Living Legacy: Rav Aryeh Leib of Ozarow
The 23rd of Teves marks the yohrtzeit of Rav Aryeh Leib Epstein of Ożarów, known as Rav Leibish of Opole, a great tzaddik who was renowned throughout Poland for his piety and tremendous mastery in Torah.
He would become known as one of the greatest tzaddikim in Poland, and tzaddikim of his generation referred to him as Rabbon Shel Kol Bnei Hagolah. He was a rebbi to thousands of talmidim who drank thirstily from his Torah, and he led a large chassidus where thousands streamed to him from throughout Poland.
He was born to his father, Rav Yechiel Michel Chaim, who was descended from great tzaddikim. Sadly, he was orphaned of both his parents at a very young age. He was taken in by a simple Yid from the town of Ostrovtza, and he developed a great thirst for Torah from a young age.
It is said that, when he was young, he could not understand Torah, and he began to cry and cry until he fell asleep. When he awoke, he felt like a new spirit was given to him, and he was able to understand his learning. He began to learn without letup, until he developed into one of the gedolim of his generation.
As a young man, he forced to take on the yoke of supporting himself and his young brothers. He nevertheless dedicated all his remaining time to Torah.
He became drawn close to the holy Chozeh of Lublin, and became an ardent follower of the Lubliner Rebbe. He also spent time in the courts of the Yehudi Hakodosh of Peshischa, the Ohev Yisroel of Apta, and the Ohr LaShomayim of Apta.
In 1812, he became the rov of Ożarów, a town located 100 km from Lublin. Following the passing of the Chozeh, he continued to visit his talmid the Ohr LaShomayim, Rav Meir’l of Apta. Rav Meir’l would ask him why he comes to him when he is so great in his own right. But Rav Leibish, in his great humility, did not even understand the question.
Following the passing of Rebbe Meir’l of Apta, many of his chassidim streamed to Rav Leibish, who was by then in Opole, near Lublin.
Among his tremendous traits was to always find favor on his fellow Yidden, and he would beseech Hashem to shower Yidden with blessings of parnassah in the bitter galus.
At the time of his passing, he left behind holy and illustrious children, and a legacy of Torah, kedushah, and taharah.
He was interred in Opole, near Lublin.