Visiting Cemeteries In Nissan
The general custom is not to visit a cemetery during the month of Nissan, the month in which the nation of Israel was freed from slavery and in which we celebrate the Yom Tov of Pesach. Those having a yahrzeit for either a father or mother visit the cemetery immediately before or after Nissan (Gesher Hachaim 26:6, Orchos Rabbeinu 2:305, Piskei Teshuvos 429:4).
Of course, as with every rule there are exceptions. Some permit visiting a parent’s grave on a yahrzeit. The visit would be exclusively to the one gravesite. However, visiting the gravesites of tzaddikim is mostly allowed, with the specific gravesite being the exclusive destination. Consequentially, visits to gravesites of tzaddikim during Nissan are noteworthy.
Since visits to cemeteries are greatly reduced in Nissan, the international gathering of tens of thousands of Jews at the gravesite in Sanz (formerly in Austro-Hungary and today in Poland) of Rabbi Chaim Halberstam, zt”l (1793-1876), revered Sanzer Rav and author of Divrei Chaim, on his yahrzeit, 25 Nissan (this year coinciding with Tuesday, April 17) is of major significance. The assembly of so many pious Jews to pray at the gravesite is testimony of the impact the Divrei Chaim had during his lifetime, as well as the continuing influence that affects chassidic Jewry to this very day.
Local Organized Cemetery Visits
Satmar in Monroe: Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, zt”l (1914-2006), late Satmar Rebbe and author of Beirach Moshe, passed away late in the afternoon of Monday, 26 Nissan (April 24), 2006, and is buried in Kiryas Yoel next to his uncle, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt”l (1886-1979), first Satmar Rebbe and author of Divrei Yoel. The yahrzeit this year is on Wednesday, April 18. Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, his eldest son and Satmar Rebbe, will conduct a l’chaim tisch after Shacharis in Kiryas Yoel and then visit the gravesite. The Rebbe will be accessible for berachos in his home at 5 Sanz Court, from 6 to 7 p.m. He will then conduct the yahrzeit tisch in the main Satmar Beis Medrash in Kiryas Yoel on Wednesday evening, beginning at 7 p.m.
Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe and son of the Beirach Moshe, will commemorate the yahrzeit with Shacharis in Williamsburg, followed by a Siyum Mishnayos, and then visit the gravesite at 2:00 pm. The Rebbe will conduct the yahrzeit tisch in the main Satmar Beis Medrash on Rodney Street in Williamsburg on Wednesday beginning at 6:30 pm, incorporating a siyum hashas. Thousands of chassidim will attend each event.
Sanz in New Jersey: Rabbi Yonah Landau, the renowned chassidishe historian who has brought American gravesites of tzaddikim to the attention of the observant community, organized coach buses to bring visitors from Lee Avenue at Ross Street in Williamsburg to gravesites on Sunday, April 15, and Wednesday, April 18.
The first group visited the gravesite of Rabbi Menachem Binyamin Ben Zion Rottenberg-Halberstam, zt”l (1881-1957), Voideslover-Sanzer Rebbe, who emigrated to the United States in 1922 and conducted his beis medrash in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He was the son of Rabbi Aaron Halberstam, zt”l Hy”d (1865-1942), of Biala-Bilitz and author of Meged Eretz and Pri Noah, murdered in the Holocaust; son of Rabbi Yosef Zev Halberstam, zt”l (d. 1890), Kshanover dayan; son of Rabbi Dovid Halberstam, zt”l (1818-1893), Kshanover Rebbe; son of the Divrei Chaim. Rabbi Menachem Binyamin Ben Zion is buried in the Washington Cemetery on Deans Rhode Hall Road, Monmouth Junction (Deans), New Jersey.
Rabbi Menachem Binyamin Ben Zion assumed the additional hyphenated name of Rottenberg after his second marriage in 1913. His second father-in-law was Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Reuven Yechezkia Rottenberg, zt”l (d. 1935), Voidislover Rav and author of Sifsei Avrohom. Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Reuven Yechezkia Rottenberg was the nephew of Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Alter (Rottenberg), zt”l (1899-1867), founding Gerer Rebbe and author of Chidushei Harim. Rabbi Menachem Binyamin Ben Zion was also the maternal grandson of Rabbi Alter Meir Rottenberg zt”l, Valbromver Rav. Rabbi Menachem Binyamin Ben Zion, prior to coming to America, lived in Voidislov and, as a great-grandson of the Divrei Chaim personified Sanzer chassidus there as well as later in America.
Being that he is a direct descendant of the Divrei Chaim and that his yahrzeit is just three days removed from that of the Divrei Chaim, his gravesite is much visited year round and especially in Nissan. A l’chaim tisch was prepared near the gravesite.
Manastrich in Queens: The second Nissan cemetery visit organized by Rabbi Yonah Landau will leave on Wednesday, April 18, from Williamsburg to the Old Montefiore Cemetery on Springfield Boulevard in St. Albans, Queens. Prayers will be said at the gravesite of Rabbi Yehoshua Heschel Rabinowitz, zt”l (1860-1938), Manastricher Rebbe who fled pogroms in Russia and arrived in the United States in 1924. His son, Rabbi Gedalya Aaron, zt”l Hy”d (1880-1919) was murdered in a pogrom.