A Guest Post By E. Fink
The New Square incident is in the rear view mirror but this insightful response from a chassid is still worth reading and contemplating.
Once again, thanks to @azigra for translating and maintaining its authentic yiddishe flavor.
I am sick of listening to childish claims. I will try again not to repeat what I've said, hopefully I will no longer hear these claims. I will not speak of other places, only Skver, not Satmar, not Tosh, not Belz. I am not a Skverer chassid, but I am in Skver often, already many years Ive been going there, so I have a good handle on the place, I know it very well.
Is Judaism Democratic? There was a time when Jews lived in their land with a Jewish government and high court which was strong and in control to be able to force Jews to keep GD's laws. They try to teach the beauty of GD's ways peacefully, we show him nice things, we teach him mussar as much as possible, only if we see that he truly isn't interested do we force him to go with GD's laws. and if it is know with eidim that he committed certain sins he is sentenced to death. So, no Judaism is not democratic, one of the things written about mashiach is that he will force Jews to follow the Torah, he will force Jewish children to follow the Torah's path. However, with all this, there came a time when the court realized nothing further can be done, and they stopped dealing in capital punishments. and so goes the history of the Jews over thousands of years, we try to do for Judaism was small amount we can and not more, we dont go further than possible, we arent required, GD doesnt want this from us.
The Town of Skver
The Skver rebbe zt'l founded the town with great mesiras nefesh, he created it to give Jews a place to raise their kids devoted to GD, Torah, and chassidus all according to the customs of skver. of course he also wanted to grow his following, he had all the right intentions. A lot of Hungarian Jews moved there, some who knew him only here in America and some who never had anything to do with him. only they wanted to live in such a place. they all understood that they had to accept the Skver customs and rules.
A New King Arose
The rebbe died in 1967/8 at the of 68 and on his place they put his son R' Dovid who was then only 27 yrs old. most people were not happy that he become rebbe, they felt that his brother in law R' Itzikal [Twersky] should be rebbe, but since the group wasn't strong enough, and also he was already involved with the yeshivas it wouldn't have been easy to transition, he was like the spiritual guide of the town. For R Dovid to show his authority he would always do the metziza by every bris (and by they way, many people gave their second son's metziza to Itzikal to kind of hint that they prefer him) it wasn't only the people who wanted this it was the gabboyim. the rebeztin was the one who finalized that her son, not son in law should be rebbe. This is only the history. at first everything was good, people gave strength to the new rabbi, so he could go on, i will tell you what an old important Jew told me: it didnt take long for everyone to learn how to play the game, he plays with us and we play with him, then everything is well, but the minute he convinced himself that he was actually a real Rebbe, and he wanted the people to be his true chassidim, that's when the problems all started. I hope you know what this means, the problem is that the people were not really his chassidim, but in the meantime he built a strong party, with which he chased after and terrorized all those who didn't follow him, to kick them out one by one.
Let's Inform Them
After R Iztikal's own father died and he then became the Rachmastrifker Rebbe things got hot, and the party decided to clean up and they strengthened. It was just a few troublemakers, but in general, things went well, when someone made noise, they scolded him, but in general things were still. Since its true that in skver you learn obedience, and not to go off strongly, so for many years things were good. Later, he did a cleaning of the yeshivos and anyone who wasn't his follower 100% was kicked out, they werent only looking then for actual trouble makers, to remain you had to be a true chassid, you had to know it in your mind, and those who were fake were tossed out. And that's how it became a pure group of only skver chassidim, a group not to think for themselves, not to use their minds, to give themselves to the Rebbe, the regime, which thinks for him.
I want to say this: when one comes to skver he sees a Jew like nowhere else in the world. Sweetness and modesty yells from every corner, there are no fancy houses, the modesty of the women's section in amazing, these are chasidim which you cant find anywhere else. three pillars of the world, they learn from day to night, with pressure and poverty, workers set aside time to learn every day, they started the Oz Vehadar project all the way to small publications on all topics of torah. weekly newsletters, in yiddish and hebrew on homiletic, law, agadah, ethics, and chassidus. They respect the elderly, serve GD well, pray, guard their eyes and thoughts, use kosher cellphones, and when it comes to charity, this is the nicest place for this. There is an entire grocery store for the needy, charity, societies, bodily things and money, for every possible thing you can think of there is someone there to specializes in helping. Not only for themselves, hosting guests in apart of the society, and with kashrus they are more careful than necessary.
