A series of erudite, introspective and deeply emotional letters relating to the bitter divisions which arose within the ultra-Orthodox world surrounding the marriage of Rabbi Amram Blau (1894–1974), prominent leader of the Neturei Karta sect, and Ruth Ben-David (1920-2000), the divorced, French convert to Judaism. Several letters are concerned with Ruth Ben-David's involvement in the infamous kidnapping of the little boy Yossele Schumacher and ensuing political and legal entanglements. Selections from this extensive and fascinating archive include:
1) Autograph Letter Signed. Ruth Ben-David to Satmar Rebbe, R. Yoel Teitelbaum. pp. 2. 22nd Teveth (n.y).
"The Beth Din has ruled as if I were a little girl. I am not a "Maideleh." I feel they may have other reasons which they cannot express openly… I know that in the eyes of the Beth Din I am just a woman not born into the (faith)… yet I have seen the pain of those who fight against all that contradicts our holy Torah. 99% of people have become at peace with the Zionists, the State and the impure… Judaism has become weak even in Jerusalem. If they continue to (oppose) and hold back our marriage, this sin will cause Judaism to weaken even more. I have hope in my heart that my Chassan and I will repent (which is probably God's reason for sending us this test) and the Rebbe will assist us in reaching a good end."
2) Autograph Letter Signed. Ruth Ben-David to Satmar Rebbe, R. Yoel Teitelbaum. pp. 2. 17th Shevat (n.y).
"I heard that "Rabbi" Sheinberger wants to talk to me. I personally have nothing to talk to him about. I don't believe that a person who worked so long on being wicked can repent so quickly. As we see from Rashi's explanation of Ya'akov Avinu's life with Lavan. No good can come from a wicked person… God should have pity on him. I am not bitter nor do I have hate in my heart to those who have handled (this situation) improperly… He might have prayed on Yom Kippur every year, but in reality he never had a Yom Kippur in his life. I wish that after 120 years when he will stand before the Heavenly Throne the angels will not have to say "This is a Jew who never had a Yom Kippur in his life!"
3) Autograph Letter Signed. Ruth Ben-David to R. Amram Blau. pp. 3. 24th Shevat (n.y).
"To my honored Chassan and my precious friends… I worked on behalf of Yossele and now unfortunately again I realize their truth. In the Yossele matter, the Tzadik Rabbi Maizes erred (in my opinion) when he believed in the people of the Agudah. In the end they spoiled everything. The rabbi trusted them and perhaps because of this mistake he died before his time. With his death he atoned for their sins… Even the greatest make mistakes as we are taught in the Torah… The [Satmar] Rebbe Shlita who at present believes in wicked people, is also unwittingly making a mistake. Sheinberger and his friends will not repent, they will continue to work and seek to do damage." Includes an addendum dated a day later with an ultimatum for her Chassan. "Let him say "yes" as a Jew with responsibility, with fear of God and not fear of these people. Or "no", as a Jew who will bury the Neturei Karta forever and bring a curse on Jerusalem… On the one side is an engagement with a binding agreement with truth and purity following the path of God. The other side is lies, false judgment and idolatry. I await him… tomorrow will be too late… I repeat, it will be too late."
4) Autograph Letter. Ruth Ben-David to R. Abraham Ya'akov Epstein. pp. 8. (undated).
"There was a fine religious Jew who was one of Rabbi Maizes's best friends with whom I had a number of conversations about the mitzvah (concerning Yossele)… This man was not a scholar but a fine, ostensibly religious person, who knew everything about myself and Yossele. He accompanied me to a doctor to obtain papers for Yossele. While we were waiting, he spoke to me about his life and dreams of his ideal woman. He had no connection to his wife although he did respect her… I told him that he has to (leave)… I looked back and saw him staring as I left. I (then) prayed and cried asking God why he sent me such a temptation… This should be the last test! Men should not come to me, only my true match and partner in life. I should feel that he is "the man"… A few months ago I met my true match and God let him make the "Kinyan." I feel that what they are now doing will bring a curse for many people… This is a test - as the Yossele affair was a test…God knows that I will not marry anyone else."
