Buczacz In Old Books

Translated by Adam Prager

We held a session as a rabbinical court with three judges and we were as one. We declared a ban in the synagogue, proclaiming that whosoever knew or heard of an engagement [kidushin] of the aforesaid Rakhel Bat Khayim should come and inform us and if he did not he would bear the sin for not doing so. And we sent the sexton from house to house to inquire if anyone had heard of such an enagement, since a ban had been proclaimed in the synagogue. But no one came forward to make a declaration, neither man nor woman, married or unmarried, came to give evidence. And we wrote and signed that here in the holy congregation of Biczacz, this day Wednesday the second day of Sivan 1572, we are witnesses that what was done was done. Yitskhak, son of Aharon David (of blessed memory); and head of the congregation [? ve-rak], the cantor of Biczacz Avraham son of Barukh (of blessed memory); Perets, the son of the reverend [khaver] Shlomo HaLevi (of blessed memory) Luri"a. The witnesses signed the aforementioned document before me with their own hand and I supervised the signing in the proper manner. Yuda [either Yehuda spelled to avoid tetragrammaton or influence of Yiddish Yude] Bar Binyamin z"l. Copied letter for letter in the body of the document.

(Responsa of Rash"l R' Shlomo Luria, Responsum 101. S. Y. Agnon told me that Avraham Khayim Freiman (May God avenge his blood) brought this source to his attention. Ed.)


"The holy Gaon R' Avraham David, head of the rabbinical court of the sacred congregation of Buczacz wanted badly to see a copy of Sefer Khemdat Yamim [authorship unknown; see Yaari]. He heard that a householder in the town owned one. He sent someone to ask to borrow it. When the book was brought to him, he was engrossed in study and his table was full of books so that there was no clear space on which to set it down. He would not place the book on the books he was studying from and stood up in order to lay it on his bench; however, he remained standing by the bench and did not sit down until he finished looking through Sefer Khemdat Yamim.

(from Book, Author and Story, 2nd ed., section 14, cited in Avraham Yaari, Taalumat Sefer, Jerusalem, 1954.


Your name will be remembered with love, my dear and exalted Gedalia, son of the holy Rabbi Avraham (May the Lord watch over him and restore him). Behold, most esteemed one, in the matter of the engagement [kidushin] report concerning the young woman Blume, your daughter (may she live). I looked into the matter in the rabbinical court of the sacred congregation of Buczacz and found that the report was baseless, since both the young man and the young woman deny there was an engagement [kidushin]. In every such situation everyone agrees that the report is meaningless. Nothing is clear except a vague report which is insignificant and we have no anxieties about an engagement.

(From the appeal of Binyomin to R' Binyomin Aharon (Solnik), head of the rabbinical court of the sacred congregation of Podheyts, Mits, 1779, Responsum 88) [Forwarded from A. Y. Agnon]


To Our Master, Rabbi of all Israel, Delight of Our Era, Joy of Our Strength, Glory of Our Generation, Holy Seed Whom the House of Israel Glories In and Depends Upon, Servant of God, Holy Oracle, Most Holy Teacher, May his light shine. We needed an additional ritual slaughterer [shokhet] here in our congregation and there was a candidate for the post, A., in our area. The distinguished late head of the rabbinical court of Buczacz certified his qualifications. Our own illustrious rabbi thought to appoint him, for he had seen him use his knife and saw how swift he was both in slaughtering and in inspecting. But since the veteran learned Shimshon (May his light shine), son of the righteous rabbi of blessed memory of the holy congregation of Zabriz, intervened, his position was weakened. He then appealed to the local holy rabbi even though the presumption of his qualifications had not been invalidated according to our religion.

(Yosef Perl, Megale Tmirin, chapter 105. [This is an anti-hasidic satire.]

Web www.buchach.org


"This is the letter regarding his views about the Baal Shem Tov that Rabbi Rapoport wrote to his relatives in Buczacz. The letter lacks a date and at the head appears this addition by the misnaged Yisrael Leybl:

A letter from the honorable rabbi, gaon, illustrious paragon of his generation, and from his son, the great R' Shmuel Katz.

I hear that you intend to turn to the idolatrous physician that calls himself the Baal Shem. Never, never! He is awful and there is nothing to him. You would be throwing your money into the trashcan. It is impossible to put on paper the extent of his deceits, for he does no good, but only evil. Thus I advise you to turn from this path and God will be with you and will send you a complete cure if you will be innocent and do not turn to this idolatrous physician. Enough said, and may they not multiply in Israel.

Khayim Kohen Rapoport

Leybl was probably worried that people might question the authenticity of the letter and so added this remark:

We felt it necessary to state that the above letter was copied from the original, which is in the possession of one of our relatives in Buczacz. We still have relatives there from this important family. And we are completely confident of this great man, and if any evildoer so much as questions the authenticity of this letter and its writer, then he would show them the original letter and they would be convinced.

“When I first started writing this book in the sacred community of Buczacz situated in the district of Galicia, I was filled with great passion and enthusiasm and thus wrote quickly and intensively day and night. I would stay awake into the night until my eyes were too week to continue and could not see anymore. Eventually I became ill and my eyes ailed me greatly forcing me to spend all winter with treatments as all the citizens of Buczacz know.”

(Sefer HaBrit by R' Pinkhas Eliyahu of Vilna. Brin 1797. With a forward of one page.)

(cited in Prof. M. Balaban's History of the Frankist Movement, p. 308)