Rabbi Yesochor Dov Rokeach is the fifth Belzer Rebbe. Since 1966 he has led the worldwide Belzer kehilla, with large communities in Israel, the U.S., Canada, and Europe. In addition, the Belzer Rebbe has engineered the construction of the huge Belzer Beis Medrash, a prominent ornament in Jerusalem’s skyline. With seating for more than 6,000 it is considered one of the largest synagogues in the world.
Today’s Belzer Rebbe is the son of Rabbi Mordechai Twersky, zt”l (1902-1949) Bilgorayer Rav. He was anointed at the age of 18 in 1966 as the successor to his father’s older brother, Rabbi Aaron Rokeach, zt”l (1880-1957), fourth Belzer Rebbe who escaped from the Holocaust but whose wife and three sons were murdered. Rabbi Aaron arrived in Palestine in 1944. Rabbi Mordechai passed away when his son was but one year old. Rabbi Aaron raised his nephew, preparing him to become the next Belzer Rebbe. Sadly, Rabbi Aaron passed away while Yesochor Dov was only nine. Other important Belzer chassidim continued the education and tutelage of the future Belzer Rebbe.
Rabbi Aaron succeeded his father, Rabbi Yesochor Dov Rokeach, zt”l (1854-1926), third Belzer Rebbe who was the leading chassidishe Rebbe in western Galicia; son of Rabbi Yehoshua Rokeach, zt”l (1825-1894), second Belzer Rebbe; son of Rabbi Sholom Rokeach, zt”l (1779-1855), founding Belzer Rebbe, renowned as the Sar Sholom.
Tiferes Yechezkel Chassunah
On Thursday, January 26, Shlomo Zvi Mertz will marry Freidel Sheindel, daughter of Rabbi Yekusiel Moshe Simcha and granddaughter of Rabbi Alter Simcha, Vishnitzer rosh yeshiva. The chassan is the son of Rabbi Yaakov Mertz, rav of Kahal Tiferes Yechezkel in Kiryas Joel.
The chassunah celebrations began on Shabbos Va’eira at Kahal Tiferes Yechezkel, when the Friday night tisch was dedicated to the forthcoming marriage. The aufruf on Shabbos was followed by a grand kiddush attended by hundreds. The beis medrash was recently enlarged and final details, moldings, decorations, painting, lighting were completed just in time.
The kabbolas panim of the chassunah will begin at 6 p.m. at Pardes Faiga Hall, 243 Keap Street in Williamsburg. The celebration will be stately with many important chassidishe rebbes, rabbis and roshei yeshiva anticipated.
The chassan is the grandson of Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Mertz, zt”l (d. 1970), author of Tiferes Yechezkel, who was greatly respected and warmly befriended by the previous Satmar Rebbe. The Tiferes Yechezkel was the son of Rabbi Yoel Zisman Mertz, zt”l, author of Har Yiroa. Rabbi Yechezkel was beloved by everyone and highly regarded in the chassidishe world. He predeceased the Satmar Rebbe and was buried immediately alongside the ohel that was originally designated as the Satmar Rebbe’s burial place in the Satmar cemetery in Floral Park, New Jersey. In the interim, the new community of Kiryas Yoel was established and blossomed in Monroe, N.Y., and became the final resting place for the Satmar Rebbe.
Rabbi Shimon Roshan, rosh yeshiva in Jerusalem, is visiting New York. He has in his hands tefillin parchments that were written by a certain popular sofer, herein referred to by the initials SK, who actually had the tefillin parchments laser printed and then added ink on top of letters by hand (a violation known as ksav al gabei ksav) to make it look handwritten.
Investigators accept that prior to 1999 SK was an outstanding sofer and that the tefillin, megillas, and mezuzahs (known collectively by their initials STaM) sold before then may have been in full compliance. However, STaM written by SK after 1999 are not kosher. Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv has ruled on the matter and his decision is binding.
The Sephardic scribe wrote mostly in Sephardic fonts. But he also wrote in Ashkenazic fonts that were sold in Litvishe circles in Jerusalem and beyond. Proclamations have been posted in all neighborhoods in Israel and New York where the scribe’s products may have been sold. A statement has been issued by the Vaad Mishmeres STaM detailing procedures to verify the kashrus of writing by SK.
Should a person wonder whether his STaM were written by SK, he should match handwritings. If one purchased a Sefer Torah, megillah or mezuzah before 1999, he should have a professional scribe ascertain whether there is writing on top of the printing. Indications of laser printing are equal width of all letters, equal space between letters, lighter or darker letters at the corners, and double stems on some letters.
Again, STaM written by SK and purchased after 1999 are not kosher, according to Rav Elyashiv.