Belz: Shidduch Of The Decade
In Jerusalem, on Sunday, February 26, at 8 p.m., a l’chaim was held in the inner sanctum of the Belzer Rebbe’s residence. Only immediate members of the relatively small families were present. Nevertheless, Belzer chassidim, along with chassidishe communities around the globe, rejoiced. The Belzer Rebbe’s oldest grandchild, Sholom, firstborn son to the Rebbe’s only child, Rabbi Aaron Mordechai, was engaged to Batya, 19, the daughter of Rabbi Yechiel Meir Paneth, Nadvorna Rosh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. The chassan, after his father, is second in the line of royal succession of the Belzer dynasty.
After the Holocaust, Rabbi Aaron Rokeach, zt”l (1877-1957), fourth Belzer Rebbe, and his bother, Rabbi Mordechai Rokeach, zt”l (1902-1949), Bilograyer Rav, were the only survivors of the family. Both had lost their wives and children, who were murdered in the Holocaust. They were targeted by the Nazis, and while they made multiple escapes, the two were always barely a step ahead of their pursuers until their safe passage into Palestine on February 3, 1944. Against all odds, the two brothers together were poised to rebuild the Belzer dynasty. Both remarried.
Their evasions of Nazi capture were harrowing. Once, the brothers were spirited out of Nazi-occupied Poland and into Hungary in the car of a Hungarian counterintelligence agent who was friendly to Jews. The Rebbe, his attendant and Rabbi Mordechai, shorn of their beards and payos, were disguised as Russian generals who had been captured at the front and were being taken to Budapest for questioning. Budapest, at that moment, was still a safe haven for Jews.
Having lost his wife, children, and grandchildren in the Holocaust, Rabbi Aaron remarried in 1947 to Rebbetzin Chana Labin-Pollack-Rokeach a”h. The new Rebbetzin was the daughter of Rabbi Yechiel Chaim Labin, zt”l (1888-1985), Makava Rebbe; son of Rabbi Moshe Labin, zt”l (d. 1939), Zidichover Drohabitcher Rebbe; son of Rabbi Yisroel Yosef Labin, zt”l (d. 1902), Zidichover Rebbe; son of Rabbi Yaakov Naftali Hirtz Labin, zt”l, Zidichover Rebbe; son-in-law of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Eichenstein, zt”l (1763-1831), Zidichover Rebbe; son of Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Eichenstein, zt”l (1740-1810), founding Zidichover Rebbe. Rabbi Aaron did not have any children from his second marriage. Sadly, Rabbi Aaron passed away in 1957 without any living offspring.
Rabbi Mordechai, having lost his wife and children, remarried in 1947 to Rebbetzin Miriam, the daughter of Rabbi Zvi Hershel Glick zt”l of Satmar, son-in-law of Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkel Greenwald zt”l, brother of the Arugas Habosem. They had only one child, Yesochor Dov, in 1948. Sadly, on November 17, 1949, Rabbi Mordechai, at the young age of 47, passed away. The child, Yesochor Dov, was raised by his uncle and was clearly designated as the future fifth Belzer Rebbe. After Rabbi Aaron passed away, Yesochor Dov was taught Torah and chassidus by an inner circle of Belzer chassidim.
In 1965 he married Rebbetzin Sarah, the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Yehshua Hager, today’s Bnei Brak Vishnitzer Rebbe. At the time of the wedding, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua’s father, Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, zt”l (1887-1972), Vishnitzer Rebbe and author of Imrei Chaim, was still alive. The Belzer Rebbe resided in Bnei Brak for one year, being near the then-Vishnitzer Rebbe and his father-in-law. In 1966, the Belzer Rebbe moved his residence to Jerusalem where he assumed leadership of the growing Belzer kehilla. The Vishnitzer Rebbe passed away 1972 and Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua succeeded his father as Vishnitzer Rebbe in Bnei Brak.
Childless for several years after their marriage, the Belzer Rebbe and Rebbetzin visited the United States to seek the blessing of the Divrei Yoel and, presumably, to seek medical assistance. In 1975 they had a son, Aaron Mordechai, their only child. The two names are in honor of the child s great-uncle, Rabbi Aaron Rokeach, zt”l (1880-1957), fourth Belzer Rebbe, as well as of the child s grandfather, Rabbi Mordechai Twersky, zt”l (1902-1949) Bilgorayer Rav. His birth was a Yom Tov for Belzer chassidim, as he was heir to the Belzer dynasty.
In 1993, the son, Rabbi Aaron Mordechai, married Rebbetzin Sarah Leah, the daughter of Rabbi Shimon Lemberger, Makova Rebbe in Kiryat Atta. The chuppah was celebrated by 60,000 and more than 30,000 partook of the wedding dinner. Rabbi Aaron Mordechai and Rebbetzin Sarah Leah are parents of 11 children. The chassan, Sholom, their oldest, is three weeks shy of his 17th birthday.
The kallah is the daughter of Rabbi Yechiel Meir Paneth; son of Rabbi Aaron Dovid Paneth, Zibenbergen Rosh Kollel Jerusalem. Rabbi Yechiel Meir is the son-in-law of Rabbi Boruch Halberstam, zt”l (d. 1982), Gorelitzer Rebbe in Bnei Brak; son of Rabbi Elisha Halberstam, zt”l (1860-1941), Gorelitzer Rebbe who died in Siberia while escaping from the Nazis; son of Rabbi Boruch Halberstam, zt”l (1829-1906), Gorelitzer Rebbe; son of Rabbi Chaim Halberstam, zt”l (1797-1976), revered Sanzer Rebbe and author of Divrei Chaim.