By Raanan Isseroff
The magazine Hatamim was published by the Frierdiker Rebbe’s yeshiva in the suburb of Warsaw called Otwosk. These 2 historic letters are from the Nissin 1937 issue.
These two letters below describe a Jewish yom tov (holiday) that doesn’t seem to exist anymore, perhaps its memory was erased due to the destruction of most of European Jewry during World War II.
These letters were found in a geniza in a shul in Cherson. Obviously, someone had died and the family not knowing what these letters were, threw them out. A number are from the Baal Shem Tov and his family to each other.
There is a story that in the time of the Rebbe Reshab were found a collection of very old letters. (I don’t know it this is the same story about these letters) The story goes that when shown to the Rebbe Reshab, he organized them into two piles. Perhaps one pile of originals and one of copies. The chassidim mixed up the piles and showed the same pile to his son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok, the Frierdiker Rebbe who again like his father arranged them into 2 piles.
These letters below were published by the students in Otwosk yeshiva finally in 1937. With the war in 1939 ended this magazine. I’ve never heard of anyone celebrating this holiday. Maybe other Chassidim still celebrate it.
Letter 1: From HaTamim vol 2 pg558 Issue Nissan 1937 Warsaw
Letters from Kherson** Geniza
Lvov 26 Tammuz 1759
Today we who sign below have the good news for all Beis Yisrael that through the efforts of the Bishop of Lvov Mr. Sokolski may he live and be well, we, the signatories below, were victorious over the evil cult of the accursed evil one, may his name be erased, Yaacov Frank and his evil group may they all rot.
Hashem helped us to be victorious, therefore we took upon ourselves and on our children and all who participated from now on and for all time to make this day a festival holiday of eating, drinking and joy in every place in the merit of G-ds not letting us to stumble and allowing us to victoriously tread on their alters, raising up the ray of Israel.
Signed on this day Lvov
Chaim HaCohen Rappaport ben harav Simcha – Av Beis Din City of Lvov
Signed: Yisroel ben moraynu Eliezer of Medzibuz
Yitzchok Dov Ber Margolios of Yazilovich
Dov Ber ben Avraham of Mezrich
Yaacov Yosef hacohen of Polnoh
Zev Wolf Kitzes
Letter 2: Hatamim vol 2 Page 559, letter #126
We the signers below have taken upon ourselves to make a yearly event of the 26th of Tammuz, that it should be a day of eating, drinking and gladness in remembrance of the great miracle and kindness that G-d did for us blessed be he on this day.
There rose against us a wicked, evil enemy may his name be erased, Yaacov (Jacob) Frank, may the names of these wicked men rot. He misled Jews into idolatry and seduced many of our Jewish brethren and now G-d has turned around his evil designs (may his name be erased) and foiled his evil plans and made him to fall into the very hole he had planned for others.
(Ed: Apparently, Frank saw himself as the successor of the false messiah Shabbatai Tzvi. However, Franks idea went a step further: That Jews should mass convert to Christianity, which he and 500 of his followers did after losing this dispute with the Baal Shem Tov)
With the help of Bishop Tikolslky* of Lvov (may he live and be well!) who called us three of the chassidic brotherhood on the 23rd of Tammuz 5519 1759 to pit ourselves against the evil ones of the left side through a contest of debate of the issues (of faith) and and an airing of their complaints (about the Jewish religion) and a thorough investigation that went on between us. Hashem stood to the right of our cause and caused to win who was correct, leaving to stand the good name of the Jews. On the 26th of the month of Tammuz in the year mentioned above, with the help of Above, we were victorious over the evil ones may their names be erased, and thus were saved many Jewish souls from evil G-d forbid.
We made a pact in our hearts to make this day a holiday of feasting, drinking and happiness for ourselves and our children and all who participated forever.
On this we affix our signatures on this day, the 27th of Tammuz 5519 (1759) City of Lvov
Chaim hacohen Rappaport – Chief Rabbi of Lvov and the Country
Yisrael be Eliezer of Medzibozh
Yitzchok Dov Ber Margolios of the city of Yazlovich
Dov Ber ben Avraham of the town of Mezrich
Yaacov Yosef hacohen of Polona
Zev Wolf Kitzes
*The difference between Sokolsky and Tikulsky seems to have been a transcriptional misreading of the letter samech which could be read as either a samech or a tet. There is another version that spells his name: Mikulsky.
** Also spelled: Gershon or Kherson. City in White Russia. The name Kherson is a contraction of Chersonesos, an ancient Greek colony founded approximately 2500 years ago in the southwestern part of Crimea. The city was built under the supervision of General Ivan Gannibal on the site of a small fortress called Aleksanderschanz.