Living Legacy: Rav Chaim Yosef Gottlieb of Stropkov

Living Legacy: Rav Chaim Yosef Gottlieb of Stropkov

Yehuda Alter 

4 Adar II marks the yahrtzeit of Rav Chaim Yosef Gottlieb of Stropkov, author of Tiv Gittin V’Kiddushin, a world-renowned gaon, a master of the hidden and revealed Torah, and an extremely erudite mind, dedicating every waking moment to learning Torah and serving Hashem. 

He was born in the town of Tertzal, Hungary, in 1794 to Rav Yehuda Aryeh and Rebbetzin Miriam. When he was a boy, he fell into deep water and was in great danger of drowning. He then made a vow that if he made it out alive, he would dedicate his life to Hashem. He was saved in a miraculous fashion and would live to keep this promise for all his life.

He was the primary talmid of the Chasam Sofer and one of his most esteemed talmidim, earning the love and attention of his great rebbi. While in Pressburg, he acquired much Torah and avodas Hashem. In later years, when he was renowned as a miracle worker in his own right, he would always say, “May the merit of my holy rebbi, the Chasam Sofer, protect you.” 

At the same time, he was close to a number of Chassidishe Admorim of his time, including the Rebbes of Kalov, Rimanow, Sanz, and Ropshitz. 

He married Rebbetzin Breindel, the daughter of a wealthy man from the town of Tertzal, and he settled down in the town, learning b’chavrusa with his brother-in-law, Rav Mordechai of Tertzal, who was a well-known chossid of the Ropshitzer Rov. 

He eventually became the rov and Rosh Yeshiva in the town, and delivered shiurim to the bachurim, shaping and molding many esteemed talmidim over the years. There, in Tertzal, he authored many of his chiddushim that later comprised his monumental Tiv Gittin v’Kiddushin. 

When the Yismach Moshe was niftar, and the Yetev Lev was getting ready to take his place as the rov of Uhel, the people of Stropkov were looking for a replacement for the Yetev Lev, and came to the Divrei Chaim of Sanz who told them: “From Above, they have already appointed the Tertzahler Rov as the Rov of Stropkov.”

There, he became known as a tremendous posek, and he did much for to improve the state of Yiddishkeit in Stropkov, and thanks to his work, the town earned its place on the landscape of Torah and Yiddishkeit. 

He was also known for his tremendous chessed activities, giving astronomical sums to the poor and the needy. Every brokenhearted Yid found their way to his door, where they found a listening ear and an open hand. 

He had a number of illustrious children, some of whom made their way to Eretz Yisroel, and some descendants even made their way to America where they established Torah institutions. 

He was niftar on Shabbos, 4 Adar II, 1867, and was interred in Stropkov. 

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