Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, and the real history of Chassidut – Part I

The story begins, as these stories so often do, when I was working on something totally different.

One of my readers emailed me a few of weeks ago to ask me if I knew how R Berland descends from David HaMelech.

I went back to the OIAG Volume I note at the back, that says that the Rav descends from one ‘Eleazar Zev of Buchatch’.

I’d never heard of him before.

THIS is his Wiki page in Hebrew – and there’s some very interesting stuff there, which hopefully we’ll come back to another time.

In the meantime, I was looking for genealogical links to ‘King David’, so I started tootling around, like you do, looking for more of that family tree gold.


I turned up so much interesting stuff, it’s hard to know where to even start with it.

So, let’s call this ‘Part I’.

Before we continue, listen to this:

It’s a niggun by R YECHIEL MICHEL of ZLOTCHOV – and each time I listen to it, I get a shiver down my spine.


You have probably never heard of R YECHIEL MICHEL of ZLOTCHOV.

I also hadn’t, before I started researching Rav Berland’s family tree.

Most of this story is going to revolve around him, and how chassidut got ‘hijacked’ by Sabbateans, after the death of the Baal Shem Tov.

That doesn’t mean that all of chassidut is Sabbatean, God forbid.

But what it does mean is that the families of the real tzaddikim got infiltrated by Sabbateans and subverted – as so nearly happened with Rabbenu’s own family after his death.

And that the ‘real Rebbes’ – the real tzaddikim who really did have the power to bring the nation back to God the ‘sweet’ way – were totally ridiculed and persecuted by the Sabbatean rabbis who were basically ruling the Jewish community, even then.


If you are thinking that this sounds very much what happened to Rebbe Nachman, and afterwards to Rav Natan, and after him, to all the ‘real tzaddikim’ of Breslov – you’d be right.


If you are thinking that this also sounds very much like what is currently happening to Rav Berland, and the current crop of ‘real tzaddikim’ of Breslov (versus all the ‘Breslov fakers’, especially the ones in Meah Shearim and Bet Shemesh) – again, you’d be right.


When we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes.

But when it comes to learning from ‘Jewish history’, it becomes even harder, because so much of what we have been taught, particularly about the last 350+ years, is fake history, false facts, invented personas.

To hide the fact that the Sabbateans took over the Jewish community 350+ years ago, and their various factions – including the Frankist-‘enlightened’-masons, including ‘Reform’, including the rabbis of the Volozhin and Mir yeshivas, including the z-ists, and including most of the chassiduts – are continuing to rule even today.

And are continuing to try to distance people from discovering who the real tzaddikim of our generation are, that can inspire the Jewish people to sincerely return to God and to make true teshuva, no matter how far away they seem to be.


So, let’s get the easiest stuff out of the way first, in ‘Part I’ of this story, and then we’ll take a much closer look at how chassidut got subverted by Sabbatean ‘rabbis’ with their own agendas, fake names, and false stories.


After the Baal Shem Tov died in 1760 – and Breslov tradition suggests he died from two ‘holes in the heart’, caused by the disputation of the Frankists in 1759, when literally tens of thousands of Polish Jews publically converted to Catholicism, following the lead of (fake name….) ‘JACOB FRANK’ – it’s not clear who took over.

The ‘story’ we are told – by Chabad – is that Dov Ber Friedman, the ‘Maggid of Mezeritch’, took over as leader after the BESHT.

But there is precious little evidence in the real world to support that – and from my own research into ‘Dov Ber Friedman’, there is precious little evidence that this is a real name, or perhaps even a real person.


If this sounds incredible, remember that at this period of time, Jews all over the Russian Pale of Settlement were facing incredible persecution, and also the Cantonist Decrees, that stated Jewish boys had to join the Russian army for 25 years.

Big name changes and ‘false identities’ were de rigeur in the Jewish community at that time – even for Jews that weren’t Sabbatean rabbis and leaders, who had a lot to hide.


Recall what we unearthed about ‘Moshe Tzvi of Savran’, the main persecutor of Rav Natan and Breslov in his period of time.

(Go HERE, for an index of the main posts that touch on this subject.)

Moshe Tzvi wanted to marry the widowed daughter of Rabbenu, Udel.

Rav Natan firmly advised her against it, and its stated openly in Breslov teachings that he was worried that ‘Moshe Tzvi’ would take over Breslov chassidut, and subvert Rabbenu’s teachings.

Think about this carefully, in light of what we explained above, about Sabbateans continually ‘infiltrated’ the families of the real tzaddikim, in a million ways.


‘Moshe Tzvi of Savran’ oversteps his position when he arranges for the murder of two Jewish mosrim – ‘enlightened’ Jews who were telling the Russian authorities where the Jewish community was hiding its boys, to keep them out of the army.

