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מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה תמיד
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“Why wasn’t there peace between belz and Satmar?”
This is a follow-up on this post.
That’s a very long and complicated story. I’ll try to keep it as short and simple as possible. The whole dispute is basically because Zionism. See these posts to get an understanding of the religious opposition to Zionism and the certain degrees thereof.
Now, in the years before the creation of the State of Israel most Chassidic (or Haredi) groups in Eretz Yisroel were part of the fiercely anti-Zionist Edah Chareidis. Somewhere early in the 1980s, the back then very young - and newly appointed (see also this post) - Belzer Rebbe decided to leave the Eidah and to accept money from the secular Israeli government for the Belzer mosdos. He founded the Badatz Machzikei HaDas - the Belzer equivalent of the Edah Chareidis - and joined the Agudas Yisroel, which was represented in the Knesset as well. The Agudas Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel contained Litvishe Rabbonim, Vizhnitz, Ger.. and since then also Belz.
Of course this didn’t go well with the Edah Chareidis and everyone belonging or allied to it. In their eyes the Belzer was a traitor to them and to Judaism. After all, he joined the Zionists. That’s how the whole dispute began.
The Satmer Rebbe, Reb Yoel Teitelbaum zt”l, had been the Chief Rabbi of the Edah until just a few years before Belz broke off. And so, he spoke out very harshly against the break off. The Shabbos after one of Reb Yoilish’ harsh condemnations; the young Belzer said a toire at the Shalosh Seudos Tish (third meal), which could be easily interpreted as an insult towards the elderly and highly revered Satmar Rebbe. A step which only made things worse.
After the Satmer Rebbe was nifter, he was succeeded by his nephew; Reb Moshe Teitelbaum zt”l, the Beirach Moshe. All this time there was no still no peace between the two groups. None of them ever spoke to each other.
An interesting fact, however, is that Reb Moshe made a shidduch with the previous Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Reb Moshe Yehoshua Hager zt”l - despite Vizhnitz being part of the Agudas Yisroel. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe had two sons and four daughters. One of his daughters married with Reb Ahron of Satmer, while the other one married the current Belzer Rebbe.
But still, even though they were brother-in-laws the Satmer and Belzer Rebbe didn’t speak to each other for over 30 years. Until this year when the Belzer decided to ask Reb Yoilish for mechile (forgiveness).
He sent a minyan of the most important Belzer dayonim (religious judges) to Reb Yoel’s tziyun (grave) who begged for forgiveness. They brought with them a conciliation letter from their Rebbe which they deposited at the tziyun. They then recited several chapters of Tehilim , as customary at gravesites, and then formally asked forgiveness from Reb Yoilish on behalf of the Belzer Rebbe in the presence of two representatives of (Reb Ahron’s) Satmer. The Belzers said “We are emissaries of HaRav Yissochor Dov ben Miryam, who has sent us to ask appeasement and forgiveness over his affront in your honor”. The Satmarers present then responded with “you are forgiven! you are forgiven! you are forgiven!” as required formally by halacha in the case of an excommunicated individual due to a serious insult to a Torah scholar.
That formal reconciliation paved the way for the historic visit of the Satmer Rebbe to the Belzer.
It should be noted though, that ‘the other’ Satmer - Reb Zalman’s Satmar - still hasn’t recognized the Belzer’s friendly gesture.
R’ Zalman, is Reb Ahron’s brother and rival Satmar Rebbe. For him the Belzer Rebbe is a total stranger, while for Reb Ahron’ the Belzer was always a brother-in-law, even though he hadn’t spoken nor seen him for more than 30 years. Plus, that the Zaly’s (followers of Reb Zalman) are more of the hardcore no compromise to the Zionists and their collaborators types.
Now it should be noted that Belz is, of course, not really Zionist. They are still against the whole idea of Zionism. They just approach it differently than Satmer. Their idea is to fix what is wrong from the inside, and to prevent things from becoming worse for Judaism and the Jewish people.