Rabbi Eliezer Shalom Pietrikover

Rabbi Eliezer Shalom was a dedicated and loyal public activist. With the consent of the Dozors of the time – Rabbi Meir Nissan Nussbaum, Rabbi Gedalia Zaltzman and R. Nathan Zilbertzweig, he established a fund for the redemption of captives. The fund aimed to free Jews from prison. They agreed to set a fee on sales of yeast and salt, which was leased. The lessee would pay a certain amount for the community, and all the merchants were forbidden to sell salt or yeast, except for those set by the court and the Dozors.

Rabbi Eliezer Shalom would personally collect the donations. It is told that he once entered the rich man – Rabbi Meir Hershel to receive a donation for the redemption of captives. Rabbi Meir tried to bargain over the estimation that Rabbi Eliezer Shalom made for him. As a protest, Rabbi Eliezer went to the bookcase, took out a Gemara and sat down at the desk to study. When R. Meir asked the rabbi about his actions, the rabbi replied: “Love spoils the line.” He meant to say that the mitzvah of charity is so great that he sometimes has to give up his honor.

Rabbi Eliezer Shalom diligently pursued the shopkeepers, who repeatedly raised the prices of the goods. At the same time, fish trading began to develop, and the fish sellers also raised prices. Once a foreign Jew brought  fish from Sokolov to Siedlce for sale. The act angered the local fish sellers and they spoiled the intruder’s fish. The latter came to complain to Rabbi Eliezer Shalom, who immediately went to the fish market, at Fsiiazd Lane, also named the alley of Rabbi Berl Rashkas. Rabbi Eliezer Shalom looked at the fish of the locals and said: “Your fish are “treif”, because there are worms in them.” The rumor immediately spread throughout the city, and everyone refrained from buying fish. The boycott lasted for several weeks, until the fish sellers came to the rabbi and promised to avoid raising prices.

Written by Yitzhak Nahum Weintraub in the book: “Ancestors Tell Siedlce”.
Translated from Hebrew by Mr. Yuval Romano