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Halberstam

HALBERSTAM

HALBERSTAM , ḥasidic dynasty, originating in western Galicia in the mid-19th century. The most important personality in the dynasty was its founder, Ḥayyim ben leibush (1793–1876). Born in Tarnogrod, on his mother's side Ḥayyim was a descendant of ḥakham Ẓevi (Ẓevi Hirsch *Ashkenazi). Ḥayyim's father directed a ḥeder. In 1830 he was appointed rabbi of Nowy Sacz (Zanz). As a youth Ḥayyim was brought to *Jacob Isaac the ḥozeh ("seer") of *Lublin who strongly influenced him and he became a ḥasid; he studied under Naphtali of *Ropczyce and Ḥevi Hirsch of *Zhidachov. Ḥayyim also studied with Ẓevi Hirsch of *Rymanow, Shalom Rokeaḥ of *Belz, and Israel of *Ruzhin. Ḥayyim administered his yeshivah in the best scholarly tradition of the old-style yeshivot in Poland. He would not permit his pupils to cultivate Ḥasidism until a late stage. Thus both Hasidim and mitnaggedim were attracted to his yeshivah. Known as strict in matters of learning and observance, he conducted his "court" modestly and discreetly and avoided the splendor and luxury customary at the "courts" of other ẓaddikim in that period. The main event in his public life was the dispute between the Hasidim of Zanz and Sadagora, which aroused a controversy that spread beyond Galicia and also involved the leading non-ḥasidic rabbis. The principal cause of the dispute lay in the basic difference between the Zanz pattern of Ḥasidism with its stress on traditional learning and ecstatic expression in religious life and the manner of life adopted by Israel of Ruzhin and followed by his descendants. They lived in almost literally royal style, in the utmost luxury and splendor, which aroused resentment and opposition particularly of the Ḥasidism of Zanz, and also of the conservative Ḥasidim of Galicia generally. The publication of Dov Baer of Lyova, the youngest son of Israel of Ruzhin, in which he renounced Ḥasidism and expressed his support of the Haskalah, gave the Ḥasidism of Zanz a weapon against the dynasty of Ruzhin. Ḥayyim issued a letter in which he openly expressed his strong reservations about the way of life of the Sadagora Ḥasidism. It was circulated throughout Galicia, and a stormy debate between the two ḥasidic groups ensued. A rabbinical convention in the Ukraine called for Hayyim's excommunication and even demanded that he should be handed over to the authorities. The dispute reached Ereẓ Israel, where it took on an added dimension in affecting the financial arrangements of the ḥalukkah, and apportionment of the money from Poland, to support the community in Ereẓ Israel. A number of rabbis, including Joseph Saul *Nathanson of Lvov and Dov Berush *Meisels, rabbi of Warsaw, Ḥayyim's brother-in-law, attempted to reconcile the opposing parties. The Hungarian rabbis intervened without success. After several months the dispute died down, but Ḥayyim remained consistent in his opinions on the matter. Ḥayyim wrote: Divrei Ḥayyim (Zolkiew, 1864), on ritual purity and divorce laws; responsa Divrei Ḥayyim (Lemberg, 1875), and Divrei Ḥayyim (Munkacz, 1877), ḥasidic sermons on Torah and the festivals. His works reveal a profound knowledge of the Talmud and commentaries, the midrashim, and medieval philosophical literature. He quotes widely from Judah Halevi's Kuzari, Maimonides, Naḥmanides, and Abraham ibn Daud. From later literature, he cites Isaiah Horowitz, Judah Loew of Prague, the prayer book of Jacob Emden, and his teachers in Kabbalah and Ḥasidism. An opponent of asceticism, Ḥayyim was an exponent of the ecstatic mode of prayer and developed the hasidic melody. In his writings he emphasized the duty of charity and criticized ẓaddikim who lived luxuriously.

Ḥayyim had eight sons. The most important was ezekiel shraga of sieniawa (1811–1899), considered a scholar and strict in matters of halakhah. He was responsible for the transcription and publication of Abraham b. Mordecai *Azulai's commentaries on the *Zohar, Or ha-Ḥammah (1896–98) and Zohorei Ḥammah (1881–82), and Ḥayyim *Vital's Sefer ha-Gilgulim (1875). In 1878 Akiva ha-Kohen Lieber of Yasienica studied with him and edited his posthumous work Divrei Yeḥezkel (Sieniawa, 1906), novellae, sermons on the Torah and for the holidays, and a few responsa. Other influential sons were baruch of Gorlice (1826–1906), david of Kshanow (1821–1894), aaron of Zanz (d. 1906), ẓaddik and rabbi of Zanz and later of the region. solomon ben meyer nathan of bobova (1847–1906), grandson of Ḥayyim, founded a large yeshivah, attracting youth and many Ḥasidism. His son ben zion (1873–1941) became celebrated for the beautiful melodies he composed and also attracted many Ḥasidism. He perished in the Holocaust. Ben Zion's son, solomon (d. 2000), found refuge in the United States where he established a ḥasidic center in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn. In December 1959 he also founded the small settlement of Bobova, near Bat Yam, which has subsequently become a center for Bobova Ḥasidism in Israel. Solomon was replaced by his son naftali, who died in 2005. Several descendants of Ḥayyim Halberstam moved to Slovakia where they served as rabbis. One of them, jacob samson of czhow, settled in Klausenburg (Cluj), Transylvania, in 1917. Another descendant is jekuthiel judah (1904–1994), who later became the Klausenburg Rebbe. Although his wife and 11 children perished in the Holocaust, Jekuthiel survived and reestablished his court in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. In 1956 he founded Kiryat Zanz near *Netanyah in Israel. He later permanently settled in Kiryat Zanz, along with many of his Ḥasidism. His two sons succeeded him.

bibliography:

R. Mahler, in: Proceedings of the Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, 2 (1968), 223–5; A. Marcus, Ha-Ḥasidut (1953), 266–74, 277; Horodezky, Ḥasidut, index; I. Even, in: Ha-Ivri, 6 (1916), no. 1–no. 28; E. Roth, in: Talpioth, ed. by S.K. Mirsky, 6 (1953), 346–58; M. Zailikovitz (ed.), Yalkut ha-Ro'im (1896); Keneset ha-Gedolah (1869); W. Ehrenkranz, Makkel Ḥovelim (1869); M. Buber, Tales of the Ḥasidism, 2 (19663), 208–15; H. Rabinowicz, The World of Hasidism (1970), 227; G. Kranzler, Williamsburg (1964), 150, 178, 209.

[Pnina Meislish]

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