---- For The Volozhin Revolution.
("alte Mirrer") From Here
Chaim G commenting on Circus Tent: Last night in Lakewood
Here’s the point: Rav Chaim Volozhiner's revolution is truly over and we may as well fix Gimel Tamuz as its yohrzeit. Here’s what I mean. Volozhin is conventionally credited with being “the mother of Yeshivas”. Yet we all know that Yeshivas have been part and parcel of the Jewish experience since Har Sinai. What Rav Chaim Volozhiner innovated was the concept of a free-standing institution that could transcend and outlive the intellectual and spiritual giants that incubated it.
E.g. the Maharsh"a and Rav Yonoson Eibschutz maintained gigantic Yeshivas. When they got a new rabbonus shtella the Yeshivas moved with them. One didn’t learn “in” Frankfurt-am-main but “by” the Rebbe Reb Yonoson. When Maharsh"a and Rav Yonoson Eibschutz were niftar the Yeshivas dissolved and most of the talmidim sought out new Rebbes, (kind of like the earlier, healthier generations of Chasidus, when Rabbisteve was not purely hereditary, and Chasidim did not sign lifetime affiliation contracts :-)
In contradistinction to this we find the Litvishe/Volozhiner Yeshiva revolution. Slabodka was not Mir, was not Grodneh, was not Telshe, was not Kelm, was not Kaminetz, was not Novardhok. Each Yeshiva INSTITUTIONALLY had its own wrinkle in Lomdus and, where applicable, in mussar. One was not a “vanilla” yeshiva man. Stating his Alma Mater could give you a pretty good notion of his Weltanschauung. At that time Brisk was just another (OK, perhaps the brightest) star in the Yeshiva constellation. It was not the totality of the constellation.
Up to a generation ago this obtained in the American and Israeli Yeshivesha velt as well. Baltimore, Telshe, Chaim Berlin, Torah Vo’Da’as and Lakewood, Chevron, Ponovezh and Mir all had a distinct shnit. Lakewood, especially, had feeds from its branches headed by R’Ahron Kotler's zy”a talmidim Philly, Denver, Scranton and Long Beach. In that era the ambition of bochurim was not to go to Avrohom Yehoshua (Reb Berel z”l) but to make it to their own Roshei Yeshiva’s shiur 3-4 years after high school, and then on to Lakewood. Having been mechunach by R’Ahron Kotler zy”a talmidim, they were "Lakewood type" guys way before they even got to BMG, the flagship school.
All this is dead today. We have come full circle and are back to “personality cult” Yeshivas. Can anyone imagine Passaic absent Rav Meir Stern? South Fallsburg without Rav Elya Ber? Patterson (I think) without Rabbi Swerdlov? IMO l’akher meah v’esrim these Yeshivas will all fold like cheap cameras and any Ba’al Tzedaka investing big money in buildings is wasting assets on diminishing returns. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the turmoil in Philly and Long Beach over the last 6 years where the long-time Roshei Yeshiva are still alive but are simply not well. They provide instructive cautionary tales.
Until now observation. m’ka’an v’eilekh editorial interpretation:
IMO the reason for this phenomenon is not due to a lack of scholarship but due to a constriction and closing of the Charedi mind. Despites all the wailing and moaning about makhlokes and lack of unity today’s frum world is not just (externally) frummer than that of a generation ago, it is much more monolithic, monotonous and monochromatic. The great cacophony of voices has been stilled, and the marketplace of ideas has closed shop. The great debates of lomdus vs. mussar, Zionism vs. anti-Zionism, secular education vs. full-time, long –time limud HaTorah have all been settled with (respectively) Brisk, the Satmar Rebbe and Rav Ahron Kotler the victors and Rav Yisrael Salanter, Rav Kook and Rav YB Soloveitchik the losers. Any die-hards who think otherwise are either too scared to express their minority opinions, or as oblivious to the facts-on-the-ground as the Japanese fighters convinced of the Emperors desire for them to keep fighting World War II to the last man as late as 1949.
And so, Satmar had gained pre-eminence ideologically as Brisk has in Lomdus. In this ambience where there is only one flavor in the ice-cream parlor the only choice remaining is “who makes a better , richer, more authentic Vanilla”. Forget about Chocolate and Strawberry, let alone Mocha or Pistachio. No one is interested in hearing shiurim in the style of Rav Shimon Shkop or (SHUDDER) the Avnei Nezer. No one is inspired by mussar/hashkafa in the style of Rav Elya Lazer Dessler or Rav Yerucham. The only factor in a given mosad/ magid shiur/ communities “attractiveness” is how well does it approximate/ how quickly can it gain me entrée into… Satmar and/or Brisk. In religion the frummer, the more extreme, the more anti-Zionist/Goyim/modernity/secular education the better. In education, the more Brisk the lomdus (and the better the track record of acceptance by Avrohom Yehoshua) the better. No popular Yeshivas extant today will remain popular after the death and/or infirmity of their Roshei Yeshiva because whoever is the supreme "Brisker Lamdan" of the moment, and/or crony of Avrohom Yehoshua will then attract the best Bochurim.
And so I find all these expressions of shocked disbelief over BMG inviting the Monroe Satmar Rebbe to be the keynote speaker on Rav Shneur's z”l Yohrzeit comical. Lakewood stopped having a personality of its own even B’Chaim Chiyuso of Rav Shneur. Every place today is a satellite of Brisk and Satmar. As there is a long-standing the family feud between the Kotlers and the Soloveitchiks, and with a little D’var Torah Mo’ois Koinois to sweeten the pot, no greater kavod could’ve been rendered Rav Shneur’s z”l memory than to showcase the titular head of the movement that defines the stripe of Yiras Shomayim, not merely ascendant, but in monopoly-like control, in contemporary frum, Judaism.