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Satmar’s Grandfather

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When an important decision needs to be made, people often consider the consequences of their decisions taking into consideration, of course, the near future and the long term goals. Once the decision is made, however, it is almost always impossible to know the long term implications of even the simplest of choices.

A good example of this was when Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum (1759 – 1841) agreed to go with his new son-in-law to visit his rebbe, the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin, Rebbe Yaakov Yitzchak. He had no idea that this decision would lead to the founding of the Satmer sect of chassidim a century and a half later. It was not an easy choice for Rabbi Teitelbaum. A respected scholar, now known as The Yismach Moshe (after the name of his commentary on the Torah), he had been a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, who was staunchly opposed to the new Chassidic movement.

Rabbi Teitelbaum was not happy to discover that his new son-in-law, Rabbi Aryeh Leib Lipshitz, was actually a chassid. Rabbi Aryeh Leib, however, agreed to forgo the Chassidic life if his father-in-law would travel, just once, to meet his rebbe. Rabbi Teitelbaum returned from his journey to Lublin a changed man.

The Yismach Moshe, whose yahrtzeit is the 28th of Tammuz, became a chassidic rebbe and is credited with having introduced chassidism into Hungary. His sons and grandsons also became chassidic leaders. One of the Yismach Moshe’s great-grandsons was Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (1887–1979), the first Satmar Rebbe. After the Holocaust, from which he escaped as part of a release negotiated with Adolf Eichmann, the Rebbe rebuilt a community (now one of the largest Chassidic communities) for his followers first in Palestine and then in New York.

Copyright © 2012 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

*This image of Moshe Teitelbaum (Ujhel) was donated to Wikimedia Commons by the National Library of Israel as part of a collaboration project with Wikimedia Israel

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