Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sad Comment of the day

(Rabbonim from the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War)

U N commenting on Circus Tent: Today's Pics:

The thread mentioned the Rebbe Rashab as wearing the Russian Kasket, to which we were told that from him Iz Kein Rayeh since the Rebbe Rashab was an Oofgeklerte Mentsh!

He begins:

"The problematic thing that we can bill as an error in retrospect is that he (The Rebbe Rashab - HT) and his son (The Rebbe RaYatz - HT) have seriously antagonized the new Bolshevik rule against Yiddishkeit. While (the) Tzar's government made his life and life of Jews in all of Russian Empire a living hell - (the) May Laws in particular - when (the) Bolsheviks came to power, Chabad leadership chose to get mixed up in politics and antagonize the new power in so many ways. This cost many people their life and/or freedom. It's easy for us to speculate of course, but it can be argued that if all the Rebbes and Rabbonim didn't preach so loudly their total rejection of the Soviet power, maybe (the) Kremlin wouldn't be so eager to assume every frum Jew to be an enemy of the Soviet state by definition."

Ad Kan Leshono. וצע"ג

I sit and think: "where did THAT come from?!" What it is he wants? He is a clever man and he does understand the dangers of Communism and its relationship to Religion in general and Judaism in particular, so why then does he make such statements? I imagine he's echoing the sentiments of some people of that generation, but it seems naive to say the least. I should be somewhat "happy" to see that these people saw the Rabbeyim as such a force that they could determine the policies of the Soviet Union regarding all Jews, but this seems a bit far-reaching even to a "believer" like myself. At first I was going to see these words as "hateful," and ignore them, and admittedly I do overuse that term sometimes. But then I realized that this cannot be considered hateful, but must rather be taken seriously, just so that we can examine the mindset of such people. I don't think I've ever seen such criticism in writing, so maybe it was something passed down from generation to generation within the community of Yotzei Rusye Non Chabad.

Was it jealousy of the success of the Rabbeyim in getting their Talmidim to stand up the regime and lead such exemplary lives that caused statements of blame to be made by others?! (Of course this too - The Mesiras Nefesh - is a lie in their eyes, and part of the "lies" I've been spoon fed over the years....) I often read the memoirs of some of the Ziknei Chabad, and see that many were married to daughters of other Chassidishe Kreizen, mainly from the Tchernobler Cheyder. The old Tchernobler Rebbe of Bnei Beraq was a Talmid of the underground Lubavitcher Yeshivos, and many of Today's Chassidishe families have their roots in other Russian/Ukranian Chassidesen, simply because Chabad was all there was. Others would rather have their children be flies in the proverbial wind, and said Lubavitch? I should send him there and have him become a Chabadsker? over my dead body!! U N strikes me as one of those. I always wondered why the Rebbe would speak of his FIL the Frierdige Rebbe's time in Poland and refer to it as a period of VaYekanu Boy Echov, after all why would they be jealous? but I'm beginning to see it now....


Anonymous said...

Reb Tzig,

Firstly, can you for just one post hold back lies and deliberate twisting of words in order to get to the point ? I beg you, please.

You seem to take issue with several not very related things. That is : political alignment of heads of Chabad and its effect on treatment of Judaism and frum Jews in Soviet Union; jealousy of all those "others" rabbonim towards Roshei Chabad and their monopoly on yiddishkeyt and mesiras nefesh in the same Soviet Union; and terrible ungratefulness of all those "Yotzei Rusia" towards Chabad - instead of being eternally grateful to your party, these nogoodnik Chernobyle Snago-Poilishers forgot the hand that fed them and decided to besmirch their benefactors with all kinds of alilos sheker and kefiyas toivo.

All this you take as a sign of personal disrespect to you, your party and all leaders of it.

Let's address them in same order. It's an undisputed fact that treatment of Jews in Tsarist Russia was perhaps the worst anywhere except maybe Germany after Nuremberg. Decrees from the highest level and eagerness of the lay representatives of all branches of power in Russia were driven by open, unadulterated anti-Semitism. Kantonisten, the May Laws, ever shrinking Pale of Settlement, church-sponsored and instigated pogroms - the Tsar invented it. So it came as no surprise that when it came to opposition to the Tsar, many young Jews were on the frontlines. Despite what you were taugh in BP Cheder, not all Jewish revolutionaries in tsarist Russia were driven by atheism, hatred of Yiddishkeit and desire to throw off the yoke. It's just that they were at the diyuta hatachtoina of desperation, and saw Tsar's regime as a quintessential enemy of freedom and emancipation.

