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27****Rabbi Elazar Rokach

Rabbi Elazar Rokach

Born: Cracow, Poland
Died: Tz
efat, Eretz Yisrael 1742

Rabbi Elazar Rokach was a descendent from the house of King David. He was named after his great grandfather,
Rabbi Elazar of Germiza, a famous 12th century Kabbalist. The father of Rabbi Elazar Rokach was Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Margaliot, head rabbi of the cities Liska and Alkish in Poland.

As a young boy Rabbi Elazar was known as an illui (prodigy). He served as the head rabbi of Akov
(Poland) and later on Tarnow (Poland). He moved again to Brody, where he served as the head rabbi for 20 years. Before leaving Brody, he gave a speech in which he claimed that since becoming a rabbi in Brody, no woman had aborted her fetus nor had any woman experienced a difficult childbirth. That claim was proven to be true. The people of Brody tried unsuccessfully to stop Rabbi Elazar from moving on to Amsterdam, Holland.

Upon his 1735 arrival in Amsterdam, Rabbi Elazar and was received with great honor both by Jewish leaders and by representatives of the Dutch government.  It has been told by his
descendants, Rabbi Shalom the Admor of Belza, that when Rabbi Elazar arrived in Holland, the country was suffering from a plague of worms. The scientists warned about the grave danger to the country's  land.  The entire penninsula of Holland faced ruin in the threat of being devoured by the huge number of worms. The king of Holland heard about the newly arriving tzaddik, Rabbi Elazar, and asked him to pray for the removal this threat. Rabbi Elazar went to the field to pray.  After finishing his prayer, the whole country witnessed a miraculous solution to the problem: the worms came out of the ground and fell fatally into the sea. The danger had passed. As a "thank you" for Rabbi Elazar's help, a special coin was issued.  The commemorative coin was minted by the Dutch government for the occasion, bearing the Rabbi's  face and two verses from Psalms.

After 5 years of serving as the head rabbi of Amsterdam, Rabbi Elazar printed his famous book Maase Rokach. The book includes his commentary on the Torah and Talmud, by way of the Pardes. Upon the day of his book's printing, Rabbi Elazar announced his desire to step down as the head rabbi of Amsterdam and go to Israel.

Since the day Rabbi Elazar had arrived in Amsterdam he had been saving money for this trip.
On the night of Rosh Hashanah Rabbi Elazar was on a boat heading towards Israel. A big storm began and the boat was shaken so severely that a gaping hole appeared.  The boat was in grave danger of sinking. Rabbi Elazar was calm, and prepared himself for the blowing of the Shofar at dawn. In the
morning after praying with tremendous joy, Rabbi Elazar blew the Shofar and suddenly the storm stopped. The sea was calm. In 1741, Chol HaMoed Succot, he arrived in Israel and settled in Tzefat.
He was appointed as the head (Nassi) of the Jewish community in Israel. His desire for a life of peace and Torah study did not, however, materialize. Followers of the Shabbtai Tzvi Cult made his life very difficult. Just as he had fought their influence in Amsterdam, he would have to combat the cult in
Israel too.
One of the reasons Rabbi Elazar wanted to go to Israel, was to meet Rabbi Nachman of Haradanka, (a main disciple of the
Baal Shem Tov).  Rabbi Elazar's hope was that together with Rabbi Nachman, he could hasten the Redemption.
 However, upon his arrival in Israel Rabbi Elazar discovered that Rabbi Nachman had recently returned back to Europe.  When Rabbi Nachman  heard of Rabbi Elazar's arrival in Israel, he hurried back to Israel.  But by the time Rabbi Nachman made it back to Israel, Rabbi Elazar had already passed away
from the world.

Rabbi Elazar of Rokach lived in Israel for only one year, and passed away in the time of Mincha of Shabbat Bereshit. In the book Shivchei HaBaal Shem Tov is presented the story of how the Baal Shem Tov saw the soul of Rabbi Elazar a week after the  Rabbi's death. The Baal Shem Tov was given an explanation as to why Rabbi Elazar Rokach had left the world.

May the merit of the Tzaddik
Rabbi Elazar Rokach, protect us all, Amen


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