Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Read this book and you'll see why what's happening in Bobov today is a crying shame

We've written about Bobov and their accomplishments in Galicia before, but this is more like a book review than anything else. I borrowed this oldie but goodie from a family member and read some of it  over Shabbos. It's even difficult to put down at times. So allow me to share some thoughts as to what Bobov was and what's happening in Bobov today; and why, like we say in the header, it's a crying shame. 
Many other chassidim laugh at Bobov. Mostly for all the wrong reasons - but still, they laugh. ס'איז גרינג צו לאכען אויף יענעם. I know, I do it all the time. But read this book, written by a biased chossid, of course, and you'll get a true appreciation of what Bobov was before the war. Of what they accomplished in Galicia while others just thumbed their noses at them but did little to build Yiddishkeit. The story of survival during WWII is also a great lesson in hashgocha protis, as well as in emunah and bitachon, but that's not so much the point, although it's a as good a mussar sefer as any.  This may sound like a bad cliche, but it does take you back to that time! You feel like you're there with the Ruv when he's attacked by the Hallerchiks in their post-War pogroms. You're there with him when he rebuilds his yeshiva and expands the network. You're there when he sees chassidim with real conundrums, such as do I do this shidduch or that one? do I go to Canada and make a living or stay here? how do I get out of the legal mess I'm in?! Besides for appreciating his persona and accomplishments you also grow fond of his family large family. The sons, the daughters, the sons-in-law, even the grandkids. If you'd met them on the street you'd think that you're best friends with them... The trials and tribulations during WW2, the ups and downs, the countless miracles, the hashgochoh protis that was with them every step of the way, even when the result was not good. The joy upon seeing those who managed to survive, the sadness of seeing those who did not --- you live through it, plain and simple.

At the end of the book, after seeing what the Nazis ימ"ש did to Bobov, we get to see what was rebuilt in the US, as well in the rest of the Jewish world. We see the familiar landmarks, the big buildings, the people who helped make it happen, and some of the people who are mentioned in the pre-War chapters of the book. We see how they survived the horrors and managed to build beautiful families as well as be active in the rebuilding of Bobov. Then it hits you! You see what was destroyed by the Nazis and what was rebuilt and you see what's happening now in Bobov, the years of fighting and a din torah that was a shande, first and foremost, and you grab your head in your hands! This isn't what people died for. They call themselves Bobov?! I have no skin in the game, I have no friends nor family in Bobov, but I do root for the underdog here, especially seeing the viciousness with which they've been treated since before Day 1, i.e. before the Ruv, Reb Naftul'che, passed away. They never agreed for him to be Ruv in the first place - him, the oldest son! He stood in the way of their little tchachkele, the kid from Krenitz, I mean קראנהייטס, mit di sheine gelokerte pay'alach.

ah, the din torah. Far be it from to sit here and criticize rabbonim who conduct dinei torah. I have no experience with dinei torah. I've never needed to take anybody to DT. But many of you have, and unfortunately, anybody that ever lost a DT swears that the Rabbonim were on the take. [otherwise there's no logical explanation why they'd lose...] Here, however, it's tough to say that the Rabbonim were on the take since BOTH sides made so much money! But nevertheless, anybody on the outside, who has no real dog in this race, will tell you that  - with all due respect, of course - the psak stinks! It stinks because of all the hard work that the late Reb Naftul'che put in. The tears, sweat, blood and even threats to his life that he gave to build Bobov for his father and for the chassidim. It stinks that his descendants, who he definitely would have wanted to be in charge, only get the scraps that beis din threw them. And most of all because the צד שני did very little to deserve what beis din gave him. Did little to build the institutions, to carry the debt, to endure the sleepless nights and meetings with bank managers. Other than the hallowed Halberstam name, that is. In the end, after all is settled, the 45 people will probably grow bigger and stronger because of what was done to them. So says me, עפר ואפר. סינא טינא.


PSOL said...

The reason that the Bobov you see today does not match up to the Bobov portrayed in the book is because the book is typically fanciful, frum 'histiography'. By which I mean the bulk of it is completely made up.

Yes, I have read it, and my judgement of it is based in part by speaking to a number of the people mentioned in it.

