite reading was Bahya's flovoth ha Levavoth, M. H. Luzzatto's Mesilath Tesharim, Hidai's Tsiporen Shamir, and the Psalter. P. 53. Baruch Judah Leib died at 1 a.m., Sunday, 4 Kislew, not yet aged 32, having been born in Poland on the last day of Passover, in the year 5592/1832. 'He died on the same day of the week as he was born, and this is a sign, as is well known to all, that he was a zaddik\ (The author refers to the Zonar as proof of this alleged fact.) He died of a disease of the intestines, according to Sussman, and the writer quotes the saying that 'the righteous man who dies of a disease of the intestines, or who has a wicked wife, does not see the face of Gehinnom'. According to an oral tradition in the family, he died of rheumatic fever con? tracted through attendance at a funeral in Arctic weather; the cause of death given on the death certificate is 'Acute Rheumatism', and the date of death 15 November 1863. 'He was buried with great honour, and sermons were preached about his death in every synagogue in London. And I have the greater cause to bewail his death because he died in my old age [the writer was only 61 at the time of Baruch's death] . . . Look and see if there is any grief like to my grief, for nine of my children had already died, and this zaddik made up the tenth. But God is just . . .' Sussman tells two anecdotes to illustrate his son's piety. (1) On Sabbath, he walked about for a long time wearing only one shoe, because the laces of the other shoe had got themselves entangled on a nail and he would not break the Sabbath by cutting them free. (Apparently he pos? sessed only one pair of shoes.) (2) On another occasion he bought a silver chain at a very low price in the market. On the Day of Atonement he went from one synagogue to another, and never rested until he found a man who he thought had been wronged in this transaction. P. 55. Elegy on Baruch in rhymed Hebrew, with an acrostic on the name Baruch ben Abraham, composed by 'Mister Zalman Sebag', a teacher in the Sephardi school. This poem is said to have been previously printed in Hebrew and to have been translated into English. Pp. 56-57. A memorial plaque on the wall ?in the place of teaching called Infants' School' (HKpO p?lIK)14, subscribed for by supporters of the Jewish Association for the Diffusion of Religious Knowledge, founded by Baruch Abrahams. Pp. 96?98. Le-zeker '*olam yiheyeh tsaddik. Apropos of the saying that the words of the wise are like coals of fire (Pirke Avoth, 2, xv), Sussman describes an event that happened in Zelechow when he was about 20. In those days, he tells us, there lived in Zelechow 'the holy and righteous Gaon, foundation of the world, holy one of the Almighty, our master and teacher R.Jacob Simeon Ashkenazi', also called R. Simeon Deutsch. A group of dissidents TO) (JlplVnM combined against him, and he was forced to leave Zelechow and go to another town (Radzyn), where he died. 'When he was ill there, shortly before his death, he said that a sweet sleep fell upon him, and this sleep might</page><page sequence="14">256 Phyllis Abrahams have been the moment for his departure from this life, but he summoned up his strength and sat up in bed and stretched out his hands, and said with great power (flD), as was his custom when in health, these very words: "Behold, I surrender my soul, my breath, and my spirit Ofl?lH W /?WD1)15 with all my heart and will, for the sake of (Dttf1?) the Unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Shechinah . . . Sherrfa Yisrctel, etc." And he lay down and passed away.' Sussman then recounts the fate of two rich men, leaders of the dissidents in Zelechow. One of them had a son who was married and had a little daughter. One day, when this son was drunk (JlVH), he killed his little girl and hid her body in the river that ran under his house and was roofed over with boards. But the thing was discovered, and the son was sent to prison; the father was reduced to poverty; finally the son died during the life? time of his father. The other man also became very poor and died in shame and poverty. Another young man had attacked the holy Rabbi and struck him. R. Jacob Simeon told the youth that he was destined to be mur? dered by a Gentile robber. After the Rabbi's death, this young man told his friends that he was living in continual fear, and indeed, after many years, he was murdered by a robber, who struck him a blow similar to the blow with which he had assaulted the Rabbi. 