Hasidim from all over the world prayed at the grave of Tzadik Elimelech. Pilgrims arrived in Lezajsk to commemorate the 236th anniversary of the tzadik’s death. The main celebrations took place on the night of Monday to Tuesday.
Hasidim come to Lezajsk mainly from Israel and European countries, as well as from the USA and Canada. Hasidic pilgrimages usually take place in rotation – some Jews leave Leżajsk after prayers, while others arrive. This must be done, among other things, with the limited number of accommodation places.
Jews arriving in Leżajsk participate in night prayers in front of the tzadik’s tomb, the so-called ohel. They ask the tzaddik for healing, prosperity for their children and good luck in business, and write their wishes on slips of paper called kwitele. Prayers are accompanied by the singing of psalms.
Before prayers, Hasidim wash themselves in a mikveh, or special bath. The prayers and all rituals last two or three hours. They are also attended by women who gather in a separate room especially for them, located in the Jewish cemetery. After the prayers are over, the pilgrims eat a kosher meal consisting of properly prepared beef, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables.
The holiday of the anniversary of the death of Tzaddik Elimelech is flexible (it is regulated by the Jewish calendar). The tzaddik died in the month of adar (the 21st of that month according to the Hebrew calendar), which falls roughly in our March. But from time to time – in leap years – adar occurs twice, in which case Hasidic pilgrimages take place on two dates.
Elimelech of Leżajsk (according to some, Weissblum after his mother, and according to others, Lipmann after his father) was one of the three most famous tzaddikim of past Poland. He became famous as a healer of souls and bodies and as the most active preacher of Hasidism – a rebellious religious and mystical trend in Judaism.