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....

37 comments:

snag1 said...

Yup, it was a factor, Rav Dovid zt"l held that he was the RY, but Mr. Mendlowitz wanted to give shiurim in Tanya and other stuff and evidently persisted in doing so.

Zol di RY Rav Henoch shlita hoben a refuoh shleimeh bimheira bisoch shear chaylei Yisroel.

snag1 said...

Interesting that Mr. Mendlowitz himself gave shiurim in Tanya and Chassidism and it came back to bite him when the malochim, including great bochurim like Rav Yankev Schorr zt"l (younger brother of Rav Gedalia zt"l) felt that his way was not sufficiently Chassidic for them.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Happens all the time; students figuring out that their Rebbe/teacher was not good enough, even though he was the one that dragged them out of the street.....

Uri said...

You imply that Artscroll writes a snaitized edition of history.Let me ask you:Is Lubavitch any different?
No, so why are you repeating this idea over and over???

Btw, unfortunate as it is the chasidic influences of Tora Voda'as have brought it to its knees.Why, you ask? Well if you want chasidish you go to chasidish if you want regular yeshivish you go to Lakewood style.Tora Vodaas is left with a bunch of losers.The beis medrash is in terrible shape.Chofetz Chaim is absoloutely booming, they finished a magnificent campus about 5 years ago in Queens and have a bunch of branches across America

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

I wasn't there, and neither were you. But TWO of my grandfathers were. One left TV to join CC with Rav Dovid Lebowitz. This GF was a tadik and would never say a bad word about anyone, but from what I gather, me birosh was a bigger factor than anything else. The other GF passed on before I was born but I do know that when he returned to TV from Lita in the 1930's he was suprised.

Hirshel Tzig said...

what was he surprised about?

Anonymous said...

If there was no Tora Vodaas there would be no Lubavitch in America.Lubavitch took its nucleus from TV boys, including the best and brightes haintige Chbdskers

Hirshel Tzig said...

NOT EXACTLY. Most did come after the war, so there would've been something after all. But your point is well taken.

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

Sorry, what I meant was he was surprised that TV took on a chassidish ting while he was gone. Strangely, this GF was of Galicaner decent, his mother was a descendent of a Rebbe. But in Lita he became a true Litvak, marrying my GM who was born in Lita, and becoming the biggest Litvak of all my grandparent, yet he was the only one of the four not born in greater Lita!!!

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

Just to make it clear, the dispute with RSFM was less over the specifics of the Tanya shiur, and more over who decides when and where a shiur is given etc. Had the shiur been in RAMAK or even RAMCAL the dispute would have probably been about the same.

Anonymous said...

hershele,

a simple question to you. without arguing over any single episode,did lubavitch ever try to fix its history.?

yes or no, please.

Guravitzer said...

I hate seeing this again and again without taking it up. What history book by Lubavitch are you refering to? The main history book published by Lubavitch is the Our People series, that ends with the Inquisition. Don't see much sanitization there.

Or is this another example of the murder of language by certain elements? A history book writes about the overall history of a certain person or period or development. Zefer Hazichronos for example is not intended to protray the history of the city of Lubavitch, Judaism in Russia, or anything in particular. It is intended to tell certain stories, thus has no obligation to go further.

Tzemach Tzedek Utnuas Hahaskalah is intended to give the history of that specific relationship. In fact, it mentions the participation of misnagdim in the fight very favorably.

Anonymous said...

You know whats funny until today there is still a Reb Tzadik Shiur and a Tanya shiur!!!

Hirshel Tzig said...

I would imagine the shiur is given by Rav Wolfson. Am I right?

snag1 said...

In YTV they have, ad hayaym hazeh, a plaque citing Mr. Mendlowitz as having exhorted them tzu hitten dos bissele (?) Hassidus in YTV. Even though it was not started as a Chassidic Yeshive, they view themselves as one in some ways evidently.

On the other hand, they made a Sukkah poster recently with photos of YTV RY's and to my surprise Rav Dovid is included in it (I think even next to Mr. Mendlowitz - like Rav Yankev Emden being buried next to the Yaaros Dvash). So maybe they are being chayzer and mischareit somewhat for what was done to Rav Dovid.

Limayseh, a number of years ago, I think for the 50th yohrzeit of Rav Dovid or thereabouts, some YTV bigwigs like Rav Pam zt"l and Rav Quinn went to CC to participate in the annual yohrzeit memorial gathering there. Rav Pam spoke about his Rebbe Rav Dovid for the eylem.

Hirshel Tzig said...

So maybe they are being chayzer and mischareit somewhat for what was done to Rav Dovid.

what exactly do have to be mischaret for? didn't he up and leave YTV and take some of the good boys with him?

snag1 said...

He didn't just leave suddenly one day. Certain people had been giving him a hard time for a while, without going into details (not that I know the whole story, hey, I wasn't there).

I did hear one somewhat comforting story about that time though. During that period there was some type of meeting and one YTV macher expressed the thought that he had no problem getting rid of Rav Dovid, becoming potur from that Litvak. The Boyaner Rebbe gave it to him saying maybe we should become potur from you and continuing that he has a kabboloh from the Ruzhiner that someone who is a marbitz Tayreh, fangt men nisht ohn mit em !

Anonymous said...

Did Barry Gurary go to YTV for the Tanya? or was he influnced by the secular books in his Zaides librery and went to YTV so to be able to go to college in the evenings?

Anonymous said...

The Tanya Shiur NOT the Reb Tzadik

Chaim said...

