Living Legacy: Rebbe Yaakov Halberstam-Tchakeve Rebbe
Rebbe Baruch’l of Gorlice—a son of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz—would conduct himself in mysterious ways, not always understood by the common observer. Often, when his grandson Yankele (the son of his son Rebbe Sinai Halberstam of Zemigrad) would frequent his home, he would take scissors and cut off his buttons. When this repeated itself a number of times, the boy’s mother could restrain herself no longer, and exclaimed, “Shver, I have no strength to sew his buttons again and again!”
He replied, you have no idea what kind of darkness awaits this boy, and what I am seeking to prevent through these minor inconveniences.” Indeed, through great miracles, Rav Yankele of Tchakeve would be spared the fate of his brethren, and transplant a glorious court that endures to this day.
He was born in Zemigrad, where his father—who was the son-in-law of Rav Nagfali of Mielic—served as the Rav, and as noted, he spent his childhood in the glow of his holy grandfather, and the tzaddikim who illuminated Galica of yore. He received semicha from Rav Meir Arik, Maharash Engil, and his uncle Rav Yechezkel of Ostrovtza.
In 1920, shortly after his marriage to Aidel Dinah, the daughter of the Rebbe Sholom Moskowitz, Shotzer Rebbe of London, he joined his father-in-law as they moved to Kelin, Germany. In 1923, he was appointed the Rav of Tchakeve.
As the war loomed closer, he saw the need to flee and began making plans to emigrate to Eretz Yisroel. Despite the many who sought to dissuade him, he finally made it to the shores of the holy land in 1934, with the assistance of Rav Kook, zt”l.
In Yerushalayim, he established “Yeshiva Divrei Chaim,” and in 1939, he traveled to America to raise funds for its upkeep. However, the outbreak of the war stranded him there. He remained in America, opening his Shul, “Tiferes Yaakov-Tchakeve” on the Lower East Side.
He saw the dire spiritual state of his brethren in America and would publish chizuk material to strengthen them. Finally, he was able to return home in 1946. Throughout the years, he returned to America on multiple occasions, finally remaining here when his Rebbetzin passed away, in 1949. He remarried to Rebbetzin Malka, a descendant of Sanzer Chassidim, who was extremely dedicated to his well-being for the rest of his life.
He had always harbored a deep connection to his holy grandfather, the Divrei Chaim, and undertook the daring journey to his kever, bringing order to the site, coming into danger through this process.
He was an exceptional ba’al tefillah, and a great ba’al menagen who composed many nigunim. He helped countless people over the years, and his Shul on Stanton Street was a center for chessed.
In the fall of 1967, it was discovered that he had been suffering from an illness for years, but never let out so much as a sigh. Following simchas Torah, he gave away his Hakafos booklet, saying that he would no longer be needing it. He was niftar on 4 Cheshvan, and was laid to rest in the Bobover chelkah in New Jersey.
He left behind a tremendous legacy in his children; some of whom are from the greatest Gedolim and Poskim of this generation, proudly continuing the Tchakeve legacy.