Monday, April 28, 2008

From The Top (Part I)

I realize many of you have little time or patience to go through 16-18 pages of text plus fine print, I wouldn't either if I didn't need to. So let me explain what we have at hand. What we have in the pretext of a defense of the GR"A is an all-out attack on both the Previous and Last Lubavitcher Rabbeyim. The author - I'm told - is a grandson of the late Reb Yaakov Kamenetzky, (Reb Shmuel's son) so I guess we can say he had a proper education from his zeide re: chassidim... The worst part of it is that it happens in a prestigious periodical like Yeshurun, one where many revelations and "pirsum rishons" of chidushei torah are first aired. It's not Circus Tent. One might also say that the attack is an unprecedented one, one where the writer's opinion is fully evident in his writings; there's absolutely no diplomacy here. I also think that the title is very misleading; one would think that the conversation here would be about the Alter Rebbe's approach to Misngadim, but there's very little of that, most of the article is good ol' fashioned Lubavitch-bashing, a bashing that would make Avigdor of Pinsk very proud.

Let's start with allegation 1, shall we? According to Dovid the Alter Rebbe went on the defensive when he wrote Hilchos Talmud Torah. He realized that the taynes the misngadim had against chassidim were just, so he went and wrote about the importance of limud hatorah, so that he could say, see? we also think learning torah is important. He cites a letter from the Alter Rebbe to Reb Avrohom Kalisker 14 years (!) after the printing of HTT where he speaks of the Aveiroh of Bittul Torah and Mevazeh Talmid Chochom being an Apikores, as proof that he had a problem with the "generally accepted principle" among chassidim that torah was not important. A very nice theory. I just have one problem: if chassidim were a bunch of Ameratzim why would writing a sefer like that help? they were peasants anyway! Also, why would the Misngadim LeChassidus care if the hamon am learned or not? they were nothings that needed to know their place, which was to keep quite and respect their learned elders! There was no effort to educate the hamon in those places; only the best learned in yeshivos and the rest languished in their ignorance forever, a caste system all of its own, if you will.

As far as the Gedolei HaChassidim and the second generation leaders of Chassidim go; there's no doubt in any Baal Sechel's mind that no madregoh could ever be reached without the basis of limud hatorah. To think that there was a lack of stress on limud hatorah is utter foolishness. The fact that Reb Chaim Volozhiner was so afraid about Bittul Torah that he wrote to his talmid who became a chossid not to stop learning and be machshiv torah is nothing more but a testament to the propaganda that the Misnagdic spin machine was churning out. I have to find a person heavily into learning torah stop learning torah just because his movement didn't stress it enough. Former talmidei hayeshivah were known to continue learning even if they left the fold, so why should chassidus be any worse than that.If my arguments sound a bit lame to you, realize this: lame questions get lame responses. The fact that a prestigious Kovetz like Yeshurun would give 18 pages to gibberish like this tells me that they're scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to Polemics. If they need ideas get a load of this: Rabbi Hershel Schachter (so a reader tells me) says that swordfish is kosher! It has fins and scales, and that's all that counts. Don't believe me? go and ask the Rabbi, he's a nice enough guy, he'll give you all the time in the world.


Shia said...

You write that Yeshurun is a prestigous publication but forgot to look at the first pages and see that D.Kaminetzky is one of the chavrei hamaareches!Do you think they would allow gibberish writers and naronim to be on the board??
You probably don't know the defintion of gibberish.Just a hint gibberish does not mean something that you disagree with.Kaminetzky writes well, nobody disagrees with that, you don't have to agree with his conclusions.
Btw the stuff he says about the reliability of what a lot of Lubavitch history is based on is common knowledge.Again, you don't have to agree.
Bichlal, you are not arguing facts but hergeishim.You are always on the Lubavitch side because you are a Lubavitcher, however some of your objective readers try first to read the material before deciding who they think is right.I read the piece and found it quite convincing.

Hirshel Tzig said...

That's because you never read this.

And This.

Anonymous said...

You start your blog offering a synopsis of an article that you think many people will not trouble themselves to read. But you deliver a critique of the article based on your own prejudices and boykh sevores without a single fact to substantiate anything you say.

