Thursday, February 26, 2009
Munkacser Abdication (Part II)
In Part I we discussed the Munkatcher Rov - Reb Boruch Rabinovitch - in general and the fact that he was a light that would not shine after WW2, when in theory he should have been in his prime, due to the lack of pre-war Rabbonim at that time. We can assume that due to the fact that a larger contingent of Hungarian/Marmorisher Jews survived the war that they would've flocked to him almost as much as to the Satmar Rov. In part II we'll try and get to the bottom of what transpired during and immediately after the war years that caused him to so drastically change his approach to Jewish life and abdicate the throne of Munkatch - at least as far as Rebbistive went.
Bacuhrim and RBR accompanying Reb Choone Koloshitzer upon his visit to Munkacs
At the outset of world war II the Government of Hungary deemed all foreign citizens suspicious and potential spies that needed to be deported back to their home countries. Reb Burechel was a Polish citizen - from Shedlitz, - Shimon Goldman's town- and thus deemed a potential spy, or something like that. He was rounded up with thousands of other Polish and Foreign Nationals and delivered over the border to Kamenetz-Podolsk in the Ukraine. Literally just dumped there. Only by a sheer miracle was he rescued from the massacres that the bastard Ukrainians carried out on the helpless Jews, just as they would when the Nazis overran the Ukraine in the summer of '41. RBR made his way to Budapest after being rescued, and immediately threw himself into the task at hand - rescuing Jews by any means neccesary. He sounded the alarm - as was the case with RMBW, who also escaped from the trains to Auschwitz - and made it his duty to help those refugees who had managed to escape from blood-soaked Poland. Hungary was still a relative safe haven at that time, no deportations yet, only forced labor.
Reb Burechel and Reb Nuta Shlomo Schlissel, the Rosh Yeshiva and Dayan of Munkacs
Truth be told, there isn't much information out there about RBR's wartime activities. They say that he wrote a book and still saw it published right before his passing on Chanukah 5758. Before that time he wouldn't discuss what he did. maybe since he became a shtikkel Zionist he decided not to write about them for fear of implicating himself by associating with them. He would say that he's leaving that chapter of his life for "after 120." It seems like he was frustrated at the total apathy of most Hungarian Jews, not only to the plight of their brethren in Europe, but also to the dangers awaiting themselves. I may have mentioned before how in Shavuos of 5703/1943 Jews traveled to Koson, to the "Ohr Moleh", to be with the Tzaddik for Shavuos, my maternal grandfather included. Most of Polish Jewry was decimated by then, but in Hungary it was Yom Tov as usual for those not conscripted into the forced labor brigades. A biography written by RBR's son-in-law says that the reason for RBR's leaving Hungary in 1944 and traveling to the Holy Land was that he saw that he could only do so much if the people themselves are unwilling to help. He had done all he could, now it was time to save his family.
Learning Parshas Emor at Cheder in Ungvar
Unlike the Belzer, Lubavitcher, and Satmar Rebbes, among others, no book has been written about the Rabinovitch Family's escape. Let me rephrase that - I haven't seen one, so we may have to get to that part later. In the hakdome to his sefer בינת נבונים he does write about how he was rescued in the Ukraine and escaped to Hungary. They arrived in the Holy Land in 1944, and Reb Burechel would darshen to thousands about the slaughters that the Jews in Europe are subjected to and would try and call the Jews there to action. There the Rebbetzin Frima, the Minchas Elozor's only daughter, contracted Tuberculosis and was no longer alive a year later. RBR was left alone with 5 yesomim'lach, shattered sevenfold now that his world and his wife had been taken from him. What happened later is unclear, prone to hearsay and rumors and often mixed with outright lies. Two years later he married a young woman - one that the Chassidim were (to say the least) quite unhappy about. The Holocaust had taken a major toll on the young Rov - he had changed drastically. His outlook on life and how to build the Jewish Nation from דאסניי had also changed, and many of his shver's - and his - talmidim and chassidim were very unhappy.
More on that later, iy"h.