Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk
- (1730-88)Polish Hasidic leader. A disciple of Dov Ber of Mezhirich, he became the head of a congregation in Minsk. In 1772 he went with Shneour Zalman to defend the Hasidic movement to the Vilna Gaon, Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, but the Vilna Gaon refused to meet them. In 1773 he settled in Gorodok in Belorussia and later moved to Palestine, where he became the leader of the Hasidic community. He subsequently settled in Tiberias. He taught that God is present through the process of contraction (tzimtzum), whereby he makes a space in which creation can take place. His writings include Peri ha-Aretz, Peri ha-Etz, Etz Peri and Likkutei Amarim.
Dictionary of Jewish Biography. Dan Cohn-Sherbok.
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