Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Cheder Years (Part II)



(The Chakal Yitzchok of Spinka, HY"D)

Summary: Hirshel's Telzer Talmid father gets married and moves to Brooklyn, New York. He learns part day and gets ready to earn a living as well. He later has a son and at first sends him to a small pre-school run out of a local shul in Boro Park. After pre-school the child needs a real Yeshivah, so he asks his old Yeshivah buddy who also has sons where he sends his kids, and if he'd suggest it for his young son. The friend suggests Spinka Cheder in Boro Park, then in it's 3rd year, and his suggestion is the final choice. Thus begins a turning point in the family direction for years and maybe generations to come.

You see my friends, had my brother - and subsequently all of the "Tzig" boys - been placed in a place like Ch'san Sofer or Vien or some other "Pareve" Cheder things most likely would've turned out very differently. Since there wasn't a very strong Chassidishe direction at home the boys could've decided not to pursue the Pseudo-Chassidic/Hungarian way that they were taught at Cheder/Mesivta, but could've chosen other ways of life. Litvish, could've been one choice, since many of our friends did end up transferring to Yeshivos like Novominsk, where despite there supposedly being a "Rebbe" is run like a Litvishe Yeshivah, and we could've followed in our Dad's footsteps and been Goleh to a Mokom Torah like Telshe. But alas, the decision to choose Spinka had and continues to have all kinds of affects, to this very day, some adverse and some positive. This is not to say that Spinka is really to blame, since most of the Melamdim were Satmarer, and the Menahel was a 20-something Bobover Rebbishe type who happened to be the Rov's BIL but was probably the most qualified man for the job anyway. Yeah, right. But they put their name to the Mossad, so I guess it was what they wanted in a school.



Spinka was what you might call a school that suffers from SatmarInferioritis, a disease suffered by mostly Chassidic groups whereas they feel inferior to Satmar and decide to take steps to bring themselves up to par with the above-mentioned Hungarian group. So they embark on campaigns to ban this and disallow that, and to encourage this and condone that, but there's no real Toychen, Chassidish or otherwise, that they "pushed" like, say, Stoliner Cheder, which did succeed in creating their Chassidus in America, mostly from Litvishe boys who learned in their Cheder, by pushing Stolin in everything they did. Then again, Spinka doesn't have what Stolin has as far as history and appeal either. And so the years went by with very little direction, we were taught was that Peyos need to be Vos Lenger, and that we should speak Yiddish, and most of us did, myself included. We had mostly Satmarer Melamdim, or those of the smaller satellite groups, and the education was very Hungarian with Chassidic overtones, meaning that most of the stories and Divrei Torah were of Chassidishe Rebbes of yesteryear. We traded Rebbe pictures instead of baseball cards, and we spoke with an Hungarian Chassidishe Havoroh. We all looked forward to growing up and dressing Chassidish, the more Chassidish the better. But speaking Yiddish and having long Peyos only takes one so far, a boy needs a sense of direction, otherwise he floats on the open sea without a compass, going where the wind pushes him. That we never really got at Talmud Torah Imrei Yosef D'Spinka. It's safe to say that the same goes for many other Chassidic Chadorim in BP, you have thousands of Shtreimlach walking around today that know very little about any Chassidus, and many never want to know.


(Reb Yankev Yosef of Spinka)

As far as I was concerned here's what I went through: (I'd get the other side of the story - from the Rebbes and Menahalim - but I'd rather not meet some of them, VeDal.) I was a good kid who did quite well in Cheder, never really made trouble and was well liked by both Rebbes and classmates. I guess there wasn't much a choice; if you didn't stay in line you were reminded with petsh, starting all the way in Kita Alef. I learned well, and did what I had to, and was probably on my way to be a generic Chassidishe kid, with Geknippte Peyos behind his ears, a turned up hat, and a Shtraymel on Shabbos. My father ZGZ was a self-made who never was a Chossid of a particular Rebbe. As a Bocher he would travel to New York to spend YomTov with an uncle in Crown Heights, and together they would walk to Williamsburg to spend davenen or Hakofos with the Satmar Rov. In the early married years he would travel to the Satmar Rov zt"l to seek his advice, and was also Zoche to have a "long" 7-minute talk with the Lubavitcher Rebbe zy"a in 770 after Mincha. Other times found him - and me - in Skverrer Shtetl seeking the advice of the Skverrer Rebbe shlit"a. None of that translated into him becoming a Chossid of a Rebbe that I could follow.

