About Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal, הרב ישכר שלמה טייכטל
Harav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal, the saintly author of "Eim HaBanim Semeichah" the most comprehensive treatise on Eretz Yisrael, Redemption, and Jewish Unity originally shared the prevalent Orthodox view which discouraged the active return to Zion.
The Holocaust, however, profoundly changed his perspective. The annihilation of unprecedented numbers of his fellow Jews forced him to seek explanations. Thus, relying almost exclusively on his phenomenal memory and keen insight, he investigated the matter exhaustively. His conclusions — the Jewish people will find refuge from their troubles, only if they unite to rebuild the Land. This will bring about the ultimate redemption.
His carefully constructed arguments are outlined in his book Eim Habanim Semeichah penned during his wanderings in hiding from his Nazi oppressors and their collaborators. In that work, first published in 1943, he makes a case for Zionism and a call for the Jewish people to unite to rebuild the land of Israel bringing about the ultimate redemption.
Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal was born in Hungary in 1885 from a family of well-known rabbis and Jewish leaders with an illustrious lineage. His parents were Gittel and Yitzchak Teichtal. His father was a noted scholar, teacher, and a chasid of the Rebbe of Sanz. Yisachar Shlomo (the author's namesake and grandfather) served as a Rosh Yehshiva all his life and was one of the foremost chassidim of the Sanzer Rebbe.
At thirteen years of age, Yisachar began his yeshiva study under Rabbi Shalom Weider who was the av beit din (town rabbi) of Nyrdhaa, Hungary. At age fifteen he moved to Gavne, Poland, where he was a student of Rabbi Shalom Unger.
He returned to Hungary and at the age of twenty-one he received rabbinic ordination (semichah) from the Rebbe of Talisheva. Rabbi Teichtal received another ordination a year latter from Rabbi Shmuel Rosenberg and a third ordination the same year from Rabbi Mordechai Leib Winkler. Rabbi Teichtal first married when he was 19 years of age to Freidl Ginz. When Freidl died at a young age he married Nechamah Friedman.
In 1921 Rabbi Teichtal became the av beit din and Rabbi of Pishtian, a city famous for its mineral baths, in Czechoslovakia. Remaining in Pishtian for 25 years he established the Moriah Yeshiva.
World War II Czechoslovakia was invaded in 1938 while Rabbi Teichtal was still residing in Pishtian. As the Nazi oppression increased he found himself along with ten other family members in hiding at the local beit midrash (house of learning). From his hiding place he witnessed many atrocities including the mass deportation of friends and neighbors.
The Chief Rabbi of Slovakia in Nitra sent messengers offering refuge for Rabbi Teichtal and his family. In the month of Elul, 1942, he and his family escaped into Hungary to go into hiding in Nitra. After much wandering he finally ended up in Budapest where he remained for nearly two years. In Budapest he completed his seminal work, Eim HaBanim Semeichah after working on it for a little more than one year.
In 1944 Hungary was invaded by the Nazis. Thinking that Slovakia might be safe, the Teichtal family returned there to wait out the end of the war. At the time the Nazis stepped up their efforts to find remaining Jews. Rabbi Teichtal and his family were captured and transported to Auschwitz.
Death As the Soviet army advanced through Poland, in January 1945, the inmates of Auschwitz, including Rabbi Teichtal and his family, were transported deeper into Germany. Rabbi Teichtal died in a train on his way to the Mauthausen concentration camp on the 10th of Shevat, 5705 (January 24, 1945). The following quotation is from an account of his father’s death on a train transport related by Rabbi Chayim Menachem Teichtal:
After starving their victims for a number of days, the oppressors tossed each of them a meager crust of bread, with the evil intent of having them fight pathetically for their paltry allotment. Indeed, one of the Ukrainians grabbed the portion of a Jew – my father’s neighbor - who was desperate for this crust of bread. This angered my father, who demanded the return of the theft. The other travelers begged my father not to get involved, since it might cost him his life. But he said “How can I stand by when the wronged man’s life depends on this food?” Indeed he insisted on taking a stand, and the Ukrainians, with the cooperation of the Nazi soldiers, rose against him and killed him, after torturing him mercilessly.
