We are all in this together.
(This is going to be a really long post. Make yourself comfortable.)
I know some readers feel I am ‘going after’ Chabad, whatever that actually means, by trying to get to the bottom of our very tangled collective family tree, but in this post, I’m going to explain how the only thing I’m ‘going after’ is the truth.
Here’s how all this started, around two years ago, when the persecution and ‘trial by media’ of Rav Eliezer Berland kicked off again, in Israel.
I was starting work on ‘One in a Generation’ volume 3 – which at this stage, will probably never happen – when I got the idea in my head that I should try to pin down who exactly was running the State of Israel, so I could start to understand more of why exactly they were persecuting the Rav, like this.
Very quickly, I got deep into ‘Frankist-Freemason’ territory, and my mind started to be blown by what I was learning.
And then, I got to THIS strange post, on the Kotzker Blog, which quoted the notorious Frankist descendent Athol Bloomer describing how he believed he descended from Rebbe Nachman, thus:
“Rebbe Nachman of Breslov was married twice. His first wife Sashia of Brody (Alexandra Body/ Braude) was the daughter of the secret Frankist Rebbe Benjamin Ephraim Braude (aka Alexander Margoliot/ Sender Brody) of Sheklov. She was the mother of most of his children. His wife died in 1807 and he remarried soon after to Devorah Brody (Braude) a daughter of the Frankist Rebbe of Sheklov and his second wife Rachel Mayer a granddaughter of Rebbe Jacob Frank. In 1808 Rebbe Nachman disappeared with his new wife to Lvov for 8 months to await the secret birth of his son named Jacob ben Rebbe Nachman (BaRoN) who he left with the Frankists to rear. This son later used the name Yankel Baron…”
The writer then claims to be descended from Yankel Baron.
“Yankel Baron (b.1808 Lvov) married Bracha Zaslavski (b.1819) a daughter of Aharon Zaslavski and Chaya (b.1801) a daughter of Rebbe Nachman [i.e. he married his niece]. Bracha’s sister Miriam Chaya Zaslavski (1820-1860) married Michael Brennan (b.1820 Sheklov) a grandson of Rabbi Nathan (Nosan) of Nemirov the Chief Disciple of Rebbe Nachman. Michael’s father was Moshe ben Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov (BReNaN/ BRENN) who became a follower of the Alter Rebbe’s son Moshe ben Schneur Zalman [who had become the leader of the Jewish Catholics (secret Frankists)]. Moshe (b.1795 d.1865 Kilkenny Ireland) and his wife Sarah Auerbach (b.1807) (daughter of Adil and R. Yoska) was removed from the family tree and records of the family by the Jewish community…”
Let’s be very clear, that I got to this post right at the beginning of my search into ‘what was really going on’, within the Jewish community, and before I’d done all the tons of research I have now done.
And there was this claim, sticking straight in my face, that Rebbe Nachman was somehow directly connected to the ‘Frankists’ and even had Catholic-Frankist descendents??!?!?
At that point, I had a choice.
I could either carry on pretending that I’d never seen this claim, and just not check out it’s factual basis and accuracy – and then forever have that gnawing feeling that perhaps I was lying to myself, and fooling myself about something way too big to really ignore.
I could take a deep breath, and try to figure out what was true.
Because God’s seal is truth. And even when it’s our beloved way of life, our religious ‘beliefs’, our connection to a Rebbe who has mamash changed everything around for the better – we still need to know the truth, about who that person really is, and where they are really coming from.
So, that’s how I started to research this topic so seriously, that it has literally consumed the best part of two years.
And that’s why I’m telling you, that we are all in this together.
Very soon in my research, I noticed that ‘Breslov’ was being used to deflect attention away from ‘Chabad’, and their genealogy and family tree. Basically, nearly everything that was being ‘pinned’ on Breslov, and Rabbenu’s followers and descendants, usually without any basis, I was finding over there in real life, on the Chabad side of the equation.
That’s how I started researching that “secret Frankist Rebbe Benjamin Ephraim Braude (aka Alexander Margoliot/ Sender Brody) of Sheklov” that I’ve written so much about.
Athol Bloomer’s accounts are a potent mixture of truth and lies – and figuring out what is what has been quite the process.
While Chabad’s deep ties to Frankists and Sabbateans are becoming more and more obvious, I’ve continued to have that niggling question:
What really happened to Rebbe Nachman’s daughter, Chaya, and her marriage to ‘Aharon Zaslavksi’?
And for the rest of this post, I’m going to try to answer that question.
As I’ve been saying all along, the Jewish people is just one, big family.
There is good and bad mixed up inside every single one of us, regardless of our ‘affiliation’. This is not a question of one ‘group’ being 100%, unimpeachably ‘perfect’ and everyone else being wrong.
Every single person has work to do, to identify, refine and ultimately uproot their bad middot.
