Saturday, January 26, 2008
Me, Hate Hasidim?!
Allan Nadler - from here
Allan Nadler (himself!) responding to Circus Tent: Religious Indignation:
I hate to intrude on this loshen hora-fest with a reality check, but allow me to introduce myself. This is Allan Nadler writing. I won't bother to defend myself against all the astonishing bile that is being directed against me (why ruin so many people's idea of fun ?), but let me just correct some factual errors:
1) The Shaar Hashomayim was once, many decades ago, part of the Conservative movement (it was established almost 175 years ago and that was the only movement that existed in North America at the time), but it is a traditional shul, with a mechitzah. It never had mixed seating, not for one day! Since I left the rabonus there (in 1991)all of the rabbis have been Orthodox musmakhim, two from YU and the current rabbi from YCT. The Siddur that is currently used is the Artscroll. The davening and all other conduct at the shul is Orthodox. The bobeh-mayseh about the wedding is utter nonsense. The shul's catering/kitchen is under the Vaad Ha'ir of Montreal. There are all kinds of Yeshivishe and Hasidishe weddings there; it is a community synagogue, and is banned by no one. The late Rav Hirshprung officiated with me at many weddings there during the years I was the Rabbi. Rav Leib Baron gave a Talmud Shiur there for about 40 years. And so forth.....
2) I don't, chas ve-sholom hate Hasidim. I love and admire them; except of course when they turn out to be insane messianists, or simple ganovim. All I was trying to do in my article was make some sense of this Hillul Hashem by placing it in a historical and cultural context. You can disagree with my "pilpul" -- which is what all academic conjecture really is -- but why such personal animosity ? I didn't defraud the IRS. And I did try to explain why in the Hassidish velt, there is a perfectly legitimate historical reason to hate mosrim! It just so happens that it is misplaced in this country. We are not living in Tsarist Russia anymore; there are no special unjust Jew-taxes; the IRS isn't out to punish us. So, we have an obligation to behave ourselves in accordance with Dina de-Malchusa Dina.
3) I never, not for one day, attended Yeshiva University (contrary to Anonymous, who claims to know me personally). My smikhas are from Rabbi Leib Baron (former Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Ha-Torah and now in Israel) and Rabbi Zvi Hersh Tennenbaum, z"l, the former Av Bes Din of the Vaad Harabonim of Boston. Rav Baron was a talmid of Rav Elchonon Wasserman in Baranovitch and later was at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Poland and Shanghai. Rav Tennenbaum was a talmid of Rav Boruch Ber in Kamenetz. In that sense, of being their talmid, I am indeed a Litvak! My University studies were at McGill (BA) and Harvard (MA, PhD). At Harvard, my doctoral supervisor was the late Rabbi Dr. Isadore Twersky, himself also the Tolner Rebbe in Brookline, with whom I had a very close relationship.
4) My Zayde, on my mother's side was a Tolner aynikel. On my father's side, a Litvak who was born in Botosani, Rumania. There was a large emigration of Litvaks to Rumania in the 19th century, by the way.
5) Aside from all the hatred, there is also ridiculous praise: I do not have Yadin Yadin semikha. I never quoted Toysfes or Rishonim or Akhroynim "oysveynig" in my shiurim at the Shaar Hashomayim or anywhere else. Even if I had that kind of memory and bekius, which I do not, I wouldn't engage in that kind of shtik!
6) The correct title of my book referred to by one of you is "The Faith of the Mithnagdim." If you bother to read it, you will see that I harbor no antipathy for Hasidim.
7) And if you read my op. ed. article that appeared last summer in the Montreal Gazette, defending the Hasidim of Outremont against their real enemies -- the French Canadian anti-Semites, you'll understand how much I value and respect Hasidim and their communities.
7) Most importantly, I find it very sad -- and ironic -- that the focus of all this anger, these insults and the incredible distortions of reality, are not directed at the real criminals in this matter: the Spinker Rebbe and his cohorts. Just as in my article I bemoaned the misguided focus on the moser, Kasirer, now I am astonished that the focus is on me.
In normal literate society, the kind of article I wrote would be seen as an attempt to explain, if not justify, aberrant behavior, by looking to history. When white liberals try to explain, for example, the causes of the high crime rate in inner city black communities, by looking at the historical and social roots of the problem, the racists attack them as apologists. Here I do much the same thing -- to a largely secular readership of the Forward that has no understanding of Jewish history -- and this is the result.