(from the Historical Introduction of Eim Habonim Semeichah: on Eretz Yisrael, Redemption, and Unity published in 2000 by Kol Mevaser Publications, Mevaseret Tzion, Israel; pg xxiv).
Zionism As a result of the holocaust Rabbi Teichtal radically changed his position on Israel as he struggled to make meaning out of what was happening around him. His carefully constructed arguments are outlined in his book Eim Habanim Semeichah penned during his wanderings in hiding from his Nazi oppressors and their collaborators. In that work, first published in 1943, he makes a case for Zionism and a call for the Jewish people to unite to rebuild the land of Israel bringing about the ultimate redemption.
In this respect his work had a precursor in the works of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. His original view had been that of the majority in the Orthodox Jewish world at the time which discouraged an active movement for a return of Jews to Israel. The prevalent view at that time was that G-d would bring about a return without the need of human mechanizations. One remnant of this view, now held by only a minority within Orthodox Judaism, is that the State of Israel is itself illegitimate and contrary to the will of G-d. Neturei Karta is an example of one small, but high profile, group which is still actively opposed to the modern state of Israel.
Legacy Rabbi Teichtal wrote much more than the Eim Habanim Semeichah, in particular שו"ת משנה שכיר Mishneh Sochir (responsa). Rabbi Teichtal was a prolific writer, and miraculously a number of his other works survived both his untimely death and the holocaust. Many of his works are still in manuscript form and have not yet been published. The Mishneh Sachir Center located in Bnei Brak, Israel is an advanced Talmudic learning academy named in the honor of Rabbi Teichtal carrying on his work and preserving his legacy.
References Eim Habanim Semeichah: on Eretz Yisrael, Redemption, and Unity, by Harav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal published 2000 by Kol Mevaser Publications, Israel. Translated by Moshe Lichtman.
Theology after the Shoah: The Transformation of the Core Paradigm, by Irving Greenberg; (2006) Modern Judaism,Volume 26, Number 3, Pp. 213-239
Faith, Ethics and the Holocaust: Some Personal Theological and Religious Responses to the Holocaust by Immanuel Jakobovits; (1988) Holocaust and Genocide Studies; Volume 3: Pp. 371-381
External links Complete text of Eim Habanim Semeichah Online 
Article from the Orthodox Union 
Zionist Leaders 
The Jews of Hungary During the Holocaust 
Chaburat Eim Habanim Semeichah -- On-line study of Eim Habanim Semeichah and related topics 
APPPRECIATING RAV TEICHTAL AS LAMDAN AND POSEK http://groups.yahoo.com/group/toratimecha/message/261?var=1
ר' יששכר שלמה טייכטהאל, נולד בשנת תרמ"ה בהונגריה. לפנים היה דיין בבוסערמין מקום מגורי חותנו, ובשנת תר"פ נתקבל כראב"ד בפישטיאן, היה מגדולי ההוראה באירופה לפני המלחמה ונתפרסם בספרו 'משנה שכיר' שנדפס בשנת תרפ"ד. בימי המלחמה חבר ספר 'אם הבנים שמחה', ובו קרא ליהודים לעלות לארץ ישראל וליישבה. ר' יששכר שלמה נהרג בשנת תש"ה סוף המלחמה ברכבת, ולא ברור אם זה היה בי' או י"ג שבט.
בזיווג ראשון נשא לאשה את מרת פראדל בת ר' יעקב יוסף גינז, ומשנפטרה בדמי ימיה בי"ט תשרי תרע"ח [מנו"כ בפישטיאן], נשא לאשה את מרת נחמה בת ר' דוד פרידמן אבד"ק צעהלים [חתן ר' מנחם כץ אב"ד צעהלים ותלמיד החתם סופר], היא עלתה לארץ אחרי המלחמה והאריכה ימים, ונפטרה ד' סיון תשמ.