So when it came to the struggle against Tsar and the old regime, it was naturally expected that the Yidden as a nation would at least be somewhat grateful for the effort to give them equal rights and normal treatment, as human beings. Remember, we're talking 1910's through late 1920's - when Stalin's power was still limited, Bolshevik rule was relatively liberal and there was a long time to go before Gulags and hunger and troikas and what-have-you. Besides, during the Civil War the tsarist rebels (Petlyura, Denikin, Romanian intervention et al) were unequivocally antisemitic and showed no restrain when it came to murder and pillage of Jewish settlements. Red Army and an occasional anarchist were the only force that came to Jews help - and indeed many Jews took up arms and joined the Red Army in those times.

The frequently axiomated relationship of Communism towards Judaism wasn't such a black-and-white area either. If you know, there were two sorts of Rabbinical title in Russia - a "dukhovny Ravvin" and a "kazenny Ravvin". The latter was a rov meta'am hamelucha, empowered to do various ceremonies and otherwise represent the State amongst the Jews. Naturally, they were seen like any other part of the Tsarist apparatus of suppression; rest of Judaism got somewhat convicted simply out of association. Obscurantist tendencies did not help either, and this "social" Judaism got classified with other organized religions as a reactionary force that would stand in a way of enlightenment and progress.

But the truth was that Rabbis mita'am hamelucha were much despised by frum Yidden themselves. Often they were marginally observant if at all and were particularly hateful towards ehrliche rabbonim and chassidim. Read testimonies in Beilis case for further detail.

So there was a period of time during which the ambiguity of relationship between the new forces and Yidden came to be. Idealism of 1910's and 1920's meant that in theory, new forces wanted to give everyone an equal chance by mandating separation of church and state and forceful education - both of which are standards much lauded in today's frum blogosphere.

There was no necessity to rub into their eyes incompatibility of Yiddishkeyt and the new power. There definitely was no necessity to declare allegiance to the anti-revolutionary forces. The mandate of anti-Sovietism left soviet executives with no choice but label frum Yidden as reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries and enemies of the state and potential spies (you yourself quoted the "CIA" person in regards the latter charge ). They were afraid of having a network of deeply convicted, spiritual and dedicated people who were hostile to the new power. If that hostility wasn't so expounded upon and if leaders of those time tried to avoid politicization and made a genuine effort to find a neutral ground, chances were that many lives would have been spared and the Soviets wouldn't have a ground for wholesale persecution of Judaism and frum Jews.

This is not an attempt to revise history or to blame Rashab and his son for lack of hindsight. Those were indeed difficult times and who are we to say coulda-woulda some ninety years past. But the fact remains - as the most high-profile figures in Yiddishkeyt in those days, the actions, words and convictions of Roshei Chabad were ascribed to all Chasidic Jewry and they suffered for years to come.

Anonymous said...

The "jealosy" memra is on the conscience of whomever carried it over. You and your ilk can't hold back from twisting anyone's words even in front of their author, and there is little reason to believe that even a single sentence could get out unscathed to see the light. Somehow, in your litte goaty eyes, there is either a "monopoly" on mesiras nefesh or no mesiras nefesh at all; by you it's all about nitzochon and "ani amloch" and being at the top. Unless everyone that's not a party member is put down and made insignificant, it becomes "hatred" and jealousy. I guess is there is a need to declare a yomtov on a day when one jew won over another jew in Erko'os, there are no further questions.

Nobody in his right mind would doubt that Chabad was a strong and important force in the Soviet Russia. Nobody denies the good that was done. Yes, there were underground yeshivos that were supported by chassidei Chabad. They were also supported by whoever else was interested in supporting them. Rymnitzer Rebbe zts"l used to gather money and send meshulachim to deliver it to these yeshivos too; it never fell into anyone's mind that a day will come when people like Tzig will turn everything upside down and use their mesirus nefesh tzi shtechen yenem. Don't forget that in the wildest dreams of the craziest Chabadnik of those times would an image of today's kantzivu make any sense at all. There was no inter-party quarrel in the Soviet Union; that was one luxury that couldn't be afforded. A breslever, a skvirer and a litvak were comfortable in a minyan - can it get any more "mayayn-oilom-habo" ?

Anonymous said...

It's part of a trend, let us not forget a later visit to Chevron that sparked a riot.

All the political nous of a bull in a china shop.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

Is that what the Chevroners say; that the Rebbe sparked the riot?

