Malachim (Hasidic group)

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The Malochim or Malukhim ("Malachim" in modern Hebrew pronunciation) (Hebrew: מלאכים‎, lit. "angels") is a small Hasidic group with strong Monsey and Williamsburg connections. It adheres to the Chabad school of Hasidic thought which emphasizes in-depth Torah study, uses the Chabad nusach of prayer, and focuses on the study of Hasidic mysticism.

History[edit]

The Malochim were founded by Rabbi Chaim Avraham Dov Ber Levine HaCohen, also known as "The Malach" (lit. "the angel"), who arrived in New York in 1923. Levine had been one of the closest followers of Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn and the tutor of his grandson, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn.[1]

Once in New York, Levine became the rabbi of Congregation Nusach Ari in the Bronx. Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, head of Mesivta Torah Vodaas, studied the Tanya with Levine and encouraged his mesivta students to visit him so they could see this luminary. Many of them were inspired and decided to become followers of the Malach, starting a Hasidic quasi-dynasty known as "The Malachim." They began to adopt a more Hasidic style of dress, including "long black jackets and a very long tallis katan over their shirts, with the tzitzit showing below their jacket hems". When the Malachim openly challenged Mendlowitz's authority, they were barred from entering the mesivta by older students and in 1936, left Torah Vodaas to establish their own yeshiva called Nesivos Olam.[2] (According to Nesanel Quinn, the then menahel (director), they left on their own. However, according to Rabbi Meir Weberman, one of the Malach's followers, Quinn expelled them but later apologized.)[3] After The Malach's death in 1938, the Malachim did not choose a successor.

Nesivos Olam, located at 205 Hewes St. in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, is led by Rabbi Meyer Weberman,[4] although due to the rabbi's poor health, his son Rabbi Mordechai Wolf (William) Weberman, a prominent member of Neturei Karta, serves as a semi-official leader.

Relationship toward other groups[edit]

Chabad[edit]

According to one leader of the Malachim, one significant difference is that Chabad involves itself with the affairs of the Israeli government, while the Malachim are staunchly anti-Zionist. Also, the Malachim acknowledge only the first four Chabad-Lubavitch rebbes as the legitimate rebbes of Chabad.[5]

Satmar[edit]

Many descendants of former Malachim have joined the Satmar movement, due to their shared anti-Zionist views. Once a woman is said to have approached a former Satmar Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, complaining that her son had become a Malach [Hebrew for "angel"]. Rabbi Teitelbaum is said to have replied jokingly, "Don't worry. He won't fly away".[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mintz, Jerome R. (1992). Hasidic people: A place in the new world. Harvard University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-674-38115-7. "Such a man was Rabbi Chaim Avraham Dov Ber Levine HaCohen, a respected Lubavitcher rabbi and sage who was known as the Malach (Angel). In 1923 he had emigrated to the United States where he received the respect and honor accorded a distinguished Talmudic scholar. In Europe the Malach had been held in high esteem by Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn (1860-1920)" 
  2. ^ Rosenblum, Yonoson (2001). Reb Shraga Feivel: The life and times of Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the architect of Torah in America. Mesorah Publications. pp. 103–104. ISBN 1-57819-797-X. 
  3. ^ Rapaport, Moshe. "Ben Zion Weberman (1896-1968): Life and Legacy of an Orthodox Jewish Attorney in New York City during the Interwar Period and Beyond". University of Hawaii. 
  4. ^ Rabkin, Yakov M. (2006). A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism. Fernwood Publishing. p. 153. ISBN 1-55266-171-7. 
  5. ^ Mintz, Hasidic People.
  6. ^ Sefer Tiferes Yoel