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.