Rabbi Chaim David Bernhard of Piotrkow – Rebbe and Physician

In his youth, Rabbi Chaim David Bernhard was very far from Judaism, living his life much like a Polish nobleman. In fact he was the personal physician of King Wilhelm II of Prussia, and everyone knew him as Doctor Bernhard.

On account of a medical miracle that he witnessed, however, Doctor Bernhard did teshuvah. One of his patients, who suffered from an incurable disease (which the physicians of the time deemed fatal), went to see the tzaddik Rabbi David of Lelov for a blessing, after which he completely recovered. When he returned to Doctor Bernhard, he examined him and was amazed to discover that he was in perfect health. He therefore decided to go and see this rabbi from Lelov for himself. Rabbi David spoke in private with the doctor for several hours, and at the end of their conversation he said to the doctor, “When you return to Judaism, you will bring happiness to your Father in Heaven.” In fact Doctor Bernhard became another man – Rabbi Chaim David Bernhard – for he was determined on completely returning to Hashem

When he came back home, he broke all his dishes and purchased new ones, becoming a G-d-fearing Jew. In fact he became such a chassid of Rabbi David of Lelov that he eventually became one of the tzaddikim of the generation, having many disciples of his own. Near the end of his life, the Rebbe of Radomsk, the Tiferet Shlomo, visited him and said: “The former days be void” (Numbers 6:12). To this Rabbi Chaim David replied, “When we do teshuvah out of love, deliberate sins are transformed into merits. Therefore even the ‘former days’ are mitzvot.” On Shevat 20, 5618, Rabbi Chaim David Bernhard departed from this world and was buried in the Piotrkow cemetery in Poland.




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