Although Rabbi Tzodok hailed from Lublin, his name spread
as the "genius of Krinitz." This was because, after being
orphaned of his father, HaRav Yaakov Hacohen Rabinowitz
zt"l rov of Kreisburg at the tender age of six, R'
Tzodok went to live with his uncle, HaRav Yosef Hacohen of
Krinitz, author of Capos Zohov.
There in Krinitz, Lithuania, he was to be seen standing
outside in the cold night, learning by moonlight. The cold
and hunger gnawing at him were ignored for hours as the
young boy learned without a stop.
His name also became associated with a sharp mind and wit.
The young genius was once sitting under a tree with his
friends and quietly mentioned the number of leaves on the
tree. "Well, there's no one to prove you wrong," laughed
his friends. "For who's going to count?"
"Pluck one branch," replied the boy, "and count its leaves
without me seeing, and then I'll tell you how many are
left on the tree. A single calculation will prove that I'm
right." His friends did as he had bidden and, of course,
R' Tzodok's new number was in coordination with the amount
that had been removed.
Another story told of Rabbeinu took place when he was
recently married and living at his father-in-law's house
in Voldovka. Upon answering a knock at the door, R' Tzodok
beheld two tzedokoh collectors with a basketful of
eggs. They were collecting eggs for the poor who could not
afford this staple themselves. Being destitute himself and
knowing that his father-in-law had nothing to give either,
R' Tzodok told the collectors of his predicament.
"However, I'd like to help you somehow," he added, and
then he had an idea. "I'll tell you how many eggs you have
in your basket and at least save you the bother of
counting them. This will be my donation."
In his sefer Meishiv Tzedek four droshos are
printed, phenomenal in their erudition and depth, yet they
are the ones he gave at the age of thirteen on the
occasion of his bar-mitzvah.
The author of Sichas Mal'achei Hashoreis relates in
the introduction to his sefer that when R' Tzodok
was a seven-year-old living under his uncle's wing, R'
Yosef had to travel far away to collect money for an
advance payment for his sefer Capos Zohov that he
was hoping to publish shortly.
Six months passed and the uncle had not returned. His
distraught family was worried for his safety, seeking some
assurance as to his well being.
Unable to see their anguish, the boy did a "sheilas
chalome," and informed the family of R' Yosef's
location and that all was well with him.
His was a soul that constantly yearned to go higher. To
this end R' Tzodok traveled to the Torah greats of his
generation, to learn from their Torah and their ways.
One day R' Tzodok arrived at the home of the Yeshuos
Yaakov. Seeing the door ajar, R' Tzodok walked right in.
A little startled at seeing a person walk in without
hesitating, a son of the Yeshuos Yaakov demanded of R'
Tzodok: "Do you perhaps know half of Shas that you
deem yourself worthy of walking into the Rov's house?"
Humbly, Rabbeinu answered in a low voice, "Yes, I do know
half of Shas."
"Oh yes! Which half?"
R' Tzodok stepped closer and whispered in his ear,
"Whichever half you want."
Despite his own sharp mind, or perhaps because of it, R'
Tzodok was enthralled by brilliant talmidei
chachomim. He would often relate with special
admiration the times when he observed Rabbi Shlomo Kluger
in Brod. R' Shlomo sat surrounded by four sofrim,
who wrote his chiddushim. He would instruct each one
to write a teshuvoh on a totally different subject,
yet kept up all four writers simultaneously.
Later in life he met the elderly admor Rabbi
Mordechai Yosef Leiner zt"l, of Izhbitza, who won
him over with his derech ho'avodoh. R' Tzodok became
his talmid muvhak and brings many of his Rebbe's
chidushim in his sefer. In fact many of R'
Tzodok's own novellae were built upon those of his Rebbe.
He also took upon himself many of his holy practices. One
of the latter was only to eat a meal if it was a seudas
mitzvah. To this end, every day before eating, R'
Tzodok would finish a masechta. On Shabbos, he would
make a siyum on masechtos Shabbos and
Rabbenu had a very large library containing over five
thousand seforim, among them many rare and valuable
kisvei yad. In his sefer we have an example
where R' Tzodok writes from a handwritten manuscript of
All these seforim were bought with the money that
people gave him as the Cohen at a pidyon
R' Tzodok shunned the idea of having personal gain from
the crown of his Torah and, therefore, his Rebbetzin
opened a small secondhand clothing store. The meager
amount that came in was what they lived on, only covering
a bare minimum. Yet despite pressure brought to bear by
his chassidim, he would never personally benefit
from public money. The Rebbetzin fully supported his
principle and in fact at her levaya R' Tzodok said
next to her bier, "Half of my reward in Olom Habo is
yours because only in your merit am I what I am. Come and
take your share to your world now."