KARLIN


KARLIN, a dynasty of ẓaddikim (family name Perlov), named after the town of Karlin. Its founder was AARON BEN JACOB, referred to in ḥasidic circles as "Aaron the Great" (1736–1772), the pioneer of Ḥasidism in Lithuania. He was a disciple of *Dov Baer the Maggid of Mezhirech. During the lifetime of his teacher, in the early 1760s, he founded the first ḥasidic *minyan in Karlin, from where he spread Ḥasidism throughout Lithuania. In contemporary sources "Karliner" became a synonym for "Ḥasid" in Lithuania. The spread of "Karliner" minyanim there was one of the causes of the campaign against Ḥasidism; in Karlin's sister town, *Pinsk, it was directed against Aaron personally. Aaron's activity showed his concern with social problems. He helped to enforce the takkanot issued in 1769 at Nesvizh, abolishing an unusual and heavy tax affecting the poor, using his personal authority and imposing a ḥerem. His azharot ("Warnings"), a letter, and a testament have been preserved (in manuscript). Inclined toward asceticism, Aaron fasted frequently and even demanded of his disciples: "seclusion, one day every week in a special room, spent in fasting, repentance, and study of the Torah." But he warned against extremes in such practices. In his azharot he cautioned "to beware of pride and anger, even if over the observance of a precept, and all the more so over disputes." He instructed his Ḥasidim to study the Mishnah daily and to be versed in the Bible. He regarded melancholy as "the lowest abyss," while joy stems from sanctity. The Jew who does not rejoice in being a Jew is ungrateful to Heaven. Aaron composed a hymn for Sabbath: Yah ekhsof no'am Shabbat ("Oh God, I yearn for the Sabbath's delight"), which is included in several siddurim and is sung every Sabbath by the Ḥasidim of Karlin and those related to them. The Ḥasidim of Karlin have about 20 melodies for this hymn, one having become renowned as Ha-Niggun ha-Kadosh. Aaron was succeeded by his disciple Solomon (see below) but the leadership later returned to Aaron's son, ASHER (d. 1826), a disciple of Solomon; before 1784 he went from Karlin with his teacher to Lodomeria (Vladimir-Volynskiy). Asher studied a short while under *Baruch of Medzibezh and Israel of *Kozienice, and was for a short time rabbi in Zelechow (Poland). He then settled in the townlet of *Stolin, near Karlin. Henceforward the Karlin Hasidim also became known as the Hasidim of Stolin. Asher supported *Abraham of Kalisk in opposition to *Shneur Zalman of Lyady. He was among leading Karlinists who were imprisoned in 1798. Subsequently he returned to Karlin. In his Divrei Torah he stresses the human and religious value of productive work, and teaches that a man "should not be lazy in any occupation, lest his [religious] study should also be performed in laziness." He criticized Jews who exploited the labor of non-Jewish workers.

He was succeeded by his son, AARON THE SECOND (d. 1872), under whose leadership Karlin Ḥasidism reached the height of its influence in Polesie and in Volhynia. Groups of Karlin Ḥasidim settled in Tiberias and Jerusalem, supported from the center in Karlin. It was Aaron's custom to write "Words of Encouragement" to his Ḥasidim before Passover, which were particularly important as a solace during the oppressive reign of Czar Nicholas I. The celebrated Karlin hasidic melodies were composed during his leadership. In his Beit Aharon (1875) he emphasizes sincerity. He taught that "prayers should be followed by study… every day. God does not count the pages but the hours." He advised that "repentance comes essentially out of joy and delight." Regular daily life should also be considered Divine Worship, as both lead to the attainment of perfection, as a result of which redemption and the messianic era can be brought closer. Aaron also left Karlin before 1864 for Stolin, where he remained until his death. He died in the townlet of Mlinow, Volhynia, while on a journey, and was buried there.

He was succeeded by his son, ASHER THE SECOND (d. 1873), who emphasized the value of ritual immersion "which purifies the body and promotes sanctity." He was buried in Drohobycz (Drogobych), Galicia. Asher left a four-year-old son named ISRAEL; he was immediately recognized by Karlin Ḥasidim as successor to the leadership and hence known as the "Yenuka mi-Stolin" ("Babe of Stolin"). However, he also retained the loyalty of the thousands of his followers when grown up as well as gaining respect among the Mitnaggedim thanks to his devoted and able leadership. In his two testaments – to his family and to his Hasidim – he recommended study also of "language… and secular studies which are necessary"; he stressed the necessity of care for "the education of girls, because the foundation of Judaism depends on this." His son MOSES became rabbi of Stolin. A second son, ABRAHAM ELIMELECH, settled in Karlin as rabbi, a third JOHANAN (d. 1955), in Lutsk, Volhynia, and a fourth, JACOB, became rabbi of the Karlin Ḥasidim in the United States. Moses and Abraham Elimelech founded yeshivot and maintained contacts with Ereẓ Israel. Both perished with their followers in the Holocaust. Johanan went to Ereẓ Israel after the Holocaust; from there he emigrated to the United States where he died. In 1957 his body was taken to Tiberias for burial. He left a small grandson, and those of his Ḥasidim who have remained loyal to the dynasty undertook his education as its continuator, while a small number chose the ẓaddik of *Lelov as their leader. SOLOMON BEN MEIR HA-LEVI OF KARLIN (1738–1792), ḥasidic ẓaddik, a disciple of Dov Baer, Maggid of Mezhirech, and of Aaron the Great of Karlin, headed the Karlin Ḥasidim after Aaron's death in 1772 (see above). He left no written works, but many of his sayings have been quoted and tales about him have been recorded. Almost all the subsequent ẓaddikim in Lithuania were his disciples or the disciples of his disciples.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Dubnow, Ḥasidut, index; W.Z. Rabinowitsch, Lithuanian Ḥasidim (1970), index; idem, in: YIVOA, 5 (1950), 123–51; I. Halpern, Yehudim ve-Yahadut be-Mizraḥ Eiropah (1968), 333–9; idem, in: Zion, 22 (1957), 86–92; M. Nadav, ibid., 34 (1969), 98–108; M. Buber, Tales of the Hasidim, 1 (19684), 195–202, 273–285; 2, 145–173; J.M. Kleinboim, Shema Shelomo (19562).

[Wolf Zeev Rabinowitsch]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.