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.

36 comments:

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

It’s called an inferiority complex. The semi chassidish Hungarian in Litvish Yeshiva wants to be as ‘spitz’ as the spitz frum guys he knows, the Rosh Yeshiva etc. That necessitates switching to Askenaz to conform better. The Hungarian Baal Boos wants to conform to the frumest guys in HIS environment, Chassidim with strimel etc, hence he switches to Sefard. That is also why so many Yeckes are being reborn as Litvaks.

Anonymous said...

You see.....Chassidim are fun. S'iz yom tov in der vochon. men est kigel in men trinkt lechayim etc. Litvaks are also attractive to the farbisene types and the kvetchers. es is tisha b'av a gantz yoor. Oiberlender are boring. men darf zein ehrlich. nisht ganvenen. orintlach. Lernen plain vanilla Torah. Men fleet nisht in himel. In men zitzt nisht oif a toisfois a yoor mit a mitvoch. nu which would you coose?

Hirshel Tzig said...

now that you put it that way....

Josh said...

Rav Tzig

I think that it is really hard to learn the נוסח of Breuer's: first of all you basically need to live in Washington Heights and attend their main מנין for a year or so to see how the גלגל השנה goes according to their punctilious מנהגים. Moreover need to sit through this long liturgical poetry that stretches out the davening on so many random שבתות and ימים טובים. And what do you get for your investment? The ability to pray in one shul in the entire world? Add to this those very attractive but hard to find Roedelheimer machzorim and piyyut books and the case is hopeless.
Now, to be Hungarian all you need is a good Hassidic siddur; they are all laserprinted easy to find and run the gamut from highly Kabbalistic (Biala, Komarno) to plain minyan factory siddurim. You can emphatically add words like נא and מהרה and אהבה to the prayer service and make some funny noises. Also the davening is 100X faster- since the sounds run together Hungarians can leyn and daven faster than anyone else. Finally the shuls are so much more pleasant. Breuer's does not have coffee, tables to sit at, and they frown on talking in shul. Compare this to my favorite 12th avenue shtiebelach where you can spend an hour or too schmoozing, have coffee until the beginning of Mussaf shemoneh esrah (since kiryath hatorah is part of davening too). If there is פיוט then it is just mumbled by the שץ.
Now the appeal of the yeshivish נוסח is just beyond me. That is just inexplicably ugly, and seems like the opposite of תפילה. But some of us have had bad experiances.

Shimon said...

I was under the impression that most of the old rabbonim from Oberland and Burgenland became chassidish shortly after the war. The nusach just followed. When did Nitra switch? And Tzeilem? Mattersdorf? They all are admurim now... In my opinion it all started with the Satmer cheidarim 60 years ago. Look at Vien, even the Vien in Monsey. Or 69 in Stemford Hill. All the oberlandishe einiklach are chaidish now - satmer style.

snag said...

"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?"

1) Some Litvaks say piyutim, some more than others.

2) I don't get what you wrote about kneidlach. I thought the Chasam Sofer was for kneidlach, so wouldn't Oberlanders be too?

3) Re saying piyutim - the problem is that people don't adequately understand them and they are at times said too quickly, so many don't find taam in them. If those issues were addressed, they could become more popular.

yehupitz said...

Twistleton said it all, albeit negatively.

I wouldn't use a heise word like inferiority. It's very simply about fitting in. I saw it at Ner Israel, with Yekkes who didn't want to wear Talleisim, unless they got it so bred into them before they showed up to Ner that it was Yehareig v'Al Yaavor. But the basic idea crosses across all "denominations". A bochur joins a yeshiva where hats are worn azoy and Hodu is after Boruch SheOmar etc etc and he wants to fit into the community. It works the other too, and with balebatim as well.

In a nutshell, the minhag haoilam is NOT like the Maharil that all the heise Ashkenazim love to quote. Maaseh Rav in every generation since Renaissance is that It is NOT a big deal to kneitch the nusach here and there.

