Living Legacy: The Kedushas Tzion of Bobov, zt”l, Hy”d

Living Legacy: The Kedushas Tzion of Bobov, zt”l, Hy”d

Yehuda Alter

The fourth of Av marks the 82nd yahrtzeit of Rebbe Benzion Halberstam of Bobov, zt”l, Hy”d, a transformation figure in prewar Galicia who gave his life al kiddush Hashem during the Holocaust in the year 1941.

The rebbe was born in the town of Bukovsk in the year 1874 to his father, the first Bobover Rebbe, Rav Shloime Halberstam. Rav Shloime was the son of Rav Meir Nosson Halberstam, a son of the holy Divrei Chaim of Sanz, and was a great ga’on and tzaddik. He served as the Rov of Bukovsk and Vishnitza, and another town in the area.

From a young age, Rav Benzion was taught by his father and exposed to the deepest Torah. He was shaped and molded by his illustrious father to be the future leader of the Chassidus, and in the year 1899, Rav Benzion received semicha from the great tzaddikim of his generation. He was known as a great lamdan, with tremendous abilities.

In 1892, due to Rav Meir Nussen’s illness, the family transplanted to the town of Bobowa, in Galicia—considered a serene and healthy place. In the year 1905, with the passing of his father, Rav Benzion assumed his place as Bobover Ruv.

During WWI, the Rebbe was exiled to Vienna, Austria, and in Marienbad, teaching Torah and Chassidus wherever he went. When he returned following the war, he reestablished Yeshiva Etz Chaim in Krakow, which numbered in the hundreds of talmidim from throughout Poland and Galicia. In 1921, he returned to Bobov, with hundreds of talmidim in tow. Seeing that the town was too small to host them, he established branches of the yeshiva in different towns—causing the yeshiva to flourish and expand, raising countless pious Chassidim and talmidei chachomim in Galicia. 

In letters to Chassidim that have surfaced, the Kedushas Tzion writes in a heartfelt way, exhorting his Chassidim towards joy and avodas Hashem. “This is the way of Chassidus, as taught to us by the Ba’al Shem Tov: to help another Yid, both in spiritual as well as material matters.”

In another missive, he writes to a Chossid who was worried about parnosoh: “We must never be worried or depressed… and we must never be envious of another person, for if they would reveal to us their hidden matters, we would never wish to exchange places with them.”

The Rebbe’s koach in Neginah deserves a chapter unto itself. The Kedushas Tzion’s compositions are completely unique in their beauty, their richness, and emotion. It is said that this talent came to him from his zeide, the holy Ropshitzer Rov. He taught his niggunim to his Chassidim, and of course, to his son, Rav Shloime, who carried them through the darkest gehinom until they once again saw light. Many of the nigunim have been adopted by the entire Jewish world, and they are sung in communities throughout the world.

The glory would have continued to flourish were it not for the terrible events of the Churban, which took the life of the Kedushas Tzion and thousands of his Chassidim among the six million kedoshim.

Through great miracles, the Rebbe’s son, Rav Shloime, zt”l, survived the Holocaust, and through him, the glory and the legacy of Bobov continue to live on until this day. 

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