10.07.2011 08.Tammus, 5771
The Tisch: Fixing a watch, fixing a soul
Did Rabbi Yerahmiel Rabinowitz really forsake watchmaking? We may never be certain, but perhaps fixing watches was just a cover for fixing lost souls.
Rabbi Yerahmiel Rabinowitz of Przysucha (1784-1836) was the son of one of the famous hassidic masters, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzhak of Przysucha (1766–1813). The father, more commonly known as the “Yid Hakadosh” (the Holy Jew), spawned a new school of hassidism that eschewed miracle-working and called for a return to rational thought and traditional Talmud study. When the Yid Hakadosh died, most of his hassidim followed his prime disciple, Rabbi Simha Bunim Bonhart of Przysucha (1765-1827). A smaller crowd accepted Rabbi Yerahmiel as their leader. The two heirs to the Przysucha legacy had something in common: They both had professions – Rabbi Simha Bunim was a pharmacist, while Rabbi Yerahmiel was a watchmaker.
Hassidic tradition related that when Rabbi Yerahmiel prayed, he would hold on to the hands of a clock. Some thought he was fixing the clock instead of focusing on his prayers. Others assured the doubters that when the master prayed, he ascended supernal worlds; holding on to the hands of the clock was the only way he could ensure that he would be able to return from the heavenly spheres to the temporal world….