The Jewish Eye
Rav Shimshon MiOstropolia and 300 Tzadikim In Burial Shrouds
One of the great losses for Klal Yisroel during the Cossack uprising during the years 5408-9/1648-49 solemnly known as Tach V'Tat was the great Rav Shimshon MiOstropolia. Born around the turn of the 17th century, Rav Shimshon was grandson of a brother of the Maharal MiPrague, Rav Shimshon ben Betzalel of Kremnitz, after whom he was named. He was a legendary figure even at a young age. He was famous for using remez and applying it to kabala. He was also famous for his ability to decipher enigmatic Medrashim.
The Ramchal and the Bnei Yisaschar as well as many other great tzadikim quote Rav Shimshon in their works. He was zocheh to Ruach HaKodesh and he had a Magid (Malach) come tech him secret of the Torah. He wrote a number of seforim including Dan Yadin and Machanei Dan on Kabala. He writes in the Hakdama to Dan Yadin that used the name Dan in the titles because his neshama came from Dan. A sefer with many of his sayings and Divrei Torah was published under the name Nitzotzei Shimshon in Bnei Brak in 1980.
Rav Y. Mechel Stern in Gedolei HaDoros writes that Rav Shimshon was often asked to expound on hard to understand matters of Kabala. He refused since he believed that revealing hidden matters was Sakonas Nefashos. We see this from a response to his cousin Rav Yehoshua Heshel, author of Maginei Shlomo and grandfather of the Pnei Yehoshua. He says that although he normally refuses to answers questions of this nature, since Rav Yehoshua Heshel is beloved to him, he will not hide the answer but will answer with great brevity. He authored a famous letter interpreting a remez from the Arizal relating to the Ten Makos. It is said that whoever says this once a year, especially on Erev Pesach, will be spared from evil the entire year.
Rav Nosson Nota Hanover writes in Yivein Metzula that during the bleak days of the Cossack uprising, the Magid that learned with Rav Shimshon warned him of the impending disaster that will befall Klal Yisroel. Rav Shimshon aroused the people's hearts to Tshuva to no avail. The gezeira was already sealed.
When the Cossacks laid siege on the city, Rav Shimshon went with 300 Chachomim to the Bais Knesses. They all wore burial shrouds and Taleisim and began to pour out their hearts in Tefila. During their tefilos the enemies entered the city walls and slaughtered them all in the Bais HaKnesses, as there Neshamoswent up to Shamayim, Al Kiddush Hashem.
Yizkireim Elokeinu L'Tova Im She'or Tzadikei Olam, V'Yinkom L'Eineinu Nikmas Dam Avodecha HaShafuch
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