You then 'guess' that, as if it matters, the author had his education in respect of chasidim from his zeide. Any evidence? Or is it based on the assumption that since many chasidic 'masters' ape their zeides the same must apply to the rest of humanity?

Hershl then writes: "there's no doubt in any Baal Sechel's mind that no madregoh could ever be reached without the basis of limud hatorah. To think that there was a lack of stress on limud hatorah is utter foolishness."

'There's no doubt' and 'is utter foolishness' is no more than your opinion. It is not based on any facts and thus a very poor premise upon which to base an argument.

'Reaching a madreigo' is a subjective level about which we could argue for ever. What is worth debating is whether someone was considered by his followers or by chasidim in general to have reached a madreigo.

Many 1st, 2nd, 3rd and subsequent generation of chasidic leaders who were considered to have reached a madreige by their respective followers as well as by the general mass of chasidim were ignoramuses. One only has to open any number of chasidic Torah and Talmud commentaries to attest to their lack of erudition. The Ruziner and Tchenobler dynasties are good examples of supposed baalei madreiges who were (and often still are) ameiratzim lechol dovor.

Hirshel Tzig said...

I do not speak of later generation descendants, although you're comment is classic Mitnagdic. I speak of the greats, the Talmidei HaBesht and the Maggid.

Arthur said...

I dont know why you bother answering
these amaratzim who claim to have read every Chasideshe Sefer both Niglah and Chassdus."Kol hamisnabel.. ....".Just as Eiov soneh Yakov the same goes for these lost souls.They are inbibed with a vicous hatred of everything Chassidish and are blind to the truth.They very conveniently ignore such lumeneries as The Alter Rebbe,The Tzemach Tzedek,The Chidushei Rim,The Avnnei Nezer,The Sfas Emes, Reb leible Eiger and many others to numerous to mention.They remind me of the rosho in the Hagadah that states "mah hoavodah hzos lochem".These guys are a bunch of moral pigmies just as all those who have derided Chassidus from time of its inception by the Ball Shem Tov.

MIB said...

The world says that the scholars (i.e. the Misnagdim) study but the Chassidim do not. The truth is that the scholars, the more they learn, the more they become great in their own eyes, and so it seems to them that they have learned so much that it is enough. The Chassidim, however, the more they learn, the more they become insignificant in their own eyes. Their entire purpose is to teach themselves to be small and lowly in their own estimation.

(Degel Machaneh Ephraim)

Anonymous said...

I thought that these idiotic reshoim are a thing of the past. I guess that the soton meraked beineinu. Why don't they convert?

shia said...

Kaminetzkys article is NOT about the correction or non correction in Teshuvos Tzemach Tzedek, that is a side issue.I have read both sides and both Moondshine and Kaminetzky make excellent points, for example how come even the Chabad Library did not have the 'correct' version? I'm adding that how could R'Avrohom Chein not have known of such a 'famous ziyuf' being son of a velts illuy the Radatz one of the biggest talmidei chachomim and illuyim in Lubavitch? I'm no mumcheh to decide if the words in the manuscript have been altered or not, though I agree that in this respect Moondshine has the upper hand.Whatever the case it is not gibberish to disagree.
But lets talk tachlis, shall we?
You base your opinion not on facts but on what the Lubavitch side says, so how could anybody convince you otherwise?Look the Kherson genizzah is considered a poor forgery by everyone, besides.....yes you guessed it,Lubavitchers!
So why not deal with pareveh issues that we can actually get real opinions without each side repeating the same partisan parrotings?

SHIA said...

Btw, when I wrote that I found Kaminetzkys piece quite convincing it was about the gist of it ,ie what bothered R'Chaim Volozhiner most about the chasidic movement and what was the Alter Rebbes response, not the issue of the correct text in the Z.Z.

C in SilverS said...

Interesting how some people speak out of two sides of their mouths.
Not long ago one prof,D.Assaf, published and interesting book documenting a distressing event in Lubavitch history.Not withstanding historical documents documenting the fact and additional proof Lubavitchers stood to their guns backing themselves up with some flimsy story which is incredibly far fetched.Now they want others to focus on a copy of a manuscript easily forged in the original or in the copy from a very subjective source???
Do you guys realize why people have a hard time taking you seriously when discussing history or scholarly historical reviews?
I respect Lubavitch for the good they do, unfortunately they always want to be right about everything.Is it the end of the world if you admit to being wrong?