No present day people or community can match up to an idealized past that basically never existed.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

I'm not asking anything of today to be matched with anything of yesteryear. That's beside the point.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

but do tell, what's made up in the book?

sdr said...

I agree 100% but on that note the same can be said for most of the frum velt today. Unfortunately, we've seen an incredible yeridah in the past 25-20 years that could not have been imagined. Unfortunately nothing is what it once was. Satmar v Satmar etc....

Radishkovitzer said...

Great post - one minor correction though. Not that it makes a difference but I know the author of the book very well and she is actually a bono fide litvak with no chasidisheh blood at all.

PSOL said...

"I'm not asking anything of today to be matched with anything of yesteryear. "

"So allow me to share some thoughts as to what Bobov was and what's happening in Bobov today"

level headed chosid said...

Hershel , why are you taking sides in the bobov machloikes? What makes you think that the rabbis didnt consider your arguments, and have good reason to disagree. Its wrong for you to second guess that psak, especially when you have no stake in the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

True reb naftulcha was a zaddik he did not want his brother to have anything no name no building nothing and his two son in laws to have evrything name buildings thats what ungar people are saying so came beis din and said that reb naftulcha was a bad person and wanted his brother to have the name the buildings and his two son in laws to have something

disinterested 45 supporter said...

Reb Naftulche should not have allowed that announcement at the levaya about Rav Hatza'ir. That turned Bentzion into an heir apparent. Sadly, that's what sealed the deal.

רואה ואינו נראה said...

Just for the record.
While comment #5 may be technically true.
The book was actually ghostwritten by the Rebbbitzin of R' Naftule zatza'l

art said...

I'm generally a misnaged, but I admit a bias toward RBZ.

That Reb Naftulche invested he sweat and blood is unquestionable.

But I think you farmisht the yotzros a bit.

From the moment Reb Shlomo was niftar, Reb Benzion was a nirdaf.

The Rav Hatza'ir business was intended by the Roshei Hakohol, supposedly reflecting Reb shlomo's express wishes, to ensure that there would be a smooth succssion from one brother to another, and for the Chassidus to then continue down the male bloodline.

Despite the agression by his family, Reb Naftulche seemed to have have made numerous public displays that indicated that Reb Benzion was to take over.

Indeed, a good many of the 45ers were people with scores to settle against the Halberstams. Stealing Bobov from the family was the way to do it.

As for the dayanim, I had no doubt of the outcome. What's puzzling is how long it took to reach it, although I'm sure each side kept on contriving and inventing new taanos.

level headed chosid. said...

Tzig, what art just wrote is 100% on target. Those that know what really went on in bobov, know full well, that this fight was instigated from the ezras noshim. Im using that term to be polite and not point fingers. It is for that reason that certain family members took mordche duvids side. However, it is very clear, that both horav shloime and horav naftoli agreed on horav benzion taking over. Both were umited on the rav hatzoir issue for that reason. Therefore, the bais din were very reasonable and fair to mordche duvid, no matter how it appears. I am not a bobover and have no stake in the fight. The only issue, is why it took so long to reach such an obvious conclusion.

yankel said...

SDR - I don't know what planet you live on, but the only kehilla about which we can truly say אכשר דרא is Satmar. If you find out what was happening in the 70s and 80s against others and against each others, you will see how much better they are than they used to be.

Knows a family member said...

Unlike 'level headed chosid' and 'art', I know that R Naftuli wanted the Rabiste to stay in his family.
I also know he was a supreme gentleman and would not make a scene or fight. So the 'rav hatzoir' could easily have been done without his agreement.
The RBZ camp was making preparations from when R Shlomo was in his final weakness/ illness. They were keeping R Naftoli away from his father.

Anonymous said...

Tzig, you are making some major assumptions about Bobov, which leads you to feel that a great injustice has been done. I am a Bobover and would hate to go into unpleasant details in public, and therefore I wont. Nevertheless you should take some hints from the facts on the ground.

If the facts are as you think they are R'BZ wouldn't have held on to 70%. He wouldn't have had every single person who was by the Kedushat Zion. Rav Naftoli Z"L would have protested, or at least hinted his displeasure.

Somehow all these people didn't view the transfer of leadership from Ren Naftuli to R'BZ as unfair or underserved.

