Monday, April 23, 2007


= 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?


Djimmy said...

You claim to have attended yeshiva, REAL,not Lubab, yeshivas, right?
So do you expect anybody to take an anonymous story which even according to your fifth hand story has as many holes as a swiss cheese seriously, and we should koch derin?? (Who heard what R'Yaakov said, wasen't it said privately?The mother repeated it to the son?Well the son is not very 'objective', is he??').
But since you asked so nicely, I will , just as food for thought offer this:I'm sure you remember the Talmudic addage of 'leshitoso', right?So let me explain, based on that:You yourself claim that R'Yaakov was a thoughtful person, known as a 'pikeach' and known for his integrity (I won't belabor this well known known point, but even with the I.R.S. his integrity was unusual)in addition he himself had known earlier generations of Lubavitchers, including his own family.IF he still said what he's sad commentary on Lubab.

Unfortunately, the post note of the story, if true, should read:Little did anybody know that a mere generation later, half of Lubavitch would be claiming their deaceased leader as the Messiah (sounds shockingly Christian, no?)and a small number would actually claim the Rebbe as G-D ch'v.That's starting to sound like shmad to me......

Hirshel Tzig said...


the story happened to his mother she told him, that makes it first/second hand, not fifth, big difference.

So now every Slabodker Talmid had "Ruach HaKodesh" too? pssssh.

snag said...

"why would the beacon of Emes of our generation make a statement like that?"

Maybe because it was true ? Did you want him to be mizayef the shita of RAK ?

GanzeOilom said...

I find this story very hard to believe. It may contain and grain of truth, in that RYK Z'TL wasn't exactly pro-lubavitch, but the Loshon he was depicted as using seems far too strong for his dimunitive character IMO.

Alternatively, RYK Z'TL could have been quoting RAK's opinion, one with which he disagreed in terms of degrees of opposition.

Was not R' Avigdor Miller known for being much more vocally anti-lubavitch than RYK? In that case the story seems even more far-fetched.

Check your sources with a magnifying glass please.

djimmy said...

You miss the point:Fifth hand, second hand, first hand.Whatever.How to you expect anybody to tell you 'pshat' in a mayseh that may not even be true?How do I know it's true,BECAUSE, you said your friend told you so???I mean c'mon!
Do I know you or your friend? Are you objective when it comes to Snags?? (don't think so)Is your friend? Don't know, but ,why would he be badmouthing his mom to you??Sounds like he has issues with momma.

I'd just like to flip the question to you:Lets say that chas veshulem a respected Lubavitcher family from Crown Heights has a major problem:Their son, has decided that he wants to join Lakewood.He likes the style of learning their, he thinks that Lubavitch has lost it's derech post gimmel tammuz, and he is often 'caught' learning nigleh during sidrei chassidus and on shabbos:The parents are devastated!They shlepp him over to the guy with the long beard who comes over to teach chassidus in your shul in Boro Park:What would he say:Going to Lakewood is erger vie shmad, right??

hmmm said...

I don't understand why a snag would have a problem with this story, or why Tzig finds it troublesome. Of course RYK with his Daas Torah, Ruach Hakodesh and Gadlus would know that Lubavitch would end up turning to Shmad! Not only that, but Tzig has been oiver the cherem gedolim shomrei machsheves hataharah of knowing that RYK read Pushkin or noticed the existence of women. Pheh.

Hirshel Tzig said...


do you live in a high altitude city where there's a problem with oxygen flow?

His mom told him what the Godol HaDor told her so as to DETER him from going there, Farshteyst? He's not badmouthing his mother here.

The Lubavitch-Lakewood scenario would never happen, so put a sock in it, please.

djimmy said...

I get this with you every time:'So now every Slabodker Talmid had "Ruach HaKodesh" too? pssssh. ' (from your comment)
Did I say R'Yaakov had 'ruach hakodesh'?Even if I did say that, IS R'YAAKOV EVERY SLABODKER TALMID??
Listen do you want a dialogue or do want to dumb things down?I can't dialogue with you if you are going to be immature

djimmy said...

''The Lubavitch-Lakewood scenario would never happen, so put a sock in it, please.''

