Living Legacy: The Kedushas Yom Tov of Sighet
The 29th of shevat marks the yohrtzeit of Rav Chananya Yom Teitelbaum, known as the Kedushas Yom Tov, who served as the Rov in Sighet.
He was born in the year 1836 to his father, Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, the son of Rav Elozor Nissen of Drohobych, who was the son of the Yismach Moshe, the founder of the dynasty. His mother was Rebbetzin Rochel, the daughter of Rav Moshe Duvid Ashkenazy of Toltsheve.
He merited for his great-grandfather, the Yismach Moshe, to serve as his sandak.
From his early youth, his future greatness was recognized: he would sit and learn with tremendous diligence, and his davening was with tremendous fervor. He was a primary student of his father, the Yetev Lev, who learned with him most of his Torah. His father recognized his son’s greatness, and would often send to him people in need of salvation.
He was also an ardent Talmid of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz who called him lovingly “mein Lipa’le.” He also attested that his Talmid “sanctifies each and every one of his limbs for Hashem.”
His first marriage did not result in any children, and he married Rebbetzin Chana, the daughter of Rav Yoel of Zlochev. This time too, he did not immediately bear children, and his father as well as the Sanzer Rov davened for him a lot, and he was ultimately blessed with children. They would be Rav Chaim Tzvi, known as the Atzei Chaim, and Rav Yoel, known as the Divrei Yoel of Satmar, as well four daughters.
The Divrei Yoel said in the name of his father that the epitome of chassidus is to have mesirus nefesh to do a favor for, and never to cause distress to, another Yid. He also related that his father would speak with his children every single night to hear about their day.
In 1864, he became the Rov of the town of Tetsh. Before accepting the position, he asked his father what trait is necessary for the rabbonus. His father pointed out that Moshe Rabbeinu was told by Hashem “v’es hamateh hazeh tikach b’yadcha”, and this stick you should take in your hand. Mateh means a stick. But it can also mean lowering… a Rov must have the ability to lower himself to his constituents.
With the passing of his father in 1883, he assumed his place as the Rov of Sighet. He would maintain this position until his own passing. The yeshiva that he led in Sighet was one of the largest in Hungary, and invested much toil and effort into the yeshiva and its talmidim.
He was considered one of the leaders of his generation. While he was exceedingly humble personally, when it came to fighting for Yiddishkeit he fought like a lion.
On Sunday, 29 Shevat, the Kedushas Yom Tov was very weak, and confined to bed. He called in each of his children and grandchildren and benched them before closing his eyes for the last time.
He was interred in Sighet, and his holy legacy was continued by his illustrious children.