Rabbi Simcha Yissocher Ber Halberstam, the Chiashenover Rebbe (d. 1914)

In its early years, the Zionists plastered signs on the doors of synagogues all over Europe saying, “Dear brothers and sisters! The long, two-thousand-year exile calls to us and says: If I am not for myself, who will be for me (Pirkei Avos 1:14)? If we don’t help ourselves, who will take care of us?”

Rabbi Simcha Yissocher Ber Halberstam, the Chiashenover Rebbe (d. 1914, son of the Shinnover Rebbe and grandson of the Divrei Chaim) wrote in reaction:

“Woe to the ears that hear such things! The heart is torn in twelve pieces to hear their words and see their signs that they hang on the walls of the shuls and halls of study, openly denying our hope of redemption with words that stab like swords, saying, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’ These are words that it is forbidden to hear, and with such words they fill the world.

“And then there arose people who are called Mizrachi, a group which is distinct from the Zionists in name only, but truthfully, inwardly, their ideology is identical to that of the Zionists, for the evil of Zionism lies not in the fact that it is sinners who support it, for the truth is the opposite: Zionism is a dangerous disease in and of itself – heresy and denial of our faith – and that is why these sinners support it.” (Divrei Simcha, 3)

Rabbi Moshe Dov Weinberger, the Payer Rav, related that he heard from his grandfather, Rabbi Yehoshua Heschel Landau, the Vitker Rav, who was a fiery Chiashenover chossid, that the Chiashenover Rav once said: “There will one day come a time when Jewish blood will be spilled in the streets, and people will run to read the newspapers to see why the bloodshed happened, and they won’t want to know that everything is happening due to the sin of Zionism.

The Satmar Rav used to quote the Chiashenover Rebbe as saying, “When a day goes by when the Zionists don’t write against me in their newspapers, I have to do some introspection and repentance, because it shows that I must have let up a little in my battle against them.”


Rabbinic Quotations