Response to an Anti-Zionist Reader

You may also like...

119 Responses

  1. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I agree highly with what you have written, Rabbi Adlerstein, but the problem is that all sorts of good Yidden like you in America are in America. Over there you can be a rav and a professor and not have to deal as frequently with the kanoim (zealots), both the religious and leftist-secular ones. Meanwhile my kids and their friends are getting arrested and beaten up. You and all the fine Jews in America who have culture and balance and sensitivity should get over here and work to turn over the state and culture of Israel. Let us make it a place where people listen to one another and recognize the value of each other. If we worked for this together with the same all-out mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice) with which the soldiers fight to defend us, maybe we could end up with a real Jewish state sooner rather than later. We can’t sit idly by while we are all threatened by both physical and spiritual danger daily.

  2. Izgad says:

    The first is that we do mourn and commemorate those losses, all the time. Every time we daven, and implore Hashem to send Moshiach. Everytime we cry through kinos on Tisha B’Av. Every time we pick up a mussar sefer and remind ourselves of the strength of the yetzer hora. At all these times, we become painfully aware of how much we all set back HKBH’s plan for the world – you, me, secular Jews, and everyone else who does aveiros. The solution is to become better ovdei Hashem, not to rail at the shkotzim.
    What a beautiful response. I particularly liked the fact that you turned a well used Haredi argument against this woman. Haredim like to argue against a special Holocaust memorial day, saying that everything should just be seen as part of Tisha B’Av. I see this as a convenient way of getting around acknowledging that the Holocaust was a game changer in how we view Judaism. Israeli Independence Day is a similar issue. They do not wish to acknowledge that the existence of the State of Israel changes things and we are no longer operating in Eastern Europe. (I am not talking about halachic changes, chas v’shalom.)

  3. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “and take no real responsibility for the opportunity HKBH (not the Soton, chas v’shalom) gave us, which is to act as a nation, not a collection of neighborhoods.”

    I respectfully disagree with Rabbi Adlerstein here. Unless the nation is being guided by the Torah, we are still but a collection of Jewish individuals who happen to living with common threats and who MUST appreciate those who defend them for those threats (like your friend). We are not accorded the opportunity to act, nationally, as a Jewish nation. A State is a framework wherein a nation, with all of the differences of opinion, approaches, etc., there is something homogeneous that unites all of the inhabitants. What is that factor? Achav, for all of his taste for idolatry, refused to part with the Torah, the national treasure. I think Dana International (a transvestite pop singer),and certainly Maccabi Tel Aviv, are considered a greater national treasures than the Torah by the majority of Jews in Israel today, raised on the lap of Zionism. ועל דא ודאי קא בכינא – even today.

    A Jewish State is meant to be a great revelation of honor to Hashem and a sanctification of His name in this world – and a secular State on the Holy Land, with national icons as above, is not such a revelation.

    “So do the legions of dati-leumi volunteers who set up non-shul shuls for the Yamim Nora’im for secular Jews who have shown themselves open to participating in a davening, but feel themselves alienated from shuls.”

    This can also be done in Florida.

    ” So do some courageous Roshei Yeshiva (R Asher Weiss, shlit”a comes to mind) who have quietly but regularly gone to yeshivot hesder to give shiur, broadcasting the message that Torah unites us and that we are one people.”

    This can be done in New York – though not Hesder Yeshivos, but MO institutions. Didn’t some Charedi Rabbis recently go to Teaneck?

    “Jews dying on the street, homeless; violence in the public schools (yes, the public schools, where our own children will never attend), the growing gap between rich and poor, the physical comfort and morale of our soldiers.”

    All this is true anywhere Jews are – Argentina, the Soviet Union, etc. Chabad’s activism is solely a function of its solidarity with all Jews.

    “After a while, I could not live with the inconsistencies, with the historical revisionism (no, the gedolim in pre-War Europe were not all anti-Zionist. As Rabbi Bulman told us many times, charedi Europe was split. Germany and Hungary – home to Satmar – were anti-Zionist, while the majority of leaders of Polish Jewry were sympathetic.)”

    Post the establishment of the State – I don’t think there is too much debate that the leaders of the Lithuanian Yeshiva world were the Brisker Rov and the Chazon Ish zt”l in Eretz Yisrael, and Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l in the US. And they were far, far more in line with the Satmar Rebbe’s overall assessment of the State, than that of Rav Kook.

    Post the six-day war, the operative word was Kiruv – due to openness in that regard. Sadly, the catalyst of those heady days has faded. The lack of enthusiasm for broad ideologies has swept the entire Western world, becoming Generation X, the me-generation, the stupid generation, or whatever else you want to call it, where superficiality, personal comfort and narcissism rule the roost.

    And now I’ve come full circle – in agreeing with Rabbi Adlerstein’s prescription for success. If we openly project a model of selflessness, devotion and caring – we’ll win hearts, which is what we need to do at this time.

    And you can do it even if you are an anti-Zionist, as long as you don’t deny the good others do for you. That’s the ultimate narcissism.

  4. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    For me it’s very simple. I don’t believe there was ever a Zionist plot to harm Jews. I don’t believe that the Zionist establishment ever adopted a policy of abandoning Jews during WWII, nor that there was an official concerted effort lure the Yemenite Jews away from their mesora. I do however think that people are imperfect and that they act imperfectly; especially at crisis moments for which there are no clear or easily reached solutions. So yes certain people may have done certain things that had the net effect of abandoning Jews during WWII, or to have alienated some Yemenite children from their faith. With the benefit of hindsight we know that to have occured. But “b’sha’as maaseh” there was no mens rea.

    But if we want to indict ideologies, is Satmer prepared to accept some share of responsibility for the Neturei Karta? Is it not probable that R. Yoilish’s rhetoric sixty years ago had a hand in those idiots travellng to Tehran a few years back? Should R. Yoilish not have realized that some of his words were subject to misinterpretation and been more careful? Shall we blame chareidi ideology for the abuse scandal currently plaguing us? After all, the rabbonim and askonim knew of the problem years ago and either did nothing or worse supressed the information and protected the abusers; all in the name of Torah as they understood it. Shall we blame chareidi ideology for the alienation of countless children from their faith? I daresay the current problem of teens “off the derech” is numerically parallel to the Yemenite children Esther loves to throw in our face; probably worse since many of those off the derech children left as a result of what they experienced in the chareidi world, which operates based on chafreidi ideology. Anyone offended or angered by my words? You should be, I intended to insult and anger you. That’s what the blame game is all about. Can we all grow up and move on?

  5. J says:

    I was shocked to read this at this website. I’m not surprised that at least one Cross-Currents writer thinks this way, but seeing it in print (or pixel) is surprising. Usually these ideas are spoken in private so as not to offend certain elements.

    It’s about time that we got some straight talk in defense of sanity and mentschlichkeit, which could possibly be, and may once have been, Jewish principles, though of course not a par with gender-segregated buses. No doubt this will lead to tension and even schism; so those of us who would prefer unity, but not at the cost of our defining principles, need to ask ourselves just how much chillul hashem and unnecessary alienation from nonreligious Jews we are willing to take.

    “A parting word for Esther. Do you really want to take stock of who has damaged the honor of Torah, and cost us Jewish souls? I don’t think you want to go there.”

    Let’s go there.

  6. Nathan says:

    When Satmars attack the Zionists, the *** ONLY *** thing they accomplish is causing the non-religious Jews to HATE the religious Jews, which makes Kiruv Rechokim much more difficult.

    As a Kiruv Rechokim activist, I believe that the anti-Zionist ruin and sabotage the cause of Kiruv Rechokim.

  7. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein asks Esther, “Do you really want to take stock of who has damaged the honor of Torah, and cost us Jewish souls? I don’t think you want to go there.”

    That’s dangerous territory for everyone. We could bring up the “West Bank” settlers who were making life miserable for the Arabs and everyone else in the 1980s (remember the so-called “Jewish Terror Undergound”?) Yigael Amir, et. al. We could bring up the prominent RZ rabbis who publicly called upon soldiers to refuse orders in Gaza and the West Bank. And if we’re going to bring up child abuse, has everyone forgotten Boruch Lanner, and the coterie of YU rabbis who were his enablers?

    I used to bring these things up whenever Chareidim were under attack. What caused me to stop was reading the non-observant reaction; it was uniformly negative and anti-Orthodox. I would hope that most people on this discussion can remember secular columnists arguing that Orthodox aliyah had to be reduced, or that there were too many Orthodox Jews in high positions in the Army. Unfortunately, Rabbi Adlerstein is wrong when he says the old battle is over. It’s not. There is still a large number of secularists that are out to get us, and they make no distinction between Hesder and Naturei Karta and anything in between. For this reason, I try to keep quiet, not that it necessarily works.

    I’d love to see us stop refighting old battle, but it’s hardly a right-wing phenomenon. You can ask the anti-Zionist Orthodox can stop, but what response will you get if you the RZ writers that are still intent on blaming the chasidic rebbes for not sending their flocks to Palestine in the 1930s to stop living in the past?

    Jews are fixated on the past, and have turned “Zachor Yemos Olam” into a call to keep grudges. (This is hardly an Orthodox phenomenon. I remember seeing a book, late 1980s-early 1990s by Yehosophat Harkabi, a respected Israeli intelligence analyst, arguing for recognition of the PLO back then. Half the book was devoted to denouncing Jabotinsky and Revisionist Zionism.)

    All that having been said, I can yearn for the days that Chareidi yeshiva students were busy digging trenches before the 1967 war to do their part in defending the country. And that was when the Israeli government was far more anti-religious than it is today. I agree that we in the right-wing have become too focused on ourselves and tend to bite the hands that are helping us. We’ve lost our sense of ahavas yisroel. However, we are hardly alone. I remember reading an interview of Rabbi Amital shortly after he started Meimad as a “tolerant” Orthodox movement. It was very hearwarming as he argued how the Orthodox should open up to the nonreligious and tone down our rhetoric. Then he spoke briefly about “kfirat chareidit.” And I thought, so much for tolerance and toning down rhetoric.

  8. dr. bill says:

    “and take no real responsibility for the opportunity HKBH (not the Soton, chas v’shalom) gave us, which is to act as a nation, not a collection of neighborhoods.”

    interestingly this is how the Rav ztl saw his disagreement with his uncle ztl. he once said that his uncle could not find a halakhic category to put the current state. not sure that the rav did either, but felt the need to be thankful for it nonetheless. Perhaps an overly theoretical point on an excellent article; but you ended up very close to Kol dodi dofek. Both you and R. landesman in one week – who said there is slide to the right. and sorry if i “outted you!”

  9. Ori says:

    Yehoshua Friedman, the problem is that living in Israel tends to make people zealots (on both sides). Israelis are worried that other Israelis will attempt to enforce their values on them, and resort to pre-emptive strikes.

  10. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Unless the nation is being guided by the Torah, we are still but a collection of Jewish individuals who happen to living with common threats and who MUST appreciate those who defend them for those threats (like your friend). We are not accorded the opportunity to act, nationally, as a Jewish nation.

    Binyomin – do you have a source for this statement?

  11. dovid says:

    “….the Yemenite children Esther loves to throw in our face;”

    “Anyone offended or angered by my words? You should be, I intended to insult and anger you.”

    You wanted to impress, but your words only depress when you slander a fellow post writer. Esther doesn’t throw anything in anyone’s face. If anything, she maintained a civil tone throughout the previous thread. She is entrenched in her views, but the mere fact that you debates is cause for hope. With regard to the Yemenite children, Esther is 1000% right. All Jews in Yemen were simple, pious Yiden, all of them frum, to the last one. The medina had a deliberate policy of extirpating Yahadus from them. So they went after the children. And they were “successful”. Many of them ended up criminals. The number of Yemenite inmates in Israeli prisons was out of proportion to their number. There were no Jewish criminals back in Yemen. Not one. It was the state’s doing. You don’t believe me? Ask Rabbi Galinsky in Bnei Brak, a close associate of the Chason Ish when the Gaon was still around. For you everything is very simple, but it is also very false. BTW, I am not Satmar.

  12. Tal Benschar says:

    It would take a long essay to pick apart all the errors in this post, but one can zero in on the following:

    Zionism today is standing up to a world that says that all nations are entitled to a country of their own, except Jews. I am not uncomfortable with that Zionism.

    Sorry, that is precisely where those who oppose Zionism do not and cannot accept “Zionism.” We are not like the other nations. Whether other nations are “entitled” to a country (and really, that is an exageration — where do the Basques have a country? The Native Americans? The Tamils?) OUR entitlement is through Torah. Otherwise we are just an ancient Semitic tribe who should have died out long ago — like the Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites (ever see one of them walking down the street?)

    R. Chaim Brisker once stated that Zionism is the collective yetzer ha rah of the Jewish people — it is a vehicle for the Jewish people to be poreik ‘ol and become just another nation.

    That reality is still the same today — the State at best tolerates Torah, and certainly Torah is not the foundation of the State. Half of the Jews in the Jewish State don’t know what the first possuk in Shma means. The powers that be in the State still use every power at their disposal to keep the State secular — see the recent Supreme Court ruling requiring funding of Reform Conversions. No important national issue — return of territories, negotiating with the enemy, dealing with kidnappers of soldiers — is ever even considered through the prism of Torah. (I am talking about the decision makers, not those who write essays in Torah journals.)

    Really, R. Adlerstein, you consider this a “victory?” That the Zionists have a secular state and have imposed a secular identity on the Jewish people, but allow you, in your daled amos, to maintain your religion?

  13. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Yasher Koach Rabbi Adlerstein!

    We really need you here in Israel.

    [YA: Thanks! I’ll take that as a berachah! We’ve been wanting and waiting to come for many years.]

  14. One Esther says:

    “Zionism committed no crimes. People committed crimes.”

    You could say the same about Islam or Christianity or Nazism or communism. When Moslems say Islam is the most misunderstood religion, I say: if so many Jihadists believe in terror as a Moslem virtue, there must be something terribly wrong with the “religion of peace”.

    “Like most people who spent serious time learning in yeshiva, I was an anti-Zionist… What shifted me was not warming up to the “others,” but gradually being repelled by the lies in our camp.”

    Most yeshivish yeshivos and chassidic kehilos are not anti-zionist, much as they like to think of themselves as such. It’s like the completely secular calling LWMO “fanatic”. By Satmar standards they’re non-zionist at best and pro-zionist at worst. They live on zionist money, take an active part in the government, speak their language, and increasingly campaign for shleimus haaretz and against peace with the Arabs, just like Mizrachi. What makes them anti-zionist? Their opposition to chilul shabbos, gay parades, etc.? That’s anti-secularism, not anti-zionism. Their evasion of the draft? If there was a draft in the US I would evade it by any means, even if I were male. Does that make me anti-American? That makes me a frum American who applauds the army but wants no part of it for religious, not political, reasons.

