The Zvhil - Mezbuz Beis Medrash welcomes all Jews, from all segments of
the community, regardless of affiliation or background. We observe our customs
and traditions in a warm, open, joyous and non-judgmental environment which is
the hallmark of our Chassidic heritage and allows us all to learn and grow
together, regardless of our present level of education or observance.
The following is excerpted from a 1994 article in the Yated Ne'eman
Newspaper (Jerusalem) by Y. Weiss:
The Zvhil - Mezbuz Beis Medrash
The Zvhil - Mezbuz Chassidic tradition goes back to the early 1700's and the
founder of Chassidism, the holy Baal Shem Tov of Mezbuz himself, who was niftar
(freed from this world) on Shovuos in 1760.
The first Mezbuz Rebbe was the Baal Shem Tov's grandson, R' Boruch of Mezbuz
(niftar 1811), the only Chassidic leader of that time to be known simply
as "The" Rebbe. Reb Boruch held court in the family home in Mezbuz,
where his grandfather's close disciples and Chassidim continued to visit. The
last Mezbuz Rebbe to reside in Mezbuz was his descendant, R' Mordechai of Mezbuz,
the present Rebbe's great grandfather.
The first Zvhiller Rebbe was R' Moshe of Zvhil (niftar 1831). A
descendant of King David, R' Moshe was the great grandson of R' Menachem Nochum
of Tschernobl (the first Maggid of Tschernobl) and R' Aharon of Karlin. R' Moshe
was the grandson of R' Mordechai of Tschernobl (the Maggid of Tschernobl) and R'
Yitzchok of Drovitch, and the son of R' Yechiel Michel, the Zlotschover Maggid.
The last Rebbe to reside in Zvhil was Grand Rabbi R' Yaakov Yisroel, the present
Rebbe's grandfather, who was also the government-appointed Chief Rabbi of the
The Beginning of Zvhil - The Zlotschover Maggid
Even before the spreading of chassidus by the students of the Baal Shem Tov,
a group known as the Chassidim of Provence had become well known in Europe. This
group consisted of great scholars in Toras hanigleh and Toras hanistar
(the revealed and the hidden Torah), who abstained from worldly vanities and
lived the sparing lives of exalted men of world Jewry.
Among them was the saintly R' Yitzchok of Drovitch, called Reb Yitzchok
"Hamochiach" (the rebuker) and known as one who aroused thousands of
Jews to repent and strengthen themselves. He served as a dayan
(Rabbinical Court Judge) in Brodt, and headed the famous group of ten lomdim
(learned scholars) in the synagogue of R' Yozfa in Ostra. He died on the 7th of
Nisan 5510 (1750), leaving behind his illustrious son, R' Yechiel Michel, The
Maggid of Zlotschov.
Known for his saintly lifestyle and ability to inspire, R' Yechiel Michel was
a renowned and scholarly speaker who always began his religious discourse with
the words "I admonish not only you, but myself as well." He was also a
talented and inspired baal menagen (composer or musician) who captured
the heart of all who heard him sing.
He composed a niggun (wordless chant), known as the famous
Zlotschover Niggun after an incident that took place at the deathbed of the Baal
Shem Tov. As the family gathered around him for the final moments of his life in
this world, the Baal Shem Tov asked the Zlotschover Maggid to sing his niggun.
After hearing it the Baal Shem Tov promised that whenever that niggun is
sung here in this world, he would listen and help from the World to Come, and
then he died. The niggun is chanted to this day at solemn and joyous
occasions of the Zvhiller family, as well as on the yomim noraim (High
Holydays) and at sholosh seudos on Shabbos afternoon, in commemoration
of the time at which the Zlotschover Maggid was niftar at sholosh seudos
on Shabbos afternoon, the 25th of Ellul in 1786.
