Tuesday, January 1, 2008


(דוד אסף)

David Assaf's book "נאחז בסבך" was recently purchased for me by a friend. He was in Tuvia's in Monsey and saw it, so he called me and asked me me if I want, so I said "YES!." Since then I've been told by many friends - oofgeklerte friends - not to read it; That it'll hurt my Emunas Chachomim and belief in Toras HaBaal Shem Tov., They say it's not so much for the part about Reb Moshe ben the Alter Rebbe, but more so for the other parts that he writes, "facts" that was not really known to the masses till now. I've begun to read parts, slowly and deliberately, not wanting to ingest it quickly. At first I chose the parts that I know won't affect me as much. After all, learning that the Chernobler Chassidim and Rebbes of all segments of the Chernobler dynasty made life for Breslover Chassidim in their areas a living hell on earth really doesn't affect me as much as - say - the "fact" that he says the Chozeh of Lublin ztvkllh"h committed suicide, Afroh LePumey. Chassidim who believe that there was a Malach involved here, and that it was somehow connected to the Holy Chozeh wanting to bring the Geulah are naive fools at best in his eyes. His general tone is one of terrible scorn, this despite the fact that he claims to be a Shomer Torah UMitzvos.

More on this later......


Some points to ponder: Most of what he brings in the book is a collection from old Zichronos books, some written by Frumme, some by former Frumme. The whole point of the book is not - say - to bring to light a story that was never told, which is maybe what BMR had in mind when writing "Rescued by the Reich." In his case the LeKanter came later, when he stumbled upon a "conspiracy" (in his mind) by Lubavitch to cover up the story, and also lots of other "juicy" bits of information. David Assaf very much wants to "educate" the Frum public, rather the Chassidishe public. He followed all the conversations about the book in the Charedi discussion forums, and even brings BeChadrei Charedim as a "Ayin Shom!" As is the case with Shimmy Deutsch, who also wanted just to "set the record straight," he shleps everybody he can into his stories, and makes sure to Bashmutz wherever he can, not just the protagonist. Far be it from me to engage in character assassination, but if I didn't know better I'd say he was working for some word-class Chassidim hater, all Chassidim, that's all he writes about. Yes, I realize he's a MitMacheh BiTchum Toldot HaChassidus, (specializes in Chassidic history) but this seems to be his life's mission - just digging up dirt on Rebbes and Chassidim of old, to disprove even them, to disprove the whole movement, all the way from birth. This was the modus operandi of the Maskilim; with the Misnagdishe Bochurim it was somewhat easier because they weren't tied down to a group, and didn't have to worry about what friends would say. They also didn't need to worry about what the Rebbe would say because he had no Rebbe. Chassidishe Yidden had all kinds of Mofsim that proved to them that there was a G-d and that Tzaddikim were a sort of "proof" of Hisgalus Elokus. Chassidim stood in the way of the Maskilim, because they believed, and Maskilim, and David Assaf, hate believers.


Anonymous said...

anything from assaf is treif, knowing that-why not eat a piece of nveila and say your above it

schneur said...

With all due respect, May I say the follwoing. I too purchased the book several years ago when it was first published and have yet to read it. My emunah in Chassidim as being granted Divine behavior in all their actions is minimum but basic derech eretz seems to indicate that I should avoid reading about scandals that have little or no impact on Jewish history or contemporary Jewish life like the story of R. M. ben Rav SZ. Our author wrote this stuff lishma !!! and lekanter ! No importance to Jewish history, no lessons to be learnt .I repeat.
On the other hand is someone were to write about other scandals like the way the Orthoodx Jewish rabbinate treated women or the attitude of the Rebbes in Poland towards the J
ewish working classes from 1918-1939 , I 'd be busy reading these essays..
Finally its interesting that a book "exposing" the actions of humans " basar vedams" as not always being what your Chassiidc legend claims it was, is going to weaken your emuna. But serious schoalrly studies by Jewish and non jewish scholars in the last 150 years about the Bible, questioning its Divine authorship and the dating etc , Near eastern Civilizations etc are not considered dangerous and will not weaken your emunah. In other words the zaddikim are more chashuv than God to our modern generation of frume Yidden.
Its like the Shaages Arye when the Metz baalebatim told him that each rav can write Takkanos in the Pinkas and people really observe those, he wrote in the Aseres hadibros, the kohal was suprised ...

Anonymous said...


you know that i love you but arent you really advertising the book and generating publcicty for this beast?

Ezriel said...

Please, for the sake of your soul, distance any destructive and soul-destroying, poisonously negative works. Whatever you think of reading them and taking only the good, they WILL affect you very NEGATIVELY - as they would kimat everyone. Make no mistake, far bigger people than any of us have seriously stumbled in this area and fallen drastically.

