Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Ice Cold Ger (Part I)
(L-R: The Beis Yisroel zt"l, The Imrei Emes zt"l, and Reb Meir Alter hy"d)
The call for ideas bore fruit; there were many ideas, and we'll choose one, the Ger/Lubavitch relationship, both past and present. Where do we start? and where do we draw the line? Do we include political motives as sincere solidarity, or just something that was worthwhile politically? Are we mechalek between Rebbe and Chassidim, or does the Rebbe set the complete tone, no matter what the Chassidim think and do? There also the issue and worry of alienating Gerrer Chassidim who read this blog - you know who you are - something I don't want to do. So I'll tread lightly, and hope to Hashem that there will be no fallout from this post. I also would like to preface that by saying that by no means will I allow this to become an all-out "Ger-Bashing" by those angry at Ger for whatever reason, imagined or real. I also would ask for your understanding when criticizing the post for missing facts and/or episodes, since I'm doing this from memory, and memories - as you may know - are quite flawed.
The first connection that I know of between Ger - the forerunner of Ger rather - and Lubavitch was after the passing of the Kotzker Rebbe zt"l, when the Chossid Reb Moshe Meshel Gelbstein (who later moved to the Holy Land) who had been a Kotzker Chossid began to look for a new Rebbe, since his Rebbe had passed away. (Ger is an offshoot of Kotzk) Until then I don't think there was a connection, unless maybe we count any connection to Pershischah as relevant. Reb Moshe Meshel was not a Rebbe, so maybe that doesn't count either. Fast forward to the Rebbe Rashab and his opposition to the Agudath Israel in Poland, a tradition carried on by his son the Rebbe Rayatz of Lubavitch. The letters to the Imrei Emes about why they so vehemently opposed the Agudah were so "sharp" that they needed to be removed from the letters of the Rabbeyim that were published. Most of those letters were printed by Kanoyim to show how strong the opposition to the Agudah was before WWII. Seforim like Tikkun Olam are full of them. There was also the fact that the Imrei Emes endorsed the learning of Mishneh Berureh over the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch - which was the accepted Halochoh Sefer in Poland until that time - which irked Chassidim and Rebbes alike. That, and the doing away of Chassidic practices by the Imrei Emes, like davening after Zman Tefilloh too.
Off hand I don't remember what (if at all) the connection was between the FR and the IE while the former was living in Poland. I know Ger didn't like other groups that were considered proselytizers, especially the Breslovers. Yidden like Reb BZ Apter and other Chashuvei Breslov were marked men as far as Ger was concerned, but that didn't necessarily extend to Lubavitch too. After WWII, things were different. Most people forgot about the differences they had with other groups, at least for a little while, and decided to work together for the common good of the Jewish Nation. There were those that were not Mevater on their old differences even then, but we'll avoid that subject for now. After the establishment of the State Of Israel the need to work together was even greater. While Ger was at the forefront again of the Agudah, Lubavitch chose to stay out of it, just as they had done in Russia and Poland, which, again, is to be understood. This, according to some, is one of the big "Taynes" (KeVayochol) against Lubavitch; why didn't they join the Shtadlonim of the Agudah when they were so needed? Why didn't they join the Agudah's Chinuch Atzmoi Chinuch system when their help and input could've helped so much in the early days of the State. Ironically, many of those with the "Taynes" are not Agudists themselves, but that's beside the point. I'll go out on a limb here and say that The Beis Yisroel of Ger was probably not very happy with the stand Lubavitch took vis-a-vis the Agudah and its institutions, even if the Kfar Chabad magazine keeps on reminding us via the story with Reb Yossel Segal how he had great Koved for the Rebbe, which is also true.
To Be Continued....