Excerpts from the Rohatyn Yizkor Book about Rabbi ADAM:
The outstanding religious opponent of Frank in Rohatyn was Rabbi David Moshe Abraham, the author of Mirkevet Hamishne. His descendants were very proud of his war against the Sabbatians and the Frankists. How effective he was in this campaign varies with whom you read. According to the tradition in his family, he is described as "a man of the mighty arm who warred against the band of evildoers and raised the sword of G-d and smote them until they were annihilated." "Were they not the unclean evildoers who adopted the path of that arch evildoer, Sabbatai Zvi, may his name be erased? And the head of this unclean sect was Elisha, may the teeth of the wicked rot, whose nest was in the town of Rohatyn and was known as Elisha of Rohatyn."
The descendants of the family further relate that "when this cursed criminal Frank came to our town to lure Jews in the direction of those who had lost their way, the Gaon and author rose up against them, took a spear in his hand and risked his life in order to beat, attack, and annihilate him. This criminal fooled the ruler of the town and inveigled him into chasing the rabbi and the dayan out of town and he, the author of Mirkevet Hamishne, risked his life and did not spare himself from attacking him. And the Al-ty was by his side, and this criminal finally dropped his religion and then all the evil was turned on him, and he could no longer lead any Jew astray." The fact is, however, that Rabbi Adam's campaign against Frank did not stop Schorr's family from continuing with the Frankists as part of their upper echelon.
In the middle of the 18th century the rabbi was Rabbi David Moshe Avraham, known by the shortened version of his name, Rabbi Adam. He is famous not only as a great scholar but also as a brave warrior against the Frankism that had infested Rohatyn, abetted by the Schorr family. Rabbi Adam is described as one who displayed bravery and spiritual drive "and battled with a mighty arm against the band of evil-doers" headed by Elisha Schorr.[Ed7]
This did not deter the Frankists from presenting false reports about the rabbi to the authorities of the area and demanding his expulsion from the town of Rohatyn. His descendants and the members of the family of the rabbi of Lwow, Rabbi Yosef Nathanson (Shaul), have recorded the difficulties that Rabbi Adam had to overcome in his battle with the Frankist followers.
As a rabbi, Adam excelled as one who possessed a deep knowledge and sense of fairness. In the year 1745 he is recorded as having given his endorsement of Milei D'Avot (Words of the Fathers) printed in Lwow in the year 1746. He exchanged correspondence with the great rabbis of his day, and his responsa (comments) were printed in their works. He wrote Mirkevet Hamishne, which received a letter of endorsement by the rabbi of Lwow, Rabbi Chaim HaCohen Rappaport, and by Rabbi Yitzchak Landau, first rabbi of Zolkiew and later rabbi of Cracow.
The manuscript never reached the printing press during his lifetime and lay hidden for one hundred and fifty years with his family. It came to light when his granddaughter, Teme, the wife of Yechezkiel Goldschlag, visited the Belzer Rebbe, who ordered it to be printed when he learned that she was the granddaughter of Rabbi Moshe David Avraham. He told her that she and the other grandchildren had a duty to print their grandfather's work.
Accordingly, headed by Reb Moshe Nagelberg, the grandchildren carried out the directive of the Belzer Rebbe and printed the book. In addition to Reb Moshe Nagelberg, his sons, Yudel and Itche Nagelberg, his son-in-law, Ephraim Struhl, and Yechezkiel Goldschlag and his wife, Teme, took part in this project. The work appeared in print in Lwow in the year 1895, introduced by the letters of endorsement of Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson, author of Shaul Ve'Meshiv, rabbi of Lwow, and Rabbi Ze'ev (Wolf) Salat, who kept the manuscript of Mirkevet Hamishne in his possession. According to Rabbi Margulies, in his article cited previously, Rabbi Adam also wrote Tiferet Adam and various other religious works that remained in manuscript form. The exact years of his birth and death are not recorded. Rabbi Adam passed away in Rohatyn and left an extensive family that lived in Rohatyn as well.