Spinka did have its own Rebbe, Reb Yaakov Yosef Weisz of Bnei Beraq/Boro Park, and for a while - in my early teens - I was a Spinker Chossid, even davening Spinka Nusach and doing Spinka Minhogim as best I could, after all, even I realized that I need some kind of path in life. The old way of "just being a frum Jew" seemingly wasn't an option for me, and I needed a group to identify with. But I never had or felt like I needed a connection with the Spinker Rebbe. After 10 years in Spinka I decided that the place was no longer for me, it was becoming more and more like a Satmarer Yeshivah, being that this was Mesivta already , and many of my friends had left for other Yeshivos.

Hemshech Yovo, be"h.

61 comments:

zezmir said...

Tears, my man. You brought tears to my eyes.
I await the third installment of the Tzig's Early Years with bated breath...

zezmir said...

Hirshel: Did any of those choshuve melamdim, or even Herr Glogover himself, try to influence you in a meaningful way?

Hirshel Tzig said...

why tears?

Hirshel Tzig said...

Q & A starts now. Otherwise there will be no Part III, I hate writing and getting no feedback.

eli said...

IIRC, you studied in Chabad meisdeis as well - how would you compare and contrast?

Hirshel Tzig said...

Zezmir

well there was this one time, when in 4th grade I decided to put my Peyos behind my ears, my Rebbe then, a satmarer from Monroe, made me take them out again...... He told me "s'iz moderen."

Others tried to dissuade me from going Lubavitch later on.

Otherwise not much, i guess they figured they didn't need to.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Eli

let's leave that for later, when we discuss the move.

Guravitzer said...

The Life and Times of Young Tzig is fascinating. I hope your wife gets to read this too. Keep it up, although I have no questions, your honor. Unless you want to detail for me the entire history of the settlement of Boro Park by the frumme frontiermen. Ich bin gor an amoretz, I don't even know when China Glatt opened on 13th.

eli said...

Well, it doesn’t sound so bad, why didn’t you stick with the rest of your class?

Or, did you guys have any of those ehrliche child molesters roaming the Spinka hallways?

Hirshel Tzig said...

she does read it, and has a new-found respect for me now. Which is sad in a way, no?

We never ate at China Glatt till I was married, so I wouldn't know when they opened either. The Sweet and Sour (pungent) chicken is gantz fein.

Anonymous said...

I related to your finding of superficiality in those circles, though I cannot understand why you did not enounter the same problem in Chabad. Perhaps you did not because Chabad has a lot of Litvishe concepts.

Hirshel Tzig said...

It has Emes, Pnimiyus, call it what you wish.

Yankel said...

Tzig, get to the juice!

Anonymous said...

>>It has Emes, Pnimiyus, call it what you wish.

for some, learning in Ponovez is the very same thing. Would you consider your statement above to be categorically objective, or a description of your personal, subjective feelings?

Hirshel Tzig said...

I said it has emes and pnimiyus. You said it was a Litvish aspect. That by extension would mean to say that I agreed with your point, and that I too Emes in the Litvisher way of life.

Can I be objective about myself? sure. I do it all the time.

The Bray of Fundie said...

How is it that you are literate in English? I was nisht fahr keinem gedakht an English teacher in Beis Meyer, supposedely the cream of umpahrtayish Khasidisah Bukhrim. And I can tell you that with one autodidactic exception, they were all functional illiterates despite being very bright ba'alei kishron.

Or was Spink in your day different?

menachem said...

Can you ever answer "No" to the question of if you can be objective about yourself?

Hirshel Tzig said...

Menachem

if I answered no I'd be lying, and I say that objectively.

CHUTZU?CHITZOINI said...

what does Emes mean ?,does it require to stay away from sheker
what does Peneimyus mean?does it require to do things not in a exposed setting or group? can you quote a sefer that gives the meaning of those 2 words that fits the avarege lubavithers LIFESTYLE not Yechidim ,

berl, crown heights said...

c'mon tzig, people do read, even if they do not comment.

Anonymous said...

Hirshel
too young to write memoirs, give it at least another 35 years

from you old BP friend

An Ailemesher said...

Hirshel,

"The Sweet and Sour (pungent) chicken is gantz fein"

It's good that Lubavitch taught you איתכפיא

U' N' said...

reb tzig,

you seem to share a common misconception about Satmar, inferiority complexes and "hungarian overtones" - even though I've tried to shine some light into your grobe 'merikanishe oigen oyf da kleyne ingarishe moyechl.

