- Reb Shlomo of Tolochin and his son Tuvye

Rabbi Shlomo of Tolochin and his son Tuvya


Rabbi Shlomo of Tolochin:

Rabbi Mordecai Tzoref, Zalman Tzoref’s oldest son, married Hana, granddaughter of Rabbi Shlomo of Tolochin.

Rabbi Shlomo of Tolochin was one of the greatest disciples of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (HaGra).  He was the only one among his disciples to make aliya to Palestine while his teacher was still alive.  Rabbi Shlomo of Tolochin reached Eretz Yisrael on the first of the month of Nissan, 1794.  He was known as a great Torah scholar and a miracle worker.

When he first got to Palestine he settled in the city of the fathers, Hebron.  When Rabbi Shlomo found out that Zalman Tzoref made aliya to Jerusalem along with a few other Ashkenazi families, he quickly moved to Jerusalem and joined the minyan at “Or Haim” yeshiva under Rabbi Haim Ben Attar.  He then became a great friend of Zalman Tzoref, often studying Torah with him.

He was delighted when the two families were conjoined upon his granddaughter Hana’s marriage to Rabbi Mordecai, Zalman Tzoref’s oldest son.  In his final days he returned to Hebron and was buried there.

During his life he wrote a book titled “Even Shlomo” (the stone of Shlomo) but never had the privilege of seeing it in print.  The manuscript survived for a hundred years.  It was bequeathed to his granddaughter’s husband, Rabbi Mordecai Tzoref.  It was then passed on to Rabbi Yoel Moshe Salomon, who gathered the material and printed it at the Salomon Printing House.

The preface to “Even Shlomo” states:  “The tsadik Rabbi Shlomo of Tolochin was a disciple of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna.  Even when he was still abroad he was already known for his modesty.  He was a perpetual exile, moving from town to town, and only seldom returned to his town Tolochin, where he was known for his virtue and famous as a genius and a tsadik and a miracle worker.  When Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna was told that his disciple Rabbi Shlomo has made it to Eretz Yisrael and it was unknown how he survived the dangerous route, Rabbi Eliyahu responded:  “Do not wonder about Rabbi Shlomo. He deserves even to cross the big sea on dry grounds.” In Jerusalem it was told that he knew the entire Torah by heart, because God blessed him with a wonderful memory.

The Tsadik Rabbi Tuvya

The Tsadik Rabbi Tuvya was the son of Rabbi Shlomo of Tolochin.  He too was a tsadik and a great scholar.  Through his father Rabbi Shlomo he befriended Zalman Tzoref and became his loyal assistant. Rabbi Tuvya travelled abroad frequently on behalf of the Jerusalem community.  He also accompanied Zalman Tzoref on all his trips abroad.  During one of those trips, when the Tsadik Rabbi Tuvya  was returning with Zalman Tzoref to Jerusalem, there was a fierce storm and their ship was about to shatter.  Zalman Tzoref and Rabbi Tuvya then promised each other that if, God willing, they will be saved and make it back to Jerusalem, Rabbi Tuvya will give his daughter to Zalman Tzoref’s son in matrimony.  The Storm abated and the two made it back home safe and sound.  Zalman Tzoref’s son, Mordecai Tzoref, then married the Tsadik Rabbi Tuvya’s daughter.  Rabbi Tuvya was then appointed as head of the community, and when Moses Montefiore came for a visit it was he who received him.