I have also read this book, and other publications of the Halberstam's years in the war. I also read the gut wrenching chapters of Reb Shloime's failed attempts to save his wife and kids in the war. But Reb Shloime didn't let that stop him.

Reb Shloime remarried and lived with his new wife over 50 years. The blood, sweat, and tears you mention are dwarfed by his father's. And no man can dedicate a life to a cause without his wife sharing in it side by side.

The point is, as understood by every Bobover Chusid, and as understood by Reb Naftuli, Bobov was built by Reb Shloime, and therefore it is only fair that his sons (first one then the other) should succeed him as Rebbe.

yankel said...

The crying shame isn't that the yoiresh was jumped over for a brother.
The crying shame isn't that someone who was machzik with police force got to keep everything.
The crying shame isn't that when a minimum of 30% (we don't what would have been if the other one would have been the muchzak) doesn't like the kehilla organization and leaves they don't get back their investment.
The crying shame is that a chassidus that was built on personal connections from the Rebbe to his Chassidim. Each Bobover chossid was treated to the personal attention and selflessness of the Rebbes and that is how a tibbur was built. This was based on bein odom lachaveiro and eidelkeit. Now those that claim to have a 'right' to sit in his chair are acting the opposite. Mean-spirited, vindictive jealous spiteful reactions to anyone who might think of making peace between RBZ and his nephew are normal actions of a tzadik?! When I see on kaveshtiebel.com how the 48'niks talk about their own brethren, atzmi uvsari, and we remember what kind of person Reb Shloimele was, we can indeed call it a crying shame.
Think about it. When you go Hoshana Raba to Bobov to watch the 'avoida of the tzadik'. Not only is he just a plain person, his avoida of hoshanos etc. is part of his nasty side. That is when he is counting taleisim and checking on how he is winning. That is when he remembers who disappeared from 'his' beis hamedrash and how he will take revenge.
ממשיך זיין די גאלדענע קייט!

Anonymous said...


Don't you see the irony of your own post? Don't you see the contradiction in your own words?

In words dripping with hate and revulsion, you lament the fact the Bobover Rebbe today is "Mean spirited, vindictive, jealous and spiteful". You make these accusation, in public, against the son of the Rebbe who so loved you and you so revered.

Is your hate so deep that you can't see Bobov and it's Rebbe for what they really are? Is your hate so deep that you don't recognize how ironic it is that you chastise anonymous writers on a blog, for being hateful to their own brethren, while in a hateful screed you attack your Rebbe's son with baseless fantasy accusation.

HaSineh Mekalkeles HaShireh

yankel said...

I am not a Bobover Chossid, I did not grow up in the US and I have no dog in this race.
But when a son strays so far from his father's creed and teachings, it is painful for anyone who respected his father for what he was to see. That is the crying shame.
And those writers may be anonymous, but they represent the 48 shita perfectly. I have met enough of them to have heard similar things. The Rebbe of 48 talks like this too. For proof, find out what he had to say about the parents of Leibel Shtempel because he believes that Bobov can have two Rebbes. Note, Leibel Shtempel never tried to stop RBZ from running his business and he was also willing to give him money. But the idea that he would also support his nephew made the 'son of the king of farginners' see red and attack his yichus and whatnot.

Anonymous said...


I guess your argument then is that only Bobover's need curb their hate.

It is refreshing though that you admit that you haven't slightest idea of what Bobov is. Your are not a Bobover and did not grow up in the U.S.

Apparently your sole window into understanding the Bobover rebbe is a comment you allege he made (presumably to someone you really trust) assumingly derogatory about his aunt and uncle, and assumingly in revenge for Leibel Shtempel's (known to the rest of the world as Leibel Stempel) belief that there can be two bobov's.

The rest of us know that 1) Leibel Stempel is comfortably accepted in the Bobover Kehilla in London, a kehilla that is under the control of the Bobover Rebbe, 2)is well received in Bobov every time he visits.

I should clarify one point though. The fact that Bobov demanded in Beth Din, and throughout the world, that there be only be one Bobov, is a complete legitimate claim. It is a claim that the Beth Din granted and is well founded. I will not argue the point here. Suffice to say however that demanding a right in a Beth Din, especially in a case where you are the nitvah has no connection to hate.

I'll go even further. Hating someone you feel has wronged you, while certainly not the nicest of middos and wrong, is still a normal human emotion.

