The Rebbe R’ Yaakov Yitzchok Halevi Horowitz, known as the Chozeh of Lublin, was a Talmid of the Mezritcher Maggid, the Barditchever, Reb Shmelke of Nikulsburg, and Rebbe R’ Zusha. His main teacher was the Rebbe R’ Elimeilich of Luzhensk.
The impact of the Chozeh on Chassidus is indescribable. The vast majority of Chasidim today are from the streams that were Talmidim of the Chozeh. Most Chasidic thoughts today are reflective of the Chozeh’s teachings, even more than the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings. Considering this, it is no wonder that the Chiddushei Harim said, “we refer to him as “the Rebbe of Lublin”, because he is “the Rebbe”till Mashiach’s days.”
In Belz too, the Chozeh was referred to as “the Rebbe of Lublin”. The Sar Shalom said, “The Lubliner was the Rebbe of all Yidden, even of Yidden who know only of Torah She’bichsav (probably referring to the Maskilim) and even of those who are horse thieves.”
The Chozeh’s reach was wide ranging. He was mekarev many simple Yidden and Yidden far from Yiddishkeit as we see from the saying above. In the same time, the greatest Talmidei Chachamim and scholars went to him to learn Avodas Hashem, the likes as The Peshischa (The teacher of The Kutzker), The Yismach Moshe. Over 150 Rebbes were his talmidim.
The range of different streams that emerged from his court is also astonishing. Lelov, Peshischa, Dinov, Belz, Rupshitz, Bobov, Modzhitz, Gur, Radomsk, Aleksander, are all very different streams and all emerged from one holy source.
Most Chasidishe Rebbes before the Chozeh were in Rabbinical positions in small villages. The smaller villages benefitted by having great Tzadikim as Rabbis, and the Tzadikim were able to support themselves with the meager Rabbinical salary. Also, the Chasidim preferred to lead their courts in smaller villages that didn’t have as many misnagdim as the bigger cities.
Different was the Chozeh, who established his court in Lublin, which was a large city in Poland. At first, the Chasidim faced a lot of opposition from the leaders of the city and the Rav of the city, the great Gaon Rav Ezriel Horowitz, known as “Der Eizener Kup” (lit. the iron-strong mind). Many stories are told about the encounters of the Chozeh and the Rav. Eventually they saw what transformation the arrival of the Chozeh made in the city and they relented their opposition to Chassidus.
Although the Sar Shalom’s first teacher was Reb Shloma Lutzker as discussed, and he also went to learn from other Rebbes as we’ll learn in the future, he considered the Rebbe of Lublin as his primary Rebbe and the one he primarily reflected in leading the Belzer Chassidus.