Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World
By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
With the passing of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, zt’l (1914–2006), Satmar Rebbe and author of Beirach Moshe, the partition of the Satmar community was solidified. Rabbi Aaron, the older son, retained whatever was under his considerable influence. The younger son, Rabbi Zalman Leib, stepped into the spheres overseen by his late father.
The administration of the main Satmar beis medrash on 53rd Street in Boro Park maintained its fealty to Rabbi Aaron. After a number of leadership confrontations, embarrassing incidents where followers of Rabbi Zalman Leib were humiliated, they effectively became homeless. They rushed to rent, for Shabbos use, the beis medrash of the Bobover Yeshiva led by Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Unger, son-in-law of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Halberstam, zt’l, (1931–2005), fourth Bobover Rebbe (as opposed to Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam, younger brother of Rabbi Naftali Zvi, zt’l). The facility had formerly served as the Aperion Manor, a popular chasunah hall. Immediately, an intense fund-raising drive was initiated in order for a large beis medrash to be built in the heart of Boro Park for followers of Rabbi Zalman Leib.
Setting the Foundation Stone. In April 2007, just days after the first yahrzeit of the Beirach Moshe, tremendous preparations were under way for a grand Shabbos (Acharei Mos-Kedoshim) which had Rabbi Zalman Leib lead tefillos and tisch in Boro Park. The Shabbos was dedicated to the groundbreaking of the new Satmar beis medrash to be built. The estimates pegged the cost of the new edifice in excess of ten million dollars. That was the first Shabbos that Rabbi Zalman Leib led in Boro Park after the passing of his father.
A huge tent was erected at 1366 52nd Street, the site of the new shul, where the Rebbe’s Shabbos tisch was conducted. Tefillos were led by the Rebbe at the temporary Satmar beis medrash in the Bobover Yeshiva.
The Grand Opening. Shabbos Bamidbar, May 10–11, 2013, Satmar chassidim convened in Boro Park in celebration of the completion and inauguration of their new beis medrash complex on 52nd Street, off 14th Avenue. The event had the eminent participation of Rabbi Zalman Leib. This was the first Shabbos that the Rebbe conducted in Boro Park since that special Shabbos six years ago. That was his first and only Shabbos in Boro Park from the time that he succeeded his father.
Every facet of the spectacular Shabbos was larger than life. Before Shabbos began, everywhere the Rebbe went, he was accompanied by a thousand or more chassidim. Streets were closed and traffic came to a standstill. Along Thirteenth Avenue, the main business thoroughfare of Boro Park, every lamppost was festooned with welcoming banners.
The doors of the new edifice were opened wide as thousands of chassidim poured in. Every door within was opened and every corner was thoroughly looked at. The huge sparkling new beis medrash was packed as every future classroom was appreciated. At the time of tefillah, everyone tried to squeeze into the beis medrash. Every seat was occupied. The forenches (standing bleachers) were fully populated by married young men and yeshiva students. The aisles in between were packed.
Before Kabbolas Shabbos, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Katz, Boro Park Satmar Dayan and member of Satmar’s Beis Din, conveyed the Rebbe’s blessing and welcomed everyone into the new edifice. After davening, thousands stood on line to personally shake hands and say to and hear the Rebbe’s Gut Shabbos. A grand Shabbos meal was served to thousands of chassidim at the stately Renaissance Hall on 14th Avenue at 59th Street, after which thousands and thousands of chassidim streamed from all corners of greater Boro Park and Flatbush to the Rebbe’s tisch in the new beis medrash. The tisch lasted deep into the night, with few going to sleep before 3:00 a.m.
Early Shabbos morning, before Shacharis, what viewers saw and heard was breathtaking. The beis medrash reverberated with thousands of children heartfully reciting Tehillim out loud. During Shacharis, though the beis medrash was overfilled, not a sound was heard during Kriyas Shema. Before Kriyas haTorah, the Rebbe spoke, delivering deep Torah insights. The war against objectionable technological intrusions was strengthened.
After Musaf, a baronial kiddush was served in the home housing the family homes of brothers Aaron and Mendel Weinstock, preeminent Satmar chassidim. Together with the Rebbe, thousands streamed through and made a beracha. The Rebbe was then shepherded to the home of Avrohom Lefkowitz, scion of Satmar’s organizational leadership, where the Seudas Shabbos was shared with family and close intimates of the Rebbe.
