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Mosheh Leib of Sasov

(ca. 1745–1807), Hasidic master in eastern Galicia. Mosheh Leib was born in Brody; his main teacher was Shemu’el Shmelke Horovitz, leader of a Hasidic center in Ryczywol and from 1766 head of the rabbinical court in Sieniawa. After returning from a stay with his master, Mosheh Leib settled in Apt (Opatów) and probably led a small Hasidic community there. During the 1780s, he moved to Sasov (Yid., more properly Sasev).

Short teachings by Mosheh Leib were first published in the book Likute Ramal (1856). At later dates, new editions appeared under different titles and in expanded versions. In addition to being a teacher of Hasidism, Mosheh Leib was also a Torah scholar, as reflected in the book Ḥidushe ha-Ramal (1921) and in other sources.

Mosheh Leib was renowned for his modesty and humility, traits reflected not only in legendary traditions about him, but also in his teachings and letters. He was especially noted for his “love of Israel” (the Jewish people), which found expression in his concern for persons in distress. Many stories are told about his efforts to ransom captives and help widows, orphans, and the poor.

Writers such as Y. L. Peretz and Shemu’el Yosef Agnon admired this image of Mosheh Leib and included stories about him (although not using his name) in their work. Historians have also treated him positively, viewing him as a model of ethical, popular Hasidism, dedicated to common people and distanced from miracle working (despite traditions attributing amulets and wonders to him). Mosheh Leib had one son, Yekuti’el Shmelke, and two daughters. He left no Hasidic dynasty.

Suggested Reading

Ze’ev Gries, “Kuntres hanhagot ne‘elam le-R. Naḥman mi-Braslav?” Kiryat sefer 53.6–7 (1979): 763–788; Yisra’el Tabak, “Ha-Admor R. Mosheh Yehuda Leb mi-Sa’sov z.ts.l.,” Ha-Darom 41 (1975): 172–186.



Translated from Hebrew by I. Michael Aronson