The earliest known member of the Bomzer family is a lesser known, yet brilliant kabbalist and Chassidic master. Even during his lifetime, he went by the title “The Maggid of Mikulince”, Preacher from Mikulince (Today called Mykulyntsi). Rabbi Aryeh Yehuda Leibusch Bomze, was born in 1740 in the small town of Sataniv, a Sztetl where the Jews were nearly half of the 3,000 total inhabitants.
While serving as an early center for the Haskalah movement, Satanov also became known for its important Chassidic leaders of their time. Leibusch Bomze's family, who were well connected with the upper echelons of Polish Jewish society, were the honored hosts during the chance arrival of Rabbi Yisroel, known by his acronym, “Besht”. Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, which arose in the early 1700’s, travelled across Eastern Europe, garnering support and followers for his new movement focusing on the ability of any Jew to connect with God, not just the scholarly elite. When he journeyed through the town of Sataniv, the Bomzes merited to host him at their house for those long winter weekends. Thus it was, that young Leibush was brought up and inspired in the ways of Chassidus from a young age.
In 1757, at the age of 17, Leibusch was sent to the world-renowned Yeshiva in the town of Nikolsburg to study under the famed Rabbi Schmelke of Nikolsburg. Expanding on the ideas of Chassidism with an appreciation for an emotional connection with God, Reb Shmelke also taught a rigorous study schedule which would lead towards a mastery of all the classical and not-so-classical texts.
Leibusch had the opportunity to learn with some of the most brilliant minds of his generation. During the five or six years he spent in Nikolsburg, he became close friends with the illuy (genius) of Yaroslav, later to be known as the Rebbe of Berdichev. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok kept in touch with Rabbi Leibusch after graduating from Nikolsberg and in all likelihood married off a grandchild with that of Rabbi Leibusch. (This is likely the branch of the family that changed the name from Bomze to Bomzer)
Eventually, Rabbi Leibusch moved to the town of Mikulince where he fostered a large family and produced many progeny. He married off his children to other well-known families such as the renowned Schor family, and the Rabbinic Porrille’s.
Rabbi Leib passed away in the year 1825 at the advanced age of 85. It was said of Rabbi Leibusch of Mikulince that he was fluent in all of Talmud, the halachic codes of Maimonides with its glosses. The Tur, and the Shulchan Aruch, were committed to memory. He was well-versed in the mystical realm, as well. To his good fortune, he was able to sit and learn in prosperity, while his work was done by others.
While Rabbi Leib left behind manuscripts, all of them were ultimately lost. A few Torah insights from him remain, brought down by grandchildren and students in various seforim. The Zichron Yehuda cites “from my master, my mentor and teacher, the great, the grand illuminator, our sage the Rabbi, Rabbi Aryeh Leibush may his light shine, orator here, the holy congregation of Mikulince."
Binny is the newest and youngest member of the IAJGS Board of Directors. His passion for discovering his family history has taken him on a journey. Over the past three years, he founded and lead the first JGS on a college campus, the Family Discovery Society. Having traced his family back hundreds of years with tools like JewishGen & MyHeritage, he has instructed dozens of University students to do the same.