And that applies to Chabad, to Breslov, to the Litvaks, to the Sephardim – to absolutely everyone.
Just it seems to me, authentic Breslov people are way more honest, about the spiritual struggles that are really going on ‘under the bonnet’. They are actually engaging in that work of ‘fixing middot‘ a lot of the time, especially by way of regular hitbodedut.
And when you are engaged in the task of recognising your own bad middot, it makes it way easier to spot them on the outside, too.
So, let’s get back to Aharon Zaslavski, the second husband of Rebbe Nachman’s daughter, Chaya.
Here’s the basic background:
Rebbe Nachman, and Rav Natan, after him, were exceedingly careful about who Rabbenu’s children married.
With hindsight, I’ve come to realise that the religious Jewish community was so infiltrated by ‘secret Sabbateans’ and ‘secret Frankists’ of every stripe, at this point in time, that finding an upright spouse for your kid, amongst the families with yichus, was becoming an almost impossible task.
And make no mistake, Rabbenu also had ‘yichus’.
His paternal grandfather, Nachman Horodenka, was the nephew of the famous Sabbatian prophet, the Eshel Avraham.
Nachman Horodenka’s second cousin was the Chacham Tzvi – their grandparents were siblings, and they have the same great-grandfather, namely ‘Jacob (the Elder) Halevi Koppel Heller Frankel.
On Rabbenu’s maternal side, he was descended from the Baal Shem Tov.
In turn, the Baal Shem Tov was part of the wider ‘Isserles’ clan, connected to the REMA.
The infamous Shor / Gunzburg family of Sabbateans also descends from the REMA and /or, the REMA’s brother, Eliezer Isserles (I’m still unpicking all the deliberate mixing up… stay tuned.)
So Rabbenu’s family was mamash in the middle of that very strong current of ‘Sabbateanism’ that was still eddying throughout the whole of the Jewish community, and in the process of crystallising into ‘Frankism’.
The holy Baal Shem Tov came to ‘rectify’ Sabbateanism.
He took a lot of their teachings, their ‘more spiritual and miraculous’ approach to life, and he infused it with the kedusha required to sweeten it, as part of his new approach of chassidut.
Before the BESHT came along, there were a lot of ‘miracle workers’ and ‘Baal Shems’ – but they were using the names of demons to basically do black magic.
‘Black magic’, or ‘practical kabbalah’ is where you are trying to make something happen in the natural world, using unnatural means.
This can still result in ‘miracles’ – and it often did result in miracles, and miraculous ‘cures’ – but those miracles are coming from an impure place, and they run a very high risk of entraining the ‘miracle worker’ to the world of evil that he thinks he’s controlling.
Rebbe Nachman talks about this, in his story of ‘The Cripple’.
There, he explains that:
The [Demon] King now said to [the Sage]: “Because you are such a unique man, I will give you a book with all the families of the devils. There are spiritual masters who only know one family, and even that they do not know completely. I will give you a book with all the families….
….Later on, when the Sage reached his time to pass on from the world, he called together his children and commanded them, saying:
“I leave you with this book. You see that I have the power to use this book in holiness, and nevertheless I do not use it. I simply put my trust in Hashem, may He be blessed. Neither should you use it. Even if there be among you one who is able to use it in holiness, even so, do not use it, and rather, trust in Hashem.”
Conjuring the names of demons – even for ostensibly ‘good’ purposes – is a very risky business, spiritually.
And we see from this story, that the BESHT’s new approach was to replace all this ‘practical kabbalah / black magic’ of trying to ‘force’ things to happen in the world, with a faith-based approach of practical emuna, instead. Of course, I’m oversimplifying, but the basic idea is that we accept God’s will, but also pray to God to change things and to ‘sweeten things’, instead of trying to take matters into our own hands.
It’s the difference between ‘hitting the rock’ and ‘speaking to the rock’.
So, the BESHT came out of that same family where so many of his relatives were the leading lights in the underground ‘secret Sabbatian’ movement.
He lived at a time where ‘practical kabbalists’ were working ‘miracles’ all over the place as ‘Baal Shems’ – or ‘masters of the name’. And the ‘names’ they were using for their miracles were the names of demons, as alluded to by Rebbe Nachman, in his tale of The Cripple.
I’m still unpicking Rabbi Nachman Horodenker’s side of the story, but I can tell you he descends from the same ‘interesting people’ I’ve been researching for a while.
Rabbi Nachman Horodenker lived at the time when Jacob Benjamin Loeb Frankel’s ‘Frankist’ movement was gaining steam across Podolia and Galicia – with literally hundreds of adherents who were RABBIS in their community.
At this point, I think R’ Nachman Horodenker was trying to split off from these influences by drawing close to the BESHT. And I think that’s also why he arranged for his son Simcha – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s father – to be raised in the BESHT’s own home from a very young age, even though Rabbi Nachman Horodenker was still alive.
