Chabakuk Elisha responding to Circus Tent: Allergic to the voice of contemporary Judaism
I’ll elaborate, since this post wasn’t really complete.
First of all, for all the simple minded folks who live their lives without thinking about what they’re reading, let me state clearly: Nowhere did I exempt Lubavitch from anything I wrote. Actually I don’t think I mentioned Chabad here at all. I realize that most of the readers here are so full of hate that they understand everything in those terms, but I am clearly including Lubavitch in this criticism.
The problem, in my opinion, is this klippa called “I want to do the right thing.” This is the root of all that is wrong in Yiddishkeit today. I realize that most people don’t have any clue what I’m talking about, and that’s a shame, but this attitude is pathetically sad. We have books and books of LAWS, of CUSTOMS, of RULES, and of INSTRUCTIONS – all catering to those who “want to do the right thing.” Contemporary Yiddishkeit has checklist upon checklist for “how to do it right.” Sadly, this is the most superficial and decidedly unreligious attitude, and unfortunately, this is also the main emphasis of our educational systems. It has brought us countless chumros – theoretically good, right? – and has made us all more Ehrliche Yidden, more connected with G-d, right? Any intelligent Jew would have to say… no, it hasn’t.
The Kotzker said that the difference between a chossid and a misnaged is that a misnaged is concerned with Shulchan Aruch while a chossid is concerned with G-d. Now, I know that all you guys get excited when a vort like that gets quoted, so I’ll clarify: We aren’t talking about political definitions of chassidim and misnagdim. We’re talking about attitudes of spiritual people vs. ritual people. Furthermore, since some folks might not understand the vort anyway, I’ll explain:
What, for example, is Shulchan Aruch? Is it lists of instructions to be a refined fellow? Is it rules to make you G-dly? Sure, it might help us get to those goals. But if all we need is codes for behavior, we don’t need religion – there’s nothing religious about codes for behavior. Farkert, often the fixation on the rules takes us away from what matters. A spiritual person cares about HKB”H; he keeps Shulchan Aruch not because of the rules in and of themselves, but because it helps him get closer to G-d. It’s not the “Torah,” it’s the “Noisein HaTorah.” Somehow, we don’t promote relationship with G-d, so instead rules & rituals are substituted in G-ds place, and this is sold as “Yiddishkeit.” Judasim becomes a bunch of goodie-goodies seeking to become frummer and frummer, but not in a ruchnius'dike way, rather in a ritualistic or moral/ethical way. Which is why the book title bothered me; Yiddishkeit isn’t about self-improvement or not violating laws. But these books subtly reflect an attitude that is decidedly about those things. And if you still don’t understand what I’m talking about, I’m sorry but I seem to be having trouble communicating the idea here…