As Shabbos was ushered out, the sad news reached the public regarding the passing of the righteous Rebbetzin Channah Rokach, wife of the late Admor HaRav Aharon of Belz, who returned her soul to its Maker at the ripe age of ninety-eight. The world lost a great woman whose entire life was permeated with the ancient grandeur of yiras Shomayim and service to Hashem, deeds of charity, a spirit of majesty, exemplary character and middos, the pride of the Belzer dynasty as the wife-helpmate of the exalted tzaddik, the Admor of Belz. Huge crowds in Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim, escorted her to her final resting place on Har Hamenuchos, where her revered husband, the Admor, is buried.
The Rebbetzin was born in Makova, Hungary, to her father, the tzaddik R' Yechiel Chaim Labin, the Admor of Makova, who was a scion of the holy dynasty of the House of Belz, Zidichov and Spinka. It was in this illustrious home, which rested upon the rich heritage of many generations of tzaddikim, that she was nurtured and where she absorbed massive spiritual powers which accompanied her to her very last day, through almost a century, historical upheavals and bitter tribulations which she experienced and which served to augment her character all the more.
When she reached marriageable age, she established her home with HaRav Yosef Meir Pollack Hy"d, the Admor of Bergsasz, who devoted his life to intensive Torah study through extreme holiness. They were blessed with a son and a daughter: HaRav Avrohom Alter Pollack, who eventually became the Admor of Bergsasz, author of Emunas Eison on Seder Zeraim, and who established his court in Petach Tikva. The daughter, Baila Chaya, became the wife of HaRav Menachem Mendel Mendlowitz, past rov of Kommemiyus.
Their years of peace were disrupted with the banishment of Jews from Bergsasz to the labor and death camps. The bulk of his followers, the Chassidim of Bergsasz, were killed, their blood spilled like water. Whoever was caught in Hungary without a passport was risking his very life. The Nazi fiends murdered her husband simply because he didn't possess one, leaving his wife a helpless widow with two small orphans. The five-year-old boy still had memories of his great father but not so the little daughter.
Rebbetzin Channah had papers testifying to her Hungarian nationality. Though open miracles, she succeeded in fleeing to her father's home in Makova together with her two children. They remained there until the Nazis took over Hungary but those times were fraught with danger and hardship.
When the Germans entered Makova and began loading the Jews onto cattle cars headed for the death camps, she was able to be together with the rest of her family, but her son was put in a different car. Miraculously, the boy succeeded in transferring to his mother's car, under the very eyes of the Nazi soldiers.
This was truly Heaven-sent, because when orders came to halt the journey because Auschwitz was filled to capacity, the train was amazingly sent back to Makova. Thus was she able to eventually emigrate to Eretz Yisroel so that in time, her children would be able to revive the illustrious dynasty with blessed generations of Torah leadership.
In Iyar, 5707, Rebbetzin Channah, her children and part of her family, boarded a boat headed for Eretz Yisroel. They celebrated Shavuos on board. During the trip, the Admor of Seret-Vizhnitz, author of Mekor Boruch, took the young orphan under his wing and studied with him. Several weeks later, they docked in the Haifa harbor. A group of her late husband's followers awaited them there, a group of Bergsasz chassidim, broken and crushed from the war who had succeeded in getting to Eretz Yisroel. Their welcome was tearful and moving.
From Haifa, they headed for Yerushalayim, where the widow settled together with her father, the Admor of Makova, who had already established his court there. Two of her sisters also survived the Holocaust: the wife of HaRav Yosef Lieberman, rov of the Sadigura Beis Medrash and Rosh Kollel of Shomrei Hachomos; and the wife of HaRav Shimon Klein from Yerushalayim.
The Admor of Belz, the Rebbe R' Aharon, arrived in Eretz Yisroel in the midst of the war, via an unbelievable gauntlet of miracle upon miracle, orchestrated by his Chassidim. He alone survived, however, while his entire family, including many children, became fuel for the incinerators.
In 5709 (1949), Heaven ordained her to establish herself anew by marrying the Admor R' Aharon of Belz. This was the first time that his holy face was wreathed with joy after having suffered through the horrible Holocaust. At the engagement, he noted that his intended wife was a descendant from his own family, the Sar Shalom of Belz and of the Admor of Ziditchov.
The Rebbetzin ruled her household masterfully while loyally serving the needs of her illustrious husband around the clock. It is known that this exceptional tzaddik had a different conception of time which transcended day and night, which were all one in his holy avodas Hashem.
The Admor spread his protection over his orphaned stepchildren, caring for them like a tender father and raising them as his own children. He married off his stepson to the daughter of HaRav Mordechai Weber, one of the foremost Belzer Chassidim.
Right before the wedding, the Rebbe himself wrote out a document itemizing the obligations he was assuming, which poignantly reflected his fatherly concern for the education and care of the Rebbetzin's young children.
The Belzer Rebbe truly favored his stepchildren, regarding them as his very own. He asked his stepson to study near his own room so that he could bask in the pleasure of hearing his voice in limud. When the first grandchild was born, he sent him off to learn in Bnei Brak, in HaRav Shmuel Wosner's Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin.
This wonderfully inspirational period in the Rebbetzin's life lasted only for nine years, when the Admor was taken to his Heavenly rest, on the 21st of Menachem Av, 5717 (1957).
The Rebbetzin's funeral left from the Maayanei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak, making its first stop by the home and Beis Medrash of her esteemed husband, the Admor, on Rechov Achad Ha'am in Tel Aviv. From there it returned to Bnei Brak, to Rechov Melzer, culminating in Yerushalayim, in Kiryat Belz.
She is succeeded by blessed generations, the children of her son and daughter, both of whom passed away before her, as well as grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, many of them Admorim in their own right and esteemed Torah leaders, disseminators of Torah and pure ovdei Hashem.