= What was Reb Yaakov Thinking?!
(The old Shul in Shkudvil, Lithuania)
A friend of mine in his 40's, from a nice American-Oberlander family, recounted a story that happened with him and his parents some twenty five years ago. To fully understand his situation we need to discuss his parents' background and education, and the mindset it created within them. His father came to America as a young child, learned in Chadorim in Williamsburg, and later went to Lakewood as a young man. His mother was educated in Bais Yaakov in the 40's and 50's, and soaked up every word the esteemed Rebbetzins there taught her about marrying a Ben-Torah and raising a family of Bnei Torah. The two were married and had children, very fine and Eydele children if I may say so myself, but children without an exact sense of direction. DeHaynu, they weren't boys who you looked and immediately saw where they belonged; there was room for maneuvering, although they did daven in a Chassidishe Shtiebel.
Daughter number one married a Oberlandishe type young man, and her children are all Chassidim today, with Shtreimlech and all. Son number one followed his father's path and he too ended up learning in BMG, and later settled in Lakewood, living there to this very day. Son number two is where it all started; the void became apparent, and that void needed to be filled. Son number two had friends in Yeshivah, and some of the friends learned about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Chassidus Chabad. So, the group started to go to Farbrengens in Crown Heights, and began to get drawn in more and more, until one day Son number two decided to go learn in Tomchei Tmimim, the Lubavitcher Yeshivah in Morristown. Needless to say, the mother was devastated; her dream of having sons Bnei Teyreh was beginning to unravel. She was beside hereself. Her friends from school also married fine Bnei Torah and raised fine children who were following in their father's footsteps, and here her Tchatchke, he pride and joy was joining a stupid cult? What should she do? Where should she turn to? What did she do to deserve this?
So she did the only thing she knew how to do; she went to seek the advice of the luminaries of her generation. (the order of the meetings; who they saw first, is unknown to me) A while later she and her husband (who was not as devastated, although he was a student of BMG in the 1950's) went to speak to Rav Avigdor Miller z"l, and cried out her angiush to him. RAM didn't understand why she was so upset; after all, he said, I too would be devastated if my son became a Lubavitcher, but I'm a Litvak, you're a Oyberlender, you've been close to Chassidim for a long time now, so what's the big deal? Your son is a fine young man who you'll have much Nachas from. I think we can all agree that RAM gave the concerned mother the correct answer, whether or not he fully meant what he said. After all, sometimes tact is necessary in order to maintain a little sense of normality. As it turns he was right! since our young man sits Al HaTorah V'al HoAvodah for twenty years, while some of the friend's kids didn't turn out so great after all.
The second luminary was Reb Yankel Dolhinover, aka Reb Yaakov Kamenecki, who at the time was living in Monsey, New York. I imagine that they told him that the father was a Talmid of RAK at BMG, because otherwise what he subsequentky told them makes zero sense. Now, let's remember that RYK and RAK were colleagues and at the Slabodker Yeshiva, under the tutelage of Reb Nota Hirsh Finkel, so Reb Yaakov was not someone who trembled at the mention of RAK's name. Therefore, I would imagine that he invoked RAK's name only for the father's sake, that the father should know what HIS Rebbe would say to it. Reb Yaakov, the co-leader of our generation told a Jewish mother, who's son's only crime was joining a well-established Chassidic group, as follows: ACCORDING TO RAK GOING OVER TO LUBAVITCH WAS AKIN TO SHMAD!!! Just what a mother wants to hear, right?
After hearing that story I thought to myself, "Hirshel, WWRYT?" Why would a wordly and intelligent man, who read Pushkin and pulled out chairs for strange women, why would he be so hurtful and downright extreme when it came to Lubavitch?!! After all, he was a Mishpocheh with the Futerfas and Shemtov and Serbrianski families in Lubavitch and knew them to be Ehrliche Yidden, Baalei Mesiras Nefesh, so why would the beacon of Emes of our generation make a statement like that? Can some of my Yeshivishe readers help me out on this?