Thursday, April 3, 2008
Levin, Mendlowitz and Leibowitz
All this YTV talk made pull out the Artscroll version of events and see for myself how they sterilized it all. Even after all those years of seeing their work I was still surprised to see what they made of it. Some it seems so "knee-jerk" and unnecessary that it's just laughable; they didn't need to do that even according to their standards, but they just couldn't help themselves. One example that comes to mind is the discussion over the "Malach." Here's an opportunity to bash Lubavitch good, and portray him as the true Chabad, and they miss it! Instead they make him into some hybrid Litvak/chossid who was a "talmid" of Reb Chaim Brisker, and who learned chassidic books, with the emphasis on Tanya. No mention of Lubavitch when describing him at all. What they DO write is that RSFM would go to him to get the Lubavitcher Mesorah on Tanya, a sefer RSF had been learning on his own for years. How does a Brisker know the Lubavitcher mesorah on Tanya? beats me.
One of the lesser known events in the life of YTV is the split that happened when Rav Dovid Leibowitz, a great nephew of the CC left the yeshivah after 7 years to start his own operation, al pi derech Slabodka. He had started out in YTV only "by chance." According to the AS book he had been here in America collecting funds for the Kovno Kollel when he was asked to stay here and head the YTV. After six years of study it was mandatory for every yungerman to go collect funds for the others leaning there, so that's what Reb Dovid went and did. For seven years Reb Dovid taught there diligently, and was zoche to "make" some fine Talmidim, many of whom went on to the yeshivos in Lithuania. Then, inexplicably if you read the AS version, he decided that he wanted a yeshiva like Slabodka, where he once studied. I would imagine RDL was not happy with the chassidic side of the yeshiva, he was a Litvak after all, so he decided to take what he learned as RY in YTV and start his own place. Some went along with him, and some stayed loyal to their Achsanya, appreciating what YTV had done them, and choosing not to turn their backs on the place and RSFM.
Why have I decided that Chassidus was a factor there, and that's why RDL left? I don't know for sure, after all I wasn't there. But from the little bit that the AS censors allowed into the book one can learn alot. What does it mean that he wanted a "yeshiva like in Slabodka?" were not all Rabbeyim there of Lithuanian stock? they sure were. Maybe they weren't all Slabodkers, but what could expect in 1930 America? There were other Roshei Yeshiva in YTV like Harav Kantrowitz, the Baal Tzlosa D'Shmaytsoh, who were fine Talmidei Chachomim, and the learning there was pretty good, I would assume, judging from the fact that some students traveled to the Yeshivos in Lita. Muz men zogen that it was the Tanya shiurim, the shiurim in Sifrei Reb Tzadok and in other chasidic works that so upset unzer Reb Dovid, not to mention the singing and dancing that went on there. The question is, looking back 70+ years later, who was more successful after the split, Chofetz Chaim Schools or YTV? CC seems to be more along the lines of NI in Baltimore, but they do have a very strong connection to the yeshiva, it's ideology, and Reb Henoch Leibowitz today. YTV just sits there, without an identity and without a leader, more of a place that gives to nights a week for the kiddies there to go to Touro College than anything else....