Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (1905-1994) – the Rebbe of Klausenberg was one of our generations greatest rabbis. He was known for his exceptional breadth of knowledge of all areas of Torah and his immense level of compassion for others.
Having been in the holocaust, and having lost his own wife, eleven children, and in fact all of his family, he survived to tell the horrendous stories of what he personally experienced. He was responsible for setting up the Mifal HaShas program – a major program which entails finishing the entire Oral Law – the Talmud (2711 doubled-sided pages in Aramaic) in three and a half years! Those studying are required to write examinations on their learning and receive a small stipend.
In spite of his own pain, the Klausenberger remarried and started another family. In addition, he is known for his huge contribution to Netanya, Israel and the world – the Laniado hospital in Netanya. It was founded on the basis of nothing less than the best of care and concern for every single patient. Well known is the story concerning the incident when it was necessary to purchase needles. There were two brands available at the time – one which would cause slightly more pain, but was a lot cheaper – and the other which would cause the patient far less pain – but would be more expensive. Rabbi Halberstam chose the latter. In fact, without the necessary qualities of compassion on others, it was impossible to secure a job there! It must surely be the most compassionate hospital in the world!
There are some wonderful books written about the Rebbe and all come with a “must read” label. Most notable is “The Klausenberg Rebbe: Combined edition” by Judah Lifschitz – a true masterpiece which will keep you glued to your seat, unable to put the book down. In it, you will begin to understand the greatness of the Rebbe and the tragedies that he experienced. The author tells us the story about a man who understood life, who understood truth. There is no need to hide – but rather to share what the truth really is.
I have included three outstanding videos for the reader of this blog to watch. The first is the Rebbe’s actual description of what he went through (briefly!) and the second and third- an intimate look into the hospital of Laniado.
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