Thursday, January 3, 2008
פון שפיקוב איז קיין ראי'ה ניט
One of David Assaf's projects in the book נאחז בסבך seems to be Reb Yitzchok Nochum Twersky of Shpikov Hy"d, son of Reb Mordechai of Shpikov, son of Reb Itzekel Skverrer, son of the Maggid Reb Mottele Chernobeler zt"l. RYNT married the daughter of Reb Yissochor Dov Belzer zt"l and was killed in Belzec Al Kiddush Hashem, MeMeileh is shver afilu tzu redden vegen a Kodosh; but I feel like I need to defend the "claims" against him (as if) and maybe even ask Mechilleh from him for doubting the man's greatness. Seeing what Assaf makes of him is enough for even a novice like myself to see that the book is full of hot air and can easily be taken apart, but for someone looking for excuses why not to believe in Chassidim/Rebbes this is also enough. The discoveries by Assaf do teach us a lesson; if you're going to write to irreligious people make sure to use a pseudonym, or better yet, meet him in person and never tell him who you are.
The main thrust of his expose' is a letter written by RNMT to a Maskil, Dinesohn, in Lemberg/Lvov before his marriage. He was engaged to the Belzer Rov's daugter and he seems to have been undergoing some good ol' fashioned pre-wedding jitters. He had never seen the Kallah and probably had heard lots of negative things about the Belzer Chassidim . In those days the Belzers were the Reb Arelech of today, zealous and hard-nosed men who got their way by hook or by crook. Imagine a Bochur from a more toned-down Chassidus gets enagaged to the Reb Arele Rebbe's daughter - he'd have a severe case of the stomach-churns too. Assaf brings the story to knock Belz but I'll use it against him. He tells of a wedding just 2 years later, where a Machnivker son married a Belzer daughter in Belz in 1912. Just before the Machnivker Pamalyoh reached Belz they were "greeted" by a group of Belzer Chassidim - Gaboyim - who informed all of the women - many of whom wore Sheitlach - that they would not be allowed to enter the town of Belz wearing Sheitlach! In their town there's not a single Sheitel, and even a visitor is strictly forbidden to wear one! That wouldn't today, even in Toldos Aron/Avrum Yitzchok.
I imagine RYNT heard stories about the zealousness of the Belzer and was very afraid of what would happen to him there. Not that c"v his father's house was epes nisht al pi darkei hachassidus, but it seemed to be less ohngeshtrenkt. In Belz everything was Assur, Ohn a Farvos, and they seemed to thrive on "Davka nisht." That was the crux of his complaints and worries, and that was what he was so afraid of; that he wouldn't live up to their guidelines, and that he'd be looked down upon. In the letter he mentions many aspects of Levush that were foreign to him, like Davka wearing unclean clothes, and the fact that women must wear Tichlech only and be makpid on Giluach HaSa'aros. Pants were Assur too, you wore a long Rekkel/Kapopte, till the floor really, and that was it, and c"v not a wool one. I'm sorry if it seems strange, but that's what he writes. So, where do we this supposed double life that Assaf claims RYNT lead? is an aversion to dirty clothes so terrible? of course not, but Assaf puts two and two together and makes five. He finds other reason why he must say that really underneath those Spodiks and Shtivvel there was a "Maskil" waiting to bloom, the fact that two of his sisters nebach left the fold. Mirel Twersky was married to Reb Osher, son of the Yenukah of Stolin, and even convinced him to travel to a conservatory and study music without telling any of his family, including his father. They later divorced. Another sister was sister to the Trisker Maggid's Eynikel, her cousin, and was also a Maskil'te. She divorced, moved around Europe, and later lived in New York, where she raised a irreligious family. The fact that his sisters fried out I guess makes him guilty by association.....
All the three men eventually ended up dying Al Kiddush Hashem. RYNT married the Belzer Rov's daughter, he didn't call off the wedding, and stayed in Belz for a while, but eventually opted for Rabbonus rather than being a Rebbe of Chassidim. He was known as the Rava-Rusker Rov, and he later had a shtikkel run-in with his Shver's Chassidim anyway, when overzealous Belzers ransacked his shul for some reason. There's a famous picture of Reb Aron Belzer zt"l walking in Marienbad with Chassidim where RYNT is featured looking just like all the Belzers anyway, so I guess he managed to fit in all right. Most of the so-called "evidence" seems to be circumstancial. All I can say is, that if Assaf hut zich gennumen tzu em, then he's in good company, he joins a list of some of the greatest of the great who get in Assaf's way for some reason. The only thing that bothers me more is the excitement by some in the Misnagdishe circles, but that's for another time.