Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, the Ponevezher Rav (1886-1969)

The Ponevezher Rav built many yeshivos using money from the Zionist government. Every time he made a gathering to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone of one of his buildings, a small group of Neturei Karta members would attend, holding signs saying that they protested against the acceptance of the money. Their protests often disturbed the festivities. Someone asked the Poneveczer Rav, “Why don’t you do something about it? Make sure they don’t come!” “If they wouldn’t come on their own,” answered the Poneveczcer Rav, “I would pay them to come! I want everyone to know that what I’m doing is only bedieved – not the right way to do things, but necessary because of the difficulty of the times.”

The Ponevezher Rav was extremely careful to avoid speaking any words of the Zionist language, modern Hebrew. Once, Rabbi Ozer Yonah Kushner, a teacher in a yeshiva in Miami Beach, asked the Ponvezher Rav to give a lecture in his yeshiva. The students of this yeshiva did not know Yiddish, and the Ponevezher Rav did not speak English, so they were in a quandary as to how he should communicate with them. Finally, it was decided that the Rav would speak in classical Hebrew, the Holy Tongue. So he began in halting Hebrew, but after a minute, he switched to his native Yiddish for the remainder of the lecture. Afterwards Rabbi Kushner asked him why he had done this. The Rav replied, “I am careful to avoid using any word that was invented by the Zionists. Someone from our community published a dictionary indicating which words may be used. But it is very hard to remember, and it was taking too long, so I had no choice but to speak in Yiddish.”


Rabbinic Quotations


Neturei Karta