Living Legacy: The Atzei Chaim of Sighet
By: Yehuda Alter
Shabbos, the 6th of Shevat, marks the yohrtzeit of Rebbe Chaim Tzvi Teitelbaum, known as the Atzei Chaim. He was the son of Rebbe Chananya Yom Tov Lipa, known as the Kedushas Yom Tov, who was the son of the Yetev Lev, the son of Rebbe Luzer Nissen of Drohobych, a son of the Yismach Moshe.
Thus, he was a branch of this holy dynasty hailing from the Yismach Moshe and was revered in prewar Hungary. He was an older brother of the Satmar Rov, Rebbe Yoel, zt”l, born seven years before him.
He was named after the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, who blessed his father, the Kedushas Yom Tov that he would have children. He would go on to marry a granddaughter of the Sanzer Rov. In 1896, he married Rebbetzin Bracha Sima, the daughter of Reb Shulem Leizer Halberstam of Ratzfert (a son of the Divrei Chaim). The Shiniver Ruv was the mesader kiddushin.
Together, they had fourteen children. The majority of them perished in the Holocaust, some were niftar prematurely, and one son, Rav Moshe Teitelbaum, survived. He became the Satmar Rebbe following the passing of his uncle, Rav Yoel, and was known as the Beirach Moshe.
Following the passing of his illustrious father in 1904, the Atzei Chaim assumed the mantle of the rabbonus in Sighet. His sphere of influence, however, extended far beyond the town, and numerous communities throughout Marmorosh following his guidance.
The Atzei Chaim was niftar suddenly and prematurely in the year 1926, and he was interred in Sighet. He suffered a stroke while in Kleinwardein, Hungary. He was but 46 years of age. His children brought the following seforim of his to print: Atzei Chaim on Torah and Moa’dim, She’elos uteshuvos Atzei Chaim, and atzei Chaim on Gittin and Mikva’os.
His Rebbetzin Brocha Sima was unable to bear the great pain of his passing, and was nifter months later, and was brought to kevurah alongside him.
Despite the terrible tragedies, the survival of the Beirach Moshe has meant the succession of the Sighet and Satmar dynasties through him, and today, his two sons carry on the two largest Chassidic courts in the world, continuing to perpetuate the glorious legacy of their holy ancestors.