'Reb Tzadik'
??Who is that
The Lubavitcher Rebbe?

Anonymous said...

berl gurary went to torah v'daas in williasburg so he should be able drive his beloved uncle to his job in the brooklyn navy yard nearby ,to spare him for the prutzes of public transportaion

baalbatish said...

what job did his beloved uncle have in th Brooklyn Navy Yard? Engineer?

baalbatish said...

This GF was a tadik and would never say a bad word about anyone, but from what I gather, me birosh was a bigger factor than anything else.
-------------------

which "me birsosh? ?

baalbatish said...

http://www.hawaii.edu/geog_mr/online/biog.html
------------------

Ben Zion spent his entire life flouting popular conventions and presumptions. He was a man of power and charisma, an uncompromising Torah observer , a visionary, and an individualist. He was an activist in the Williamsburgh branch of Young Israel and a founder of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Bais Yaacov Seminary for Girls.

In 1917, while in law school, Ben Zion became involved in the establishment of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas,[9] located in Williamsburgh.[10] The yeshiva was founded by Ben Zion's brother-in-law, Binyomin Wilhelm (b. 1886).[11] Several yeshivas had already existed in the Lower East Side; this, however, was the first yeshiva in Brooklyn. Moshe Weberman (Wilhelm's father-in-law) opposed to the effort, which was to incorporate secular studies. "A yeshiva should be all holy," he averred.[12] The founding of the yeshiva was successful, however, opening with a festive procession on South Third Street
---------------
So Weberman & Wilhelm were not the founders of YTV, who were the founders? Does anyone know the true story of YTV?

Guravitzer said...

Except for the fact that the Rebbe took public transportation to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Another Barry myth down the drain. Soon we will hear that Barry wrote the Rebbe's sichos.

Yes, the Rebbe worked as an engineer, and I believe the project he worked on is known as well.

yechu hamelech said...

Nu!
Why no mention (yet) of 'yeim habohirrr" yud alef nissan, the grand birthday, yom holedes es vechu???
Yechu Hamelech.
Lubavitch=Almost Judaism but not quite!

Anonymous said...

Guravitzer
Why are you so dense?
The guy who mentioned Barry as the Rebbes driver was making a joke.What car do you think Barry had during the was as a young bochur, he would have been in his late teens...

snag1 said...

"Several yeshivas had already existed in the Lower East Side; this, however, was the first yeshiva in Brooklyn"

Nope. YRCB started over a decade before.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what car Barry had ,but i do know that Shmieres Einaym wasnt the Rebbes concern

Bennie said...

After reading the version in the AS SHRAGA FIEVEL Bio book being very diffrent than the Yeshiva';s mesora. Reb Dovid wished to replacate Slabodka viz a via the emphasis on developing Marbizei Torah-Rabbonim and Rebbeim instead of the shaine baal habayis envisioned by RSFM.
Chassidus may not been a factor in fact this was before the falling out between the Rebbe Rayatz ZTVK'L RDL ZTVK'L.

Be Mispalel for ALTER HANOCH HENOCH ben CHAYA RIVKAH LEAH.

An Ailmesher said...

Baal Batish,

"The founding of the yeshiva was successful, however, opening with a festive procession on South Third Street"

This is incorrect as the South 3rd St building was not acquired until the 1940s (circa).

baalbatish said...

Ailmesher,
Those are the words of Moshe Rappaport- Weberman eynikel.

http://www.hawaii.edu/geog_mr/online/biog.html

Where can we get the true history of YTV?

An Ailmesher said...

baalbatish,

Then he doesn't know what he's talking about.

baalbatish said...

Marc Shapiro -seforim.blogspot.com

http://seforim.blogspot.com/2008/04/responses-to-comments-and-elaborations.html

R. Nathan Kamenetsky wrote to me pointing out that when R. Dovid Leibowitz was let go from Yeshiva Torah va-Daas in the 1930s, one of the complaints against him was that he was promoting communism (whether the complaint was justified I cannot say. Kamenetsky continues: “My son, R' Yoseph, pointed out that the Torah divides wealth evenly when it sets the law of Yovel. At the conquest of Canaan, the land was divided evenly, and every fifty years thereafter, by which time there would be wealthy lanlords and poor ones, the Torah redistributed the land in its original lots. (The difference between large estates and small ones would then result only from family sizes, by which families with many children would have smaller fields than and those with many children.)”

Anonymous said...

I was told by a talmid in CC in the 30's that the dispute RDL had w/RSFM was about the nature of the talmidim to be produced: whether klei kodesh, or learned baalbatim. RDL was upset when RSFM counseled a talmid to go into the family hardware business still young, whilst RDL insisted that he stay in shiur.
Anyway, this is what I was told.

Anonymous said...

The talmid who Reb Dovid zt"l wanted to stay in learning, instead of going into the family hardware business, was a son of Mr. Wilhelm who Reb Dovid felt could become a great Rosh Yeshiva. So you can see why Reb Dovid was forced out and why there were things that people should be mischaret.

Interesting to note, that less than a year after starting CC, the Board consisting of Ba'alei Batim who left YTV with him, tried to force Reb Dovid. This is why Reb Dovid and his son Reb Henoch zt"l adopted the policy from then on that the RY was also the "President" - responsible for the fundraising but not answering to a board.

This policy has been copied by every CC branch to-date.

dov said...

I read somewhere that r. dovid was pressured to adopy chasiddeshe minhagim because of hakaoros hatove for being given parnassah. He was not prepared to do this and so left.