restricted access Messianic Expectations in Hungarian Orthodox Theology before and during the Second World War: A Comparative Study


In this article, I discuss a disagreement between two rabbis associated with Hungarian Orthodoxy in the interwar period and during the Holocaust regarding the theological role of Zionism in the messianic drama. The two rabbis are Chaim Elazar Shapira ("the Munkacser Rebbe," 1871-1937) and Yissachar Shlomo Teichtel (1885-1945), the chief justice of the rabbinical court (av beit din) and chief rabbi of Pishtian (Piešťany) in Slovakia. I present the rabbis' arguments for and against Zionism and show that the two apparently polarized opinions are rooted in the same assumption that the End Times are drawing near, and that the Jews must prepare accordingly. The article highlights the importance of messianic expectations among Hungarian Orthodoxy prior and during the Holocaust. The differences of opinion on spiritual questions would have tragic practical ramifications.