22 Av 5780 / Wednesday, August 12, 2020 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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The Klausenberger Rebbe    

The Klausenberger Rebbe

His Emuna was so powerful, he only saw Hashem, He feared no one, not even the SS officers who threatened to kill him so many times. He was 100% a servant of Hashem...


Forward: The information that I gathered about this incredible Rabbi was found in a fabulous book called “The Klausenberger Rebbe” in English by Judah Lifschitz which was originally written in Hebrew by Aharon Surasky in his book “LaPid HaEish.”


This article will explore the amazing life of a man who exemplified the highest levels of dedication to the Almighty throughout the Holocaust. Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam zatza”l otherwise known as the ‘Klausenberger Rebbe’ demonstrated absolute resolve to uphold each commandment. It didn’t matter to him whether his situation was comfortable or if he was facing certain death amidst the flames of Auschwitz. Rav Lazer Brody says, His Emuna was so powerful, he only saw Hashem, He feared no one, not even the SS officers who threatened to kill him so many times. He was 100% a servant of Hashem.


The Rebbe’s main concerns were the moment to moment connection with Hashem and bringing honor to His name. To him that meant fulfilling each commandment as a great glorification of Hashem and victory over the wicked Nazis. Despite beatings, torture and extreme stress, he would compose himself with devotion and absolute resolve. He encouraged his fellow Jews daily not to despair and that Hashem would indefinitely save them and the Jewish people. Many times these efforts came at the expense of brutally vicious violence.


An eye witness mentioned that as the Nazis would torture and torment him, he would murmur verses of Torah, such as “Because you did not serve Hashem with joy,” a verse from the Torah which explains why deadly decrees befall the Jewish people (for example: not enjoying and being proud of their Judaism and preferring a secular way of life).  For what were these beatings? For the refusal to eat non-kosher food, organizing minyans, washing hands before prayer, refusing to shave, and honoring the Shabbos and holidays. The Rebbe would even pray out loud in front of SS soldiers without fear. His trust in the Almighty was nothing like we’ve ever seen.


All throughout his imprisonment at Auschwitz, the Rebbe kept kosher (including Passover!!!!!) and observed Shabbos. He would spend the third meal of Shabbos with an onion (or it’s peels) that he begged to get from fellow inmates (following his family’s tradition of eating an onion on Shabbos). During the “meal” he would expound on Torah to his fellow suffering Jews and elevate their spirits to hope for Hashem’s rescue. Despite the risk, the Klausenberger Rebbe snuck a pair of Tefillin when sent as part of a team to clean up the shattered remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto. 300 men would wait in line to fulfil the mitzvah daily!


Through all the tribulations, he only concerned himself with the honor of Hashem’s name, not his own pains and troubles and found whatever means he could to help his fellow Jew. After the war, he acted as a commander for the Jewish people. His priorities lied within reestablishing the education and community life of Torah. He did this by establishing many kollels, religious schools, and kosher kitchens throughout various displaced persons ‘DP’ camps.


If we look objectively however, all the signs were there for him to give up. His wife and many children were all murdered. He saw death constantly as the Nazis mocked their victims shortly before murdering them. And yet, a flame burned within this man, a flame of defiance, which caused him to rebel logic and spiritually slaughter his enemies through his relentless devotion to Hashem.


Rabbi Nachman zt”l, writes in Meshivat Nefesh that a person’s initial approach to G-d starts with rejection. You have no hope, you doubt He loves you, you experience pain and hardship. But this, Rabbi Nachman explains, is all for the good because its purpose is to bring a person closer. It creates longing. Beloved readers, no one is expecting you to be anyone but yourself. By the same token, according to what we learned, you are expected to NEVER GIVE UP! The same flame that burned within the Rebbe, burns within you, because you are a Jew, and it resides in you. All of your problems are being designed by Hashem himself. Why? So that you will get stronger and use all of your dormant energy and actualize it in getting closer to Him. To become a better person for your spouse, kids, community and nation.


How many of us are ostensibly following the Torah but have yet to wake up and live with a burning flame for Hashem?  We have to realize that each of us is a carrier of the holy torch of Torah that dates back to the previous generations all the way to Mount Sinai. With that in mind, when things are not going our way at home or work, do not give up! When you are challenged and it looks like all is lost, pause, take a deep breath and tap into the mental strength that the Rebbe had to use in order to do Hashem’s will proudly amidst his many terrifying situations.

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