    Anti-zionism means opposition to the IDEA of zionism. And though Agudah was founded for that purpose, it’s steadily losing its direction. Already in Poland R’ Elchanan Wasserman Hy”d railed fiercely against those leaning towards zionism, and at a recent Agudah convention R’ Waxman thundered about it as well (before leaving in protest I am told).

    The story is told about one of the old yishuv rabbonim who refused zionist funds for fear of being influenced by his benefactors. “Just take the money and do whatever you want,” he was told. “We won’t tell you how to run your affairs.”

    “Once I take your money,” the rav said, “I’ll run after you and ask you what it is you want me to do.”

    We see this happening all over. Belzer tying orange ribbons on their car antennas. Belz! The hotbed of kanous, where nobody was kosher enough, where daf yomi was treif because it was instituted by Agudah. Suddenly zionism is kosher. You take their money, you’re sold.

    So we may agree on more than we realize. I can see why you were repelled by the lies and I can imagine you’re not the only one, but while you turned left others turned right. Now I won’t say it’s kulo emes anywhere except in olam haemes, but are you sure you found emes? Pretending that there’s nothing wrong with modernity or zionism – is that emes? Idolizing chazer-fressing zionists more than anti-zionist gedolim – is that emes? Many have discovered the lies in RZ too, and while some (like R’ Tal, featured in Mishpacha) have turned right, others have unfortunately turned left.

    “Have you ever thought of the tens of thousands since then who might have been brought back to Yiddishkeit – but were and are turned off by what you represent to them?”

    Now that’s interesting because last I heard, most secular Jews don’t care about Israel or are embarrased by it. That’s why they voted for Obama.

    “When Satmars attack the Zionists, the *** ONLY *** thing they accomplish is causing the non-religious Jews to HATE the religious Jews, which makes Kiruv Rechokim much more difficult.”

    Any facts to back up this sweeping claim?

    “For me it’s very simple. I don’t believe there was ever a Zionist plot to harm Jews.”

    Simple indeed. Why don’t you read Perfidy, by Ben Hecht?

    “Is Satmer prepared to accept some share of responsibility for the Neturei Karta?”

    I never said RZ are responsible for the crimes of zionism. Aderaba, they tried their best to limit the harm done, especially R’ Herzog. But as a matter of fact Satmar does feel responsible for NK because people identify them with each other. So what does Satmar do? They place ads and publicize in every way possible that they do not identify with or condone the acts of NK. Now imagine Mizrachi advertizing: “We do not identify with those zionists who try to turn Jews away from torah”. How refreshing!

    “Anyone offended or angered by my words? You should be, I intended to insult and anger you.”

    Now if I would’ve written anything like that…

  15. dovid says:

    “If there was a draft in the US I would evade it by any means, even if I were male. Does that make me anti-American?”

    Esther, paying taxes honestly (without cutting corners) and serving in the host country’s armed forces if the host country, such as the USA, requires it are two pillars of dina d’malchusa dina, which according to most poskim is a mitzva from the Torah. It is not optional, it is an obligation. Therefore, cheating at taxes or draft evasion makes one a treife Yid.
    This is not taught in Satmar, but it’s true nevertheless.

  16. Chardal says:

    >“For me it’s very simple. I don’t believe there was ever a Zionist plot to harm Jews.”

    >Simple indeed. Why don’t you read Perfidy, by Ben Hecht?

    Ben Hecht? The secular Zionist Ben Hecht? The same Ben Hecht who wroked with Peter Bergson (AKA Hillel Kook) and his band of secular Zionists to save over 100,000 Jews during the holocaust – which was more than any other single group?

  17. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Tal, Half of the Jews in the Jewish State don’t know what the first possuk in Shma means.

    Funny, you accused R. Adlerstein of exaggerating and then come up with this statement. Over 90% of Jewish Israelis attend a Pesach seder. You really think half those people don’t know what Shema means? (Forgetting for a moment that Hebrew is their native language.)

    This is no small point. It also goes to Esther’s claim of the “secularization” of Israel as well. For anyone who lives here that claim, as your hyperbole, is completely unsustainable. And I’m not just talking about Chareidi or Dati Leumi demographics. (Which in and of itself is enough to debunk these claims.) Everywhere you turn there are signs of religious life. Succas abound in the most secular of neighborhoods. I can no longer count the number of times I’ve sat on the bus near a person, usually a women, dressed in a way that many would judge negatively only to see here spend the entire bus ride saying Tehillim. Just this past weekend in the Jerusalem Post there was an article about the proliferation of secular Batei Medrash; over 100 and growing with most clustered around Tel Aviv.

    Not just in spite of, but also because of, the Medina Jewish life is flourishing here like in no other place and possible like at no other time. We have a heck of lot more than our “daled amos”.

    Frankly, and it makes me sad to say this, until the “religious” world gets it act together the only possible way for this holy place to function is with a secular government. Someday, when we’re ready, the mechanism is in place for a change, but until then the facts on the ground make short shrift of statements like yours and sentiments like Esther’s.

  18. dovid says:

    “When Satmars attack the Zionists, the *** ONLY *** thing they accomplish is causing the non-religious Jews to HATE the religious Jews, which makes Kiruv Rechokim much more difficult.”

    Esther: “Any facts to back up this sweeping claim?”

    You want facts? Fair enough. I taught English for a few months in a Satmar yeshiva in Monsey. That’s where I found out that Satmar parents teach their children that anyone who doesn’t share their look, levush, frisbee hat, etc. is not Jewish. I dress like the yeshivische crowd, black hat, dark suit, black shoes, etc. Now, prospective baalei tshuva (I was one of them many yrs ago) dress funny, to put it mildly. If some Satmar idiots disqualify me from my yerusha (not that they could) because of my yeshivische levush, will they warm up to someone in jeans, cowboy boots, and cowboy hat, not to mention someone with an earring or a nose ring?

    Do you want to hear more facts? Tens of thousands of Jews became baalei tshuva since the Six Day War. How many of them joined the ranks of Satmar? Maybe a handful. Do you know why? Because the way of the Torah is דרכי נועם. If it is presented as such, it sells itself. דרכי סאטמאר is not דרכי נועם. Sane people, searching for the emmes, veer away from your world that views the Belzer, Chabbad, Vishnitz, Klausenburg, Ger, Stolin, Nadvorna, Boston, Slonim, etc. etc., as traitors who all sold out. I didn’t include the yeshivische world, since Satmar teach their children that they aren’t Jewish.

    Do you want to hear more facts? How many of the Iranian Jews that Satmar helped escape became Satmar Chassidim? Can you name one? Find me one.

  19. dovid says:

    “at a recent Agudah convention R’ Waxman thundered about it as well (before leaving in protest I am told).”

    If you are referring to the Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, (he spoke at the Agudah convention two years ago), I don’t recall his talking about Zionism, and definitely he did not leave in protest. He and I left at the same time. Whoever told you, if he referred to Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, he lied. If he referred to someone else, please give is more details. Until then, I am highly skeptical of the whole story.

    “Now that’s interesting because last I heard, most secular Jews don’t care about Israel or are embarrased by it. That’s why they voted for Obama.”

    You got it wrong, again. For your information, only American Jews in Israel vote in the American elections. The Israeli demographics are such, that the overwhelming American Jews in Israel, if they voted, they voted for Senator John McCain.

  20. Tal Benschar says:

    The first is that we do mourn and commemorate those losses, all the time. Every time we daven, and implore Hashem to send Moshiach. Everytime we cry through kinos on Tisha B’Av. Every time we pick up a mussar sefer and remind ourselves of the strength of the yetzer hora. At all these times, we become painfully aware of how much we all set back HKBH’s plan for the world – you, me, secular Jews, and everyone else who does aveiros. The solution is to become better ovdei Hashem, not to rail at the shkotzim.

    It is true that gedolei yisroel opposed a separate commemorative day for the Holocaust — it should be part of Tisha b’Av.
    That does not mean that specific events and calamities should not be talked about and remembered, even if they don’t have their own “day.” There are specific kinos about the loss of certain kehillos (Worms, Mayence) and more recently there have been specific kinos composed about the Holocaust, although we are still very close to that event to have a complete perspective. Apart from kinos, the Holocaust is mentioned and remembered in numerous books, articles, memoirs, and films. Many Orthodox shuls have some form of Holocaust remembrance — a talk, a film — on the afternoon of Tisha B’Av.

    Contrast this with how often the spiritual Holocaust perpetrated by the Zionists in EY in the post-war period. (Those who think it is an exxageration to say that should study some history. And it is not just the Yemenites either — it includes large parts of the Edot ha Mizrach, and many individual Ashkenazim, including refugees from the Churban in Europe.) Outside of Satmar, the discussion of that is virtually nil. The reality is that that Churban is all but suppressed.

    The contrast between the two could not be greater. To say that we have both in mind when we daven generic tefillos about teshuvah and Moshiach is really avoiding the issue.

  21. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “Binyomin – do you have a source for this statement?”

    רב סעדיה גאון – אין אומתנו אומה אלא בתורתה.

    A Jewish Nation acting in abrogation or defiance of the Torah is violating her national mandate and destiny, and Jews loyal to the Torah have no part in such a national venture, as such . That does not mean that where interests coincide with the Torah’s mandate there is no room for Hakaras Hatov.

  22. Thomas Lowinger says:

    It seeems like some people take “Perfidy” by Ben Hecht as “Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai”. Ther have been a number of studies and books published recently on Kasztner one by Anna Porter, and one by Ladislaus Loeb. They paint a different picture. Rudolf Vrba the escapee from Auschwitz wrote very uncomplimentary words on R’ Weissmandel. Those that read Perfidy ought to also read the critical reviews.

  23. Chardal says:

    >21.It seeems like some people take “Perfidy” by Ben Hecht as “Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai”. Ther have been a number of studies and books published recently on Kasztner one by Anna Porter, and one by Ladislaus Loeb

    Thomas, Porter’s defense of kastner is pretty weak. The absuridity of anti-Zionists hocking Perfidy as gosple is not to be found in the accuracy of the work (although perfidy is more polemical than academic) but rather in the fact that Hecht himself was a secular Zionist – and one who worked tiresly to save Jews during the war. To use him in order to bash that phantom “universal zionist conspiracy” is more than absurd – it’s offensive.

  24. mb says:

    As far as I understand it, no historian of note takes Perfidy or Ben Hecht seiously at all.(My goodness, he was a Hollywood script writer!)
    The fact that Satmar and their fellow travelers cling to this fiction speaks volumes.

  25. dovid says:

    Esther, Satmar is against accepting support from the Zionist government out of fear the Zionists will dictate their agenda. The Satmar Rav did accept to be included in Rudolf Kastner’s transport in 1944 to take him and his family to Switzerland. Why? How is this different than taking cash? Kastner was the Jewish Agency’s representative in Hungary.

  26. saulking says:

    We could bring up the “West Bank” settlers who were making life miserable for the Arabs and everyone else in the 1980s (remember the so-called “Jewish Terror Undergound”?)

    Are you pointing fingers at the 3 guys in prison for placing a bomb at an Arab school? 3 wild settlers, or the settlers who attack the Arabs who destroy the completing grown olive/grape vines, or the settlers who shot at the Arabs who infiltrated the yishuv and killed a young girl, or the wild settlers who make sure that all yeshivot in yehuda and shomron are armed to protect the students while learning torah (those wild yeshiva guys in Othniel…)

  27. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Binyomin – that’s what I thought you meant, but two points spring to ming:

    1) There’s no logical connection between R’ Saadiah’s statement and the conclusion that “Jews loyal to the Torah have no part” in such a national venture.

    2) Precedent also clearly disagrees. When the Tzedukim were abusing thei influence to mess up the avodah of Yom kippur, the Perushim didn’t just abstain from participation.

  28. dr. bill says:

    We could bring up the prominent RZ rabbis who publicly called upon soldiers to refuse orders in Gaza and the West Bank. And if we’re going to bring up child abuse, has everyone forgotten Boruch Lanner, and the coterie of YU rabbis who were his enablers?…

    I remember reading an interview of Rabbi Amital shortly after he started Meimad as a “tolerant” Orthodox movement. It was very hearwarming as he argued how the Orthodox should open up to the nonreligious and tone down our rhetoric. Then he spoke briefly about “kfirat chareidit.” And I thought, so much for tolerance and toning down rhetoric.

    Comment by Lawrence M. Reisman — May 28, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

    And we can also bring up the response those RZ rabbis received from others in their camp, written with the respect that is sadly not that often accorded to those whose opinion we STRONGLY oppose.

    I can only imagine one legitimate reason for bringing up Lanner and the YU RY who initially defended him almost two decades ago – to demonstrate the strength of charachter of RY to publically admit error. Was that your reason?

    And btw, you should provide the full context of R. Amital’s remarks. For many decades, I had never heard RSZA ztl attacked nor yibadel lechaim, until your post, R. Amital. I guess after not so subtle attacks on RSZA, why should anything suprise me. perhaps if chareidi excess was roundly condemned by chareidi leaders, others would not have to address the issue.

  29. Tal Benschar says:

    dovid:

    You were asked to provide proof that Anti-Zionism hinders kiruv. As proof you set forth an anti-Satmar rant, that, assuming it’s true (and I and others I known have had different experiences), has mostly to do with Satmar insularity than anti-zionism. The other Chassidische groups you mention are far from Zionistic. Same goes for the baal teshuvah yeshivas that emanate from the Litvishe world — Ohr Sameach, Aish ha Torah, etc.

    Deracheah Darchei Noam is a good formula for kiruv. One can emphasize that without being a Zionist, as these groups have done.

  30. Tal Benschar says:

    You really think half those people don’t know what Shema means? (Forgetting for a moment that Hebrew is their native language.)

    Shma means more than the simply translation of the words — it means kabbalos ‘ol malchus shomayim. I very much doubt that the most secular half of Israelis have any understanding of that.

  31. Moishe Potemkin says:

    I very much doubt that the most secular half of Israelis have any understanding of that.

    Tal, is none of that ignorance due to chareidi rejectionism? Is it really appropriate to criticize the fact that no important policies are determined through the prism of Torah, when the Torah parties’ participation in the government involves little other than pursuing more money and less responsibility? Do you not see any irony in the fact that you criticize chiloni society for not considering a vantage point other than their own, when you engage in the exact same behaviour?

  32. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    “Shema” and especially the last word “Echad” means that that when a major salvation for the Jewish people occurs that it comes from G-d, not some dark “force”.

  33. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “1) There’s no logical connection between R’ Saadiah’s statement and the conclusion that “Jews loyal to the Torah have no part” in such a national venture.”

    Other than being in contradiction to our national mandate, none. When interests coincide – that’s another matter. As Rav Aharon Kotler said at the time – he’d be in cahoots with the Pope if that’s what it took to save a Jewish life.

