Letter of Blessings, Handwritten and Signed by Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov – "And May G-d Grant You an Abundance of Mercy, for Easy Livelihood, Much Goodness, and Joy from Your Children" – Sassov, 1795 – Rare, Unpublished Letter
Letter of blessings handwritten and signed by R. Moshe Leib of Sassov, a foremost Chassidic Tzaddik. Sassov (Sasiv), "Wednesday 5th Nissan 1795".
Ten autograph lines, with his signature. On the verso of the leaf, another three short lines with the address in his handwriting. Addressed to his friend "the outstanding rabbi, the wise and perfect R. Yaakov" of Zalozitz (Zaliztsi).
The letter mentions a letter sent from the Apta community "from his brother-in-law, the outstanding rabbi, the leader R. David". R. Moshe Leib then extends his blessings for livelihood and satisfaction from his children: "And due to lack of spare time, I will be brief…,
and may G-d grant you an abundance of mercy for easy livelihood and much good, and to experience joy from his outstanding sons and [young?]
The letter is signed: "
So are the words of one who loves him dearly and seeks his wellbeing always, Moshe Yehuda Leib of Brody".
On the verso, inscription handwritten by R. Moshe Yehuda Leib: "
To the Zalozitz community, to my friend the outstanding rabbi R. Yaakov, from the Sassov community".
R. Moshe Yehuda Leib Erblich of Sassov (1745-1807), a most prominent Chassidic leader and luminary. He was the close disciple of R. Shmelke Horowitz Rabbi of Nikolsburg, and studied in his yeshiva for seven years (some say thirteen years). When he returned to Brody, his teacher attested: "He packed in his case the Talmud and four parts of Shulchan Aruch". Following his teacher's passing in 1778, he began frequenting the court of R. Elimelech of Lizhensk. In the late 1770s and early 1780s, he lived for several years in Apta, where he founded a yeshiva and delivered profound, in-depth lectures. In those years, he drew the Yehudi HaKadosh of Peshischa close to Chassidism.
R. Moshe Leib is renowned for the elevated levels he reached in worship of G-d. One can learn of his exceptional modesty and awesome fear of G-d from a famous letter he wrote, in which he attests: "…I have never feared the Master of all masters; and if my only sin is that I recite one hundred blessings a day without fear and awe, thereby angering G-d one hundred times a day…" (Likutei Ramal, Czernowitz 1856, 18a).
R. Moshe Leib was primarily reputed as the pillar of lovingkindness in his generation, and for the ardent love of his fellow Jew which burnt within him. He was the father of orphans, judge of widows and savior of agunot. He engaged in acts of charity and kindness throughout the day with joy, dedication, devotion and enthusiasm, covering great distances to raise money to release prisoners, assist the needy with their wedding expenses, to bring peace between man and his fellow and husband and wife. Most of the stories circulating about him surround these topics. His sayings are most famous: "If you are not a faithful lover of your fellow Jew, you have not yet tasted true fear of G-d"; "Whoever is not capable of sucking out the matter from the wounds of Jewish children – has not yet attained half the required level of love for his fellow Jew". Reputedly, "he would always participate in a person's sorrow as if he himself was suffering from that difficulty, he would make efforts to provide for orphans, with his holy hands he would protect them, and heal them when they were struck with boils… and he would make them bandages" (Zechut Yisrael, Eser Tzachtzachot, Jerusalem 2001, pp. 69-70). Many of his acts of kindnesses were performed secretly and discreetly. Occasionally, he would dress up as a non-Jew in the middle of the night, and bring firewood to destitute women who had just given birth, reciting Tikkun Chatzot as he walked. His disciple the Ateret Tzvi of Ziditchov who secretly followed and observed him, applied to him the verse "Your path is in mighty waters, and your steps are not known" (ibid).
