The Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, on Monday shared with young Chassidim at the yeshiva in Williamsburg, having just returned from a short trip in Israel, the horrors of his visit: “We drove through the mountains and I felt a great fear that is hard for me to describe to you, I did not see the Tetragrammaton.”
In Chassidic tradition, when the tzadik is able to see the four-letter expressed name of the Divine in order (yud-ke-vav-ke), the state of the world is good. But when he can’t delineate the holy name from his environment things are not well with the world.
“We followed a car that showed us the way,” the Rebbe recalled, “and we passed localities where Arabs live, or as it is called, the ‘territories.’ We passed near the communities of the settlers and I saw places where it was written, ‘Here was murdered’ – places where people were murdered in the past, and I sensed true terror and fear,” the Rebbe continued.
Satmar is one of the largest Chassidic dynasties in the world today, with an estimated 75,000 affiliated men, women, and children. It is characterized by extremely strict religious adherence and complete rejection of modern culture and is renowned for its fierce anti-Zionism.
The Rebbe decided to travel to Israel to visit Mt. Meron, where 45 Haredi Jews were killed this year. His purpose in visiting the site was to thank God for sparing his life the last time he had visited Meron.
But on Monday this week, the Satmar Rebbe thanked God for sparing his life during his visit to the Jewish State. The Rebbe told the young men that he said the Gomel (a blessing of thanks for being spared from danger) not just for having survived the transatlantic flight—said by Jewish travelers by the open Torah, “but I think the danger I felt when we passed those places was greater than the danger of the flight. It’s true that I crossed above the sea, but the danger of the wild animals in the desert is greater, and I want to thank God that nothing happened to anyone.”
Following President Donald Trump’s declaration of recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel in 2017, Rabbi Teitelbaum announced that he did not recognize the move.
“We declare in the name of Haredi Judaism: Jerusalem, the Holy City, will not be the capital of the destroyer of the faith, the Zionist state, even if the US president declares it to be the capital,” the Satmar Rebbe told a packed crowd at the New York Expo hall in the Bronx.
He continued: “Just as in 1948, Haredi Judaism did not recognize US President Truman’s declaration that the Land of Israel was the state of the Jews, but Haredi Judaism did not recognize it, Now, too, 70 years later, Haredi Jewry does not recognize US President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital.”
You have to wonder how the Rebbe feels about Tuesday’s planned Flags Dance.