    “2) Precedent also clearly disagrees. When the Tzedukim were abusing thei influence to mess up the avodah of Yom kippur, the Perushim didn’t just abstain from participation.”

    They just went ahead and ousted them from Judaism, and it took the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash to finally rid us of their accursed influence, and only then did political leadership finally come back to unambiguously reside where it has always belonged, במהרה בימינו – with the Torah Sages. I really hope it won’t take such drastic measures to currently restore Torah leadership. [Reb Yoilish wrote in על הגאולה that Moshiach is going to get rid of all of the Zionists’ political institutions and edifices, קל וחומר מספר תורה שכתבו מין. ]

  34. One Esther says:

    “Esther, Satmar is against accepting support from the Zionist government out of fear the Zionists will dictate their agenda. The Satmar Rav did accept to be included in Rudolf Kastner’s transport in 1944 to take him and his family to Switzerland. Why? How is this different than taking cash? Kastner was the Jewish Agency’s representative in Hungary.”

    reb dovid, I hope you realize there is a difference between pikuach nefesh and financial difficulties.

  35. Chardal says:

    >reb dovid, I hope you realize there is a difference between pikuach nefesh and financial difficulties.

    Actually, since the Satmar Rebbe paskened that Zionism is equivalent to Avodah Zarah then would not this have been a classic case of Yehareg uBal Ya’avor?

  36. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Tal,

    Shma means more than the simply translation of the words — it means kabbalos ‘ol malchus shomayim. I very much doubt that the most secular half of Israelis have any understanding of that.

    They may not be willing or ready to “submit” but they get it. Let me give you an example.

    My wife’s ulpan teacher was a classic secular Zionist. As an example of her antagonism toward religion she would say things like, “the people who wrote the Torah” to a class of frum Jews in Ramat Beit Shemesh. The arguments between her and the class, which also included a “frum” seminary student from the local Monastery, were legendary. Occasionally, however, she’d use an example from Davening to explain a grammatical concept. Often when she did she would pull a well-worn Siddur from her hand bag to cite the entire passage.

    This woman understood Shema. Examples like this are everywhere. One just has to keep his mind and heart open.

    This is not to say that I’m unrealistic, or as Rabbi Landesman would say Pollyannish, about what goes on here. However, at a base level virtually every Jew here has all the tools necessary to come closer to Yiddishkeit if and when they so desire. They speak Hebrew, their national holidays are Jewish holidays, the seventh day of the week is Shabbos not Saturday (and it’s a day of rest in one form or another), and the list goes on.

    Those who would say that the secularness of the Jews in Israel is some sort of tragedy are simply being obtuse. Were it not for the formation of the state of Israel post WWII most of the ancestors of these Israelis would have ended up as part of the great American Jewish tragedy. Instead of a near zero rate of intermarriage more than half would have intermarried leaving us with millions less Jews by now. And most of those remaining would be like that majority of American Jews who are nearly or completely disconnected from their Judaism.

    The tragedy here lies not with the secular Jews, but with the frum Jews, of all types. We’ve allowed the extremists among us to represent and divide us. The secular Jews see either extremist, messianic settlers who are willing to sacrifice their sons lives to maintain control of every inch of land, or anachronistic black clad zealots who couldn’t care less if their sons sacrifice their lives protecting them.

    This is part of the “new battle” to which Rabbi Adlerstein refers. Sensible religious leaders (like R. Adlerstein who will hopefully be joining sooner than later 🙂 have to reclaim the center. And they are going to have to fight to do it because extremists are, well, extreme and don’t give up easily. If we can show our secular brethren that the ways of the Torah are truly Darche Noam then we have a shot getting some of them to join the battle. Otherwise, well, does Afghanistan mean anything to you?

  37. dovid says:

    Tal Benschar, if you bother to answer a post, have the courtesy to read it carefully and don’t read into it what’s not there. It is an effective tactic to put your adversary on the defensive but making false claims about him is sheker. I did not write anything to the effect that any of the chassidic groups listed were zionist. Esther wrote in a previous post that Belz sold out to the Zionists. The entire Satmar camp making such claims regarding other groups as well.

    And Tal Benschar, don’t give us the party line. Esther asked for proofs. Are there baalei t’shuva in the Satmar camp? Yes? How many? Why so few? What about the Iranians? One could say that their focus is directed elsewhere. But that’s not the whole story. The story I related is not an isolated incident, unique to me. The English principal told me that children asked him whether he eats matza on Pesach. They take pride in teaching their children such nonsense. They don’t hide it.

    “Deracheah Darchei Noam is a good formula for kiruv.”

    Darchei Noam is neither a formula, nor a tactic. It’s a passuk in Mishlei that describes what Torah life is supposed to be. There is no doubt that the yeshivishe mosdos for baalei t’shuva and Chabbad have mastered the message of this passuk. Satmar has something to learn from them. Hostility breeds hostility.

  38. dovid says:

    Rabbi Landesman and Rabbi Adlerstein have a message for us, which is that we need to roll up our sleeves and carry out our job. The job description didn’t change. We did. We are weaker, and the hester panim makes it harder to carry it out. But we have to do it, nonetheless. Pointing fingers, self-righteousness will give us a short-term boost but it’s ruinous and self-defeating. And it is not in our job description. So let’s cut it out. We know what we have to do. So, let us do it without shortcuts.

  39. One Esther says:

    r. dovid,

    Far be it from me to excuse the boys’ behavior in UTA, but unfortunately chutzpa towards secular-studies teachers is rampant in chassidic boys schools. The kids are tired after a full day of learning difficult limudei kodesh (7 to 5!), and secular studies are considered unimportant, a necessary evil. In chassidic girls’ schools the problem goes in the opposite direction. The girls are eager to please the “modern” secular-studies teachers while their own limudei kodesh teachers are often disrespected.

  40. Tal Benschar says:

    “Tal, is none of that ignorance due to chareidi rejectionism? Is it really appropriate to criticize the fact that no important policies are determined through the prism of Torah, when the Torah parties’ participation in the government involves little other than pursuing more money and less responsibility? Do you not see any irony in the fact that you criticize chiloni society for not considering a vantage point other than their own, when you engage in the exact same behaviour?”

    Moishe, I don’t want to get drawn into a debate with you. Many of my relatives are chilonim, and I think I have a better understanding than you of their POV.

    1. The ignorance is due to a secular upbringing and a secular educational system. Charedi rejectionism has nothing to do with it. Do you really think that if the Charedim suddenly started singin Hatikvah then the secular educational system would suddenly become a Torah one? That is naive in the extreme.

    2. Your second and third sentence miss my point completely. Torah is not a “point of view.” It is the founding basis of the Jewish nation. The Chillul Hashem here is that you have a “Jewish” state whose foundation is “kekhol ha amim” and whose decisions are not based on Torah.

    Try testing these assertions out against historical reality. At the founding of the State, the Mizrachi was far larger than the Agudah — it had something like 12 seats to the latter’s 3. Presumably you would not call them “rejectionist” — they are good Zionists who say Hallel on 5 Iyyar. Did that make Israel any less secular? Did the secular establishment say, “Gee, we really need to consider the Torah point of view in formulating national policy?” Did their whole hog (pardon the expression) participation endear them to the secular establishment?

    (I find it ironic that everyone complains about the “greedy selfish” Charedim. There was a certain Mizrachi MK who for years was Minister of the Interior. Many secular people of that generation considered him a greedy schnorrer as much as any Charedi today.)

  41. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    To Saulking:

    I could point fingers at Ronan Aldubi, who took a group of Jewish children on an outing, and when attacked, formed a circle of them around him and shot at the Arabs from behind the children, killing Tirza Porat. I could point at the thousands of people who bought Haggai Segal’s “Dear Brothers.” I could point at those in Chevron who made a point of harassing Arabs in the shuk, who broke into mosques, or for that matter, who let a Jewish boy die on a Friday night because they thought his screams for help were coming from an Arab. The truth is, I’d rather not point fingers at anybody. When Boruch Goldstein or Yigael Amir set off a storm of hatred against the RZ camp, most of the Chareidi world either attacked the attackers, defended the RZ, or kept silent. Very few of us (and I, to my shame was an exception to this) pointed out fingers and said “We, the Charedim, didn’t do this.” But when the Charedim go off and do something obnoxious, the RZ camp went to great length to distance themselves publicly from whatever was happening.

    To Dr. Bill:

    You say that you “can only imagine one legitimate reason for bringing up Lanner and the YU RY who initially defended him almost two decades ago – to demonstrate the strength of charachter of RY to publically admit error.”

    When Lanner’s misdeeds became a public matter, and he was arresting for assaulting students at Hillel Day School, a small group of YU-associated rabbis took him in and tried to make an arrangement with NJ law enforcement authorities to allow him to go to Israel and “serve out” his sentence there. And this was a lot later than 2 decades ago.

    My purpose was to show that no one has a monopoly on chilul hashem, covering up misdeeds, etc. Pointing fingers is something we can all do, and it does us no good. When Amir murdered Rabin, I was totally shocked that the attacks that hailed down on the RZ community, even to the point that some were suggesting that RZ aliyah be curtailed. Ditto, when the same people who attacked Chareidi draft-dodging were urging the army purge RZ officers because of their influence. It was only then that I realized that to some in Israel, a religious Jew was a religious Jew, no matter what his outlook on the state and Zionism. We all have to wake up to this!

    By the way, for those who bring up what happened to the Yemenites in Israel, according to Tom Segev (1949: The First Israelis), it was a Mizrachi politician who first brought this to public attention and made the biggest stink about it. Not Agudah or NK.

  42. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Dovid:

    Esther asked for facts to back up the claim that “When Satmars attack the Zionists, the *** ONLY *** thing they accomplish is causing the non-religious Jews to HATE the religious Jews, which makes Kiruv Rechokim much more difficult.”

    All you’ve done is to repeat the negative attitudes of Satmar towards those who don’t behave like them and to point out that they are not a presence in the world of kiruv. This does not support the proposition that Satmar is making kiruv much more difficult. Sorry.

    To all those who question why the Satmar Rebbe accepted the help of the Zionists getting out of Hungary in 1944:

    At the time, the Satmar Rebbe had no idea he was being saved from certain death. The terrible bargain Kastzner and the Zionists had to make was to put out the word that Jews were merely being relocated, not exterminated, and that the gas chambers were nothing more than a false, ugly rumor. This insured the maximum cooperation of the Jews in their own destruction, and to the Satmar Rebbe, he wasn’t leaving any real danger behind him. The Klausenberger Rebbe, not exactly a Satmar Chosside, believed this when he got on the train with his family, and he never forgave the Zionist establishment for their deaths. In “The Abandonment of the Jews,” David Wyman wonders as to why the Zionist establishment in Hungary didn’t try to foment a mass civil disobedience that would have slowed the Nazis down, if not stopped them.

    By the way, Wyman also mentions something Kastzner did that far outshines his trains which saved 1,000. He managed to convince the Nazis to divert a “shipment” of 15,000 Jews headed for Auschwitz to a labor camp, where 75% of them survived the war. Had he not done this, had they gone to Auschwitz, 90% of them would have had a life expectancy of less than one hour once they got off the train. The remaining 10% would have a life expectancy of maybe one month.

    [YA – I have worked in kiruv for over 30 years. For many, if not most, people willing to give authentic Judaism a hearing (and turn to it for healthy reasons, as opposed to emotinal vulnerability), the biggest hurdle to overcome is the negative stereotypes of frum living and people. I do not have the slightest doubt from my own experience that Satmar has made the job much, much harder]

  43. Michoel Halberstam says:

    Once again Rabbi Adlerstein, I thank you for the courageous way you have chosen to handle this comment. It might be valuable to reflect on something that has happened to us as a people over the last few generations. Because of a series of historical accidents we have became a religion of “Shitot” that is, it is no longer important to be a Yorai Shomayim and a shomer Totrah. On must accept the correct Shita. We all know that the Best People are all Chareidim, ot Agudaniks, or Satmarer, or Dati Leumi, You no longer have to consider the halachic implications of what ypou do, you simply have to belong to the right group. For those of us who simply have to be right, this is an ideal situation. But for those who remember that the point of all of this is Yiras Shomayim, we don’t have the luxury of issuing stupid proclamations about how “they” are responsible for everything. Unfortunately many people, even great people, have contributed to this misconception. Make no mistake, however, anyone who has been given “daas” , and refuses to use it because it doesn’t fit in with the Shita is abdicating his responsibiliy to the Torah. So there you have it Esther, I hope you’re happy in the knowledge that nothing which is wrong has anything to do with you. Enjoy that knowledge many ignorant people share it.

  44. simairkodesh says:

    “it was a Mizrachi politician who first brought this to public attention and made the biggest stink about it”.

    TRUE, true. The group that bands together no matter what is the ‘Mizrachites’- meaning those from Mizrach countries (known as Sefradim). The Mizrachites have more in common with each other than Ashkenazim do with their extended chevrah.
    The screamers about the Yemenite children scream against the secular & zionist government (their concern is not for the Yemenites per se) to prove its wickedness. Politically Likud and Shas are the homebase for Mizrachites(religious or secular), nationalistic in nature and lovers of Zion. You do not see the same hostility towards Yom Hatazmaut, Yom HaShoach and other national days from the Mizrachites. Interesting…

  45. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    You wanted to impress, but your words only depress when you slander a fellow post writer. Esther doesn’t throw anything in anyone’s face. If anything, she maintained a civil tone throughout the previous thread. She is entrenched in her views, but the mere fact that you debates is cause for hope. With regard to the Yemenite children, Esther is 1000% right. All Jews in Yemen were simple, pious Yiden, all of them frum, to the last one. The medina had a deliberate policy of extirpating Yahadus from them. So they went after the children. And they were “successful”. Many of them ended up criminals. The number of Yemenite inmates in Israeli prisons was out of proportion to their number. There were no Jewish criminals back in Yemen. Not one. It was the state’s doing. You don’t believe me? Ask Rabbi Galinsky in Bnei Brak, a close associate of the Chason Ish when the Gaon was still around. For you everything is very simple, but it is also very false. BTW, I am not Satmar.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Where is the evidence of the cabal? Evidence would be governemnt documents like letters or memoranda or notes outlining a clear agenda to “extirpate” religiosity from the Yemenite Jews. No one has ever produced anything aproaching a scinitilla of evidence for this claim.

  46. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    “For me it’s very simple. I don’t believe there was ever a Zionist plot to harm Jews.”

    Simple indeed. Why don’t you read Perfidy, by Ben Hecht?
    ________________________________________________________________________

    I’ve read it more than once. It’s unconvincing. And don’t forget, that the verdict was thrown out on appeal. The Kastner trial was a study in attorney incompetance on the part of the government attorney, arrogance on the part of the plaintiff, and political showmanship on the part of an attorney (Tamir) in front of a judge who had a political axe to grind with the establishment (vide that he later become a quintessential back bencher in the Knesset, after repeatedly failing to advance in the court hierarchy). And while we’re on the subject of Kasztner, why couldn’t R. Yoilish z”l acknowledge his savior? Reportedly, when asked who saved him, he responded, “G-d saved me.”

