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LAST WEEK we saw the Principal at the Satmar Rebbes side.

THIS WEEK we see him regretting those times that he wasnt.

Understanding the Holocaust


RegRets oveR missed oppoRtunities

Lubavitcher Rebbe at entrance of 770. Left, Rabbi Hodakov

he protest of two weeks ago in Jerusalems Kikar Shabbos (Sabbath Square) against the incitement by Israeli secularists against the charedi community is still being debated. That some of the protesters were wearing concentration camp uniforms and yellow Stars of David with the word Jude on them has, for the most part, elicited a negative reaction. To see Orthodox people abusing the memory of the Holocaust is, of course, painful. What would motivate otherwise upstanding people to engage in such irresponsible behavior? I think the answer might be that the Holocaust is simply incomprehensible to them. It cannot be understood by the human mind, and certainly not by those who, through the grace of G-d, were spared from experiencing this unspeakable tragedy. I dont have anyone these days with whom to discuss this dark episode in Jewish history. Reb Sender Deutsch, one of the leading lay people in the Satmar community and editor of Der Yid for many years, was someone with whom I was able to share my queries. Reb Sender was a very broad minded and intelligent person, a true talmid chacham and scholar, and his opinion and perspective meant a lot to me. One of my biggest regrets in life, though, is that I didnt pose these questions to the Rebbe. The Rebbe famously linked the Holocaust to the sin of Zionism. He cited the Gemara (Kesubos 111a), that the Jewish people have been commanded by G-d

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Photo from Lubavitch archives

By RABBi HeRtz FRAnkel

not to enter the Holy Land as a group before the predestined time; not to rebel against the nations; and not to leave exile ahead of time. Should the Jewish nation violate these oaths, the result would be: Your flesh will be made prey as the deer and the antelope in the forest, and the redemption will be delayed. Accordingly, the Rebbe taught that the Holocaust was a direct result of Zionism; it was a punishment from G-d. The Rebbe condemned Zionism and said that its apostasy called down the Divine wrath upon the Jewish people. I wish Id had the courage to speak to the Rebbe about this subject. Perhaps he would have brushed me off at first, but in the end I believe he would have explained it to me in more detail. At least the Rebbe would have shared with me his views on the matter. I never broached the topic with him, as I wasnt brave enough. It may very well be that part of the reason I never engaged the Rebbe in a conversation about the Holocaust was that I was simply too busy. Unlike today, I worked very hard at running the schools. It took up a lot of my time. I did speak to the Rebbe a lot, but usually at his initiative. For me to go to the Rebbe to discuss a purely philosophical matter would have required a quiet and relaxed time, something that was very hard to come by in those days. For me, the Holocaust will forever remain the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, one that we will never fully comprehend. Along with this regret, I am also sorry that I never established a relationship, or even had a conversation with, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Satmar Rebbe and the Lubavitcher Rebbe had opposing positions on many issues, and the Satmar Rebbe did not hesitate to share with me his disagreement

with some of those positions. Yet I must state that never even once did I hear the Satmar Rebbe make a negative remark about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He would often tell me: Di farshteist vus der Lubavitcher Rebbe tit? Veil ich farshtei nisht. (Do you understand what the Lubavitcher Rebbe is doing? Because I dont.) Thats as far as the Satmar Rebbe would go, disagreeing with the position but never with the person. When the issue of forced autopsies in Israel was one of the Satmar Rebbes major

said that the Rebbe doesnt sign any proclamations. I responded respectfully that I had just recently seen a proclamation with the Lubavitcher Rebbes signature. This piqued his interest, and he inquired which proclamation I was referring to. I explained to him that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had recently signed a public letter about the importance of the campaign to put tefillin on men and boys who otherwise wouldnt do it on their own. He looked at me and said, Well, youll need to make an appointment to see the Rebbe.

Rabbi Hodakov listened to us, and then said that the Rebbe doesnt sign any proclamations. I responded respectfully that I had just recently seen a proclamation with the Lubavitcher Rebbes signature.
campaigns, I told him that I would seek to obtain the signature of the Lubavitcher Rebbe endorsing the cause. The gedolei roshei yeshiva had already signed a proclamation in support, and I was persistent that we try to get the Lubavitcher Rebbe to join as well. The Satmar Rebbe told me that the proclamation wasnt something the Lubavitcher Rebbe would sign. I, however, enlisted the help of Reb Shlomo Yaakov Shteinfeld, a respected rosh hakahal of the Viener kehilla in Williamsburg, to that end. Reb Shlomo Yaakov was close to the Lubavitcher Rebbes chief aide, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Aizik Hodakov. After making an appointment to see Rabbi Hodakov, we arrived one morning at 770 and explained that we wanted to see the Rebbe to obtain his endorsement against forced autopsies in Israel. Rabbi Hodakov listened to us, and then I said that there is one place in the world that you dont have to make an appointment, and thats with the fire department. There is a fire burning in Eretz Yisrael, I explained. Dozens of unauthorized and compulsory autopsies are being performed daily, and the matter cant wait. He stared at me from head to foot, and apparently determined then that it was best to leave it at that. I parted and returned home. I always longed to speak with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and to this day I regret not having had the opportunity.

the principal is a series by Rabbi Hertz Frankel, who is the english principal of torah veyirah school for boys and Bais Rochel school for girls, a position he has held since 1959. When not running the schools, he was acting as secretary of state for the satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel teitelbaum, ztl. 67

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