מזיווג ראשון נולדו לו: א. מרת פרומעט הנ"ל אשת ר' שלמה ברנדסדורפר. ב. החתן מאיר טייכטהאל הי"ד. ג. הבחור שלום טייכטהאל נפ' כ"ו תמוז תרצ"ז בוינה. ד. הבחור דוד טייכטהאל הי"ד, נהרג בצרפת ב' אייר תש"ג והועלה ארונו לקבורה בירושלים. ה. ר' שמעון טייכטהאל ז"ל נפטר י' תמוז תשנ"ג. מזיווג שני נולדו לר' יששכר שלמה ארבע ילדים שיחיו, ומהם חתנו ר' ברוך הלברשטאם זצ"ל מבני ברק [נפטר טו אב תשמ"ב], בנו של ר' אלישע הלברשטאם אב"ד גורליץ.
נולד בשנת תרמ"ה (1885) בהונגריה. למד בפרשבורג (כיום ברטיסלאבה, בירת סלובקיה). שימש כרב, ראש ישיבה, אב"ד ומורה הוראה בקהילה היהודית הקטנה שהתגוררה בעיירת המרפא פישטיאן, במחוז נייטרה שבמערב סלובקיה.
עד השואה החזיק, כרוב רבני הונגריה, בדעות אנטי-ציוניות ושלל חבירה לחילונים אף לצורך בניין הארץ. שימש כעוזרו של הרב חיים אלעזר שפירא, האדמו"ר ממונקאץ' בעל "מנחת אלעזר" שהיה מן המתנגדים החריפים ביותר של הציונות. בשנת תרצ"ו כתב מאמר בעיתון 'יידישע צייטונג', שיצא במונקאץ', ובו תמך בדעתו של הרב שפירא שבניין ארץ ישראל בידי הציונים הוא חילול הקודש ויגרום לטומאת הארץ.
בשנת 1942 ברח מסלובקיה להונגריה מאימת הכיבוש הנאצי. אירועי השואה גרמו לו לבחון מחדש את השקפותיו. הוא החל לראשונה, להתעמק בסוגיות אלו של גלות וגאולה, גאולה בדרך הטבע, יישוב ארץ ישראל והיחס לבוניה שאינם שומרי מצוות. כתוצאה מחיבוטי נפש אלו שינה את דעותיו והחל לתמוך בציונות ובעלייה לארץ. את דעותיו אלה העלה על הכתב בספר "אם הבנים שמחה" ששימש מאז כאחד מספרי היסוד של הציונות הדתית. בין השאר מובאת בספר ביקורת חריפה על הרבנים שעזבו את קהילותיהם בשואה וברחו למקומות מפלט, עד כדי תליית דם הקורבנות בראשם והאשמתם בהעדפת כס הרבנות על פני עלייה לארץ. את הספר כתב ברובו בעליית גג בבית בו הסתתר מאימת הנאצים, בצטטו מאות מקורות מהזיכרון בלבד. הספר יצא לאור בבודפשט בשנת תש"ג 1943.
ב-1944 החלו הנאצים להשמיד את יהודי הונגריה, והרב טייכטל, ששמע שהמשלוחים מסלובקיה הופסקו, החליט לברוח בחזרה לסלובקיה.
