Thursday, May 22, 2008
No Ashkenaz Appeal
(Harav MB Weissmandl, zt"l, speaking to the baker who would deliver free bread to the yeshivah in Mt. Kisco. Right is Harav Avrohom Chaim Spitzer of BP.)
When discussing The Death Of Ashkenaz we mentioned that the Viener Kehillah in Williamsburg decided to throw in the towel and switch to the more appealing Sefard. It makes sense if you're looking to gain Mispallelim and build a kehillah, which seems to be the idea there. I know of other shuls who did the same, and that was in neighborhoods like Flatbush, where there are plenty of Bnei Torah who daven Ashkenaz to fill the shuls. In one of those shuls The Rav, who has a shul in his home, but is not what you'd call a Rabbonishe type, dedcided that he needs to get more mispallelim in his shul, after all, it's his parnossoh. So he decided to switch to sefard, and some people got very upset. Believe me, this man has no love lost for Chassidim of any sort, whereas the Viener Rav is a through-and-through Chossid.
But let's get back to the root cause of it all. Why has Ashkenaz lost its appeal today other than in the Litvishe World? Why are Litvishe Bochurim from Hungarian homes so anxious to switch to Litvishe Ashkenazism, yet run-of-the-mill Hungarian Ashkenazism is old hat and unappealing? Is it all about the extra Yotzros and Maarovis that they don't want to say? is it all about not eating Kneidlach? A friend who's a former talmid of Nitra in Mt. Kisco, but is from a chassidisher family - a chossid himself, thinks he knows why, and his theory doesn't make chassidim look very good. "Hirshel," he says, "The Oberlandishe Rabbonim were way too nice." He tells me how when he learned in Nitra the Chassidim were already there in full force, and despite the fact that Yeshivos like Nitra were run by genuine Oberlandishe Rabbonim where they davened Ashkenaz and said Tikkun Chatzos during the 3 weeks, these Rabbonim were essentially like strangers in their own homes.
This friend is a middle-aged gentleman now, and sees the errs of his ways, but there's not much he can do about that now. He recalls how on Friday nights when after Mizmor Shir the Rov would start saying BaMeh Madlikin, Bochurim would yell "KeGavnoh!" and make a tumul. Every Bochur who was sent to Nitra wearing a Tallis during Shacharis because his father was an Oberlander Yid, soon was made to feel very uncomfortable wearing it, and the list goes on.