Guard your soul from destructuve works. There's enough trash on the street, in the store and on the net to guard oneself from.

Kol Tuv.

SatmarTC said...

l'chaf zchus,
I iamgine that you read it in the Bathroom

schneur said...

The academic community washes each others back. I have not read a serious critique of Assaf's book from taht community.and I think there is plenty to criticize in the various chapters. The chapter about he Belzer's son in law could easily be criticized. But its like a good drink, it gives you a buzz... Someone should read and then take it apart.
Otherwise it stands as the truth as the Rebbe was want to say Shtika kehodda dami...

Guravitzer said...

Scorn is a sign of academic detachment in the world of academia. Think of the Raavad's asides on the Rambam, but included with every opinion and not just some. In my layman's opinion the level of scorn is growing all around, but that may just be in the little I see.

I don't get the Chozeh and suicide. There are much easier methods of suicide, much less painless and with guaranteed success. He could have gone and spit in the face of a poritz and gotten himself shot Al Kiddush Hashem. He could have died like ?Shmuel Munkes? pishing in a kever. He wasn't niftar until months later from an unrelated issue, and it was fort Simchas Torah. Asaf could claim that the Rebbe not taking care of his health was with the same intention.

Schneur, it is called Emunas Chachomim. I am sorry that you have none.

SDR said...

My emunas hachassidus stems from all that we have today including the obvious on Chabad along with Satmar, and Bobov. Not to say the Litvish don't have their problems but I'm just staying on topic. Oh yeah! The biggest factor to me is the current Spinka matziv! Why does it seem like he world is coming undone?

MJR said...

which belezer's son in law?

prizant said...

I write this with respect:However I'm surprised that you lower your standards by criticizing a book you admit to not reading!?Coming from your academic backround that is quite surprising.How do you know that he writes 'lekanter' etc?
Obviously the people who feel somehow hurt by what he writes will claim that his intentions are terrible and he is biased.What else is new?

About the Chozeh:I thing that that speculation is the weakest link in the book, he admits that it is his speculation without any proof, however I had to chuckle at Guravitzers comment about 'much easier methods of suicide'.Guravitzer, let me ask you:Why did two people from C.H jump in front of a train?Why did a former yeshiva boy jump from the Empite State Building?No easier way to go??Childish thinking.

Hershel:I don't think Assaf is religous.His father is/was and he grew up Mizrachi, but that was long ago.

Anonymous said...

Lets read and inteligently discuss the book "Rescued from the Reich" maybe we"ll get smarter about people and how they "think" like saving dishes,cutlery etc.

schneur said...

Guravitzer - Emunas Chachomim - In vemen ? Rabbi Aaron Schechter, Rabbi Markowitz of Poniviesz, Rav David Goldwaser,Spinker Rebbe, chief rabbi Metzger,Poper rav of Popa, Skverer rebbe of New Square, Aaron Teitelbaum, Zalman Leib, Ben Zion Bobover, rabbi Srolik Vishnitzer, Most of these people can give me good advice about PR agents, good lawyers, travel agents and financial advisors, some can even tell me about quality bail bondsmen, but about yashrus, zedek, Mussar, anivus What about Emes ???? etc. and the list goes on... und azey veiter. If you wish to trust in them , gezunterheit ! mjr. --- Twersky I think he was rav of rava-Ruska. See the book.

Hirshel Tzig said...

sorry, people I was actually away all day, WORKING!!!

I'll try and elaborate and respond later.

lakewoodshmuck said...

why do you so easily accept as fact the harrasment of the brexlover by the chernobler rebbes?

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, either something is true or isn't true. And if honest digging and reflection casts a penetrating light on one or more elements of Hassidic (or any other type of) life, so be it. Aren't we supposed to be Truth-seekers?

Hirshel Tzig said...


Because we know that happened, and happens to this very day. In Skver being caught learning Sifrei Breslov is worse than being caught with a - well, you get my drift.

As far as being truth-seekers; I guess stressing the "truth" makes one overlook the strong points and advantages of Chassidus.

chchick said...

Truth seeker just a nice euphemism for non-believer.

Anonymous said...

But what if chassidus, or a particular flavor of it (ame goes for other types of Judaism), turns out to be a croc? Where does that leave you?

Do you think a just G-d, Who demands you use your head to sort things out (otherwise you can fall for anything), is going to hold it against you for investigating something and concluding that it is not emes?

Anonymous said...

דוד אסף עזב את הדת, הוא נולד דתי ולמד בבי"ס דתי אבל אח"כ נהי' מדי פיקח...... ועזב

Anonymous said...

