The Life and Times of Rebbe Dov Ber, the Great Maggid of Mezritch
by Yitzchok Dorfman


In 1761, a frail aging man who walked on crutches took over the reins of the fledgling Chassidic movement. Described by his mentor, the Ba'al Shem Tov, as a "pure golden menorah who needed only to be lit," and an "endless fountain,"
R' Dov Ber moved to Mezritch where his every word reverberated in the hearts of his numerous disciples, each of whom became a luminary in his own right. In twelve short years Chassidus was transformed from a "sect" concentrated in the south-central Polish province of Podolia into a movement that encompassed major segments of European Jewry.


The Ba'al Shem Tov's teachings, initially known only to a select circle of disciples, soon became the inheritance of thousands. In the words of a later Chassidic Master, R' Shlomo of Radomsk:
"The Ba'al Shem Tov bestowed all the fountains of wisdom upon the Maggid, and he became the leader of the generation. The light of his holiness sparkled in the disciples who followed him in each era, by whose words we live until the coming of the Moshiach" (Tiferes Shlomo, "Rimzei Purim").

While certain parts of this book are factual, many of the accounts of the Maggid's life come to us via legend. Though one is not obligated to believe all the legendary stories of the Chassidic Masters, Chassidic tradition bids us to accept that they were capable of doing everthing related in these tales, and more.

It was my own curiosity about the lives of these Chassidic masters that led me to write this book. Upon researching the life story of the Maggid, I could not help but feel that I was reliving Chassidic history. While some of this feeling is undoubtably lost in translation, I truly hope that some of it remains to inspire the reader.

Yitzchak Dorfman

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