'It is not my intention to mention their names, but I knew them all well.' It was in Zelechow that Sussman met R. Baruch of Rukow. R. Baruch had a high opinion of Sussman, and gave him kabbalah for shehitah. 'He used to call me "the son of great men", and when he came to Zelechow on Sabbath to see the ?addik, our Rabbi Jacob Simeon, he used always to stay with us, because my father had been one of his disciples in Rukow. And he used often to praise and glorify my grandfather the Gaon, the Cabbalist R. Eliezer, Maggid mesharim, of Siedlce and Sanak, and he used to tell me about his humility and his wonderful deeds'. R. Baruch told Sussman the following anecdote about R. Eliezer. 'On one occasion, when R. Baruch was in Siedlce and my grandfather was still alive, he fell from his bed and was very ill, and the doctors considered him to be in great danger. Then my grandfather came to him and examined him, and said to him: "Don't be afraid, this is only due to the evil eye". Then he breathed [or, blew] with his holy mouth into Baruch's mouth three times, and he said: "Give me your hand"; and Baruch gave him his hand, and he stood up'. Sussman continues his reminiscences (apparently referring to what R. Baruch told him): 'On another occasion I [i.e., R. Baruch?] was in Siedlce, after his [Eliezer's?] death, with the renowned Gaon, our holy Rabbi Levi Isaac, who was then Rav of Zelechow. And it was the custom of this famous holy man not to eat any meat unless he had first inspected the shohefs knife.' But he was willing to accept Eliezer's competence on trust and to eat meat slaughtered by him without first inspecting his knife. 'All this I [i.e., R. Baruch?] heard from the mouth of the holy one [i.e., R. Levi Isaac?].' Then he tells the story of a miracle (02) that happened to his grandfather in old age. Four Jews were sentenced to death by the Gentile court at Lukow, and it was thought that R. Eliezer, who was also arrested, knew what these men were doing but did not reveal it to the authorities. (No information is given about the crime with which they were charged.) The Jews of Siedlce and Lukow, and all who knew him, paid down all the money they could raise and brought him safely 'from death to life'. After his release, a banquet was given in his honour in Lukow attended by all the notables of the town. He asked the men of Lukow: 'How can I repay you for this banquet, and for all the loving-kindness (T?n) you have bestowed on me? Behold, I am giving you a small but good gift. Be careful not to lose it.' He gave them a small amulet; nothing was written on it but two words. This, he told them, was a remedy against the dangers of childbirth, if placed on the woman's belly. Eliezer returned in joy to Siedlce, and some years later he died, about the year 5455[.rzc]/1795. This very efficacious miracle-working amulet remained in Lukow until the town was burnt during the epidemic (pBT) in the year 5565/1805, when it was destroyed with the town. Sussman him? self, when in Lukow, had heard old men speak</page><page sequence="15">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 257 of it. The other four men were not saved, but were condemned to death. Catholic priests came to them and urged them to renounce their faith; if they did so, their crimes would be forgiven and they would live. 'And they refused to renounce their faith, and they sanctified the glorious and terrible Name in public.5 And they were duly executed and their bodies were refused burial for a long time. 'And to this day they are called "Saints", and cer? tainly their souls are bound up in the bundle of life.' The next episode (the wedding at Zelechow) follows immediately. Pp. 97-98. 