Led by gedolei Torah, roshei yeshivos, admorim
and rabbonim, innumerable Bobov Chassidim accompanied the
Admor of Bobov, HaRav Naftoli Tzvi Halberstam zt"l, on
his final earthly journey after his histalkus last
Wednesday, 12 Adar II, following a prolonged illness.
Naftoli Tzvi Halberstam was born on 25 Sivan 5691 (1931) to
the Admor HaRav Shlomo, and the daughter of HaRav Chaim
Yaakov Teitelbaum of Limnov. From an early age his only
aspiration was to bring nachas to his Creator. Before
the War he was molded and instructed by his grandfather, the
Admor R' Ben Tzion Hy"d, the author of Kedushas
Tzion imparting to Naftoli Tzvi the inner aspects of
avodoh and Chassidus.
During the Holocaust Naftoli Tzvi fled with his father,
grandfather and other family members to Lemberg. On that same
Friday the Nazis, may their names be blotted out, took his
grandfather away before the young boy's eyes. Years later he
would tearfully recount how the reshoim burst into the
hidden apartment and wrested the tefillin from his
head before arresting everyone except the boy, who chased
after them through the streets until he could run no more.
HaRav Shlomo was with Naftoli Tzvi for his bar mitzvah on 25
Sivan 5704 (1944) in the Grosswardein Camp and they hid in a
bunker beneath the hospital. The boy's father always tried to
go to the mikveh before laying tefillin,
especially for the first time. The two went up to the
rooftop in search of a way to prepare for the first time
laying tefillin. Finding a water container they poured
nine kabin on themselves and at the time the father
told the boy to have kavonoh to purify himself in
preparation for being killed sanctifying the Name of
Once they got caught on a Shabbos Night and asked the goy to
give them one last night together. They sang songs throughout
the Shabbos, made Kiddush on a cup of wine and ate
crumbs of bread instead of fish and meat. After the meal they
studied the chapter in Sefer HaShloh on the letters of
Kiddush Hashem. They will probably kill us tomorrow
and we must do the mitzvah with joy, he told his son, asking
him not to cry if his father was tormented in order not to
disturb his focus on the oneness of Hashem. R' Naftoli Tzvi
wept and asked to be killed before his father because he felt
unable to withstand such a nisoyon. Through chasdei
Hashem the officer who had arrested them got drunk and
Bobov Chassidus was nearly wiped out during the Holocaust,
but when HaRav Shlomo arrived in the US after the war, he
decided he would not let the Nazis win and set about
gathering together the Bobov survivors one by one to rebuild
He started a beis medrash on Manhattan's West Side and
then set about building a Bobov center in Crown Heights,
later relocating to Boro Park. In Boro Park he set up a
yeshiva as part of his efforts to invest in the younger
generation. The talmidim, most of whom were Holocaust
survivors with neither home nor family, soon felt bound to
their rebbe heart and soul.
This core later grew to form the Bobov empire of Torah and
Chassidus, which has had a major impact on American Jewry to
this day. At the time the vast majority of Americans pursued
only materialistic goals, leaving Torah cast off to the side.
Despite Admor Shlomo's financial difficulties he dedicated
all of his efforts toward building Bobov Chassidus and
chareidi Jewry in the US in general.
After the Holocaust the Admor sent his son Naftoli Tzvi to
study in Jerusalem. This was after the Germans agreed to
release three ships packed with children and a few adults.
The ships set sail from Romania at the beginning of
5706(1945). As soon as the ships embarked the Nazis bombed
one of the ships, enjoying the sight of Jews flailing in the
water unable to save themselves. The Admor himself recalled
how he stood on the deck trying to no avail to save them from
drowning. Only six emerged from the water alive.
R' Naftoli Tzvi arrived in Jerusalem at the age of 14,
enrolling at Yeshivas Slonim. He formed a tight bond with the
Slonimer Rebbe as well as other gedolei Yisroel,
including the Chazon Ish, the Belzer Rebbe, HaRav Aharon, and
the Satmar Rav.
Eventually he returned to the US and from that point on he
remained at his father's side, helping run Bobov institutions
and delivering shiurim. When HaRav Shlomo passed away
on Rosh Chodesh Av 5760 HaRav Naftoli Tzvi assumed his place
The Admor of Bobov suffered from poor health all his life and
grew very weak in his final years. Reports of his
deteriorating state of health caused great concern in the
Jewish world and on Wednesday, 12 Adar II, at 6:30 am in New
York he returned his pure soul to his Maker.
In 5735 he wrote a will with instructions not to eulogize him
or offer words of praise about him and to write only "R'"
before his name on the gravestone, adding that no beis
din should grant permission to do otherwise.
Despite stormy weather a large crowd came to the
levaya, which set out from his beis medrash on
15th Avenue in Boro Park. His two sons-in-law offered brief
words of parting, and Tehillim were recited in
accordance with the Bobov custom. The procession went to the
ohel and then to a cemetery in New Jersey where he was
buried near his father's grave site.
The Admor of Bobov, HaRav Naftoli Tzvi Halberstam
zt"l, is survived by the Rebbetzin, the daughter of
the Admor of Desh of the US, two daughters, his sons-in-law
HaRav Yehoshua Rubin and HaRav Mordechai Dovid Ungar, his
younger brother HaRav Ben Tzion Aryeh Leibosh Halberstam, his
brothers-in- law, HaRav Chaim Yaakov Yosef Tauber, who serves
as a dayan, HaRav Yonoson Binyomin, who serves as a
rosh kollel, HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Yeshurun Meislish,
the rov of Kiryat Bobov in Bat Yam, HaRav Ben Tzion Bloom, a
dayan among Bobov Chassidim in London, and HaRav
Boruch Avrohom Horowitz, the rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Bobov in