בספטמבר 1944, אחרי דיכוי המרד הסלובקי, הועבר הרב טייכטל - כמו יהודים אחרים משארית קהילת פישטיאן - למחנה סרד ומשם לאושוויץ. עדי ראיה מספרים שנרצח על ידי אוקראיני ברכבת, כיוון שהגן על יהודי אחר שביקש מים (בגרסה אחרת - לחם). על פי עדות של אחד הנוכחים, מילותיו האחרונות היו: "הפיצו את מעיינותי חוּצה". בחייו הספיק להוציא שני חלקים של השו"ת "משנה שכיר" ואת הספר "אם הבנים שמחה". לאחר מותו יצא הספר בשלוש מהדורות נוספות. כן יצאו לאור שלושה חלקים נוספים של השו"ת, יומן זכרונותיו - "אמונה צרופה בכור השואה" וכן שני כרכים של משנה שכיר על התורה ועל המועדים.
Eim HaBanim Semeichah Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal
Eim HaBanim Semeichah was first published in Budapest in 5704 (1943). Later editions were published by the author’s son in New York in 5729 (1968/69) and in Israel in 5743 (1982/83). There are two English translations: one by Pesach Schindler, published in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1999; and the other by Moshe Lichtman, published in Israel in 2000 (the quotations here are taken from the latter).
At first glance, some people might say that Eim HaBanim Semeichah is not part of the homiletical literature because, unlike Sacred Fire, it lacks the distinctive outer markings of a book of sermons, namely, a structure based on the weekly Torah portions. Other aspects of the book, however, are typical of books of sermons. It is written in Hebrew, with expressions from the spoken language, Yiddish, mixed in. It makes reference to midrashim and stories. It contains repetition, and it clearly intends to convey to the people a conceptual message condensed from sermons given by the author, Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal. We also know from his own testimony that he would go from community to community and deliver sermons on these subjects. Furthermore, he quotes some of his sermons (e.g., one from Rosh Hashanah) in their entirety.
Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal was born in Hungary in 1885 to Rabbi Yitzhak and Gittel Teichtal. In his youth he studied with Rabbi Shalom Wieder of Nyiregyh?za, Rabbi Shalom Dov Unger of ?abno, and Rabbi Moshe Gr?nwald of Khust. His first wife died young, and after remarrying he served as rabbi and dayan (rabbinical-court judge) in B?sz?rm?ny. He subsequently headed the rabbinical court and the Moriah yeshiva in Pie??any, Slovakia. He was a renowned speaker and preacher. Most of his writings were on halakhic topics; the best-known was a collection of responsa entitled Mishneh sakhir, the first part of which was published in 1924. Rabbi Teichtal corresponded with many leading rabbis, including Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld of Jerusalem. He was known as a disciple of Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapira, the rebbe of Munk?cs and author of Minchat Elazar, who was vehemently opposed to Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel. When the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938, Rabbi Teichtal remained in Pie??any, where living conditions for the Jews gradually grew worse. In 1942 he left for Nitra, Slovakia, and in 1943 he was forced to flee with his family to Hungary. There he wandered from place to place, although he lived mainly in Budapest, until March 1944. Then he sneaked back into Czechoslovakia and hid in Bratislava, before being discovered and sent to Auschwitz. Rabbi Teichtal perished on January 24, 1945 (Shevat 10, 5705), while being transferred from Auschwitz.
The book’s main message is that the Holocaust occurred to our people because we were not focusing on returning to Eretz Israel. Therefore, Rabbi Teichtal writes, the Jews must decide to settle in Eretz Israel as soon as the war ends, and thus they may be spared.
Thus, the Holy One Blessed be He made a special covenant with us and promised that we would live peacefully and comfortably during our exile in the lands of the nations, just like the inhabitants of the land and perhaps even better than them. Now, however, the Gentiles have taken away our very right to live; they have deprived us of all means of sustenance; they have broken our staff of bread. Therefore, it is clear that the Holy One Blessed be He has removed this “promise of exile.” It is as if He is telling us explicitly, “My children, I do not want you to remain in the lands of exile anymore. Therefore, I will no longer protect your stay in the Diaspora. Rise up, go to your mother’s bosom, and return to the Land of your forefathers.” (Eim HaBanim Semeichah, p. 223) This is a radical departure from the author’s previous views, when he was a disciple of the rebbe of Munk?cs, a fervent opponent of Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel.
