Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl and his 5 sons

The Tzadik Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl known as the Maggid of Chernobyl, was the son in law of Rabbi Aharon of Karlin the Great. from this marriage, he merited to have five sons, all of whom became famous scholars and rabbis when they grew up.

After his wife passed away, for a long time, the Maggid did not yet think about remarrying.

After a while, the Maggid received a letter from his brother-in-law, the holy Tzadik, Reb Asher of Stolen (who was the son of Reb Aharon of Karlin) and he reprimanded him for not remarrying. He offered a suggestion that he look into the daughter of the Tzadik Reb Dovid Leikis, the Maggid of the Russian town of Bar, and one of the prominent students of the Baal Shem Tov. Reb Mordechai felt this was a good suggestion. He called on his coachman to harness the horses and prepare the wagon and traveled himself to meet Reb Dovid in Bar. When he arrived, he told Reb Dovid about the purpose of his visit.

Reb Dovid responded: “I do not agree to the match.”

Reb Mordechai asked him, “Please tell me the reason that you refuse my offer? If it’s because you feel that she would not receive proper accommodations and clothing according to her status, please know that the Maggid of Chernobyl can amply supply his wife with all her necessities honorably.”

Reb Dovid replied: “This is not the reason I do not agree. The reason is that I can see that my daughter is destined to give birth to five sons; and you are meant to have only three more sons. If this is the case, my daughter will have to remain a widow and marry again to have two more sons. For this reason, I am not interested in this shidduch/match.”

The Maggid asked to be given three days’ time to contemplate this intricate question. Reb Dovid agreed. After three days, the Maggid returned and announced:

“I have found, thank G-d, a solution. I consulted with the Baal Shem Tov, and he agreed to the shidduch. He then quoted the verse: “Efrayim and Menashe will be for me like Reuven and Shimon” (Bereishit, Parshat Vayechi Chapter 48 verse 5). This means to say that just as Jacob’s two grandchildren, the sons of Joseph, were regarded as Jacob’s two sons (they became independent tribes of Israel), so too, two of our grandchildren will be as our sons in greatness and righteousness. Thus, they will complete the number of five sons!”

Upon hearing this, the Maggid of Bar agreed to the shidduch. Reb Mordechai and his wife had three son who all became famous Tzadikim. Their names were: the Tzadik, Reb Yochanan of Rachmistrivka; the Tzadik, Reb Dovid of Tolna; and the Tzadik, Reb Yitzchak of Skver.

The Chassidim would say that the two grandchildren who completed the count of the five were, the Tzadik Reb Dovid of Zlatopol (son of Reb Yochanan of Rachmistrivka) and the Tzadik Reb Dovid of Skver.

Translated from Sippurei Tzaddikim on Torah by Rabbi Zevin, of blessed memory. Story can be found in Parshat Vayechi # 125. With assistance from Uri Kaploun’s translation.

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