Just before the Baal Shem Tov died, in 1760, he chose his grandson, a young child, as his successor.
The child, named Baruch, was the son of Yechiel of Tulchin and Udl, the Baal Shem Tov's daughter.
Baruch's upbringing was left to the Besht's disciples. It wasn't until 1782 that the child, then an
adult in his late twenties or early thirties (the date of his birth is not certain; 1750 or 1753),
was appointed the leader of the Hasidic movement.
Reb Baruch established his court in Tulchin where he remained for a number of years, after which
he moved his court one-hundred-seventy-seven kilometers northwest to Medzhibozh, the shtetl where he had been born.
Reb Baruch organized his court as if he were royalty (malkhus) – living in splendor and traveling
around the region in a luxurious carriage, collecting sums of money and gifts from his followers. There was a court jester
and frequent festivals and dances, attended by crowds of Hasidim. This life style was, to say the least, controversial.
Reb Baruch was known for his temper, for his boughts of depression, for his unwillingness to compromise,
and for his claim of supernatural
powers. He practiced
petek and pidyonot, by which a follower gave him money to ensure that the follower's entreaty would reach heaven.
Reb Baruch seemed to be reluctant to use communal funds for charitable purposes.
Elie Wiesel (Wiesel, Elie, 1972, Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters: Random House, p. 82)
characterizes Reb Baruch as fearful of rivals and usurpers; suspicious and distrustful of others;
held grudges; arrogant; and believing that everything was due him.
Reb Baruch died in 1811, 18 Kislev 5572, and is buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Medzhybizh, next to his grandfather
the Baal Shem Tov. His legacy was the deterioration of the Hasidim.
To learn more about Baruch of Tulchin read
the following linked articles in the 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia and in Wikipedia:
Baruch of Tulchin
Boruch of Medzhybizh