You trying the easy way out, eh??
Lets just say it did happen, how would the guy with the long beard answer??
(Lubavitchers have left and been succesful in Litvishe yeshivas.I know a number of such people)

Hirshel Tzig said...

Mr. mature

I get this with every one of the Talmidim, from the Sislovitcher to the Vaboylniker to the Dolhinovers; they all foresaw what would happen. That's why I said "they all."

It would never happen, nobody would compare it to shmad, and I know, since it HAS happened many times that Bocherim went to Litvishe Yeshivos.

djimmy said...

'The Lubavitch-Lakewood scenario would never happen, so put a sock in it, please'

I took this to mean that a Lubavitcher would never go to Lakewood, so the question is immaterial.Is that the way you meant it?

From your next comment is seems that you meant to say that Lubavitcher rabbis would not be so against a bocher going to a Litvishe yeshiva from a Lubavitcher one?Which way did you mean?

Btw , do three Slabodker talmidim out of hundreds or thousands, make 'every Slabodker'??

Anonymous said...

Punkt farkert. Because Reb Yankev was more wordly he was a greater misnaged. Making of a Gadol records a story where Reb Yankev remarked that Reb Meishe didn't understand the danger of Lubavitch davka because he didn't learn in a mussar yeshiva.

Hirshel Tzig said...

I meant to say that nobody would call it shmad, they may not like it, but from that to calling shmad is a long way.

Every Slabodker Talmid who later attained a leadership position in the Torah Jewish world.

Hirshel Tzig said...

So that's what they taught them there in the Mussar yeshivah? to spread the word about the "danger" of Lubavitch? What was the problem 100+ years ago?

Anonymous said...

If we are to believe his son in his book Making... he writes that his father was wearing in a green Tuesday his Shabbos wardrobe,after he was asked he answered today is the anniverary of the Gra"s Cherem on Chassidim.

Besides if we believe in the vort a apple doesnt fall far from the tree, none of his sons are to bright, neither the philly son,five town son so on so on, but they are nice people

Anonymous said...

well !

when you see what happanned with the lubvs and their new religion that developed into a עבודה זרה! r"l
and their chasidus today is following the new rebee-mosiach-god believes and they top it of on their yarmuklas with the god like words of
לעולם ועד!

then you realize the chocmas hatorha and the foresight the gedolim have seen many years before in regards to lebovitch

suce gedolim as the satmerer rebee,
rav shach and reb yakov kamenetzky

Hirshel Tzig said...

anonymous 7:01

the story is about the Chazon Ish, not RYK.

Anonymous said...

Its not correct, it is Kamineczky.

BTW this combining Reb Moshe with Reb Yakov as a duo is moshe sherer's fabrication, Reb Moshe would be a godol hador even in the times of Chasam Sofer & Node Beyuda vs. Reb Yakov was a nice Talmud Chochom and good magid shiur in yeshiva letzirim. We have to match apples to apples and not fall in their PR trap.

lamplighter said...

Anon - 4:47

Actually, R' Moshe Feinstein was by nature very loving to all Jews(nothing to do with that "mussar yeshiva" stuff). You should see the title he gives the Lubavitcher Rebbe in his letters.
Just for the books:
Once, when R' Moshe was riding in someone's car down Ocean Prkwy on Chanukah, he commented that "halevai it would be Mutar to light candles with electric Menorahs", instead of saying "look at these koifrim" etc. etc.
V'ahavta L'reacho Komoch - Ze Klal Gadol Batorah!!!!!!!!

snag said...

"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!!!"

Typing in all capital letters ('caps') online is considered screaming. Do you mean to say that Rav Yankev ztvk"l screamed those words ? I suspect not, but rather that you inserted the caps on your own.

Care to clarify ?

snag snagger said...

ahhh, snag finally a comment of substance

baalbatish said...

Why don't you contact Rabbi Nosson Kamenetsky (his spelling) to get a clarification.
His contact info as provided in MOAG.

Rabbi N. Kamenetsky
9/b Sorotzkin Street
Jerusalem 94423
Tel/Fax: (02) 537-1966


Anonymous said...