In the Alte Heim, Spinke wasn't much liked (well, nobody really was _much_ liked but Spinke in particular) because it was consider ed uberfrum compared to everything else. As of early 1900's, it was a boutique Chassidus heavily entrenched in the Zsydacsover gang (which by the way doesn't lack "chassidus" even in the Chabad definition of the word). One of Spinke Rebbes, who was one of the holiest and purest minds I got to know, had so many chumros and hanhogos that nobody besides him could even list them - such as sleeping in a hat and whathaveyou. On the other hand, Satmar was a default kehila, staunchly Orthodox, strongly Chassidish but not over the board - but more in-your-face. And all of the "Hungarians" suffered from their own inferiority complex - towards Galicia, the real source of chonyokishkeyt. You have your yoitzros farmisht - Satmar came to this tish pretty late, before the Satmarer Ruv z"l honyokishkeyt was a Galiciane monopoly set by Belz, Sanzer kinder , Zsydacsover, Nadvorno - all these were Galicianer hoifn who occasionally raided good old Hungary for donations and some adherents.

And it so happened that in the US, Satmar was the strongest in-your-face group of people determined to stick to their guns who had qualified and realistic yet very idealistic and given over leadership. Satmarer Ruv just carried the Galicianer torch along with the Chasam-Soferisher one.

You were unlucky to land in Spinka-BP moisdos to begin with, but to blame your and their faults is just unfair.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Natchalnik

That's all good and well, but in America Satmar was king, and they all tried to be on their good side.

I'm sorry you feel that way about Spinka, that doesn't leave many groups that you do like......

ponovezh said...

wow! this is the best post i have read both because of its content and also the reaction contain no real farbisnkeit or sina. keep it up!

baalbatish said...

Telzer Alumnus Mitzvah Tanz

http://gruntig.blogspot.com/2007/12/munkatcher-rebbe-dancing-at-wedding.html#links

The Bray of Fundie said...

I am still mystified by your ability to compose coherent English sentences despite your early childhood education (deficit).

Chaim G.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Bray

I'm a quick learner and good with languages. Sometimes I look back at what I write and am surprised that it actually came from my keyboard. Until I was 15 we spoke only Yiddish at home too. I was sort of the exception to the rule regarding English and Grammar, besides for the few kids who spoke English, but even then.... We did however have English language books at home, and my parents DID speak English to their friends. Also, my sisters did go to BYOBP, so they did speak English. Combine all that and you have me.

You'd probably encounter in Spinka much of what you did in Beis Meir, with some exceptions, especially back then.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Ailimisher

sometimes it takes years of Iskafyo to undo the damage of growing up in BP......

Where I come from everything Kosher is a-ok, and the more the merrier.

The Bray of Fundie said...

Iskafyo

I've seeen this term in Tanya and other seforim Qedoshim usually paired with ishapkhu but it's application to swet and pungent chicken eludes me. Please elaborate.

חב"ד'ניק בנשמה said...

Chaim G:

in Avodas HoOdom, and in regards to overcoming his lust (for lack of a better term) for Tayves Olam HaZeh there are two steps. One is Iskafyoh where a person is כופה his Yetzer Horah and doesn't eat what he wants or do other Devorim HaMuttarim that he wants. The Tayveh remains but he overcomes it. That is the Avodah of the average Yid. Someone who masters Iskafyo can go on to step 2, which is אתהפכא חשוכא לנהורא, where all his mundane acts of heter are in essence being transformed to acts of Qedushah.

Sweet and Pungent chicken is a Tayveh shel hetter, it's kosher, but it's a Tayveh that stems from Sholosh Klipos HaTmeyos, and Iskafyo is needed to avoid that Tayveh.

I hope that answers your question, and I hope I answered Tzu der zach.

ואם שגיתי ה' הטוב יכפר

U' N' said...

Tzig, there is nothing to like about any mosdos, so I don't like them, but I love people who comprise them - unless I have good reasons not to. That's the opposite of the spiritual niuf by people drumming their fake ahavas yisroel to generalities while hating a denigrating every second individual.

Re Spinka, BP-Spinka is takeh a phony pareve Moisad; but the WB Spinka of R' Hershele zy"a was a true place of kedusha; he could've had a better third of Williamsburg oilom and beyond but instead chose not to have any mosdos whatsoever as he wasn't a party man.