  47. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “People came to the fork in the road decades ago, and made their choices. Too many made them tragically – and we mourn for them”.

    Indeed, we do. I am reminded of those decisions every time I hear the names Ruby RIVLIN, Mishael CHESHIN, Yuval DISKIN (that one really hurts), and countless others. You are right that they are no different than the descendants of so many others who fell prey to the allure of the numerous “isms” of 100 years ago. But Esther was not referring to those who made their own decisions, but those who were too young to make their own decisions, and had their decisions made for them.

    But I agree with you that even that battle is in the past. That brand of evangelical secularism is all but extinct. Even Meretz and the now-defunct Shinui represent something different. However, that does not mean that the arguments of 50, 75 and 100 years ago are no longer relevant. Anyone who reads Rav Elchanan Wasserman’s writings in “Kovetz Maamarim”, and particularly Rav Reuven Grozovsky’s “Baayos HaZeman” — which is an argument based not on emotion (as arguments for and against the State so often are), but on Shas and Rishonim — can see that many if not most of their points are as applicable today as they were then.

    “so those of us who would prefer unity, but not at the cost of our defining principles, need to ask ourselves just how much chillul hashem and unnecessary alienation from nonreligious Jews we are willing to take.” (Comment by J — May 28, 2009 @ 11:59 am).

    J, pray tell, which one of the 613 defining principles of Judaism are you referring to?

  48. dovid says:

    “Where is the evidence of the cabal?”

    Israel of the 1950’s was a Third World country, with an infrastructure comparable to that of Yemen or Afghanistan. It just began to remove the ravages of the war, bring in and settling hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who shared no language and culture going back to the churban of Bais Sheni. The bureaucracy of the time was improvising and played by ear on a day-to-day basis. One thing you can’t blame them was that they did not take records of their work. That explains the lack of “government documents like letters or memoranda or notes”. But witnesses, there are plenty. Children were separated from parents and shipped to camps and shomer hatzair kibbutzim, away from their support system and indoctrinated. One witness among many is Rabbi Galinsky. In the 1950’s, the Chazon Ish sent him and one other person to one of the camps were the new arrivals were being held with their being allowed to make contact with the outside world. They returned saying that they were denied entry into the camp and that the camp’s surrounding fence was too high to climb it. The Chazon Ish instructed them to dig under the fence. That’s exactly what they did, went in, but were caught. R. Galinsky is still around (he must be in his nineties.) There are plenty of witnesses of the ill treatment of the Yemenite Jewry as well as of other that came from Arab speaking countries. Lack of records is not proof that it didn’t take place. You are the last one to deny it ever took place. Not even the Israeli gov’t denies that in authorities in the 1940s and 1950s had a certain image as to how an Israeli should be and look. Those who did not conform, were stretched or shrunk as needed, to fit the size. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s ignorance.

    [Editor’s Note: One understanding of what happened in the early years is that different groups and parties each wanted new immigrants assigned to their institututions, so that they could produce more party loyalists. Had there been a huge haredi involvement within the government, their institutions would have wound up with some of the human “spoils” alongside everyone else. This would have meant fewer Yemenite children taken from their parents and their payos shorn. If anything, this may be yet another example of how anti-zionistic sitting on the sidelines cost lives.]

  49. cvmay says:

    “David Wyman wonders as to why the Zionist establishment in Hungary didn’t try to foment a mass civil disobedience that would have slowed the Nazis down, if not stopped them”.

    Mr. Wyman and others can still keep wondering….why a MASS civil disobedience, rally or demonstration did not erupt? ’cause JEWS ARE PASSIVE in the past, in the present and presumingly in the future.

    Activists are few and usually those in leadership positions curtail their actions. Rav Eliezer Silver zt”l was a yachid who encouraged others to follow in Peter Bergeson’s (aka Hillel Kook) path in placing full-page ads in the NY Times and marching on to Washington on erev Yom Kippur. Many in Hungary knew the truth about the ‘relocation’, there were other factors involved in why people did not believe (or want to??). Those on Kastner’s transport knew that they were headed for survival as did the Satmar Rebbe.

  50. One Esther says:

    “Actually, since the Satmar Rebbe paskened that Zionism is equivalent to Avodah Zarah then would not this have been a classic case of Yehareg uBal Ya’avor?”

    And since chazal say ka’as is equivalent to Avodah Zarah, does that mean anger is one of the three cardinal sins punishable by death?

  51. dovid says:

    “Esther, Satmar is against accepting support from the Zionist government out of fear the Zionists will dictate their agenda. The Satmar Rav did accept to be included in Rudolf Kastner’s transport in 1944 to take him and his family to Switzerland. Why? How is this different than taking cash? Kastner was the Jewish Agency’s representative in Hungary.”

    I would like to take back the comment I made about the Satmar Rebbe on May 31, 2009 @ 1:58 pm (#25). After all, he is not my neighbor, chavrusa, or friend to judge him by my standards. The Satmar Rebbe was exceptionally learned and he was a tzaddik. His perception of reality was far superior to mine. I am sure when he saw Kastner, in two seconds knew what the fellow stood for. We must believe that he had compelling reasons why he went along. I think it was more than pikuach nefesh. With this, I will stop posting comments on this subject. I am afraid that in the heat of the argument I may write something which is so hard to undo afterwards.

  52. Steve Brizel says:

    For those who follow such issues, Nefesh Bnefesh has lately been running advertising that depicts young people who appear “yeshivish”. for lack of a better adjective and running meetings in various neighborhoods on various issues re Aliyah, etc. Unfortunately, as I noticed on my way to Maariv about two weeks ago, one of their meetings in KGH was picketed by some outsiders dressed in Charedi garb who sported NK signs.I walked over after Maariv and one of their spokesmen told me that they are a self appointed truth squad on this issue. The time has long come in my mind for the Charedi mainstream media to say that while the Charedi world is not Zionist, it suppports the Mitzvah of Yishuv EY, views the establishment of the State of Israel as a positive step in aiding the post WW2 rebirth of the Torah community and also condemns NK and its supporters as beyond the pale of their communities.

  53. saulking says:

    one of their spokesmen told me that they are a self appointed (u believe that??) truth squad on this issue.——Follow the money line, determine who funds the people of the truth squad & the mystery will be known.

  54. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Tal –

    I can respect the fact that you don’t want to get into a debate with me, even if it requires you to make unfounded and incorrect assumptions about my familiarity with the chiloni point of view. If you are not interested in pursuing a debate, then you can simply ignore my comments, which I am writing only to point out the errors in yours, for the benefit of any others with interest.

    It is obviously naïve in the extreme to suppose that if charedim started singing Hatikvah, that the secular Israeli education system would become a Torah-based system. So naïve, in fact, that I never said such a thing, or anything close to it. I do think that the antagonistic hostility displayed and ingratitude displayed by many charedim to the chilonim (and religious Zionists) who pay taxes and serve in the army make Torah life seem very unattractive, and certainly serve to drive people away from Torah.

    The fact that many people who were committed to various secular philosophies did not instantly abandon their way of life when they saw the contributions of the original religious Zionists is only natural, and certainly does not preclude decades of unimpressive public behaviour from deterring potential chozrei bitshuvah from returning.

    Last point, in which you again seem to feel that arguing against something that I never said – I was not complaining about “greedy charedim,” I was responding to your legitimate complaint about important political decisions not being made through the prism of Torah. It would be wonderful if they were, but it is absolutely unrealistic to think that charedi parties have such insight, when their political allegiance principally reflects the pursuit of greater funding.

    Of course, Torah is more than a “point of view.”. But it’s not one that someone uneducated will value without reasons that make sense to him or her, and it is unreasonable in the extreme to believe that the public perception of charedim (to which they have, to some extent, contributed) makes the Torah lifestyle appear more compelling, or more correct.

  55. Esther says:

    r. dovid, I appreciate your honesty and humility in taking back your words. There’s a lot more to say here that cannot be said here so all I’ll say here is that many comments have taken chassidic insularity and narrowness, Hungarian “blue-blood” mentality, childish ignorance, and other cultural differences and character flaws of the “other” that have no connection to the issue at hand (anti-zionism), and lumped them together in a big cholent that gives off some powerful odors.

  56. Baruch Pelta says:

    Rabbi Reisman wrote, “When Lanner’s misdeeds became a public matter, and he was arresting for assaulting students at Hillel Day School, a small group of YU-associated rabbis took him in and tried to make an arrangement with NJ law enforcement authorities to allow him to go to Israel and ‘serve out’ his sentence there. And this was a lot later than 2 decades ago.”

    I was wondering what your source is.

  57. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “One understanding of what happened in the early years is that different groups and parties each wanted new immigrants assigned to their institututions, so that they could produce more party loyalists. Had there been a huge haredi involvement within the government, their institutions would have wound up with some of the human “spoils” alongside everyone else. This would have meant fewer Yemenite children taken from their parents and their payos shorn.”

    The children making Aliyah at the time were ALL directed to camps of חינוך אחיד and were not given any choice as to which of the four streams of Chinuch to attend. They were kept there for extended periods of time.

    The Frumkin commission concluded that Peyos shearing, disruption of Torah study and Tefillah was systematic – but not for the sake of shmadding them up but for the sake of quicker, smoother integration. If that’s a consolation to anyone – that the ticket to quicker integration into the Jewish State was shmad shelo lishmah (RYBS said that the Halachah of an אנס and יהרג ואל יעבור applied equally to Antiochus and Ben Gurion)- so be it.

  58. Chardal says:

    >Did that make Israel any less secular? Did the secular establishment say, “Gee, we really need to consider the Torah point of view in formulating national policy

    Of course!!! Do you think that the laws giving the rabbanut authority over marriage law, religious status. Laws keeping the public arena sabbath observant (at lease deJure if not deFacto). Laws protecting the religious rights of soldiers. Do you think any of these things would have been possible without the Mizrahi involvement in the government?? Many things were done wrong and are still being done wrong by all religious parties, but it is very naive to think that an eidah chareidis type attitude towards the state would not have resulted in a much much worse situation today.

    >And since chazal say ka’as is equivalent to Avodah Zarah, does that mean anger is one of the three cardinal sins punishable by death?

    We both know that the Satmar Rebbe took it much farther than that. Most of his writings of Zionism portray it as the worst ideology in the history of the Jewish people. An ideology that caused the Holocaust and is delaying the Geula.

  59. Moishe Potemkin says:

    If that’s a consolation to anyone – that the ticket to quicker integration into the Jewish State was shmad shelo lishmah (RYBS said that the Halachah of an אנס and יהרג ואל יעבור applied equally to Antiochus and Ben Gurion)- so be it.

    It’s not a consolation to anyone, I’m sure. It is, however, another example of the costs of the decision to stay on the sidelines and criticize rather than make sure that Torah was incorporated as much as possible into Medinas Yisrael. Had that path been pursued, integration into the Jewish State would not have included what you term shmad shelo lishmah.

  60. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    DOVID SAYS:
    Israel of the 1950’s was a Third World country, with an infrastructure comparable to that of Yemen or Afghanistan. It just began to remove the ravages of the war, bring in and settling hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who shared no language and culture going back to the churban of Bais Sheni. The bureaucracy of the time was improvising and played by ear on a day-to-day basis. One thing you can’t blame them was that they did not take records of their work. That explains the lack of “government documents like letters or memoranda or notes”.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S.:
    Not true. There are warehouses of archives from that time available. For example my cousin once gave me a tour of the srchives of the Shomer Hatzair. His particular speciality was the Hashomer Hatzair during WWII, but he was te administrator over the entire archive. For decades prior to the establishmet of the state the Jewish Agency operated an emperio in emperium under the British mandate, They were highly organized and departmentalized. The political parties in control, also were well established. Had there not been that level of organization, the Haganah would not have been able to coordinate with the government and there is no way Israel would have won the 1948 War of Independance. If there was such a cabal, the documents would exist. That no such documents were ever produced is very indicative.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID says:
    But witnesses, there are plenty. Children were separated from parents and shipped to camps and shomer hatzair kibbutzim, away from their support system and indoctrinated.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. replies:
    What other infrasturcture existed at the time? Israel had refugees entering her borders “hand over fist” in those years. The tent cities were legion. While in retrospect it appears cruel, placing children in Kibbutzim were their physical needs for food and shelter would be seen to must have seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID:
    One witness among many is Rabbi Galinsky. In the 1950’s, the Chazon Ish sent him and one other person to one of the camps were the new arrivals were being held with their being allowed to make contact with the outside world. They returned saying that they were denied entry into the camp and that the camp’s surrounding fence was too high to climb it. The Chazon Ish instructed them to dig under the fence. That’s exactly what they did, went in, but were caught. R. Galinsky is still around (he must be in his nineties.) There are plenty of witnesses of the ill treatment of the Yemenite Jewry as well as of other that came from Arab speaking countries.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. Replies:
    Now you’re conflating two things; the myth about a cabal to alienate Yemenite children from religion and discrimination against Sephardim. The two are not the same. Indeed the Sephardim were and continue to be subjected to discrimination by the Ashkenazi establishment. But the chareidim are as guilty of that as anyone else.
    ________________________________________________________________________DOVID:
    Lack of records is not proof that it didn’t take place.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S.
    But it is proof that there was no concerted effort or policy to do so. Satmer and various hangers one to parts of the ideology make it seem as if the Israeli government devoted time and effort to carefully formulate a policy concerning immigrants and that the center point of that plan was to destroy religion in the children. I just don’t think that’s true. If it were, why did Ben Gurion reach out to the Chazaon Ish for guidance on how to establish the Mamalachti Dati schools? Why did the governemnt fund the B’nei akiva yeshivot? Why did the army support Hesder and also grant military exemptions to Chareidim? Sorry it doesn’t add up.

