Father: R' Aryeh Leibush.
Mother: Miriam Chaya.
Wife: Rabbanit Rachel Feiga (first marriage), Rabbanit Rachel Devorah (third marriage) and Rivka (fourth marriage).
Sons: From first marriage – R' Aharon from Zanz, Admor Rebbe Baruch from Gorlitz, Admor Rebbe David from Chrzanow, Admor Rebbe Yechezkel Shraga from Shinova and R' Meir Natan. From third marriage – Aryeh Leibush, R' Yitzchak Yeshaya from Teshkuyev and Admor Rebbe Shalom Eliezer from Ratzfert.
Daughters: From first marriage – Miriam (wife of R' Moshe Unger from Dombrova), Yuta (wife of R' Eliezer Yerucham Baron from Cracow) and Rabbanit Reitza (wife of Admor Rebbe Mordechai Dov Twersky from Hornistaipol). From third marriage – Gitsha (wife of R' Bezalel Yehoshua Moskowitz from Galina), Tila (wife of R' Aharon Horowitz from Dzhikov-Beitsch), Nechama (wife of R' Yitzchak Tuvia Rubin from Zanz) and Freidel (wife of R' Elazar Halevy Rosenfeld from Ushpitzin).
Brothers: R' Avigdor from Dukla and R' Moshe.
Sister: Ita (wife of R' Baruch Nevenzal from Vishnitz).
Grandfather: R' Simcha Hirsch (paternal), R' David from Ternogrod (maternal).
Teachers: R' Baruch Te'umim Frenkel (author of "Baruch Ta'am"), R' Moshe Yehoshua Heschel Orenstein (author of "Yam Hatalmud"), Admor Rebbe Naftali Zvi Horwitz from Ropshitz, R' Zvi Hirsch Eichenstein from Ziditzhov.
Students: R' Elazar from Koznitz, Admor R' Yehoshua Rokach from Belz, R' Meir from Dzhikov (author of "Imrei Noam"), R' Zvi Hirsch from Lisk, Admor Rebbe Shlomo Hacohen-Rabinowitz from Radomsk (author of "Tiferet Shlomo").
The founder of the Zanz dynasty was born on the 2nd of Sivan, 5553 in the city of Ternogrod (Galicia, today Poland).
He studied Torah day and night from childhood and at age 10 met with R' Yaakov Yitzchak Halevy Horowitz [The Seer from Lublin], who revealed to him that he would be a leader in Israel and therefore taught him how to receive "Pitka'ot" [writs of redemption].
He already became famous for his acuity, genius and expertise in the Talmud and halachic authorities. When he met with Admor Rebbe Naftali Zvi Horwitz from Ropshitz he started becoming attracted to Chassidism and after the latter's death he frequently traveled to R' Zvi Hirsch Eichenstein from Ziditzhov and to Admor Rebbe Sar-Shalom Rokeah from Belz.
At age 13 he married the daughter of R' Baruch Te'omim Frenkel from Leipnik (author of "Baruch Ta'am") and for around one year was supported by him. He delved deeply in the Talmud and halachic authorities, at night concentrated on the hidden Torah, for hours would sit and think about the Holy One, blessed be He without moving and before saying any blessing would tremble out of fear of saying G-d's name. Because of a problem in his left leg he walked with a slight limp, yet always prayed with devotion and enthusiasm while stamping his feet, despite his wounds that would not heal. After the afternoon prayer he would study Torah in his room and only around an hour before midnight would return to the Beit Midrash to pray the evening service, slept very little and was strict about immersing in a mikveh.
He was ordained for the rabbinate by his teacher (R' Moshe Yehoshua Heschel Orenstein) and his father-in-law and in 5577 was appointed Rabbi of the Brodnick community (Poland).
In 5590 he began serving as Rabbi of the city of Zanz [Nowy Sacz] (Poland) and thousands of Chassidim came to him. He was known for his modesty and renowned as a man of charity and mercy despite the economic hardships he and his family faced in making do with very little. And all of the huge amounts of money he received from the redemptions were distributed to the poor, orphans and widows. He especially tried to marry off orphans and join in the happiness of their weddings. When he had no money to give to someone needy who approached him, he would mortgage property in order to assist him and every morning before morning prayers distribute charity to the poor who were waiting at the Beit Midrash door. He spared no expense for fulfilling mitzvoth in the best way possible, founded a yeshiva and paid the head of the yeshiva out of his own pocket. He demanded in-depth learning of both books on ethics and the Babylonian Talmud, answered halachic questions sent to him from different lands and argued that only someone who is an expert in the tractate of Shabbat and knows it by heart is permitted to decide halachic questions about Shabbat. He would make the "shehakol" blessing on potatoes, conducted a "Tashlich Seder" on the 8th of Tishrei, at breakfast on the eve of Yom Kippur he would play the liturgical poem "Ein Keloheinu", on Simchat Torah would be the "Chatan Breishit" and on the eve of Shabbat Chanukah would light the Menorah before the afternoon prayer.
After the birth of five sons and three daughters his first wife died and he remarried three more times – his second marriage was his first wife's sister, the third was to the daughter of R' Yechiel Zvi Hirsch Unger from Ternov, and another 3 sons and 4 daughters came from this marriage. The fourth marriage was to the daughter of R' Elimelech Tarim [grandson of R' Menachem Mendel from Rimanov]. In Nissan 5633 one of his daughters died in her teen years and his son (Aryeh Leibush) died at age 7. Upon return from his son's funeral, which was held in early morning, he told those present that 'A person going along his way and minding his own business who suddenly feels a strong blow, turns around to see who hit him. But when he realizes that it is his soul mate who struck the blow as a sign of love and affection no doubt that even if he thought to be angry at the assailant, he will accept it with love and be happy at his friend's expression of affection. I also received a terrible blow today, and when I saw from whom it came I said to myself – The Creator of the universe who I so love struck me, so it is fitting that I accept it with love and happiness'. He immediately began the morning prayers and shouted out loud 'Hodu L'shem kiru b'shmo, hodiyu b'amim alilotav, shiru lo zamru lo…"
On Sukkot, 5636, the lulav fell from his hand and its leaves separated. Despite the fact that others immediately presented him with their lulavim he was very sorry. In Nissan he fell ill and during Kiddush on Shabbat changed the wording and said, 'because I lit my bed and offered my candles…' On Wednesday of that week his face was flames and his eyes huge; he did not pause from his devotion and in clear thinking silently recited Torah secrets, designated every limb of his body and returned his soul to his maker.
Among his writings:
• Divrei Chaim: On Gittin and Mikva'ot (read1/read2)
• Divrei Chaim: Responsa (read1/read2/read3)
• Divrei Chaim: On the Torah
Tzadik's photograph courtesy of Breslov – "Tikkun Hamidot" Institutions