Josh is also right. Breuer's has gotten so exclusive and anal-retentively complex that nobody save a PhD in Nuschaos could even be a ShATZ there. Does he know the tune for the last stanza of Lecha Dodi during Sefiras Haomer? Does he know the tune for Adon Olam when Parshas Parah is on a Tuesday? No? Then no soup for you. It's not something that encourages expansion.

Anonymous said...

I come from yenems velt. The oiberlendar Rabbonim after WW1 were all becoming chassidish. The Arugas Haboisem had one of the biggest Yeshivas in Hungary, and he was a Belzer, Shinever Chossid. His Talmidim, who made up most of the Rabbonim in Hungary in the early 1900's were all chassidish geshtimt. In fact the Tzeilemer Rov was not a oiberlender himself. He was already born to the Arugas Haboisem when he was in Chust and he was an Interlender. Yes - Tzeilem is one of the Sheva Kehillos - but he himself was a Belzer chossid mit alle meforshim.
The bottom line... Piuttim are beautiful. Kneidlach are delicious and Kol Yisroel yesh lohem chelek beolam habo" Sholom Al Yisroel -And Moshiach will come.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:27 your comments are spot on true.

However, to follow up on anon 9:55, it is very ture that the Ashkenaizishe kehillos in Hungary/Romania were slowly becoming chassidish. Actually, I heard from soemone that had the war not happened the next two genrration would have been just as chassidish.

For example, in the Ashkenaz kehillah my father comes from in Romania, the Rabbonim after WWI were all chasisdish (talmidim of the Kedushas Yom Tov), and all such kehillos were slowly becoming chassidish.

Josh said...

Just a small point, a lot of oberlanders did become regular Modern Orthodox Nusach Artscroll as well. Its not like it was 100% move to ספרד.

Anonymous said...

Josh! Oh my! Artscroll iz oich shoin a nissach? Di boich tit mir vai fun lachen. Efsher brechen.

snag said...

"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."

I am happy to hear that your friend who reported the above, has seen the error of his ways and informed us of the modus operandi he and his friends used then. That zechus should stand by him.

Limayseh, this post and all the discussion generated by the Viener WB change shows that there is still a pintele Ashkenaz even in those Oberlanders that went off their derech. That is comforting to see. So there is still hope. Kol zman der lichtel brent.

The Oberlanders in charge then should have disciplined those subversive elements or thrown them out.

This is not only ancient history, there are similar things going on today too in some places. Those who realize this and do not want to let those grobbeh interlopers push them out and take over, chas vesholom, al tiftach peh..., should wake up before it's too late and take appropriate countermeasures.

Hirshel Tzig said...

The Oberlanders in charge then should have disciplined those subversive elements or thrown them out.

This, then, is the problem. They were too nice, they allowed it all to go on, and we see the results. The friend agrees that them being nice was their ultimate downfall.

Josh said...

While everyone on this site is busy moaning about the Oberlanders and their lost נוסח which hundreds of people know and is at no risk of extinction, I would like to raise the possibility that there are other נוסחות that are in much bigger trouble. Though we like to blame Satmar for everything, it is not Satmar's fault that there is 1 Italian synagogue in א"י and 0 in the US. More than this, can we fault the Shtriemel wearers for the fact that the 1 Romaniote synagogue in Israel prays ע"מ except perhaps once or twice a year?
Why is there no effort to bring back these beautiful and nearly extinct pieces of Jewish liturgical heritage? Does anyone reading this blog even know what an Italian תפילה sounds like? I personally have never heard Romaniote נוסח.
While we are on the topic, the reason these rites are on the ropes is VERY similar to the reason that Oberlander נוסח is dying out. After 1492 the exiles from Spain challenged מנהג throughout the Ottoman empire and whether for better or worse, through heavy handed strong arm tactics or just superior erudition, they managed to triumph and almost extirpate the Romaniote rite. In fact, there were many sub-rites within the Spanish rite, which is not reflected in today's Spanish Portuguese or le'havdil עובדיה יוסף rite. Castillians prayed with Castillians and so on-- perhaps in 100 years we will have one Hungarian נוסח that irons out the big differences between Ashkenaz+ (Belz), Kabbalistic (Biala) and Shtiebel (Satmar).
Just so you know, in the Mizrahi world there also used to be a big difference between Baghdad, Tunis and Algiers. None of them are like the Spanish rite. I went to a Tunsian shul in paris where they still have no difference between shin and sin and had to photocopy the haftarah from a תנך since they did מנהג טוניס which wasnt even in the חומש. In general though, people seem to like the יחוה דעת genre of sefardic artscroll (which can be gotten with or without כוונות) more than preserving their own identities. Maybe this has to do with homogenization in Mizrahi ישיבות in Israel? Definitely the fact that חכם עובדיה couches his נוסח in Halakhic terms rather than talking in terms of מנהג helps his case. Finally, how many sefardic מנינים do we really need? Egyptians and Syrians are coming pretty close together, and in LA all non Syrians are grouped as "Israelis"-- I can definitely see the day when it is all one נוסח according to יהוה דעת.