  61. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Esther, Satmar is against accepting support from the Zionist government out of fear the Zionists will dictate their agenda. The Satmar Rav did accept to be included in Rudolf Kastner’s transport in 1944 to take him and his family to Switzerland. Why? How is this different than taking cash? Kastner was the Jewish Agency’s representative in Hungary.”
    1. I would like to take back the comment I made about the Satmar Rebbe on May 31, 2009 @ 1:58 pm (#25). After all, he is not my neighbor, chavrusa, or friend to judge him by my standards. The Satmar Rebbe was exceptionally learned and he was a tzaddik. His perception of reality was far superior to mine. I am sure when he saw Kastner, in two seconds knew what the fellow stood for. We must believe that he had compelling reasons why he went along. I think it was more than pikuach nefesh. With this, I will stop posting comments on this subject. I am afraid that in the heat of the argument I may write something which is so hard to undo afterwards.
    Comment by dovid — June 1, 2009 @ 7:12 pm
    _____________________________________________________________________________

    I don’t know what R. Yoilish’s cheshbon was, as he never discussed it or explained why he boarded Kasztner’s train, Kasztner’s Zionism and R. Yoilish’s later statement that G-d does not use reshaim as His shlichim, notwithstanding. But I assume that when the cards were down, and all other options leading nowhere, the Rebbe did what we would all do; saved himself by any means available. Fiery rhetoric is a nice thing in times of tranquility. But it should never get in the way of saving ones life. Rest assured I am not being cynical. R. Yoilish did the right thing when he boarded that train; as did the Belzer Rebbe when he saved his own life . I don’t even begrudge the Satmer Rav’s return to extreme anti-Zionism once he was safely ensconced in America and building his empire. WWII was a disruption of all normality and required abnormal actions to survive it (i.e. accepting a ride on a Zionist train). A return to normalcy included, indeed required that R. Yoilish ignore the chesed done him by the (wicked) Zionists and resume his “holy” battle against it.

    That makes sense on the communal level but not on the personal level. When Kasztner asked R. Yoilish to acknowledge how he was saved, how could he have refused? Kasztner was portrayed as a war criminal and was desperately trying to save his reputation. Indeed he was murdered due to what transpired in the trial, and never saw his vindication. Had he done what Kastner asked him and simply been modeh al haemet, might that have averted the assassins’s bullet? I don’t know, but I hope The Satmer Rav thought about it.

  62. Esther says:

    About Perfidy: I never read that and neither have most Satmars. I much prefer R. Weissmandl’s Min Hametzar. I directed you to Hecht simply because I thought he’s more acceptable to you than vehemently anti-zionist R Weissmandl. And taking Thomas Lowinger’s comment into account (where he gives more weight and credibility to secular authors than to R. W.) I was unfortunately not far off the mark.

  63. Daniel says:

    Editor comments:

    “Had there been a huge haredi involvement within the government, their institutions would have wound up with some of the human “spoils” alongside everyone else.”

    This comment is based on a factual error. In the 1st Knesset, there was a Chazit Datit Meuchedet (Unified Religious Front) of Mizrachi, HaPoel Hamizrachi, Aguda, and Poalei Aguda. Rav Yitzchak Meir Levin (Aguda) was Welfare Minister (full minister, not deputy minister, as is the current practice of Aguda/Degel). The antireligious coercion in the immigrant camps was to some extent responsible for the breakup of the chazit datit. Agudists felt that Mizrachi was way too moderate/tolerant towards Mapai. Mizrachi people would probably tell a different story.

    In the early 50’s, army service was more accepted among charedim, so no one can claim that the chilonim were reacting to that issue.

    By the way, I think that universal kollel got off the ground not just because of the Chazon Ish’s influence, but also because of antireligious coercion and antireligious discrimination in the labor market. But that’s a different topic.

  64. Daniel says:

    There is an excellent academic article by Zvi Tzameret which decsribes the stance of the Ben Gurion government with respect to the anti-religious coercion in the immigrant camps (“The Integration of Yemenites in Israeli Schools,” Israel Studies 6:3.) The facts are as follows:

    1. The Mapai elites knew exactly what was happening. Publicly, Ben Gurion, Shazar and Remez (the latter two were Ministers of Education) denied that there was any anti-religious coercion. Privately, there was a split within Mapai; Ben Gurion and others opposed coercion. At party meetings, Ben Gurion acknowledged that illegal acts were taking place and spoke very eloquently against coercion, but in practice nothing was done to end it. Shazar also spoke nicely but did nothing. Shazar admitted his failings two months after the end of his term as Education Minister.

    2. Within the religious front, MK Meir David Levenstein of PAGI (Poalei Aguda Yerushalayim, which should not be confused with Poalei Aguda) harshly denounced the Religious Zionists and his own party leader, Yitzchak Meir Levin (Aguda), for remaining in the coalition with Mapai. Interior Minister Haim Moshe Shapira of Hapoel Hamizrachi downplayed the situation and defended the government. He wanted to avoid a coalition crisis with Mapai. Relations with Mapai were already strained. The Religious Zionists feared that if they provoked a crisis, Ben Gurion would throw them out and form a new coalition without them. This was a very real concern; after the 1951 election, Ben Gurion excluded the religious parties from his coalition. (Levenstein organized an unsuccessful putsch against Levin in 1950, then left Aguda and ran on his own list in 1951, failing to get a single seat. PAGI disappeared from the political scene.) The religious front collapsed; 1949 was the first and last time that all the religious parties ran together.

    3. According to Tzameret, the fact that the religious front was 100% Ashkenazic meant that they were indifferent to the plight of the Yemenites. (The religious front placed a Sephardic candidate in the 25th slot for the 1949 elections, knowing full well that he had no realistic chance of getting into the Knesset–the religious front won 16 seats in 1949. The religious front ignored Rav Uziel’s demand to place a Sephardi in a realistic slot.)

  65. Daniel says:

    By the way, Yakov Sarid, Yossi Sarid’s father, was a leader of the labor factions that supported religious coercion.

  66. Thomas Lowinger says:

    Esther, If you want to study history you cannot limit yourself to a single book or only books of erliche authors. Many secular writers and historians will really be just interested in the truth. They will follow the story to where it leads. They will criticize the zionists or the religious establishment. Sure, some are prejudiced but if you read writers of different points of view, you can get a better idea of what really happened.

  67. dovid says:

    “As someone once told me ‘I am not religious but I am afraid.’”
    “…saved himself by any means available. Fiery rhetoric is a nice thing in times of tranquility. But it should never get in the way of saving ones life. Rest assured I am not being cynical.”

    The story is being told of the Rogatchover Gaon that he was found learning Torah while sitting shiva, which is against the halacha. When asked about it, he said something to the effect that if has to go to gehinom, at least he should go for learning Torah. I promised to stay away from posting on this subject. If I break my word, at least it should be to uphold the honor of the Satmar Rebbe.

    It would be in our best interest to internalize that the Satmar Rebbe is not one of us. He was not. Reb Aharon Kotler held him in the highest esteem, while disagreeing with him on several issues. So did all the Gedolim of the past generation. He was one of them. He was in their league. We are not. We are small patotoes. Just as we may not question why Reb Aharon, Rav Moshe, Rav Yaakos, or Reb Shomo Zalman did or said whatever they did or said, unless it is for the purpose of learning from that particular maaseh, so we may not think or say that the Satmar Rebbe boarded Kastner’s train to save his skin. That may have been your and my reason, but it wasn’t his. Just as we couldn’t and wouldn’t ask such a question from Reb Aharon, so we cannot ask of the Satmar Rebbe. He had his reasons to do what he did. It is in our best interest to know our place. We judge him by our standards at our own peril.

  68. dovid says:

    I was told that Rabbi Avigdor Miller heard once a certain charater ranting about Rav Moshe from the bimah of a shul. Rabbi Miller walked up to him and slapped him over the face. If Rabbi Miller were around and hear our silly comments, he would smack us hard to remember it.

  69. Lawrence M.Reisman says:

    Baruch Pelta:

    My source on the Lanner matter was the newspapers of the time. You might try The New York Jewish Week, which outed Lanner and made the OU do something about him. It might have been in the Long Island Jewish World. But I do remember it clearly. I’d give you the name of the Rabbi, but I don’t think that belongs on the forum. [email protected] of you’re interested. Also, I am not a rabbi.

    Daniel B. Schwartz:

    I still maintain that the Satmar Rebbe did not know he was saving himself when he got on the train. Like everyone else, he was lulled into believing that Hungarian Jews were being relocated and not exterminated. Also, he didn’t wait to come to America to return to his anti-Zionist shita. In Eretz Yisroel after the war, he was anti-Zionist.

    I heard a story from the Bostoner Rebbe of Borough Park, Rabbi Chaim Avraham Horowitz. His father, Reb Moshe, was a neighbor of the Satmar Rebbe in Williamsburg, and they were quite close. One Shabbos, afternoon, he and his father visited the Satmar Rebbe for tea and Reb Moshe asked him how he could still be anti-Zionist after Kastner saved him. The Satmar Rebbe gave them a 20 minute long explanation, starting with the beginning. At first he was very calm, but as he talked, he got more agitated, until he was standing on his chair and screaming. The Rebbe concluded, “I decided right there and then that for the Satmar Rebbe to hold the way he does about Israel and Zionism makes perfect sense. I don’t know that it makes sense for anyone else, but for him it makes perfect sense.” (He told me this story in December, 1977)

  70. dovid says:

    And if Reb Aharon, Rav Moshe, and Rav Yaakov and all their contemporary Gedolim had no taanos why the Satmar Rebbe boarded Kastner’s train, who are we to question his motives?

    The emmes is that I started this discussion. The mishna teaches that it’s better to appear a fool to the public in this world than a rasha in the next. At the risk of making a fool of myself the second time around, I declare that I have sincere charata for writing that post.

  71. Esther says:

    “if you read writers of different points of view, you can get a better idea of what really happened.”

    I think I’m more than yoitze with reading this website. No need to go to anti-religious authors who probably would’ve acted like the recipients of R. Weissmandl’s desperate pleas, who disbelieved him because he was an Orthodox rabbi; not in spite of it, but BECAUSE he was an Orthodox rabbi! Judging by the many misconceptions, exaggerations, and outright lies that I find here (which I have no time to comment on as they would require lengthy essays) I’m sure I can expect 100 times worse from secular authors.

  72. dovid says:

    The Satmar Rebbe was not mean when he did not acknowldge publicly that he was saved by Rudolph Kastner’s transport to Switzerland.
    That fact was public knowledge. What he did not want to do was to make Kastner look like a tzaddik when the fellow was the lowest of the low. Rabbosai! The border between Hungary and Romania in 1940-44 was running very close to Klausenburg, Satmar, Sziget, and Grossvardein, all of which held tens of thousands of Jews. I was born in Grossvardein after the war. I know the geography of the time. Romanian border guards were notoriously corrupt. It would have been feasible for the Jews to steal across the border by bribing the guards. Everyone who did, survived. Kastner knew all along the fate that awaited the Jews. Had he notified the Jews, many would have made it.

    An interesting and true anecdote. I had a neighbor in Monsey, Mr. Frey, the father-in-law of Dr. Greenwald, the psychologist. I was aware he worked with Rabbi Michoel Dov Weissmandl during the war. I asked him about Kastner. He answered: “Rabbi Weissmandl was an ehrliche Yid.” Thinking that he didn’t hear me well (he was old and not well), I asked him again about Kastner. He answered: “Rabbi Weissmandl was an ehrliche Yid.” He heard me very well. His answer speaks volumes about Kastner.

  73. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I still maintain that the Satmar Rebbe did not know he was saving himself when he got on the train. Like everyone else, he was lulled into believing that Hungarian Jews were being relocated and not exterminated. Also, he didn’t wait to come to America to return to his anti-Zionist shita. In Eretz Yisroel after the war, he was anti-Zionist.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    That makes no sense at all. The Nyilas party was touting deportation and extermination for a few years prior to the German invasion in 1944. Anti-Semitic legislation (i.e. the Numerous Nulus law, the ban on shechitah, the ban on Jewish participation in the professions) was in place. Hungary was not a safe plce for Jews before the Germans came. Did the Jews really think things would get better after the invasion? I mean really. Once the Germans came in, the killing started. The Nyilas began killing Jews before Eichmann arrived and set up his killing machine. Whatever property the Hungarian fascists had not yet taken, the Germans confiscated. Able bodied men were called up into the munka-szalgollat, the forced labor brigades which were a death sentance for all but the sturdiest inductees, and people simply disappeared. In specific response to Dovid, there were those who saw the writing on the wall and escaped to Romania, my great grandfther and grand uncle among them. They fled to Sibiu where my grandfather lived. My uncles family fled Kolosvar for Bucharest. On may father’s side, a cousin who was studying in the Jewish gymnasia in Munkacs somehow managed to get to Turkey and then Palestine in 1943. Those who wanted to know what awaited Hungarian Jwery were well able to find out. Kasztner was not the only recipient of Nazi information. Pinchas Freudiger, the Rosh Hakahal of the Orthodox kehilla fled as soon as he managed to escape in the dead of night. A sympathetic Nazi tipped him off, and he ran with his family to Romania, with a good portion of his wealth. Samu Stern, the head of the Neolog community knew what was about to happen and chose to stay and cast his lot with the Jews of Budapest. Raoul Wallenberg was in Budapest, and there was s stiff market in Swedish visas, real or fake it didn’t matter as he vouched for all of them. My father, who was a student in the Seminary at the time recieved a letter from his parents, just before they were deported from the Kisvarda ghetto, telling him they were being taken to Auschwitz and didn’t know if they would survive. My grandfather did however instruct his son to do everything he could to go to the American zone after the war and not to fall under the Russians. The idea was that if anyone survived they would meet in the American zone somehow. My father had two weeks notice of his call up to the Munka-Szagollat. If he had had any means to flee he would have. And that is the crux of it. People knew what was happening. But they had no recourse, there was no place for them to go. There is no way the Satmer Rav zt”l didn’t know what he was doing when he boarded Kasztner’s train. All the passengers were hoarded into a staging area for weeks (?) prior to its departure. Everyone in Budapest knew those were the preferred ones leaving under Gestappo protection. The fact is he knew, he had a chance to get out and he acted upon it. The other fact is he did nothing wrong and everything right when he did it. No one should ever be vilified for saving his own life. If there is a question to be asked on R. Yoilish’s actions in this regard, it isn’t why did he save himself. It’s why couldn’t he bring himself to acknolwedge the man who saved him; especially when that man needed R. Yoilish the most? Why was R. Yoilish kind and generous, both in spirit and in all other ways to everyone he encountered, except to the one person who needed him the most and who gave him the most? Kasztner saved R. Yoilish’s life. As a result R. Yoilish went on to do all he that he did to strengthen Yiddishkeit in post WWII America. But none of that would have happened had Kasztner not put that certain rabbi from Transylvania on his train out of Hell. Orthodoxy’s abandonment of Kasztner seems to be one the bigger hypocrisies of our age. Shame on us all.

  74. dovid says:

    “the Satmar Rebbe did not know he was saving himself when he got on the train. Like everyone else, he was lulled into believing that Hungarian Jews were being relocated and not exterminated.”