'And I will end with the joy of a wedding, something that I remember from when I was a lad, about seven or eight years of age. There was a big wedding in Zelechow: R. Jacob Isaac of Lublin16 was marrying his dear and excellent great-grandson, R. Matele ("^DXE)) ?so he was called at that time?to the daughter of Chief Rabbi Avigdor,17 of Zelechow, and the wedding was in Zelechow; there were present the holy Maggid, the aged and pure R. Israel of Kozienice,18 and also our Rabbi of Lublin mentioned above, with their disciples, and the disciples of their disciples, and innumerable Hassidim from far and near, and all the houses in the town were not enough to hold them, and some had to sleep out in the open.' Abraham Sussman remembers the names of only a few of the hundreds who were present. He says: T remember only the Zaddik, our Rabbi Jacob Simeon, because the aforementioned holy men made him, at that time, be Rav of Zelechow, on condition that the Rav, the Gaon, the man of God, our Rabbi Levi Isaac of Berdichew (ZHWT1?), gave his consent, for the Rabbin? ate of Zelechow belonged OT^)' to him. So these holy men drew up a certificate (3D!)) of the Rabbinate and sent it to Berdichew,19 and, asked R. Levi Isaac to sign the certificate himself, and he did so. And he was Rav for many years in Zelechow, and that is why I remember him individually. On the fourth day before the wedding, our Rabbi of Lublin came to Zelechow, and there went out to meet him many important men and Hassidim, and the great men of the town, in carts and on foot. . . . And in the evening they accompanied him into the town with joy, and they took him with his carts round the stalls that stood there in the middle of the market?they drove round many times, with many torches, and there were lights burning in all the windows of the houses. And it is impossible to imagine, or to relate, or to write down, the joy that there was in the whole town. And on the next day, the old and holy Maggid of Kozienice arrived, and they paid him the greatest honour that people showed in those days (VlttriK). But I cannot remember whether our holy Rabbi of Lublin went out with them to meet him or not. And on the sixth day, in the afternoon, there was the huppah in front of the synagogue. I re? member that on that day the roads were very dirty, so they laid boards on the ground from the lodging of the holy Maggid to the door of the synagogue, and I saw with my own eyes that the holy Maggid was walking on the boards, and the Zaddik R. Jacob Simeon walked by his side in the dirt, grasping with his hand the right hand of the holy Maggid. And another great man walked in the dirt on the other side and held the left hand of the holy Maggid.,' The Maggid pronounced the nuptial benedictions, and 'our holy Rabbi of Lublin' read the ketubbah. 'The holy Maggid was a short man C?pD2) and much older than our holy Rabbi of Lublin. During the three Sabbath meals, the two holy men did not eat in the same house together; they were only separated so that everyone could eat in his own lodging. And I don't now remember where they prayed on the Sabbath, morning and evening. And before the minhah prayer on Sabbath, the holy Maggid of Kozienice came to the synagogue and preached there on the bimah, and also our holy Rabbi of Lublin was there in the synagogue and heard the droshah?and I saw him with my own eyes, may his merit shield us, amen and amen. And although this happened nearly sixty years before this year 5628/1868, still, blessed be the Name, I remember nearly everything just as it occurred then, and all that I have written is true and established. And just as it was granted to me to see the joy of this</page><page sequence="16">258 Phyllis Abrahams wedding, so may it be granted to me and to all the Children of Israel to see the rebuilding of Jerusalem and of the Temple, speedily, in our days. Amen and amen.' APPENDIX III Sefer M?hl Avraham (London, 1872). Title-page. On the title-page, the author gives his name as Abraham Sussman, and describes himself as the son of R. Joseph and the grand? son of R. Eliezer, the great Gaon, true Cabba list, and Maggid mesharim of Sanak and Siedlce. P. 38. The writer refers to an entry in Walden's Shem ha-Gedolim he-Hadash, under the name of 'Gedaliah of Zelechow'. (Waiden tells the story of a miracle which occurred to Gedaliah during a Berith.) Sussman says: T knew him well in his old age, and he loved me very much for the sake of my grandfather "OX JYDTU) C3pT who was Hassid and Gaon of the con? gregation of Sanak and Siedlce; and he was always telling me about him, and about his greatness and his wonderful nature, for he knew him well. And my stepfather Jacob told me that this same zaddik Gedaliah in his youth