Hating someone you know nothing about, someone who has never wronged you, is the true definition of Sinas Chinum. That's a crying shame. That hate is so mind numbing it actually allows you to only process those hateful blog posts from one side, while ignoring the other posts.

yankel said...

You are insisting on making the narrative about me instead of the crying shame. I may be a hater, but that is irrelevant. When there was something beautiful called the Bobover Rebbe in the world, I appreciated it. I know he was not the greatest Talmid Chochom of the dor, he was not the major ba'al deah of the dor and he did not have the responsibility of klal yisroel on his shoulders, neither was he a major ba'al mofes. But his main quality was his love for his people on a personal level. The crying shame is that those that claim to own his name, those that claim to worry about his legacy, are in the gutter with nasty mean-spirited attacks. 45st is not as represented on kaveshtiebel.com as 48th and therefore I have not seen the same level of vitriol. But I am in no way a chossid of RMD either. RBZ gave a public speech with his disgusting attack on his uncle and that is the crying shame in this case. If the other side does the same thing, it would mean that the whole legacy of Reb Shloimele Bobover is down the tubes.
And regarding your other statements. Leibel Shtemple is as much an opinion on how many Bobovs there should be as RBZ. He is also an einikel of the Kedushas Zion and he is just as much a Talmid Chochom as RBZ. If he believes that there can be two Bobovs, it is a legitimate opinion.
And the idea that RMD 'wronged' RBZ by opening up is part of the bad midos of RBZ. If he actually liked his fathers talmidim and worried for his legacy, he would be happy that those that would not feel happy with his Rebistive could stay in the comfort of Bobov and he would have opened up to allow two Bobovs to exist and everyone could have been happy. The sky would not have fallen.
But when the yetzer of machlokes starts dancing, mentschlichkeit disappeared and we had a regular grave-side brawl just like anyone elsee. There is no more chashivus of a Rebbe, no more mentschlichkeit of Bobov, no more 'doing the right thing', just petty fighting and hatred.

yankel said...

One more point - The end of this fight will not take place in any Bobover Shul or Beis Din. It will take place in the minds and hearts of Klal Yisroel. Right now, people are disgusted by RBZ. If RMD behaves right, he can become an accepted Rebbe without the name Bobov. If he has any qualities to sell, the world is open to appreciating them. RBZ has burned much of his goodwill in society with his actions. This is RMDs to lose.

Anonymous said...


It is not irrelevant, and yes you are the issue. You lay down claims about what has transpired in Bobov, about who is to blame, who is vitriolic and who isn’t, and the crying shame of it all.
It is important that you be exposed as a hater. As someone that doesn’t really know Bobov, but still thinks he can pen a screed against a Kehilla.
You have opinions about how the Bobover Rebbe should or shouldn’t have acted, so it is relevant to understand that you haven’t the slightest idea of how he and his Kehilla actually did act. Exposing your hate exposes your motive and questions your allegations. Those allegations are of course false.
I am a Bobover and yes we lived through an extremely painful 10 years. I am not here to put up a defense of my kehilla of how we conducted ourselves, this is not the place for it; on a public forum. All I would say however is that I am proud how our Kehilla responded in the face of a machlokah that was brought on us. Stories abound, none true, nevertheless repeated by haters like you, but the facts remain for those interested enough to investigate.
Just one note before I sign off.
Reb Moishele Stempel father of Reb Leibel Stempel is revered beyond reproach by Bobover chasidim. He is held in the highest esteem, more than all the other son-in-law’s of the Kedushat Zion, a true Bobover Talmid. Bobover Rebbe’s reverence for him is well known. Your claim therefore rings hollow.

not a harry said...

twitter paskened that rbz is the genuine article

yankel said...

It was not a comment, it was a public speech at a dinner for his mosdot.

Anonymous said...

Yankel - your comments are said now go figure how to rectify them...

Anonymous said...

Exactly when did this speach supposedly happen

Anonymous said...

ALL the family - grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Kedushas Tzion zy"a - have taken the side of RMD. The way RBZ, his mother and his siblings treated R' Naftalche was nothing short of a disgrace. It was only the tzidkus of R' Naftalche that prevented it from being more public and widely known. RBZ has lost all favour in the eyes of his family members.