Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World
By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
The Rebbes of Satmar. As reported here (“Satmar’s Grand Armories,” Machberes column in the 5TJT issue of November 22), the annual observance of the 21st of Kislev rescue of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt’l (1886–1979), founding Satmar Rebbe and author of Divrei Yoel, was celebrated all over the world, wherever chassidim gather. On that day in history, Thursday, December 4, 1944, the Satmar Rebbe was aboard a train that crossed over the border into Switzerland and to freedom. The deliverance was made possible by Dr. Rudolf Kastner, z’l (1906–1957), who risked his own life in negotiating and bribing Nazis, thereby saving 1,685 Jewish souls.
Today’s Satmar Rebbes, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum and Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, celebrated at armories in Brooklyn: Rabbi Aaron at the New York State National Guard Armory on Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, and Rabbi Zalman Leib in the Marcy Avenue Armory in Williamsburg. Their respective followers filled the huge armories.
That these celebrations are held in armories declares the miracle of survival as well as the generosity of American democracy. The keynote address at each event is when the Rebbe speaks. They highlight their respective kehillos’ agendas—or rather, the kehillos’ agendas adjust to what the Rebbes stress.
Rabbi Aaron has been a trailblazer in establishing chasunah takonos, wedding expenditure guidelines. These include price ceilings on the purchase of chasan shtreimels and the substitution of cubic zirconia stones for diamond engagement rings. The guidelines include limitations on gifts during the engagement period as well as for other simchas. Most members of his kehillah abide by those guidelines. In addition, catering halls are being built that will cater weddings without unnecessary frills. The new halls are being designed to have the entire wedding cost less than $6,000, costing each side only $3,000. Rabbi Aaron was proud to share this development, extolling adherence to the guidelines for already having saved tens of millions of dollars.
Rabbi Zalman Leib delineated the phenomenal growth in his kehillah. His yeshivas are now graduating more than 100 chasanim yearly. That translates into the need for more than 300 weddings and 300 apartments in Williamsburg alone. It would be impossible to expand Williamsburg’s home stock with 300 apartments year after year. The challenge is compounded by the popularity of Williamsburg with the yuppie community, causing prices of apartments to skyrocket. Apartment prices have climbed, and continue to climb, way beyond the capability of young chassidishe couples. Rabbi Zalman Leib therefore promoted the establishment of Kiryas Yetev Lev, the new Satmar community in Bloomingburg, in upstate New York.
The Satmar community in Bloomingburg is completing its first phase of development, with hundreds of new homes being finished in the very next few months. As an inducement to accelerate the purchase of homes, Rabbi Zalman Leib announced that magnanimous subsidies of $1,000 a month would be granted to the first 50 kollel families electing to make the move. The generous inducements will attract 50 worthy families that will inaugurate and establish the new community’s culture, direction, and religiosity. We can safely anticipate that the grants will quickly generate a wave of new home purchases.
The Vishnitzer Rebbe of Monsey. In mourning upon the passing of a great-granddaughter of Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe, just two days after giving birth to her first daughter, the Rebbe issued a clarion call for women to daven Shacharis every morning. The Rebbe declared: “I turn to and publicly ask our righteous women to try to pray Shacharis every morning, starting from Baruch She’amar until after the Amidah. And if it is difficult for some, for them to try to at least pray, every morning, the following prayer sections: Baruch She’amar, Ashrei, Yishtabach. Ahavah Rabah, Kriyas Shema, and the Amidah.” The Rebbe further expressed his personal appreciation for all women who will surely respond to his request.
The Rebbe’s great-granddaughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Feiga, a’h (1994–2013), was married in November 2012 to Rabbi Yochanon Hager, son of Rabbi Boruch Shamshon Hager, Monsey-Vishnitzer Rav in Beth Shemes, son of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe. She was the daughter of Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rav in Boro Park; son of Rabbi Moshe Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rebbe in Williamsburg; son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneibalg, Manchester Rav; son of Rabbi Dovid Shneibalg, zt’l (1894–1969), Vishnitzer dayan and rosh yeshiva in Grossverdein. Rabbi Moshe is the son-in-law of Rabbi Eliyahu Aryeh Terkeltaub, zt’l, Asho Rav. Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg is the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinchas Sholom Hager, Boro Park Vishnitzer Rav and son of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe. Rabbi Pinchas Sholom is the son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel Zvi (Hershele) Horowitz (1921–1997), zt’l, Spinka Rebbe.
The passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Feiga, a’h, happened shortly after a number of deaths of young mothers within Vishnitzer chassidishe communities. A pamphlet titled Bas Melech has been issued and circulated, discussing the halachos of women’s prayers, with many quotes of discussions held by the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe, as well as tales of tzaddikim. v
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the Rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and Director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. Rabbi Tannenbaum can be contacted at email@example.com.