yehupitz said...

It's called globalization. A mild harmless form of Social Darwinism. Smaller tribes getting swallowed up by bigger tribes. C'est la vie.

Anonymous said...

Oy look at the typo - the last word. a hei instead of a ches.

Hirshel Tzig said...

what do I do about the typo, can I erase it ever?

Anonymous said...

well when u close the computer arnt erasing it ..


I think that temp writing is not considered a ktav that should be respected...

Now about the Nitra thing, Hungarian Rabonim DID NOT turn chasidic en-masse, some did. But Rav Weissmandel was adamant in following overlander minhagim, his mistake was in accepting chasidic boys to the yeshiva, they made the oberlanders feel like backward hicks.

This kind of behaviour goes back to the Alte heim... An old man told me a story of his yeshiva that had many chasidishe bocherem.

The Rav-Rosh Yeshiva was strict Ashkenaz. Once on shabess (one nust know נוסח and hugarian type accent to really apreciate this) the chazan was reciting נקדש and when he (ער האט זיך געגארגעלט)said כשם an other boy mumbled under
קיש מיך, קיש יענעם
.so it rhymes kish-ehm, kish-mich, kish-yenem..

[for all who unfortunatly forgot yiddish it means, kiss-him, kiss-me, kiss-the other)

The Rav immediately kicked the boy out of the yeshiva.

Problem is, that Rav was killed by the Nazis. Those who survived where of the Wisemandel-Shteif kind of Rabonim.

Yosef718

snag said...

Hey Tzig I think the snag poskim have paskened that this type of electronic 'writing' heist nit writing, so you should be able to correct the posting.

Boruch Hashem for those snags !

Leib said...

Bottom line, no one ever promoted Oberlander Ashkenazism. [part of it being as mentioned previously, that they are nice people. When big fights irrupt each side promotes his team, which does not happen by the Oberlander].
Recently Bamberger started to promote Gearman Ashkenazism, Kol Hkavod to him.

PS BaMeh Madlikin is said after M'en Sheva not after Mizmor Shir.

Avrumi said...

In Dushinsky they say both bameh madlikin and kegavna.

I believe that in Mt. Kisco the Yeshiva(s) daven sefard while the shul davens ashkenaz.

Anonymous said...

Anon
Weissmandel was not anti Chassidic he was pro Chassidim he was slightly affiliated with Belz
The main problem was that Pressburger yeshiva was too modern for a big part of Hungarian families, alot of the alumini was very modern and they officiated as Rabonim in Status Quo kehilas, and the next option was to go the a yeshiva that the ROV was going to Rebbes and himself was a little Rebbe as Galante,Serdhelle, Chust

Anonymous said...

I don't understand all this crap. To me changing nisach for ulterior motives is like one day being democratic and the next day republican or better yet you have these sonei yisroel, one day they are lutheran un az se kimp a gelegenheit mit a giten zoneh they become presbytiran uder epes azoi.

Whats this story that today ment davent dem nisach and tomorrow we daven an anderen nisach?? You think dem davenen is a tzchoik??

Shimon said...

"But Rav Weissmandel was adamant in following overlander minhagim"

yes. and did you ever meet his children???

Leib said...