'' Far be it from me to engage in character assassination,''

Pal, you apparently hold of yourself quite highly.On the other hand I think that it's not at all far from you to engage in character assasination, in fact I would suspect much worse from you.
You, btw, mentioned this before with your post about Goldwasser, how 'uncharacteristic' it is of you to go down and dirty.Well, you've done it time and again.Bichlal reading your blog I get the impression that you are a serious mushchas bemiddos and a classic ingrate.
Actually, I have shown the blog to friends so they should see the side of Chabad that's hidden from most people.Resentful of others hatslocha i.e major infarginners,holding grudges through many generations, i.e bringing up two hundred year history which should long be buried and zilzul in anybody not of the chosen people.
You and that schnorer Berl area good fit, I would not trust you guys with a single dollar

Anonymous said...


"He could have died like ?Shmuel Munkes? "

What was that story about?

Hirshel Tzig said...

I wouldn't want your dirty dollar.

old friend from s. said...

maskilim had there sucsess stories in evrey camp,those leaders of shtiblech yeshivas or lahvdil collegea attendees that did not convince their constituents not to read ONLY seforim from yirei hashem, became weak in their yiddishkeit if it did not show on the outside on them it surfaced on their childern ,moshe mendelsohn was a frummer yid ,the chasam soifer forbade touching his writings, one can hardly find things wrong in his writings (so the say)but the encouragement to his surroundings were to expose themselvs to the books of those who mock or criticize
the rabbis of various generations the rsults from this influence was disatoures from a yiddishkeit point of view,we (me Included)think we are smarter than those ehrliche yiden (regardles of how the were dressed or the nusech they davened)and expose our brain to negate ehriche yiden who in their whole life did not consume 1 percent of the Chitzonies that we Digest in one hour,and you Tzieg make a Chesbon Hanefesh you provide a platform for such a Pasloones ,one day you will any way stop (bloggers burn out)why not close it down today with a bang ,announce that you are going tomake a Sium on....by your next birthday and be M'svaddei B'robim on being a vehicle for propagating Ma Ahanei LON Rabonon and you are doing tesuva and closing the blog, l'chaim

Objective Onlooker said...

I think this time you overdid it. you dont answer anything just personaly attack the author.

FACT, moshe was a meshumad no matter what the reason.

FACT, chabad tried to cover up.

so, in your (biased or unbiased) opinion, are these 2 facts true or false?

Guravitzer said...

An inside joke.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Mr. old friend

send me an e-mail and tell me who you are. Please.
neveler at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...


I do vaguely remember a pnimi story about one of the Chassidim kottoning on a fresh kever of one of the misnagdishe gedolim (in the very early years of the machlyekes) and getting killed or almost did.
Where you referring to that?

DD said...

A year ago, when the book was being heavily debated on Blogs and haydepark, it was described as a book with some of the greatest darkest secrets in Chassidic history.

I bought the book, read it and was pleasantly suprised.

What exactly is Asafs great discovery? A man who was mentally unstable, who doctors could not heal, converted, and because his father was the Alter Rebbe, it’s a challenge to the validity of Chassidus Chabad.

Even if what Asaf writes is true, the Gemorah writes about Tanoim who strayed from Torah, a Cohen Godal who became a Tzeduki. here we are talking about,1) a son 2) a troubled man, who suffered from Mental illness his whole life.

What’s so dirty about that?

In many places, like the story of the Chozah, the author brings a few different versions of the same story, the Chassidic versions and the “other” versions; the author then analyzes the story and draws his own conclusions. To me, the Sefer “Chassidim Umisnagdim” is a greater threat.

schneur said...

Prizant - True I never read THE BOOK. But most of the book 's chapters werer previously published in various Israeli academic journals like ZION MEKHKERE YERUSHALAYIM and ALPAIIM among others . So I did read any number of these essays in their original place of publication. The article about the son in law of the 3rd Belzer rav was striclty lekanter an attack on Belz. The article on Rabbi M son of the Tanya is the same . Many of us knew about this but who had the gumption, chutzpah or pleitzes to write about it. Would you and I want someone to write about an ancestor of ours in Russia who became a priest. Only if it had a didactic significance. Otherwise it just garbage.\
Be well.

Guravitzer said...

Objective Onlooker said...
"FACT, moshe was a meshumad no matter what the reason.
FACT, chabad tried to cover up."
Ha Ha. It's a fact because the Russian Orthodox Church told you so? Very sweet. They also tell you jesus rose from the dead to save you. Go shmad zich now, they have the documents to prove it.

Where is the Chabad coverup? The FR told the story as he knew it. No one withheld anything. It's call the denial of Chabad. Words have meaning, kemedubar.

