Friday, October 28, 2011
The Perspicacity of Our Leaders - A Heart Wrenching Case Study.
I am not a historian and I don’t usually write about history but I cannot contain myself from writing about this very disturbing and terrible story. It is an indictment; I believe one of many indictments, of Da’at Torah (Da’as Taireh J) and demonstrate clearly how wrong and distorted the thinking of the leaders of the Agudah and the other parties further right of them is. This goes for the leaders of the Agudah back to its formation in the early 1900’s and for the current “Gedolim” and their sycophants. It also points to how wrong what I believe are the fantasy worlds our brethren live in who believe that the supernatural and its supposed powers are part of religion and denying it is considered Kefirah. The “hardening of hearts” of these leaders, similar to the one of Pharaoh and Sichon, as understood by Rambam in the 6th chapter of Hilchot Teshuvah , is unfortunately seen today every time one reads about one of the shenanigans of these leaders or reads one of their hate filled diatribes, distorting reality.
When I heard about the recent passing of Professor Mendel Piekarz I decided to buy several of his books. Over the years I had read articles he wrote and now I had the urge to read more. I just finished the first book – Ideological Trends of Hasidim in Poland during the Interwar Period and the Holocaust (Hebrew) - which was published in 1990 (shows how up to date I am with History) and I am extremely shaken. It is a fact- filled report and analysis based on the writings of the religious Jewish Polish leaders of the inter-war generation, how they ignored the signs of the impending catastrophe and how the majority refused to even acknowledge it when the sword was clearly unsheathed and upon their neck. It reminds me of the letter Rambam wrote to the sages of Montpellier (see page 480 in Rav Shailat’s letters) where he blames the destruction of the Temple on the Jews turning to the supernatural instead of diplomacy and defense. Much of this is generally known and much has been written about this (see Hakirah ) including the episode I focus on in this post, but it must be retold again and again to remind us that all we have is our sechel, our own intelligence, and the supposed supernatural powers and “De’ah” of our “Gedolim” is pure hogwash and probably falls under the rubric of idolatry.
The Belzer rebbe, Rav Aharon Rokeach, managed to escape from Poland to Hungary through the efforts of many of his worldwide followers who expended every possible effort to save him from the extermination camps. This was at the beginning of 1944, a few months before the Nazis invaded Hungary. His plan however was to go on to Palestine, using highly-rationed Jewish Agency certificates to enter Palestine, provided by the hated Zionists, those same people whom he blamed for the holocaust because of their lack of religiosity and their courage taking matters into their hand in Israel, thus upsetting the higher spheres from whence all power emanates. The Belzer Rebbe’s brother, Rav Mordechai Rokeach of Bilgoray (the father of the current Belzer rebbe), who was 22 years younger and his brother’s spokesman made a farewell speech in Budapest which was printed in the Haderech journal on February 7th 1944. I have attached below a copy of pertinent pages of a copy of the original publication which I want to discuss.
After a somewhat convoluted exposition of his view of what caused the destruction of Polish Jewry, basically a veiled indictment of the Zionist movement, R. Mordechai addresses his brother and his own planned escape from Europe. Here is the translation beginning 3 lines from the bottom of the first page.
“I have some more to say to you, to address your thoughts and illuminate your eyes, regarding that which I heard many of you say that you are afraid and shudder with fear, saying that our leaving is difficult for you. You are further worried wondering whether possibly my brother the Tzaddik who sees the future, knows of danger looming over this country and is therefore running away to go to Eretz Israel, the land God blessed by saying “I will bring peace to the land”. He is going to a place of peace and rest and we, God forbid he leaves to our despair. What will become of us? Who will protect us? Who will save us? Who will pray and advocate for us? I therefore feel obligated to tell you the truth dear friends, the sages of Hungary, that as one who is close and near my great brother I know that he is not running away, leaving in a rush as if wanting to flee from here but rather is going because he has a strong wish to go to Eretz Israel, the land that is ten times holier than anywhere else. I personally know that this has been his greatest wish for some time, the great aspiration of his pure soul is to go to the city of God, so that he can awaken God’s pity and goodwill for the nation so that they no longer suffer saving the remainder [of the nation] and see to it that their enemies are destroyed. This is alluded to in the verse (Breishit 49:14) “He [Issachar] saw that the homestead was goodly, that the land was delightful, and he put his shoulder to the load, became a toiling serf.” Rashi explains that Issachar became a toiling serf to his brethren by legislating for them Torah laws. I wonder what Rashi meant with this? I believe that he is saying that the Tzaddik [Issachar] sees that this country and its inhabitants will have peace, for the homestead is goodly and only good will befall our brethren the inhabitants of this land. Seeing that, the Tzaddik now sees the land, the one he always thrived to move to because it is delightful, for it is where the ultimate [divine] delight is present, the land of milk and honey is sweet and delightful both physically and spiritually and it also is the place he spoke about going to in earlier times when he was still home.”
In retrospect this speech is pathetic, so pathetic that this section was completely left out when the post-war hagiographers recounted the “miraculous” escape of the Belzer rebbe from Europe (see Bezalel Landau and Natan Orenter’s “The Holy Rabbi of Belz… pages 141 159). Did he really mean it when he said that the Hungarian Jews were safe? Was he that stupid? The Rebbe and his brother by this time had lost all their family having left them behind while they fled. How could he in good faith claim that his brother could see the future, that he had any perspicacity when he had stopped many of his followers from leaving Poland between the wars because of his anti-Zionist stance?
Several months after this episode, the Stropkover Rebetzin reacted to this speech in a heart wrenching way. One of the Sonder Commandos at Auschwitz took notes of his experiences and hid them around the ovens. They were discovered after the war and one of them related the following: (My translation from Hebrew which is a translation of the original Yiddish)
“At the end of May 1944 a transport of Jews from Kasho (Kosice) arrived. Amongst the various Jews was the old Rebetzin of Stropkov, an 85 year old Jewess. She declared: I see the end of the Hungarian Jews has arrived. The government had given the opportunity for the great part of the Jewish Community to escape. The people asked the advice of the Admorim (the Rebbes) and they always calmed the people. The Rebbe of Belz said that Hungary will be spared and only suffer fear. The bitter moment has arrived, when the Jews could no longer save themselves. True [the future] was hidden from them [the Rebbes] by divine decree, but they saved themselves running away at the last moment to Eretz Israel. They saved themselves while leaving their flock to be slaughtered. Ribbono Shel Olam! At the last moments of my life I beg You, forgive them for the great Chilul Hashem [they caused].”
Are we ever going to learn?