But this is by the community, but by the leaders its a completely different story. Skver isnt today what it used to be, not in a single way. Taking pictures in completely prohibited, (R Motel's whole opposition to pictures is from his father in law) today its like a commandment already. The old Rebbe never once said anything about it, in those days, the tables didn't have podiums, the shul was a small building, not as luxurious as today, with all the nice furnishing. The old rebbe would run from publicity, there is a well known story, that the past rebbe hears that some newspaper carried a story about him and it completely ruined shabbos in the town. An important point is that the area has changed, people forget that its been 43 years since the rebbe died, put he wouldn't pray for half as long as the current rebbe, the current rebbe is a big crier during prayers. he cries and cries and cries, and in general he draws things out. Go and hear a kiddush said by his brother in law, the Rachmastrifker Rebbe, his kiddush is like that of the past rebbe, and afterwords listen to the current rebbe's kiddush, recognize the difference, and by prayers the difference is stronger. what hasn't changed, everyone must pray in the main shul, if someone is sick and they cant leave their house, a minyan isn't allowed to be formed there, he must pray in his house by himself. Not only cant one make a minyan in the town, a skverer is not allowed to form a minyan outside the town. They dont allow other Jews to live anywhere withing a walking distance of the town lines, and the rebbe testified that this was the will of his father. By saying its his fathers will a lot of rules have been made by the current rebbe.
When the Spinka Rebbe Rabbi Herchel wished to establish a town in Pamona, which was the idea of R Berish, the Skverers expended a lot of energy to ruin their plans, all this with the claim that the old rebbe didnt want this, that other Jews should live even near Skver.
When a member of the Chernobiler family (trans. note - which skver, rachmastrifk, tolna, trisk, is apart of, so it was a cousin to the skverer rebbe), a descendant of the Trisker Magid, purchased a house, about 7 minutes from skver, he planned to open there a shul, they fought him with all their power. they hung up a sign in Skver that nobody should help this person, since this is against the will of the old rebbe.
Nowadays, that there are already even modern Jews living not to far from skver, and it is only a question of time when the communities will meet, they use different means to slow down the process. not only is the town founders the owner of the town itself, and not only the houses that other people paid money to buy, but the entire area around the town, and the people and houses in those outside areas.
However, the community that is there today, believe completely in their rebbe, and that he is truly righteous, a tzadik. and don't forget, in Skver they sell lots, not condos , or co-ops, the Jews pay very high taxes. Up until they at least feel there is some money left over for themselves. and there are a few hundred who are not happy, for them the rebbe doesn't exist, they care not what he says. However, it is very difficult to just pick up and leave a place you've lived your whole life. From the other side, there are many people who have nothing against the rebbe, they just want to be left alone. They're not interested in the daily schedule, they let the rebbe remain a rebbe, they dont care if he gets millions of followers, and lots of money, and honor, as much as he wants, they just want to be left alone. Skverers are generally peaceful people, they aren't people who make noise, or fight.
There is a nursing home, right next to skver, and there lives a lot of charedi jews, who have prayed their whole lives in shuls, and now in old age have moved to this nursing home, a few skverers, would go there and help out with the minyan for the elderly, the home begged people to come and help. They didnt just go to help the old men, they went for thelselves too, a chance to pray somewhere else,
And now what? If you ask me, I hold they were right, a man isnt a slave, he isnt owned by anyone, not even by the biggest Rebbe, and if you want your chassidim to love and follow you, treat them well, love them, and most people would return the love. He cant know every single person, but at least he can show his love for most people. Is their going there to pray a rebellion? Who can destroy the community, who can start a revolution? Who can bring down the rebbeship?
Do me a favor, if the community is so weak, that a few people, even a two hundred, go to pray at a different location, that the whole community is over and destroyed, that is a huge pity on the Rebbe himself. If we're already at that point, then the rebbeship is already half over. and now its too late to save it.
The greatest point is, that everyone knows that Chaim Aron Rottenberg, is the farthest thing from a revolutionary, he never started any problems. it isn't his nature, He left alone and wanted to be left alone. (Lets not speak about his children, because once we do that, we'll have to start looking in even the nicest Skverer Chassids house.)
What happened? Let us say the opinion of the regime:, the Rebbe is the boss, the town belongs to him, his father built it and he inherited it. and he doesnt want to go downhill, either to where the back pepper grows or to the darkness.
Ok, so lets say we agree with them. Fine. So one day we see lots of people going other places to pray, and they decide that the rebbeship is in trouble and this must be stopped, so a court will claim the people broke up the minyan, so most of the people stopped but some still didnt. So what is the best thing to do here? Lets hear what most of the Skverers will say, really most of the group: dont make a big deal, ignore them. Not only does most of the community feel this way, but also many of the leaders, Avigdor Ostreicher himself also feels this way, he even tried to talk to the rebbe but it was like talking to a wall.
What would have been the smartest move, let them go. most people would be too afraid to go. But instead, the fight began, broken windows, protests, throwing children out of their schools, throwing gossip about these families in the street. everyone talked about the others, have they not learned anything from the other guys beard (ed: a yiddish expression)?
When Rottenberg saw that the attacks were happening he deiced to sell his house and move, since as we said, he isnt a fighter. Everyone's seen his house in pictures, its very small, old house, one of the oldest in the town, there are very few homes still like that in skver, but there is a very large back yard, on which someone else can build, and the fact that his house it literally next door to the shul, makes it even more valuable. He put it on the market for 500,000 dollars, in skver this is already not a lot for a house, he then put a down-payment on a house in Monsey, he signed a contract, and waited for a buyer so he could move.
However, the town decided 'no' he's a trouble maker and now he want to leave? Lets teach him a lesson, the community made it known that no one could build on the lot since it was next to the mikva, and as such os a place one cannot build houses.
