||Two wondrous tales of deliverance by and about Hassidic rebbes, R. Aaron of Chernobyl and R. Israel (Friedmann) of Ruhzhin. Both rebbes about whom the stories revolve were prominent early hassidic leaders known for their righteousness and learning.
The allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially Christians, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals. In modern times Russia has been the principal perpetuator of the blood libel, both medieval and modern factors (see above) combining to enable its deliberate dissemination among the ignorant masses. The first blood-libel case in Russia occurred in the vicinity of Senno, south of Vitebsk, on the eve of Passover 1799, when the body of a woman was found near a Jewish tavern: four Jews were arrested on the ground of the "popular belief that the Jews require Christian blood." Apostates supplied the court with extracts from a distorted translation of the Shulhan Arukh and Shevet Yehudah. Between 1805 and 1816 various cases of blood libel occurred in places within the Pale of Settlement, and the investigations always ended by exposing the lie on which they were based. In an attempt to stop their dissemination the minister of ecclesiastic affairs, A. Golitsyn, sent a circular to the heads of the guberniyas (provinces) throughout Russia on March 6, 1817, to this effect. He stated in his circular that the czar directed "that henceforward the Jews shall not be charged with murdering Christian children, without evidence, and through prejudice alone that they allegedly require Christian blood." Nevertheless Alexander I (1801–25) gave instructions to revive the inquiry in the case of the murder of a Christian child in Velizh (near Vitebsk) where the assassins had not been found and local Jewish notables had been blamed for the crime. The trial lasted for about ten years. Although the Jews were finally exonerated, Nicholas I later refused to endorse the 1817 circular, giving as a reason that he considered that "there are among the Jews savage fanatics or sects requiring Christian blood for their ritual, and especially since to our sorrow such fearful and astonishing groups also exist among us Christians." Other blood libels occurred in Telsiai (Telz) in the guberniya (province) of Kovno, in 1827, and Zaslav (Izyaslav), in the government of Volhynia, in 1830. In 1853, a blood libel occurred in Saratov, when two Jews and an apostate were found guilty of the murder of two Christian children - the only instance in Russia of its kind. With the growth of an anti-Semitic movement in Russia in the 1870s, the blood libel became a regular motif in the anti-Jewish propaganda campaign conducted in the press and literature. The chief agitators of the blood libels were monks. At the monastery of Suprasl crowds assembled to gaze on the bones of the "child martyr Gabriello," who had been allegedly murdered by Jews in 1690. The wave of blood libels which occurred at the end of the 19th century in central Europe, including the cases in Tiszaeszlar in 1881, Xanten in 1891, Polna in 1899, etc., also heaped fuel on the flames of the agitation in Russia.
Aaron of Chernobyl (1787–1872). He was educated by his grandfather, Menahem Nahum, and already during his father's lifetime was considered to have a saintly inclination. He based his sermons on his grandfather's teachings and the commentary Or ha-Hayyim by Hayyim b. Moses Attar. Thousands of admiring hasidim flocked to him. Aaron was confident of his spiritual abilities and holiness; he once wrote in a letter: "Even if they [his hasidim] live as long as Methusaleh they will never realize even a thousandth part of the good I - with G-d's help - have bestowed on them." He was convinced that the Messiah would come in his lifetime. He headed the Volhynia kolel in support of settlement in Erez Israel. A dispute concerning the presidency of the kolel between himself and one of his brothers ended in Aaron's favor.
R. Israel (Friedmann) of Ruhzhin (1797–1850), hasidic leader. Israel was a great-grandson of Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezhirech. Hasidim claimed to recognize his outstanding qualities almost from birth. His uncle Mordecai of Chernobyl declared that the babe had the soul of the Ba'al Shem Tov. At the age of six R. Israel lost his father. At the age of 13 he married and moved to Botosani. When R. Israel was 16 years old his brother Abraham died, and he was appointed to succeed him as the leader of the Hasidim. Possessed of great organizing ability, he rapidly established a large Hasidic center attracting thousands of followers. He then moved to Ruzhin where he set up a splendid "court" and like his father, R. Shalom Shakhna, lived in great luxury and unusual splendor. His dwelling place was that of a noble with all its opulence. He rode in a splendid carriage with silver handles, harnessed to four galloping horses, and surrounded by many servants. The ideological explanation given by Israel himself for his mode of behavior was that Satan is already involved in all the behavior of the Hasidic Zaddikim, although he is unaware that within the external extravagance and wealth a precious stone is concealed. He moved from town to town including Kompling, and Skola, until after many efforts, described in numerous Hasidic legends, he was authorized by the Austrian emperor Ferdinand I (Dec. 20, 1845) to live in Sadgora in Bukovina. At Sadgora thousands of Hasidim streamed to him, and he built himself a splendid palace there, continuing the same life of opulence that he had led in Ruzhin. Israel had a great influence upon the numerous Hasidim and Zaddikim, especially the Rumanian Hasidim. On the death of the rabbi of Apta, Israel was also appointed head of the Volhynia Kolel in Erez Israel, and did much on behalf of the Jews in Erez Israel.