He has to flee to Moldova, and once he’s there, he takes on a completely new identity as ‘R Israel Friedman of Ruzhin’.

Most of the leaders in the Litvak world today, and also so many of the chassidic Rebbes, are his descendants.


When they were filling in the back story for this new identity called ‘R Israel of Ruzhin’, they had to explain who this person who came out of nowhere, literally, suddenly zoomed-up the tree to become the main leader of the Jewish community and chassidut.

At that point, ‘the Maggid of Mezeritch’ appeared out of the ether, and ‘R Israel of Ruzhin’ was said to be his great-grandson, via R Shalom Shachne Friedman of Prohobycz.


Here’s how that is meant to shake down:



The ‘official story’ of R Israel of Ruzhin is that he was semi-literate, and very rich. He is said to have been arrested in 1838, then released in 1840.

He them moves to Kishinev in Moldovia, before escaping to Iasi. He apparently becomes a ‘cause celebre’ in the Jewish world (for no obvious reason….) which is mobilised to put pressure on the Russians to stop chasing after him.

Then, he moves to Austria.

And the Apter Rav makes him the president of the ‘Kollel Volhynia’, being administered in Eretz Yisrael by Nissan Bek (who starts of ‘chassidic’, then becomes an enlightened ‘reformer’) – who builds the Tiferet Yisrael synagogue in Jerusalem.

Named for this same ‘R Israel of Ruzhin’, great-grandson of the ‘Maggid of Mezeritch’.


There is so very much to unpick in all this, but let’s try and keep it simple.

I tried to do a ‘comparative tree’ for Israel of Ruzhin’s alter-ego, MOSHE TZVI of SAVRAN.

Here’s where I got to:

R AVRAHAM HAROFE (born 1750 in Constantinople, dies 1802) > R SHIMON SHLOMO WERTHEIM of SAVRAN > MOSHE TZVI of SAVRAN.


First, Constantinople was teeming with Sabbateans at this time.

And whenever you see ‘rabbis’ moving backwards and forwards between Turkey and Galicia / Eastern Europe, nine times of out ten you are dealing with Sabbatean families.

Second, we are back with the WERTHEIMs again – another family tree that is totally, hopelessly, convoluted and distorted, to hide the links between the WERTHEIM family of ‘rabbinic’ Court Jews operating out of Vienna.

Who were also Sabbateans with tight connections to Eibshitz and the Meir Panim, and who helped fund Sabbatean Yehuda Chassid’s ‘mission’ to Eretz Yisrael, in 1700.


Apparently, no-one has any idea who these people married (yeah, right…)

Except when you get to MOSHE TZVI of SAVRAN’s brother, called ‘ARYE LEIB WERTHEIM, ADMOR of BENDERY’.

He marries LEAH, a grand-daughter of R MENACHEM NOCHUM TWERSKY, the MEOR EYNAYIM (1730-1787).

And Leah’s sister CHAVA, marries none other SHALOM SHACHNE of PROHOBYCZ – the dad of ‘ISRAEL of RUZHIN’.

This is how they continually ‘fake’ these family trees, with a cover story that explains how the ‘DNA’ looks how it does.


SHALOM SHACHNE is a real person.

He’s specifically mentioned in Breslov writings, and he was one of the first chassidic teachers of Rabbenu’s main student, Rav Natan Sternhertz.

It seems that back in our pieced-together ‘real history’, his son was ‘MOSHE TZVI of SAVRAN’, who became the biggest persecutor of that same Rav Natan – to the point of even sending assassins to Breslov to murder him in his bed.

That failed, because the assassins got the wrong man called ‘Natan’ in Breslov, and killed him while he slept instead.

These are not nice people.

They operate, literally, like a mafia.


OK, what does all this have to do with YECHIEL MICHEL of ZLOTCHOV, and the Rav’s ancestry?

To put it at its most simple, to end this first part of the story, the real Rebbe who ‘took over’ from the BESHT after he died was this same YECHIEL MICHEL of ZLOTCHOV.

His students included MENACHEM MENDEL of VITEBSK – who headed-up the Chassidic Aliya to Eretz Yisrael in 1777.

And he and his group are the ones who were persecuted by the (Sabbatean….) kabbalist Rabbis of the Brody Kloiz, who promulgated those famous decrees ‘against chassidut’.


The Rav seems to be a direct descendent of this same YECHIEL MICHEL of ZLOTCHOV, who in turn is a direct descendent of R YITZHAK CHAYOT, the main rabbi of Prague whose daughter married the MAHARAL.

And R YITZHAK CHAYOT was a son-after-son descendent of RASHI, who in turn was a son-after-son descendant of King David.