Anonymous said...

I see ALMOST, nothing wrong with this guys article.

The Alter Rebbe, Tzemach Tzedek had respect for great Talmidei Chachomim -- nice thing(even their opponents - greater nice thing).

The Alter Rebbe wrote a letter about some problems he saw. (great leader)
Are you going to tell me the misnagdim don't have their share of boors? and that some ilui godol over the years was not bothered by it??

So the Alter Renne wrote his first koivets in consideration of the upheavel going on at that time and maybe even the accusation (wrongly) pointed at the Chassidim.

ma harash.

It just goes to show that all their accusations were wrong. The Chassidim could learn -- proof by their leader and teacher.

they did respect other gedoilim -- proof by their leader and mentor.

It is clear the misnagdishe camp sent the Alter Rebbe, the Mittler Rebbe and on to prison.

It is clear that the greatest minds of the misnagdim were "converting" left and right to the chassidim. They must of seen something that this Dovid is missing. (maybe he should write an article on what conviced them to leave their camp and jump ship)

it is clear that chassidim today are much more mehudar in many areas of Mitzvos than chassidim.

sure chassidim have their issues and so do the misnagdim.

why can't we all live in peace and respect each one for his own way of worshiping the Almighty.

If a Chossid make a pitch and tries to sell you his Rebbe you try and sell him your godol its a free world, but my goley tolerate and respect each other.

Anonymous said...


it is clear that chassidim today are much more mehudar in many areas of Mitzvos than chassidim.

that last word should be misnagdim

Anonymous said...

have you ever come across any serious research about what happened between the alter rebbe and r avrohom kalisker, kolel voliyn etc.....?

Anonymous said...


the Alter Rebbe supported Reb Avrohom Kalisker even though he had issues with them

a true brother (imi onochi).

Anonymous said...

Tzig has his rights to be subjective to the Chabad view as Kamaneczki with his anti Chabad tirade, so whats your point? did tzig ever deny it?
According to his ill famed uncle of the banned Making Of A Godol, the Grandpa Reb Yakov was wearing Bigdie Shabos on the Yartzeit day the Charem was singed , correct me if I am wrong.Only fools like Gottesman and Riesz(of Belzer families) would fall in to his trap of rabid anti chabad atricles since currently lubavitch blood is cheap,as every racist would go now against Jermey Wright The kameniczky are full aware that reb aron Belzer was not to much in to learning nigleh and not nister I am talking eidel.

Anonymous said...

Comments critical of Lubavitch are welcome, as long as they are not too to the point. If a comment is too dead on, they wont be posted. In typical Lubavitch form.

Hirshel Tzig said...

if you were the moron whose comments were delted you know EXACTLTY why, it was because of the disrespect you showed for certain individuals. Otherwise I would've allowed them. You're just consumed with yourself to try and comment like a mentsch.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please be so kind and provide further details on the reference to Gottesman and Reisz families. Did Rav Kaminezky express a view on Reb Aaron Belzer. Details would be appreciated.

r said...

"According to his ill famed uncle of the banned Making Of A Godol, the Grandpa Reb Yakov was wearing Bigdie Shabos on the Yartzeit day the Charem was singed , correct me if I am wrong."

Wrong. There is a story along those lines, but not about Rav Yankef.

Anonymous said...

can you please scan your version.

Anonymous said...

what cherem?

Anonymous said...

One thing is clear: The only not biased people who can be really objective re this issue are Lubs who agree that (1) the rayatz is not a reliable historical source and (2) the Geniza is a forgery. If both of them are 100 sure that in this case there is an original print with "veeyna teshuvah" and (2) the original manuscript of the Tzemach Tzedek has it this way - they are the only reliable sources.

Anonymous said...

I am not getting your logic, the only person that can discuss the Zohar is Gershom Shalom who was 100% positive that the Zohar was a fraud