R' Moshe of Zvhil - The First Zvhiller Rebbe
The Zlotschover Maggid, had five sons (whom he referred to as "My chamisha
chumshai Torah," my five Books of the Torah) who were replete with
Torah and chassidus, each of whom became Rebbe in a different place. They were:
R' Yosef of Yampola, R' Mordechai of Kremnitz, R' Yitzchok of Radvil, R'
Binyomin of Zbariz and R' Moshe of Zvhil.
R' Moshe of Zvhil at first refused to serve as an Admor after his father's
death, and opened a store. Although his unique conduct marked him as a tzaddik,
he rebuffed the attempts of all who tried to draw close to him, and, as
directed by his father, cleaved to his saintly Rav of Berditchev. In the end the
Rav of Naski instructed him to preside in Zvhil, which was in the center of
Vohlin. Like his saintly fathers, he spread Torah and kedusha (sanctity)
in the surrounding settlements, and was considered one of the outstanding tzadikim
of his time.
Zvhil - Mezbuz in Boston
The last Rebbe to reside in Zvhil was Grand Rabbi R' Yaakov Yisroel. Son of
the last Mezbuz Rebbe, R' Mordechai, he was a direct descendant of the Baal Shem
Tov and his grandson, R' Boruch of Mezbuz (the first Rebbe), and the chassidic
dynasties of the Rebbes of Mezbuz, Tschernobl, Karlin, Rhizin, and Apte.
He arrived in Boston from Zvhil in the early 1900's, brought here by numerous
of his Chassidim who had chosen to leave Zvhil and settle in the Boston area.
The headstones of many of these pioneers are found in the two Zvhiller
cemeteries, the first at Baker Street in the West Roxbury section of Boston, and
the second, where the family cemetery and the Rebbe's Ohel (Tomb) are
also found, in Everett, just north of Boston.
For a number of years the Rebbe travelled between his Chassidim in Boston and
his wife, children and remaining Chassidim in Zvhil (near Kiev), where he still
served as Chief Rabbi of the Ukraine. When a pogrom in Zvhil targeted the
Rebbe's compound and killed the Rebbetzin along with many of the Jews of the
area, the remaining Chassidim brought the Rebbe's family to Boston.
The late Zvhil - Mezbuz Rebbe was responsible for much of the present
structure of the rabbinical organization in Boston. He was credited with
inspiring all segments of Boston's Jewish Community to form a central Synagogue
Council, Kashruth authority, and Beis Din, run under the auspices of the
Orthodox rabbinate with the support of the entire Jewish community.
Like the initial wish of R' Moshe, the first Zvhiller Rebbe, none of the
Rebbe's three sons accepted the title of Rebbe after his passing. Instead, a
number of years later, they decided that the title and position should pass to
the Rebbe's grandson who would be memalei mekomo (assuming his place),
apparently in accordance with the Rebbe's own vision inscribed in a Chumash he
gave to his young grandson before his death.
Nevertheless, each of the Rebbe's three sons (named for their ancestors, the
Rebbes of Tschernobl and Mezbuz) contributed uniquely to the continuity of the
family tradition, as Rabbis of congregations they were instrumental in founding
and which carried their father's name (Adath Jacob, Kehillath Jacob, and Bnai
Jacob), and as leaders of the Beis Din, Vaad Harabonim, Kashrus Commission,
Lubavitz Yeshiva - New England Hebrew Academy, and many other charities and
Gemilus Chesed organizations.
The Zvhil - Mezbuz Beis Medrash strives to live up to
the family tradition and heritage of the name it carries. The present Mezbuz
Rebbe (Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff) combined his education in Torah and Chassidus
with a broad secular education (including several Masters degrees, a law degree,
and a Ph.D.). He serves as a Dayan on Boston's Badatz Beis Din, and
has been the Chaplain of The City of Boston for over forty years since 1975.
The Rebbe is joined in his work by the Rebbetzin (daughter of the late Shomrei
Emunim Rebbe of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, and
herself a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov and the Chassidic Dynasties of Zvhil,
Zlotschov, and Tschernobl) who warmly welcomes all who come to pray or to seek
the Rebbe's blessing and counsel.