Dov Baer (The Maggid) of Mezhirech

(1710–72)
   Chassidic leader. Probably born in Volhynia, Ukraine, Dov Baer became well-known as a maggid (preacher) and a follower of the mystical practices of the great Cabbalist Isaac LURIA. When self-mortification made him ill, he sought help from ISRAEL BEN-ELIEZER BA’AL SHEM TOV, the founder of Chassidism. Dov Baer became Eliezer’s closest disciple and succeeded him as the head of the movement, setting up a ‘court’ in Mezhirech in Volhynia. From here he sent emissaries to communities in eastern Europe.
   Under Dov Baer’s leadership Chassidism became an organized movement. By his personal example, he reinforced the concept of the tzaddik, the saintly leader who derives his authority from direct contact with the divine powers and acts as a mediator for the community. However, Dov Baer himself stressed that every man should attain through devoted striving direct contact with God, who is to be found everywhere and can thus be worshipped in every action. Nearly all the chassidic leaders of the next generation were drawn from Dov Baer’s disciples, notably MENACHEM MENDEL of Vitebsk and SHNEUR ZALMAN of Lyady.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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