When The Chips Are Down… by Yitzchok Adlerstein · Published October 9, 2015 · Updated October 9, 2015 I can’t say I see eye-to-eye with Satmar regarding the legitimacy of the Jewish State. But ask yourself who demonstrates more loyalty to other Jews – Satmar, or JStreet?
I like this story Rabbis Goldin & Matanky of the RCA wrote in a 6/13 Hamodia editorial:
“In 1972, Senators Humphrey and McGovern were vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. McGovern opposed the sale of Phantom jets to Israel; Humphrey, a real friend of the Jewish people, was in favor. Humphrey went to the Satmar Rebbe looking for support. He had previously been told that the Rebbe’s position on Israel was not that which Humphrey encountered in other Jews. No sooner had they all sat down, than the first thing Reb Yoelish said was, “Thank you for helping to protect our brothers in Eretz Yisrael.” Humphrey turned to the others and said, “I thought he was against Israel!” The Rebbe understood what was happening, and explained, “We have a bit of a squabble within the family. But we don’t want to see anyone in the family get hurt.”
I wish that the above would be translated into English, so that I could understand it and have at least a chance of responding to it.
You will probably find no better examples of Chesed and being Noseh Bol Chavero than by looking at the many institutions in the overall Torah world that owe their origins and inspiration to the Satmar community. The committment to Bikur Cholim is unsurpassed, as is their role in the founding of Hatzala and the awakening of our consciousness to a very important mitzvah-Shatnez.
Translation (more or less)
Make an effort and increase supplication.
In light of the difficult situation that prevails at the time in our holy land, we have been commanded from the mouth of our the teacher our holy rabbi who should live to 120 to arouse the men [people] of our community and the comrades of our holy congregation wherever they are to come to the King and plead to Him to arouse the abundant Heavenly mercy on our brothers all the house of Israel, residents of our holy land, at the time of saying five chapters of Psalms [this is in bold] every day after the shacharis prayer
I have to run now. It ends with a supplication that G-d will not reject our prayers and will transform all the negatives to positives with the speedy coming of Moshiach.
Well, saying Satmar is better than JStreet is hardly effusive praise for the former. But I take your point. Only Satmar’s relationship with Israel is more complicated. It’s also quite important, because Satmar is growing – very, very fast. Few people are really aware of it, living as Satmar does in cloistered communities in Williamsburg and KJ. But they are growing at a faster clip than even the much-vaunted growth in more mainstream orthodoxy, and they are also a heavy influence in all Chassiduses generally. And unlike Neturei Karta, whose wacky demonstrations are widely recognized as unrepresentative fringe elements, you cant say the same about Satmar. Their feelings towards Israel count. So how do they feel about it?
I’m no expert [as if there was such a thing] but my ancestors are buried in Munroe and I have a Yoily brother and I spend time in their communities. And I talked to a lawyer friend of mine who works for a Satmar company. In a nutshell, their masses are divided. About half or 60%, he estimates, agree with the official party line that the medinah is treif, sitra achra. But the other half [which, incidentally, also includes quite a large number of orthoprax Satmar; don’t let the dress fool you] feels pretty much the same way mainstream orthodoxy does. The problem, of course, as always, is that the pulpit is controlled by the rabbinate, and their official media organs always toe the official party line. So you wont really hear the other side, substantial as their numbers are. Their challenge will be in getting that alternate viewpoint out. Our challenge will be in softening the Satmar official voice, because their numbers render them indispensable for the cause. The call for prayer is a small but good first step.
I appreciate your point, but I don’t believe Satmar and Jstreet belong in the same conversation even disregarding Satmar’s incredible chessed organizations. The comparison fails on every single level.
The sentiment and actions expressed by Satmar in the poster photographed with this brief article are unsurprising and certainly far from new. Satmar has always acted in this admirable way, including and especially on issues pertaining to the living conditions and safety of the Jews in Eretz Yisroel. They have always, from both before and since 1948, taken the well-being and safety of the Jews in the Holy Land close to their hearts and prayers. The kind of tefilos called for above have been routine in times of danger in Israel. This is all despite any and all political, ideological and theological differences between Satmar and any other people on the issue of Statehood in Israel.
Additionally, I would like to second the earlier comment by DavidF.