Rabbi Chuna Halberstam, Kalashitzer Rebbe (d. 1940)

The plain truth is that there is no difference between the three groups: the Zionists, the Mizrachists and the Agudists, also known as Shlumei Emunei Yisroel. The ways of all of these are abominable to religious Jews. (Tikun Olam, ch. 56)

When someone asked the Rebbe if he should go to the Land of Israel, he replied, “When I was young I had a desire and yearning to go to the Land of the Israel, to the point that I contemplated leaving my father and mother and going there on foot. But now that the Zionists have settled there, I say that it is forbidden to settle there, for the place is prepared for punishment.”

Pinchus Backan, who grew up in the town of Reisha, once got up early and went to the synagogue to study Torah. On the way, he walked with the Kalashitzer Rebbe, who was on his way to the mikveh. As they passed the Bet Am building (the Zionist meeting hall), the Rebbe told him to say three times, “You shall surely despise it and hold it in disgust, for it is forbidden.” This is a verse from Deuteronomy 7:26, recited by Jews when they see a house of idol worship. (Mishkenos Haro’im v. 6)

In the main synagogue of Reisha, a certain man made a celebration for his son on the Sabbath preceding his wedding. The Kalashitzer Rebbe was invited and he attended. During the reading of the Torah, it is customary for the gabbai (sexton) of the synagogue to recite a prayer called “Mi Shebeirach” for each person who receives the honor of saying a blessing over the Torah, and in that prayer the gabbai often announces that the honoree will donate a certain sum of money to charity. At one point, the Rebbe heard the gabbai announce that the honoree was giving money to the Keren Kayemet (the JNF – the Zionist fund for land purchase). The Rebbe walked over to the gabbai, grabbed him by the back of his neck, and pulled him out of the synagogue, saying, “How did you have the audacity to say a prayer next to the holy Torah for the benefit of the Keren Kayemet?” (Mishkenos Haro’im, v. 6)

The Kalashitzer Rebbe was a great zealot against the Zionists and other new groups. When he lived in Poland, he once passed some people holding charity boxes to gather donations for the Zionists, and they asked him to donate as well. He grabbed some bills out of the charity box and tore them up, although he knew that according to Polish law he could be put in jail for this. (Noam Siach, p. 309, quoted in Mishkenos Haro’im v. 6)

The Mizrachi movement was the bridge that brought the filth of Zionism into the Orthodox Jewish camp. These Mizrachi members are people who outwardly fulfill some of the Torah’s practical commandments, but their poison lies within, for heretical opinions and denial of the Torah have taken up residence deep in their minds. Regarding them, it is written in Psalm 50:16, “To the wicked man G-d says, why do you speak of my laws?” Similarly, Isaiah (1:12) says, “Who asked you to trample my courtyards?” (Noam Siach, p. 309, quoted in Mishkenos Haro’im v. 6)

In Reisha, when a Mizrachist man was chosen to be principal of the main children’s yeshiva in town, the Kalashitzer Rebbe got up and announced in his synagogue on the holiday of Shavuos that no one should donate any more money to that yeshiva, because the principal might poison the children with his dangerous views. Better that such a school close down, he said. One of the board of directors of the school, the fine and pious Reb Reuven Eckstein, a Djikover Chassid, heard what the Rebbe said and immediately fired the Mizrachist man. (Mishkenos Haro’im, v. 6)

Once I spent a Shabbos with the Kalashitzer Rebbe. It was the Shabbos before a new month, and during the prayer for the new month, when the Rebbe reached the words “for redemption soon” he said, “The Gorlizer Rebbe said, a redemption soon but not through the wicked Herzl and his colleagues. And today I say, not through Itche Meir [Levine, leader of Agudath Israel] and his group.” (Related by Rabbi Yissachar Ber Dochner, Rabbi of Antwerp; quoted in Mishkenos Haro’im v. 6)

When people were discussing whether the Zionists would succeed in establishing a state for themselves, he placed his hand on the mezuzah and said, “Even if they succeed in establishing a state, they will have no rest there.” (Mishkenos Haro’im, v. 6)

Similarly, when someone asked the Rebbe what country he and his ten children should flee to for refuge when World War II began, the Rebbe replied in a letter, “Do not go to Palestine, because it will harmful for your children’s upbringing. Rather go to America.” (Mishkenos Haro’im, v. 6)

The Kalashitzer Rebbe was very particular to remove the Star of David from the curtain in front of the ark in the synagogue, and from other holy objects, since the Zionists chose that symbol for their flag. Although the symbol had been used on the curtain before Zionism, he did this as extra measure to keep away from Zionism. (Mishkenos Haro’im, v. 6)

The Rebbe used to relate that when the Zionists picked the Star of David as their symbol, Rabbi Shloime Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe, ordered all the Stars of David torn and removed from the synagogue curtains and tablecloths. (Mishkenos Haro’im, v. 6)

The yartzeit of Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Tzanz once fell on a Friday. The Kalashitzer Rebbe travelled to Tzanz for the occasion, and stayed on for Shabbos. One man in town was celebrating the birth of a daughter, and he invited the Rebbe to his house for Kiddush. When the Rebbe arrived, he noticed on the wall of the entry room a Star of David made of colored paper. The Rebbe stopped and declared that he would not enter the house as long as the Star of David was there. It was forbidden for a Jew to tear it down on Shabbos, so he waited there until they brought a non-Jew to tear it down. Only then did he enter the house. (Divrei Chuna, p. 212, quoted in Mishkenos Haro’im, v. 6)


Rabbinic Quotations

Star of David