Moses Teitelbaum, also known as Jiszmach Moshe, the second rabbi of Hasidism in Hungary, was a prestigious rabbi of the Jews of Újhely. (The oldest is Jitzhak Eizik Taub from Nagykálló). The rabbi was born in 1759 in Przemysl, Poland. Among his ascendants were renowned rabbis and Torah commentators, the most famous of whom was the former Chief Rabbi of Krakow, Mose Islesles. He continued his studies with Teitelbaum’s uncle, the rabbi of Kolbosowa, and with the knowledgeable rabbi of several of his ages.

From 1784 to 1808 he was a Rabbi of Sinavi. At the suggestion of his father-in-law, he traveled to Sátoraljaújhely in 1808, where he was elected rabbi by the Jewish community. Until the age of fifty, the prestigious rabbi was a sharp opponent of Hasidism. He regarded the doctrine as a furious and unbridled heresy. It was a great sorrow that his only daughter married a Hasidic Jew. Leaving his son-in-law’s repeated urges, he traveled to Lublin, Poland, to Rabbi Jakob Jichak, a prominent representative of Polish Hasidism. Rabbi Jakob Jichak’s followers were dubbed the “Lublin seer” because he was said to have supernatural abilities. Rabbi Teitelbaum, in his multi-day discussion and conversation with the “seer,” was seized by the transcendental spirit of the cadd and became an active follower of his Hasidic teachings.

The deeds and wisdom of Rabbi Teitelbaum also seized the Christian people and visited him many times for his blessings and advice. Legend has it that Lajos Kossuth was taken to the rabbi by his mother at the age of 9, asking for his blessing and help in overcoming his son’s illnesses. The rabbi allegedly said the boy would “become a great and famous man”. He gave amulets to the approaching patients, which he selected from his seventy-drawer closet to suit everyone.

After the death of the prestigious Rabbi Taub Ezekiel of Nagykálló, the center of Hungarian Hasidism became Sátoraljaújhely under the leadership of Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum.


The Teitelbaum rabbi dynasty

The Teitelbaum dynasty professed conservative Jewish views, earlier emancipating and later other members of the dynasty condemning Zionism. Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum was the first to call himself “Rabbi of Satu Mare”. During the Holocaust, he escaped on the so-called Castner train. Rezső Kasztner was a journalist from Cluj-Napoca, with the help of whom he transported 1,600 Jews to neutral Switzerland in exchange for a bribe. Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum temporarily went to Palestine and then settled in Brooklyn, America for a year. He later founded Kirjat Joel, the largest community of Jews outside Hungary who considered themselves Hungarian. The extent of the dynasty is shown by the fact that his followers were led by Rabbi Teitelbaum in countless cities. Several members of the populous Teitelbaum dynasty still lead their Hasidic community as rabbis today.