Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ha'Rav Ignatz Lichtenstein tz"l

On Hoshana Rabba we observed the yahrtzeit of Ha’Rav Ignatz Lichtenstein tz”l who passed away during the last day of Sukkot in the fall of 1908 (כ״א בְּתִּשְׁרֵי תרס״ט). Coming from the Northern Hungarian community of Tapio-Szele, Rav Lichtenstein tz”l served as the city’s chief Rabbi for nearly half of his life. In 1882 anti-Jewish delusions in this area reached fever pitch with accusations being raised against the entire Jewish community of Tisza-Eslar. Shortly before Pesach of that year a non-Jewish peasant girl named Esther Solymosi disappeared followed by rumors that she had been murdered in some bloodthirsty Jewish ritual (Raisin). The children of Yosef Scharf, the shamash in that community, were threatened, bribed and beaten, being forced to testify against their own father. During the trial articles were published by some Christian authors condemning the tide of anti-Semitism that had spread throughout the Hungarian empire. While familiarizing himself with some of this literature Rav Lichtenstein came across descriptions of the gospel message as one of love and life to all people.

While he was perhaps still in his twenties the Rav had been approached by a Jewish educator in his community holding a copy of this text. In a fit of rage he had thrown the book across the room where it remained hidden, lost behind other seforim on a shelf for some thirty years. As he described it, Rav Lichtenstein was reflecting upon the things he had recently read regarding the B”CH, that its message was one of love and peace, when to his disbelief his eyes focused on that very book which was now exposed in its place on the shelf, for decades unmoved (Quiñónez). He spoke of that first encounter with the messianic text saying, "I looked for thorns and gathered roses."

o much could be written about this holy Rav; here I will only say that the kind of Judaism he practiced remains an inspiration for chasidei Yeshua. He aggravated churches with his disinterest in conversion and challenged his own community with his recognition that Yeshua was The Tzaddik and Mashiach Israel looked for.


Rob P said...

I would sure like to read some of his stuff, its bound to be interesting.

Mitko said...

I will try to find images of Rabbi Zion (chief rabbi in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1940's) and send'em 2U ASAP