So, Rabbenu was born into a family with a lot of illustrious yichus, most of which connected him straight into the heart of the growing Sabbatean-Frankist revival.
I am still in the process of trying to figure out the specific links, but I am certain that the Alter Rebbe and Rebbe Nachman were blood relatives, via their shared ‘Isserles’ connections.
And as we know, members of these ‘illustrious’ families all married each other, again and again and again, throughout history.
So, when I first learned that Rebbe Nachman’s daughter Chaya had married ‘Aharon Zaslavski’, who is meant to be the Alter Rebbe’s grandson via his daughter Frieda, I wasn’t shocked.
This marriage took place after Rabbenu’s death, and was Chaya’s second marriage.
Chaya’s first marriage was to Zalman ben Yaakov Yosef, of Zlatipolia.
According to the Breslov Research Institute’s book, Until the Mashiach, Chaya has one child from her first marriage, called ‘Nachman Chayales’. He married the grand-daughter of Shlomo of Karlin and Baruch of Medzhibozh.
(Like I said, it’s a very small gene-pool…)
Apparently, she then had three more children with ‘Aharon Zaslavski’, including:
Yechiel – who married his cousin Sterna Sashia, the daughter of Nachman Chayales.
Adil – who married Avraham of Kiniev.
Rochel – who married an unidentified ‘Yitzchok’.
This is what I learned, all those months ago, before I knew just how ‘deep’ in the Sabbatean-Frankist parsha the Alter Rebbe’s family actually is.
So then, as a natural next step to trying to ascertain the truth of Bloomer’s fantastic claims about Bracha Zaslavski and Yankel Baron, I started looking into the family tree of Aharon Zaslavski, himself. And very quickly, I found myself in an historical quagmire.
This comes from HERE:
Stupid me, I thought it would be relatively easy to figure out who he was, and who his father was.
Two years’ later, I am still deep in that extended process of trying to figure it out, but let’s see where we get to, today.
Here’s the ‘official story’ of Aharon Zaslavksi’s family, from Chabad:
Rebbetzin Freida SCHNEURI (b. Leozna, Poland) married to Rabbi Eliyahu ben Rabbi Mordechai KLUTZKAR. They had two children:* Boruch married the daughter of Binyomin KLETZKER.* Aharon ZASLAVSKI from Kremenchug. He married Chayeh daughter of Rebbe Nachman.
Frieda Schneuri is meant to be the oldest daughter of the Alter Rebbe.
Her son is the ‘Aharon Zaslavski’ who married Rebbe Nachman’s daughter, Chaya. But if you look carefully, you’ll notice that he also married someone else, who strangely, is not mentioned in the ‘Family book of Rabbi from Ladi’, which chronicles the Alter Rebbe’s official family tree.
Aharon has another wife, called ‘Chaya Sarah Alexanderov (nee Shneuri or Schneourson)’.
And here’s where we are probably going to learn something very interesting.
THIS screenshot, above, comes from the MyHeritage site for ‘Rbzn Rivka Schneerson (born ALEXANDROV).
It names her parents as none other than Aharon Klutzkar-Zaslavsky and ‘Chaya Sara Debarmikder’.
Rbzn Rivka Schneerson marries the Rebbe MAHARASH, the 4th Rebbe of Chabad who we talked about HERE, and is the mother of the 5th Rebbe, the RaShab.
Now, we have a bit of a conundrum to unpick.
On geni HERE, we see this:
This names Rbzn Rivka’s parents as ‘Aaron Moshe Alexanderov’ and ‘Rbzn Chaya Sarah Alexandrov’.
That makes Rbzn Rivka the g-g-granddaughter of Jacob Frank(el), via her paternal grandmother Rebbetzin Leah Golda Alecsanderov (nee Broida).
If that’s all we discovered today, dayenu.
We already knew that the Rebbes’ families were blood relatives of the Eshel Avraham and Jacob Frank.
But it still doesn’t explain how ‘Aharon Zaslavsky’ – and his ‘secret Frankist offspring’ – totally fits into the picture, so let’s just try and figure this out a tiny bit more.
If you go HERE, you’ll see the geni entry for ‘Aaron Moshe Alexanderov‘:
This tree is based on the account of the Rebbe Rayatz (6th Admor of Chabad), who tells us that Reb Moshe Alexanderov, Aharon’s father, is the son of the Alter Rebbe’s favorite chassid, Rabbi Alexander ‘Sander’ ben Tzvi Hirsch of Shklov.
I’ve been piercing a lot of information together the last few months, and I’m 90% sure that this ‘Alexander Sander’ is the brother of none other than Baron Joshua Zeitlin (Zeitlis).
I don’t want to overwhelm you with info, so park that for now.