“This is the history of the first Adam, the great Adam, among the giants, our grandfather, a true Gaon and tzaddik and example to this generation, the rabbi and teacher, David Moshe Avraham, the man of Troyes – Ashkenazi, of blessed memory, whose honorable abode and light appeared in our town, the holy community of Rohatyn. “For there the place of the lawgiver was hidden (Deuteronomy 33:21),”[Tr2] i.e., for he was buried in Rohatyn and where the tree took root there are to be found its fruits, his great grandchildren and grandchildren, May the L-d bless them. Known far and wide as a Gaon and tzaddik who ruled powerfully here and disputed with the giants of his day in a number of responsa. Among these great men who gave letters of approval to this book, Mirkevet Hamishneh , are the Gaon, paragon of his generation, our rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Chaim HaCohen Rappaport, chief rabbi of Lwow, who reads [from the Torah] first; and after him, the Levi, the Gaon and paragon of his day, our teacher, Rabbi Yitzchak Landau, of blessed memory, who, at the time when he was chief rabbi of Zolkiew and later became chief rabbi and justice of Cracow and its environs, agreed with him to fulfill the will of the tzaddik and to publish the masterpiece.
(photo, p. 74, Y.B.) (Caption states) Title page of the only existing book by the Gaon, Rabbi Avraham David Moshe, Justice of the Holy Community of Rohatyn, which was completed in 5500 (1730) and printed in 5655 (1895) in Lwow.
[From this we learn that 155 years passed before this work was printed in 5655 (1895) in Lwow. According to this the book was originally written over two hundred years ago. Author's note.]
He (Rabbi Adam) passed on to eternal life and was unable to fulfill his desires, leaving behind him many works, as the author writes in his introduction. Their light was hidden for approximately one hundred and fifty years – these dear works – one here, one there, and many years have passed, and no one thought to spread this beam of light.
“And since the author, the Gaon, of blessed memory, was taken from us so many years ago, we decided that it is proper to tell our brothers of this generation something of the greatness of the author, that the Gaon, of blessed memory, was zealous for his G-d and brought forgiveness to the Children of Israel. He was zealous with zeal for the L-d of Hosts when there arose that evil offspring of the cursed sect, and the last of them, after they fell at the debate before the nobility of the holy Jewish community of Lwow, may the teeth of the wicked rot. To separate the unclean from the pure paragon of the generation, our teacher and rabbi, Chaim HaCohen Rappaport, together with the paragon of the generation, our teacher and rabbi, Nota Ashkenazi, chief rabbi of Rozdol.
The accursed criminal came to our town to entice Jews to the heart of the errant, but the Gaon, the author, of blessed memory, arose to do battle against this evil and took his spear in his hand, endangering his life for the purpose of beating and chasing him to the end. This criminal succeeded in deceiving the governor of the town and in bringing him to his rescue and causing him to drive the chief rabbi out of town. He, the rabbi, took his life in his hands and did not protect himself while attacking him and pushing him out with all his might, in order to prevent Jews from being deluded into following him. The Creator came to his aid, and this accursed criminal abjured his faith, becoming the means for ending the evil. No longer would he be able to cause any Jews to leave the fold. Our grandfather told us that their parents told them that the Holy Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, came to him in person to inform him that he was sent as a messenger by the Heavens to impart to him their appreciation and approbation of his zeal on behalf of the Lord of Hosts. It is similar to what was written by Moshe Rabbeinu, of blessed memory, who states at the time that Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon, the Cohen, was zealous for the Lord. It is written, “Therefore, say unto him, Behold I present to him my covenant of peace.” Rashi, of blessed memory, explains, “Similar to when a person shows his appreciation and friendship to one who has done him a kindness.” His greatness, wisdom, and piety are still being related, just as it was told by their ancestors.”
Among the Rabbis who practiced in our town a special place is reserved for the Holy Gaon, our teacher, Rabbi Avraham David Moshe, or David Moshe Avraham, whose initials were A'D'M – the author of Mirkevet Hamishne on the Mechilta of Rabbi Yishmael [iii], a world renowned scholar. Because of him the reputation of our city spread to the Jewish communities throughout the world. In their letters of approbation of the book, in the forward, the rabbis describe the Gaon as follows: “A true genius, holy and marvelous, whose name enlightens, Rabbi David Moshe Avraham was the chief dayan (judge) of Rohatyn.” “To tell the praises of this genius is superfluous. But this I will tell you, my brothers – that which I heard from our grandfathers, which their forefathers told them – that the Ba'al Shem Tov visited Rabbi Adam prior to his demise when this G-dly man went up to the heavens. He came to visit him and to attend him in the fashion that one attends a great scholar, and the Ba'al Shem Tov told the Rabbi, the author, “Rabbi, Bless Me,” and the Rabbi put his two hands on the Besht's head and blessed him. On his way home the Besht said to his student, “It appears that the Rabbi has now passed away, for I saw the heavenly company coming towards him.” And I heard that the great rabbis of his generation called him “Rabbi Adam.” The story was told in our town that Rabbi Adam commanded orally, with his holy mouth, before he passed away, that no one should be buried next to his grave, and, if they did not fulfill his instructions, then the flour mill would burn down, the water wheels would go up in flames, and his tombstone would split. One or two generations later a Talmid Chochom passed away, and they violated the will of the Gaon, Rabbi Adam, of blessed memory. The Talmid Chochom was buried next to the grave of Rabbi Adam, of blessed memory, and his warning came to pass. The mill became a blazing inferno, and his gravestone split.
