יום שני ה' בשבט תשפ"א 18/01/2021
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Harav Chaim Michel Dov Weissmandel ztz”l

Harav Chaim Michel Dov Weissmandel was the chareidi rav of the kehillah of Nitra in Slovakia. During the period of Churban Europa, he dedicated himself to efforts to save what he could of European Jewry. To his great sorrow, he was not given the assistance he hoped for from the Jews of the free world, which possibly could have stalled or halted the extermination of the Jews of Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

David Sofer 24/11/2009 10:08
Hagaon Harav Chaim Michel Dov Weissmandel was born in Debrecin in Hungary in the year 5664 to his father Reb Yosef. When he was a young boy the family moved to Tirnau where his father served as a shochet. Harav Weissmandel first learned in the local cheder in Tirnau, and when he grew older, he travelled every day by train to the nearby town of Sered, in order to learn Torah from his teacher Harav Dovid Vasly.

In the year 5701, when he was thirty-seven years old, his father Reb Yosef was niftar. On the Friday prior to receiving the news, shortly before Shabbos came in, a person approached him and asked him several times for the name of the mother of Avraham Avinu. The person kept asking the same question, and then added that if he did not receive an answer, it would cause him great anguish. On Motzoei Shabbos, Harav Weissmandel received the bitter news of the petirah of his father. Later on that evening, he found the reference in maseches Semachos that said, “Imtalai the daughter of Karnebo, the mother of Avraham Avinu…” is a segulah in a time of danger. Harav Weissmandel understood that at the time that he had been asked the question, his father had fallen gravely ill and taken to his bed, from which he would not rise again.

In the year 5676, not long before he reached the age of bar mitzvah, Harav Weissmandel prepared his bar mitzvah pshetl by himself. His modest grandfather, who was aware of the brilliance and sharpness of his grandson’s mind, was concerned that the delivery of his droshah would cause his grandson to fall into the trap of pride, and therefore he promised his young grandson that if he would refrain from speaking, he would give him a large sum of money. Harav Weissmandel agreed to his grandfather’s request, and with the money he bought himself the sefer ‘Rabbeinu Bachaye’ on the Torah. Towards the end of his life, Harav Weissmandel came full circle, when he learned from that very sefer at the time of his yetzias neshamah. Thirty-six years later, he delivered the bar mitzvah pshetl that he had refrained from giving, to the talmidim of his yeshivah. The talmidim were astounded at the penetrating and profound droshah, and even more amazed to hear that this was the bar mitzvah pshetl that their Rosh Yeshivah had held back from giving at the request of his grandfather.

Harav Weissmandel’s main teacher of Torah was Harav Shmuel Dovid Ungar, the rav of Tirnau and later of Nitra. As a bachur in yeshivah, he was already fluent in Shas and Poskim. He had an extraordinary grasp of the halachos of mikvaos, which demanded a thorough knowledge of the mathematical calculations which were necessary in order to know how to correctly build a kosher mikvah. Harav Weissmandel was also the originator of the concept of ‘codes’ in the Torah, consisting of uniform gaps between certain letters that revealed hidden messages.

Harav Weissmandel frequently travelled to gedolei Torah in Poland and Lithuania. In the course of his travels, he merited to spend time in the presences of the Chofetz Chaim ztz”l, Maran Harav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski ztz”l, Harav Elchanan Wasserman Hy”d, the Gerrer Rebbe ztz”l and the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztz”l. In Shevat of the year 5697, when he was thirty-three years old, Harav Weissmandel married the daughter of his rebbi Harav Shmuel Dovid Ungar. Even prior to, and also following his chasunah, he was active on behalf of his father-in-law’s yeshivah, the Nitra Yeshivah, and he became like his right hand. There were even periods during which he himself delivered the main shiur in the yeshivah.

the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski []

The most distinguished period of Harav Weissmandel’s life was undoubtedly that during the Second World War, when his activities on behalf of his fellow Jews involved putting his own life in extreme danger with an exceptional level of self-sacrifice. Harav Weissmandel was the moving force behind the ‘Working Group’ – an organisation whose purpose was to bring about a halt in the extermination programme for what remained of European Jewry, by means of bribes given to the Nazis y”sh. Together with him in the Working Group were other Jews espousing many different hashkofos and ideologies; a Reform ‘rabbi’, secular Jews, Zionists and others with various differing points of view. Despite this, they were united by their shared purpose which overrode any differences that would otherwise have caused conflict between them.
Harav Weissmandel and the Working Group were active in four main areas:

1) The raising of fifty thousand dollars of bribe money to pay for the Wisliczeny plan. Wisliczeny was the German commander in Czechoslovakia, appointed to oversee the expulsions from Slovakia at the end of the summer of 5702. Owing to the intervention of the Working Group, during the next two years, no harm befell the Jews of Czechoslovakia.

2) In the year 5703, Harav Weissmandel and the Working Group conducted negotiations with Wisliczeny for a halt to the extermination over all of Europe. The Germans demanded a payment of two million dollars for this. Behind all the dealings was the evil Himmler himself, who was looking for a way to emerge unscathed from the war with something of humanity salvaged in order to save his life. Harav Weissmandel and his partners endangered their lives in this embroilment, since they promised this enormous sum even as their coffers were entirely depleted. They hoped that the Jews of the free world would open their purses generously. In the meantime they had to stall and present lies to Wisliczeny to keep him interested in the plan’s execution. Eventually, however, the plan did not come to fruition, since the Working Group was simply unable to raise the required sum.

3) After the deportation of Slovakian Jewry to Poland, Harav Weissmandel together with his fellow rescue workers succeeded in establishing a connection with those who had been transported there. This they achieved by making use of couriers who were prepared, in return for payment, to enter Poland or the Ukraine and report back on the eventual fate of the deportees. Some of these couriers were even members of the SS, who acted solely for pecuniary motives. They would even transfer to the deportees objects of value which they would in theory be able to use to barter in the lands to which they had been expelled. But when the couriers returned from Poland and the Ukraine, they reported back on the barbaric and cruel murder of the vast majority of the deportees there. The news of what was transpiring in Eastern Europe was then passed on by Harav Weissmandel to Gizi Fleischman, who was the representative of the Joint Distribution Committee in Slovakia, and further on to Jewish organisations in Switzerland and Kushta, Turkey.

4) During the deportation of Hungarian Jewry in the year 5704, Harav Weissmandel sent tens of detailed letters and telegrams abroad to the free world, informing them of the transports that were leaving every day. He also sent diagrams of the Auschwitz extermination camp and the transportation links leading to it. He begged on the one hand for a transfer of funds in order to deal with the Germans, for the ongoing negotiations between the Hungarians and the Nazis; and on the other hand, he appealed to the Allies to bomb Auschwitz and the railway stations and tracks that led to it. He hoped desperately that the Jews of the United States would act to fulfil his wishes and exert pressure on their government.
In the year 5704, the members of the Working Group were arrested. Some of them were sent on train transports to Auschwitz, and others managed to escape. Harav Weissmandel succeeded in sawing off a piece of the train carriage transporting him to Auschwitz, and managed to jump from the moving train. After his escape, he found refuge in a bunker in Pressburg-Bratislava.

After the war, he came out with fierce criticism of the Jewish organisations of the world; the Joint, the World Jewish Congress, the Zionist Agency – who had acted totally inadequately to save European Jewry. Harav Weissmandel was totally broken by his experiences, and was close to a breakdown and severe depression. His heart could not withstand the thought of all that had transpired, and he suffered several serious heart attacks. He eventually settled in the United States and opened a yeshivah there, for which he remained personally responsible until his last days, alongside his work of documenting the terrible events of the Churban.

Harav Weissmandel was niftar on the 6th of Kislev in the year 5717. He left behind his sefer ‘Min ha’Meitzar’, in which he revealed all the trials he underwent in the course of his rescue work, which was ultimately largely unsuccessful. This sefer was a damning indictment of the Zionist establishment as guilty of inaction during the crucial war years. In addition, he authored a special ‘kinah’, lamentation, for Tisha b’Av in which he mourned the cruel and unnatural deaths of the Jewish people in the terrible years of Churban Europa.