was beadle (shamash) in Zelechow.' The shamash used to go round very early in the morning to call the ba'ale-bathim (house? holders) to the Beth ha-Midrash. When Gedaliah was shamash he used to wait till the congregant came to the door and lit his candle at Gedaliah's lantern. (Other beadles were content to give a good thump on the door and pass on to the next house.) The holy man used to argue in his mind: Tf I go away at once, he won't get out of bed, for sweet is sleep to him'. And the master of the house, feeling ashamed of keeping the virtuous shamash knocking on his door in the cold, the rain, and the snow, would get up, and would then feel obliged to go to the Beth ha-Midrash. 'And this was his good custom.5 P. 40. He describes an incident which occurred when he was learning shehifah from the shohetim in Zelechow and his wife was living with her family in Lukow. APPENDIX IV Beth Avraham (K?nigsberg, 1853). A commentary on the sections on shehitah in the Shulhan Aruk, i.e., on Toreh De*ah. There is a letter of approval (HMO?!) of the book written by Nathan Adler, Av Beth Din of the Ashkenazi community of London, and eight testimonials collected by Sussman in his youth, or during his journey from Poland to England. There is also a prayer to be recited by the shohet which he apparently wrote himself. It is not identical with a somewhat similar prayer printed in Wa-Yosef Avraham. P. 3. (i) Letter of recommendation from Jacob Simeon of Zelechow, written 'when I was 18 years old' (i.e., in 1820), to Solomon Zalman of Kazimierz (T?TKp). Hearing that a shohet is needed there, Jacob Simeon recommends Abraham Sussman, son of Joseph and grandson of Eliezer, the well-known Cabbalist of the Lord, of Sanak and Siedlce, as a skilled and learned shohet. P. 4. (ii) Letter of recommendation ?HD?) (ittrtD from Mordecai Hertz Cp?n) of Wilkacz (WKp'Wn). The writer states that he knows Abraham Sussman well, and he is an excellent shohet. Dated the sixth day of Nisan, 5595/1835. (iii) Letter of recommendation from Zalman ben Abraham Tiktin, of Breslau.20 A few words of commendation. Undated. (iv) Letter of recommendation from Jacob Ornstein, of Lwow (Lemberg).21 The writer recommends Abraham Sussman as a scholar and a shohet, a man well known to him and of excellent family. Dated Monday, 13 Nisan 5598/1838. (v) Letter of recommendation from Berlin, signed by Jacob Joseph ben Mordecai and Elhanan Rosenstein. The writers praise Sussman as a scholar. Undated. (vi) A similar letter from Joshua Fleischer [?] pSTWpVD) Eliezer of Strelitz. Undated. P. 5. (vii) Letter of recommendation from Joseph Asher Lemiel,22 of The Hague, praising him as a shohet. Undated. (viii). Letter of recommendation from Men ahem Mendel Loewenstamm (OKDEttSTVltf1?),</page><page sequence="17">Abraham Sussman?from Berdichew to Bevis Marks 259 of Rotterdam, recommending him as a shohet. Undated. In a short introductory note, Sussman says that he has considerably abridged the letters of praise that he has received, and he has arranged them not in the order of the holiness of the writers, since they were all holy, but in chronological order. APPENDIX V Wa-yosef Avraham. (A commentary on Temin Mosheh, by Moses ben Joseph Ventura. Lemberg, 1860.) In the introduction (haqdamah), Sussman speaks of his son Joseph Meir, who was born in the month of Siwan 5579/1819, and died during an epidemic of cholera DS^TH 3D572) (JH "?Tina in the month of Elul 5608/1848, two days before New Year 5609/1849, 'in Oswiecze, which is between the city of Lublin and Tomeshev ,V?m) in Poland. And 230 people fell [i.e., died], among them eight Hassidim who were journeying to visit their Rav; a little later, 58 more people died. And I know very well that I was guilty: I was treacherous, I calumniated, I destroyed, I rebelled, ... I was angry, I oppressed, I derided, and therefore Thou art righteous in all that has come upon me, for Thou hast performed truth, but I have sinned.' The rest of this long introduction deals with all sorts of quotations from the Bible and Talmud, ending with a call to repentance before God and a statement of the firm belief that 'an end will come'. APPENDIX VI Wa-Ya?as Avraham (Wilna, 1871). P. 57. The author writes at some length on the necessity of humility and whole-hearted con? centration in prayer, and illustrates his point by a story which, he says, T heard in my childhood (Tin1?