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Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov

Born:  Brody, Galicia, 1721
Died:   Yampol, Volhynia, 1786

Chassidic leader, student of the Baal Shem Tov.

Rabbi Yechiel Michel's father , Rabbi Yitzchak of Drohobitch, initially an opponent of Chasidisim, became an ardent admirer of the Baal Shem Tov. Young Yechiel Michel received instruction from the Baal Shem Tov, becoming one of his most prominent disciples. After the Baal Shem Tov's passing, R' Yechiel Michel became a student of the Maggid of Mezritch.  A master of homiletics and a spellbinding orator, he was a much sought-after preacher and lecturer.

The Zlotchover Maggid was largely responsible for introducing Chasidism to the Jews of Galicia. He suffered much from the mitnagdim who opposed the "new sect," judging it dangerous and heretic. In the wake of excommunication and book burnings directed against chasidim, he was forced to move from town to town, serving as maggid in the Galician communities of Brody, Alek, and Zlotchov, finally finding refuge in Yampol in Volhynia, the cradle of Chasidism.

Rabbi Yechiel Michel had one daughter and five sons, all eminent Torah scholars. Chasidim call them the Maggid's five chumashim (Books of the Torah). Although he did not write any books himself, his thoughts and perspectives have been compiled into a work entitled Mayim Rabim. He founded a multi-branched dynasty and had numerous prestigious students, foremost among them were Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apta, also known as the Oheiv Yisrael, and Rabbi Mordechai of Neshchiz, know as the Rishpei Eish.  

May the merit of the tzaddik Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov  protect us all, Amen.