Sunday, January 18, 2009
Munkacser Abdication (Part I)
(Dancing at the wedding of his son, the Dinover Rebbe)
In di chassidishe velt today there are very few Rebbes that remember di alte heim. Most of the leaders today are either not in full commission or of the next generation. Or never really saw the Chassidim of old. There are still some older chassidim left who remember, thought their numbers dwindle daily. Those that do would remember that one very bright star shone for a very short while, it's light extinguished - albeit self extinguished - by the Holocaust and the events immediately thereafter. Lots of tall tales are told about this star, and many still shed a tear today when they mention his name. They tremble with Yiras HaKoved when speaking of his greatness, and cry for what could've been 70 years later. They wonder how such a shining star could willingly remove himself from the Rebbishe "galaxy" just as the world was in such desperate need of pre-war Rebbes to build and encourage. The star we talk about was none other than the last Rov of Munkacs, Rav Boruch Yehoshua Yerachmiel Rabinovitch, zt"l.
Engaged to the only daughter of the Minchas Elozor - אן אויסגעבעטענע קינד - as they say, he soon learned that his new surroundings were not what he was used. Sort of like Reb Nochum Yitzchok, HY"D of Rava Ruska. He was betrothed to the daughter of a great Chassidic Rebbe at a very young age - before he became a man - and didn't know what he was getting into until it was too late. We spoke at some length a while back about an incident in Reb Burechel's life and how seemingly his relationship with his in-laws was strained somewhat. There was a lengthy article in the Israeli Sha'ah Tovah magazine a few weeks back (which we will hopefully bring here) with a son of Reb Burech from his infamous second marriage, one Yair Rabinovitch, a half brother to the Dinover and Munkatcher Rebbes, where he goes into great detail into why his father left all the glory behind and remained a reclusive little-known Rov for the rest of his life. A Rov who was somewhat ignored by his own children and forgotten by the next generation.
(Reb Burechel in 5724 - Credit:Abarbanel)
As a child we knew that the current Munkatcher - may he live and be well - was a grandson and that was it. It sounded like somehow it skipped a generation; like a grandson inheriting his grandfather's red hair without the kid's father being red. Then, as we matured, we learned that there was actually a father who was still alive (!) but he wasn't worthy of being Munkatcher Rebbe, for some strange reason. Then we learned that he became a Tziyoni, so we understood why he wasn't the Munkatcher Rebbe. Then, when the wedding album - ראש שמחתי they called it - was released with all the pictures of the wedding and of the ME we wondered how it could all go so terribly wrong. Then, when we saw him - through pictures - as the Rov and Rosh Yeshivah in Munkacs, and the glory and honor and respect that he had, the questions only became stronger, and the reasons of his departure more difficult to understand. Sao Paulo, Petach Tikvah, Cholon; these were all positions that he held in the Rabbinate, but none of them can compare to the glory that was once Munkacs, glory that he willingly left behind. The reasons are many, and we aim to explore them on the virtual pages of this blog in the very near future, with G-d's help and with your learned input.