^) in Poland, in Zelechow, where they used to speak about the Rav, the Gaon, the man of God, Levi Isaac, the Rav of that town and of Berdichew, author of Qedushath Levi, that once, after the recitation of the 18 Benedictions in silence (WTl1?^), before the ffazan began the repetition in a loud voice, he [Levi Isaac] went up to certain men and greeted them, saying (t Sholem aleikem, sholem aleikem". And the whole congregation (?71p) was astounded at this. After the end of the prayers, he said to them: "Don't be astonished, for all those men, during their silent prayer, were not here; but in their thoughts they were wandering with their merchandise to the markets in other places. But the prayer that they were repeating says: "He that makes peace, etc." OlVtP TWV) ("ID, and when they reached these words they returned from the markets to this place? and so I welcomed them back with the greet? ing "Sholem aleikem"' P. 108. On the necessity of solitude, separa? tion (or isolation), and attachment to God in prayer (IVIprTm ,nwnsm ^HTODnn). The holy ones of Israel used to detach their thoughts, in solitude, from the affairs of this world, and cleave only to the Lord of all. The holy cabbalist the ?Ari' (Luria) teaches that this kind of prayer is seven times more beneficial to the soul than study (Tl?V), and that a man ought to set aside a fixed period for this purpose (one day per week, or at the least one day per month). Ramban is also quoted as urging his disciples sto concentrate their thoughts on God, the Lord of all, in reverence and love, and the light of the Shekinah seemed to shine upon their heads, and on all around them, and they themselves were sitting in that light'. Sussman continues: 'A man ought to go apart to a special place where the sons of man cannot see him, and raise his eyes up to the heights, to the only king, the cause of causes . . . and bless the Name for ever, and cling firmly to it. Thus I heard from the mouth of my teacher the Rav, the Hassid, the holy R. Joseph Shanim (D^KtP), and this is what he used to do! He then points out that many pious men (Hassidim) used to do this (he refers to Rambam, Ramban, and the book Hovoth ha-levavoth). The rest of this passage is even more obscure. P. 108. Form of confession of sin used by Hassidim. P. 118. A story about R. Israel Ba'al Shem-Tov,</page><page sequence="18">260 Phyllis Abrahams relating how he came to a house and wished to eat a certain piece of meat which he saw hang? ing there. The owner said: 'Don't eat it, it's trefa9?but afterwards he found that the shohet had made a mistake, and the Ba'al Shem-Tov was right. (From a printed source, in all probability.) On the same page Sussman describes an event occurring in London in the year 5630/1870: the birth of a two-headed calf, the owner being a non-Jew. Sussman saw it with his own eyes. It had two heads and two necks, joined below into one body. If it had lived, the owner would have made a lot of money. (This must be the only reference to money and profit-making in all Sussman's books.) Haqdamah. In the preface, Sussman mentions the approbation of R. Joseph Saul Nathanson, of Lwow (Lemberg). (1808-1875. He wrote a commentary on Toreh De'ah, among other works.) Pp. 12-24. Episode of shehitah that happened to him in London in the year 5621/1862. He explains that whenever anything unusual occurred during slaughtering 'they had to bring it to me' (i.e., he was Chief Shohet). Then he passes on to refer to explanations of texts he heard in his youth in Poland from the Gaon Samuel Shmelki (ybVIW), of Niklsburg (ryntPVp^), and from Jacob Simeon of Zelechow. In this book he mentions receiving she'eloth from Minsk, Ostrog, and Galicia. There are numerous references to his read? ings in mystical and Hassidic literature. Pp. 56-7. He quotes in full a laudatory epistle sent to him by Zvi Hirsch, author of a**nn hd and mm1? p. P. 70 seq. He describes something unusual that occurred when he was slaughtering, and tells us what he said to R. Nathan Adler, and what R. Nathan Adler said to him. This book contains a section of Biblical texts with explanations from mystical literature.</page></plain_text>

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