I saw somewhere that his house was 5 or 6 acres, i want to dispel the lies about this house and story. Skver is not Honolulu, the lots are very small and even the older lots which were bigger are just big enough to build one more house in the backyard. Nobody, no one in skver has 6 acres, not even the rebbe, not even a single acre.
Rottenberg's house sits between a house and the mikva, many years ago they planted large trees to create a separation, a few years ago his house was the last of the houses in he town, and then came the mikva and nothing after. but now the town spread past the mikva, so much so that it went out more than what was on the old side, and the entrance was even changed to that side of the town.
Houses were built on other sides of the mikva, with high floors, windows and without anyone caring to plant trees. The other houses around the mikva don't have trees but Rottenberg's house has a huge wall of trees. And not only that but the entrance was put on the other side of the building too. But on his property they say, no building can be built. So what's the explanation? I will let you figure it out.
So it happened, that because of the claims, nobody wanted to buy the house, at least not for the asking price, so he didnt have the money to close on the house in monsey, so he said, fine, you don't let me sell my house so I will stay in Skver,
However this was not the plan, that hadn't assumed he would stay, they though he would be forced into selling the house for very little money. So when the plan didnt work, that is when the terrorism began, and when none of that help either they sent Spitzer.
So what now? a Chillul Hashem, from one end of the world to the other, it embarrassed every Jew, religious jews in particular, and hassidic jews even more. Skverer chassidim who have to leave their house, and meet with people, are embarrassed to show their faces, This ruined Judaism for Jews who were already a little weak, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on bail, lawyers, court cases. How many people will stop donating to Skver now? Old donors and new ones, not just more modern Jews, even other chassidish jews who donated will no longer.
And after all this, what will come out is the money passed under the table, now there will be a Federal investigation, who knows what more will come out now. Nobody can have any claims against Rottenberg.
Now lets go further, they made a mistake, its already done, we cant go back in time. what to do now? Jewishly, ethically, politically? The right thing, and the smartest thing would have been for right then and there they should have been an mass assembly, with the rebbe himself there, in which he protests the what happened, show anger, say tehilim for Rottenberg and the chillul hashem. the local court should have put out a letter, with every single one of their signatures, with a strong protest, that it should be super clear to everyone that they are against what happened,
The next day the rebbe should have visited Rottenberg in the hospital, and pictures should have been taken there, and the world should see them, to show the press what type of person he is and his community is. And the people themselves? they should have posted signs on every street, with a strong protest, that everyone should pray for Rottenberg, who is severe pain.
They should have all gone to the press conference in front of the house, and to let the whole world see the community is peaceful and everyone is against this,
But instead what happened? a small note, with no signatures, an unimpressive protest about a whole week later, in front of 30 children. Does the rebbe have to do as i say? No, its a free country, so what was accomplished through going with his own opinion? They put up a sign in the shul, that no one should attend the conference, and on shabbos there were signs that people shouldn't talk gossip. and the people, yes most were embarrassed, but others went on about how he deserved it, "Rottenberg is evil, he was starting a revolution, he should have left, the Rebbe is the boss........but of course, the fire was too much though." And their answer for why they didnt do anything? because "skver doesnt look for publicity."
For the honor of a man they protest: A few years ago there was a small fight in the chassidus the Rebbe spent a whole hour speaking to the people, explaining what it means to be a skverer, what a privilege it is to live in this town. But for almost a full year, everyone knew they broke windows, made protests, kicked children out of school in front of their whole class, and woe is to them for embarrassing small innocent children. For GD's honor they dont protest but for the honor of the rebbe they protest.
My dear leaders, I assume you wont read my letter since its on the internet, I hope it will be printed out and given to you to read, accept the truth from where it comes, even if its from the internet. Its already past, take advantage now, he still lives, forget all that happened, everyone can repent, you can change the community, the way it behaves and acts. Grab your heads, and dont look back, look to the future, make musser classes, and other faith books, and work in them. teach good behavior and good deeds, to love Jews, this is the way of the Baal Shem. And this is really your purpose, to help the people in your town, all should have work, income, keep weddings cheap, not the expensive ones, and while we're on the topic, what's with the crazy huge streimals nowadays?
For the nursing home? Make it known that everyone should try to pray there, every day, send your chassidim there, en mass, maybe go yourselves there once in a while, expend energy, go be makarev people, the broken souls, amongst your own chassidim, and also from others. give them the taste of Judaism, and not just from your version, Judaism in general. Was this not the way of the Baal Shem? We are now close to mashiach, we must hold on through this last portion, we must not let the yetzer hara get us now that we should care about things to do with us.
This is the only thing with which we can connect to the old generation, when poor person comes, do the same thing today, what was done by the Divrei Chaim, Yismach Moshe, R Moshe Sasover, R Yeshaya Kerestir, and the Meor Eynayim [the first Twersky]. this is something that has still remained. Remember, the chassidm don't belong to you, they are GD's, teach them the true way, help people get through the tough times.
Do these things while you still have time.
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