I'd laugh if it weren't so sad. It's like what you see on Arab TV about the Jews, at first you laugh because how can people be so stupid, but then you realize that these people have access to weapons! In this case Snag here publishes the Yated and influences all KINDS of people!!!

I'm sure the fact that you had a bunch of guys with brooms up their behinds from the Knesses Yisroel school gouging out their eyes had nothing to do with it, right? And the Jew-loving Mufti was a saint too..... Those darn Schneersohnistas screwed EVERYTHING up!!!!

Anonymous said...

I never realized that Soviet and Arab anti-semitism, pogroms, and gulags were the fault of the Rebbeim of Lubavitch. If only the LR would have left well enough alone, the Soviets and Arabs would have treated us all with kovod.


Anonymous said...

It is unbelievable that this man seems to have forgotten the incredible antagonism to religion that the new communist regime harbored. The call 'down with priests and rabbis' was ubiquitous already in 1917. Even the most talented poets of the Revolution took active role in this propaganda (read Mayakovski, etc). The founding conference of Yevsektsiya, whose mandate was to suppress Judaism and 'bourgeois nationalism' and replace traditional Jewish culture with 'proletarian culture' took place on October 20, 1918 [the last phrase was quoted from wiki].

Secondly, the only hostility expressed toward the new regime by the Rebbeim was in the opening chadorim & mikvoyes. Never did they call for nor supported any 'contra-revolutionary' or resistance activities. If the communists did not close chadorim, shuls, yeshiveis and mikvoes, the Rebbeim would not have any objections to the socialist state.

This creature probably would tell you that Rabbi Akiva's resistance against the Roman anti-Teiroh decrees actually caused these very same decrees.

A truly purifying being!

Anonymous said...

Tzig, please lay off u'n'. He writes well, and adds a different perspective to things.

The way I read it, all he is saying is that the actions of the Chabad Rabe'im had consequenses, but he is not second-guessing them. Ledugmo, no one would argue that Reb Chaim Ozer's decisions did not have the negative consequence that only Mir exited Lithuania as a group, yet no one would second-guess one of the true Gedolim (no quotation marks)of that generation.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's some kind of inside code, but I have no idea what riot you're talking about, nor who the Knesses Yisroel School is. But you should realize, dear Tzig, that you and your kneejerk paranoia are your worst enemies.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


what code? I thought you were well-informed!

Snag is speaking of the Chevron pogrom in 1929 that happened soon after the Rebbe Rayatz visited there and was allowed inside the MeOras HaMachpelah, something very few Jews were allowed to do. Knesses Israel is the Chevroner Yeshivah from Slabodka that was in Chevron at the time.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


sounds like you're second-guessing him right now.......

Anonymous said...


Unlike your usuals, I don't pretend to be well-informed when I'm not. I never heard of anyone hanging blame for the 1929 pogrom on anyone other then the usual Arabs (and/or Zionists, depends whom you ask).

Here your master quoter of wiki with a BS in history berl, the thing from kan-tzivo started spewing chiddushim without ever reading the original post. How sad and pathetic. If he did, maybe he actually could put together a point.

Where does it say that there is a problem with second-guessing obvious mistakes ? That's just another piece of idolatry; when (and if ever) you'll meet those who were burnt down alive in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine because they were told not to go to the treifene Amerika, why don't you tell them about second-guessing. You can start rehearsing right here.

As a side story, heilige rebbe Reb B' Halberstam begged his oldest brother to come with him to Amerika in the 1880's-1890's to set up yiddishkeyt there, as he foresaw rivers of yiddishe blit. His brother didn't want to, he was afraid to go and he was afraid to leave.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

and I never heard someone blaming - sorry, second guessing - the Rabbeyim for provoking the Soviets either. You live and learn.

btw, Berl is no BS'er, and his knowledge is definitely not from Kan Tzivoh.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you yourself cite sources that claimed that when CIA wanted a message delivered in the Soviet Union the used the underground network of "the rebbe's mentschen" ?

Would you also refuse to blame the previous rebbe (or any other rebbe in such position) for advising people to stay and not go to America ? You have very selective ears (must be hereditary). Belzer Ruv zts'l had no qualms accepting such blame; he spent the rest of his life lamenting over his decisions that he deemed wrong.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


I read your long comment again, and finally had some time to realize what you meant. I think the answer can very much be found in the Alter Rebbe's approach towards Napoleon. But more on that later, a lonmg comment deserves more time.