>>Besides if we believe in the vort a apple doesnt fall far from the tree, none of his sons are to bright, neither the philly son,five town son so on so on, but they are nice people

That is such an assinine comment, and untrue. You may feel a certain way toward Misnagdim because of your chisronos, but to fabricate and lie about the intelligence of Rav Kamenetzky or R' Binyomin or R' Shmuel is crass and low. They are brilliant people. Unlike you, I KNOW them, so I can say that with authority, regardless of my negius.

Don't be a lowlife.

Hirshel Tzig said...

There's no need to have this discussion extend into people's level of intelligence, especially if they're not the topic of conversation. Let's stick to the issue at hand. Please.

Hirshel Tzig said...


the caps were to emphasize the point. RYK did not scream AFAIK.

Chaim D. said...

Are you up to a frank discussion?I F you are post the following:

Look, I have my problems with Lubavitch,but my pet peeve is their dumbing down of Judaism and I believe that it all stems from their inability to think any different than the herd/cult like school of thought expressed in Lubavitch.I so often wonder why the answers I hear from them all sound the same.

Now about this story:Firstly it's a third hand story (mom to Lubab wannabee, 25 years ago(!!), wannabee to you)However, when a respected researcher showed original documentation of R'Moshe ben AR conversion ,that was totally untrue!.Do you get what I mean?How is it possible to have any real discussions if your definitions of history are so different than others?

(I'd like to add that I was quite shocked studying some sichos of the Rebbe where he made gantzeh toirehs based on a mayseh:One example is where a tale was told about one of the rebbayim, maybe the Tzemach Tzedek who gave some candy to a grandson, telling him the Malach gavriel gave it.When the future rebbe kept the candy because of how special he felt about is, his grandfather called him before Pesach and made him burn it with the chometz.The Rebbe builds many castles on this mayseh, asking all kinds of questions and giving a whole discourse about it.In other places to take a simple story to such extremes is unheard of)

I'm adding my two cents about the mayseh,if true:It was not the right argument, not based on 'yeh shmad ,not shmad', it would not help.A more pragmatic approach would be to tell the kid that it's ok for him to be involved with Chabad, but wait before actually changing yeshivas.An approach that's called 'mah shloi ya'aseh haseychel ya'aseh hazman', maybe with a bit of maturity he''ll see that Lubavitch is problematic or that you can be a Lubavitcher and still be on decent terms with family(I know of a top guy in Telz Cleveland who was Lubavitch and never left the yeshiva and is well respected ad hayom).You see in the Litvishe world we can accept that an Odom Godol can sometimes be mistaken.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Chaim D

You don't forget short statements like that; being told by a respected Rosh Yeshivah that you're about to shmad zich, no matter how long ago, and no matter how many people may have told you.

chaim d said...

Is that all you have to say about the post?
I like your proof that the story is true 'because , people remember such things!!"

You are again proving my point that Lubavitchers just think differently and in my opinion are silly.
I hope you understood that it's not a big deal if R'Yaakov said something that may not have been the best idea according to this (contrived)mayseh! I think that maybe the problem with Lubab, they are unable to see their leaders in the light of 'people'.People are not perfect.Hashem is.

Anonymous said...

Heard an interesting story first hand about Reb Y. K. This person was involved in a din Tora and Reb YK was supposed to be a dayan. He told this person that he holds he is wrong.

This did not stop him from wanting to be a dayan on the din Tora.

Now you can come to your own conclussions.

Anonymous said...

My conclusions are:Your rebbe did not do a good job about teaching you not to spread lies and slander.
Nice rechilus bitthey''ll be proud of you in the next farby

Hirshel Tzig said...

and you KNOW it's a lie how?

anony-source said...

So all the admonitions about being 'dan lekaf zechus' do not exist in your Tanyah based torah?That's how I know it's not true.
Hey, yold, it also helps that the comment is A)anonymous and B)quoting an anonymous 'first hand source'.Iron clad sources!!!
They must be true!!

Anonymous said...

On top of the 'iron clad' source, the whole mayseh is laughable.You can't force somebody to come to your beis din today, it either works through a 'zabloh' process or a person accepting on himself to go to a specific bais din

Anonymous said...

What happened to that son that the mother went to Rav Yaakov about?


Joshua Nathan