Rabbi Yosef Yosel Hurwitz, the Alter of Novorodock, was a true radical. As a young man, he was deeply engaged in business and the support of his family. However, at the age of 27, he met Rabbi Yisrael Salanter and the impact of that meeting shook him to the foundations and completely transformed the direction of Reb Yosel’s life. He threw himself into study and spiritual matters. His whole life was now based on total, radical faith, and he became completely disengaged from material concerns.
He established a large yeshiva in Novorodock and was responsible for creating a whole network of yeshivas. Reb Yosel believed that abnormal times required a radical approach which demanded total immersion in spiritual matters without consideration for the amenities of existence. His major work is appropriately named Stature of Man. In 1919, while he was in Kiev, a plague broke out and while caring for the sick, Reb Yosel himself became ill and succumbed on the 17th day of Kislev.