    Had the Satmar Rebbe know the truth about what awaited the Hungarian Jews, he would have made it known to everyone and many would have escaped alive. Those who crossed the border to Romania lived. Among those who did was Reb Naftali Tzvi Halberstam, a teenager at the time, who later became the rebbe of the Bobov chasidim. Many of the Jews in Poland knew what was in store for them but they had no place to run to. Hungarian Jews had a place to run to (Romania), but they didn’t know they were in danger of extermination. The Nazis didn’t have the manpower to handle a hostile, restless crowd of 400,000 Hungarian Jews. They had to lull them into believing that they were being relocated to be used as workers in farms and factories to help in the war effort. Had the Nazis told it themselves, they would not have been believed. This is where Rudolf Kastner, a member of the kehila in Klausenburg came in handy. They used him for that, while he knew full well of what was in store for the Jews. What could the Nazis have done if the Jews had dispersed in all directions instead of following their orders as relayed to them by Kastner? They may have machine-gunned 10,000-15,000. Another 30,000 may have died of exhaustion. But the rest could have survived. Romanians were no tzadikim. They fought on the German side against the Russians. By 1944, they knew the Germans were losing. Eichmann came to Romania in 1944 to demand the transfer of the Romanian Jews to his jurisdiction. He didn’t get any. It was about that time when the American gov’t made it known publicly (I think for the first time) that anyone involved in war crimes, will be brought to justice. That’s when the Romanians stopped the deportation to and extermination of Jews in Transnistria. In Aug. 1944, Romania decided to bet on the winning horse and turned against Germany. In the period April through June 1944, when the Jews from Hungary were deported, the Russians already reached the border with Romania. Romanians were nervous. In the circumstances, Romania would have let the Jews in.

  75. Esther says:

    R. dovid, I must commend you again for your courage and humility. I’ll try once more to post a short reply to your comment #19:

    I heard the CD of R. Waxman’s speech at what must have been a major Agudah function (pehaps not a convention) where he spoke out at some length against the ערבוביא of ציונות (these words). Please check it out. As for leaving in protest, I can’t vouch for that, as noted in my comment.

    About secular votes, I meant the Jews of the US and thought the commenters meant them too.

  76. saulking says:

    Dovid,
    The discussion is not whether Kastner was a tzaddik or not. Let those decisions be made by the heavenly court. When an individual (right or wrong) saves Jewish neshomos his secher will be determined in the heavenly spheres.

    “Just as we may not question why Reb Aharon, Rav Moshe, Rav Yaakos, or Reb Shomo Zalman did or said whatever they did or said, unless it is for the purpose of learning from that particular maaseh” – Who said??? Reb Moshe would answer any question that was aasked respectfully & with sincerity.

  77. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Dovid:

    I used to agree with you that “Kastner . . . was the lowest of the low.” I cannot hold that opinion with much conviction any more. He did not get on his own trains, staying behind to do what he could. For someone who was interested in saving his own skin above everything else, it is peculiar that he risked his safety saving 15,000 Jews from Auschwitz.

    To say that “It would have been feasible for the Jews to steal across the border by bribing the guards.” Does not make sense, any more than it makes sense to accuse the rabbonim of Hungary of not convincing Jews to flee during WWII. A few Jews could have gotten across; if even 10,000 had tried, it would have caught the Nazis’ attention, and they would have sealed the border, let alone the 500,000 Jews who lived in Transylvania.

    Kastner made some terrible choices; he very well could have been wrong about them. If the Klausenberger Rebbe blamed the Jewish Agency for the deaths of his first wife and 10 children, there is certainly what to deplore. However, I must doubt that he was completely evil.

  78. LAWRENCE KAPLAN says:

    Esther: FYI, Ben Hecht is not the posek aharon re Kastner. I suggest that you read Anna Porter on “The Kastner Train.”

    Dovid: Your characterization of Kastner is a gross slur.

  79. Not Brisk says:

    The Brisker Rov said that a few yidden saying tehilim in Yerushalyim where the real force behind the military victories?

    Please provide some clarity: Do you dispute that view? Or, this is only about hakaras hatov?

  80. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Had the Satmar Rebbe know the truth about what awaited the Hungarian Jews, he would have made it known to everyone and many would have escaped alive.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    There was nothing for the Satmer Rebbe to tell make know, that wasn’t already common knowledge. Long before the German invasion Hungary had become a very dangerous place for the Jews. The Fascist newspapers made known their intentions to kill Jews as soon as they came to power. One of the reasons more Jews didn’t flee to Romania was because Valerian Trifa was no better than Ferenc Szalasi and Döme Sztójay. I don’t think Romania was the safe haven Dovid portrays it to have been. Certainly the Romanians would not have tolerated tens of thousands of Jews crossing into her territory. Moreover, just how were those Jews supposed to get there?

  81. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    “the Satmar Rebbe did not know he was saving himself when he got on the train. Like everyone else, he was lulled into believing that Hungarian Jews were being relocated and not exterminated.”
    ________________________________________________________________________
    If that was true, why would be get on Kasztner’s train? Why compromise his religious position and accept something from a (“wicked”) Zionist if he didn’t believe his life to be in danger? Moreover, if he believed that all that was in store was relocation, why would he abandon his Chasidim? Why wouldn’t he go with them and be their rebbe in the new locale?

  82. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    We will self destruct if we continue to re-fight the internal battles of the 1940’s. We should not judge what Jews did or did not do when faced with the existential threats to all of us.
    We will never understand the Holocaust in this world and can only say “Dayan HaEmes” (the true judge).
    On the Salvation in 1967 we say HaTov VeHameitiv (He who is good and does good).
    We do not know how the final Redemption will unfold, but we must make our efforts for survival. Ultimately our survival is in the hand of G-d, but we must make the effort.

  83. dovid says:

    To saulking, Lawrence M. Reisman, Daniel B. Schwartz, and LAWRENCE KAPLAN

    I am not trying to debate for the sake of winning an argument. Whoever is right, אשרי לו. I met Mr. Isaac Friedman in Philadelphia about 23-25 yrs. ago. He is the famous Friedman etc. etc, a big financial supporter of the Yeshiva of Philadelphia. He told me that in March or April 1944 he got wind of what the Germans and Hungarians were up to, he went to the Visznitzer Rebbe, the father of the current Rebbes in Bnei Brak and Monsey) who at the time lived in Grossvardein. He told the Rebbe what he heard, informed him that he would steal across the border that night, and urged the Rebbe to do the same. The Rebbe didn’t listen to him. He stayed behind and didn’t alert his chassidim. People didn’t know. There were all kinds of rumors, but it was hard to believe. Believe me, these were sane, smart, G-d fearing Jews. They were neither dumb, nor suicidal. This is what we call hester ponim. The Klausenburger Rebbe, the Visznitzer Rebbe didn’t try to escape. There were more than 100,000 Jews fairly close to the border. Had Kastner gone to the Satmar Rebbe, Klausenburger Rebbe, and the Visznitzer Rebbe and tell them that he knows with absolute certainty that the Germans were trying to kill all the Jews as they did in Poland, they would have alerted the population. Why did Kastner put the Satmar Rebbe on the train and not let’s say the Klausenburger Rebbe? He did it on instructions from his handlers located Turkey and EY. The Satmar Rebbe was the most vocal anti-zionist within the Charedi leadership. They wanted to butter him up that in retrospect he would be grateful to them for his life. He didn’t defend Kastner because what Kastner did was not defensible. Rabosai, we must have a minimum amount of emunas chachamim. Had the Satmar Rebbe known what was in store for the Jews, he would have alerted them. No one accused him after the war that he didn’t share the life saving information with the rest of the Jews. Not the Gedolim, nor his chasidim, nor the non-chasidische Jews. His chassidim would not have forgiven him for that. He would have been ostracized till his last breath by everyone. People argued with him on a host of issues. He made enemies because he held strong on several issues. But no one ever raised the possibility that he betrayed us. As to why Kastner remained behind, the Germans wouldn’t have let him board the train. They needed him to keep fooling the Jewish population into submission. He wittingly played into the hands of the Germans. How much of this was out of his initiative, how much was due to instructions from his handlers, let the historians determine.

  84. dovid says:

    79.To saulking, Lawrence M. Reisman, Daniel B. Schwartz, and LAWRENCE KAPLAN

    Why was Hecht’s Perfidy banned in EY for more than 30 yrs? Was it due to Hecht’s revealing some very uncomfortable and politically incorrect information about the early zionist establishment?

  85. dovid says:

    ” it would have caught the Nazis’ attention, and they would have sealed the border”

    They couldn’t. It was a long border and they didn’t have the manpower. As to what the Romanians would have done if w/in a month 100,000 Jews should up at their doors, I don’t know. They knew the Germans were losing the war, the Red Army already reached Iasi (390 km or 250 miles away from Kolosvar), by 1944 the Americans threatened retribution for war crimes, and as usual, Jews would have paid their way in with baksheesh. The father of a friend of mine was a poor, medical student. He paid the Romanian guard two pairs of socks. That’s all he had. Afterwards, he met his chaver, the son of a jeweller. This one gave the guard a gold watch. The great thing about Romanians was that they were not proud. The Germans and Hungarians also accepted “baksheesh”. But since they were proud, you had to pay them more.

  86. dovid says:

    “I heard the CD of R. Waxman’s speech”

    We might not be talking about the same person. Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman spoke two yrs ago at the Agudah Convention in Stamford, CT. The topic of his speech was the influence of the Internet on us. He left afterwards heading to Monsey, but not in protest. His left shoulder was hurting him from an accident he had some 2-3 wks earlier.

  87. dovid says:

    To saulking, Lawrence M. Reisman, Daniel B. Schwartz, and LAWRENCE KAPLAN

    We threw in a lot of details and we may get lost in them. Let’s summarize:

    “Why was R. Yoilish kind and generous, both in spirit and in all other ways to everyone he encountered, except to the one person who needed him the most and who gave him the most?”

    BECAUSE

    “the Klausenberger Rebbe blamed the Jewish Agency for the deaths of his first wife and 10 children…” together with about 400,000 other Hungarian Jews.

    Who was the Jewish Agency’s point man in Budapest for entire Hungary? Rudolf Kastner.

    You are asking me to choose between Kastner’s claims of innocence and the guilty verdict of the Satmar Rebbe and Klausenburger Rebbe. Rabosai, this is no brainer. Kastner is guilty.

  88. dovid says:

    “Your characterization of Kastner is a gross slur.”

    Really? After the war, Rudolf Kastner intervened on the behalf of SS officers Kurt Becher, Hermann Krumey, and Dieter Wisliceny. He sent an affidavit to Kurt Becher’s de-Nazification hearing, stating that “Becher is cut from a different wood than the professional mass murderers of the political SS”. In all, there were a total of seven interventions by Kastner on behalf of Nazi war criminals. Kastner was trying to save his SS buddies AFTER THE WAR. Read the following quote: “….. after the war, Kastner ……….. lied at Nuremberg to obtain the freedom of Kurt Becher, one of the main exterminators of European Jewry. And not only that. Becher was the human vulture in charge of removing gold from the teeth of dead Jews (for the German banks) and hair from their heads (to make felt footwear), as well as collecting their ashes, after incineration, for use as fertilizer. Do you still think I slurred Kastner? Daniel Schwartz, do you still feel, the Satmar Rebbe should have given support and endorsement to Kastner?

  89. Esther says:

    “FYI, Ben Hecht is not the posek aharon re Kastner.”

    At least for me he isn’t. I trust R Weissmandel on that. There’s a lot more to the Kastner story that I have no time to write about.

  90. yy says:

    I haven’t been able to get thru all the comments, but this one, by Esther, screamed out at me:

    “many comments have taken chassidic insularity and narrowness, Hungarian “blue-blood” mentality, childish ignorance, and other cultural differences and character flaws of the “other” that have no connection to the issue at hand (anti-zionism), and lumped them together in a big cholent that gives off some powerful odors.”

    Really now, everyone. The chullent is boiling over!!

    I’m wholly disappointed in R’ Adlerstein for becoming so polemic. Because his kiruv experience has shown him so many neophytes being turned off by Satmar — THAT’s a reason to tar and feather them? Elu v’elu, my friend. Even when the other Elu is a very different “other”!

  91. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    To saulking, Lawrence M. Reisman, Daniel B. Schwartz, and LAWRENCE KAPLAN

    I am not trying to debate for the sake of winning an argument. Whoever is right, אשרי לו. I met Mr. Isaac Friedman in Philadelphia about 23-25 yrs. ago. He is the famous Friedman etc. etc, a big financial supporter of the Yeshiva of Philadelphia. He told me that in March or April 1944 he got wind of what the Germans and Hungarians were up to, he went to the Visznitzer Rebbe, the father of the current Rebbes in Bnei Brak and Monsey) who at the time lived in Grossvardein. He told the Rebbe what he heard, informed him that he would steal across the border that night, and urged the Rebbe to do the same. The Rebbe didn’t listen to him. He stayed behind and didn’t alert his chassidim.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. What did the Vizhniter Rebbe do in response to the information this Mr. Friedmand gave him?
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Dovid: People didn’t know. There were all kinds of rumors, but it was hard to believe. Believe me, these were sane, smart, G-d fearing Jews. They were neither dumb, nor suicidal. This is what we call hester ponim. The Klausenburger Rebbe, the Visznitzer Rebbe didn’t try to escape.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. Why are you so kind the rebbes and so harsh with Kasznter? Why is it that the Rebbes’ failure to act decisively and alert their chassidim labeled hester panim, while Kasztner’s alleged actions are deemed perfidy? Why is Kasztner, a Jew from a frum home, now given the benefit the doubt? Why of all people is he throught to be the one who knew everything and did nothing?
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID: There were more than 100,000 Jews fairly close to the border. Had Kastner gone to the Satmar Rebbe, Klausenburger Rebbe, and the Visznitzer Rebbe and tell them that he knows with absolute certainty that the Germans were trying to kill all the Jews as they did in Poland, they would have alerted the population.
    ________________________________________________________________________D.S. Why would they have believed Kasztner more than Friedman?
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID: Why did Kastner put the Satmar Rebbe on the train and not let’s say the Klausenburger Rebbe? He did it on instructions from his handlers located Turkey and EY. The Satmar Rebbe was the most vocal anti-zionist within the Charedi leadership. They wanted to butter him up that in retrospect he would be grateful to them for his life.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Where is the proof of this? Moreover, the Klausenberger rav was a talmid of R. Yoilish. I doubt he would have a taken a seat on the train before his rebbe.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID: He didn’t defend Kastner because what Kastner did was not defensible.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. Then neither were the actions of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe defensible. Moreover, R. Michoel Ber Weismandle was telling everyone he could of the killing. Why didn’t the rabbonim listen to him? I agree that there was considerable hester panim,and people acted irrationally. But Kasztner too was a victim, not a villain.

  92. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Your characterization of Kastner is a gross slur.”

