Wine cup. Moscow, 1837. Silver, niello, engraved, gilt. This niello cup was made by a Russian master silversmith in Moscow in 1837, probably for sale to an aristocrat or wealthy merchant. It was acquired by a Hasidic man who had it inscribed in Hebrew, “Cup of Elijah,” and gave it as a gift to Yitsḥak Wertheim, the Bender rebbe. It was not unusual for Hasidic rebbes to receive sumptuous gifts from their followers. After the rabbi’s death, the cup was inscribed at the bottom, “The inheritance of the admor, the Rabbi Yitsḥak, the righteous of blessed memory of Bender.” (Gross Family Collection)

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Savran-Bendery Hasidic Dynasty

Hasidic dynasty active from the second decade of the nineteenth century until the Holocaust. The founder was Shim‘on Shelomoh (d. ca. 1802), a disciple of the Magid of Mezritsh, who was a preacher in Savran (Podolia). Shim‘on’s two sons established independent Hasidic dynasties in Podolia and Bessarabia.

The elder son, Aryeh Leib Wertheim (ca. 1772–1854), settled in the town of Bender in Bessarabia, where in 1814 he founded the only Hasidic dynasty ever established in that region. His Hasidim were mainly from Bessarabia, though some were from Odessa; he served as both rabbi and rebbe. His son Shim‘on Shelomoh (ca. 1805–1864) and later his grandson Yitsḥak (d. 1911) succeeded him, as did his great-grandson Shim‘on Shelomoh (ca. 1865–1924); each also served as both rabbi and rebbe. The last of these was attracted to Zionism and was a member of the Mizraḥi movement, as was his son Yosef (1881–1946), who was a rabbi in several communities in Poland but refused to serve as a rebbe. Yosef moved to Palestine around 1940, and from that time Bendery Hasidism ceased to exist.

The Savran dynasty was much more important. It was established by Mosheh Tsevi Gutterman (ca. 1775–1838), the younger son of Shim‘on Shelomoh of Savran and a disciple of Barukh of Mezhbizh and Levi Yitsḥak of Barditshev. In about 1811, after the death of his teachers, Mosheh Tsevi began to lead a Hasidic community. His status as one of the most important tsadikim of Ukraine (along with Yisra’el of Ruzhin and Mordekhai of Chernobil) grew stronger after the death in 1825 of the senior tsadik of that generation, Avraham Yehoshu‘a Heshel of Apt.

Mosheh Tsevi was also known as a learned Torah scholar and as a wise man, and for that reason was also respected by maskilim. At the same time he was a firm leader, and was disputatious. Between 1835 and 1838 he led a fierce struggle against the Bratslav Hasidim, who were led at that time by Natan Sternhartz of Nemirov, and even issued a severe writ of excommunication against them. In 1831 he left Savran, perhaps because of an epidemic, and moved to nearby Chechelnik, where he died. He did not leave many published teachings; what survives was collected by one of his disciples into the book Likute shoshanim (1872).

Mosheh Tsevi’s only son, Shim‘on Shelomoh (d. 1848), took his father’s place in Chechelnik, but little is known about him. Two of his sons, who succeeded him, were at odds with each other, and each led his own Hasidic court—Mosheh (1827–1871/76) in Chechelnik and David (d. 1912) in Savran. David of Savran (known as ha-Katan [the little one], to distinguish him from the tsadik David of Talna, who was a relative of his) was known for his belligerent character, and his Hasidim frequently quarreled with other Hasidim. A controversy with a Russian government official led to David of Savran’s exile to Ovruch (Owrucz), in Volhynia. His sons were not Hasidic rebbes, and his son Shelomoh was even conscripted by force into the Russian army.

Shelomoh “the Second” (ca. 1858–1919), the son of Mosheh of Chechelnik, succeeded his father. He was very young when he rose to leadership, and attained great popularity. His descendants served as rebbes in Podolia and Bessarabia. After the Holocaust, some of his descendants remained in the USSR and others emigrated to the United States and to Israel. Another branch of the dynasty, descended from Barukh, the brother of Mosheh and David, became part of the Kosov-Vizhnits dynasty and exists to this day in Israel.

Suggested Reading

Yitsḥak Alfasi, Me’orot me-‘olam ha-ḥasidut (Jerusalem, 1991), pp. 156–161; David Assaf, Ne’eḥaz ba-sevakh: Pirke mashber u-mevukhah be-toldot ha-ḥasidut (Jerusalem, 2006), pp. 255–282; Entsiklopedyah shel galuyot, vol. 11, Yahadut Besarabyah (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 1971), cols. 83–84, 145–146, 858–868; Tsevi Mark, “Lamah radaf ha-Rav Mosheh Tsevi mi-Sa’vra’n et R. Natan mi-Nemirov ve-ḥaside Breslav?” Tsiyon 69.4 (2004): 487–500; Mendel Piekarz, Ha-Hanhagah ha-ḥasidit (Jerusalem, 1999), pp. 246–248; Yehudah Leib Toybman, “‘Al shoshelet aḥat be-Besarabyah,” in Besarabyah: Kovets, ed. Ḥayim Shurer, pp. 90–96 (Tel Aviv, 1940/41).



Translated from Hebrew by Jeffrey Green