Guravitzer said...

The pnimi story is what I referred to. No idea as to veracity. But certainly a more definite form of suicide.

Anonymous said...

I didnt read this book but I read his other kiss& tell book on the holy Ruzhiner, he tries to portray him as a Dictator ( Rodan in Hebrew) he bases alot of his info on maskilim as 1 guy that used to be a chosid of the Bnie Yissoscher that left the fold and became a vicous chasidim basher with all the biases. Asaf admids that the guy is biased but that doesent stop him from quoting him as the legit source vs. chasidim as for instance the Tehila Ledovid that was a godol betorah and never said a lie in his lifetime, but he was he was biased since he was a chosid, this false academic notion is a given in all academic circles.
He would never answer how giants and geniuses like the Chidusie Harim, the Sanzer and the Tzemach Tzedek were in awe of his greatness their philosophy was total different, and there were no materialistic gains for them in the Ruzhiners court, so why all the admiration? and a menuvel like him cant fathom that there was Elukis that they felt in his dalet amus

PSOL said...

"why do you so easily accept as fact the harrasment of the brexlover by the chernobler rebbes?"

To HT, there are facts (things that he believes to be true, or agrees with), and 'facts' (which he doesn't believe or agree with).

The concept of Emmess doesn't enter the picture in either category.

Sunlight:Scares you said...

I wonder what a book written by a zoyneh like you describing Mondrowitz would look like?
You would be full of how special he was how he 'loved' every child, (especially zechurem) etc.
How all the stories were biased and made up.
Actually that's what happened! Zoynehs like you seeking to 'defend' their hoif attacked kids trying to complain about the abuse.
Same story with Kolko.
Same story with so many Rebbes,rebbelach, banshakim and stam frimmeh zoiness like you.
The truth must be so scary that you have to make up bubbeh mayses, that you feel that it shvachs up your emunas chachomim.
Continue with the same old lies

x Klausenburg said...

Growing up Chasidish I heard many stories against other chasidic courts.In fact the real machloikes was between the various chasidic groups once the flaring fights with the Misnagdim quitened down and that was early on.
Breslev was actively persecuted,Rizhin and Tzanz had a worldwar and a bit later on Aleksander and Ger were fighting over turf.
Actually is that any different than we see today? Satmar vs Lubavitch pretty recent vintage, Satmar vs Bnei Yoel , vs themselves, Klausenburg vs Klausenburg.The list is too long.
The world is very much the same today as it was than.Human nature has remained the same

Hirshel Tzig said...

you may ask: why did I allow a comment calling me a Z----h to pass through unedited?


This 2-bit Apikores proves my point, that it's not about finding out the "truth," it's all about making us look bad, and dragging in molestation into the conversation.

chchick said...

Neveler@gmail.com? Interesting email address for a Hungarian.

Objective Onlooker said...

you really think the letter with signatures of the miteler rebbee and his brother are forgeries?.
or you just dont know what i am talking about?.

Anonymous said...

On Atzur (Hyde Park)Halban answered him in a professional manner but he answered very weak

dd said...

halavan Aka B.L ,today agrees with the Asaf version of Reb Moshe conversion.

Shmuel said...

Can you elaborate on what Berel L. holds today?
I saw sometime ago on the Atsor Kahn Choshvim that he was arguing with him.Berel was very emotional so he came across as not viewing the story based on what appeared to be the facts.
However, I'm not to 'bahavent' in the story so I cannot vouch although even as a child I understood that there was some story there so I wasen't very surprised by Assafs book

Yom Tov Sheiny said...

I didn't have time for proper iyun in the comments. But I must say that the book turned some of those with apikursusheh thoughts into maaminim from the scientific. The paper that says he shmad r"l is a "hetek" not an original. The Church then (and now) only had a "[handwritten] copy". So a yid like "Halavan" [I can't vouch for his personal opinions but I have a hunch that he wasn't always so convinced] says that maybe he just had regular [mental] illness. That is what the Mittler Rebbe writes. These are rayos listor asaff... He has several other books. Nice research, conclusions are quite opinionated.... {If I may add apikurshessly his earlier version [in Iton Tzion} was more convincing.... }

Keren Zovis said...

I read Asaf's book without deos kdumos.never heard about it from anyone. My impression was that even though he is not frum but he doesn't put in any 'geeft'.just states the facts and on this he should be nizkar leshvach.of course we can be dan him that there is no toeles in bringing up these yedios. Why R' Yitzchok Nachum wrote what he wrote, could be because of your pshat or something else. but it doesn't look to me as you said that 'er hut zich genumen tzu em'.