    Really? After the war, Rudolf Kastner intervened on the behalf of SS officers Kurt Becher, Hermann Krumey, and Dieter Wisliceny. He sent an affidavit to Kurt Becher’s de-Nazification hearing, stating that “Becher is cut from a different wood than the professional mass murderers of the political SS”. In all, there were a total of seven interventions by Kastner on behalf of Nazi war criminals. Kastner was trying to save his SS buddies AFTER THE WAR. Read the following quote: “….. after the war, Kastner ……….. lied at Nuremberg to obtain the freedom of Kurt Becher, one of the main exterminators of European Jewry. And not only that. Becher was the human vulture in charge of removing gold from the teeth of dead Jews (for the German banks) and hair from their heads (to make felt footwear), as well as collecting their ashes, after incineration, for use as fertilizer. Do you still think I slurred Kastner? Daniel Schwartz, do you still feel, the Satmar Rebbe should have given support and endorsement to Kastner?

    Comment by dovid — June 4, 2009 @ 9:54 pm
    ________________________________________________________________________
    I don’t know from where the quote you provide comes, but a few thoughts. First, I continue to struggle with Kasztner’s post war actions for the obvious reasons. Anna Porter quotes Kasztner’s wife and Hansi Brand as explaining that Kasztner was a man of his word. He promised Becher he would help him after the war and kept his promise. Personally, I think there was more to it. Kasztner was an ego-maniac. Tomi Lapid often regaled people with stories of Kasztner’s conciet at Uj Elet, the Hungarian newspaper. He had an insatiable craving for attention and to be the “main attraction.” I think after the war, he saw himself being side stepped by the Zionist hierarchy, which favored those who labored in the political side of forming a state, giving them leadership positions in the new state, over people like Kasztner who were representative of the “galut Yid.” He couldn’t reconcile himself to it, and therefore went where he could shine out. I never claimed that Kasztner was a perfect person; just that he wasn’t a perfidous scoundrel. Secondly, unless a direct connection can be drawn, it is an error to indict Kasztner for his actions during the war based upon what he did after the war. Third, perhaps Kasztner suffered from Helsinki Syndrome? I concede that his defense of Kurt Becher is difficult to understand. But that does not provide an excuse for what has been done to him. Again, he saved the Satmer Rav, and the Satmer Rav went on to do great things for all of Orthodoxy in America. We, American Orthodox Jews, owe Kasztner a debt of gratitude for that. And we’ve never repaid it.

  93. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Dovid and I seem to disagree about quite a few of the facts, like whether or not the Nazis could have kept large numbers of Jews from crossing the border with Romania. Daniel Schwartz and I seem to disagree about whether the Satmar Rebbe and the other Jews of Hungary knew what was in store for them. If I may say so, everyone here is arguing with a different set of facts.

    Many years ago, Lucy Dawidowicz wrote an article about Kazstner and Hecht’s charges of perfidy, in which she set about to refute them, and did a reasonably decent job. Of course when Lucy Dawidowicz wrote, everything she wrote was colored by one overriding prejudice she had: In discussing the holocaust, there was no such thing as a guilty Jew. Anywhere or anytime.

    I think we all ought to adopt her prejudice in our discussions.

  94. Esther says:

    r. dovid, we ARE talking about the same person. We’re NOT talking about the same speech. The one I heard was probably more recent and was mainly on tefila but veered to the issue at hand. Maybe I was mistaken about the place; It might not have been an Aguda function. I wish I had the time to check out the details.

  95. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Many years ago, Lucy Dawidowicz wrote an article about Kazstner and Hecht’s charges of perfidy, in which she set about to refute them, and did a reasonably decent job. Of course when Lucy Dawidowicz wrote, everything she wrote was colored by one overriding prejudice she had: In discussing the holocaust, there was no such thing as a guilty Jew. Anywhere or anytime.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    That has been my point precisely. Elie Wiesel, in response to the opening of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz famously, if controversialy, said “There is no G-d at Auschwitz.” He was refering to notion that the Holocaust constituted a hester panim. But if that’s true, or if it’s what we believe, then we cannot be selective in it’s application. G-d hid His face from all, or from none.

  96. lawrence kaplan says:

    Dovid: I agree with you that Kastner’s support of Becher after the war was indefensible, but you know and I know that this is NOT the main issue, which is whether in his attempt to save Jews DURING the war he played into the hands of the Nazis or not. On that I think Anna Porter makes very strong case pro Kastner, with all his personal faults. As for Ben Hecht, he was not exactly an unbiased party.

    I took no stand re the Satmar Rebbe. The fact that I am defending Kastner against your blanket damnation, does not mean that I must be critcal of the Satmar Rebbe.

  97. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    In an earlier post, I made reference to Pinchas Freudiger, the Rosh Hakahal of the Orthoodx kehilla in Budapest who fled to Romania after being tipped off by a sympathetic csender of the fate that awaited him and Hungarian Jewry. He too fled without alerting anyone as to his intentions, and without sharing the information he had. Why has he never been vilified for his silence by all those who damn Kasztner for his alleged perfidy? Personally, I have no beef with Freudiger. Quite the contrary he had very good reason to flee. He had already been arrested and sent to umschlagplatz in the Rabbinial Seminary. (My father brought him his tallis which had cash and jewels in it which Freudiger used to bribe himself free and then flee. After the war he provided my father with money and safe passage to Italy, in the American Zone.) Moreover I don’t blame him for his silence if he thought that alerting others would have jeapordized his plans to save himself and his family. It was an “every man for himself” sort of atmosphere in those days. But I cannot understand those of us who give Freudiger a pass and go on to pillory Kasztner. Either both should be excused, or neither. (But if one opts for the second option, then there area host of ethical guidelines to be delineated as a result [i.e. what should people have done in such a situation?]) Can anyone here please explain the inconsistency?

  98. dovid says:

    To lawrence kaplan and Daniel B. Schwartz

    Rabbosai, people tend to be consistent in their actions throughout their adult lives. One is not a tzaddik today, becomes a rasha tomorrow, and reverts to tziddkus the day after. While we do averos, the range between our high and low is fairly narrow. All I am saying is that both the Satmar Rebbe on one hand, as well as Kastner on the other hand were quite consistent throughout their lives. Given Kastner’s actions after the war, when he was not under the gun, when he was subject to no pressure, reflect his mind and character, and give 100% credence to those who claimed that he turned himself into a useful tool to the Nazis to destroy Hungarian Jewry. How can you believe that the reason he saved the Nazis was because he gave his word? Kastner certainly knew that a promise made under duress is not a promise. He saved them because he warmed up to them.

    The Satmar Rebbe was consistent as well. With the knowledge he gained about Kastner after the war, when much of the truth was revealed, he could not say more than to acknowledge that he boarded Kastner’s train.

    You are finding faults with Ben Hecht for being a Hollywood screenwriter. Anna Porter wrote only fiction before her book on Kastner. I don’t see why I should believe Porter more than Hecht. Besides, Hecht’s version of the story is consistent with the Klausenburger Rebbe’s report, with the refusal of the Satmar Rebbe to endorse him, with the testimonies of thousands of survivors, and with what I heard from my mother. I don’t know Lucy Dawidowicz and see no compelling reasons to further dig into this story.

    D.S. What did the Vizhniter Rebbe do in response to the information this Mr. Friedman gave him?

    I don’t know why he didn’t take Reb Friedman’s revelation at face value. I didn’t follow up on it.

    D.S. Then neither were the actions of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe defensible.

    Big difference between the Vizhnitzer Rebbe and Kastner. Kastner obtained the information from its source. Friedman was acting on hearsay.

    D.S. Why would they have believed Kasztner more than Friedman?

    I don’t have the answer. I have it from my mother that Jews listened to BBC and the Voice of America (even though it was illegal to own a radio). The Allies kept repeating that they were about to open the western front and that the Russians reached Iasi, about 250 miles away. This was in Jan-May 1944. The Russians stopped their offensive for several months and the Allies opened the second front only in Sep. 1944. Kastner’s spin that the Jews were being sent to farms and factories to replace the Hungarians that were sent to fight made a lot of sense to them. Were they in denial? Probably. Kastner told them what they wanted to hear. Picking yourself up, cross the border and go into a foreign, unfamiliar place where you don’t know the language and don’t know your way around is quite difficult. They chose to believe Kastner.

    D.S. Moreover, the Klausenberger rav was a talmid of R. Yoilish. I doubt he would have a taken a seat on the train before his rebbe.

    The issue was not deference to his rebbe. The Klausenberger rav was NOT give the choice of having a seat in Kastner’s transport. He was not ‘chashuv’ or known by the Jewish Agency.

    D. S. Moreover, R. Michoel Ber Weismandel was telling everyone he could of the killing. Why didn’t the rabbonim listen to him?

    I don’t know the answer. I am only speculating they were not in contact with the Rabbi Weissmandel. Had they gotten the news from him, they would have taken action and alert everyone.

    D.S. I don’t know from where the quote you provide comes, ..

    I provided the source when I submitted the posts.

    D.S. Why are you so kind the rebbes and so harsh with Kasznter? Why is it that the Rebbes’ failure to act decisively and alert their chassidim labeled hester panim, while Kasztner’s alleged actions are deemed perfidy? Why is Kasztner, a Jew from a frum home, now given the benefit the doubt? Why of all people is he throught to be the one who knew everything and did nothing?

    Because Kastner KNEW. The Rebbes didn’t. And being from a frum home means nothing. Did HE (not his father and mother, but him), did he have iras shomaym? Would anyone, with a minimum amount of decency, frum or not, contemplate saving SS officers from what was due to them? I beg to differ with you, but IMHO there is absolutely no room for giving Kastner the benefit of the doubt.

  99. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I need to correct a factual error in my prior post. The Freudiger my father encountered in the Rabbinical Seminary was not Pinchas Freudiger, but rather his brother, Shmuel. On Nizkor.org there is a translation of Pinchas Freudiger’s testimony at the Eichmann trial where he refers to his borther’s arrest and being taken to the Rabbinical Seminary.

  100. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    For those of you who believe that the Satmer Rav and other Jews didn’t know what was happening in Hungaryy in 1944 and were unaware of their fate, read the testimony of Pinchas Freudiger at Eichmann’s trial. There is no way people didn’t know what was happening. The testimony canbe found at the nizkor.org website

  101. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    DOVID: Rabbosai, people tend to be consistent in their actions throughout their adult lives. One is not a tzaddik today, becomes a rasha tomorrow, and reverts to tziddkus the day after. While we do averos, the range between our high and low is fairly narrow.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S.: Unless that person suffered a severe trauma, like a war.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID: All I am saying is that both the Satmar Rebbe on one hand, as well as Kastner on the other hand were quite consistent throughout their lives.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. How do you know?
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Dovid: Given Kastner’s actions after the war, when he was not under the gun, when he was subject to no pressure, reflect his mind and character, and give 100% credence to those who claimed that he turned himself into a useful tool to the Nazis to destroy Hungarian Jewry.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. According to your theory, please answer the obvious question: WHY? How did Kasztner benefit from what you claim he did?
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID: How can you believe that the reason he saved the Nazis was because he gave his word? Kastner certainly knew that a promise made under duress is not a promise. He saved them because he warmed up to them.
    ________________________________________________________________________D.S. Pardone` mois mon ami, that was a reference to Porter. I have two different possible reasons, a character flaw or a variation of the well known Helsinki Syndrome. Please don’t miscnostrue what I wrote.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID: [DELETIA}
    D.S. What did the Vizhniter Rebbe do in response to the information this Mr. Friedman gave him?

    I don’t know why he didn’t take Reb Friedman’s revelation at face value. I didn’t follow up on it.
    ________________________________________________________________________D.S. Are you prepared to now consider the question?
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID:

    D.S. Then neither were the actions of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe defensible.

    Big difference between the Vizhnitzer Rebbe and Kastner. Kastner obtained the information from its source. Friedman was acting on hearsay.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. And what of Pinchas Freudiger or Emil Hirsch, or Otto Komoly or Hofrat Stern, who also heard the information “from its source?” Why is Kasztner the only one who is singled out for derision? Why is he worse in your eyes (assuming what you believe about him is true) that Mordechai Richler, or any other Jew who was forced onto a Judenrat and found himself between Scylla and Charybodis? As opposed to those I named herein, Kasztner managed to get over 1,000 people on a train out of harm’s way. He further averted the deaths of 15,000 more who had been deported. Just how many Jews did the Satmer Rav save?
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID:

    D.S. Why would they have believed Kasztner more than Friedman?

    I don’t have the answer. I have it from my mother that Jews listened to BBC and the Voice of America (even though it was illegal to own a radio). The Allies kept repeating that they were about to open the western front and that the Russians reached Iasi, about 250 miles away. This was in Jan-May 1944. The Russians stopped their offensive for several months and the Allies opened the second front only in Sep. 1944. Kastner’s spin that the Jews were being sent to farms and factories to replace the Hungarians that were sent to fight made a lot of sense to them. Were they in denial? Probably. Kastner told them what they wanted to hear. Picking yourself up, cross the border and go into a foreign, unfamiliar place where you don’t know the language and don’t know your way around is quite difficult. They chose to believe Kastner.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. If Kaasztner was that good, why was anyone at all interested in boarding his train? If R. Yoilish truly believed that Jews were not in danger, why did he not stay in Hungary? Why was he not prepared to relocate with his chassidim and be their rebbe in the new locale? No one forced R. Yoilish onto that train.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID:

    D.S. Moreover, the Klausenberger rav was a talmid of R. Yoilish. I doubt he would have a taken a seat on the train before his rebbe.

    The issue was not deference to his rebbe. The Klausenberger rav was NOT give the choice of having a seat in Kastner’s transport. He was not ‘chashuv’ or known by the Jewish Agency.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. Sure he was. It was well known that he was hand picked by the satmer Rav to be the Rav of the chassidim in Kolosvar to counteract the kehilla Rav Glasner, who was a zionist. But you’re right, the Klaunsenberger Rav didn’t have a choice. But R. Yoilish did.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID:

    D. S. Moreover, R. Michoel Ber Weismandel was telling everyone he could of the killing. Why didn’t the rabbonim listen to him?

    I don’t know the answer. I am only speculating they were not in contact with the Rabbi Weissmandel. Had they gotten the news from him, they would have taken action and alert everyone.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    D.S. Pinchas Freudiger testified at Eichmann’s trial that he was in touch with R. Weissmandel throughout. Read his testimony. You’ll see that information, in the form of ever repressive anit–Jewish legislation, arrests, killings was manifest everywhere. The Germans did not call the Budapest Judenrat by that title, since Hungarian Jewry already knew what the term “Judenrat” implied. thus it was labeled the Central Committee of Hungarian Jews. People knew but there was nothing to do.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    DOVID:

    D.S. I don’t know from where the quote you provide comes, ..

    I provided the source when I submitted the posts.

    D.S. Why are you so kind the rebbes and so harsh with Kasznter? Why is it that the Rebbes’ failure to act decisively and alert their chassidim labeled hester panim, while Kasztner’s alleged actions are deemed perfidy? Why is Kasztner, a Jew from a frum home, now given the benefit the doubt? Why of all people is he throught to be the one who knew everything and did nothing?

