LÖB OF SHPOLA:
Early Ḥasidic rabbi; died at an advanced age Oct. 4, 1810. It is said that he was a poor "melammed" or teacher in his younger days, and that he did not assume the title of rabbi because, unlike other "ẓaddiḳim" of that period, he was not the pupil or disciple of a great ẓaddiḳ. Although his only claim to prominence in the Ḥasidic world was a visit which he paid once to R. Israel Ba'al Shem-Ṭob, the nominal founder of Ḥasidism, both R. Baruch of Medzhibozh and R. Naḥman of Bratzlave (the first a grandson and the second a great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem) developed a fierce antagonism to him. He was popularly known as "the Shpoler Zeide" (grandfather of Shpola), and was revered for his great piety. He led a very simple, almost ascetic, life, and distributed in charity most of the money given him by his numerous adherents. He left no writings, and if his detractors are to be believed, he did not possess the knowledge and intelligence to produce anything of value; but he so impressed his contemporaries that his name is still preserved among the Ḥasidim, especially those of southern Russia, as that of one of the saintly, miracle-working rabbis of the first period of Ḥasidism.
- Gottlober, in Ha-Boḳer Or, v. 384-388;
- Rodkinson, Toledot Ba'ale Shem-Ṭob, pp. 39-40, Königsberg, 1876.