Compare and contrast what’s above, with THIS, the family tree for Aharon’s mum, Lea Golda Alexanderov, the Eshel Avraham’s grand-daughter:
I know, my head is also spinning from all this.
It’s not so much the information, it’s all the lies.
That ‘Reb Sender’ who is Aharon Zaslavsky’s maternal grandfather is the same guy fingered by Bloomer as the:
“secret Frankist Rebbe Benjamin Ephraim Braude (aka Alexander Margoliot/ Sender Brody) of Sheklov”.
(Astute readers may have noticed the massive problem this presents, in terms of Chabad genealogy.)
Let’s see if we can throw a bit more light on this by looking at Aharon Zaslavksi’s brother, Boruch, who is meant to have married the daughter of ‘Binyamin Kletzker’.
Binyamin Kletzker was another famous talmid of the Alter Rebbe, and has a lot of stories told about him, like this, from HERE:
Few Chassidim intrigue us as much as Reb Binyomin Kletzker.
His greatness was that he was a phenomenally successful businessman, whose every action and decision was influenced by and in accordance with the Chassidus he learnt. Those teachings permeated him to such an extent that quite often, to the shock of his associates, he would become absorbed in a thought of Chassidus in the middle of his transactions, reflecting on it for an extended period of time.
I’m pretty sure THIS is the same guy, R’ Binyomin Volf Klatzki Gunzburg:
Binyomin Vulf Klatzi Gunzburg is the first cousin of Naftali Hirsch Gunzburg, the dad of Gabriel Yakov Gunzburg.
You know, the grand-dad of this guy:
Baron Joseph Gunzburg (who was doing very similar things, at very similar times, to the 4th Rebbe MAHARASH of Chabad.)
Binyomin Vulf Klatzi Gunzburg is also married to the niece of the Vilna Gaon, R’ Eliyahu Rivlin.
(Yes, that’s a new piece of information I discovered just yesterday. The Vilna Gaon was apparently ‘R’ Eliyahu Rivlin’, the son of ‘Shlomo Zalman Rivlin’.
Just think how many ‘Rivlins’ shaped and are still shaping the modern State of Israel, and then start to understand why so much of this has been covered up.)
There are no siblings – at all – listed for ‘Binyomin Vulf Klatzi Gunzburg.
As you may have noticed, I could go on forever with this stuff…
But here’s the takeaway, for this post:
We can’t be scared to follow the truth down, wherever it takes us, and however uncomfortable it really makes us.
Once we know what is really going on, and why our communities and world is so very broken, then we can really start to take the steps required, and say the prayers required, to fix it.
It’s as simple as that.
If we don’t know ‘the problem’, we can’t work out ‘the cure’.
Do I think that Rebbe Nachman has some ‘Frankist’ descendants today?
It’s possible, but at this stage I think it’s unlikely.
Rabbenu brought back ‘the gift of opposition’ for Breslov chassidut from Israel, which means Breslov is constantly being picked apart and criticised. That makes it a very difficult place for ‘secret Frankists’ to hang out, generally, and also means Breslov generally has very little secular power or influence.
It does seem, tho, that there WERE ‘close mishpocha’ of Rabbenu who really were very deep in the Sabbatian-Frankist parsha, and who seem to have a habit of ‘projecting’ all their own stuff onto authentic Breslov.
As is still happening today, with Rav Berland and Shuvu Banim.
Remember, when one of these people was quoted extensively in the Israeli press accusing the Rav of being another ‘false messiah’ and another ‘Shabtai Tzvi?’
But the point is, really, that there is good and bad in everyone’s closets.
There is good and bad in everyone’s hearts.
There is good and bad in everyone’s actions.
We are all an admixture of good and bad, that needs clarifying and rectifying.
Going forward, I want to issue a plea:
Let’s just figure out the truth of what is really going on here, as a nation, as a people, so we can work together to figure out the solution, and get geula the sweet way.
Chabad for sure has tremendous good in it too, and tremendously good people. Breslov for sure, as a movement, still has its fair share of crazy psychos with bad middot, including the people who have been persecuting the Rav for the last 20 years.
We need to move past the ‘sectarianism’, and the ‘my Rebbe is bigger than your Rebbe’ stuff, and all the ‘pretending’ that our leaders are perfect saints who never had any doubts, or any crises of faith, or had any massive inherited skeletons in their closet.
And just figure out what is really going on here, so we can join together and fix it.
As one nation, with one heart, all trying to serve the One True Hashem.
The truth shouldn’t scare us.
Even all those ‘false messiahs’ had some spark of good, and were trying to somehow ‘fix’ the world spiritually – just they made some massive mistakes, got mixed up with demonic forces, and very quickly fell into even bigger spiritual mistakes that we are still suffering from today.
But Rabbenu teaches:
If you believe you can break, believe you can fix.
So yalla, let’s do it already.
Geula is waiting.
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