Remnants of his novellae to Talmudic tractates (mostly on Tractate Ketubot), as well as his thoughts on worship of G-d and on the Torah, were published in various anthologies, and were arranged in their entirety by his grandson R. Nechamia Shapiro Rabbi of Sassov in his book Chiddushei HaRamal, 3 parts (Vienna 1921). In his writings, he quotes repeatedly the novellae of his teacher R. Shmelke of Nikolsburg. An indication of his involvement in helping agunot is seen in Responsa Neta Shaashu'im (Zhovkva 1829) by R. Tzvi Hirsh Kara, Even Ezer section 79: "And I was asked… led by G-d's friend and my friend, the renowned R. Moshe Yehuda Leib of Sassov, who wrote to me to ask me to study her case". See also Yeshuot Yaakov, Even HaEzer, section 17, in Perush HaKatzar, 30: "See Perush HaAroch, in the responsum which I wrote on this topic to R. Moshe Leib of Sassov".
His disciples were renowned Chassidic leaders: the Ateret Tzvi of Ziditchov, R. Avraham David Wahrmann Rabbi of Buchach – author of Daat Kedoshim and Eshel Avraham, Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kosov – author of Ahavat Shalom, Rebbe Meir of Premishlan and R. Yisrael of Berditchev Rabbi of Pikov and Berditchev (son of the Kedushat Levi).
An indication to the holiness of his manuscripts is revealed in the following episode, which occurred to his disciple, the rabbi of Buchach: "Once, a large fire broke out in Buchach on Shabbat. R. Avraham David at first bemoaned the loss of his writings, yet when he was informed that the box containing his writings was standing in the street, his countenance changed and he exclaimed: I do not feel that the merit is mine, only because a holy letter from my teacher R. Moshe Leib of Sassov was there" (Zechut Yisrael, Eser Tzachtzachot, ibid, pp. 68-69).
Manuscripts of R. Moshe Leib are most rare! Only a few of his manuscripts are extant. Before us is a complete letter, entirely handwritten by R. Moshe Leib and with his full signature. His typical signature reads: "Moshe Yehuda Leib of Brody", though he occasionally signed: "of Sassov". R. Moshe Leib spent most of his life in his hometown, Brody, and only from the mid-1790s did he live in Sassov. Even in the years he resided in Sassov, he sometimes signed "of Brody", as in this letter (for another example, see: Chiddushei HaRamal, New York 1990, p. 285, and others).
To the best of our knowledge, this letter has never been published.
R. Nechemia Shapiro explains the scarcity of his grandfather's manuscripts, in his foreword to Chiddushei Ramal (Vienna 1920): "…the paper my grandfather wrote on and the ink he used, were not good at all, and his handwriting was beautiful and fine, and after being handled by many, who did not know how to treat this treasure with the respect due to it, and weren't cautious not to touch it with their hands, and especially with unclean hands, the manuscript got very faded and torn, and over the time it became so damaged that there was not even on complete, undamaged statement left on it". Further in the foreword, he relates that once, when the manuscripts were by R. Yekutiel Shmelke – son of R. Moshe Leib, "…a lit candle fell on the manuscript… and several complete leaves of it were destroyed…".
 leaf. Approx. 25 cm. Fair condition. Stains. Marginal wear and tears. Tear to center of leaf, slightly affecting text, repaired on verso with transparent adhesive tape. Ink stain, covering one word (in the line before the signature). Inscription on verso faded. Folding marks.
This rare letter was part of the collection of R. Shimon Shmelke Erblich of Antwerp, who is a direct seventh-generation patrilineal descendant of R. Moshe Yehuda Leib of Sassov. R. Shimon's father was R. Moshe Yehuda Leib Erblich, son of R. Yaakov Tzvi Erblich, son of R. Yekutiel Shmelke Erblich, son of R. Alter Aryeh Mordechai Erblich, son of R. Yekutiel Shmelke Erblich Rabbi of Sassov (1800-1862), son of R. Moshe Yehuda Leib Erblich of Sassov.