My heart goes out to anyone growing up in BP; you're still lucky for not growing up in CH because then you'd really have nowhere to go ...

The Bray of Fundie said...

חב"ד'ניק בנשמה

A big Shkoyakh. Well put and tzu der zakh.

u' n'

That's the opposite of the spiritual niuf by people drumming their fake ahavas yisroel...

Some metaphor. I like the sentiment but how is it niuf?

Hirshel Tzig said...

Chutzu-Chitzoyni

Chabad Mons alot, no doubt about it, and we strive to follow what the books say. Many fail. That's life today.

Anonymous said...

it's absolutly great that your writing about spnka rebbe here - cuz the Rebbe (NAFTUUUUUUUUULI) was arrested in LAX this morning along with his shamos, and another scumbag

snag10 said...

The head of an Orthodox Jewish group has been indicted in what authorities say is a sophisticated tax fraud and money laundering scheme.
Federal prosecutors say Naftali Tzi Weisz, 59, was arrested along with several associates in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning.

Weisz is the Grand Rabbi of Spinka, an Orthodox Jewish sect.

Authorities say he helped solicit millions of dollars in contributions to Spinka charitable groups by promising to secretly refund up to 95 percent of the donations. That way the contributors could falsely claim higher tax deductions.

Weisz is from Brooklyn, New York, where the charitable organizations are based.

He was expected to appear in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon. He faces charges including conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.


Scum bag lowlife.

All in the name of chassidus.....

Hirshel Tzig said...

That makes me what?

U' N' said...

the bray,

It's niuf because it claims to be love while it's not such; it's promiscuous and it involves loving things that one isn't supposed to and means not loving things one is supposed to.

Anonymous said...

and you know this how, o' boss of the sponges?

U' N' said...

tzig, shmarik roizenberg is jumping out of his skin to vomit on Satmar - are you of his people ?

Hirshel Tzig said...

U N

you know I'm not of his people. I'll ask you not to mention his name here anymore.

What's causing him to attack Satmar?

U' N' said...

his black soul

Hirshel Tzig said...

Yes, I realize that, but is there a story that he's using as fodder?

U' N' said...

nothing new. same old bullshit, same lies, same venom. these people have nothing to add or multiply, they only can take away and divide.

Bira Deshusa.... said...

on this site there was no mention of the arrest of YYA why mention the arrest of people that you owe them Hakoses Hatov,I bet you that your parents did not pay the full cost of your education,(thats without condoning their activity)i saw you demanding hakoraes hatov in a previous post

Anonymous said...

Any comments on recent spinka develepments

SatmarTC said...

Tzig! Very nice post!
it would be grta to have a little more elaboration

Hirshel Tzig said...

Bira

I don't understand what you're saying, please explain.

The Bray of Fundie said...

You'd probably encounter in Spinka much of what you did in Beis Meir, with some exceptions, especially back then.

Question :(may be worthy of a whole series of posts)

In retrospect do you think that Yeshivas like Beis Meir and Spinka are doing their students a favor or an injustice by keeping them English illiterate?

Bira Deshusa... said...

why do you let your blog to publish dirt on spinka you owe them hakores hatov

An Ailemesher said...

Hirshel,

It's OK to fress Sweet and Sour (pungent) chicken in private, but to admit in public that it's geshmak is real Magyar.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Bira

1) I never made a post of the Spinka story, I just allowed comments about it.

2) Had someone mentioned the arrest of YYA I would've allowed that too. The whole street is talking about it.

3) Overall, I think you'd agree that I write respectfully about my alma mater, unlike other bloggers, no?

SatmarTC said...

hashgocho protis that u brought up now your Spinka's roots

janitor said...

what a coincidencem spinka...

check out my new posts on the subject.

lubavitcher 'shtudent' said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Bray of Fundie said...

What happened to this mornings disappearing post and my comment along with it? Email me HT

Hirshel Tzig said...

I got all kinds of emails asking me how I can write at such a time, when Yidden are going through hell. So I "saved it as draft" and have it on hold.

Anonymous said...

hershy

Maybe the koach hapoiel B'nifol problem came from eating candys as a kid in Menashe Kleins Shul.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Nisht Mistaber. Eating candies is not like getting an education.

Anonymous said...

my father was a spinka chosid and the person that helped built spinka mosdos in america. i myself helped built the spinka yeshiva here in the usa. sadly spinka is dead in the water. a new generation has arisen and is building judaisim in a more productive way.but, we will always remember the holy reb yankel spinka with love and effection