Living Legacy: Rebbe Zusha Plotzker

Living Legacy: Rebbe Zusha Plotzker

Yehuda Alter 

The 6th of Adar Aleph marks the yohrtzeit of Rebbe Aleksander Zusha Kahana, author of Toras Kohen, ABD Shedletz and Plotzk, who was known as “Rav Zusha Plotzker.” 

He was born to his father, Rav Avrohom Hakohen and to his mother Rebbetzin Tzortel in Warsaw, in the year 1795.

He was a tremendously holy person who was extremely great in Torah, a great ga’on who was revered and deeply respected by the tzaddikim of his generation who were impressed with his greatness in Torah as well as his great kedushah. 

In his youth, he was a talmid of the Chavas Da’as of Lisa who drew him especially close, and he remained close to his illustrious rebbe even after leaving his yeshiva. He married the daughter of the wealthy Reb Yaakov Cohen of Warsaw who supported him completely in order that he should be able to dedicate himself to Torah and avodah. This went on for many years as Rav Zusha learned and davened with great intensity, undisturbed by worldly matters. 

Around that time, the holy Chozeh of Lublin began to gain fame, and yidden from throughout Poland streamed to Lublin to witness the Rebbe’s greatness firsthand. Word of these incredible sights reached the ears of Rav Zusha, and he too joined the crowds in Lublin. 

During that time in Warsaw, the Chidushei Harim of Ger lived in the city, and Rav Zusha brought him as well to Lublin. 

Following the passing of the Chozeh on Tisha b’Av of 1815, Rav Zusha became close to his talmid, the Rebbe Rav Bunim of Peshischa who likewise drew him close. He drew much in Torah and avodah from the Rebbe Rav Bunim. 

One Pesach night, Rav Zusha found took especially long by the davening and hallel, and when he finally concluded his davening, he saw one man who hadn’t been invited by anyone. The man was unkempt and hadn’t bathed in a long time. Despite being a very clean and sensitive person, Rav Zusha invited the guest to his home where he remained the entire Yom Tov—being personally cared for by Rav Zusha. When he came to his Rebbe, Rav Bunim, after Pesach, the Rebbe immediately remarked, “you had special guests this Yom Tov,” and that’s when Rav Zusha understood just who was in his home for Yom Tov. 

Great cities in Poland vied for the privilege of having Rav Zusha as their rov, since his name had spread throughout the region. But since he was supported by his father-in-law, he had no need for this, and he preferred to sit and learn undisturbed. 

But when, in 1826, the Rabbonus of Shidlice was offered to him, his Rebbe advised him to accept, citing the great influence that he could have on his fellow Yidden. A year later, when Rav Bunim left this world, Rav Zusha worked to collect his Torah teachings and they are printed in the Kol Simcha. 

When the legendary ga’on Rav Aryeh Leib Tzintz of Plotzk moved to Warsaw, Rav Zusha became the rov of Plotzk, where he remained for the rest of his life. 

In Plotzk, he influenced the community greatly, and stood fierce in the face of opposition to Torah. He also brought back many Yidden to the fold. He also raised children who were great in Torah and avodah, an everlasting living legacy to the great tzaddik. 

His tziyun remains in the old cemetery of Plotzk. 

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