Rebbe Inflation and Moral Deflation: The New Rules Of Inheritance

This generation is zocheh (privileged) to have many tzadikim (saintly rabbis) thanks to rebbe inflation. Once upon a time tzaddik had a son who became the rebbe and he might be recognized as a tzadik. But now our rebbes have many children and son-in-laws. They all become rebbes and they are all tzadikim. Korach got it wrong. He should have asked “For are we not all Rebbes?”

The Lelover Rebbe died on Yom Kippur. According to a YeshivahWorld article,  All Three Sons of the Lelover Rebbe [Were] Crowned as Rebbes:

The Elders announced that all three sons will lead with R Eliyahu remaining in Bnei Brak, R’ Aaron in Beit Shemesh and R’ Yaakov, the youngest of the brothers, in Yerushalayim.” This was announced even before the sons had confirmed their willingness to accept the assignments.  “The elders expressed their hope that the followers of the late Rebbe zt”l will accept the decision and there will not, chas v’sholom, be dispute and even worse, a breaking away and the creation of factions.”

This is what ran through their minds “We know what wannabes we are dealing with. Perhaps if we divide up the territory like Mafia dons they will comply and not try to muscle into territory we have not assigned them. Even so, we better wag our fingers and admonish them to not go after each other.”  Who can blame the elders? They had witnessed the Satmar wars.

The first Satmar Rebbe (Joel Teitelbaum, aka Yoelish) had no descendents when he died. In his last years he was very ill and the movement was really run by his rebetzin and a circle around her. After the Rebbe died, his nephew, the Sigheter Rebbe (Moshe Teitelbaum), was asked to  renounce his claim on the position. He cleverly said ‘I cannot renounce what is not mine. All I want is what is mine by the halachah of inheritance, the Rebbe’s tallis and tefilin.’ In no time at all he took over the shop.

He had two sons (Zalman Leib and Aaron) who learned Hasidism from their Daddy. But they were real go-getters who weren’t willing to wait until Daddy was gone, especially as his  mental status declined. Quicker than you can say “lawsuit” they were in civil court each insisting “Daddy is all mine.” Supposedly this was a fight about having the privilege of tending to him. But as anyone who has learned the mishnah of shnayim ochzu b’talis (“two hold onto an object each claiming it”) knows, they were each claiming property rights and in the end the talis was divided with plenty of swearing on both sides.  Zalman (aka Zaali) now has Williamsburg and Aaron has Monroe/Kiryas Yoel. They still skirmish over buildings, and even obstruct burials. But this is considered a tolerable truce much better than having videos on YouTube of thugs from one faction invading a synagogue to beat up people at prayer.

Both of them better keep their marbles till their last breath or they are in for some rude surprises. They would probably both do well to read King Lear in the Yiddish version, Der Kaenig Lear.

This has also happened in Bobov, Klausenberg and other Hassidic lines. Think of the yerushah of Reb Michoel Ber Wessmandl. He was a holocaust hero who saved thousands of lives. He is recognized as a tzadik by everyone from Satmar to the Zionists and Aish Hatorah.  The thing is, he wasn’t a Hasid. Now his descendents have turned themselves Hasidic so they can apply the new rules to divide up an inheritance that Reb Michoel Ber never claimed. One of them, Menachem Weissmandl is now the Nitra Rebbe-Monsey. Hyphens are proliferating like chumros (stringencies). Sometimes they divide continents; sometimes they take different cities. In Boro Park there is a 45th Street Bobov and a 48th Street Bobov.

Jews used to hope that when a tzadik died another would be born.  But in our forward-looking times, the next generation is ready in multiples. The generations may be descending morally, but the pool of tzadikim is growing faster than the population of a rabbit warren. Seriously, when will we admit that tzidkus is rare but rebbe wannabes are more numerous than profitable hechsherim (kosher certifications)?

The great Spanish biblical exegete, Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra, wondered how Moses could have praised himself by saying he was the most modest of men. Nowadays that question never arises.  Such modesty has become less common than a package with only one hechsher.


16 thoughts on “Rebbe Inflation and Moral Deflation: The New Rules Of Inheritance

  1. thank you for your support on dov bears blog about women at the wall. i will visit your blog regularly now. feel free to contact me if you wish
    steven cohen TX

  2. The Holy Gorlitzer Rebbe, son of the Holy Divrei Chayim, said that the reason why Sodom was destroyed was: Too many tzadikim, and that Avrohom Ovinu was bargaining with Hashem that maybe 50 is not so much and so on 40, 30, 20, 10. When Hashem told him that even 10 is too much, he gave up. Of course, he said it as a joke, but unfortunatly it is so true, especially in our times.

  3. was it the billingsgate or the content, which got my comment deleted? it was a satirical sentence, with snag, short for misnagid…catapulted by your description of my rebbe.

  4. Wasn’t the lelover rebbe the one who insisted on giving his late father an aliyah every shabbos? They would call him up and the rebbe would lean his ear close to to the bimah and answer “Baruch Hashem hamivorach…etc”. This was related to some litvishe rosh yeshiva (I forget whom) and he quipped that they should give the father hagbah instead.

    Or was that the other lelover rebbe…..

      • no source – the story goes back at least 25 years
        and my understanding was that there were already
        two lelover rebbes at that time in Eretz Yisrael.

        Whether true or not, the concept of the burgeoning
        kedushah of proliferating rebbes is not new. For
        those of us outside of chasidus, there is still
        much to admire about chasidus and what flavor it
        gives to yiddishkeit. On the other hand, it becomes
        less and less credible as time goes on because the
        leadership is less credible. Tzidkus is not
        necessarily hereditary.

  5. You left out the two brothers of munhatch Moshe lieb reclaimed himself as munkather rabbi and so his yonger brother yankel so Moshe lieb did not speak to him for long years till yankel changed his name to dinev rabbi so they can talk but the money the old mukather chasidim left he did pass along to his brother yankel
    Is This is a true beliver in G-d.????

  6. In Poland before WW2 they had an old saying. Galitzianer and Ungarisher Rebbes are like potatoes. Put one in the ground and many sprout out. The question is why are there so many Spinker Rebbes with no machloikis. The reason is simple. When Moshiach comes Hashem will make a mochol l’tzadikim, a circle. Now this presented Hashem with a problem. Since the circle will go around alphabetically, each rebbe will sit near his brother. That could be dangerous. So Hashem created many Spinker Rebbes. In between each rebbe will be a Spinker so they won’t be able to fight. The Baal Shem Tov had a dream in which he met Moshiach. Moshiach told him that he’s afraid that be’achris hayomim before Moshiach, that the Baal Shem’s rebbe inflation would hold back Moshiach from coming. It’s also turning off lots of kids from yiddishkeit looking at ostensibly holy men fighting for power and money.

  7. Pingback: A Career Newsletter for Becoming a Gadol (Satire) « FRUM FOLLIES by Yerachmiel Lopin

  8. What about the buffoonish Bostoner Rebbe in Har Nof, Jerusalem? Uninvited he busted into a meeting of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. No chassidim no mosdos no sense but no bigger wannabee than him!

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