Anonymous said...

hey, moron, wiki or not, the historical facts are as I stated, neither the Rebbe Rashab nor the Rebbe Rayatz 'antagonized' the commies - there are no hints of any anti-commie sentiment (other than their redifeis against yiddishkeit) in any letter, diary or eye-witness account. If you can produce a document that states otherwise, do so; otherwise just shut your stupid pisk.

Tzig, since when does one have to apologize for 'kan ztavoh' to the likes of this drek?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


it wasn't an apology, rather a הבהרה
So that he can't just put it down.

Anonymous said...

oops, i meant 'kan tzIvoh"

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


using that tone and those words makes you look bad and like you lost the argument. Let's try and keep this civil, please.

Anonymous said...

this guy is outrageous. there is no argument here - let him simply produce the facts.

Anonymous said...


it's just that he DOES look bad (i. e. dumb), and he never began to win the argument.

To begin with, why don't you [re]read Ishkavtey DeRebbe, and memoirs of the old partisans (sifting out artscoll/kehos/jackson-vanick gunk of course).

Anonymous said...

reb tzig,

not that Rashab or Rayatz owe anyone an explanation or a justification - they acted as they considered necessary. But the situation in 1812 was qualitatively so different from 1915-1920 that us drawing parallels without them suggesting so doesn't make much sense.

Anonymous said...

tzig, I am not sure why you find it interesting to converse with this individual. The man is a complete fraud:

First it's "the letter is a fake and is full of Hebrew mistakes". When asked to point at least one grammatical error - he goes mum.

Now it's the “Rebbes turned the communist government against the frum jews”. When asked to produce some facts - it's 'somewhere in Ashkavtah deRebbe and some 'memoirs of the old partisans' (what do the freaking ‘partisans’ have to do with the events of 1917-1927? - nobody knows). Well, I read Ashkavta deRebbe and I do not recall any description of the Rebbe Rashab engaging in ‘anti-communist propaganda and agitation’. Let him produce some specific references, with page numbers ‘n all. Of course he will not. Nor will he be able to refute the indisputable fact that the Bolshevik rhetoric and even poetry was virulently anti-religious well before 1917. As soon as they came to power words turned to deeds.

Then the creature has the unmitigated gall to call the reshimeis and the letters of the Previous Rebbe published by Kehos ‘gunk’.

And you are telling me to be ‘civil’?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

The only difference I see is the opression that you claim followed as a result of the Rabbeyim's firm stand against the regime. One thing's for sure: the wiping out of Yiddishkeit would've been close to the same, since Religion was so ridiculed by the regime, the only you can claim may have been the oppression and the deportations and the shooting of frum Jews. This was happening way before the Revolution, as well as in free countries. In 1812 going along with the plans for liberation from the Czar would've accomplished freedom too, yet the Alter Rebbe would have nothing of it, against the wishes of the other Chassidic greats. Was the Cantonisten and Pogroms a result of that?!

Anonymous said...

דער בערל איז נישט קײַן בערל נאָר אַ הינטל, עהר בילט גאָר שטאַרק אָבער נעבעך בײַסין קען עהר נישט װײַל די צײנער עהם לאַנג אַרױסגיפֿאַלין. Apparently he can't read so he prefers to write; I won't merit his barfs with attention for the same reason I don't merit his spiritual twin scott rosenberg with attention - they come with similar intentions. If you choose to censor yourself based on his kind suggestion - nu nu. And if he thinks that the fake letter wasn't addressed sufficiently enough, he can raise it in appropriate place, which is not here.

Reb tzig - it doesn't cost much to speculate what could've been and how it would've been. But there is one question that you don't see addressed much in all those volumes of literature about soviet underground. Namely, what and who is at fault and how did it come to be that young people from the nicest families, coming from amongst chassidim and talmidei chachomim, almost overnight (at least according to the official scribes of those periods) tuned out to be haters of Yiddishkeyt, their parents, most of their culture and religion altogether. I have yet to see a collective "ushamnu"; someone who would try to admit or at least explain away how did it come to that. The revolutionaries for the most part weren't hungarian or poilish - the list reads like a CH phone book. Those were boys and girls from Litvish, Lubavich and other russian and white russian background; of those groups, the most prominent and centrally ruled would be guess which one. Does that mean that blame for it lays on their cheider rebbes ? That's a bit harsh. (although not out of line of your own statements towards YOUR BP nightmares). There is no simple answer; certainly not that they just out of nowhere woke up atheists, apikorsim and murderers. No, it took time and effort to breed Naftuli Frenkel and his ilk.

