Rav Alexander Ziskind (ben Moshe) of Horodna zy”a, author of sefer Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah, left this world 18 Adar Beis 5554/1794. I would humbly suggest that one who seeks to attain an “inner feel” for the Yomim Tovim and davening should begin with this sefer.

Although not a “chassid” in the colloquial sense, Rav Ziskind was very much a great chassid. Great tzaddikim from all circles learned and praised his remarkable sefer, including the Vilna Gaon, Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchov and Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. The Chofetz Chaim’s son, Rav Aryeh, said that his esteemed father held a consistent study session in the sefer. Included in a list of 13 kabbalos suggested by Rav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel for 5733 (in Leket Rishimos, P. 123), is to learn the sefer Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah before Mincha.

This sefer explains how seriously we should take the tefillos and Yomim Tovim, while at the same time performing everything with immense simcha and intensity. Perhaps it is because this tzaddik so often writes that mitzvos should be performed with simcha that his yahrtzeit falls out in Adar, when we increase simcha.

Rav Alexander passed away on the Thursday of Parshas Tzav-Parah, 18 Adar Beis, 5554/1794.

In Parshas Parah we read (19:6): ולקח הכהן עץ ארז ואזוב ושני תולעת והשליך אל תוך שרפת הפרה.

The Midrash (quoted in the last Tosafos in Menachos) says that the Malach Michael brings tzaddikim who pass away as korbonos on the mizbeach in Shomayim.

As is well known, the word עץ refers to a tzaddik. Therefore, we can find a hint to this tzaddik’s passing in this posuk as it says that the Kohen, a reference to Michael, should take an עץ ארז, a tzaddik.

ארז is the first letters of רבי אלכסנדר זיסקינד.  

The word שרפת with the 4 letters is equal in gemtriya to יסוד ושורש העבודה.

In Tehillim Yomi for the 18th day of the month, it says (89:20): אז דברת בחזון לחסידיך. These words may be seen as an allusion: אז is the first letters of אלכסנדר זיסקינד, and דברת is the gematria of אלכסנדר זיסקינד.

In his tzava’ah, the tzaddik asked that the chvera kaddisha should give an amount of money to tzeddaka equal to his first name, אלכסנדר365, as well as an amount equal to his second name, זיסקינד, which, together with its 7 letters, yields 248. Together this equals 613.

The word בחזון may hint to that which is contained “within the word חזון,” meaning to spell out the word bimiluyחית זין ויו נון  – which is exactly equal to 613.

The first letters of אז דברת בחזון לחסידיך equal ז״ל, a common abbreviation for “zichorono l’veracha”, may his memory be a blessing.

Zechuso Yagen Aleinu!

R' Dovid Friedman
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