On this day in 1944 the Ruv z”l, Reb Aharon of Belz, arrived to Haifa in Eretz Yisroel. The flight of the Ruv z”l from Belz in 1939 and throughout the four and a half years was arduous and harrowing.
For over a year the Ruv z”l was wandering between villages in eastern Poland. In one of the villages the Ruv z”l met his brother Reb Mordechai, the Bilgorayer Ruv z”l, and they didn’t part ways since. Their uniting is very significant, since Belz continued from the Bilgorayer Ruv. Both, the Ruv z”l and the Bilgorayer Ruv, lost their whole family and married again in Eretz Yisroel. Only the Bilgorayer Ruv had one child, the current Rebbe.
At the time, the Russians occupied eastern Poland. In 1941 the Nazis invaded, and the slaughtering of Jews was extremely intense. The Nazis kept the border between east and central Poland and focused most of the killing of Jews in the eastern part of Poland. Only a short while passed and most of the Ruv z”l’s family of over 60 souls were nebach killed brutally.
The Chasidim did every effort to hide the Ruv z”l. But eventually it became impossible, especially because the Nazis were searching for the Ruv z”l. After much strategy the Chasidim found out of a village in west Poland called Vishnitza (not to be confused with Viznitz in Romania) that the Jewish community was intact, and the Nazis didn’t even ghettoize them. The reason why is not known. Passing the border that was cutting through Poland was an impossible task. Also, the vehicle transporting the Ruv z”l and the Bilgorayer Ruv turned over on a busy highway and broke down. After many open miracles the Chasidim were successful in transporting the two holy brothers to the village Vishnitza.
Eventually the Nazis sent the people in Vishnitza to the Bochnia ghetto. The Ruv z”l was over a year in Bochnia and survived with great Nissim. Chasidim in Hungary working on the rescue of the Ruv z”l found an Hungarian officer to transport the Ruv z”l to Hungary.
How audacious and miraculous the trip through Poland was, the trip to Hungary was many times more. The Ruv z”l didn’t speak about the trip in the later years, but once he said, “A Peleh (a wonder), the goy said that a cloud surrounded the vehicle all along the way”. At one point on the way, the Hungarian officer parked the car in a village and went out to buy bear. But he took his time and it started becoming very dangerous staying there. When he returned the Bilgorayer Ruv started admonishing him that he is putting them in more danger. He responded saying that the car is surrounded by a cloud and not visible, so he took his time!
With great miracles the holy brothers arrived in Budapest and stayed there for eight months. Eventually the Nazis put a lot of pressure on the Hungarian government to extradite the Ruv z”l and the Chasidim worked feverishly to transport them to Israel.
After much work the Chasidim got the Jewish Agency to issue certificates for the holy brothers to immigrate to Eretz Yisroel. A long trip, mainly by train, ensued and miraculously the Nazi officials at Hungarian border didn’t detect them.
On the 9th of Shevat they arrived in Haifa and the world shook from rejoice at their rescue. The holy brothers set to rebuilt what was decimated, and to inspire the broken hearts and souls that poured into Eretz Yisroel.
The impact the Ruv z”l had in Eretz Yisroel after the war is indescribable. Be”H in later posts we’ll focus on that.
The rescue of the holy brothers was a great Chizzuk to many people. It’s impossible to comprehend the Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, but the rescue of the Ruv z”l and the Bilgorayer Ruv z”l is a clear testament to כי לא יטוש ה’ את עמו בעבור שמו הגדול.
חסדי ה’ כי לא תמנו כי לא כלו רחמיו
(Cover photo: Propaganda material put out by the Nazis. It pictures their “most wanted” Rabbis in a shape of a Magen Dovid. The Ruv z”l is pictured center.)