    Because Kastner KNEW. The Rebbes didn’t. And being from a frum home means nothing. Did HE (not his father and mother, but him), did he have iras shomaym? Would anyone, with a minimum amount of decency, frum or not, contemplate saving SS officers from what was due to them? I beg to differ with you, but IMHO there is absolutely no room for giving Kastner the benefit of the doubt.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    The Rebbes knew, everyone knew. If you want to pillory Kasztner, then you must also ascribe similar blame to the Rebbes, mainly the Satmer and Belzer and the Bobover rebbes who fled and didn’t tell their chassidim to do likewise. It’s very convenient to use Kasztner’s post war defense of Becher and bootstrap it to what happened during the war, as you have done. But in doing that and in filtering everything through a “R. Yoilish lens,” you fail to acknolwedge that he and other players (The Klausnberger Rav, R. Weissmandel and Ben Hecht etc)
    had their own agendas after the war and mustered up facts to serve those agendas. The truths of history are arrived at only when one considers all the evidence in its context.

  102. Esther says:

    R. Weissmandel greatly mourned the fact that he did not know Satmar rebbe well enough before the war. He said he thought the rebbe was an extremist and it would be difficult to work with him. After the war the two rabbis were inseparable. If only they had worked together, much more could have been accomplished with their combined brilliance, creativity, ahavas yisrael and charisma. But the true answer to all the how’s and why’s is that it was a gezar din min hashamayim, about which can be said משיב חכמים אחור ודעתם יסכל – the wisdom of the wise was taken and twisted, as it was during the churban bais hamikdash.

  103. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Daniel Schwartz:

    Your post #99 contradicts your post #96, where you stated that “Pinchas Freudiger … fled to Romania after being tipped off by a sympathetic csender of the fate that awaited him and Hungarian Jewry. He too fled without alerting anyone as to his intentions, and without sharing the information he had.”

    And at Eichman’s trial, he would testify that everyone knew? Sounds like the rationalization of a man who feels guilty for not warning others.

  104. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Daniel Schwartz:

    Your post #99 contradicts your post #96, where you stated that “Pinchas Freudiger … fled to Romania after being tipped off by a sympathetic csender of the fate that awaited him and Hungarian Jewry. He too fled without alerting anyone as to his intentions, and without sharing the information he had.”

    And at Eichman’s trial, he would testify that everyone knew? Sounds like the rationalization of a man who feels guilty for not warning others.

    Comment by Lawrence M. Reisman — June 11, 2009 @ 11:54 am
    ________________________________________________________________________
    When telling over the story of how he helped Freudiger, my father never identified him with his first name. I therefore assumed it was Pinchas. When I read Pinchas Freudiger’s testimony, I realized the mistake. As to that testimony, he doesn’t say people knew. He spoke about the climate in Hungary at the relevant times. From that descriptions, it’s impossible to say people didn’t know what was occuring and about to occur.

  105. dovid says:

    D.S. “Pinchas Freudiger, the Rosh Hakahal of the Orthoodx kehilla in Budapest who fled to Romania after being tipped off by a sympathetic csender of the fate that awaited him and Hungarian Jewry.”

    If he truly was tipped that Hungarian Jewry was in danger and he just saved his skin, he was derelict of his duties. Being Rosh Hakahal is not about honor but responsibility. He was supposed to alert the kehilla. Assuming that you have the story right, Mr. Pinchas Freudiger still is heads and shoulders above Rudolf Kastner. At least he didn’t collaborate with the Germans into fooling the Yiden to stay put like Kastner did. No matter how you turn it, Kastner’s act and guilt are unparalleled.

  106. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    No matter how you turn it, Kastner’s act and guilt are unparalleled.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    The man must have been a horrible scoundrel, saving 1,700 people and averting the deaths of 15,000 more. How many lives did the rebbes save?

  107. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I’d like to point out one more fact, which sheds light on Kasztner’s character. During the relevant time period he made several trips to Switzerland, meeting with Soly Mayer, the representative of the Joint. It would not have been difficult for Kasztner to escape while he was in Switzerland and survive the war as a refugee. He didn’t though. He returned to Budapest. Just how perfidous could he have been?

  108. Esther says:

    R. Weissmandel was negotiating with Wisliceny about buying off 1 million Hungarian Jews for $2 million when Kastner stuck his nose in and offered Eichman to silence the Jews for the price of 600 zionists. His “self-sacrifice”, if there was any (he might well have been offered protection by the Nazis for cooperating with them), was on behalf of zionism, not Jewry. He included rabbis in his transport because he needed the money of the wealthy Orthodox Jews of Budapest to fund it.

    That was after R. W’s deal with Wisliceny to buy off Czechoslovakia’s 40,000 Jews for $50,000 fell through because Soly Mayer and his Swiss cronies wouldn’t pay $1.25 per Jew. (They didn’t believe R. W. BECAUSE he was an Orthodox rabbi.)

    You write with contempt about our holy rebbes while you praise this secular zionist who most probably has the blood of Hungarian Jewry on his hands. Foul! Who saved the Mirrer yeshiva? Rabbi Kalmanowitz and the Vaad Hatzala. Who interfered with their efforts? R. Wise and other American and Swiss Zionists. If not for them, the Vaad could have saved so many more. (The zionists from Bergson’s group were the only ones who helped save Jews.) R. Weissmandel would have saved tens of thousands of Jews, maybe over a million, if NOT for Kastner & co.

    This was official secular Zionist and Jewish Agency policy. Yitzchak Greenbaum said, “When they asked me, ‘won’t you give keren kayemet funds to save the Jews of Europe?’ I said NO, and I say again NO… One cow in Palestine is worth all of Nolevki (the main Jewish street of Warsaw).”

  109. Esther says:

    Ben Gurion informed a meeting of Labor Zionists in Great Britain in 1938: “If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel, then I opt for the second alternative.”

  110. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Esther I need to hear a recording of Ben Gurion saying that and ahve the recording authenticated by an expert before I would even consider believing he said anything like that. There simply is no way. But Ben Gurion did famously say, in response to a British White Paper limited immigration into ISrael: “We will fight the war as if there were no White Paper and fight the White Paper as if there were no war.”

  111. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Daniel B. Schwartz,

    I’m sorry to burst the bubble here, but even Shabbetai Teveth, who wrote a book striving mightily to defend Ben-Gurion from accusations about his attitude during the Holocaust, could not deny this statement.

    From the NY Times review of the book:

    “A third episode involves a remark Ben-Gurion made soon after Kristallnacht in reaction to a British decision not to permit 10,000 Austrian and German Jewish children to go to Palestine but instead to offer them refuge in Britain. He stated: ”Were I to know that all German Jewish children could be rescued by transferring them to England and only half by transfer to Palestine, I would opt for the latter, because our concern is not only the personal interest of these children, but the historic interest of the Jewish people.” Teveth strives to show that what he calls this ”unfortunate, brutal remark” did not really mean what it seems to, or was spoken in a burst of anger. In this instance, his explanations are less convincing.”

  112. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I did a Google search of the quote Esther ascribes to David ben Gurion. It seems to have alot of traffic among various anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist websites. But I didn’t see a single scholarly (i.e. university or other similar institution affiliated web-site discussing it). Moreover, I didn’t see a reference to it in a scholarly book or journal. As such I believe this is a made up quote. But in the interests of giving it fair play here, perhaps Esther, who put the quote up here and is therefore in a position to defend it, can answer a few questions:
    1. Where and precisely when in “Great Britain” did the alleged meeting take place?
    2. Who was in attendance?
    3. What were ben Gurion’s complete remarks (i.e. put the quote in its full context)
    4. What was the reaction of those who heard him on that occaision?
    5. When and where was this quote first publicised? Who first published it? Was its (i.e. the quote’s) reliability and that of the publisher tested and affirmed at the time of publication?
    6. Did ben Gurion or any other member of the Zionist heirarchy respond to the publication of the quote? What was the response?

    Perhaps answering these questions will shed some light on the issue

  113. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    ESTHER: R. Weissmandel was negotiating with Wisliceny about buying off 1 million Hungarian Jews for $2 million
    D.S. Wasn’t the problem that R. Weissmandel couldn’t come up with the money and eh turned to Kasztner for help?

    ESTHER: when Kastner stuck his nose in and offered Eichman to silence the Jews for the price of 600 zionists.
    D.S. Proof? The fact is that Kasztner did not silence anyone. Eichmann used the Central Committee to do that. Indeed, Szita Szabolcs, in her book about the period records a statement made during a meeting between Eichmann and the Central Committee where Eichmann told the committee that Germany has a far worse reputation than it deserves vis-a-vis the Jews. A member of the committee apparently then said “I knew that the Zionists are exagerating” or words to that effect. Silence? HA!!!

    ESTHER: His “self-sacrifice”, if there was any (he might well have been offered protection by the Nazis for cooperating with them), was on behalf of zionism, not Jewry.
    D.S. You never understood that as far as the world is concerned, there is no difference.

    ESTHER: He included rabbis in his transport because he needed the money of the wealthy Orthodox Jews of Budapest to fund it.
    D.S. HUH?

    ESTHER: That was after R. W’s deal with Wisliceny to buy off Czechoslovakia’s 40,000 Jews for $50,000 fell through because Soly Mayer and his Swiss cronies wouldn’t pay $1.25 per Jew. (They didn’t believe R. W. BECAUSE he was an Orthodox rabbi.)
    D.S. Soly Mayer was not the culprit. The US Treasury department was. They would not allow the transfer of funds for this purpose.

    ESTHER: You write with contempt about our holy rebbes while you praise this secular zionist who most probably has the blood of Hungarian Jewry on his hands. Foul! Who saved the Mirrer yeshiva? Rabbi Kalmanowitz and the Vaad Hatzala. Who interfered with their efforts? R. Wise and other American and Swiss Zionists. If not for them, the Vaad could have saved so many more. (The zionists from Bergson’s group were the only ones who helped save Jews.) R. Weissmandel would have saved tens of thousands of Jews, maybe over a million, if NOT for Kastner & co.
    D.S. Read Zurroff’s book on the Va’ad Hatzala. Read how they interfered with fundraising on behalf of rescue of European Jews. Read about their duplicative work, and how they interfered with the far more expansive work being done at the time by other larger, better connected and more experienced organizations.

    This was official secular Zionist and Jewish Agency policy. Yitzchak Greenbaum said, “When they asked me, ‘won’t you give keren kayemet funds to save the Jews of Europe?’ I said NO, and I say again NO… One cow in Palestine is worth all of Nolevki (the main Jewish street of Warsaw).”

  114. Esther says:

    Call me old-fashioned but I choose to believe those who believe that מדבר שקר תרחק is a מצות לא תעשה in תורה מן השמים, and that they will suffer divine punishment for lying.

  115. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Esther, if you want to reduce this to a point of whom to believe, then please answer my most basic question. If Kasztner is responsible for lying to the Jews of Hungary, telling them there was no danger and not informing them of the impending doom, and if that deception worked and Hungarian Jews believed that any resettlement was to be to work camps, why did R. Yoilish get on that train out of “Dodge?” Why was he unprepared to resettle with his Chasididm and be their rav in the new locale? Until you resolve that issue, there really is nothing further to discuss. For me it’s not a problem. But I think it’s a near fatal flaw to your construction of the facts.

  116. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Esther, one last thing, in response to your lashon hora about Soly Meyer in post #113. He was a frum Jew.

  117. Esther says:

    Mr. Schwartz, you CHOOSE to believe Zuroff; I CHOOSE to believe Dr. Kranzler.

    “You never understood that as far as the world is concerned, there is no difference.”

    You never understood my comment and it’s a waste of time to clarify. I hope the other readers did understand.

    Your oversimplification of things is exasperating. I don’t have the time or patience to write a history of the Holocaust here and there is a LOT more to write about the Kastner affair with evidence from eye-witnesses that prove my assertions. But to answer your question: Do you think Kastner was the supreme authority of the Satmar rebbe? Don’t you know that many Polish chassidim escaped to Hungary and told of the atrocities there? Most chose not to believe them, but some of those close to the rebbe fortunately did and wisked him out at great expense and self-sacrifice.

    As for your despicable accusations against a gadol of such stature who was held in the greatest esteem by his adversaries and whose ahavas yisrael you can’t even fathom, you don’t seem to have the foggiest notion of the relationship between a rebbe and his chassidim and I can’t really explain it fully here. Let me just illustrate.

    When the Satmar rebbe visited Israel, one of his fellow inmates of the Kastner train, a prominent Zionist, wrote an article in a Hungarian-Israeli newspaper describing in the most glowing terms the rebbe’s greatness in Bergen-Belzen. He wrote that when they arrived in Switzerland, the local Jews came out to welcome them, throwing fruits and bread and calling out, “Where’s the rebbe? Where’s the rebbe?” He walked next to a famous secular author who said angrily, “Everyone reads my books and now nobody cares about me. Nobody asks about me. They only ask for the rebbe!”

    Had the rebbe refused to be saved (which he might well have at first) can you imagine the pain he would have caused not only his chassidim but all of frum Jewry?

    The saintly Galanter rav hy”d was taken off the train to Auschwitz and he climbed back on again and again. His followers would’ve gladly given their lives to save him but he wouldn’t leave them. It was the noblest act we can imagine, but למעשה they would have gone to their deaths much happier knowing that their rebbe has been saved. And how much more could he have accomplished had he let himself be saved to guide the שארית הפליטה after the war. That’s the way Satmar, Gerer, and Belzer rebbes took. How dare you cast aspersions on these spiritual giants? Unless you’re on a diet and a workaholic, you probably eat and sleep more than all three of them. They were old and frail – you think their comfort or lives meant anything to them? You think they were like the rebbes of today? They lived כולו לשם שמים, כולו לטובת הכלל – way above our notions of morality or spirituality, and none of us is great enough to judge them.

  118. Esther says:

    One last thing:

    Many frum Jews did bad things and R. Weissmandel knew the laws of lashon hara. BTW Vaad Hatzala found a way to save Jews despite the war refugee board. If there’s a will…

  119. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    R. Weissmandel knew Halacha. I’m just not sure he knew all the facts. As to the Va’ad Hatzalah, I used to be friends with R. Kalmanowitz’s assistant during those years; a well respected rabbi in Massachusets. I had many a long conversation with him when I read Zurrof’s book about the Va’ad Hatzolah. This rabbi was very close to R. Eliezer Silver as well, even after the War. He often emphasized that Va’ad’s work was all leshem Shamayim, something I don’t doubt. But he also acknolwedged that they ruthlessly competed with other well established organizations, also working lesheim Shamayim, for resources and money. Why don’t you read the book. Rabbis, gedolim even, don’t have the exclusive on doing G-d’s work.

Pin It on Pinterest