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Rabbi Yehuda Ze’ev Leibovich – A Hidden and Humble Tzaddik

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

It’s impossible to properly convey the greatness of Rabbi Yehuda Ze’ev

Leibovich, one of the greatest Tzaddikim of the previous generation. He was a

Kabbalist in his own right, had fantastic memory, barely slept and barely ate, and

was a charismatic figure in Israel, beloved by all.

Like all Tzaddikim, his life was filled with pain and sorrows, but that never

affected his immense love for people. Rabbi Yehuda Ze’ev Leibovich was a

prisoner in the concentration camps where he endured hellish torture. It was said

that he was the one who recited Kaddish for the dead. When he was freed, he

was able to reach Israel and had the merit to be greeted by R’ Yosef Voltoch and

the Rebbe of Komarnah immediately right upon arrival.

Arrival in Israel

Once in the Holy Land, R’ Yehuda Ze’ev Leibovich devoted his entire life to

Hashem and His Torah despite suffering innumerable illnesses and pains. He

began living in Tel Aviv, following the advice of the Chazon Ish, and worked by

paving the roads for the municipality.

It is known in Kabbalah that secrecy and hiding of one’s wisdom and good

deeds is of paramount importance. In fact, Rabbi Chaim Vital writes in his Sha’arei

HaKedusha (Gates of Holiness) that revealing one’s good deeds or devotions, no

matter how small, can cause him to forfeit its reward and even be punished! R’

Yehuda Ze’ev Leibovich took that very seriously, which would explain why very

few people knew about his greatness in the beginning.

He took great pains to conceal his genius and piety often by lowering his

status in front of people. It was known that during one Yom Kippur, he foresaw

that terrible decrees hovered over the Jewish people and in a courageous act to

annul them, spent the night at home, sleeping. His reasoning? He didn’t want to

be considered a Tzadik whose deeds should be emulated so, in order to prove

“there weren’t enough Tzadikim in the generation” (diminishing the guilt of the

people), he choose not to participate in the service.

His Testament

In his testament, R’ Yehuda Ze’ev Leibovich wrote simple yet telling advice

that speaks to the bottom of everyone’s heart:

1. To have compassion on others

2. To give in to others

3. To help others

4. And the most important thing: never to yell at anyone

It’s amazing how, out of all the things a great sage could’ve said to be

remembered for, he chose apparently well-known advices. But R’ Yehuda Ze’ev

Leibovich knew what the generation truly needed. This advice is seen in Israel

wherever his banner is displayed and in his grave.

Yet, embedded in his advice are many deep secrets from Kabbalah.

When we act compassionate, we are in fact revealing a measure of

Hashem’s compassion in the world, thereby increasing its light. Rebbe Nachman

warns us in Likutey Etzot not to be compassionate to those that lack true Da’at

(self-awareness, and are wicked). The reason is that people without holy Da’at are

not compassionate, so we act measure for measure.

Giving in to others is nothing less than emulating our great forefather

Avraham Avinu, who gave in to his wicked nephew Lot. When it became evident

that God wouldn’t reveal himself to Avraham because of Lot, Avraham let him

choose which way to go and he himself would go another way. Lot ended up

choosing Sodom in the end, which was very telling.

The act of helping others (Gemilut Chassadim, in Hebrew) is of incredible

value to Hashem. It’s brought in the Talmud and reiterated by Rav Chaim

Kanievsky that only those that are concerned with Torah and Gemilut Chassadim

will be saved from the final war of Gog and Magog.

Finally, one of the hallmarks of true humility is never yelling. Yelling

denotes arrogance and a low level of Emunah. True wisdom can only be

accomplished by measuring one’s words carefully and keeping a lowly voice when

talking to others (as brought by the Letter of the Ramban).

It is related that a few short months before his death, he ordered everyone

to leave the room. When they did, they heard him screaming for help and came

back, only to find him bruised and hurt. The Shamash was asked what had

happened and he replied “R’ Yehuda Ze’ev Leibovich was interceding on behalf of

the Jewish People, but the Sitra Achra came and attacked him to make him stop”.

R’ Yehuda Ze’ev Leibovich passed away on the 27 th of Elul, 5770 (2009). He’s

buried in the Bnei Brak Cemetery and his grave is in a modest tent where Jews

often go around the year to pray for salvations.

This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

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