The Composer-Rebbe of Kaliv

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Taub of Kaliv (1751-1821) is commemorated on the 7th of Adar (II). The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

He is Revealed To the World by Rabbi Leib Sarah’s

Once it happened that Rabbi Leib son of Sarah stopped for Shabbat in a remote province of Russia.

With his spiritual “antennae” raised, he found himself tuning into a small distant town, the town of Serentch, Hungary, where, (he was able to perceive), there lived a greatly elevated soul. He could sense it would be worthwhile to tend and care for this person, to cultivate his refinement and expand his loftiness. There was a treasure here for the world and he recognized that he should help this soul to attain its potential.

At Motzei Shabbos immediately after the Havdalah, he instructed his wagon driver to harness the horses for a distant journey. The servant already knew that if the Rabbi says “distant journey” they will certainly be traveling in kefitzat haderech, (a shrinking of the distance for super-fast transit). And so it was.

When they sat down in the wagon, the coachman drove the horses until the outskirts of the town. When they had left the town, Rabbi Leib took the reins in his hands and, the coachman sat with his back to the horses and facing Rabbi Leib. He soon fell asleep and the journeying seemed to him as though a vision in a dream, various images, small towns and villages, rivers and lakes, fields and forests, flying before his eyes. Thus it was for the sleeping coachman until the horses arrived near the desired destination. Next, Rabbi Leib woke up the coachman and returned the reins into his hands and, they journeyed as though nothing extraordinary had happened.

In the morning, they arrived at the small town of Serentch. Right after the morning davvenen, Rabbi Leib went hiking to a grove that was outside the town. He saw there a lad of eight years, dressed in rags and half naked, a geese shepherd watching over a flock. This lad was the master of that neshamah which Rabbi Leib had sensed far away.

He started a conversation with him. The boy told him that he was the son of a destitute widow and he told him her name. Rabbi Leib went to the widow and made a request of her that she turn over her son to him for serving and he would raise him into a respectable trade. In addition, he gave her a certain sum to provide for herself. The destitute widow agreed. Rabbi Leib took the boy and traveled back in kefitzat haderech to Nikolsburg to our master, the holy gaon, the Rabbi Reb Shmelke.

When they arrived, Rabbi Leib spoke to the Rabbi Reb Shmelke:

“Behold, in honor of his God-given gifts and his Torah, I have brought a holy and elevated soul from the palace of music and song. Indeed this gift of music has been given by the authority of Torah (lit. crown of Torah) and he will make of it in accord with what the music needs to become.”

This small shepherd was raised in the house of the Rav Rabbi Shmelke and, all the melodies and songs of shepherds with which he was acquainted became injected with holiness.

Our sages have taught that all the melodies which are part of the world of holiness come from the palace of melody, and while impurity doesn’t know any joy, (for she is the source of languor), and while also, through Adam HaRishon’s sin, the sparks of holiness fell under the authority of the impurity’s Kelippah, it is the Tzaddik‘s service to raise those wandering-in-exile sparks of melody.

Through this boy, not only was the melody restored, but even the entire genre of the song of the shepherds was restored to within the realm of holiness.

This shepherd lad of nice jewish songs is the holy Rav Rabbi Yitzchak Eisek Taub, whose fame is known by many by the name, the Rav of Kaliv. His reputation is such that all Tzaddikim of his day referred to him as simply, “The Holy one from Kaliv”.

(Strength of a Lion pp. 13-14)

One Response to “The Composer-Rebbe of Kaliv”

  1. Monique~Miriam Says:

    I am not surprised that as a child, the holy one of Kaliv already felt the power of the niggunim ( a gift children naturally receive, and can lose later ). I have been told that he is one who never stopped to sing,especially whenever he came close to those who walked on derech Ha mavet. Some say that later in his life, the Kaliver spontaneously composed a new tune for the verse’ Adonai li v’ lo yirah’ but this some say that the melody emerged from the heart of another well known hassid, whose name shall remain hidden until, so the tale goes, the coming of Moshiach, may he come speedily.

    A question best addressed to linguistic scholars:
    does it make good sense to translate ‘kefizat haderech’ as a ‘laissez passer’ or as …..the ‘lifting of the veils’; or can each one be respectively used, when sharing the story English speaking people and French ones? I’d appreciate receiving any helpful information regarding this matter.
    Shabbat Shalom.

Leave a Reply