Auction 63 - Rare and Important Items

Letter of Good Year Blessings from Rebbe Avraham Yaakov (the First) of Sadigura – Potik, Tishrei 1851

Opening: $6,000
Estimate: $10,000 - $20,000
Sold for: $13,750
Including buyer's premium
Letter signed by Rebbe Avraham Yaakov son of R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, addressed to the philanthropist R. Yisrael Chaim Daniel of Yas. Potik Estate, Tishrei 6 1851.
Letter confirming receipt of donations for Eretz Israel, with blessings for a positive final sealing "for good life and peace". Written by a scribe, with the handwritten signature: "So says Avraham Yaakov son of R. Yisrael". Composed at the beginning of his tenure as Rebbe, within a year of the passing of his father R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, and less than a month following the passing of his eldest brother R. Shalom Yosef on Elul 11, 1851.
Rebbe Avraham Yaakov Friedman (the I) of Sadigura (1819-1883) was a prominent Rebbe and Jewish leader in his generation. He was the son and successor of R. Yisrael of Ruzhin in his Beit Midrash in Sadigura (Sadhora), the son-in-law of R. Aharon of Karlin the Beit Aharon, and from his second marriage, of R. Menachem Nachum of Shtefanesht.
In Elul 1851, he was appointed Rebbe of Sadigura, in place of his father and older brother R. Shalom Yosef (who passed away Elul 11, 1851). He presumably reached Sadigura sometime in 1851-1852 (Derech Malchut, p. 455). This letter was written while he was still in Potik Estate, before he arrived in Sadigura (Encyclopedia L'Chassidut, I, p. 108 states that after his father passed away in 1851, all six brothers remained in their father's estate in Potik. That same year, the eldest brother R. Shalom Yosef of Ruzhin passed away. For the High Holidays of 1851, R. Avraham Yaakov was summoned to Sadigura, and since then, he resided there and became known by that name. This letter, which is dated Tishrei 6 1851, mentions the location it was written in: "Here, Potik", which does not conform with the facts recorded in the Encyclopedia, according to which R. Avraham Yaakov already spent the High Holidays in Sadigura).
He served as rebbe for close to 32 years, leading a Chassidic court of thousands of Chassidim and pious men. Many flocked to receive his blessings, guidance and advice. He concealed his holiness, and only by chance was it revealed that he dealt extensively in assisting deceased people attain a reparation for their soul. He conducted himself with majestic opulence and lavishness, as was customary in the Ruzhin dynasty, yet he himself was holy and ascetic, eating so little that his intestines shriveled up. He stood at the helm of Orthodox Jewry of his generation, and joined Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz under the Machzikei HaDat organism in Galicia. At his initiative, the magnificent Tiferet Yisrael synagogue in Jerusalem was completed. In his public activism, he maintained ties with important players of international politics, including Sir Moses Montefiore and the British diplomat Laurence Oliphant, who came to Sadigura specifically to meet him (Derech Malchut, p. 456). He suffered the Russian government's persecution of the Ruzhin dynasty, and after he addressed a letter to Montefiore requesting his intervention in saving Russian Jewry from the Russian Czar, he was denounced to the government of the Austro-Hungarian empire under trumped up charges of counterfeiting money, which led to his incarceration for almost two years (between 1856-1858).
The recipient of the letter: the philanthropist, R. Yisrael Chaim Daniel of Yas (Iași, Romania), was a prominent wealthy man attached to the leading Chassidic righteous men, hosting them in his home. Amongst others, he was close to the Ohev Yisrael of Apta, who was appointed rabbi of Iași at his initiative. R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, the father of Rebbe Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura (writer of this letter), spent the winter of 1842 in his home, when he escaped the Kiev prison to Iași. R. Daniel of Iași was a pious Chassid, who would rise every night to recite Tikun Chatzot. He dedicated a hall in his mansion for Torah study and prayer. He allegedly prepared a special gold painted room for hosting Mashiach (R. Yeshaya Horowitz, Zichronot Shilo, first printed in Migdal Oz by R. Y. Mondshine, p. 251).
[1] double leaf, 21.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Wear and folding marks. Slight damage to the top left-hand corner. Stamps and serial inscription at the head of the page.
This letter and a (partial) photograph of it were printed in Igrot HaRav MiRuzhin UBanav, II, pp. 152-153.
Chassidic Luminaries – Manuscripts, Letters and Signatures