[UPDATE: This is banded around as a ‘fact’ in so many places, but after a comment from ‘Sam’ below, it seems this is also not true. Rashi only had daughters.)

It’s one of the very few Jewish families whose yichus is actually well-known and accepted, as descendants of King David.


In Part 2, we are going to take a closer look at who R YECHIEL MICHEL of ZLOTCHOV actually was.

And what he was trying to do to ‘bring the geula’ and continue the true path of the Baal Shem Tov.

And who was persecuting him, and why.

And how that is connected to the Chassidic aliya to Eretz Yisrael.

And we’ll also try to figure out why Chabad, in particular, have lied about so much of what occurred around this tranche of ‘real Jewish history’ – and are continuing to lie to us all still, today.


The last thing to tell you is that at the same time that the ‘Maggid of Mezeritch’ was said to be preaching and living there, there was another very famous ‘Maggid of Mezeritch’ in town, who was also preaching and teaching out of the shul in Mezeritch.

His name was YAAKOV KOPEL LIFSHITZ – and he was a well-known Sabbatean.


In the ‘fake’ history of chassidut passed down to us by the Sabbateans, he was said to be the BESHT’s ba’al koreh.

Personally, I don’t believe that at this stage.

But if it’s true, then that makes this YAAKOV KOPEL LIFSHITZ an even closer match for the persona that became ‘DOV BER, the MAGGID of MEZERITCH’.


That will do for Part I.

Stay tuned, for Part II.



Just to keep all this tied up in the same box, if you go back to the Kotzk blog post linked to above, about the Sabbatean Yaakov Kopel Lifshitz, the other ‘Maggid of Mezeritch’, you’ll learn a few pertinent details.


  1. He authored the ‘Kol Yaakov’ siddur that many people are still using today.
  2. He authored the (secret Sabbatean philosophical) book ‘Sha’arei Gan Eden.
  3. Rebbe Nachman publically spoke against this ‘Sha’arei Gan Eden’ book.
  4. There is an ‘overlap’ between the personas of Yaakov Kopel Lifshitz, the Sabbatean Maggid of Mezeritch and author of Sha’arei Gan Eden, and someone called “Rabbi Yaakov Kopel Chasid, from whom the Hager family descent” – who apparently was the shaliach tzibbur of the BESHT.

Because we know they lie about everything, and that also ‘Chasid’ was a surname of many of the leading Sabbateans – including Yehuda Chassid – it’s going to take a lot more birur to see if these two Yaakov Kopels really are different people – or just two personas of the same Sabbatean preacher, whose descendants then ‘infiltrated’ back into the Jewish community.



6 replies
    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      Yes, you are right about that:

      So then, descent from Rashi can only be via his daughters – which means that it’s not enough for a ‘Moshiach claimant’ as that has to be son after son.

      It’s interesting, as so many other claimants for ‘Moshiach’ down the years have always just gone back to their descent from Rashi as ‘proof’. But as he only had daughters, it doesn’t work.



      See this site, there’s a ton of examples of ‘rabbinic dynasties’ claiming descent from King David via Rashi.

      But if Rashi only had daughters, none of these claims are worth anything, in terms of ‘potential Moshiachs’ if it has to be son after son descent:

      Thanks for the input.

      • Hava
        Hava says:

        Everybody has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc… half of which are on the father’s side. All you have to do for the Rav (or any other candidate) is find one line on the father’s side, son-after-son, and you’re done.

        May H’ speed your search; He knows which line it is, if there is one.

        • Hava
          Hava says:

          I’m not so sure I’m right about what I said above. I looked at the link to the Davidic Dynasty that you provided further above.

          My summary: Some of the families that claim to have ben-achar-ben according to them are: the Dayan, Shealtiel and Charlap/Don Yechia families. Do you think this is a good start?

          Do you think that the Rav was serious, or perhaps looking for bizayon, if he had said that his line goes thru Rashi? Did he even say such a thing? He certainly seems way more than learned enough to know that if that’s true, he can’t qualify for candidacy.

          • Rivka Levy
            Rivka Levy says:

            The Rav has said absolutely nothing about his genealogy. All the information we have on his family tree is coming from secondary sources – and I have very little to go on still, when it comes to his father.

  1. Rivka Levy
    Rivka Levy says:

    J – I decided to take down the bit of the update that prompted your comment. People can figure out whatever they need to for themselves, and I am trying to tread v carefully to avoid speaking badly of others, as much as possible.

    I don’t think you did anything wrong in asking the question, btw, but I just want to steer clear of these types of discussions at the moment.

    The person you asked about is kadosh, mamash.

    Nuff’ said.


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