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Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke ben Hirsh Halevi Horowitz of Nikolsburg (1726 Chortkiv, Galicia - 1778 Nikolsburg, Moravia) was an Orthodox Rabbi and one of the great early Chasidic Rebbes. He was the oldest son of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh of Chortkiv. He traced his lineage back directly to the prophet Samuel who was also a Levite. In their early years, Shmelke and his brother Pinchas - who would also become a famous rabbi - studied Torah together for a long time. After traveling to Mezritch and meeting the great chasidic master Rabbi Dov Ber the Maggid, they became his ardent followers.
After serving as rabbi in Ryczywół and Shinove, Shmelke was invited, in 1773, to become the rabbi of Nikolsburg in Moravia, where he made a powerful impact. On the first day of his being Rabbi of Nikolsburg, Abraham Trebitch a native of Nikolsburg reports him performing a miracle and bringing rain. It is told that his strong attachment to Chasidus angered many members of the community, which led to bitter quarrels that were quelled as a result of the personal intervention of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk.
Rabbi Shmelke established a major yeshiva that attracted numerous outstanding students. Among these were such luminaries as Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, Rabbi Yisrael of Koznitz, Rabbi Mordecai Benet and Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov.
The Grand Rebbe of Nikolsburg, Rabbi Yosef Yechiel Mechel Lebovits, is a descendant of the saintly Rebbe Shmelke, and therefore his Chassidic community bears the name of the city where its founding father had lived.
The current Nikolsburg community is an inspiration to behold. A mere several decades since its reestablishment on American soil, Nikolsburg is today a center of Torah, Divine service and acts of Chesed on a continuous basis.
The rebbe of Nikolsburg
The Rebbe was raised in the loving home of his noble parents, Rabbi Baruch Yehuda and Yentel Lebovits, of blessed memory. His father, an exceptional personality in his own right, was instrumental in saving many Jews during the Holocaust, and he valiantly helped revive Jewish life after that terrible period of destruction.
The Rebbe’s parents bestowed him with the legacy of their saintly ancestors, among them the holy Ba’al Shem Tov, Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg, and Rabbi Zishe of Anipoli. After his father’s passing, his mother married the saintly Skulener Rebbe, and through this union the Rebbe was privileged to have a strong personal connection with this holy leader of Klal Yisroel.
His grandfather, the famous Chaba Rav of Israel, was known as a great tzaddik and miracle worker. People came to him with all sorts of difficult problems and with his holy powers he would evoke heavenly mercy on their behalf. The Rav would often invite his dear grandson, the Rebbe, to sit beside him as he prayed for a person in need of salvation.
The Rebbe studied in the famous Satmar Yeshiva, under the tutelage of the revered Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum. The Rebbe was also among the select students to have regular private sessions with the Satmar Rebbe, spending time with this great sage every Wednesday.
In addition, the Rebbe had a strong personal connection with a number of other tzaddikim, among them: The Rebbe of Kalev, who shared with him many Torah secrets; and the Rebbes of Shopron, Kasho, Skolia, Spinka, Kiviashd, and more. He absorbed everything these great people had to offer, and nowadays passes on their teachings and legacy to his followers.
Even as a young man, people began flocking to the Rebbe for guidance and inspiration. His following began informally, as people from all walks of life clung to his every word. Eventually, the number of Chassidim grew, until it evolved into a community of Torah and Chassidus that has earned great stature in the Jewish world.
At first, the Rebbe held court in Williamsburg, a Chassidic section in Brooklyn, New York. Later on the Nikolsburg headquarters was relocated to Monsey, in Rockland County, from where the great light of Mosdos Hatorah and community.
The Rebbe’s Sefarim
The Rebbe has enriched Klal Yisroel with a number of insightful books that are cherished by scholars and laymen worldwide. Most prominent among them is the sefer Igeros Yechiel, that is full of chiddushim on all Torah subjects, including the Talmud, Shulchan Aruch, the weekly Torah portions, the Yomim Tovim, words of Chassidus and mussar, and more.
Another Sefarim published by Sheves Achim. The series of sefarim named Divrei Yosef are full of the Rebbe’s insightful teachings that inspire all who study them. Another cherished book is the sefer Vzos Hamitzvah on the subject of Bar Mitzvah, which contains a breathtaking collection of laws, inspiration and words of chizuk
The Nikolsburger Yeshiva that was founded by the Rebbe is a center of Torah for young boys who absorb the powerful teachings that are the foundation of Nikolsburg. Every student of Nikolsburg embodies Love of Hashem, Love of Torah and of their fellow man. With so much emphasis placed on character development and personal refinement, the Yeshiva students are indeed a pride to all of Klal Yisroel.
The Rebbe personally oversees the Yeshiva, and with his expertise in the field of educating youngsters, helps ensure the growth and Torah development of each and every student. The daily curriculum is designed with the goal of giving each boy a solid Torah education. The fruits of the Yeshiva are already apparent, as the young boys are growing up with the potential of being future rabbanim, dayanim and Torah scholars.
Bas Melech Girls School
The Girls school educating the future mothers of Klal Yisroel. The Rebbe puts great effort into ensuring that they are provided with a warm, loving atmosphere that is strongly based on authentic Torah ideals. The school has a high-standard curriculum in order to provide the girls with the most advanced education possible.
The Nikolsburg Girls School bears the name Bas Melech, for each student is truly a daughter of the King of the Universe and treated as such. The school is known to be among the finest in Monsey, and the students are known for their excellent behavior, inner refinement and high-level of education
Kollel & Bais Medrash
The Nikolsburg Study Hall for married scholars is an awesome sight to behold. The Bais Medrash members are a true pride to all of Klal Yisroel, with their diligence and Torah knowledge. The young men are privileged to receive guidance and encouragement from the Rebbe, who often spends precious time with them.
A number of renowned Torah leaders, who have come in contact with the students of the Nikolsburg Bais Medrash, have expressed their admiration for these promising scholars. The Bais Medrash has already enriched Klal Yisroel with distinguished and admired Torah leaders that spread the light of Judaism in various communities worldwide.