This clearly refutes the outcry of our master and teacher, the holy gaon of Munkatch z”l, the author of Minchat Elazar, who opposed resettling and rebuilding the Land. I, too, was part of his entourage, and I know that he based his entire opposition on the idea that salvation must happen with miracles and wonders. In his opinion, anyone who tries to [bring salvation naturally] denies the redemption which will occur miraculously. His writings are filled with this, and he cried aloud about it.
However, with all due respect, he, on his lofty level, assumed everyone to be in the category of “worthy ones,” as he was. In reality, though, this generation is not worthy (due to our numerous sins). Therefore, the redemption must happen with miracles disguised in nature….
I would like to add that if our mentor, the author of Minchat Elazar, [were] still alive today and saw all of the terrible decrees and massacres that have befallen us, he too would admit that we should leave the exile, go to Eretz Yisrael (which has been given to us by the kingdoms of the world), and no longer await the call of Mashiach. (Eim HaBanim Semeichah, p. 147)
The change in Rabbi Teichtal’s stance is a change in his understanding of how the redemption would come about: whether by miraculous or natural means. Although he had previously adhered to the view of the rebbe of Munk?cs that it would occur by miraculous means, the Holocaust changed his mind. He now believed that the redemption would come by natural means, and that, had the rebbe of Munk?cs witnessed the horrors, he would have agreed.
Rabbi Teichtal went even further regarding the extent to which one may collaborate with sinners to build up Eretz Israel. He maintained that collaborating with them for the purpose of building up the land could lead them to repent. This, too, is a substantial change from the approach of the rebbe of Munk?cs, who was opposed to having anything to do with the Zionists. Nevertheless, the ideological dichotomy is very salient, and Rabbi Teichtal regards relations with them as merely a provisional tool or a method of bringing them back to Judaism.
You may ask … Today’s builders have no inclination to seek out the Kingdom of Heaven … and their conduct reflects this fact!
I will answer this question based on Chazal’s comment on the verse Do not look upon me that I am black, the sun has tanned me (Shir HaShirim 1:6): … I was raised among the nations, and my external appearance has absorbed their dross. My internal being, however, is clean and white…. But, the Jewish souls which descend from Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov are intrinsically pure and yearn to return to their roots….
… today’s sinners are like infants who were kidnapped by Gentiles, for they act under duress and all of their sins are unintentional…. It is a mitzvah to love them….
Moreover, they cherish the Land and refuse to desire any other land besides that of their forefathers. They sacrifice their lives for it, as is well known. Many have even died for the sake of the Land. We heard that during the Arab uprisings, many Jews who were killed in battle said with their last breaths, “There is nothing better than to die for the sake of our Land” [a reference to Yosef Trumpeldor’s last words]. (Eim HaBanim Semeichah, pp. 167–169)
Although Rabbi Teichtal frequently cites sources in Eim HaBanim Semeichah, on several occasions he notes sadly that he is quoting from memory, as he does not have books. Naturally, this led to slight inaccuracies here and there in the quotations, but if we consider that he did not have the books in front of him, his memory was astounding.
Rabbi Teichtal began writing the book in mid-1942 and completed it on November 11, 1943. The book has several introductions written at various points in the process, mainly in order to explain the turnaround in the author’s views and the purpose of the book. Rabbi Teichtal includes approbations given to Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer’s book Derishat Tziyyon as if they had been given to his book, even though the rabbis who provided these approbations were no longer alive when Eim HaBanim Semeichah came out. Rabbi Teichtal was sure, however, that had they been alive, they would have given his book their approbations. We can conclude from this that the message of Eim HaBanim Semeichah was problematic from the standpoint of the readership and the radical change in Rabbi Teichtal’s views. Consequently, he wanted to recruit all possible support for his message.
Harav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal's Timeline
January 24, 1945
Mauthausen, Perg District, Oberosterreich, Austria