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There are descendants of the renown Hasidic rebbe, R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev with the surname Derbaremdiker (דערבארעמדיקער) which means "the Merciful One" in Yiddish and refers to Hashem. I once heard a story concerning the origins of this obscure surname, which goes like this:

It was during the time that the Polish government was forcing the Jews to take on surnames. R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was in his beis medrash davening when the government officials came in to talk to him and record which surname he wanted. But the Rebbe was so engrossed in his tefillos he was murmuring over and over again "Derbaremdiker, Derbaremdiker..." ("The Merciful One, the Merciful One...") and wouldn't respond to the officials so they recorded "Derbaremdiker" as his surname, assuming this is what he wanted.

What is the source for this story, and what year did it circulate? It sounds nice but maybe a bit far-fetched; like someone made it up to understand why they had the surname Derbaremdiker and knew R' Levi Yitzchak was in their yichus.

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    For those who voted to close, an explanation would be great. :) I'm not asking about the surname, but the source for the story, for which we have many questions here on MY similar. – ezra Oct 17 '17 at 17:20
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    ezra, it is asking for a source for a story, but the story has nothing to do with judaism. – Double AA Feb 20 '18 at 17:06
  • @ezra See here (A691) for some info books.google.com/… – SAH Mar 25 '18 at 7:17
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What is the source for this story?

On page 32 of this booklet it attributes the story to Rav Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, better know as the Piaseczno Rebbe.

And what year did it circulate?

The Piaseczno Rebbe lived between the years 1889 and 1943.

Here's the story as they bring it:

פע"א סיפר הגה"ק האדמו"ר מפיעסצנא זצ"ל הי"ד בעל החובת התלמידים שקיבל מרבותיו שפעם אחד ישבו הרה"ק הקדושת לוי מבארדיטשוב זי"ע עם הרה"ק הרבי מלובלין זי"ע והרה"ק המגיד הקדוש מקאזניץ זי"ע בצוותא חדא ועסקו בתורתם ועבודתם, ולפתע פקדו פקידי הממשלה את הבית בבואם לרשום שמות המשפחה לכל אחד ואחד ,והרה"ק מבארדיטשוב נענה ואמר: הלא שנינו בחז"ל הדבק במידותיו 'מה הוא רחום אף אתה רחום ' רחום איז דאך דערבארמדיקער - זאל זיין דערבארמדיקער.‏

Roughly translated as:

"Once the Piaseczno Rebbe - author of the Chovos Hatalmidim recounted that he has a tradition from his teachers that once the Kedushas HaLevi of Berditchev was sitting with the Rav of Lublin and the Magid of Koznitz and they were learning Torah, when suddenly the government officials came in to talk to him and record which surname each wanted."

"The Berditchever responded by saying that Chazal teach us "Just as Hashem is merciful, so you too should be merciful" - Merciful is Hashem - Derbaremdiker - so it (the surname) should be Derbaremdiker."

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