When I was still in Rohatyn, I remembered that the community and rabbis set aside a day to repair his tomb and support it with metal posts on both sides. All the Jews of the town came to his grave to ask for his forgiveness and recite Tehilim (psalms).
It was customary for anyone who came to the cemetery to pass by his grave and spend some time there as a segula – a protective measure. I did the same after visiting the grave of my mother, the Rabbanit Chana Tova, daughter of Reb Elisha Aharon Klarnet, of blessed memory, in keeping with the instructions of my father, Rabbi Avraham David ben Reb Yitzchak Spiegel, who was a descendant of Rabbi Adam.
There was a great gap in time between Rabbi Spiegel and his ancestor four generations removed, the Gaon, Tzaddik and author of the “Mirkevet Hamishne”, Rabbi “Adam,” Of Blessed Memory. The rabbinic line in between was interrupted and the descendents of the Gaon and Tzaddik, to whom the Besht came in order to fulfill the requirement of “shimush talmid chochom” (serving a sage), did not maintain the rabbinic line, preferring to remain simple “ba-ale batim” (respectable and learned members of the community). This was so until the appearance of the Rabbi of Rohatyn, Rabbi Avraham David Spiegel, who placed an “olah (sacrifice) on the altar”of public religious service, devoting himself completely to his calling and setting up his rabbinate at the level at which it had been during the time of his holy grandfather, Of Blessed Memory, the author of the “Mirkevet Hamishne.”
In addition to his greatness in Torah, he was very exacting in his personal behavior, a “Hassid”, as befits the descendents of the (author of ) “Mirkevet Hamishne”, and he therefore merited seeing his eldest son, Rabbi Yisrael, Of Blessed Memory, may his blood be avenged, being ordained a rabbi. He received his “smichot” (ordinations) from Rabbi Steinberg of Przemyslany, Rabbi Tziff of Lwów, and Rabbi Horowitz, the Chief Dayan of Stanislawów. His diligence in the study of the Torah was a password (model) among the rabbis of Galicia and, when he visited the Admor (the renowned rabbi) of Czortków on the holy days, he was greatly honored by the assembly and the Admor. He stood out with his fine manners and proper bearing never displaying his great knowledge ostentatiously or parading his pride in his family and its standing. He and his family perished in the Holocaust except for one son, Yehoshua Spiegel, who joined a halutz (pioneering) youth group and immigrated to Israel. His life, literally was saved by Israel.
The great scholars of the time of the author of “Mirkevet Hamishne” called him Rabbi “Adam”, because of his name, Avraham David Moshe, the acronym of which is A.D.M.[Tr1] As can be seen from his introduction to his book, he also refers to himself as “Adam,” and these are his words:
From the beginning of His daily loving work, when He established the foundations of the universe and the earth. [Compare Proverbs 8:29] Then He saw and He told it – count, book and story [a play on words using the Hebrew root “sfr” --Compare Sefer Yetzira, the first chapter which deals with the creation of the universe]. He prepared it and examined it and brought it to Adam! [Adaptation of “He brought her (Eve) to Adam”, Genesis 2:22] For every man [from Kohelet 12; man = Adam] was created to accompaniment to this world. [Adapted from the interpretation of Kohelet in Talmud Brachot 6b: “The entire world was created only as an accompaniment of this person”] Is there among them one to recite this Torah [see Talmud Avodah Zara 2b].”[Tr2]
He waged an ever increasing battle against those who followed Jacob Frank (Shri -The name of the wicked shall rot!), overcame them and drove them out of Rohatyn. This high level of zealousness also applied to his grandson, who was zealous for the Creator - to keep every custom, every “tag”, i.e. every iota of tradition, (“tag” is the term for the required decorations of the letters in the Torah). Under his direction the town served as an example to the rest of the world. “May his memory be inscribed forever together with those of all the holy men and women who were murdered, slaughtered and strangled” for the sanctity of Israel and the Land.
According to in Otzar Harabanim, Rabbi David Moshe Abraham is mentioned under the family name Ashkenazi. He died 18 Tishrei 5510 (1749). [Source: Marcel Apsel]