New Rules of Inheritance for Chief Rabbis in Israel

Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau

Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau

The convoluted Israeli system for selecting Chief Rabbis (one each for Sefardim and for Ashkenazim) yielded, surprise-surprise, two sons of former Chief Rabbis Ovadia Yosef and Yisrael Meir Lau. Each now has a ten-year term, presumably enough time to promote the careers of their own children.

On November 19, 2009, I posted, “Rebbe Inflation and Moral Deflation: The New Rules of Inheritance.” This Chief Rabbi election has prompted me to re-post it below:

Rebbe Inflation and Moral Deflation: The New Rules Of Inheritance

This generation is zocheh to have many tzadikim 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 YeshivahWorldAll 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 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, 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 tephilin.’ In no time at all he took over the shop.

He had two sons who learned chassidus 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 knows, they were each claiming property rights and in the end the Tallis was divided. Zalman Leib now has Williamsburg and R. Aharon 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 beis medrish and beating 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 produced by maskillim, Der Kaenig Lear.

This has also happened in Bobov, Klausenberg and other Chassidic 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 Revisionist Zionists and Aish Hatorah.  The thing is, he wasn’t a chosid. Now his descendents have turned themselves chassidish so they can apply the new rules to divide up an inheritance that Reb Michoel Ber never claimed. One of them is now the Nitra Rebbe-Monsey. Hyphens are proliferating like chumros. 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? 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.

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11 thoughts on “New Rules of Inheritance for Chief Rabbis in Israel

  1. there was a gereshe rebbe when he died his two sons became rebbe the satmar rebbe said the “trop that we read the toran has azlah geresh gershayim which can be translated when geresh goes gershayim the plural or geresh

  2. This is arguably YL’s best post ever. Be that as it may, Neil could i prevail upon you to translate? Trying to remember the words of the Hagashash Hachiver, the one with the three gerushim, “grushati hashlishit…..” sheesh, i have that LP still in unreachable storage. Hate to be frivolous, (but perhaps you are also?). in any case, could those of us not familiar with the gereshe rebbe get a translation? (have a feeling that it will lose something in the translation,,,,,,,nevertheless……? who knows, in the final analysis there may not be essential difference between the Hagashash maarachon, and thte geresche rebbe?

  3. For a change, no need to append appellation of “parody or satire”. The truth stings and stinks, and unfortunately is not parody.

    • FRED, I wrote that last night. hope it does not go to YL’s head….. brilliant, brilliant of the brilliants. and for some unknown reason i stumbled just a few days ago, on this post. maybe i could reconstruct why. i have only been foliwng blogs since the disgusting disgrace of Manis Friedman, for whom I have plans, LOL. Halevai……. nevertheless, i stumbled on this post, and yes, as i wrote, how much more perfet can one get…. . Off to read the “‘who will watch the watchers” that too, was probably pre february or so, when i started following the blogs, but, re my opinion, hard to best this one. off i go, to the watchers post. will report back. YL, in my book , is an ilui (did i get that right?).

  4. YL-
    When you’re in the hood, and down with the people, gender is irrelevant (completely opposite of, say, Beit Shemesh). “You Go, Girl !” is universally applicable to anyone deserving of a pat on the back, a slap on the tuchas, or whatever. It’s kind of like referring to any boat or ship ( even the USS John Kennedy – a very manly aircraft carrier, if there ever was one) as “she”…

    • YL has never written (post my entry to this arena) feb, march? a post subpar. he/she even hardly ever makes typos. LOL, I am the master of typos, YL never threw me out. albeit some strong caveats. I just read “who will watch the watchers” no contest, none. perhaps for some personal reason Fred, (no criticisim intended) thought it was on a par with this one. No contest. I put in on my FB page around a week ago, having stumbled upon it, for some reason, random perhaps, i do not know why, but then closed down FB permanently, all of my great links lost to thousands, LOL. No one read my posts anyway, half re CSA , half re the fuhrer. and loss of all civil liberties…… oh, exception, one can stil posst ones’ prick on the internet Weiner included. other than that, we have lost all civil liberties.
      “executive orders” in order to optically remain low, have been replace with “exectuve actions” who would have thunk it. no one even knows they exist.

      if you voted for obama, meleh if you still are pro the big O, get thee quicly to a trained shrink….

  5. OVER A YEAR AGO, PERHAPS AFILU SHNAIM, ONE OF THE SMARTEST AND MOST PROLIFIC POSTERS ON SE (STREETEASY) WAS “WEST 81ST”. EVERYONE, JUST EVERYONE READ HIS POSTS, HIS ANALYSIS OF NEW APTS ON THE MARKET (ALL UWS, HIS SPECIALTY). EVERYONE ASSUMED A FEMALE, PER, RE, I DO NOT KNOW WHY, EVEN i.AD SHE, YOM BAHIR ECHAD, FULL nytimes ARTICLE ON THE GURU, PHOTO ET AL, AND IT WAS MICHAEL.W. ,, (AS AN ASIDE I USED HIM TO HELP ME BUY MY F’A’S’ST CONDO LAST SUMMER). OBSCENELY LARGE AND GORGEOUS…….THANK YOU MW..
    NOT A SOUL SUSPECTED THAT WEST 81ST ST. WAS MALE, AND NOT FEMALE, NOT A SOUL. GO MICHAEL GO.
    lol. iS FRED FN WITH US, OR IS yl MY HERO, REALLY DISTAFF. I HOPE THE LATTER. iS IT THE REAL THING, MONDAY aM HECK OF AN HOUR, WILL THE REAL yl PLEASE STAND UP?

  6. Rabbanut and Chassidishe are apples & oranges.

    Chief Rabbis are picked by vote of the Knesset which is mostly secular. Charedi rabbis who impress the Knesset are either A) panderers who are slimy / corrupt or B) very upstanding but charismatic enough to win over the hearts of Chillonim. The Laus, father & son, are very upstanding people. I don’t know much about the Yosefs apart from Rav Ovadya being the Sefardi posek hador but they are likely similar.

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