Monday, September 24, 2012

The original R. Zalman Leib Teitelbaum's rabbinic contract from 1841 ("בתוך הדרשה קיינען ניכט מקלל צו זיין או מבזה צו זיין הן בכלל והן בפרט")

Here is a translation of the 1841 rabbinical contract given by the community of Ujhely, Hungary to Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, (1808-1883), also known as the Yetev Lev and the grandfather of the Satmar Rav, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum. Apparently offered this seat at the time more out of respect for his grandfather then his own qualities (he was a young men then) this contract contains some interesting clauses (see, e.g, 4, 9 and 12).

From the article Rabbones Briefe by Rabbi Julius Rapoport in the April 11, 1914 issue of The Advocate: America's Jewish Journal (link). The article also included a translation of Rabbi Akiva Eger's rabbonus briefe from Posen, dated 100 years earlier.

At the end of this post is the original Hebrew, as well as its source and some discussion of it. Note how loose Rapoport felt he was entitled to play with this translation, renumbering, etc.

The Hebrew below is from the periodical Hatzophe, as indicated above. However, I thought it might be nice to point out something. The citation is a incomplete and also makes a mistake. First of all, unless you happen to know what Hatzophe is you might well run into some trouble. The full title of this periodical was Hatzofeh Le-hokhmat Yisrael, and it was published in Budapest. However, in its first four issues it was called Hatzofeh Me-eretz Hagar. In any case, the author of the English translation somehow forgot to mention, oh, an article title. A page number. Who wrote it. Actually, he did write the name of the author, its right there at the end: Dr. Israel Goldberger, who was in fact "preacher" in Ujhely for a time. The problem is if you look in issue III from 1912 there is no such article. However, in #2 from 1911, there is the article Shtei Kitvei Rabbanut by Yisrael Goldberger, on pp. 132-138. This may seem like a small error, but of course it is just lucky that there were only a few years to look through, given that the Jewish Advocate piece was written in 1914. It is not fun to search through 50 years of a periodical's archive all because of a careless mistake, whoever made it.


  1. It is strange that on this day you posted it. Today we say the slichos that is commonly called "shelosh esrei midos" and I was reminded of a story recorded in the Sefer שאול בחיר השם available on

    In that book there is an episode of the first time the then Ashkenazi non-chasidic Rav Brach first met Rabbi Teitelbaum the subject of your post. It was on this day that he came to see and hear the then Chasidic Rebbe give a sermon that lasted nearly 4 hours and never once did he have one word of rebuke for his flock.

    Rabbi Teitelbuam told his flock that "I and only I am the sinner, not you!"

    This so impressed Rabbi Brach as it was the first time that he heard a sermon based on a Chasidic approach of non rebuke (ah la Bardichev). There are many biography's and hagiography's on Reb Zalman Lieb. Among them
    שוחרי השם בהרי הקרפטים

    All describe the "Yetev Lev" as a person who never cursed and was soft spoken.

    Rabbi Brach description of Rabbi Zalman Leib way of Sermonizing is available here:

    I wonder how you would reconcile to the two sources.

  2. Cursing the congregation was apparently an old Hungarian rabbinic practice that lasted into 20th century America. My mother was told that one day in the 1920's, the rabbi of our Yonkers shul (a Hungarian misnaged) opened the aron kodesh and publicly cursed the kahal. What prompted this has unfortunately been lost to history. Eventually a compromised was worked out under which the rabbi departed for a pulpit in Cleveland and was succeeded by his son, who remained our rabbi for over 40 years.

  3. if you take a close look at your machzor you'll notice this;
    באונגארין אין אומרים "אתה מבין"
    בגאליציע אין אומרים "אתה נותן"
    בפראנקפורט אין אומרים "אנו עזי פנים"
    this is absolutely real. [though you may need to use several different machzorim to find them]

  4. For an explanation of the term Halacha Tosafos in the post, see the sefer on the Yeshiva Harama of Feurth by Rav Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger, volume III, in the section starting at p.131.



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