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Icchak ben Meir Lewi

of Berdyczow (b. Hoszakow 1740 - d. Berdyczow 1810), rabbi and tzaddik.

Lewi came from a respected rabbinical family. Samuel Szmelke Horowic, a rabbi in Ryczywol nad Wisla, introduced him to the teachings of Baal Shem Tov. In 1766, he went to the court of Ber of Miedzyrzecze, where he was accepted into the innermost circle of his pupils. When Horowic left Ryczywol, Lewi replaced him as rabbi for short time. Then he moved to Zelechow, where he was tzaddik.

He is considered to be the founder of Chasidism in central Poland.

In 1781, he took part in a public debate about Chasidic teachings with the fervent misnaged A. Katzenellenbogen, a rabbi in Brzesc Litewski; after the debate, each participant declared himself to be victorious. Attacks by misnagdim forced Lewi to leave that city, however, and later Pinsk as well. In 1785, he settled in Berdyczow, where he was both tzaddik and rabbi. He taught that good lies within man, and that prayer should be a joyful exaltation bringing a person as close to God as possible. He did not found a dynasty of tzaddikim, but he did have a significant impact on the development of the Chasidic movement through many of his pupils.
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