Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk – Biography
Rabbi Elimelech Weissblum of Lizhensk, of blessed memory, was born to his father Rabbi Eliezer Lippman in 5477, in a little Polish town called Tiktin, and passed away on the 21st of Adar, 5547 in Lizhensk.
As he ascended the spiritual latter higher and higher – his humility and modesty grew with him. He desperately tried to hide his greatness. We will merely touch upon the tip of the iceberg in describing this spiritual giant and holy man, as mere words will never be able to describe his profound uniqueness. The following facts are collected from his many books and commentaries…
Of the Founders of Chassidus
Rabbi Elimelech was the devoted pupil of the Maggid of Mezeritch, of blessed memory, who was the successor of the holy Ba'al Shem Tov, and the main spreader of Chassidus of his generation. The Chassidic court which Rabbi Elimelech had established in Lizhensk was a center of attraction for many Jews who came to learn from his holy ways.
Already during his lifetime, traveling to Lizhensk was considered a segulah for salvations. Rabbi Elimelech elevated the souls of his Chassidim and raised the spirits of those who sought his blessings. Lizhensk became the center for those who pursued spiritual growth. The Tifferes Shlomo of Radomsk – despite being a Cohen – later traveled to the gravesite of Rabbi Elimelech, and encouraged other Chassidim to travel there as well. For he who has traveled to Lizhensk is not on the same spiritual level as one who has not been to Lizhensk…
From his passing, the gravesite of Rabbi Elimelech was considered a segulah for salvations in all issues, and people would come from far and wide to his gravesite on his Yahrtzeit – the 21st of Adar, and before the High Holidays.
Holy and Lofty
Rabbi Elimelech's unique path of pure fear of G-d, extraordinary humbleness and exceptional self-sacrifice for each and every Jew drew countless Chassidim to his court which had profound and everlasting influence on them.
Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin, of blessed memory, said of him:
"Five hundred years prior to his birth the world already benefited from his merits, his two hands were like the Two Tablets and his ten fingers were like the Ten Commandments."
Thousands of followers continued in his path and sough out his blessings, his guidance and his advice. But above all, they absorbed his ways of repentance and improvement and spiritual growth.
The Rebbe of all Rebbes
Before his passing, Rabbi Elimelech took the hands of his four closest pupils, granted each one of them with a vision and made each one of them into a different pillar of Chassidus:
To the Seer of Lublin he granted his power to see the future,
To the Maggid of Kozhnitz he granted the spiritual powers of his heart,
To Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov he granted the spiritual powers of his head,
To Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel of Apt, the 'Ohev Yisrael', he granted the spiritual powers of his holy mouth.
These four pupils were his successors and continued to spread the legacy of Rabbi Elimelech, each one of them in a different and unique way. They eventually established their own Chassidic courts of thousands of Chassidim, and their dynasties are preserved to this day.
Rabbi Elimelech left tens of pupils behind, who all became spiritual giants in their own right. Among them one can find the Ma'or Vashemesh, Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov, Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz and many, many others.
His Books and Commentaries
One of Rabbi Elimelech's books, the 'No'am Elimelech', has become a basic Chassidic composition. The 'Prayer Prior to Prayer', which is passionately said daily by thousands of Jews before the morning prayers, is a very famous and well-known prayer printed in most prayer books. The 'Tzetil Katan', which is a small booklet of advices to correct Chassidic behavior, is also widely known.
His Passing and Burial
The passing of Rabbi Elimelech on the 21st of Adar, 5547 left thousands of Jews with a void in their hearts that would never be filled. The gravesite of Rabbi Elimelech is considered, to this day, a place where prayers are heard and a segulah for fear of G-d and extraordinary salvations. Jews from across the globe all come to pray at this holy site and derive inner strength and spiritual growth from there. The promise that "whoever visits the gravesite will not die without repenting" attracts thousand of Chassidim, young and old, who all share the profound yearning to visit the gravesite of this saintly Chassidic Master – Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk.