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R' Chaim Halbershtam and His Generation (cont'd)

by Rafael Mahler

Translated by Renee Miller

II. The Makhloykes (Feud) Sandz – Sadgora

A. Sandz and Sadgora – Two Shites [doctrines, schools of thought] in Hasides

In his old age, when the “Divrei Chaim” had begun the third quarter of a century of the active life of a world-renowned mineg [custom, rite] Hasid and scholar, he took upon himself the oppressive burden of initiative coordinator and standard-bearer in a bitter feud. This feud split the Hasidic movement in Galicia and aroused the greatest part of the Jewish orthodox world, from Amsterdam in the west to Jerusalem in the east and came down in history under the name: “The Feud between Sandz and Sadgora”.

At the same time, Sandz, thanks to R' Chaim Halbershtam, became the recognized center of Hasides in the greater part of Galicia and in the neighboring domains in Poland (except the courts in Dynow, Czechów, Rozwadow, Belz and Czartowczy, Zhidachov and Hungary. On the other side of the border of Russian Podolia, in Bukovina, and in Moldova another branch of Hasides sprouted that was represented by the rabeim [Hasidic rabbis, teachers] of the Sadgora dynasty.

The founder of the Sadgora dynasty was the famous Hasidic leader R' Israeltche Ryzyner [Israel Friedman (1797-1851)] a great grandson of R' Ber, the magid [teacher] of Międzyrzec and on his mother's side, a grandson of R' Nahum the Chernobyler magid. After R' Israeltche Ryzyner had to flee because of a denunciation by Ryzyn of Podolia[1], he settled in 1838 in Sadgora in Bukovina, where he took the family name Friedman. When R' Israeltche Ryzyner died in 1850[2] he left six sons and three daughters. Several months later his oldest son also died (R' Sholem Josefnyu and the five sons established Hasidic courts in Bukovina, Galicia and Moldova: R' Abraham Jakovnyu inherited the court in Sadgora, R' Dovid Moyshenyu settled in Potok and later in Czechów, R'Berenyu in Hush [Gîsca] (Moldova), from there he later went to Leova (also Moldova), R' Nahumnyu in Szczepanowice, and R' Mordechai Feibush in Mikołajowice and later in Gusyatin. All five brothers were inflexibly bound together and were also called Sadgora.

The rabeim from the Sadgora dynasty took over the tradition of extraordinary luxury in their way of life from their father. A group of the Ukrainian rabeim, since the time of R' Brukhl Mezbezer, the grandson of Baal Shem Tov [Rabbi Israel (Yisroel) ben Eliezer, {1698 – 1760} considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism-Wikipedia] had excelled in comfort and opulence. But R' Israeltche surpassed all of them in that area.

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In Ryżyn, his residence was literally, like a count's with a glorious palace, decorated and equipped with the most expensive furniture, with a great garden for walking, and the spacious horse stalls. He would travel around in a railroad car “na spitz” [tandem] that was hitched to several pairs of horses escorted by spirited horsemen. Each and every son's court was a palace just like their father's, the Ryzyner, in miniature.

The superb luxury of the Ryzyner and his sons plus the social position of this new Hasidic dynasty was also the expression of the new relationship between rebe and Hasidim. The popular character of the rabeim as leader and giver of advice to the ordinary Jews disappeared altogether. The position of rebe was elevated to the level of clerical prince, who was cut off from his Hasidim by an immense gulf not only in kdushe [saintliness] but also in the hierarchy of a kingdom. Outwardly also, this hierarchal attitude of the rabeim took on the corresponding form: the Sadgora, just like their father would beware of “mingling” with the people, even baym davenen [saying the prayers]: They used to pray in a separate small room and only for certain tfiles [prayers] would they “come out among the people”.[3] They would treat the Hasidim like a dignitary giving an audience, sitting on his superb chair, and he also did not “condescend” to the function of taking the pidyoynes [payment to a Hasidic rabbi for advice] directly from the hand of the visitor. They used to put it down on the table from which the gaboim [{in this case} manager of the affairs of a Hasidic rabbi] who would divide it into several alms boxes, as a sort of vehicle for the princely hakhnose [income]. R' Berenyu from Leova did not even carry out the custom of greeting the Hasidim with his bare hand, only wearing gloves[4]

The Sadgora found a justification for their behavior and aspirations in the contention that, as they really are kings, as their yikhes [lineage] stemmed from the royal house of David, they automatically carried themselves like kings. Another conviction was consistently bound with that hypothesis that they were prepared for the geule [redemption, the coming of the Messiah] and the re-establishment of their realm in Eretz-Isroyl. According to all prophesies, the Messiah must descend from “the line of Jesse” [King David's father]. They were the last remnants from that line of King David. It could not be otherwise, the melekh ha-meshiakh [King Savior {Messiah}] would only come from the Ryzyner Sadgora dynasty. R' Israeltche Ryzyner himself had already prepared a hint of that, and his sons had the same belief strengthened by the tens of thousands of their Hasidim.[5]

To the behavior of R' Israeltche's sons, “The Sadgora”, new characteristic behavior was added, and that intensified even more, the contrast between them and the other Hasidishe rabeim in Galicia. The rabeim used to go dressed in “geputste shtivelekh” [decorated knee-high boots] and not in “shoes and stockings”, that is, low shoes and white stockings and wearing garments of cloth and not long silken jackets and kaftans.

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They also used to comb their hair, in addition, before a mirror. Aside from the “modernization” that was itself thought of as a sin in the eyes of Hasidim of the old school, they saw it practically as a sin against the prohibition in the Toyre: there was a suspicion that ready-made garments were not made of pure wool, but containing added cotton. Automatically, the terrible sin of shatnez [cloth made of mixed linen and wool is forbidden to Jews],[6] a man combing his hair, and in addition, in front of a mirror, was just like “mesalsl-beseyre” [combing and curling one's hair] and especially on Shabes was, according to a commentary by Rashi, an open desecration of Shabes as a “consequence” (of the function of shaving).[7]

The worst charge called forth an odd custom from the wives and daughters in the courts of the Sadgora dynasties. They would go about decorated “in vinegar and honey” according to the latest fashion, “wanton as profligates” and according to the rumor that was circulated among Sandzer Hasidim, they allowed themselves to attend the theater and also used to ride a horse for pleasure, and naturally, dressed in riding pants and added to that, with a “cigar in the mouth”.[8]

Naturally, the behavior of the Sadgora rabeim made an impression on their blindly-faithful Hasidim. The richer business class of the Sadgora Hasidim copied the rabeim both in reference to their clothing and also to the elegant style of their wives. The poorer Hasidim and the observant and traditional, were on one hand reflected in the radiance of the court and were dazzled by the rabeishe luxury and splendor; they were reciprocal in their tales about all the details of their glory and riches in the court with the same rapture as over their miracles, wonders and salvations. They spoke of every child in the court with the same pride and inspiration as the courtiers of the Kaiser did over the power of the Crown Prince.[9] On the other hand, the conservative Hasidim found in their devoted faith in their rebes justification for all manifestations of their behavior and that of their wives and daughters. The ways of the tzadik [saintly man], they explained, are higher than ordinary human common concepts, because the tzadik is on the level of a king and we cannot understand their holy secrets.[10]

The Sadgora Hasidim generally learned a kind of easier doctrine of Hasides: not fasting on many of the toneysim [fast days], nor immersing in the mikve [ritual bath], very often, not renouncing pleasures, or talking at great length during prayers, not sitting and studying gemore and poskim [post-Talmudic commentary].[11] Just as during the earliest era of Hasides, there also were among the Sadgora Hasidim those who elevated antimonism [faith without good deeds] to the level of doctrine with status: they once, notoriously, held themselves to be at the level of rabeim, that studying gemore is on a lower level than Hasides, and as for the Hebrew grammar of the Shulkhan Arukh, it was made for simple people and not for people who have achieved the higher [heavenly] world in their thoughts. Some Sadgora from (Istrik {place name}) spread the opinion that a Hasid does not have to look into a muser-seyfer [religious {edifying} book] more often than once in a while.[12]

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Sadgora Hasidim often would come together in cheerful gatherings, drinking l'chaim and talking about wonderful things and the glory of their rabeim.[13] Also, this very rapture was in Sadgora Hasides a relapse of certain features of the Hasidishe way of life of former times, at the time when Hasides had only just arisen as a religious folk movement. On the other hand, the Sadgora Hasidim essentially took over from their rabeim the way of praying (and studying) shtil un gelasn [sedately], without gestures and wildly rocking, while in former Hasides the praying and making a benediction with noise and shouting, with bouncing and bizarre grimaces was one of the very characteristic signs. The Sandzer Hasidim really considered their opponents' view on the outward signs of rapture to be truly the greatest treachery in Hasides[14].

Just as the centers of Sandzer and Sadgora Hasides were geographically very distant from each other – although groups of Sadgora Hasidim spread throughout Middle Galicia – that is how great was the distance between Sadgora and Sandz as two different, and to a great extent, opposite schools of thought in Hasides. The primary distinctions between the two doctrines can truly be seen as the basis for the variety, and as a matter of course, the social and cultural environment

Sandzer Hasides that was so very insistent that lamdes [scholarship] and learning Sh”as and Commentaries were the duty of every Hasid, had responded to the environment of Galicia and the part of Poland, where lamdes had been wide spread as a tradition for many generations. Sadgora Hasides took root necessarily in Bukovina, Moldova, Besarabia and neighboring parts of the Ukraine, where the Jewish population were on a much lower level and were much more ignorant than in Galicia.[15] The small town and village strata in those neighborhoods they really conformed to the Sadgorer doctrine of light Hasides that did not put any heavy demands on the Hasid and who satisfied himself with his faith in the Tzadik and in his greatness.

On the other side, the variety of the cultural level was certainly the Galician Hasides, represented by Sandz, who were a lot more conservative than the Sadgora Hasides. In Galicia, the uppermost, richest stratum of the Jewish business world was, as a rule, was far from Hasides In those times a class of modern Jewish bourgeois had already emerged made up of the greatest merchants, bankers, real estate owners and professional intellectuals who had gravitated to Haskole [Generally, “Haskole” indicates the beginning of the movement among the Jews about the end of the eighteenth century in Eastern Europe toward abandoning their exclusiveness and acquiring the knowledge, manners, and aspirations of the nations among whom they dwelt-Jewish Encyclopedia.com] or German and Polish assimilation, who already stood mit beyde fis [thoroughly] in the Haskole [Haskole] camp or in an enlightenment in a foreign language.

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Therefore, as a matter of course, the kinds of Hasides were, aside from the innkeeper-tradesmen petty bourgeois, only the remaining conservative middle class. The centers of Hasides in Galicia were really not found in large cities and market cities like Lwov, Krakow, Tarnopol, Brod, Przemyœl, Tarnow or in distant cities such as Sandz, Dynow, Belz and the like. Just the opposite, in the backward periphery of the Sadgora courts, in Moldova, Ukraine and even in Austrian Bukovina the modern Jewish bourgeoisie and with them the Haskole, had not yet Christianized the property owners, merchants and above all, the rich lessees who had not yet deserted the Orthodox camp. With their low level of education, instead of Haskole, strove for an outward manifestation of”modernization” spread by the Sadgora courts: “geputzte shtivelekh” [decorated boots] and white pressed collars for men and hats with modern clothing for women.

The geographic, social and cultural differences resulted in Sandz being on one side and Sadgora on the other, representing true opposites at the highest level, in the development of Hasides.

The Sandzer Rov, R' Chaim Halbershtam, on one hand, brought to its full expression the last step (rung, level) of Hasides, when this former opposition movement came closer to the misnagdim's scholarly position, by taking on the traditional ideal of studying Gemore, Toyre and Hislayves [exaltation, rapture] in tfile [prayer] and fulfilling their mitsves, bound in the one path of divine service. The approach of the misnagdish doctrine also took place in the domain of asceticism, and taken on as an absolute condition of yires shomaim [fear of God] with the guarantee of worship out of joy. At the same time, by contrast, the doctrine of Sandzer Hasides both because of its conservatism, observed the least trifling traditional custom, and also because in the main, it observed the patriarchal folk character of former Hasides: the democratic character in the attitude of rabeim toward their Hasidim, the simplicity and modesty in the behavior of the rabeim and their courts, and especially their habit of charity, that had, thanks to the mystical justification, stood in the place of honor among the duties of people toward each other.

Even more in the degree of emphasizing the mitsve of tsedoke, is the distinction here between the Sandzer and the Sadgora doctrines as expressed in the form of giving tsedoke: in Sandz a patriarchal Middle Ages way of dividing donations into the outstretched hand; and the Sadgora – organized almost in a modern way, as a sort of resource of the court administration.

Here is a typical scene of giving tsedoke for Shabes (Thursday and Friday) by the Sandzer tsadik, written in 1873-4 by a witness who saw it himself:

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“All prayer houses (of 'Divrei Chaim') full of orkhe-porkhe [hoboes, tramps] who besiege the old tsadik with a racket and shouts as he gives money for Shabes to each one. The cause of the yelling is the poor people and he begs them for pity because he must divide it this way, so that he will be able to give money to each one”.[16] In Sadgora, charity for the stranger belonged to the duties of a separate, appointed gabe. Just as the tzin [rabbi's wife] had a special private woman to give out matn-beseyser [charity given in secret] to the impoverished and “distinguished poor people”[17]

A trait of the people's Hasides that was retained by the Sandzer is their davening with loud noise and leaps.

In the Sadgora dynasty the last rung of Hasides took on the opposite form. There saintliness reached the extreme paradox.

The institution of tzadik itself originally was conceived in Hasides as the leadership of a rabbi who is bound to the people and mixed with the people contrary to the misnagdim rabbi, who placed himself over the people. In Ruzhiner-Sadgorer Hasides the tzadik was raised to such a level of rule about which no misnagdish rabbi had dared to think. Everyone of the Sadgorer dynasty not only considered himself a grandson of Dovid haMelekh [King David], but also, even at the expense of his Hasidim behaved like a little king with all the luxury that belongs to such a “monarch”. The “royal” descent of the tzadik himself was made up of his supreme-spiritual authority, and the guarantee of his influence on the uppermost worlds. Instead of the old-fashioned patriarchal way of living that included the manner of simplicity and permissiveness, there was a Sadgora abyss, deepened by court ceremony that separated the rabeim from the masses of simple Hasidim. Only the very highest of the Hasidim, the rich clients, had the ability to try hard to place themselves close to the rabeim in the old custom of abundance and luxury. From the former characteristic traits of Hasides, what was really left in the Sadgorer doctrine was the higher status of devoting oneself to Kabala and not studying Gemore or the higher faith, as accuracy in fulfilling the Shukhan Arukh. Hostility toward asceticism was everywhere, and joyous celebrations of those Hasidim at feasts and discussions was characteristic. While among Sandzer Hasidim the emphasis was on the behavior in fear of God, with zeal in Toyre study and ecstasy in prayer and mitves. In Sadgora Hasides above all, the deterioration of the tzadik and his examination was left.

It was not very remarkable that between these two extreme opposites in Hasidic doctrine and movement, it should come to a clash. In the quarrel between Sandz and Sadgora it was on the face of it, just like the earlier quarrel between Misnagdim and Hasidim.

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The bone of contention consisted of little things: the Misnagdim, with all their efforts could not enumerate any other “transgressions “only that they were violators of the melody of the krishme [the prayer said upon going to bed, and as part of morning and evening prayers], praying according to NusakhHaari [the style of Kabalist Rabbi Yitzhok Luria] (“Nusakh Sefard”) instead of according to Nusakh Ashkenaz, skipping over “Yoytseres” [liturgical hymns] on holidays and slaughtering cattle with a smooth knife. And equally, against the Sadgorer, the Sandzer camp could not point out any other “sins” against the Shulkhan Arukh but the material of their clothing and combing one's hair in front of men and the modern dress of the women. But just as the Misnagdim saw in Hasides, disregarding unessential formal distinctions, a new way of life and a new world outlook that was liable to undermine traditional orthodox Judaism, that is how the opponents of the Sadgora saw the tendency of their conduct, as a danger to Hasides and to orthodoxy in general. Characteristic is the fact that even before the open quarrels broke out, the Sandzer R' Chaim labelled the Sadgorer nothing but “Germans”[18]. Therefore, it was natural that the attack against Sadgora came from Sandz, but it was also a characteristic phenomenon that the most important rabbis in Galicia and Poland also in the non-Hasidic camp took the part of Sandz against Sadgora.

It is superfluous to mention though the conservative attacker in both cases stated that the opponent was the one who would bring about the downfall of Judaism, in truth he was fighting for the protection of a set form of Judaism. Just as the Misnagdim had once fought against the Hasidim wanting to maintain the path of Rabbinical Orthodoxy, so also the Sandzer lash out against the Sadgora in order to rescue the old path of Hasides. That was close to the issue with Misnagdish orthodoxy. While the former Hasides, in the time of its bloom, did actually mean a beginning of the use of the Jewish religion along with Jewish culture, the direction of Sadgora Hasides did not possess within itself the least bit of creative strength in the defense-camp against the Sandzer camp. Just the opposite: Sadogora itself was the symptom of severe crisis Hasides had reached and which announced the yeride [decline, decadence] of the entire movement in general.

B. The Fervor of R' Berenyu from Leova

The fervor of the quarrel had accumulated over the years and needed no more than a match to make it blaze up. One of the Sadgora brothers, R' Berenyu from Leova provided such a direct basis for the quarrel.

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R' Berenyu, the fourth son of R' Israeltche (born in 1810) had even as a youth excelled among his brothers with his earnestness and desire for learning, studying and considering the results. He not only studied more Gemore and Poskim than any of his brothers, but also poured over books of Kabale and Khkire [speculation]. He studied the “Guide for the Perplexed” by Rambam [Maimonides]. Just as for most of the youth of his time, the Rambam opened R' Berenyu's eyes to the reasonable law of nature and gave him a rationalistic world outlook that was the absolute reverse of the Hasides doctrine. That is how the great rift in R' Berenyu's soul was created, the soul that with all the cynicism of his nature was far from every manner of cynicism. As a leader of a community of Hasidim who represented a saint and a holy man to them, he was also torn by doubts, not only in the path of Hasides, but also in the truth of the traditional religion. He had established a contact with enlightened people, Jews and non-Jews and first in Hush [Gîsca] (Moldova), where he was (contact with Dr. Olmugin) and then in Leowa (Moldova, on the border of Beserabia), where he moved his court. After a trip abroad in Futory, where he made friends with a Jewish doctor, a maskil [adherent of the Enlightenment], he returned home loaded even more with “apikorses” [heresy]

At the same time that R' Berenyu was corroded by the bizarre discrepancies between the behavior of a Hasidic and his new convictions; he also experienced great psychological pain in his personal life. He had gotten married at the age of 14 to Sheyndl, the daughter of a well known, R' Motele Tchernobiler. The marriage was not a happy one particularly because they did not have any children, but also because of the lack of harmony in the characters of the couple. The rebetsin Sheyndl was of an ambitious nature and had a strong character and she ruled over her husband. R' Berenyu also in his erotic life had struggled between the strong love toward his wife and his inner strivings to free himself from her dominance over him. Strongly erotic by nature and not satisfied with his relations with his wife, in his late thirties sought several opportunities to have intercourse with other women.

R' Berenyu, the inwardly torn person, did not live peacefully with his brothers either, having the conviction that they had abused him: he felt himself wronged, because the brothers had made the point of assigning him the rabeish seat in such a faraway shtetl as Hush [Gîsca]. He had complaints about the division of his father's inheritance, though he had a part with his brothers in the current estates, and the value of his possessions was estimated at about 60 thousand ruble in cash, plus houses, jewelry and gold and silver. Of all his brothers, R' Berenyu was closest to R' Nahumnyu from Szczepanowice and he loved him with all his soul.

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R' Nahumnyu was drawn to his older brother with his temperament and way of life; he had ridden his horse and liked to enjoy with the world.

In his Zalesier solitude R' Berenyu sought the company of the Christian intelligentsia of the shtetl. He became very friendly with the telegraph operator there, a meshumed [an apostate Jew who has been baptized] and spent a lot of time with him either to learn electro-magnetism or because the few intelligentsia of the shtetl and environs used to get together there. This created a great restlessness among the Hasidim until they besieged the house in order to find out why they dallied there so long. As time went by, rumors that made their restlessness hard to bear were spread that British missionaries had arrived in the shtetl in order to meet R' Berenyu and that he, the Leower, let himself go in long conversations.

It was 1869. At that time, R' Berenyu had suffered a severe depression after his beloved brother R' Nahumnyu died the previous winter. He would chase away Hasidim from him no matter how infrequently they visited him, though they did not cease believing in him. He used to keep to himself all day in his kheyder meyukhed [secluded chamber] or stay with the telegraph operator for a lengthy time. Then, at that time, suddenly like a thunderbolt, news came out that R' Berenyu was preparing to convert. The local pharmacist, taking personal revenge on the rebbe for having avoided buying remedies at his pharmacy, sent a telegram to the metropolis of Jasi, that R' Berenyu is willing to take on the Greek Orthodox religion. R' Berenyu's nervous wife with his brothers decided to take drastic measures: after a doctor had put R' Berenyu to sleep, he was brought to Sadgora. From the guesthouse there, he was immediately brought to the house of his oldest brother, R' Abraham Yekobnyu. R' Berenyu was a captive of his brother.

The news of the captivity of R' Berenyu reached his friend. It appears that the city official from Jasi had also gotten involved with this. In any case, the police found R' found R'Berenyu and took him away from his brother's house. At his request, the policemen brought him to Chernivtsi. In the capital of Bukowina, R' Berenyu wanted to meet with the head of the Jewish community, but he was not at home. R' Berenyu took the representative of the roshekool [leader of the community], the lawyer Dr. Yehuda Leyb Reytman. An episode in the life of the wretched Leover had begun. In a short time, it made him a renowned hero in the Jewish world and ignited the bitter quarrel between Sandz and Sadogora.[19]

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Dr. Reytman, who was an eminent Maskil, received R' Berenyu very hospitably, and the guest remained in his house receiving visits from the local Maskilim. R' Berenyu had not only not cut off his beard and peyes [side curls] but he had not changed his rabeishe thinking. But the fact in itself the a son of R' Israeltche Ruhziner stayed with a Maskil and ate with him caused the greatest sensation and news of it spread at once in the Jewish and, thanks to the press, also in the non-Jewish world. Among the Sadgora Hasidim confusion and sadness reigned. The opponents of the Sadgora had found a new conformation of the rumor that had been spread for so long, that R' Berenyu was ready to convert. The mood of pleasure among the Maskilim and the great hope that they had bound to R' Berenyu's extraordinary and daring step was expressed in the letter that the Maskilim from Kishinev had sent an expression of their appreciation and honor to him on Adar [the sixth month of the luakh] 1869. Here are characteristic sentences of a letter written in the typical style of Maskilic Hebraic elaborate and florid language:

To the distinguished Maskil who studies for the benefit of his people, and desires the recognition of the truth, the exalted sage mori ha-rav [my teacher, rov] Dov Friedman, sholem, sholem [greetings].

We have heard your words, you stand out among your people as if a new spirit had begun to pulsate in you, and our hearts rejoiced . . . that you have taken the mask of rabeim from you face and from that shine and the flash of wisdom and scholarship radiates in the light from your face; you have flung onto the earth the stool of the rabbinate, and you removed the crown of Hasides from your head, and you spoke of the true king over us . . .and in the coming days you must also strengthen yourself to open blind eyes . . . and be a bear who lies in wait* for Rabones and Hasides, and you must pursue these two . . daughters of foolishness with wrath and exterminate them from the camp of the other side . . . The eyes of all Jews are turned to you . . .enough shame and mockery has accumulated in the soul of the daughter of your people, who sit in Poland and Besarabia . . .Therefore thousands thank you, helper and great one.** What you went through to help your brothers, who are sinking in mud and filth . . . to fight for the truth against fanaticism . . .With a sacred shiver we worship with our faces down to the earth next to your exalted glory”.[20]

* a play on words, on his name Ber

** a play on words: savior and rov; rov can have two meanings: big and the rov of the kehile

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Also the circle of Maskilim in Chernivtsi, with Dr. Reitman at the head, had anticipated this and decided to issue an open letter in the name of R' Berenyu, on one hand, to contradict the rumors that the Orthodox had spread, that the Leower has lost his mind, and other gossip that he had converted; on the other hand, his declaration needed to stress the fact, that he shook off Hasides and fanaticism and remained the necessity of spreading Enlightenment among Jews. Om the same day, one Adar 1869, when the Kishinever Maskilim had sent their letter of thanks and honor, in Chernivtsi, an open letter was published and signed by Dov Ber, our teacher and master Israel with the following content:

“I know . . . that people will talk about me and ask what happened to me, that I became another person. Therefore, I have decided to come out with in writing to announce publicly . . . in my heart I have kept the faith in one God, and I will join every day with Him; and I am loyal to His Toyre and the sages of Israel who go forward and not back (underlined by me – Rafael Mahler), and I have not put aside the fear of God, but I am estranged from the hamoyn naronim [the foolish multitude] who cherish false nonsense. . . who make darkness from light and light from darkness . . . because they are the enemy of the light of wisdom and pure faith . . .

And although I do not have the ability to clear the thorns from the House of Israel, to cleanse our faith of the foolish customs that have no basis in God's Toyre, only the sons of our people had brought it from Babylonia and other peoples . . . I am very lucky to serve the god of truth. Therefore, I am not afraid of the tens of thousand fools who make noise like the sea, and I will not be terrified of the great multitude that go forth in the darkness, but only my thought is granted in the eyes of God and righteous people.

And with this I conclude my words, and to all lovers of wisdom and searchers of ethics, peace!”

Together with this letter, a “declaration” signed by “three leaders” of the Chernivtsi kehile, Yitzhok Rubinshteyn, Dr. Yehuda Leyb Reytman and Dr. Moyshe Yosef Fehner was issued. In the declaration, the heads of the kehile stated that the Rov Dov Ber ben Israel had found it necessary to come out with above “open letter” since the news that he had settled “among us” and “turned away from the cloak of Hasides” and “agitated the very devout who go about in the dark” was used to spread false rumors, and at the same time, the “declaration” confirmed the authenticity of the “open letter”.[21]

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The style alone of the “open letter” that was, incidentally, the same as that of the “declaration” demonstrated that R' Berenyu himself had not composed it; one of the Maskilim from Dr. Reitman's[22] circle had composed the view of R' Berenyu, and it was distributed with his agreement. The “open letter” called forth enthusiasm from the Maskilim and clarified, why he was biased not only toward Hasidim but also fanaticism and superstition in general and formulated the principle that we have to go forward and not back in matters of religion. Enthusiastic letters from Maskilim from far and near came to R' Berenyu in Dr. Reitman's house. Among those was a letter from the well-known Hebrew and Yiddish author and writer, Abraham Ber Gotlober.

Exactly as great as was the joy of the Maskilim, so also was the agitation among the Orthodox – Hasidim and Misnagdim who saw the treachery not only toward Hasides but also traditional religion. In particular, they were unable to forgive him because he committed himself to progress (forward and not backward). The Sadgora Hasidim, whose prestige was undermined at once, had also not lost courage and initiative in this difficult situation. They could not believe that a tzadik [sage], a son of the Ruzhiner stumbled and changed, when he had his holy intentions in his stories that they could not find out their secret, because he is “higher than high” and “higher than human understanding”.

It did not take long before the Sadgora Hasidim were able to fortify themselves that their unconditional faith in Rov R'Berenyu was absolutely justified.

The wait for the consequences of his complete disconnection from his family and the Hasidic and Orthodox world, and going over to the camp of the Haskole [Enlightenment] as a fighter for enlightenment in Jewish life came after the public rebellious act of distributing the “open letter”. However, for that he needed a stability of character that the aching R' Berenyu loaded with complexes, absolutely did not possess. He could not decide to start a new life at the age of 52 and in addition a hard life in a strange neighborhood in which he would, with effort, have to fit in. He also could not see his ambition satisfied as a beginner in the enlightened world; while as only a rebbe, he had been the leader of an eyde [religious community] of Hasidim. It seemed, however, that the deciding factor in R' Berenyu's remorse was financial: in Chernivtsi he was cut off from his great movable and immovable possessions since his wife and brothers had laid their hands on them.

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The hero for a time had collapsed and surrendered and his life-drama had turned into a tragicomedy.

R' Berenyu's “derekh tshuve” [path of repentance] took place in several steps: After his nephew, R' Itsenyu from Buhuº, spent two weeks living with him and persuaded him, particularly with arguments about his material future, to call upon his wife in Reytman's house. R' Berenyu had agreed to leave Chernivtsi, and to travel to Sadgora with her to see his brothers.[23] This was right after Purim[24] not much later than two weeks after the sensation with R' Berenyu's “open letter”.

Barely a week after R' Berenyu had left Chernivtsi, and surrendered, he pravet tish [he would sit at a table surrounded by his Hasidim] and read Toyre. On that Shabes, two hundred Hasidim attended “and their hearts and innards brought great hisoyres [{spiritual} awakening]”. This particular news about this “Rov holy, holy saint, the purification of R' Ber, May he live long and happily” immediately spread among all Sadgora Hasidim as a message of salvation.[25]

Everywhere Sadgora Hasidim recovered their breath and celebrated with joyful repasts and noisy Hasidic dancing with music in the streets. But even earlier when R' Berenyu was still in Chernivtsi,, a portion of the Sadgora Hasidim had compared him to the pkhine Meshiekh [category of Messiah] who, according to the Kabala was “bad on the outside and good inside”, but excused it since he had not been alone in doing sinful things, only a person with his trouble[26], had now all maintained, that with that Chernivtsi, episode R' Berenyu had had the intention of gathering the holy sparks that were spread among the ritually unclean. A portion now compared him to King David, who had sinned and had done penance. A Składer shoykhet [ritual slaughterer] had expressed the adoration of the Sadgora Hasidim thusly: “Until now our desire was to live to see our holy rebbe take us to the Maylekh Meshiakh [King Messiah]; now we do not wish for this, our only desire is that the light of the Holy Rov shall rise to greatness and that, with head held high, he would come to our land at once.”[27]

It had been over three months since R' Berenyu had returned to Sadgora, and the opponents in the Sadgora dynasty still did not believe in his sincere intentions, considering him the same heretic as before, and the quarrels against the Sadgora were still in full furor. At that time the Sadgora brothers were occupied with R' Berenyu taking the next step in order to close the mouths of the opponents. On the seventh of Tamez 1860, a proclamation signed by Dov Ber “our teacher and master” Israel was issued in Sadgora with the following content:

He understands the turmoil and the sorrow that the confusion caused and that he had experienced as well as the “open letter” that was published in his name”

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Therefore he finds it necessary to respond. His entire “confusion” came about because he was unable to come to himself after the death of his beloved brother, the “Saint of Szczepanowice”. His heavy heart that had made him worldly, had simply taken his senses; he had not known what was happening to him, and those who bore malice used this to draw him into a net. However, God had taken pity on him and brought his to his holy brothers' house, and there he was revived and came back to his senses. There it first became clear to him what kind of trouble he had unwillingly and without any intention fallen into. Now his tears flow over what has happened and he begs for God's salvation and that he might become stronger in His Toyre. From now on he will go “in the footsteps of sheep”, and “will be on guard over all details of observance and easy commandments as well as difficult ones.” His eyes will be turned toward the holy deeds of his ancestors and “their Toyre, saintliness and Hasides will illuminate his way”. He ended with a plea that God will strengthen and help him, and lead him on the straight path.

To attest that the “kolkoyre [proclamation] of the “Harov well-known Holy of Holiness” was genuine and in order to “end the bitterness that still remains among certain remnants of the group, join in the purer faith” and “so that the entire world should see that he called on God's name”, the head of the besdn [rabbinical court] of Sadgora, Yehuda Leybush Landow and the dayen [assistant to the rabbi] of the city, Yekhiel Mikhl Toybsh had signed their names to R' Berenyu's kolkoyre. [28]

The unfortunate bal tshuve [penitent] made up his mind, with much humiliation, to to have himself revealed as having not been responsible for his deeds, Among R' Berenyu's Hasidim his saintly authority multiplied: they simply tore from his hands any object that he had handled, and for such a “saintly article”, a coin of 20 kreutzer, people paid the price of 18 silver rubles, begimatrie 18 [equal as to the numerical value of its component letters] . . .[29]

R' Berenyu, however, did not return to Leowa. He lived in a separate house in the Sadgora court, avoiding entertaining Hasidim and spent his last years alone, particularly after even his wife had left him and gone to her brothers in Chernobyl.[30]

Though R' Berenyu's tragic-comic affair ended after several months and his great personal tragedy had begun, the Sandz-Sadgora quarrel that the affair had created was only then going into full force.

C. The Beginning of the Open Quarrels and Redifes [Persecutions]

The “Divrei Chaim”, who, exactly like all the Hasidim of Galicia considered R' Israeltche Ryżyner, to be a great saint and also respected his descent from the royal house of David, he had a deep aversion to the odd practices of his sons, apart from their luxury, that offended their eyes

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Even before the sensation over R' Berenyu, he wrote to the eldest of the Sadgora brother, R' Abraham Yekobnyu, complaining about the conduct of the Sadgora Hasidim, but thereby only succeeded in convincing himself that the Sadgorer had begun agitation against him and his Hasidim.[31] The open break came after R' Berenyu had publicly broken with Hasides. The side doing the assaulting was the Sandzer Hasidin in central Galicia in the cities where Sadgora Hasidim were found. Believing it to be open blasphemy that the Sadgora Hasidim refused to renounce R' Berenyu after all his deeds, they undertook a fight against the “heretics” of Sadgora. The Sandzer Hasidim began in the city Rajcza.

The first day of Rosheshone, Adar 1860[32], the Sandzer Hasidim from Rajcza turned to their R' Chaim in Sandz with a letter signed by R' Nahum Ruben Felsker, head of the rabbinical court of Rajcza and R' Chaim Waldshteyn, the principal head of the rabbinical court. The Sadgora Hasidim had some time earlier already spread into Rajcza and founded a separate small Orthodox synagogue. While the Sandzer Hasidim represented the scholarly and the businessmen element, the simple folk were grouped around the Sadgora. These “simple folk” had arranged rikudim [Hasidic dances] and spent entire nights in celebration after the news “that made the hair on one's head stand up” had arrived. When the Orthodox rabbis on the part of the Sandzer Hasidim permitted the “distinguished among them” to appear before them, and appealed to them to stop the cheerful gatherings, they answered “with insults and with words that made them rays krie [tear one's clothes in mourning]”, the rabbis did not understand the hidden ways of R' Berenyu that were “higher than high” and “higher than reason”. Although they wanted to expel the Sadgora from the kloyz [Hasidic group] by virtue of the Kaiser's laws, since the undersigned had not taken a step until R' Chaim deigned to answer.

Aside from those two letters from the Rzeszówer rabbis, a large number of “rich eminent leaders from the kehile Rzeszów” turned in their own name to the “Divrei Chaim” they join with the two rabbis in their question and add that the Sadgora had blasphemed with their insult. They also dishonored the name of the old Ryczer Orthodox synagogue and a number of the great geyonim [brilliant men], enumerating the names of those who had once prayed and studied.[33] At the same time that the two letters arrived, Hasidim from Rzeszów who had came to Sandz delivered an oral account of the happenings.

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After several days[34], the “Divrei Chaim” sent an answer to Rzeszów to the address of the head of the Besdin, and repeated its contents in a letter to the eminent local people of the kehile[35]. He began at once with the sanction against the faction of those who do evil that “the primary thing is to repress and to expel them from their kehile using the power of the laws of the land”. The Sadgorer, not only because they insult geyonim [wise men] and dead saints, or they blaspheme against the Holy Toyre, but they speak about “the well-known meshumed yemakh-shmoy [apostate, may his name be erased], that he is higher than high. “Is there any greater heresy than this?” The punishment is, what is explicitly anticipated in the Holy Toyre for blasphemy against God, but at any rate in order to rescue the holy sheep Isroyl As the villainous sect should not begin their fishy speech”, we have to publicly proclaim that they are “obscurantists” (those who obstruct the light) and also communicate undertaking the following steps:

Their Toyre scrolls are apostate [as if they had been baptized] and no one may put on their tfilln [phylacteries] and their mezuzes [a small tube containing a strip of parchment attached to the doorposts of observant Jews] invalid; no one may permit children to study with them, while according to the dintoyre [lawsuit before a rabbinical court] of the Gemore [portion of the Talmud], whoever studies with a meshugi “that is, with apostates”* one letter, is guilty of a deed whose penalty is death and their ritual slaughterers are forbidden and whosoever eats meat they slaughtered is as if they had eaten from “sacrifices to the dead” [idolatry]. Therefore, it is a duty to communicate all this to the government powers and to expel them from the city. The teachers “shall be immediately expelled” (renounced) and not tarry, without any teachers'' salary, only then shall the bezdin be seated and whatever they decide, the bezdin should send them home, but they cannot send them outside the city.

As for all the members of the “sect”, the “Divrei Chaim” states: disassociate yourselves from those named as wicked, and do not speak to them at all, and you shall abuse them to their face publicly and expose their shame. And if they want to be silent and in their silence go into the besmedresh, they shall be kept as remote from you as is possible…”

At the end, came a characteristic act of the “sect”. They became like Shabtai Tsvi [the false messiah of 1665] yemakh-shmoy [may his name be erased] and many (other) false prophets”. “The important thing is that you should not take pity on them”. They behave as if they were for Hasidim but they definitely are the opposite of Hasides: The leader of Hasides “would sacrifice his life for Toyre and divine service to the Creator and used to shun glory and ordinary pleasures”. They would practically fracture their entire body while praying, like the saint from Ropczyce and the rebbe from Czatachowa, and used to immerse themselves in the mikve in the morning “when the water around them would be frozen”.

* meshugi are mentioned in the Talmud, the priests of the Persian Zoroastrian religion. Tractate Shabbat, daf [page] 75

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After much torment, they almost tormented themselves to death not wanting to have any delight from oylem-haze [worldly pleasures]”. The Ropczycer had a nice cycle standing in his court but he did not want to ride on it, so as not to use things that could lead to vanity; he also used to give a lot of charity. “As opposed to the Różce mumrim [apostates] (the Sadgora rabeim) thinking about profit and about even more money and silver; their entire conduct is conceited and their wives are dressed in goyish [non-Jewish] clothing and their frivolity, as we know, they find superior and copy it since they say this is the better way. And they stare with glazed eyes and berate everyone who would not submit to their domination”. The path of the Różcer sect is the path of death and therefore it is a mitsve [commandment] to openly sponge it out and to stay away from their houses like Shloyme haMelekh had admonished in The Book of Proverbs. In the style of a formal excommunication, R' Chaim ended his letter: “and your friends listen to my speech and all will be good with you.”[36]

The exceptional sharpness of R' Chaim's answer to Rzeszów, caused the Sadgorer Hasidim to pronounce it an outburst of his anger and a personal insult to his dignity. They said that one of his grandchildren or some fanatical Hasid had brought an invented story to the Sandzer, that in the kloyz [house of study] in Rzeszów,, that is controlled by the Sadgora Hasidim, the seyfer [religious book] “Divrei Chaim” was not put in the seyfer book closet on the shelf, but it lies dishonored under the last shelf, close to the flooring. The rumor seriously outraged R' Chaim against the Sadgora in Rzeszów, even more than against the Sadgora in general[37].

The Sandzer Hasidim who had influence in the shtetl Straszów, became jealous of the kehile Rycze a week after the “Divrei Chaim” had sent the above letter to Rycze[38] and they sent a letter to him from

Straszów, signed by the head of the kehile and yekhide-zgule [select individuals] with an addition by the town's Shloyme Shpiro.[39] The situation in neighborhood of Straszów, they said, is a lot worse than in Rzeszów, “The Sadgora openly violate the entire Toyre, Toyre sh-biksav [written] and Toyre sh-balpe [oral]” and everywhere they degrade scholars. Earlier a number of businessmen agreed with them, but “now that the truth has been revealed and their shame is publicly known” also those businessmen gave way. However, they all ask the Sandzer rov to deign to write a letter, such as he wrote to Rzeszów, so that they will be able to suppress the “sect”.[40])

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R' Chaim's answer to Straszów, was systematically formulated as for Rycze. He clarified that the Toyre balpe is equivalent to the written Toyre, and whoever wants to rescind one thing from the oral Toyre must see that he would deny the entire Toyre. Truly, the Toyre also has an internal spirituality, but there is no argument, and even according to the simplest interpretation, that one may violate the least of the laws. Also the great saints conducted themselves --- this time R' Chaim recalled that aside from the Ropczycer and the Czudecer, the younger rebe from Rimanov, R' Hersh --- had not yielded to the Shulkhan Arukh: if they even prayed later than the allotted time for prayer before going to bed], this is also, according to the Shulkan Arukh permitted for a weakling. The Sadgora rabeim do not behave that way. The “Divrei Chaim” listed, aside from their odd custom of luxury, that they wear clothing in which there is suspicious of shatnez [cloth of linen and wool, forbidden for Jews to wear], combing hair and spending a lot of time in front of the mirror. “The best of these” (R' Berenyu) “had fallen and violated God's name by openly going about with a harlot, as we know”.

The appearance of the letter was more temperate than the one to Rycze. The “Divrei Chaim” announced that he would confer with holy men and great men of the Toyre about what to do “in order to clear this offense between us”. In the meantime, he said that no one may talk with people of that “sect” and “it is a commandment to persecute them”, since they are the kind that are mentioned in the shimenesre [the 18 blessing said by Jews in the three daily prayers] as those declared legally unfit; One has to refer to them as to an “outcast city”. The Sandzer Rov did not repeat the declaration that the Sadgora scribes, teachers and ritual slaughterers were legally unfit, probably because he felt it was self-evident.[41]

The contents of R' Chaim's letters to Rzeszów and Straszów were spread throughout all of Galicia by the Sandzer Hasidim through writings and print. Letters began to arrive in Sandz for the “Divrei Chaim” from Sandzer Hasidim, rabeim and leaders of kehiles who had read his responses: the rov from Lutowiska, R' Naftali Ber, businessmen from Podgórze dated Parsas Vayikra [the weekly portion of the Toyre; this one is from Leviticus], from head of the Bezdin of Skład with signatures of respected businessmen (Nisn 3 1860), from respected wealthy people from Frysztak, (H' Parshas Vikra (?)) and from Iasi (in Moldova), signed by a list of wealthy men from the city on (khalemoyed pesakh). All of them reported on the tales of the Sadgora Hasidim, and their derogatory statements against the Sandzer rov. In a letter from Skład they were called “Hasidi hispasl [invalid Hasidim]”. * All of them asked for instructions how to behave in regard to the “sect”, especially in connection with the message in “Divrei Chaim's” reply to Straszów that he prepares for a conference with other rabeim and wise men.[42] The authors of the letter, naturally, implied the fact that the defamation of the “Divrei Chaim” by the Sadgora was one of the parts of their defense against the persecutions that R' Chaim had heaped upon them.

*Hipasl [hey, pey, samekh, lamed] is a play-on-words: hipasl means “dos getsl” and also rosheteyves [abbreviation] for the four cities, residences of the Sadgorer Hasidim: Gusyatin, Pi¹tek, Sadgora, Leova (see the author's footnote, “Yalket Haroim”, page 94).

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That is how this sad chapter in the history of Jews in Galicia began, the civil war in the Hasidic camp itself. It repeated the history of nearly one hundred years earlier, when the Vilne Goyen had proclaimed a total fight against the newly-arisen “sect” of Hasidim. Although there was no formal excommunication in as much as the laws of Austria under Kaiser Jozef the Second still forbad the call for an excommunication, the Sadgora everywhere were in fact in that position, where there were followers of R' Chaim Sandzer. The blind fanatical hatred toward the new “sorts” (heretics) and “Shabtai Tzvinikes” [followers of Shabtai Tsvi] compared equally to the hatred of the former misnagdim [the Orthodox Jews who were opponents of Hasidism] against the upcoming Hasidic movement, to the contrary:

Cases of divorce where the son-in-law turned out to be a Sadgora Hasid,[43] were more frequent than similar coerced divorces of Hasidic sons-in-law a hundred years earlier. In the past, Jewish malamdim [teachers of children], scribes and ritual slaughterers among the misnagdim were not as victimized as Sadgora were by the Sandzer, especially since Hasides was a rising, rapidly growing movement and those persecuted had had the choice of seeking work in another kehile that was dominated by his adherents. Extreme conservatism and fanaticism of the Sandzer doctrine in Hasides brought forth its bitter fruit: brawls, scuffles and persecution became a daily occurrence in a great number of cities and shtetlekh in Galicia.

Excommunication alone, although not formal, was enough to injure the Sadgora Hasidim in trade and to undermine their material existence. In the summer of 1869, an anonymous memorandum to the Tarnow district, the stress was put on the economic results of the persecution: “The Niesandzer sect has placed a seriously heavy oppression on every step taken by the Sadgora; and using this method, have made it impossible for the Jews who belong to the Sadgora sect to conduct trade and to exist,.”[44] They were not satisfied only with the social and economic boycott: Kloyzn [small synagogues] and bote-medroshim [prayer and study houses] of the Sadgorer were attacked by Sandzer Hasidim, were emptied of seyfer toyres [prayer books] and other things and left empty, or closed (Rzeszów, Turze, Prostyñ). There were instances where they forbid a moyl [ritual circumciser] from circumcising a child of a Sadgora Hasid (Toczeñ), or snatched the child, so the circumcision would be conducted by a moyl from their own side (Drohobycz). Denunciations of the enemy had certainly already been aired before a rabbinical commission, according to the published and distributed letter of the Sandzer rov.

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It was not more than natural that in cities and shtetlekh where the Sadgora had had supremacy, they got even with the Sandzer not at all amiably, the way the others had handled a Sadgora minority. In the red-hot atmosphere of infuriated fanaticism, even a case of murder was not lacking: In ¯niatyn a Sadigorer ritual slaughterer was scalded to death in a bathhouse by Sandzer Hasidim.[45]

But a rare sober voice was allowed to be heard, hayosher [common sense] in the camp of the followers of R' Chaim Sandzer; it fell on deaf ears, so fiery was their anger. R'Elimelekh Grodzisker, a grandson of the Koziniecer preacher, though himself a traveler to the Sandzer rov and being a close friend, had had the courage to turn to him with a letter. Reminding the “Divrei Chaim” that he himself had respect for the Rzeszówer as a descendant of the royal House of David, he expressed the astonishment as to why the entire Rzeszówer family had to suffer because of the sin of one of them (R' Berenyu). R' Chaim's answer in general had the same content as his replies to the kehiles. He emphasized that according to the conduct of R' Berenyu the “mumer” [apostate] also casts suspicion on his brothers because of their previous odd practices, and he added a new detail, that he heard it said that their wives “ride on horses like the umes-hoo'ylem [the gentile nations]”. They blaspheme the dead and the living wise men and holy Hasidim and Geyonim. Therefore, he sees only one way to relate to them and that is “to separate us from them”, unless they want to atone.[46]

Diplomatically, the Sadgora brothers were silent, and just as in the past the Hasidim in defending against the Vilne Goen, where they used the tactic of withdrawing and not appearing alone in public, their Hasidim used the same tactic against the famous scholar from Sandz, against R' Chaim. On the fourth of Nisan they called together an assembly of rabeim that constituted a bezdin, the heard testimony, that R' Chaim Halbershtam had reviled not only the sons of the Ruzhiner saint, but also his great grandfather, Rebbe Abraham Malekh and also Mendl from Vitebsk and published a verdict: you must not hear Toyre from his mouth, because his Toyre is false; you must not be friends with him and whoever studies his Toyre, it would be as if he had studied from a sorcerer.[47] They published this verdict, signed by 49 rabeim, in Czernowitz in a brochure under the name “Written Judgments” and spread to all communities. That is how the Sadgora Hasidim repaid the “Divrei Chaim” with the same coin, a rabbinical court decision that was in truth, an excommunication, including even the same expression used about heretics.

The “Written Judgments” against R' Chaim made no impression, not only on the Sandzer Hasidim but also on outsiders.

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The accusation against the “Divrei Chaim” that he had offended the judicious deceased leader was the opposite of the truth; the names of the ostensible witnesses were not even remembered, the rabeim who signed were not esteemed, or were in general unknown[48].

Right after the Sadgora Hasidim action that at that moment had made a great noise in the Jewish world, the unsuccessful “judgment” to the organization of a broad closed front against the Sadgora, that is, their isolation. The Sadgora's action took place in Eretz Isroyl.

D. The Quarrel Captivated the Yishev [the Jewish Population in Eretz-Isroyl
The Excommunication Order against the “Divrei Chaim

The khaluke-yishev [partition of the Jewish settlement] in Eretz Isroyl, concentrated in the main in the four holy cities – Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias, was arranged in “communities”, in general, according to states of origin, such as Austria together with Galicia, Hungary, etc. Each community had its “president” in diverse lands in Europe. The “Community Russia” had organized R' Israeltche Ryżyner, so that he included Sadgora Hasidim independent of their origins, not only from Russia, but also from the neighboring lands. Since an earlier time, the “prushim” [one who devotes himself exclusively to the study of the sacred books] (mishnagdim) from Russia had their own community. After the death of R' Israeltche, his son, R' Abraham Yekubnyu from Sadgora had inherited the place of the community. In earlier times, the trustees of the ”Community Russia” in Eretz Isroyl who had been involved with raising the money for their community were Nisn Bak, Mordchai S'gal Mekupil and Abramtche from Odessa. These trustees had used their powers in the community in order to carry out that which in Galicia was not possible either because of the strength of the relationships or because of the laws of the country, to carry out a formal excommunication of Sandzer Rov R' Chaim.

Well before Pesakh 1869, the Sadgora leaders in Eretz Isroyl took revenge on the Sandzer Hasidim there where they had supremacy over them. In Safed the Shabes for the reading of the section of the law {read on the first of the two Shabeysim preceding the month of Nisan}, late at night, in the name of the Chernobiler saint, assaulted the study house with knives in their hands “and made blood flow like water”. The chasn [cantor] Israel Rub from Bubrka (Boybrek) was so severely cut with a knife that he struggled for 11 days between life and death. They destroyed the study hall, even tore the poroykhes [curtain over the Torah Ark]. After that, they went out into the street and carried on by hitting people and throwing stones[49].

During this, the trustees of the Sadgora community Nisn Bak and his friends were energetically carrying out the real revenge against their Sandzer adversaries; and to make it happen, systematically took the first step toward that end.

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Khalemoyed Pesakh [the intermediary weekdays between the first two and the last two days of the holiday] in Jerusalem, they called together a conference according to their customs in Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberia and there they agreed to proclaim a heyrem [excommunication] against the Sandzer rov in all the three cities according to a style that was created on the spot. Right after Pesakh emissaries were sent to Safed and Tiberia in order to mobilize their followers to sent delegations to Yerushalaim on the day of the heyrem. The delegated Sadgora Hasidim from, Galil went toward Jerusalem with songs and clamor. The delegation from Tiberia felt it was necessary first to invite the “Souls of the Tsadikim” [the righteous and pious ones] so that they could escort them to Yerushalayim. Together with a great mob, they marched to the grave of Shimon the Tzadik [the cave of Shimon the Tzadik is a holy place in Jerusalem]. Then it came to fighting and throwing stones at the Sandzer Hasidim who had gathered by the grave for the counter demonstration. A young man, a Sandzer Hasid was severely wounded by a stone to his head[50].

About two weeks after Pesakh the Sadgora in Jerusalem met with the delegates from Safed and Tiberia at the Koysl Marovi [the Western Wall] and announced a heyrem of “R' Chaim from Sandz”. In Jerualem they were certainly a minority: aside from the fact that most of those in the Yishev in the city were Sfardim [descendants of a Jew of medieval Spain or Portugal], the majority of the Askenazim [descendants of Jews of central and northern Europe] there were the prushim [recluse, those who devotes himself exclusively to the study of the sacred books], the Misnagdim of the Vilner Goen's [Shlomo Zalmen of Vilna, born c.1695] doctrine and there also were Hasidim who did not follow the Sadgora trustees[51]. Therefore, in Jerusalem the heyrem was carried out secretly, before dawn, when the city was still sleeping, and did not arouse any great sensation. Their tactics were different in Safed and in Tiberia.

In Safed and Tiberia the the heyrem was announced in the synagogues of the two cities with formidable ceremonies, decking the synagogues in black with black lights, removing all the Seyfer Toyres and reading the toykhekhe [chapter of curses] for a heyrem, except for blowing the shoyfer [ram's horn] at the Koysl Marovi. Here the heyrem was carried out before a great number of people, who were driven together by terror, under threat of removing the partition and the kduma [ancient law, i.e. Torah][52]. A special emissary of the trustee Natan Bak in Yerushalaim had gone from house to house before the heyrem and under the same threat, he collected signatures for the heyrem. Except for a number of Jews from the “Community Russia” who succeeded in hiding themselves, only the communities from Austria and Hungary did not succumb to the terror. The leaders of these communities even had the courage to admonish the Sadgora trustees from the area against the heyrem either at an encounter or later in a letter. They also called an assembly of the entire community and entreated them with “tears in their eyes” to spare the honor of the old rebe[53].

Two months later in the brochure “Voice of the Temple”, that the Sadgora leaders in Eretz Isroyl had issued, the bizarre hatred against the “Divrei Chaim” was reflected; also their extraordinary loyalty to their rabeim and the deeply shocking belief that the Sandzer rov had undertaken to abolish Hasides in the world in general.

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To them, Sadgora Hasides was at the highest level that Hasides had achieved. In their deep hatred, they did not even mention the name of R' Chaim of Sandz but just label him “the limper, the repressive one from Sandz” or “the community of Sandz, troublemaker to Israel”[54]. R' Chaim was sure that the odd practices of the Sadgora would not only bury Hasides, but also the Jewish religion in general. The Sadgora leaders in Eretz Isroyl had absolutely no basis for blaming R' Chaim as a violator of the Shulkhan Arukh, but they stormed about with excitement, that “he wants to tear out the planting of Hasides” and that “his fury goes out over all Hasidim[55]. They also do not refrain from spreading the opinion that R' Chaim had begun the entire dreadful difference of opinion against Sadgora because of motives of personal jealousy, because of revenge for affecting his personal interests. They expressed it as follows:

When the famous rebe R' Hersh from Rimanov died, his chair remained empty for many years, because his son Yosef was still young. The Hasidim from Rimanov used to travel to Sandz to rebe R' Chaim; Yosef was brought up in the house of Israeltche, his father's relative by marriage. When Yosef grew up, with the blessing of Sadgora rabeim, he became his father's heir as rov of Rimanov, and the Rimanover Hasidm stopped traveling to Sandz and joined with the Sadgora and the promoted R' Yosef. R' Chaim did not agree with the Sadgora and that is how the quarrel of the Sandzer against the Sadgora broke out[56].

Right after the occurrence in Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberia, the communities in Austria and Hungary alerted their guardians in Galicia to the heyrem, which they had experienced as a terrible blasphemy and a desecration of the Toyre. In addition, R' Chaim Sandzer, the famous scholar, also formally their patron: just five years before, in 1868 the “entire Ashkenaz community comprising Austria and Galicia Germany” in a letter full of veneration had nominated the Sandzer Rov, R' Chaim as treasurer and leader of the compilation that was being made including all the kehiles of Hungary[57].

On the eleventh of Iyar, the Austrian community sent a telegram to the president of funds in Galicia, R' Yitzhok Aron Ettinga in Lwov, the future Lwover rov, and on the same day, they also sent him an executive letter. Aside from this, the communities of Galicia and Hungary in Safed and Tiberia on their part informed the president in detail about the happenings in their cities.

[Page 314]

On Legboymer [a Jewish spring holiday, celebrated by outings {Weinreich}] (the 18th day in Iyar) [the eighth month including parts of April and May] in the name of the communities in Jerusalenm and in Safed (with 100 signatures of people from Galicia) an open letter was published and it was spread in loorets [outside of Eretz Yisroyl[58].

The appeal from Eretz Yisroyl to champion the honor of the Sandzer rov, the holiest of Isroyl, the light of our eyes, the great genius immediately created the expected repercussions. R' Itzik Aron Etinga turned to the Lviver rov R' Yosef Shaul Natanzohn, who was considered the greatest authority on Halokhe [the legislative part of the Talmud {Weinreich}] in all of Galicia. They both sent a letter dated Iyar 1860 to the rabeim and scholars in Eretz Yisroyl. They expressed their indignation over the fact that “in the Holy land, in the place of holiness and the Temple” “they got together some sort of people” ”who do not even reach the knuckles of their knuckles and they are not even worthy to mention your holy name”, to speak badly of and tell lies about R' Chaim Halbershtam. Here R'Chaim was remembered as “The Holy Goyen, Luminary of the Exile, Saintly Foundation of the People and we say this because we live in his shadow . . . and his name will never be eradicated”. Who is so deaf that he would not have heard of his glory and Toyre and of his piety; even at an advanced age and in poor health, he does not stop studying his shier [lesson in the Talmud] with students and studying Toyre many entire nights, answering shayles-tshuves [responsa]. His mikves [ritual bathhouses], his flaming, fiery prayers, his daily charity, and his aid to the poor in Eretz-Isroyl characterize his holy power of conception”. “Therefore, it is woe to the people who degraded the Toyre”(“as is written in Gemore”), they have defiled the holy land. That is why we demand that they do penance and publicly confess their offenses and if they do not do this, they will regret it because they will get their verdict “according to the {Jewish religious} law from the holy Toyre”.

Besides the rabeim Natanzohn and Etinga, R”Yitzhok Izik Eichenboym, the rov of Chodaczów, nephew of the famous R' Hershele Zhidichever also signed[59].

The Lwower rov R'Yosef Shaul Nantanzohn did not steal away to Eretz-Isroyl with the letter, but called upon the famous rabeim in Galicia, to join in the initiative to compel the Sadgora Hasidim in Eretz-Isroyl to do penance for the desecration of R' Chaim Sandzer. The Tarnopoler rov Yosef Babad [Joseph ben Moses Babad, 1801-1874, in Tarnopol; Safed] in his answer of the 28th of Iyar[60] expressed the opinion that it is not the time for a letter to Eretz Isroyl, because if one is not able to eradicate this evil (in Galicia), one would certainly not succeed with pressure in relationship to their connections in Eretz Isroyl. You do not have to consider those “muktsim” [untouchable {by reason of impurity}] because “a small cloud like a playing ball cannot eclipse the shine of the sun”. Also because of personal motives he could not write the offered letter, since as brother-in-law to R' Chaim he does not want to be suspected of being partial[61]. [Page 315]

The Lwower rov the Krakover rov R' Shimon Sofer, the son of the famous “Khatam Sofer” from Przyborki, wrote of such reservations in a letter of the same date as that of the Tarnopoler rov[62]. Praising the greatness of R' Chaim Halberstam “Genius of Isroyl and His holiest, the chariot and riders” he believes that it would be too much of an honor for “a flea with wings broken off, young people without Toyre, without wisdom and without fear of God” “Children without God” that the rabeim should get into a war over this. The saint from Sandz will certainly not lose any hair from his head over them. Like an ardent misnagid [opponent of Hasidism], he has to keep himself at a distance from the two “sects” – from “Ignorant Hasidim' on one side and from all kinds and heretics on the other side. He feels, therefore, that also in this case “silence is the respectable return”. Although he refuses to go out and fight directly against those “little mites”, he is ready to sign a letter from the Lviver rov to the “nesiim [presidents] from Eretz Isroyl, that they should scold those who wanted to offend “the learned saint, one of the greatest men of this age”[63].

In opposition to the rabeim from Tarnopol and Krakow, tens of rabeim from Galicia, especially from West and Middle Galicia undertook with ardor the idea that was published at the initiative of R' Chaim and his people, especially from his son R' Barukh, that not only must the Sadgora in Eretz Isroyl be severely disciplined, but an assembly of rabeim should be called who would denounce the Sadgora court and their odd practice. Among them were found the Zhiditchoyver rebe R' Yitzhok Izik, who the “Divrei Chaim” had acknowledged in a letter, that he would stand by his side “about the well-known thing” and he hopes that together with the great rabeim we will be able “to strengthen the Toyre” and discredit the “spreaders of hate”[64], the rov from Iasi (and Moldova); R' Uri Shraga Feivil Taubes [He was chief rabbi of Iasi. Spelling of the name is taken from “New Revised Translation of Iasi from Pinkas Hakehillot”, copyright Jack H. Bloom, 2005] he still had 23 days in Iyar[65], in short, two days before the letter from the Lwower rov to the rabeim in Eretz Isroyl he inquired of R' Chaim Sandzer, what should he do in view of the news, that he, R' Chaim, had undertaken a “war of the Toyre” against the “sect of the month where the fear of God is not in their eyes, and God's Toyre is not in their mouths and its honor is lowered down to the earth?” Confusion reigns in the city since some complain that their letter to the kehile Reyshe is a false one. The rov from Tarnow, R'Israel Rapoport had 28 days in Iyar[66] to send a letter to the rabeim in Eretz Isroyl in which he stated that he concurred with the letter that the Lwower rov had addressed to them. He called for the taking of God's revenge against those who reviled R' Chaim, the one he had designated with the highest titles and with plays-on-words on the name Chaim: anointed of God, the source of life, and rabbi of all Isroyl, who gives life to all souls, the savior of God, holy man of God.

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