But part of the answer lies in what you wrote. Yes, in their minds organized religion and Tsarist regime were inseparable. Yes, they saw jewish leadership as being complacent and even benefiting from the terrible oppression that started right after baal hatanya's death and went on with little interruption all the way till 1917, inclusive. I'm sure that if history interests you, you already know what the original soviet spin on religion was; unfortunately, much of the allegations did fit the reality - at least in those circles. Yes, the Kansonisten and all the other terrible events could've been avoided IF Napoleon won the war; but since Napoleon wasn't about to win, Alter Rebbe was pragmatically and practically right in supporting Tzar in those times (whether or not you apply the chassidisher understanding of "ketanei amonoh"). I'm sure that the mad berele will jump in keminhogoi and will try, without reading much of this, to try and claim that I'm whitewashing the bolsheviks; alas, it must be something in CH water ...

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

U N you said: Yes, in their minds organized religion and Tsarist regime were inseparable. Yes, they saw Jewish leadership as being complacent and even benefiting from the terrible oppression that started right after baal hatanya's death and went on with little interruption all the way till 1917, inclusive.

Is that an assumption on your part or a fact? What benefit do you speak of, and how would they benefit from opression if they too were oppressed? I understand that there were quotas to be filled during the Cantonisten peiod, and that poor kids were taken in the place of the rich ones, but when else?

Anonymous said...

Not sure which one is unclear - that the life under Tsar sucked, that Jewish life under Tsar sucked or that poor Jewish life under Tsar sucked much more so then richer people's life. If it's the latter, that is a rather obvious observation. Read all contemporary accounts - especially non-literary, such as the Yizkor book. The richer one was, the more exempt one was from almost all decrees and troubles that the regime behest upon Jews. From the Pale through pogroms through Town Regulations through the May Laws, someone with money could often if not always buy a way out, especially in the corrupt atmosphere of then Russia. Rich Jews employed poor Jews, sometimes fairly but sometimes not, and perception of unfairness was tremendous. That was the backdrop under which revolutionary tendencies developed.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

I see what you're saying, but I don't see it as that widespread. Then again, maybe that's my Hungarian BP cheder education working. Were the Rabbonim then guilty by extension? and the Rebbishe Hoyfen were also seen as bastions of the ruling class and symbols of inequality?

It's interesting how that side of it never made it to the history books, but I can see where the feelings were there, even amongst the sons and daughters of believers.

Anonymous said...

An factor that made a difference in attitude was that the "Poilishers" - many tzaddikim, amongst them Ruzhiner, Chernobyler kinder, R"M Savraner, R"M Kotzker, Chiddushei HaRim and many more - all had at some point in time faught the regime in whichever way they could, in particular the regime of Nikolai der Blittiger yimach shemoi, and had to either escape into exile or (sometimes and) do time in prison. There are many stories of tzaddikim openly cursing Nikolai with worst klulos, and the story about his death and telegraph is famous. Much later, Ger even managed to successfully dance on tzwei chasenes by occasional lending of shtiebelekh for socialist meetings in Poland, while remaining adamant against any changes in education.

Neither Litvisher not to less extent Chabad rabbonim had such a record of openly standing up to Tzar's oppression. There of course was a good reason for that - they and their adherents lived much closer to the melicha and punishment would have been swift and collective. Thank God there was no open confrontation and the only time since Alter Rebbe's death was Mitteler Rebbe's brief time in prison with subsequent acquittal of treason charges (which happened today). But as a result, there was no story to tell - until Rayatz's mesiras nefesh under the early Soviets.

Anonymous said...

Preventive clarification - that wasn't an attempt to start a pissing contest "My rebbe spent more time inside then yours". God forbid from such talk; they all acted in they way they saw fit best to serve interests of the Klal.

In general, no single book and no single source of books can be considered objective. This is a particularly touchy subject; Hollywood spent quite a buck portraying a romantic, pink and fluffy picture of the House of Romanovs. True sentiment of simple folk of those days fell victim to Soviet and anti-Soviet propaganda; middle ground is so hard to reconstruct that few bother.

Guravitzer said...

berl, you're now borrowing language from our defunct former host? :-)

Anonymous said...

The Alter Rebbes philosophy was always pro tzar since he felt that religous jewery would be better off in an opressive monarchy then the republic of the west.
Its no comparison at all between the communist stalinist regimes to all the minor problem, that happened in poland in the days of Chidushie Harim, Hey you are talking KGB the most gruesome murderers after the SS in the worlds history.