During Shabbos afternoon, a constant flow of chassidim from Williamsburg and environs were guided by protective police into Boro Park. The chassidim came to be part of the majestic sholosh seudos held in the Bobover Yeshiva beis medrash, The Rebbe’s words served as an ushering in to the heightened holy days preceding the yom tov of Shavuos.
Thousands jammed into the beis medrash to hear the Rebbe count Sefirah and make Havdalah. Many accompanied the Rebbe back to his Shabbos headquarters. The procession was ornamented with flaming torchlights, music, song, and dance. Thousands of yeshiva students danced in formation. Right before stepping into the doorway, the Rebbe turned around and blessed everyone promising that Heaven will shower graces upon every family that adheres to the teachings of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt’l (1886–1979), founding Satmar Rebbe and revered author of Divrei Yoel.
The Rebbe’s melava malka on Motzaei Shabbos was a meeting of Satmar leaders at the home of Naftali Zvi Schwartz. During Shabbos, more than a million dollars was pledged during Kriyas haTorah and an additional half million dollars was pledged at the melava malka, monies needed to complete the new edifice.
The Tasher Rebbe’s Lightning Visit
To New York
Late on Motzaei Shabbos Bamidbar, May 11–12, Rabbi Meshulim Feish Lowy, revered Tasher Rebbe in Montreal, decided to attend the bris of a newborn great-grandson. The Rebbe boarded a private jet and was brought to New York after 1:00 am, where the Rebbe attended a melava malka in the home of Berl Brettler on Keap Street. Tasher chassidim, hearing of the Rebbe’s presence, rushed there. The Rebbe then stopped at the home of Yechezkel Strulowitz.
The sholom zochor was held Friday night in the Tasher Beis Medrash in Kiryas Yoel. Early Sunday morning, the Rebbe arrived in Monsey to attend the bris in the home of Binyamin Philipson. The bris was that of the son born to Rabbi Naftali Hertzka Lowy, youngest son of Rabbi Mordechai Lowy, zt’l (1947–1998), son of the Tasher Rebbe.
Immediately after the early Shacharis, the bris was conducted with the Rebbe serving as the sandek. Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Horowitz, Toldos Zvi Spinka Rebbe in Williamsburg; a great-uncle of the newborn, served as mohel. The Rebbe then attended a foundation laying event in Monsey to set the cornerstone for the new Tasher Beis Medrash to be built in Monsey.
The Rebbe was then rushed back to the airport, where the private jet brought him back to Montreal in time to grace a Chumash Seudah in which kindergarten boys of the Tasher Yeshiva in Kiryas Tash were presented with their very first Chumash.
The Tasher Rebbe is the grandson of Rabbi Elimelech Lowy, zt’l (1865–1941), Tasher Rebbe; son of Rabbi Meshulim Feish Lowy, zt’l (1821–1873), founding Tasher Rebbe. The present Tasher Rebbe survived the Holocaust and established his chassidic court in post-WWII Nieredhaus, Hungary. In 1951, the Rebbe, together with eighteen chassidish families immigrated to Montreal and, in 1963, established Kiryas Tash in Boisbriand, twelve miles north of Montreal. The Tasher Rebbe has a tremendous following, and thousands of chassidim from all over the world regularly participate in Tasher events.
Vishnitz Rachmestrivka Chasunah
On Shabbos Naso, May 17–18, the aufruf of Yisroel Twersky was celebrated in the Rachmestrivka Beis Medrash in Boro Park. The chassan is the son of Rabbi Yeshaya Meshulem Zushe Twersky; son of Rabbi Chai Yitzchok Twersky, Rachmestrivka Rebbe. Rabbi Yeshaya Meshulem Zushe is the son-in-law of his uncle, Rabbi Avrohom Dovid Twersky, Monsey Rachmestrivka Rav; son-in-law of Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.
The kallah is the daughter of Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer Fish, Biksader Rebbe; son of Rabbi Nochum Zvi Fish, zt’l (d. 2003), Biksader Rebbe; son of Rabbi Eliezer Fish, zt’l Hy’d (1880–1944), Biksader Rebbe and author of Shem Eliezer. Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer is a son-in-law of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe. The Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe is a grandfather of the kallah and a great-grandfather of both the chassan and the kallah.
The traditional forshpiel celebration of the chassan was held together with the melava malka on Motzaei Shabbos. On Monday evening, the kabolas panim was held in the main Vishnitzer Beis Medrash in Monsey and the chuppah was conducted on a raised platform outside of the beis medrash. Thousands of chassidim participated.
Shabbos sheva berachos will be held in the Vishnitzer Beis Medrash in Monsey. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.