It's ironic that these are the same Rabbonim that claim to carry on the torch of the Chasam Sofer. The CS was against any changes in the Shul, even "just adding". He always felt bad that in his Shul 5 Kapittlach Tehillim were said after Davening only when Tachnun was said. He said he would of liked to say Tehillim everyday after davening but was afraid to change something that the previous Rabonim established.

Anonymous said...

""But Rav Weissmandel was adamant in following overlander minhagim"

yes. and did you ever meet his children???"

his nephewa are part of the veinner kehillah and very staunch supporters of the oberlander minhagim

Anonymous said...

Today we even have a Chabadsker "Oberlander" L'yodei chen. Straight from Pupa. Yeridas hadoros?

snag said...

"Shimon said...
"But Rav Weissmandel was adamant in following overlander minhagim"

yes. and did you ever meet his children???"

?

I don't know them, but I believe RMBW was niftar at a relatively young age, when his surviving children were young. So they grew further to adulthood without him. So without his השפּעה they lost their way.

Anonymous said...

Lieb
He didn't change the shul but he changed, didn't say Yoitzer only after Chazores hashatz, Sholom Aliechem etc..so eventualy his talmidim would have changed,

Shimon said...

snag said:

"I don't know them, but I believe RMBW was niftar at a relatively young age, when his surviving children were young. So they grew further to adulthood without him. So without his השפּעה they lost their way."

That is a good point and you are probably right. Does anyone know how much time too the metamorphosys of his BIL from "a son of the Nitra Rov" to a "Nitra Rebbe"?

schneur said...

Just a quick technical note a Litvack or Litvishe Yid does not come from Oberland or from a German -Yekkishe home . Perhaps a Hungraian bachur and the like can become a Yeshivishe man or the like but a Litvack is a genetic - cultural concept.
It involves more much more than learning in a Yeshiva for a few hours.
And you can be a litvack without being frum or without being a yeshivishe man. And you can be a Litvack and yes be a chasid ... Shanim ketikunon , most Chabad people were also Litvakes...

An Ailmesher said...

The irony is that nusach sefard is full of mistakes and consists of a hodgepodge of ashkenaz and sefard, incorrect Hebrew, etc. as pointed out by the מנחת אלעזר בחמשה מאמרות שלן. Even the sacrosanct Chabad Nusach has כי בנו בחרת in kiddush, against the Ariza"l (I think because the baal hatanya didn't have the shemona shearim of the Ari).

On the other hand, nusach Ashkenaz has been attested to since at least Rabenu Gershom's time and probably earlier.

Why are chassidim so attached to their illogical customs?

Avrumik said...

ailing..... whatever you are.

The torah doesn't have to be logical to you or anyone else.

snag said...

I want to be maysif the following nekudos

1) R. Mayshe Neuschloss went from Serdahely Rav to mara deasra of New Square. I can see that being an important move in the development of Skverdahely bifrat and in the Oberlander to Hassidic shift bichlal. An prominent Oberlander mara deasra joining New Square and taking people along, giving a green light for others to do so.

2) Lipa Schmeltzer was on the radio last night and he mentioned that he is of 'Oberlandrish' descent. He said that his father was a yosom and ended up in Skver, so that's why he is a Skverer (while other Schmelczers are Yeshivishe Telsher).

Anonymous said...

So at the end of the day, are there any identifiable Oberlander Kehillos anywhere in the world who are maintaning their minhagim and not drifting towards becoming a Chasidishe group? Does Vien Boro Park have more Oberlander Yidden than the Williamsburg branch or will they too switch to Nusach Sefard in the near future?

Leib said...

For the time being while they last there is as far as i know
-KAY (Vein) in BP
-KAY (Vein) in Monsey
-KYH (Debretzin) in BP
-KCh (Neitra) in BP (I think)
-There is a Shul in a basement on 46th St between 14th And 15th Ave
-Baumgarten's Shul in London(69?)
-The newest addition was recently started in Jerusalem (Sanhedria?) by some yungerleit from Vein and 69

If there is no movement for the preservation and education of the Oberlander Kehillos it will all be history soon.