5) Autograph Aerogramme. Ruth Ben-David to A.J. Epstein. 3rd Shevat, (1965).
"I cannot go on without information as to what is happening. I see that up to the present everyone was on a crooked path. Both the slanderer, my Chassan and you. I cannot continue to be a schnorrer. To beg my Chassan to talk to his children or to schnor information as to what is going on. People do not think of my feelings and I have become sick. If my Chassan feels that it is not worthwhile to keep his word and fight for me, let him do what his heart desires, but I must know what is happening… They made me feel low enough until now. I have no further patience. If I do not receive a letter or telegram by next Monday, I will forget this matter forever and leave. I have had enough pain in my life!"
6) Autograph Aerogramme. Ruth Ben-David to R. Dov Sokolovsky and R. Abraham Ya'akov Epstein. 12th Shevat, (1965).
Concerning the letter from Blau's children against her: "They performed three sins. Not having respect for their father, false slander against me and shaming me to the entire world… There will come a time when they will ask forgiveness… the Rebbe and Rebbetzin understand us and will give us his blessing. The world does not have to know, but for us it is enough."
7) Autograph Letter Signed. Ruth Ben-David to R. Amram Blau. pp. 2. 15th Shevat (n.y).
"To my honored Chassan Shlit"a. I read your letter with great joy. I finally have the man for whom I waited for over twenty years. Initially I felt you were not sure, especially when you asked why I do not want a younger man… Now we have to hope for a future together with our wonderful friends. I have the strength to bear all the tests and tribulations now that I know that you are not distant from me."
8) Autograph Letter Signed. Ruth Ben-David to R. Dov Sokolovsky. pp. 2. 21st Shevat (n.y).
Report of her conversation with the Satmar Rebbe: "My Chassan must write directly to the Rebbe. This is an issue between my Chassan, the Rebbe and his children. The Rebbe gave me one thousand dollars for our apartment. I have done what I had to do here. My Chassan must finish with the Beth Din and the Rebbe. He must write to the Rebbe as I have done. He should not be afraid to write to the Rebbe. I will not return to Jerusalem until I hear that everything has been taken care of."
9) Autograph Signed Aerogramme. Ruth Ben-David to A.J. Epstein. 23rd Shevat, (1965).
"To my 'brother' R. Abraham Ya'akov. I wish to present a Shtreimel as a gift to my Chassan. Make sure he does not obtain one for himself. I also want to purchase for him a new hat. Let me know the (correct) size and the appropriate width of the brim."
10) Autograph Letter Signed. R. Amram Blau to the Satmar Rebbe, R. Yoel Teitelbaum. Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, (1966).
At the request of the Satmar Rebbe, the couple had initially settled in Bnei Braq in order to avoid offending the powerful Beth Din of Jerusalem, who had widely opposed their marriage. In this important letter to the Satmar Rebbe, R. Amram Blau passionately defends his decision to leave Bnei Braq and return to Jerusalem following his marriage. He cites a host of reasons attesting to the rectitude of his position, much is rooted in his faith and refusal to be co-opted in any way by the State of Israel. Yet he also complains about his difficuly material conditions and the oppressive heat of Bnei Braq. While Blau thanks the Rebbe profusely for his support of himself and his new bride, remains adamant in his decision to leave Bnei Braq, placing his loyalty to his new wife above all else. He states unequivocally: "I cannot sign that I will not reside in Jerusalem nor state that I rescind the "kuntress" I wrote justifying my marriage. I cannot put my signature to lies. My wife feels that this caused her physical sickness and mental pain and so will not allow me to sign any of their proposals… I will not bend my head to sign something which will make the world tremble." An important archive which reveals much that has hitherto remained unknown concerning this Haredi cause célèbrE.